From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

December 9, 2010 • MAI.120910.pdf

In This Issue

The Stories

  1. Judge Orders Liquidation of Germantown Settlement

  2. Heat Problems Close Lovett; Residents Concerned

  3. Benches Dedicated at William Allen Plaza

  4. Fund Seeks Community Proposals for Grants

  5. Wister NAC Seeks Board Members

  6. Review: ‘The Black Swan’ is Threadbare, Silly Look at Ballet

  7. Toy Drive, Cards for Service People

  8. December Groups at USG

  9. At Germantown Jewish Center

  10. ‘Messiah’ Sung at Janes

  11. FOW Announces Picture Contest Winners

  12. Celebrate in Historic Germantown

  13. Celebrate Holiday Season with 6300 Block Alliance

  14. Finance Class for Children

  15. Project Learn Exhibit on Ethics for Adolescents

  16. Chair Massage

  17. Town Watch Brunch, Music

  18. Dragoni and Students in Concert

  19. Music Sunday at UU

  20. Advent Concert at Holy Cross

  21. Reformation Book Fair

  22. Talk on City’s Sinful Sirens

  23. Radio-Style ‘Christmas Carol’ at ALAC

Judge Orders Liquidation of Germantown Settlement



The long history of Germantown Settlement came to the beginning of the end last week when on December 2 federal Chief Bankruptcy Judge Steven Raslavich ordered that its holdings be sold off to pay its debts, which amount to at least $16 million owed to its creditors. Those creditors include mortgage holders as well as state, city and federal agencies.

Raslavich denied a last minute appeal that Settlement (founded in 1883) be allowed to remain in existence under the direction of Emanual Freeman, its president and director for 28 years. Raslavich said that that would be like “leaving the fox inside the henhouse,” in the light of allegations of misconduct raised by creditors and community members who testified during earlier hearings in federal Bankruptcy Court.

In a previous unusual move on Thursday, November 4, Raslavich had granted a motion filed on behalf of the non-profit Germantown Community Connection by attorney Irv Ackelsberg that gave a voice to the organization during future creditor meetings during the organization’s liquidation.

Earlier this year Settlement had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy which would have allowed it to reorganize and remain in existence during  bankruptcy and potentially emerge intact from the proceedings. It had withdrawn that petition on October 21.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which Settlement will now undergo, requires that a business cease operations and a Chapter 7 trustee be appointed to examine the business’s assets and sell them, distributing the proceedings to its creditors. Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that Settlement cannot receive a discharge from bankruptcy and remain in existence. Instead, it will be dissolved.

A Settlement property and development subsidiary, the Greater Germantown Housing Development Corporation  (GGHDC), had already been ordered by Raslavich  in November into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. GGHDC’s main asset is the Burgess Building at Chelten and Wayne avenues, the flagship building in the Settlement property empire, which includes dozens of properties and pieces of land throughout Germantown. The Burgess building housed Settlement’s offices in addition to other enterprises, including the Germantown Earn Center.

After Raslavich had issued his ruling on GGHDC, U.S. trustee George Conway  had entered a motion that would put Settlement, the parent company, into Chapter 7 as well. 

Before the summer of 2009, observers and community residents had noted many signs of financial distress for Germantown Settlement and GGHDC  in the form of unfinished buildings and projects throughout Germantown. Perhaps the most noticeable was the former Germantown YWCA building at 5820 Germantown Avenue, which was purchased by Settlement in 2006 through a $1.3 million loan extended to it by the city’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA).  The building stood vacant and unsecured for years in a slowly deteriorating condition, often the home to squatters and vandals, according to nearby residents. No payment on the loan was ever made by Settlement; the RDA reposed the building this year with plans to sell it.

The final straw came last year when the city of Philadelphia, in advance of applying for federal stimulus funds, was forced to examine the status and record-keeping of all city agencies.  Settlement’s records were in disarray, many missing allegedly due to computer problems and a fire in the Burgess Building while others did not exist at all. The city turned off the financial tap in the summer of 2009, cutting off funding for numerous Settlement programs that it ran on behalf of the city, including its senior center and family support programs.

In an e-mail that Freeman sent to friends and supporters on December 2 after Raslavich announced his decision, Freeman said:

“Today Judge Stephen Raslavich order Germantown Settlement to be converted from its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 despite our formal request for a dismissal. This action brings to an end a 126 years of service to the community. It’s assets will be liquidated in order to settle its debts to creditors. I wanted you to hear this first hand, before the newspapers begin to paint a rather unpleasant story. The city and local news establishment have been determined to influence the decisions of this entire process and they were successful.

“Germantown Settlement has made some rather significant contributions to the broader community and city of Philadelphia. Over the past few years, we have struggled enormously to keep pace with the growing financial challenges and now unfortunately we must close our doors on our long term social mission to improve the quality of life for low and moderate income families.

“I am personally disappointed by the judge’s decision, but in no way at the end of a tireless endeavor to extend a helping hand to the people who most need help. While this is the end of a particular chapter; it is only an obstacle in an endless journey. Our core organizational family of board, staff and volunteers remain committed to serve.

“We want to thank you for your support and especially to those of you who wrote letters to the judge. Your support continues to be the source of encouragement and for this I and the Board want to thank you again.”

Heat Problems Close Lovett; Residents Concerned



As of press time Wednesday, December 8, the Friends of Lovett Memorial Library (FOL) advocacy group was doing its best to spread the word to the community about the critical situation facing the library and get as large a turnout as possible at a community meeting later that evening to advocate for a quick resolution of the library’s difficulties.

At issue was the heating for the building – or rather the lack of it.

When members of the Lovett Writer’s Group came to the library, 6945 Germantown Avenue, on Friday, November 26, they found the lights out and the doors locked. The reason? Lovett’s heating system was out of order and with the onset of colder weather temperatures in the building were below the level that city regulations and union rules require for a city facility.

No notice was given of the closure, according to Eileen Levinson, former head librarian at Lovett and an officer of the FOL, and that has hampered efforts to publicize the situation, she said.

According to Free Library spokesperson Tracey Ray, a heating coil in the building’s antiquated heating and ventilation system must be replaced. Ray was unable to say exactly when the branch, one of the busiest in the city, had actually closed.

In an e-mail sent to Irv Miller, an FOL member who contacted the Free Library on behalf of the FOL, the chief of the Free Library’s Extension Division, Joe Benford, said that the Free Library had arranged with a heating vendor to fabricate a replacement coil, a process that he forecast would take a few weeks, which would get Lovett through the winter. After that, Benford said, the Free Library would begin planning the replacement of the entire unit. 

The FOL will have a lot of questions for Free Library representatives who were scheduled to meet the public at 6 p.m. on December 8 at Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, 13 East Mt. Pleasant Avenue, at 6 p.m.

Among those questions, according to Levinson, are who will be doing the work and who will be overseeing it? According to Levinson, some Lovett employees are willing to work there using space heaters as a stopgap measure to heat the building – would they be permitted to do so and if not, why not? How will the FOL get its mail, including membership applications? FOL mail is delivered to   the branch.

And what will happen to books and especially videos that were checked out of the branch before its closure? While the Free Library has said that materials checked out before the branch closed can be returned to other branches, particularly Coleman Northwest Regional Library and the Chestnut Hill Branch, there is concern that these materials will not make their way back to Lovett, at least in a timely manner.

All in all, public participation and advocacy on behalf of Lovett’s reopening is critical, said Levinson.  “I think that the biggest message is that if a critical mass shows up. That will tell them that the public is watching …  I told everybody that they should stand up with pencil and paper and write things down. And we’ll see.”

Benches Dedicated at William Allen Plaza

Attendees sat on and touched the benches during the dedication ceremony on December 3. They had previously engaged in a community carol sing, singing popular old carols with enthusiasm in the chilly evening.

Once, the 146-year-old Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) gave the architectural impression of being “walled-off” from the Mt. Airy community it has historically and increasingly supported over the years.

Visually, that changed a year ago with the dedication of William Allen Plaza, a public square on Germantown Avenue in front of the seminary’s chapel. Now, several Mt. Airy business leaders, inspired by the initiative, have taken the project a step further by donating the creation and installation of three just-completed permanent benches to make the plaza even more accommodating to visitors. The benches, which “wrap around” three trees on the plaza, were fabricated by craftsman Matt Sharaat of Mt. Airy Custom Furniture, and dedicated December 3 as part of the tree lighting and caroling event held annually for the seminary and Mt. Airy community.

The plaza furniture project was the brainchild of Elise Rivers, who with her husband moved to Mt. Airy six years ago. Rivers explains she and her husband have both formed strong businesses, hers being Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy, originally located on the 500-block of East Sedgwick Street, which at the end of last March relocated to new quarters at 6782 Germantown Avenue. Her business is steadily growing, she says.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors,” she explains, “and when I saw the space I thought it is just what the community needs along Germantown Avenue. I have felt so grateful for this wonderful, diverse neighborhood in which to live and work and the community support which has made my business so successful, and I wanted to give something back.” She adds she found further purpose in the project through her role as a board member of the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (MABID).

In pondering the benches idea, Rivers contacted Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner and current MABID chair for advice and support. Weinstein said he told Rivers that the seminary has historically supported the Mt. Airy community in multiple ways.

“During the Germantown Avenue reconstruction, the seminary community really supported the diner, which was so negatively impacted for a time by the construction,” Weinstein said. The road excavation made access to the restaurant a real challenge for many months. Weinstein also praises the seminary for investing in the fledgling Valley Green Bank five years ago. The bank, which now has three locations, got its start across the street from the campus.  In addition, Weinstein said, the seminary has energetically participated in Martin Luther King Day service projects and initiatives like cleanups along Chew Avenue.

Weinstein explains Rivers became “hooked” on supporting the project when she learned more of the seminary’s history of community involvement. She met with Krey, then pledged a $4,000 gift toward the benches. Weinstein made a $1,000 supportive pledge and also contacted Robert Elfant of Elfant-Wissahickon Realtors, who pledged $1,000 toward the project. And Elfant contacted Edward Hillis, owner of Domus Inc., the Germantown general contractor recently involved in building a new Weaver’s Way Co-op store on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Hillis made a $1,000 gift. The Seminary also made a $2,000 gift toward the project. The $9,000 total made the project possible.

Participating in the Friday evening ceremonies were LTSP President Philip Krey, bench donors Elise Rivers, Bob Elfant and Ken Weinstein, East Mt. Airy Neighbors President Dan Muroff, Mt. Airy USA Executive Director Anuj Gupta, LTSP Professor Katie Day, and Philadelphia City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller. Professor Day lead the prayer for the dedication of the benches, and Councilwoman Miller flipped the switch to light the plaza tree. Seminary Director of Music Ministries and Cantor Michael Krentz and seminarian Pam Peterson, playing the flute, lead the community in singing carols.

Fund Seeks Community Proposals for Grants

The Northwest Fund’s Neighborhood Change Agent Award Program is currently soliciting proposals from community-based organizations with programs that improve quality of life and reduce/prevent crime in our target areas, which are Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill, Germantown, Olney, Nicetown, East Falls, Roxborough, and Oak Lane. We are grateful to have received a congressional appropriation from the US Department of Justice, on behalf of Congressman Chaka Fattah, allowing TNF to extend approximately $300,000 in grants to community organizations involved in activities related to community building and safety.

We will hold a grant information session on December 17 from 9 to 11 a.m.  The session will be held at the Mt. Airy USA building conference room, 6703 Germantown Avenue, Suite 200. We want to make sure you are aware of this opportunity, and if you feel your organization is eligible  -  apply!

Details on the Request for Proposals are available on our website,

Wister NAC Seeks Board Members

Wister Neighborhood Council (WNC) has been directly involved in the social and economic revitalization of the community for more than 30 years.  WNC/NAC has been providing advocacy and referral services and helping to organize people in the area for many years.

The WNC/NAC board is actively seeking to increase its membership.  The service area has expanded to include Johnson Street and Germantown Avenue to Gorgas Lane to Chew Avenue and to Johnson Street in 19119 zip code,  Chew Avenue and Washington Lane to Stenton Avenue to Wister Street, and down to Chew Avenue in 19138 zip code.

We are seeking to expand our board with members who have a stake in maintaining the wealth of diversity and spirit of the community.  Members of the board are voted in by the community.  Eligibility to serve on the board only requires that you live or own a business within our service area and that you have attended at least 4 of our meetings held within each contract year.

As a stakeholder in the community, we are inviting you to represent your community by serving on our Board of Directors.  It is important that residents, youth, and senior citizens have representation on the board as we begin our next thirty years with renewed hope of what we can accomplish. 

Pick up an application by Dec. 15 at Wister Neighborhood Council, Inc., 5118 Germantown Avenue. For more information contact Wister NAC at 215-843-6565

Review: ‘The Black Swan’ is Threadbare, Silly Look at Ballet


Guest Writer

If it’s true that there are no new stories to tell, then all you can do is tell the same stories in a new way. All fiction is derivative of something, and the various influences are what build the particular point-of-view that distinguishes the material. Those who are accused of being rip-off artists simply haven’t waited long enough to the point where stealing turns into inspiration and homage. A true hack is just trying to cash-in on a popular trend and has no artistic integrity to worry about.

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has had enough time and distance from its more obvious influences like Repulsion and All About Eve as to appear to be its own creature, indebted only to our expectations.

Primarily, Black Swan is a thriller about a ballerina played by Natalie Portman who badly wants to be the lead in a Lincoln Center production of Swan Lake, while she simultaneously deals with her progressive insanity. Aronofsky’s approach is to combine the mundane with the surreal and hope we’ll get caught in the middle. Portman’s character, who lives with her domineering mother (Barbara Hershey), is miserable at the beginning of the film and she’s not happier as she rises to the top, so Aronofsky has Black Swan prey on her vulnerability and isolation. The camera is always by everyone’s ear, which is initially disorienting but eventually reveals the truth of what’s going on; Black Swan is incredibly, amazingly, astoundingly … threadbare and silly.

Did you know that ballet dancers are fragile, pale, and skinny? Did you know they had ambitions to rise to the top, and they’ll try to sleep with the artistic director of a production to get a lead part? Can you imagine an artistic director who takes advantage of his position and assigns parts based on who’s next outside his bedroom door?

Sure, Aronofsky (Requiem For a Dream, The Wrestler) is an important filmmaker with his own important style and his own important opinion to express. And wouldn’t it be neat if he took something as highbrow as ballet and turned it into a naughty exploitation film? But no matter how many cheesy hallucinations about being stalked and followed by those who are out to get our protagonist or extraneous lesbian sex scenes he throws in, it’s clear he didn’t have the heart to go all out. Black Swan never rises to the level of exploitation.

The movie falls under the same unfortunate tree as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a monumentally obvious and dopey movie. Jack Nicholson’s character is clearly crazy in the first five minutes and we spend the next 140 minutes of fancy camerawork and shock cuts finding out that … he’s clearly crazy. Black Swan is The Shining in a tutu.

If anything, Black Swan owes more to Jacob’s Ladder with its combination of clichéd horror imagery about demons on the streets of New York, in the subway, and at home. But Black Swan doesn’t have the anything goes feel of Jacob’s Ladder, it’s a lot drearier. The pared-down photography that Aronofsky adopted for The Wrestler doesn’t suit Black Swan, which begins to resemble an early 80s TV movie at times, or like a dated “we’re-dealing-with-serious-issues here, even though this is just a pretty sleazy but half-hearted studio movie” like Lipstick (starring the Hemingway sisters).

And all that might be okay if Aronofsky had any insight into ballet that extended beyond standard backstage melodrama and backstabbing or if we truly cared or could sympathize with or might find Portman even remotely interesting. But her performance is all anorexic anxiousness, which was probably the point, but was so off-putting that all I could think of as the solution to her myriad problems was to offer her a sandwich. 

Adam Lippe’s reviews can be seen at

Toy Drive, Cards for Service People

Make or sign a card going to the troops and/or get a 10 percent discount on any toy purchased from O’Doodles that they will contribute to the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Operation Santa Toy drive with the Miraculous Medal Shrine. The event takes place Saturday December 11, - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at  O’Doodles Toy Store, 8331 Germantown Avenue.

Miraculous Medal Shrine, 500 East Chelten Avenue, and O’Doodles Toy Store are teaming up to help the American Troops stationed and traveling through Kwait on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan with Christmas well wishes.

On Christmas Day these cards will be distributed to thousands of the soldiers that attend Christmas Mass. The Miraculous Medal Shrine will include the Miraculous Medal Prayer with each card.

This year the Archdiocese has asked O’Doodles and the Shrine to help with Operation Santa and you can too.  At O’Doodles on Saturday, December 11 you can purchase a toy at a 10 percent discount for a child here in Philadelphia that might otherwise not get one this year.  New and unwrapped toys can also be dropped off at the Miraculous Medal Shrine until December 15.

O’Doodles will have cards, paper and crayons ready for all to send encouraging messages to our hard working protectors in the armed forces abroad.

For more information, stop by O’Doodles or Miraculous Medal Shrine by Dec. 11 or email

December Groups at USG

The Men’s Group at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, 6511 Lincoln Drive, meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Committee Room to discuss a specific topic. The next meeting will be Tuesday, December 21.  For questions e-mail to

The Meditation Circle is for anyone interested in meditation—novice or experienced. We meet at 9:30 a.m. on the second Sunday of the month in the Austin Youth Lodge, the carriage house behind the Unitarian Society of Germantown.  Our next meeting will be Sunday, December 12. For questions e-mail to

There is parking in the rear of church off Johnson Street. All are welcome.


At Germantown Jewish Center

On December 24, the Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 West Ellet Street, will host a Kol Zimrah monthly musical service and Chinese dinner. Join us on the fourth Friday of the month for this new, joyful Shabbat service for all who are moved by music.  In December the Kol Zimrah service will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a catered Chinese dinner (Adults: $20; Children over 3 years: $15). For more info and to RSVP for dinner, e-mail or call 215-844-1507.

‘Messiah’ Sung at Janes

Janes Memorial United Methodist Church, 47 East Haines Street, presents the inspiring holiday oratorio, The Messiah by Frideric Handel on Sunday, December 19 at 4 p.m., performed by the distinguished Clayton White Singers, with Dr. Clayton White as conductor and Gordon Turk as organist.

All are invited to enjoy this inspiring performance. There is no admission charge; there will be a free will offering.

For information call the church office at 215-844-9564.

FOW Announces Picture Contest Winners

Shown are some of this year’s winners of FOW’s Photo Contest: Janet Greenstein Potter; Richard Bechtel; Alex Morgan; Alexa Obolensky; Jay Goldstein, President and CEO of Valley Green Bank; Merry Barber; and FOW Executive Director Maura McCarthy.

The Friends of the Wissahickon announced the winners of its 2010 Photo Contest, sponsored by Valley Green Bank, at a reception at The Cedars House on December 2. The contest was judged by Nick Kelsh, author/photographer of nine books. Special guest James Stewart spoke at the reception. He is a nature photographer, whose most recent work appears in Wissahickon: Worth Preserving. 

The winning photos are:

Grand Prize: John Swarts of Scranton for “Light Under Bridge”

First Prize Landscape: Richard Bechtel of Germantown for an untitled Wissahickon landscape.

Second Prize Landscape: Alexa Obolensky of Germantown for “Shadows on Sycamore.”

First Prize Structures: John Swarts of Scranton for “Light Under Bridge.”

Second Prize Structures: Thomas Doyle of Roxborough for “Lincoln Drive Afternoon” and Barbara Knupp  of Roslyn for “Reflection.”

First Prize Wildlife: Alex Morgan of Mt. Airy for “The Spirit Appears.”

Second Prize Wildlife: Richard Bechtel of Germantown for “Snake.”

First Prize People in the Park: Janet Greenstein Potter of Chestnut Hill for “He Caught One.”

Second Prize People in the Park: Merritt Rhoad of Glenside for “Generations.”

First Prize Junior Competition: Amy Tassone Knupp of Roslyn for “Amy’s Elbow.”

The winning photographs will be exhibited at The Cedars House until the end of the year. The Cedars House is a café and fitness spot situated on Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Valley Park near Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill. For more information call 215-242-3121 or visit

In January 2011, the exhibit will move to Valley Green Bank’s Mt. Airy headquarters, 7226 Germantown Avenue, and the Grand Prize winning photograph will be on display at the bank’s Chestnut Hill branch, 23 West Highland Avenue.

Celebrate in Historic Germantown

Join Historic Germantown during the month of December as they celebrate the holidays with a wide array of fun, family-friendly programs. Upcoming events include: 

Dec.11 brings another round of holiday cheer with activities at Grumblethorpe, 5269 Germantown Avenue. Create a holiday craft and have your picture taken with Santa at Grumblethorpe from 1- 4 p.m. Grumblethorpe asks $5 per person, $12 for a family or 2 non-perishable food items per person.

On Dec. 27 join the Johnson House Historic Site, 6306 Germantown Avenue, for their Kwanzaa celebration from 6 - 8 p.m. The program will feature African storytelling and drumming celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa.

For costs and further information about programs in Historic Germantown, call 215-844-1683 or visit Germantown is a consortium of fifteen cultural and historic sites located in Northwest Philadelphia.

Celebrate Holiday Season with 6300 Block Alliance

Come join the 6300 Block Alliance for an evening to celebrate the holiday season.  A carol sing will be led by choir members of New Bethel Life Christian Center and area churches. 

This outdoor event will be held along the 6300 block of Germantown Ave on Thursday, December 16, 6 – 7:30 p.m.,  and will begin at the northeast corner of Germantown Avenue.  

Immediately following the carol sing the Alliance invites you to join us in sipping hot apple cider and eating cookies inside the Johnson House, located at 6306 Germantown Avenue.    In an effort to give back to the community members of the Alliance are collecting donations of dry goods, canned goods and monetary donations to enable them to give holiday baskets to two local deserving families referred by local churches. 

The 6300 Block Alliance is a coalition of businesses, property owners, and community members of Germantown Avenue.  Alliance members are willing to discuss and work on ways to improve this part of the Germantown Avenue Corridor.  It meets monthly to identify and coordinate community responses to the authorities and take advantage of opportunities that will attract new business into our area.  In so doing, the Alliance hopes to promote greater well-being among our neighbors and in our city.

In sponsoring the event The Alliance hopes that it will contribute to a quality of life that we can all enjoy.

Corporate and community donations are welcome.  For more information to make a donation please contact  D. Turlington at 215-438-1768 or A. Alexander at 215-844-9345.

Germantown High School’s Culinary Arts program participated in Bloomingdale’s Chili Competition in November at the King of Prussia Mall.

Students from the School District’s Culinary and Hospitality Program competed for All-Clad cookware. Germantown High School placed second in the competition. The Culinary Arts program is a component of the Communications, Arts, and Business Technology Academy at Germantown High. Above: Culinary Arts student Anthony Wright serves up chili in the Bloomingdale’s Chili Competition.

Finance Class for Children

Childspace CDI is offering a financial literacy class for all childcare staff called “Take Control of Your Money”. The orientation will be held Saturday, December 11, at 10 a.m. at 5517 Greene Street.  Learn to deal with debt, budget and save for financial goals including secondary education and child care business goals. This is a six-session class to be held once a month beginning in January. For more information call Childspace CDI at 215-842-3050 or register at

Project Learn Exhibit on Ethics for Adolescents

Teaching ethics to adolescents: that’s the subject of a fascinating exhibit on view at InFusion Coffee and Tea Gallery, 7133 Germanton Avenue, throughout the month December.

A reception will be held on Dec. 10, 5-7:30 p.m. at InFusion. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Donna Allender, a veteran teacher and practicing psychotherapist, and Jerry Allender, an author and retired professor of education at Temple University, are presenting the exhibit as a culmination of their ethics program in the Project Learn School (PLS) Junior High. They are also working on a book about this topic, entitled: Ethics for Children Becoming Adolescents.

For the first time last year, PLS offered an ethics course to all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, exploring the meaning of ethics and ethical issues through art, literature, movement, group discussions and sharing insights and learning with younger students.

Jerry Allender designed and taught the ethics class in collaboration with parents and teachers at the school. “It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us,” Allender says, “and we continue to explore how we can engage and connect with each other around ethical issues.”

In the introduction to their book (a work in progress), the Allenders write: “It behooves each of us to consider how it is that we want children who are growing into adolescents to behave. We recognize that teaching ethics is a challenge for a citizen, a parent, or a teacher, as it was for us.”

And the ethics exhibit is one way to help meet this challenge and open up community discussion of this important topic. The exhibit includes student artwork and writings, as well as a wall for community comments and participation.

“Teaching ethics is learning ethics,” remarks Prof. Allender. “And we hope many parents, educators, and interested folks from the community will join us both in teaching and learning more about this important topic that affects all of our lives.

For more information about the Project Learn School, visit or call 215-438-3623. 

Chair Massage

Waterview Recreation Center, 5826 McMahon Street, is now offering a new service, Chair Massage, to all of you who are suffering from Black Friday/Cyber Monday/General Holiday stress-related aches and stiffness.  This form of massage is done in a special chair on which the client sits facing the cushions, and exposes the scalp, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back and hips.  The type of massage includes acupressure-based light compression, light kneading, circular friction and vibration to relieve stress to ultimately offer comfort to the client.

Most massage sessions last from 10-15 minutes.  Increased massage time would be discussed with the massage therapist, Marilyn Cutts. She is at Waterview Recreation Center on Thursdays between 6 - 9 p.m. Call 215-685-2229 for more information.

Town Watch Brunch, Music

The Mt. Airy – Nippon – Bryan – Cresheim Town watch will hold a pre-holiday music fest and brunch on Sunday, December 12, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the High Point Café in the Allens Lane Train Station.

There will be outstanding music from John Colgan-Davis (vocals and harmonica—blues), Steve Hastie and friends (high energy acoustic), Allen Krantz (classical guitar), David Kutzik and friends (jazz and klezmer), Rusty Prall (mountain dulcimer), and Helen Wendell (opera).

Delicious brunch items include crepes, quiche, soup, pastries, homemade holiday candy, coffee and espressos.

Come and enjoy and de-stress!

Dragoni and Students in Concert

Jim Dragoni will be presenting music by America’s great composers as well as original music on December 18 at 7 p.m. at Christ Ascension Lutheran Church, 8300 Germantown Avenue.

Dragoni will be presenting his advanced students of all ages as well as performing with professional accompanists in this performance which is meant to showcase the beauty of the church as a concert environment as well as the large amounts of musical talent that he has developed and that exists in the community.

In addition to Dragoni on guitar and piano, the concert with feature Scott Brenman, bass; Larry McEwen, guitar and vocals, Georgene Taylor, piano, John Dean, saxophone, Victor Jones on electric bass, Timothy Moxie on electric guitar, Philip Forrence, guitar, Naomi Grigoryan, guitar and vocals, Andrew Dragoni, drums and piano and Martin Lohrman, the pastor of the Church on guitar and vocals.

Dragoni is known in Chestnut Hill as a teacher and known regionally as a recording artist and for his work with Mose Allison, Larry Coryell and Odean Pope.

Refreshments will be served.  There is a requested donation of $10.

Music Sunday at UU

At the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, 6900 Stenton Avenue, at the corner of Stenton and Gorgas, the Buddhist Meditation group meets the first Sunday of every month from 9:30 a.m. until 11a.m. in our Hale Lounge.

We will have Music Sunday, December 12 at our 11 a.m. Service. A concert harp and harpist will be settled into our sanctuary, with the Restoration Singers thoroughly engaged in beautiful music by Benjamin Britten.

Restoration’s Holiday Bargain Shoppe will be open in the Fellowship Hall after the Sunday service at 12:30 p. m.  The community is welcome to come and shop for all kinds of holiday gift items at very reasonable prices. Visit our website for more information at

Advent Concert at Holy Cross

The Choirs of Holy Cross and Saint Madeleine Sophie present an Advent Concert December 12 at 5 p.m. at Holy Cross Church, 140 East Mount Airy Avenue, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio and other choral selections.

Reformation Book Fair

Celebrate the holiday season by giving the gift of reading.  Books for children, teens, youth and adults of all ages can be found at the Holiday Book Fair to be held on Saturday, December 11 and Sunday December 12, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church, 1215 East Vernon Road.

The Holiday Book Fair,a free event, will include Kwanzaa gifts, bible covers, religious and sacred ornaments, and beautifully crafted gifts to celebrate the season of giving. Proceeds will help to support the Youth Scholarship Program at Reformation.  The public is cordially invited.   For information, please contact Reformation at 215-548-4332.

Talk on City’s Sinful Sirens

A talk on Philadelphia’s “Devious Dames and Wicked Wenches” will take place on Wednesday,  December 15, 7 p.m. at the Falls of Schuylkill Library, 3501 Midvale Avenue.

Thomas H. Keels will present an illustrated lecture on some of the female swindlers and sirens who have enlivened our Quaker City over the years. In his latest work, Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love, Mr. Keels introduces us to women who, although they may not always been allowed to vote, knew how to use their talents and their wiles to attain equity in deception.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase ($20 including tax.) This free event is sponsored by the East Falls Historical Society and Friends of Falls of Schuylkill Library. 

For more information contact Ellen Sheehan at 215-848-8396 or email

Radio-Style ‘Christmas Carol’ at ALAC

Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale A Christmas Carol is being brought to life in the Allens Lane Theater as a radio play. Close your eyes and imagine being taken back to a time when everyone gathered around the family radio to experience Charles Dickens’s beloved story of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future in live radio drama-style (including live sound effects!) performances.

This adaptation of A Christmas Carol is styled after the radio shows of the 1930’s and ‘40’s and takes you on an incredible journey into the supernatural as a miserly man comes to realize the true spirit of Christmas. Featuring virtuoso performances from the entire cast, riveting sound effects and original music, Allens Lane Art Center’s production of the story is an adventure in imagination and sound.

Our theater commissary will have special holiday treats available: hot cider with cinnamon sticks, hot chocolate with marshmallows, coffee, gingerbread people,  cookies, pumpkin pecan  cookies, apple spice cupcakes with cider icing, and eggnog cake.

Performances are December 17, 8 p.m.; December 18, 4 and 7 p.m.; and December 19, 2 and 6 p.m. This special weekend performance of A Christmas Carol is separate from our regular theater season and is not included in the yearly subscription. Tickets are $18 with  reservations or $20 at the door. For information and reservations visit or call 215-248-0546.