From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

April 14-28, 2011 • GC.042111.pdf

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In This Issue

Former New Media Officers Indicted for Misuse of School Funds

A federal indictment was unsealed on Thursday, April 14, charging the former president of the board of New Media Charter School and the former CEO of the school with improperly using more than $500,000 in school funds for their own benefit. Indicted were Ina M. Walker, former CEO, and Hugh C. Clark, former president of the board.

New Media has campuses in Germantown and West Oak Lane.

Continued Opposition to Pulaski Plan

The main agenda for the April 14 meeting of the Germantown Community Connection, held at the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, was a simple one: Chelten Plaza, the proposed addition of a Dollar Tree store and Sav-A-Lot supermarket at Chelten and Pulaski avenues.  But what to do about the development, which almost all in attendance at a March meeting seemed to vigorously oppose, will be anything but simple.

Is Grumblethorpe Haunted? If So, Ghosts Not Unfriendly

“I talk out loud as I’m closing up, just so that they know,” said Diana Thompson, Grumblethorpe’s educational officer.  “That way they won’t be able to pop out and say boo!”

And the “they” she has in mind? Ghosts!

More Below

Mt. Airy Independent Now the Northwest Independent

Inaugurated two years ago this month, the Mt Airy Independent has actually served areas outside of Mt. Airy, and particularly Chestnut Hill, for over a year. You will notice the slight change to the masthead and an expanded direction in the content.

With aggressive competition in the immediate trade area, we have made the decision to bring to the readership additional coverage that now includes Governance and Politics pages that will cover important city, state and national material, particularly focusing on critical issues in this election year.

Being the only Northwest area free newspaper with extensive distribution, we feel that there are important and often controversial aspects to stories that are avoided in the mainstream.  We will try and fill some of that void, and in doing so expect to expand our coverage area.  Experimental delivery has already taken place in areas adjacent to 19119 and 19118 and will continue. We encourage reader response and commentary to our open letters and opinion pages as well.


Jim Foster


Former New Media Officers Indicted for Misuse of School Funds

A federal indictment was unsealed on Thursday, April 14, charging the former president of the board of New Media Charter School and the former CEO of the school with improperly using more than $500,000 in school funds for their own benefit. Indicted were Ina M. Walker, former CEO, and Hugh C. Clark, former president of the board.

New Media has campuses in Germantown and West Oak Lane.

Walker entered a plea of not guilty at a hearing the next day before U. S. Magistrate Thomas J. Reuter. As of press time Clark had not yet been arraigned.

Walker and Clark face 27 counts, including 25 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy and one count of theft from the federal government. The charges include using New Media school funds to pay for personal expenses as well as for funding their private businesses, including the former Black Olive health food store and Black Olive restaurant  in Mt. Airy, as well as diverting New Media funds to the Lotus Academy private school in Germantown which they controlled.

The crimes are alleged to have taken place between 2005 and 2009.

As part of its conditions for renewing New Media’s charter in 2010, the School Reform Commission required Walker and Clark to step down from the school and that all members of the charter board be replaced, which was done in 2010. 

According to published reports, New Media received more than $5 million in public money during the 2008-09 fiscal year, including $497,166 in federal funds.

According to the indictment, “If convicted of all charges, Clark and Walker each face a substantial term of imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, a $6,750,000 fine, and a $2,700 special assessment.”

Continued Opposition to Pulaski Plan



The main agenda for the April 14 meeting of the Germantown Community Connection, held at the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, was a simple one: Chelten Plaza, the proposed addition of a Dollar Tree store and Sav-A-Lot supermarket at Chelten and Pulaski avenues.  But what to do about the development, which almost all in attendance at a March meeting seemed to vigorously oppose, will be anything but simple.

Speaking first, attorney Irv Ackelsberg said that the beginnings of the disagreement between the community and developer Pulaski Partners LLP lay in the failure of Pulaski’s management (which also operated the Fresh grocer formerly on the coner of Chelten and Pulaski) to say anything beforehand before the project was unveiled in February. “The Fresh Grocer did not come to Germantown to say ‘We have a plan.’ Germantown had to find out for itself.”

A number of developments followed from the March 10 GCC meeting, which Ackelsberg characterized as “overwhelmingly negative” toward Pulaski Partners’ plan, including meetings with Pulaski Partners executive Pat Burns, a list of  things that residents wanted to see at the site, and a new plan designed for the site by volunteer architects and designers from the community.

The designers included landscape architect Christopher Mondel, landscape designer Suzanna Fabry, landscape designer Sarah Endriss, architect James Bush, and designer Megan Fitzpatrick. It was presented at the April 14 meeting and all agreed that it was a vast improvement on the design put forth by Pulaski  Partners LLP.  The plan uses a mix of retail and mid-rise buildings that would include retail and residence uses, in accordance with principles used in a number of similarly-sized developments across the country. However, according to Ackelsberg and others who met with Burns on April 7, there is no way the plan can be adopted because they said, they were told that the market and the financing available for the project could support a more ambitious plan.

It did come out at the meeting that the community does have some potential leverage.

Ackelsberg said that the proposed plot of land, part of the Germantown Business District,  is subject to  usage restrictions – “prohibited uses” -  that include forbidding putting more variety stores in the area, which would exclude a Dollar Tree store.   An amended permit has been issued for the site which permits two retail usages but excludes prohibited uses. It also appears that Pulaski Partners intends to fight the restriction by describing Dollar Tree as an upscale Fortune 500 company, not a small-time dollar store.

Other recourses involved investigating the terms of a $250,000 loan granted before the opening of the previous Fresh Grocer on the site, which may have been conditional on the construction of a new Fresh Grocer on the site, and possible contamination issues regarding the part of the site which would house the Sav-A-Lot, formerly the site of a gas station. 

Also, said attendee Jim Foster, publisher of this newspaper, his questioning of  city Licenses and Inspection and SEPTA lawyers indicated that the city forgave back taxes on part of the site on the condition that a new supermarket would be built immediately on the site. That never happened.

What ever can be done to stop the development as currently planned must happen soon, said Ackelberg, since construction for retail use is already beginning in the former Fresh Grocer building, with ground-breaking scheduled for June on the construction of the Sav-A-Lot.

According to GCC President Betty Turner, the next steps, which could include legal action, for the GCC (which she descried as the lines of communication between the developers and the community) must be voted on by the membership before being adopted. As of press time Wednesday, April 20, a date for the next GCC meeting had not yet been set, she said later.

However,  she said, Pulaski CEO Pat Burns is scheduled to meet with the GCC at  a meeting open to the community at 7 p.m. on April 28 at the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue.

Is Grumblethorpe Haunted? If So, Ghosts Not Unfriendly



Guest Writers

“I talk out loud as I’m closing up, just so that they know,” said Diana Thompson, Grumblethorpe’s educational officer.  “That way they won’t be able to pop out and say boo!”

And the “they” she has in mind? Ghosts!

Grumblethrope, 5267 Germantown Avenue, was a property that passed through four generations of the Wister family. But the ghoulish tales that haunt its walls originate from the death of a British general.

Thompson explained that as Germantown was embroiled in midst of the Revolutionary War, General James Agnew ended up being quartered in the heart of Germantown, among the Wister family.

“On Oct. 4, 1777, he was shot in the back and side. He was laid out on the colonial parlor floor and …died,” Thompson said.

In fact, the hardwood floors upon which he bled to death were never replaced. Instead they were cleaned and sanded down, leaving traces for future generations to be able to notice. But the story doesn’t end there.

Thompson explained, “Legend is that if you’re in the house by yourself at dusk you will hear moaning.

“But that’s a theory I don’t plan on testing,” she quickly added.

She doesn’t plan on testing this theory because she has already seen and heard her share of ghosts. It all began two years ago.

“What I saw was a black shape…maybe up to my knees behind me,” Thompson said.

She described the shape moving very quickly from one room to another. She then saw it again as she was standing in the colonial parlor. But as soon as she said, “I’m not in the mood for this,” it disappeared.

It turns out she’s not the only one with ghosts on her mind. Not too long after her own experience, her son came up and asked her, “Mom have you ever seen a black shape moving really fast?” He had confirmed to her that she wasn’t the only one being haunted.

“My mom is too scared to pick me up from the house,” said Kelli Alsop, a volunteer at Grumblethorpe.

Alsop and her mother have also had their own variety of ghostly haunting.

Alsop explained that one time as her mother and cousin were sitting in the car and waiting for her, they experienced something unnerving.

“They both said that they felt the hair on the back of their necks stand up…she’s like I’m sorry I can’t bring you there anymore,” Alsop said. “She won’t even come near the house anymore.”

But one of the most interesting experiences that Alsop has experienced personally was when she was walking through an upstairs room with Thompson and another woman. She explained that it was during the portion of the day when the sun pierced through the windows, casting shadows in the rooms of the house.

“You could see the shadows on the floor. Behind me, there was another shadow and it was wearing a dress. But all of us were wearing jeans,” Alsop said.

Both women have explained that they don’t feel threatened by the entities and still love to work at the house regardless of the circumstances.

But that won’t stop them from making sure to lock up a little earlier in the day to at least avoid dusk.

For more about the ghosts of of Grumblethorpe, see below.

The writers work for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a news service of the Department of Journalism at Temple University.

Walburgis Night Ghost Tour

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia will offer the first annual Walpurgis Night Ghost Tour at Grumblethorpe on Saturday, April 30, spinning tales of ghostly vigils, supernatural encounters, and an immortal blood stain in the colonial-era summer house in Germantown, Philadelphia.

The Walpurgis Night Ghost Tour will be held at 8 p.m., with additional tour times added as needed. The 90-minute tour will offer a behind-the-scenes look into Grumblethorpe’s haunted history with a candlelight tour and ghost hunt.

 “Walpurgis Night, or Witches’ Night Out, is a halfway-to-Halloween celebration of old tradition where the shadowy realm of ghosts and spirits is revealed. It’s the perfect night to explore firsthand the hauntings at Grumblethorpe with ghost stories and an investigation,” said Eileen Reeser, long-time tour guide for the Ghost Tour of Philadelphia.

Complete information and tickets for the Walpurgis Night Ghost Tour are available online at or by calling 215-413-1997.

Tickets are $25 per person. Reservations are required.  

A portion of proceeds will benefit the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks.

Grumblethorpe is located at 5267 Germantown Avenue.

For over 80 years, The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks has played a significant role in the historic preservation movement in Philadelphia by restoring, furnishing and presenting to the public its distinguished house museums, including Powel House, Physick House, Grumblethorpe and Waynesborough.

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia offers haunted history tours in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania. Along with special events such as the Walpurgis Night Ghost Tour, the company offers regularly scheduled Candlelight Ghost Tours, Haunted Trolley Tours and Ghost Hunting Tours in Independence Park and Society Hill. The company has specialized in Ghost Tours in Pennsylvania since 1995.

Forbidden Drive Reopened

The Streets Department has reopened Forbidden Drive under the Walnut Lane Bridge. A pedestrian shelter was installed in March to allow pedestrian and bicycle traffic and horseback riders access to the trails under the bridge. Equestrians should note, the height clearance of the shelter is 7 feet, 6 inches. Equestrians are required to dismount from horses before entering the shelter and cyclists should exercise caution when passing through the shelter. 

In November the Streets Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation closed Forbidden Drive and the parallel paths that pass under the Walnut Lane Bridge. The decision was made following an inspection of Walnut Lane Bridge that indicated architectural concrete may be falling from the bridge.  Streets Department inspectors have removed loose architectural concrete from several locations.  Inspections did not identify any imminent structural issues. The Walnut Lane Bridge remained open to traffic, but Forbidden Drive was closed until a pedestrian shed was installed to ensure safe passage beneath the bridge.  As the Walnut Lane Bridge is a state-owned bridge, PennDOT and the City are in discussions regarding the permanent repairs to the bridge.

The Streets Department thanks citizens for their continued patience while the shelter remains in place and as plans are made to repair the Walnut Lane Bridge. 

The Therapist is In

How Can I Reduce Stress-Related High Blood Pressure?


Guest Writer

“The Therapist Is In” is an occasional column dealing with questions and answers concerning emotional health. Northwest resident, author, and columnist Susan Karol Martel, Ed.M., has been a psychotherapist in private practice for more than thirty years. The questions and answers she addresses are those most frequently asked by her clients. If you have a question you’d like her to answer, please e-mail her at

Q. My doctor thinks that stress has a lot to do with my blood pressure spike. What can I do?                                                                                                         

I will answer this question by telling a personal story.  Up until a few months ago, my 91 year old mother-in-law never had a blood pressure problem. But, due to some back to back health issues, combined with worry, her blood pressure took a hike.

The rest of mom’s profile is good: she’s not over weight, exercises 5 days a week, doesn’t smoke and rarely has a sip of wine. She is taking a low dosage of blood pressure medication which, until now, has been sufficient, and she would rather not increase the meds unless it is the only option.

I traveled to D.C. two week-ends ago to visit her.  Was she aware, I asked her, of whether she was breathing from her high chest or from her lower belly? “High chest,” she confirmed. That’s what I observed. “Do you want to take a few minutes to see if breathing differently affects your pressure?” She agreed.

We took her pressure; it was 178 over 70 which is high.   So we turned off the TV and both sat comfortably erect in straight back chairs. Our arms rested in our laps, both feet planted on the floor.  “You may want to close or partially close your eyes when we do these exercises,” I told her.  Here were my instructions.

Step 1.  Low belly or diaphragmatic breathing:

Calmly take air in through your nose and follow it as it fills up the back of your throat, then your whole chest cavity, down to your diaphragm. This is the dome shaped muscle under our ribs and above our stomach.  Breathing in, we push this muscle down, and our stomach forward. Breathing out, the diaphragmatic muscle moves back in place and our stomach moves back in.  When we do this there is hardly any movement visible in our upper chest.

When you feel comfortably full, let the air out through your mouth (or nose if that’s easier), observing the sensation of the air emptying out through your throat, and continuing until all of the air is emptied from your lower belly. Repeat this breath cycle several times until it feels natural and effortless as opposed to labored and staccato.

Step 2. Relaxing your body:

Next, we will work on relaxing your entire body - from your toes on up through the top of your head by doing some simple isolation exercises.  Continue your diaphragmatic breathing.  In your mind’s eye, focus on just your toes, totally relaxing them, relieving them of any tension, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Moving from your toes, focus on your feet until they’ relaxed, too. Still breathing? Now, move slowly up from your feet through the rest of your body, ‘isolating’ and taking the time to relax each part—-your calves, upper legs, hips, buttocks, stomach, back, chest, neck, jaw, ears, face, and up through the top of your head.

“How do you feel now, mom?”


“The more time you practice these exercises, the more you’ll feel relaxed.”

All we’re doing is based on a simple principle. I clenched my fist explaining that you can’t both tighten and relax at the same time. Try that! The same thing happens throughout our bodies; if we’re tense, we can’t relax. So, it’s easy for tension to build up and take over, but by using these relaxation tools we can choose to relieve the tension in our muscles.

Think of it this way. When our blood pressure is high, it’s as if our whole body is uptight. With the help of these simple exercises, when we breathe properly, and at the same time, ‘choose’ to relax, it stands to reason that our bodies will be less constricted, oxygen will flow throughout our bloodstreams, carbon dioxide is eliminated, and among other things, we stand the chance of lowering our blood pressure.

My explanation combined with some chat time took well under 25 minutes, more than it would usually take if it weren’t mom’s first time. Next we wanted to see if these exercises had made any difference.

Mom continued her deep breathing while attaching her blood pressure cuff to get another reading.  It was 155 over 70—a 23 point drop in the systolic  portion of the reading.  And this was only after her first effort to breathe fully and relax her body.

There may be other things you can do to lower your blood pressure depending on your circumstances: taking off excess weight, not smoking, drinking in moderation and exercising at least 3 times a week. Consult with your doctor before making any changes to what you’re currently doing and to determine your target numbers.  If you are using a blood pressure cuff at home, make sure you’re following precise directions and that the cuff and your arms and hands are in the right position. Get your doctor’s advice on when during the day to take your pressure and be consistent.

Finally, I told mom to practice her breathing throughout the day especially when she notices that she’s taking in air into the top portion of her lungs. The idea is that diaphragmatic breathing becomes her breathing method of choice. When I spoke with her after I arrived home, she was very excited about the potential to make a real difference in her pressure as well as to continue the feelings of serenity she felt as a result of doing the exercises.

There are many more advantages to these exercises than lowering blood pressure. Consider using diaphragmatic breathing when you want to be more fully present, calmer during decision making and getting beyond stressful events.

And, if you are having trouble sleeping……………………..

Estate Sale to Benefit Maxwell Mansion

The contents of Margaret Grant Hawley’s house, 40 West Tulpehocken Street, Philadelphia, will be offered by the Maxwell Mansion at an on-site estate sale Friday, April 29 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Saturday, April 30 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.).  All proceeds from the sale will go the Maxwell Mansion Endowment fund.  Maxwell Mansion members and supporters will be invited to an early-buying preview of the sale and reception on Thursday evening, April 28 (6 to 8 p.m.).  Seven rooms on two floors will be open for browsing and buying.

Included in the sale are antiques, crystal, antique China porcelain, paintings and works on paper, postcards, sewing equipment and supplies, pottery, fine silver gelatin photographs made by Claire Kofsky, and a photography and graphic arts studio filled with their professional equipment and work.  Also included in the sale is a large collection of antiquarian books on art, travel, and history along with some hand-made clothing and accessories. 

The sale has been made possible through the bequest of Margaret Grant Hawley, 1992-2011, a long-time volunteer and supporter of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion.  Ms. Hawley was among the earliest supporters of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion when it was being saved from destruction in the 1970s.  Hawley, who moved to Germantown over 40 years ago, stated:  “When I moved to Germantown, I thought I was moving into another apartment, and what happened?  A whole new world opened up.  I found myself surrounded by fascinating people, all of whom were individualists. . . Germantown has this extraordinary group of people here because of the architecture and that is why we must save it.”

The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion is a restored historic house museum located at 200 West Tulpehocken Street that appears on the National Register of Historic Places. The Eclectic Revival stone “country villa” is located in the Tulpehocken Station Historic District, one of America’s first railroad suburbs, built following the extension of the Reading Railroad to the area in the mid-nineteenth century.   The museum offers 12 rooms furnished in the Victorian-era taste of its first inhabitants, the Ebenezer Maxwell family who lived in the house from 1859 to 1862 and the Hunter Stevenson family who resided in the house from 1862 into the twentieth century.

For more information call the Maxwell Mansion at 215-438-1861.

‘String of Pearls’ at ALAC

The Allens Lane Theater at Allens Lane Art Center will be showing “String of Pearls” on May 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21. The play is written by Michele Lowe directed by Maurizio Giammarco.

On the eve of her granddaughter Amy’s wedding, Beth asks to see the pearls she gave Amy’s mother long ago. When Amy cannot produce the pearls, Beth becomes determined to find them. Over the course of 35 years, the pearls touch the lives of mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, even husbands and wives as they weave a deeply affecting story of love and loss.

Tickets are $18 with reservations, $20 at the door.

Allens Lane Art Center is located on West Allens Lane between McCallum and Greene Streets. For directions and additional information visit

Residents Get Update on Allen Lane Reconstruction



As the two-year ambitious project to rebuild much of the SEPTA Allen Lane station on the Chestnut Hill West rail line in Mt. Airy nears completion, on Thursday, April 7, about 20 neighbors met with project officials at the Lutheran Theological Seminary to discuss the final phases.

Possibly the most expensive rehab for a station its size in recent history, new high level platforms, new canopies, a completely rebuilt overhead walkway between the platforms with full ADA handicap access, and newly constructed walkways and railings were the main features of this comprehensive rebuild.  The station itself also received roof and gutter repairs.

Steve Stroiman, coordinator of the area Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Chresheim Townwatch, conducted the meeting and introduced SEPTA representatives Wendy Green Harvey and Bill Caden, who have been part of this project since inception.  They explained that the initial design dated back to 2007, with construction beginning in March 2009.

Finishing phases are to include new handrails, painting, landscaping and other details that need good weather to complete. An audio-visual train announcement system is anticipated and is expected to be finished by mid-May.

The SEPTA officials said that the project has been one of their most difficult, through changes in the design process, construction problems, drainage and neighbors’ insistence that staging of the contractor’s equipment be remote added logistical problems and cost.  Further, they had to comply with Historical Commission requirements as to material and in-kind construction.

The cost to date with the outside contractors has approached $7.8 million, using 80 percent federal funds, 16 percent from the state 16%, and 4 percent from the city.

SEPTA-related costs were estimated to be in the $700,000 to $800,000 range and still counting, with unexpected litigation now ongoing with the major contractor over cost overruns.

Questions from neighbors centered on how the final railings would look, some landscaping issues, and security.  The high level platforms provide what some saw as a “hiding place’’ for potential muggers and thieves, and they pointed to a robbery that happened there three days before.

In response to question about the status of the bridge that carries Allens Lane over the tracks, SEPTA officials indicated that the bridge is in very bad shape, with sections falling on to the tracks from time to time. It was described by them as the worst-condition bridge in Mt. Airy.

SEPTA officials explained that the Queen Lane Station project was done parallel to this one as it had similar design and construction requirements.  Its cost to date is $4.1 million with contractors, and approximately another $400,000 to $500.000 in direct SEPTA design and internal expenses.

Wissahickon Day Parade

The annual Wissahickon Day Parade (WDP) will be held on Sunday May 1st in Fairmount Park.  The parade is the oldest annual equine parade in the US and is sponsored by the Wissahickon Valley Riding and Driving Association (WVRDA).

The WDP has a rich history; tradition dictates that only riders and drivers participate, no one walks.  This tradition relates to the purpose of the original 1921 parade, which was to protest the proposal to open the main Fairmount Park path to automobiles.  A “Save the Wissahickon” campaign rallied hundreds of equestrians and thousand of spectators.  Forbidden Drive got its name from the proposal’s defeat, hence cars are ‘forbidden’.

For this 90th anniversary, the goal is to attract 90 riders and drivers to participate in the Parade.

The Parade will start at noon, departing from Harper’s Meadow.  Line-up will start with carriages, in front of Northwestern Equestrian Facility (NWEF), at approximately 11:30 a.m.  Riders will fall in line behind the carriages starting at Harper’s Meadow. The Parade will travel to Forbidden drive and continue along the Drive to the judging area at Valley Green Inn.

A horse show will precede the parade, with classes held in the outdoor arena of NWEF.  The horseshow will start at 9 a.m.  Classes include English, Western, Costume, Stable Group and Carriages.  Registration for both the show and the Parade starts at 8 a.m. 

Spectators can watch the horse show from the bleachers in front of the ring in Harper’s Meadow and Parade viewing is available anywhere along Forbidden Drive.  The judging area in front of Valley Green Inn is the most popular Parade viewing site.  Picnic areas are available throughout the park.  Food and beverages are available at Valley Green Inn. (reservations recommended).

Northwestern Ave will be closed to traffic and parking to accommodate horse trailers and carriages. Parking will be available in the upper lots at Valley Green.

Parade planning continues, for more information or for a registration form see our website or contact Jo Catanzaro at

Entry-Level Jobs Fair

The Workplace at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central Library will host an entry-level job fair on Wednesday, April 27, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  With companies from across the Philadelphia region participating, there will be plenty of opportunities for those looking for employment to learn about open positions, talk to prospective employers, and share their résumés. 

This year, the Workplace Job Fair will include free workshops and presentations on a variety of job-related topics, including:

Searching for jobs online

Polishing your résumé

Using Career Transitions, the Free Library’s career database

Learning about in-demand jobs in the 21st century and the education these positions require

Participating employers include Holy Redeemer Hospital, CATCH Inc., Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, SEPTA, and JEVS Home Care. The Workplace Job Fair is free and open to the public, though a ticket is required for entry. Tickets are available online at ; by phone at 215-686-5436; or in person at the Parkway Central Library. Job seekers should bring copies of their résumés and wear business attire to the Fair.

The Workplace at the Parkway Central Library is a valuable resource center for job seekers and those wishing to explore new career options. It provides free access to computers for job searching and skill-building exercises, résumé and cover letter preparation, and assistance with job applications online, as well as career-related print materials, including books, magazines, and newspapers. The Workplace is located in the Education, Philosophy and Religion Department on the second floor of the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street.  For more information, please call Paul Savedow at 215-686-5436.

Learn About Greening Homes, Neighborhoods at Interfaith Green Fair

The second annual Interfaith Green Fair will take place in Germantown on Sunday, May l, from l – 5 p.m. There is free admission.

The Germantown Meeting of Friends (Quaker), in cooperation with local faith-based communities and environmental organizations, will be hosting the Fair this year, in the Germantown Friends School Sustainable Urban Science Center, at the corner of Coulter Street and Germantown Avenue.  This building has been certified as a LEED building and was recently given a gold certification (LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN). 

All are welcome.

This is an opportunity to talk to local experts and find out about resources that can help green your homes and neighborhoods.

Come and learn how to— cut down on your own energy bills; join a community garden and grow some of your own food; conserve your own water and help protect the sources of your water: invest in socially and environmentally responsible ways; and and much more.

There will be a number of workshops, exhibits, food, activities for children, entertainment, music, ideas about spiritual practice and care of your own environment.

As this article goes to press, the following exhibitors have signed up: Energy Coordinating Agency, Philly Green Jobs, PECO (Philadelphia Electric Co.), Sisters of St. Joseph’s Earth Center, Tookany Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership, Shalom Center, OARC (Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp.), Philly Compost, Pedal Co-op, Protecting our Water, Germantown Friends Meeting Garden Group, PGW (Philadelphia Gas Works), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Weavers Way Coop. RecycleNow, Clean Air Council,Philadelphia Water Department, SEPTA, PA Horticultural Society, BioNeighbors Sustainable Green Homes, Toran Heating and Air Conditioning, UU Church of the Restoration Justice Council, PA Interfaith Power and Light, PA Integrated Pest Management Program,  Vegetable powered diesel car.

A preliminary schedule of workshops includes:

1-1:3 p.m.  Hydro-Fracking in Marcellus Shale and Protecting our Waters - Iris Marie Bloom

1:30-2 p.m.  Home Cooling Strategies – Energy Coordinating Agency – Tanya Morris.

2-2:30 p.m. Sustainable Living in NW Philadelphia- An Action Plan to save Millions.-John Ungar, (OARC) Ogontz Ave. Revitalization Corporation

2:30-3 p.m.  Quiet Riot, Dave and Bill Mettler

3-3:30 p.m. Panel: Moral Dimensions of the Climate Crisis- Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark  and Rabbi Arthur Waskow: Moderator: Rev. Cheryl Pyrch

3:30-4 p.m.  Creating Zero Waste Homes – Maurice Sampson, RecycleNow

4-4:30  Next  Great City Iniitiative-Bryan Collins, PennFuture

Partnering sponsors to date include the Shalom Center, Mishkan Shalom, First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, Peace and Justice Ministry of St. Vincent’s, Green Jobs Philly News, Sisters of St. Joseph Earth Center, Summit Presbyterian Church, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, PennFuture, Germantown Mennonite Church, Weavers Way Co-op, Germantown Friends Meeting, Germantown Friends School, Green Street Monthly Meeting, and Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light.

For  additional information or to register as a sponsor or exhibitor, call Germantown Friends Meeting:   47 West Coulter Street, at 215-951-2235 or visit

City-Wide Interfaith Walk in May

This year’s Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation (PIWPR), with the theme “Planting the Seeds of Peace”, will be held in the Overbrook Farms section of Philadelphia on Sunday, May 22 from 2-6 p.m.  

The Interfaith Peace Walk is an annual gathering organized by Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Baha’i, secular people and others that are concerned about and committed to multi-religious and cross-cultural cooperation.

The walk offers the public a soulful alternative to the violence in our neighborhoods and in the world. Through dance, chanting, prayer and conversation, the Walk is meant to start dialogue among Philadelphians on the urgent need for peaceful change.

To promote the growth of peace in the community, there will be a planting ceremony at each house of worship.  

This is a rain or shine event.

A Pre-Walk Gathering will be held at 12:30 p.m. at Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, 1501 Germantown Avenue. Buses will take people to the start of the walk.

Walk Route, starting at 2 p.m., begins at the  African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, 6361 Lancaster Avenue, proceeds to the Bawa Muhaiyadden Fellowship, 5820 Overbrook Avenue, and then to Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 6376 City Avenue. There will be refreshments and fellowship at the final stop.   

The Philadelphia Interfaith Peace Walk began when a group of Jews, Muslim and Christians came together to increase dialogue and understanding across the traditional divisions of religion, culture and race. For more information, visit

Youth Create Beauty at FUMCOG’s Stained Glass Project

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elizabeth Kubler Ross

 “True beauty” exists in an oasis in Germantown, a neighborhood with high crime, where people struggle to make ends meet and hope their children will succeed in a school that for too many years has battled apathy and minimal support.

The Stained Glass Project: Windows that Open Doors ( was founded in 2006 by Paula Mandel, glass artist ( and Joan Myerson Shrager, digital artist, dedicated to making a difference in the community through art.

It is where a group of artists who volunteer their time and financial help, come together with students from Germantown High School which was recently designated as “persistently dangerous”. They attend the After School Program of the First United Church of Germantown directed by Dr. Barbara Mitchell ( to create stained glass art. Artists and students in The Stained Glass Project are a mix of Christians, Jews and Muslims, African Americans, African émigrés and Caucasians, from old to young, joined in a common purpose.

Initially the project encouraged students to make decorative objects but that changed after Sharon Katz of the Peace Train, ( from South Africa, who had a long time relationship with Germantown High School, FUMCOG and some members of the artists’ group, announced she was building a school for AIDS orphans in South Africa. The Stained Glass Project realized its true mission. The students would make stained glass windows for that school.

Suddenly, with a sense of purpose, students came to the church as often as possible, some even getting permission to skip athletic obligations to make stained glass windows for kids in South Africa. After learning these recipients would not understand iconic American teenage symbols, the Philadelphia student artists began envisioning objects of beauty that their counterparts so far away would appreciate. Soon kids with no art experience were drawing flowers, South African and American Flags and jungle animals and creating beautiful compositions to transpose onto glass either donated or purchased by the artists. See

There is danger in the stained glass process requiring students to learn safe handling of glasscutters, hot soldering irons, acid, flux, lead, and sharp pieces of glass. Becoming skilled in these techniques created confidence and had a certain cachet. Often one particularly adept youngster helped others. Soon students who rarely connected in school were collaborating and communicating. Groups that often shunned each other in school were laughing and joking with fellow students at the church. The artist teachers who might never have interacted on such an intimate level with these youngsters were sharing information about themselves with warmth and affection.

By May 2010, 18 magnificent stained glass windows were completed and exhibited at the Love Park Visitor Center in Philadelphia across from City Hall. Hundreds of people saw the exhibit. The students received letters of commendation from President Bill Clinton, Governor Ed Rendell, Mayor Nutter, the Consul General of South Africa and many other dignitaries. A group of artists and others who traveled to South Africa with Sharon Katz in August 2010 hand carried the windows to her school in KwaNgcolosi near Durban where they will be installed in a large wall.

This season another set of windows is being created for the Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans, one of the most racially and economically diverse open-access public schools in the history of New Orleans. A Ghanain Germantown student suggested that New Orleans be the next destination for the windows. These windows will be exhibited this summer at the Visitor Center in Independence Mall and at the Visitor Center of Love Park.

 Firstrust Bank of Philadelphia is so impressed with the program they are sponsoring a trip to New Orleans so the students who have created windows in the Stained Glass Project can hand deliver their wonderful art to the children at Morris Jeff in New Orleans.

Artists teaching in the Stained Glass Project are Michelle MacTavish, Gillian Speeth, Judy Rosenbaum, Amy Kohler, Caren Borowsky, Gail Cooperman, Joan Myerson Shrager, and Paula Mandel.

For more information about the program call the church at 215-438-3678 and speak to Andy Snover, director of the After School Program.

Northwest Students Vie for Robot Championship

With a strong showing in two recent regional competitions, Team 1218 from Chestnut Hill Academy and Springside School moved on to the FIRST world championship in St. Louis this April where it will try to beat its second and third place finishes in previous years.

The robotics competitions are sponsored by FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—an international organization dedicated to promoting greater interest among students in science and engineering through robotics.

“We’ve got a beautifully designed, competitive robot this year,” says Peter Randall, the team’s lead advisor and head of the school’s new Engineering and Robotics Department established earlier this year to integrate these disciplines into the curriculum at all grade levels. It is the only such department among independent schools in Philadelphia and one of the few to be found anywhere in the nation.

At February’s FIRST Trenton Regional Challenge, Team 1218 placed 4th overall and received three awards: the GM Industrial Design award for best-designed robot; the “Coopertition Award” for demonstrating the FIRST value of friendly competition and helping an opponent to compete; and the Woody Flowers Mentor Award, given to Peter Randall in recognition of his ability to “lead, inspire, and empower using excellent communication.”

At the March Chesapeake Regional Competition in Baltimore, the team suffered some initial setbacks that put it in 30th place out of 60 competitors after the first three rounds. “We were so far down all you could see were our fingernails on the edge of the precipice,” recalled Randall, “but the kids showed enormous determination, maturity and perseverance and fought their way back to the top.”

As a result of the team’s strong performance, it climbed to #10 position by the end of the qualifying rounds and was picked to play in the final rounds with the #2 seeded alliance (each alliance comprises three teams). The alliance beat out its competitors in the quarter, semi, and final rounds and ended up placing 1st overall in the competition. For the second time, Team 1218 was recognized with the GM Industrial Design Award thanks to the leadership and design guidance of engineering teacher and team mentor Rob Ervin.

“FIRST competitions are really not so much about the robots,” explains Randall. “They’re about design, creativity, leadership, strategy, and how you perform as a team. Our students faced a really tough challenge at Baltimore but they pulled together and showed the kind of character that we strive to instill in all our students. Now they’ll have an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in St. Louis.”

Summer Internships at North Light

If you’re interested in a job this summer relating to your career interests, North Light Community Center’s WorkReady Summer Internships (formerly SCEP) can place you in one. To be eligible, students must be at least 16 years old by July 5 or currently a 10th, 11th or 12th grader living in Philadelphia. The six-week internship starts July 5 and ends August 14. Students work a minimum of 20 hours a week at $7.25 per hour. In order to enroll in North Light’s WorkReady program, a student and/or parent must attend one mandatory enrollment information session at North Light Community Center located at 175 Green Lane, Roxborough,  from 6 - 8 p.m. on either Thursday, April 28 or Tuesday, May 3. Enrollment deadline is Friday, May 20. Students are encouraged to attend the earlier session in order to have time to complete all the requirements. Please contact Billy Eisenberg at 215-483-4800 x107 or by e-mail: to RSVP for enrollment or if you have any additional questions. If you are an employer who would like to be a worksite for the program, please contact Billy Eisenberg as well. 

Celebration of Trees at Morris

Celebrate the importance of trees at Morris Arboretum’s annual Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, April 30 from 1 – 3 p.m.  This interactive family adventure begins high in the tree canopy (50 feet above the forest floor) on Out on a Limb, where visitors will receive a treasure hunt map. From Out on a Limb, visitors will experience trees up-close and learn about the many reasons we need trees.  The trees of the Arboretum will provide the basis for a tree adventure treasure hunt including four Tree Activity stations. Interactive activities will focus on tree care, tree protection, where trees come from, and what trees give us.  Visitors who complete the adventure will receive a seedling to take home and learn from a Morris Arboretum arboriculture expert how to plant and care for a new tree. 

And children’s book author, Suzanne Ridolfi, will read the newest book in her Abby’s Adventures series, Earth Day and the Recycling Fashionista in the outdoor classroom at 1:30 p.m.  After the reading, author Ridolfi will be available at the fourth Tree Activity station, “Explore the Dawn Redwoods,” to sign her book.

Throughout the week prior, from Monday, April 26 to Friday, April 30 there will be more Arbor Day activities for school groups. Each weekday will have two sessions from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.. Pre-k through 3rd grade groups will take part in an ecology and environment curriculum including: transplanting a tree seedling, examining a roots exhibit, and playing Jeopardy!, Morris Arboretum style.

Space is limited for this program and group rates are available. To schedule a group visit, call 215-247-5777 ext 157.

Both events are free with regular admission.

In conjunction with Arbor Day, Morris Arboretum will launch its new Tree Adventure Passport: Explorer Edition. What better guide to let the exploration begin at Morris Arboretum! Filled with interactive activities, the Explorer Edition Tree Adventure Passport features all new challenges to learn about bird calls, how to tell compass directions, refrigeration in Victorian times, cool facts, and much more…plus exploratory activities to do at home. Visitors can pick up their Passports at the Widener Visitors Center.

The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

Drop Off Hazardous Household Waste

The Streets Department will hold its second Household Hazardous Drop-off event of the 2011 season on Saturday, May 14, announced Streets Department Commissioner Clarena I.W. Tolson. The event will be held at the Department’s 1st Highway Yard, 4800 Parkside Avenue.  Residents may drop off materials between 9 AM and 3 PM.  

The Streets Department’s Sanitation Division holds Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off events throughout the year to allow residents an opportunity to recycle or dispose of unwanted Household Hazardous Waste accumulated in their home or garage. By taking potentially hazardous materials to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off event, we can avoid contamination of the environment, harm to sanitation collection workers, and remove potential hazards from our homes.  

In 2010, over 4,000 residents dropped off approximately 150 tons of household hazardous waste and 150 tons of computer equipment and TVs.  Over 50% of the materials accepted were recycled, including all of the computer equipment and TVs, 108,000 gallons of used motor oil, 41,000 gallons of antifreeze, and 7 tons of automotive batteries.

Household Hazardous Waste can also harm the environment; one gallon of used oil can contaminate one million gallons of freshwater.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates that the average household can accumulate up to 100 pounds per year of oil base paint, used oil, solvents, pesticides, car batteries, and other hazardous household wastes.  These materials can be safely disposed of by taking them to a Household Hazardous Waste event. 

Checking product labels for these key words can identify household Hazardous Waste:

TOXIC, FLAMMABLE, CORROSIVE, and REACTIVE.  As a reminder, latex or water base paint is not hazardous and can be placed in the regular trash if the paint is dried up or solidified with an absorbent material such as kitty litter.

Trained staff will be on hand to sort and properly package materials dropped off for disposal.  No waste materials generated by a business will be accepted.

For additional information, please visit and click on Hazardous Waste on the menu or contact the Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560.  For all City services, call 3-1-1.

Arboretum Plant Sale May 6, 7

On Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, the Morris Arboretum will host its annual Plant Sale at the Arboretum’s Horticulture Center at Bloomfield Farm, across the street from the Arboretum’s public garden. This year, there won’t just be plants on display. The Horticulture Center is itself a display in the best practices in sustainability having been recently awarded Platinum Level LEED ® Certification, the highest rating of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). 

The Platinum Level LEED ® Certification of the Horticulture Center at Bloomfield Farm signifies a time of great excitement and achievement for the Morris Arboretum.  Visitors can enjoy shopping while observing the green roofs on both of the multi-vehicle garage bays. The complex utilizes modern sustainable energy and water management technologies, reflecting the stewardship and teaching intentions of Morris Arboretum founders, John and Lydia Morris.

Bloomfield Farm is the perfect site for Morris Arboretum’s Plant Sale. John and Lydia Morris purchased the property in 1913, establishing a working farm with rich soils and a working mill with water rights. The farm provided fresh food for the household, and animal feed, vegetables, poultry and dairy products for the community.

In annuals, the colorful favorites and tasty selections of vegetables and herbs will be offered, plus an exciting selection of plants for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.  The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society returns to the Morris Arboretum Plant Sale again this year. A large selection of outstanding rhododendrons, all hardy in the Delaware Valley, will be offered, many of which are not available elsewhere. Each was selected for the beauty of its flowers and foliage, and the appeal they add to the garden.

For Morris Arboretum members, the 2011 free Dividend Plants are very special: Helleborus x hybridus Royal Heritage – Lenten rose, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Center Glow’ – Center Glow ninebark, and the favorite Ocimum basilicum – Columnar Basil.  And look for some very unusual “Surprise Dividends” this year. 

Friday May 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. is Members-only day.  All Morris Arboretum members are invited and will receive a 10% discount on their entire Plant Sale purchase, and receive a free dividend plant. Anyone who joins before, or at the Plant Sale is eligible to receive the member benefits. Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is open to the public. Morris Arboretum members receive a 10% discount on purchases.

For information call 215-247-5777 or visit the Morris Arboretum online at

Accupuncture Documentary

The Association for Professional Acupuncture in PA (APA) hosts the screening of the award-winning documentary, “9000 Needles” on Sunday, May 1.  The film will be followed by a discussion with the director, Doug Dearth, and a gala reception.  The event runs from 3-7 pm, and will be held at the International House of Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut Street in West Philadelphia, in its new 350-seat Ibrahim Theater.

The documentary is the powerful story of Devin Dearth, a successful businessman, father of  three, and champion body-builder (and brother of the filmmaker) who suffered a devastating stroke.  When his insurance company denied him access to the ongoing care he needed, he and his family found new hope in an innovative, affordable stroke rehabilitation program in Tianjin, China, which integrates Western and Traditional Oriental Medicine.  His treatments with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Oriental bodywork techniques, and physical therapy are shown in great detail, along with the unwavering support of his family. 

To learn more about the documentary, go to: To order tickets, go to:  Tickets are $10 online or $15 at the door, if tickets are still available.

The event is co-sponsored by Won Institute of Graduate Studies, PA Chapter of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Lehigh Valley Oriental Medicine Center, China Herb Company, Acupuncture for Life, and Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy.

Streets Dept.: Keep Sidewalks Clean

The Philadelphia Streets Department reminds businesses to maintain compliance with sidewalk use regulations and café licenses. Complaints about illegal uses in the right-of-way, such as illegal signs, tents, unapproved or non-compliant café seating, have required the department to increase its enforcement efforts. The Streets Department oversees the enforcement of many right-of-way codes and will be working citywide to keep sidewalks clear and safe for the public.   

Streets Department Commissioner Clarena I.W. Tolson said,  “The Streets Department strongly supports the presence of cafes, which greatly add to the vibrancy of our streets. However, the proliferation of illegal signage and illegal café seating cannot go unchecked. The presence of illegal uses make our very walkable City difficult to navigate and potentially unsafe – especially for those with disabilities.” 

Business owners and managers are reminded that the following items are not permitted in the public right-of-way: signs, sandwich boards, banners, “feather” signs, tents, and other “pop up” vending, as well as café seating beyond the City-approved licensed limits.  

For illegal signage, the business owner will be asked to remove the sign and will be first issued a warning.  For cafes without permits, or with seating that does not adhere to an approved license, inspectors will issue fines and require immediate compliance.  Repeated violations can result in confiscation of signs, tents, tables, and/or chairs.

Businesses interested in café seating that do not currently possess a license can apply for one at

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