From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

November 5, 2009 • Germantown Chronicle - Nov. 5.pdf

In This Issue


Planners Call for Changes in Germantown Zoning


Slavery’s Legacy Explored at Calvary


Share Memories of Germantown


EMIR Founder is ‘Local Hero’


Apsley St. Commended


Conservancy Files Amended Petition for 50 Buildings


Locations and artists appearing at the various sites in Mt. Airy include:


Holiday Show Opens at ALAC


Business Center Celebrates 10 Years


Journal Spilling: Mixed Media Techniques for Free Expression on Sunday,


Multicultural Bookstore Opens


2009 Bagged Leaf Collection


Funtastic Friday at Cedar Park Church


Discussion at GJC on German Soldier Who Saved Jews


Solemn Novena Services at Miraculous Medal


‘Festival of Choirs’ at Summit Presbyterian


Community Greening Award


Weatherization Workshop


Civil War Heroes Remembered on Nov. 8


Share Views at Community Café


Weekend Art Market Organizing


Dine at Trolley Car, Support Activist


Modeling Open House

Planners Call for Changes in Germantown Zoning


By PATRICK COBBS

Staff Writer


The City Planning Commission wants to correct and improve zoning around Chelten Avenue between Germantown Avenue and Morris Street. One change they are suggesting near Maplewood Mall is to re-zone a strip of land behind the small buildings on Maplewood, such as  this one, to act as a protective buffer for the pedestrian-scale mall against the larger buildings on Chelten (in the background.) 


As the city Zoning Code Commission works through a multi-year process to update the whole of Philadelphia zoning laws, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) wants to institute a series of rapid-fire zoning improvements to Germantown intended to encourage development and protect neighborhoods surrounding transit resources.


“We’re trying to give you something now instead of trying to wait three to five years when we re-zone it,” said city planner Paula Brumbelow at the Germantown Community Connection (GCC) meeting held October 22 at First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue. 


The meeting was an attempt by planners to get public feedback on the kinds of changes Germantown needs. Brumbelow and Jennifer Barr, city planner for the Northwest, presented suggestions for zoning changes to four areas of Germantown, looking for a yea or nay from community members.


Those areas were Chelten Avenue between Germantown Avenue and Morris Street, the 4700 through 4900 blocks of Wayne Avenue, Stenton Avenue where it intersects with Germantown and Windrim avenues, and the area surrounding the Wayne Junction Station.


With Wayne Junction’s $28 million total renovation already underway, and the rumored infusion of millions in federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds to some neighborhoods in that vicinity, plus the still-great development potential of Chelten Avenue, the planners don’t see the sense in waiting for the ZCC when things can be put on the right track immediately.


“If the community knows now, and it seems like they know what they want now, then why not implement it?” Barr said.


To that end Barr and Brumbelow drew on the Germantown and Nicetown Transit Oriented Plan, which calls for numerous zoning changes to encourage transit-oriented development. The basic idea is to encourage a higher density of mixed-use commercial and residential developments near the transit lines, especially Wayne Junction and Chelten Avenue Station, while maintaining the character of residential neighborhoods.


‘Up-zoning’ 

Some of what the planners suggested was something they called “up-zoning,” which would make certain kinds of desired development easier for investors because they could do it “by right,” without having to go through zoning adjustment hearings. Two major examples were at the areas near Wayne Junction and Chelten Station.


At Wayne Junction in between Wayne and Germantown avenues and Apsley Street and Roberts Avenue, there is a collection of historic industrial buildings that date from between 1830 through the 1930s, some of which are currently underused. This area includes the Wayne Mills complex, which is still an active manufacturer, the Max Levy Autograph building on Roberts Avenue, and the current Storage Now building on Windrim Avenue, which was designed by famous French architect Paul Cret, who also designed the Rodin Museum in Center City.


For some of these properties planners proposed to up-zone from heavy industrial (which does not allow commercial or residential uses without a variance) to the more flexible C3 commercial zoning category. With this designation the area should look more enticing to developers for residential and commercial mixed-use market rate developments, especially once Wayne Junction is rebuilt. But to ward off demolition of the old industrial complex, planners also want to apply for protections from the Philadelphia Historical Society.


“We’re doing it hand-in-hand,” Barr said. “Just because we’re up-zoning we don’t want a developer to come in and tear down those historic buildings.”

Near Chelten Station, which Barr called the second-busiest station in the Northwest next to Wayne Junction, planners proposed some up-zoning too. One area in particular was the lot where the Fresh Grocer is located that stretches from Chelten Avenue to Rittenhouse Street between Morris Street and Pulaski Avenue.


This stretch of land might soon become a hot property due to its proximity to Chelten Station, but since its zoning only allows low-slung strip malls or shopping centers there is not much potential now for the commercial and residential density desired to support transit-oriented development. The up-zone here would be to go to C3 commercial zoning, planners suggested, which would more easily facilitate something like a mid-rise apartment building with retail on the first floor.


‘Reflecting what’s there’

In addition to up-zoning, Barr and Brumbelow wanted to correct some Germantown zoning that clearly isn’t working. The old Stenton Avenue industrial complex, lower Wayne Avenue, and Chelten Avenue between Germantown and Pulaski are prime examples. “What we’re trying to do here is fix the zoning to reflect what is already there,” Barr said.


On the stretch of Chelten between Germantown and Pulaski, mid-rise commercial and mixed-use commercial and residential buildings are relatively common, yet the zoning for this area seems inconsistent with many of the uses. Some parts of the strip are zoned, again, for car-based uses like shopping centers instead of denser pedestrian-based developments despite the heavy pedestrian use already there. So the planners suggested a move to C2 commercial designations in some areas and several other smaller changes meant to match existing use patterns.


Lower Wayne Avenue could use some zoning corrections too, the planners said. Between the 4700 and 4900 blocks, the use pattern is a mixture of commercial and residential, but the existing zoning doesn’t appear to take note of this relationship, Barr said. The solution she suggested was to go with residential zoning on the side of the block between Manheim and Seymour Streets that is almost exclusively residential anyway, despite being zoned for commercial use. Then she suggested making a corresponding switch across the street from C2 commercial to C1 commercial because C1 fits the first floor commercial use mixed with and second floor residential that is the pattern there.


“The things that you think of as Wayne Avenue commercial, the core will stay the same,” Barr said.


Encouraging studios

On Stenton Avenue near Germantown Avenue the planners suggested a similar correction. The area is peppered with large industrial buildings but a small niche of artists’ studios has cropped up there in recent years, while many of the large buildings have remained vacant for some time. Barr said the PCPC wants to encourage the area’s development along the artisan niche by switching the current heavy industrial zoning, which does not allow commercial uses or artists studios, to an L4 industrial zoning, which would allow the studios and an accompanying commercial sale area.


“We’re just looking at allowing more things to come into this industrial area that really isn’t industrial anymore,” Barr summarized.


The PCPC’s proposals would not impact single family lots in Germantown, planners said, and every existing use that might technically be made non-conforming once the zoning maps are updated will have the right to stay in operation as long as they remain in continuous use.


No ‘saturation’ zoning

But no zoning discussion in Germantown seems complete without mention of the ever- controversial “group homes.” Many at the meeting asked the planners for some kind of solution to the group home question, claiming that Germantown is “saturated” with this particular use. To their disappointment, Barr and Brumbelow did not have good news.


“If we could tackle group homes for Germantown through zoning we would, but we can’t,” Barr said.


Because of federal fair housing laws, to “zone out” group homes is illegal, the planners explained. It would be considered a form of discrimination. Besides, most of the residential designations on the Germantown zoning maps do not allow group homes or any so-called “multifamily” use anyway. This means most of the group home projects that set up in Germantown do so with a zoning variance obtained through a public hearing at the Zoning Board of Adjustment. And the best way to control zoning variances is to form community organizations strong enough to force discussions with developers before projects are proposed, the planners said. To Betty Turner, co-founder of the GCC, this point struck a cord.


“The Germantown Community Connection is trying to be the place where they come,” she said. But one of the keys is participation, she said, and a willingness to put what’s right for the community before personal interests. “We need to remove the egos, we need to come together.”


Along those lines the PCPC will seek more community input on its proposed changes to Germantown zoning at the GCC meeting on November 19. And if community members do approve, the planners hope to introduce the new zoning to City Council before the end of the year. 


The next meeting on Germantown zoning will be held Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, 35 West Chelten Ave.



Slavery’s Legacy Explored at Calvary


By KARL BIEMULLER

Editor


If you show it, will they come? And more importantly, will they talk to one another?


Those were the hopes – and they were largely realized - at Calvary Episcopal Church, 5020 Pulaski Avenue, on Saturday, October 24, when the church hosted a free screening of “Traces of the Trade,“ a documentary by filmmaker Katrina Browne. The film relates the involvement of some of her ancestors, the DeWolfs of Bristol, Rhode Island, in the African slave trade.


The DeWolfs were among the most prominent citizens of Bristol, and, said Browne, “It never occurred to me what it was based on.” Both before and after American independence the DeWolfs were the largest slave-trading family in the country. The film grew out of Browne’s efforts to learn more about her ancestry, and then to come to terms with what she found. In it, Browne and nine of her relatives (out of 200 that Browne had tracked down and contacted) retraced the DeWolfs’  steps in the “triangular trade” that took rum from New England to West Africa to purchase slaves, took those slaves to be sold in the West Indies, and picked up molasses there to be taken back to New England and turned into rum.


This was “big business,” Browne noted, and while slavery was far more common in southern colonies and then states, the slave trade itself was dominated by northerners. “Everyone in town [Bristol, RI} lived off slavery in some form,” she said.

Dain Perry, a DeWolf descendent who took part in the trip, moderated a lively audience-participation session among the 40-50 attendees after the screening. What came across during the discussion was an attempt by all who spoke, whether they were black or white, to come to terms with what they’d seen and – despite Perry’s observation that America was “two societies that don’t understand and don’t know how to communicate with each other” – cross boundaries and honestly talk to one another.

There were many responses. “In turning from slavery to freedom we [whites] botched it,” said one, while two African American attendees both separately observed, “Reparations [ for slavery] doesn’t mean money.”


And one attendee thanked Browne and Perry for coming and sharing what they had discovered, saying, “I’m hopeful that we will continue the process of what we are doing today. It takes all of us.”


Share Memories of Germantown


Do you remember Germantown 50 years ago? Do you remember Rowell’s department store, and Allen’s? The Bandbox Theatre and Linton’s Restaurant? Did you go to Germantown High School and the YM or YWCA? Come and share your memories on an afternoons or evening in November where area seniors are invited to participate in a project to create an oral history of Germantown in the 20th century.


Germantown Speaks, a partnership of several Germantown congregations, the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement, Cliveden of the National Trust and Partners for Sacred Places (see full list of partners below), is an attempt to capture these stories of the recent past that are not being told by Germantown’s public history institutions and present them in an exhibit and video presentation. The project will involve Germantown High School students capturing the stories of the seniors and helping to design a video and mini-exhibition that describes what life was like in Germantown in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s from the members of the community whose stories, photos, and artifacts can lend more texture to how we understand our community throughout the twentieth century.


This intergenerational project will capture stories from the seniors, and foster in students a more lively sense of place as they record and report on the history programs. In addition to the video and mini-exhibition, Germantown Speaks will have a culminating event to share with the community.


Come share your photographs and stories from the Germantown that you remember. There will be four sessions provided for people to bring their memories, participate in the interview process, have some light refreshment and have a good time. Bring a friend or neighbor.


The sessions are:

Monday, November 9, 4-6 p.m., First Presbyterian Church in Germantown; Thursday, November 12, 4-6 p.m., First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG); Monday, November 16, 4-6 p.m., St. Luke’s Episcopal in Germantown; Thursday, November 19, 7-9 p.m., Center in the Park.



EMIR Founder is ‘Local Hero’


Victoria Greene (left) of Germantown has been recognized by Bank of America as a “Local Hero” through the bank’s annual Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, its way of sustaining nonprofits during challenging economic times.

In 1997 Greene’s 20-year-old son was shot and killed in Philadelphia. She immediately turned her grief into action by starting the nonprofit Every Murder is Real (EMIR), 5213 Germantown Avenue. EMIR strives to educate others about drug-related violence and counsel those who have lost a loved one to homicide.


Tom Woodward, Philadelphia market president at Bank of America said, “By founding EMIR and providing a support system for families throughout Philadelphia, Victoria Greene has touched many lives. Using her own personal experience and background as motivation, Victoria has made a real difference and bettered the community as a whole.”


Greene, along with two Philadelphia nonprofits, four “Local Heroes,” and a group of “Student Leaders,” was honored for their dedication to others on Tuesday, October 27 at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Greene received $5,000 to donate to a nonprofit of her choice.


For information about Every Murder is Real, call 215-848-4068, e-mail to contact at everymurderisreal.org, or visit www.everymurderisreal.org.



Apsley St. Commended


On Friday evening, Oct. 23, Streets Commissioner Clarena I. W. Tolson announced the four top winners of the 2009 Clean Block Contest and the Community Spirit Awards at the Annual Clean Block Awards Banquet. 

The festivities were held at the Penn’s Landing Caterers in the Sheet Metal Workers Union Building located at 1301 S. Columbus Blvd.


Among the Community Spirit Awardees is the 100 block of West Apsley Street, Margie Williams block captain, named the winner of the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee’s Neighborhood Improvement Award.



Conservancy Files Amended Petition for 50 Buildings


By PATRICK COBBS

Staff Writer


Despite new court regulations calling for one petition per property, on October 26, the community development group Germantown Conservancy filed a truncated version of its bid to take over hundreds of stagnated properties in Germantown and Mt. Airy through the state’s new Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act. Although this version has been scaled down from an original omnibus petition covering more than 300 properties, Peter Wirs, Conservancy co-founder and acting chief executive officer, insisted there was no change in the group’s intent.


“There are still 319 properties,” he said. “We listed only 50 at the moment and we will save the rest for a later date.”


The filing marks the latest in an ongoing battle between the Conservancy and the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia over just how the new law should be used.

The law allows the court to appoint a conservator, similar to a trustee in a bankruptcy filing, for properties that have become blighted or are abandoned. That conservator can take control of the property and exercise a court-approved plan for remodeling or demolition and sale, with the proceeds going to cover the costs and some profit. An important key to the law’s power is that it wipes out all previous liens on the property, clearing it for easier renovation and sale.


But because there is no case law establishing president, and the law itself is relatively vague according to many, the Conservancy and the Court differ greatly on just what kinds of things are allowed.


For the Conservancy, whose membership includes local residents, churches, neighborhood groups and businesses including construction firms, the law represents a tool for attacking blight in an aggressive way – by gaining control over large swaths of ailing properties along or close to Germantown Avenue and transforming them, under court supervision, to the betterment of the neighborhood.


Omnibus petitions?

The main sticking point with the Court appears to be the question of whether the law allows for omnibus petitions – say, 319 properties at a time. The Conservancy filled its large petition twice in September before the Court issued its regulations for filing and service of petitions. It was rejected without judgment both times, according to Wirs.


The Conservancy then appealed to the Commonwealth Court with a request for judgment on its petition September 29 and the matter was settled in a conference call October 1. The next day the Common Pleas Court issued its regulations for filing and service, which among other things require one petition per property. The Conservancy filed its smaller omnibus petition last Monday, October 26, despite the single-property filing regulation.


“Urban blight’s downward spiral cannot be mitigated piecemeal,” the Conservancy’s Board of Trustees Resolution authorizing it to file an omnibus petition stated. “The Conservancy fails to discharge its fiduciary duty to the Court if it invests monies into rehabilitating one house but not the other on the block, since a buyer will not buy the rehabilitated house if [a] blighted house remains.”


Advisory group recommendations

Prior to issuing its rules the Common Pleas Court formed an unofficial group of advisors to help guide it on how to implement the law. Among the group members were representatives from fields including legal practice, title insurance, building construction, government and funding agencies. A major concern of the working group was how to implement the law in a way that provides ample notice to owners and lien holders so their rights wouldn’t be stripped unfairly, according Judy Berkman, the managing attorney at Regional Housing Legal Services and a member of the advisory collaborative.


Perhaps the most experienced conservatorship lawyer in the state, Edward Brennan, the solicitor for the Borough of St. Clair in Schuylkill County, has had a look at the new regulations and he thinks they make sense.


“The key is giving all the other lien holders notice,” he said of using the law, and he saw provisions for that within the regulations.


Brennan is working on about ten property conservatorship petitions at the moment and he has completed one – the first and, so far, the only one in Pennsylvania.


How it can work

St. Clair is a small working class town in coal country. It’s had some problems with abandoned property over the years but the tools available for fighting it - fines through L&I, eminent domain or equity actions through the courts - haven’t always worked out, according to Brennan.


Prior to the conservatorship law, which went into effect in March, Brennan’s strongest weapon was to sue homeowners in equity actions asking the Court to require them to clean up their blighted properties or be held in contempt of court. But this penalty and the L&I fines have clear limits.


“The trouble with both of those actions is if you get someone who wants to do something but they have no money, it gets you nowhere,” he said.


And then came the case of one particular house in St. Clair.


“We call it the Kimmel Property,” said Borough Secretary Roland Price. “It was a problem. We received complaints here at the municipal building.”


The family was a victim of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, according to Brennan. They took out a loan that was twice the value of the home and when they couldn’t make the payments, they left town leaving the building to accumulate liens and fall into greater and greater disrepair, he said.


About six months ago the borough began its conservatorship petition. The process, according to Brennan, involves a thorough title search and notification of all the lien holders that the petition is being filed. The law allows the owners or the lien holders to assume responsibility for the property above the conservator at any time as long as they agree to make repairs to the property. Showing the Court that there was ample notice to these parties and still no response was the key to St. Clair becoming the conservator of the Kimmel Property, Brennan said.


Once that was done the court-approved plan for the building included selling it to a neighbor for one dollar with a clean title and a stipulation that they would be responsible for proper demolition. According to Price the new owners are completing that demolition now.


For properties like this, other options include eminent domain or seizure for back taxes. But according to Brennan, eminent domain can be a long process and doesn’t always clear a title of previous liens. Plus, it requires a municipality or school district to purchase the property for a reasonable cost. Taking over a building for back taxes also can leave outstanding liens and it may put the building in city hands without a clear exit strategy, as countless languishing publicly-owned Philadelphia buildings can attest.


Conservatorship seems to work out differently, primarily through the economic incentive of vanquishing the liens.


“The big thing is it lets you do something to the property quickly,” Brennan said.


One of his next conservatorship projects will include selling a blighted property at a low price to a developer who is already lined up, with the stipulation of a timely renovation, Brennan said.


Local efforts

While the omnibus petition filed by the Germantown Conservancy indicates an impressive array of experienced partners including the community-oriented redevelopment firm The Reinvestment Fund and the large construction company Domus Inc., it does not hold the level of detail in individual turnaround plans that Brennan had for the Kimmel Property.


For many of the properties on the Conservancy’s list, such as the group of ailing industrial buildings surrounding the Wayne Junction Train Station, Wirs said the Conservancy would follow redevelopment plans already laid out, like the Transit Oriented Plan produced for that area by the City Planning Commission. He said further legal addendums are forthcoming that will give details to the Conservancy’s petition, but a major discrepancy between it and the Court’s rules remains that single property per petition requirement.


The conservatorship law has gotten other local attention as well. The Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (OARC) is preparing three petitions for long-blighted properties in the West Oak Lane section of the city, and City Council passed a resolution in April, sponsored by Ninth District Councilwoman Marian Tasco, which calls on the Mayor to create a Philadelphia Conservatorship Program.


According to Derek Green, Tasco’s chief legislative aid, who penned the resolution, Council still needs to work out the details of what that program would look like, but he thought it could include ways that existing city offices might help service conservatorship petitions.



Holiday Show Opens at ALAC


The opening reception for the Decorative Arts Holiday Show to be held in the Carolyn Fiedler-Alber Gallery at Allens Lane Art Center, Allens Lane and McCallum Street, will be held Friday, November 6, 6-9 p.m. The show will run through December 23. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. or by appointment.


Fantastic, unique and affordable fine craft, jewelry, and wearable art items will be available. It’s a great opportunity to do your holiday shopping in a wonderful setting. Many of the artists will be at the opening reception.


Over a dozen artists from the Philadelphia area are included in the show that features ceramics, hand-made fabric items, unique craft items, fine artwork, several styles of jewelry and handmade papers among many other items.  Several of the artists who exhibited last year invited their artist-friends to join them this year so you’re sure to find something you like.


For more information visit www.allenslane.org.



Business Center Celebrates 10 Years


The Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary Friday, Nov.20, 6 p.m. at Temptations Banquet Facility, 200 West Chelten Avenue.  The theme is “Dancing with the Stars of the Northwest.” This event and milestone will be provided with a resolution at City Hall, Room 400, on Nov. 19, 10 a.m., by Councilwomen Donna Reed Miller and Marion Tasco.


“Our Theme is ‘Dancing with the Stars of the Northwest,’ where we will honor those who have been instrumental in helping the Business Center reach the ten-year milestone. We will also discuss future plans to impact the Northwest business corridors.  Also, if you are a past client or student come out and reconnect with us or individuals that were in your class,” Pamela Rich-Wheeler, co-founder and executive director, said.


Highlights of the evening will be students and clients providing testimonies of the support that Business Center provided to their small business, plus plenty of food, dancing, auction items (i.e., an autographed baseball bat by Jimmy Rollins, tea party for two, and more) classmates and clients reconnecting, networking and fun for everyone. 


A partial list of confirmed honorees and invited officials attending include Bilal Qayyum, The Father’s Day Rally; Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller; Cindy Bass of Rep. Chaka Fattah’s office; Derek Green of Councilwoman Marion Tasco’s Office; Kevin Dow and Andy Frishkoff, Commerce Department; Kelly Finch, PNC Bank; Jack Kitchen, OARC; Aubrey Kenney, Sovereign Bank; Bill Smith, Citizens Bank (he also plans to be in the dance competition that evening with his wife Vanessa, currently an executive at Philadanco) and Robert Archie, School Reform Commission.


The Business Center is the only “virtual” business incubator in the Northwest. Its mission is to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to start, sustain, and expand a successful enterprise. It aids in the development of professional management and entrepreneurial skills and provides consulting, workshops, and technical resources through a combination of in-house expertise and a network of community organizations.

To attend the Ten Year anniversary celebration or give a donation to The Business Center, mail your tax-refundable gift to The Business Center, 7500 Germantown Avenue, Elders Hall, Suite 113, Philadelphia, Pa. 19119, or  donate on line at www.thebizctr.com.


For information contact Leslie Donnell at 215-247-2473 ext 3 or visit www.thebizctr.com.




Interested in bringing your personal journals alive with mixed media, a variety of art techniques, and more? Join author and artist Diana Trout for her discussion of her new book Journal Spilling: Mixed Media Techniques for Free Expression on Sunday, November 8, from 2-4 p.m. in the Big Blue Marble Bookstore café, 551 Carpenter Lane.


Journal Spilling is about incorporating journaling and art making into daily life. In addition to step-by-step instruction for getting started in 25 media techniques you will be guided through exercises to help with writing. The exercises are broken down into accessible parts that can be undertaken in small bits of time and are open-ended, encouraging various paths for journaling. The author will also present a collage activity from the book during the reading, and anyone who buys the book that day goes home with a small kit of collage supplies. For information call 215-844-1870.




Horsin’ Around in the Wissahickon:  Shown are members of the newly formed Wissahickon Horse Lovers Organization (WHOA) from left Andrea Shumsky, Sue Landers, Kristen Bowman-Kavanaugh and Danielle Mucciolo.  Bee Morgan is not shown in photo. The group’s next monthly meeting is Sunday, November 15 at 10:30 a.m. at Northwestern Equestrian Facility, Germantown and Northwestern avenues, where a farrier will discuss hoof care.  RSVPs are strongly encouraged by e-mailing GoWHOA@gmail.com. The meeting is free and open to horse lovers.

Photo by Denise White-Christianson.




Multicultural Bookstore Opens


To coincide with National Bookstore Day, the Color Book Gallery will hold its grand opening celebration November 6-7.

The Color Book Gallery is the area’s newest and only multicultural children’s bookstore located in historic Germantown at 6353 Germantown Avenue. The store offers a wide selection of books, stories from around the world, educational toys and games, cultural and bilingual items and cultural and language-based activities. Also visit the store’s Sugarbabe’s Boutique and Gift Shop upstairs which features children’s resale clothing and gifts.


On Friday, November 6, and every first Friday, it’s family game night at the Color Book Gallery until 8 p.m., with classic table games for all ages and family fun. On Saturday, November 7, from noon - 6 p.m., enjoy storytelling, an author book-signing at 1 p.m. featuring A.J. Jones of History Coloring Books, activities and a free book giveaway each hour.


Individuals interested in volunteering to share their cultures through storytelling, music, activity and foreign language with our children are welcome at the Color Book Gallery. Visit the Gallery or for more information, call 215-525-5851, e-mail to  info@colorbookgallery.com, or visit colorbookgallery.com.




2009 Bagged Leaf Collection by the city of Philadelphia will begin Monday, Nov. 9 and will be completed Friday, Dec. 18. There are a number of changes in the collection process for the 2009 leaf season. They include: There will be curbside collection only. Do not pile unbagged leaves at the curb. No plastic bags will be collected. Leaves will only be collected in biodegradable paper bags. Bags should be placed curbside on your trash collection day. Areas that formerly received mechanical collection will have curbside bagged collections only. Bagged leaves will be accepted at all three Citizen Drop-off Centers. The Northwest center is located at Domino Lane and Umbria Street, Roxborough.




On Friday, October 30, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 6671 Germantown Avenue, hosted a costume party for children from neighborhood schools and their parents.  The party started at 6 p.m. with hot dogs and other goodies.  Activities included, bobbing for donuts (yes donuts, not apples!), face painting, musical chairs, decorating pumpkins, and a costume parade.  Volunteers from the congregation lead activities and provided food, candy, prizes, and fun. Pictured, Vicar Debbie Stein participates in musical chairs with the children. Over 50 children showed up for the party and around 20 parents. “We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful turn-out for this event and we hope to have many more,” said Pastor Andrea Ingram.  St. Michael’s is planning more monthly events for families. For information regarding events call 215-848-0199.



Funtastic Friday at Cedar Park Church


The next observance of “Funtastic Friday” will be held on November 20, 7 p.m., at Cedar Park Presbyterian Church, 7740 Limekiln Pike.  Brought back by popular demand is an evening of fun and merriment for the entire community,  games, activities, music, line-dancing, contests, karaoke and other fun events for the entire family to enjoy.  There is no admission fee and refreshments will be served. This program is designed to foster goodwill, good times and a great fellowship in a warm and welcoming environment. For additional info, call the church office at 215 549-9775.



Discussion at GJC on German Soldier Who Saved Jews


Joerg Fiebelkorn, a retired German military officer, will address an interfaith gathering on Wednesday, November 11, 7 – 9 p.m., at the Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 West Ellet Street. In commemoration of Krystallnacht, he will discuss “The Search for Major Plagge: A German Soldier’s Moral Courage During the Holocaust.” Participants will consider how each of us live within systems that can go awry – and how we can take moral responsibility within them.


In 1999, Michael Good, a Jewish physician in Connecticut, began researching a mysterious “Major Plagge,” the German officer who headed up a slave labor camp in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), where Michael’s mother was confined as a teenager during WWII. She credits Major Plagge – who slipped into obscurity after the war – with saving her family’s lives.


Fiebelkorn saw Good’s query on the Internet, and stepped forth to help. He found material in the German archives about Plagge, translated it into English, and sent it to Good. Good subsequently published a book, The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews (2005, 2006), based on extensive research, including Fiebelkorn’s material and interviews with Vilna Jews.


Fiebelkorn then translated Good’s book into German, and it has been published in Germany under the title Die Suche. Karl Plagge, der Wehrmachtsoffizier, der Juden Rettete. Major Karl Plagge has been recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.


This program will relate the story of the Jews of the labor camp in Vilna and their unexpected deliverance from death due to the moral courage of Karl Plagge, who headed the camp. Fiebelkorn present a German perspective: What choices confronted draftees such as Plagge and the recruits who served under him? What did they know about the genocide, what could they possibly do to help decrease the killing? What methods did Plagge use to influence his own officers as well as to manipulate the Nazi bureaucracy to further his subversive goals?


Following Fiebelkorn’s presentation, there will be an opportunity for dialogue with the audience. The program will close with light refreshments and an opportunity to purchase the book, The Search for Major Plagge, at a discount.


The program is sponsored and hosted by Germantown Jewish Centre and co-sponsored by The Center for Jewish Ethics, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; First United Methodist Church of Germantown; Mishkan Shalom; P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Congregation of Philadelphia; and in cooperation with The Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (NIM).


There is no charge for this program. Those wishing to attend are asked to reserve their place by calling Elana Shaw, GJC program director, at 215-844-1507, ext. 19, or e-mailing to  program@germantownjewishcentre.org.



Solemn Novena Services at Miraculous Medal


Over 10,000 people are expected to come through the doors and pray for those they love and care for during the Solemn Novena services going on at the Miraculous Medal Shrine at 500 East Chelten Avenue.


Starting November 16 the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown will be celebrating our 81st  9-Day Solemn Novena. There will be six to nine services daily culminating on November 24 and followed with Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Feast Day Mass being celebrated by the Most Reverend G. Gregory Gay, C.M., Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians) on November 25.


In honor of the troubling times, each day prayer will be offered for a different group: Monday, November 16 – priests, seminarians and religious men and women; Tuesday, November 17  –  public servants, including  police, firefighters, and EMTs; Wednesday, November 18 –  veterans and military personnel; Thursday, November 19 – Catholic school and CCD/ PREP teachers; Friday, November 20 –  seniors (“Anointing of the Sick” each service); Saturday, November 21  – Catholic medical professionals; Sunday, November 22  – Novena Family, all who attend Monday Novenas, past and present; Monday, November 23  – Catholic lawyers and business professionals; Tuesday, November 24  – Catholic societies, including Knights of Columbus, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and many more.


The full history of the Miraculous Medal and Miraculous Medal Shrine can be found online at www.CAMMonline.org.


For information on the Solemn Novena 9 Days of Services or how to have your intention placed on Mary’s Altar, call the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal at 215-848-1010, or email  dellisanti_1121@cammonline.org.



‘Festival of Choirs’ at Summit Presbyterian


A “Festival of Choirs” will be held Sunday, November 15, 3 p.m., at Summit Presbyterian Church, Greene and Westview streets.


As part of its 125 Anniversary Celebration Summit Church invites the community to a concert featuring three area choirs:  the Mishkan Shalom Community Choir directed by Janice Hamer;  the Chancel Choir of Reformation Lutheran Church, directed by Charlene Jenkins; and the Summit Choir and Handbell Ringers directed by Gayl Koster.   


The concert – 70 voices strong – features choral music from the Baroque period to the present, including works by Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Bleckner.  The Handbell Ringers will perform a work written by Mt. Airy resident Thomas Whitman to commemorate Summit’s anniversary. 


No tickets are needed  A free-will offering will be taken for a fund to restore the church building used by dozens of community groups.


All are welcome to a post-concert reception with homemade tea sandwiches, cookies and punch. Call 215-438-2825 for more information.




The Managing Director’s Office of Emergency Management is offering a free Emergency Preparedness Workshop open to the public in Northwest Philadelphia on Monday, November 16 at 7 p.m., 14th Police District Advisory Council, 14th Police District, 43 West Haines Street .


“During the workshops you will learn how to shelter-in-place, become familiar with your neighborhood evacuation routes, know what emergency supplies and copies of important documents you should have ready, and find out how to stay informed during an emergency,” said Deputy Managing Director for Emergency Management MaryAnn E. Tierney.


These workshops are in-line with a series of Emergency Preparedness Workshops being held throughout the city in each police district during 2009. For information about a workshop in your police district, visit the OEM website at www.phila.gov/ready or call 3-1-1.




Community Greening Award


The Community Greening Award celebrates public green spaces in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The annual award is a joint project of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, a nonprofit that promotes and protects Pennsylvania’s natural and community environments. It recognizes those who have made a difference by planting and maintaining quality green spaces that are open to the public.


Among the 2009 awardees is the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and Friends of the Wissahickon Headquarters Native Demonstration Garden.


For more information about the Community Greening Award, please contact Flossie Narducci at fnarducci@pennhort.org or 215-988-8897.


Weatherization Workshop


Is your home drafty? Is your heating bill out of control?

Welcome to a weatherization workshop at Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Avenue, on Friday, November 13 at 1 p.m.


Trainers will demonstrate installation of weatherization materials, discuss rising energy costs, and provide information for conservation and assistance programs and ways to get tax credits for improvements. Weatherization materials will be provided free to all eligible participants.


For information call 215-849-5100.



Civil War Heroes Remembered on Nov. 8


On Sunday, November 8 at 12:30 p.m. there will be a  Veteran’s Day tribute to the Nice brothers at Saint Michael’s Lutheran Church, 6671 Germantown Avenue. During the Civil War Philadelphia gave many lives in the Union cause. None of the tales is more touching than that of the Nice brothers, who are interred at St. Michael’s graveyard. Come and pay tribute on this most venerable day to these two brave boys and to all veterans who have served our country nobly. There will be a wreath laying and tribute by the Nice brothers’ relatives. For information call 610-630-0912. The ceremony is sponsored by the W.S. Hancock Society, www.wshancocksociety.org



Share Views at Community Café


The first ever Northwest Philadelphia Community Café will take place on Sunday, November 15, 2:30-5 p.m. at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Avenue. The Café will create an opportunity for people to get together in a relaxed setting to talk about issues that matter in our Northwest community. If you want to find out what’s going on, share information, or get involved, then please join us at the Northwest Philadelphia Community Café.


The Café program will be informal. First, help yourself to a cup of coffee or tea, chat with neighbors, and browse through literature about what’s going on in our fabulous neighborhood. Workshops will then run simultaneously giving you the opportunity to participate in two discussions during the afternoon. A resource person will give a short presentation on an issue of interest to our community and facilitate a discussion.


Workshop topics will include:

Recycling, with Maurice Sampson, chair of Recycle Now; safety, with Heather Pierce, Carpenter Woods Town Watch; city services and the budget, with Stan Shapiro, Coalition for Essential Services; weatherization, with Chris Robinson, Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia; health care, with Dave Bell, Neighborhood Networks; composting and freecycling, with Meenal Raval, Philly Freecycle and Lee Meinicke, Philly Compost.


The Community Café is co-sponsored by Northwest Philadelphia MARCHinG for Change and Neighborhood Networks. The event is open to the public and is free but donations will be accepted for the coffee, tea and dessert to be provided. For more information, contact mlenzi@comcast.net, 215-247-9169.



Weekend Art Market Organizing


The newly formed Mt. Airy Art Garage, in partnership with Weavers Way Coop, is creating a new vision – to launch a weekend art market of fine arts and handcrafts at 542 West Carpenter Lane.


This group, which had its initial meeting November 1 at Weavers Way Administrative Offices (pictured), looks to present a variety of custom work by a diverse grouping of individual artists from the Northwest and neighboring communities.


Their long-term goal is to establish an ongoing art space with music and food where neighbors can spend time with families and friends. They will also create a cooperative artistic partnership that will result in both studio space and galleries.


Their next meeting will be on November 8, 1 p.m., at Weavers Way Administrative Offices, 555 West Carpenter Lane. They invite artists from Germantown, Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill, and neighboring communities to attend and bring samples of their work. For more information, email mtairyartgarage@yahoo.com or call 215-247-5309.



Dine at Trolley Car, Support Activist


Friends of Christine Oliger will hold a Helping Hands Week at Trolley Car Diner, www.trolleycardiner.com, from Monday, November 9, through Sunday, November 15.


Christine, a well-known peace activist, has been diagnosed with ALS (also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease”). Friends of Christine will help with her medical expenses by participating in this Helping Hands Week at the Trolley Car Diner, 7619 Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy, from Monday, November 9, through Friday, November 13 (7 a.m.- 9 p.m.) and Saturday, November 14, and Sunday, November 15, (3-9 p.m.). In order to participate, you will need a special coupon, which is available at www.friendsofchristine.com.


As part of its Helping Hands Week, the Trolley Car Diner will donate 15 percent of your spending on food, drinks and desert to the Christine Oliger Trust, if you show the coupon at time of payment. Show your support for Christine by bringing your friends and family for a delicious and fun dining experience at Trolley Car Diner, a child-friendly restaurant.


If you are not able to join in this Helping Hands Week, you may send a contribution to the “Christine Oliger Trust,” c/o Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, 100 East Mermaid Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19118. For more information or a Helping Hands Coupon, please contact info@friendsofchristine.com and 215-843-4256.



Modeling Open House


TLC Charm Modeling (TLC) is holding an open house and new student registration from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, November 7, at the Moving Arts Studio, 6819 Greene Street. TLC’s Etiquette and Modeling Program instills an appreciation for the social graces as well as an understanding of the modeling/fashion industry in young ladies ages 5-17.  The program, founded by Teresa L. Campbell, is presented in three 12-week sessions: beginner, intermediate and advanced.


TLC, under Campbell’s  guidance, promotes a nurturing environment in which young ladies can apply old-fashioned values to life’s daily challenges.


During TLC’s Etiquette sessions, students are taught social etiquette, confidence building and positive image development in an interactive, hands-on atmosphere.  TLC recently took its students for a lunch cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia to practice and reinforce their dining etiquette lessons.


TLC’s Modeling Program has two tracks depending upon the student’s interests.  Every student receives the same level of intensive training in runway, commercial and print modeling; however, students wishing to pursue modeling as a career are given the opportunity to join TLC Models, TLC’s modeling troop.  TLC Models is available for fashion shows and fundraisers and most recently participated in a show at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.


TLC’s Modeling Program sets itself apart from competitors with an emphasis on weekly photo challenges directed by professional photographer Andrea McClenon of Andrea Rose Photography, www.arosebudphoto.com.


The program is currently offered at Sayers Memorial United Methodist Church, 6101 Catherine Street, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  One of TLC’s immediate goals is to bring its program to other communities. The expansion to the Moving Arts Studio is the next step in achieving this goal. For information call Campbell at 215-850-0451, e-mail to tlclady712@yahoo.com or visit www.tlccharm.com.



Center in the Park joins with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to provide free, confidential memory screenings, conducted by qualified healthcare professionals, on National Memory Screening Day, Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m at CIP, 5818 Germantown Avenue, in Vernon Park. Attend and receive educational material about memory concerns.  Learn about ongoing programs at CIP designed to strengthen memory skills.


The event is free but registration is required. Call Delores Palmer at 215-849-5100, ext. 305.



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(Left) Volunteers from Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church tackled a major cleanup and clean-out at Cliveden Park House, Johnson and Musgrave streets, on October 17.


As part of its “Mission Blitz,” Enon members volunteered at 46 different sites that day.



(Right) Friends of Cliveden Park President Bert Lancaster, 81, in werewolf costume, proves that you don’t have to be young in years to enjoy Halloween.


Every year Lancaster dresses up to give kids a spooky thrill at the park’s annual Halloween celebration.