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Aug 30, 2018

When Erin Hoopes applied for a grant to bring Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) to the Philadelphia City Institute (PCI) branch of the Free Library, she was searching for a way to attract that notoriously opaque demographic: teenagers. As Branch Manager, she envisioned a thriving community of teens who felt valued and were invested in the library. “Teens were a largely forgotten demographic group at PCI because we had such a strong tradition of programming and services to adults and families with young children,” said Hoopes. “But I knew that if we could just make PCI a more welcoming place for teens, they would feel invited to attend programs and that the library was an important part of their lives.” The idea of a library bustling with engaged teens who put down their phones to talk deeply about books might sound a little utopian, but Hoopes, who was named by Library Journal as one of their Movers & Shakers of 2018, was undaunted. After receiving a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) in 2015 to start Teen Reading Lounge, she quickly drew in teens for regular book discussions and activities. The bottom-up pedagogy of the program fostered the sense of teen-ownership she was craving and an authentic community began to grow. “The dynamic nature of the TRL program and the relationships it fostered has helped our teens experience that feeling of being deeply valued,” said Hoopes. Philadelphia City Institute is positioned next to stately Rittenhouse Square. The library’s upscale location belies its diversity of patrons who come from throughout the city, including the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. PCI provides a safe place for young adults from all backgrounds where they can build skills and explore issues inspired by reading books together. Hoopes has seen the teens’ confidence levels improving as they support each other in articulating their feelings about the complex ideas and current events that are important to them. Her observation supports a recent survey by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, which found that 80% of Teen Reading Lounge participants reported improving their communication skills and 77% said they strengthened in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. Civic engagement is central to PCI’s approach to Teen Reading Lounge and over the months of readings and discussions the cohort of teens build up to a cumulative project. The latest one involved creating a video about gun violence and “fake news,” which had a few courageous teens approaching city residents in Rittenhouse Square with tough questions. The experience taught them firsthand about the difficulties and rewards of engaging the public in meaningful dialogue. “Those interviews became some of the most moving parts of the video they made and they were especially proud of each other’s bravery in asking tough questions to people without knowing how they might respond,” said Hoopes. These civic engagement activities are challenging and empowering -- a big part of what makes the program so popular with young people. “Miss Erin teaches us that we have a voice and that our voice is powerful,” said Timmy, a senior in the Philadelphia School District who helped create the video. “She's a great mentor so, of course, she's going to make a great program that's really going to open people's eyes.” Timmy and the rest of the group at PCI were recently asked to write a blog for the Young Adult Library Services Association about their experiences with Teen Reading Lounge. Reflecting on the impact of the program, the teens concluded, “Through TRL, we have become better, more empathetic individuals, and more conscious about the world we live in.” The youth community sparked by Teen Reading Lounge continues to be a benefit to PCI, initiating new opportunities for growth at the library. “The foundation I was able to establish with TRL was a great springboard for more teen programming and services,” said Hoopes. In July, PCI hosted the attention-grabbing Social Justice Symposium for Teens with workshops on subjects like youth homelessness and activism through art. It featured a talk by Husnaa Hashim, the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate. Erin Hoopes’ spearheading of such compelling programming and innovative events leads the way for how libraries can meet the needs of teens -- and how developing a thriving community of engaged teen readers is no utopian fantasy.   Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Aug 02, 2018

“Surprising!” “Eye-opening!” “Interesting!” Three teens, Allison, Ha and Amanda, representing John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School, stretched out comfortably on an outdoor patio overlooking the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia. They gave spirited responses to our questions about their experiences with Teen Reading Lounge (TRL), a book club developed by Pennsylvania Humanities Council that pairs reading with creative projects and thoughtful discussions. The conversation brimmed with favorite memories and plenty of laughter, occasionally punctuated by moments of emotional vulnerability. It offered a look at the group’s fun but safe reading and discussion environment back at Hallahan. “We built a very comfortable space with a supportive dynamic,” said Ha. Amanda agreed and said she appreciated that her opinions were always respected. “I never got a response that made me feel like I shouldn’t share again.” Also on the patio were Hallahan’s Site Director Jo Bradley and Facilitator Sam Dugan who have developed and fostered the group. Teen Reading Lounge takes a bottom-up approach to a traditional book club. The students not only select their books and topics of conversation but they also work together to create a civic engagement project inspired by their reading. Bradley encouraged Hallahan’s administration to dedicate a whole classroom to TRL and consulted with the language arts and guidance departments to help implement the program. “My role was just making sure they had the best environment possible and the students built on that,” said Bradley. One of the books the teens selected was Liliana Velásquez’s Dreams and Nightmares, an account of the author’s harrowing journey from her village in Guatemala to the United States. As the children of Vietnamese immigrants, the teens were acutely aware of their own families’ struggles as they read the story. “It made me sympathize with my parents’ journey because they had similar problems,” said Amanda. “Immigrants are especially vulnerable and there are still a lot of gaps in the compassion people have for them -- you really need to read books to have compassion!” The project the teens built around Dreams and Nightmares was inspired by their Roman Catholic education. They created a special Bible that functioned as a hidden survival guide with tips and tricks for journeying to America encoded into the text. “Exodus took on a whole new meaning,” laughed Allison. In April the teens gave up a day of their Easter break to travel to another Teen Reading Lounge site at the Free Library of Philadelphia-Philadelphia City Institute Branch and meet Liliana Velásquez in person. Allison is a junior and will continue on with TRL next year but Amanda and Ha are off to Drexel University in the fall. They say they will miss the program but stressed that they are walking away with a healthier model for dialogue than is portrayed in the media. “On the news we see adults shouting at each other and getting upset,” said Amanda. “Teen Reading Lounge gave us a positive example of how you can discuss complicated issues and that has really grown my interest in being a more participative citizen.”   Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. As a key part of its prevention focus, The Philadelphia Department of Human Services provides financial support to operate Philadelphia out-of-school-time pilot sites, including the site at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School.

Jul 25, 2018

Days after a gunman opened fire at a Parkland, Florida school in February, killing seventeen students and staff members and injuring seventeen others, the Teen Reading Lounge group at the rural Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library in Northumberland met to discuss Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. “The students shared that they felt like Alice, tumbling down a rabbit hole into a world they didn’t understand,” said Youth Services Coordinator Kim King. The stories and the conversations that were sparked helped the teens process their feelings of helplessness, frustration and anger. They also led to larger discussions about school safety and the need to address problems faced by young people. Constructed in the early 19th century as a two-story home, later to be a tavern and then a medical office, the Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library was finally established in 1925 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Its cozy, book-packed corridors and quirky mix of antiquarian architecture and modern amenities have made it an ideal setting for teens, some who experience social anxiety at school or have learning differences, to feel safe exploring books together and diving deep into sensitive personal and political issues. For some of the teens, the experience has played a big role in their social development. “[Teen Reading Lounge] is a good way to go out and actually meet people and discuss things that you otherwise probably wouldn't discuss,” said Kendra  Harter, an eighth grader at Shikellamy Middle School. “I went from being really socially awkward and an introvert to not being as much of an introvert.” With the support of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Teen Reading Lounge was established at the Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library in 2014. The current facilitator is Renee Albertson, a certified Reading Specialist, who takes special care in giving individual attention to students’ reading needs and letting them develop their own community guidelines to govern the space. She also supports the teens’ civic engagement ideas that are inspired by their readings -- recent projects have included a food drive, helping rescue dogs and cleaning up public spaces. Albertson excels at helping young people make meaningful connections between literature and contemporary issues. When the Parkland shooting happened, she found that the dissociative prose of Lewis Carroll, and Alice's bewilderment in Wonderland,  helped the teens express their own confusing torrent of feelings. Kim King has noticed participants in the program reporting significant improvements in school and even stopping by the library on their own to pick up books for personal reading. It was in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting tragedy that she became convinced of the power of Teen Reading Lounge to create a supportive and relevant environment. “It’s a great way for libraries to reach all kinds of kids but especially those that are on the fringes,” said King. “There’s so much more that comes out of Teen Reading Lounge than reading a book.” Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

Jun 28, 2018

Using ground penetrating radar, Greater Carlisle Heart and Soul and a team from Dickinson College are trying to locate unmarked graves at an historic but abandoned African American church in Mount Holly Springs. The Mount Tabor Church on Cedar Street is nearly 150 years old and in poor structural condition but it has newly appreciated cultural significance in a community that is now exploring its preservation options. Historic artifacts have been placed into storage and a laser scanner was used to create an accurate map of the site. Recently added to the Cumberland County Historic Register, the church has assumed its rightful place in local history. This investigation is the result of the broader project by Greater Carlisle Heart and Soul, with the support of PHC, to gather stories, collect history and identify community assets. Greater Carlisle is putting the humanities at the heart of their community development efforts and reaping rewards -- including, discovering cultural treasures hidden in plain sight. Watch the video, “Hidden History: Searching for Lost African-American Grave Sites” produced by our partner The Orton Family Foundation.

Jun 26, 2018

“Miss Diane, forget movies, I only want to go to the theater,” one student told Diane Sandefur, Director of the University of Pennsylvania's TRiO Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program, on the drive back from an evening performance at People's Light Theater in Malvern. For many veterans in the program, these trips to theaters and museums, supported by Pennsylvania Humanities Council, are wholly new experiences. They can be eye-opening and emotionally stirring, leading to conversations about culture, history and justice. This unique approach to putting veterans on track for college is often a catalyst for meaningful personal, and broader community, change. University of Pennsylvania’s VUB program, which is supported by the US Department of Education, is an invaluable service for the region’s veterans, providing them with the academic skills and experiences necessary to excel in college. Towards this end they have been highly successful -- 90% of a recently graduated class went on to enroll in postsecondary courses. Veterans in the program are often first generation college students and most are facing economic hardship. “The age range is from early 20s to mid-60s and to be eligible for VUB veterans must be from a disenfranchised background,” said Sandefur. The curriculum is what you might expect from a traditional college preparatory program, including instruction in mathematics, science, foreign language and humanities. What makes Penn VUB special is the cultural experiences, mentorship and counseling services, along with the camaraderie and support of fellow veterans in the program. Since 2015, Pennsylvania Humanities Council has worked with Penn VUB to expand the humanities curriculum and activities for veterans in the program, initially providing funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities' Standing Together initiative. A recent PHC-sponsored trip included a visit to Wharton Escherick Museum and tickets to The Diary of Anne Frank at the People's Light Theater. This critically acclaimed production tells Anne Frank's harrowing story in a way that illuminates modern problems of polarization. People's Light intended it to be "a ritual of remembrance, an act of defiance, and a source of solace and light." For the veterans, the performance was captivating and spoke with clarity to their own concerns about discrimination. “Never in my life have I enjoyed a play,” recalled one student after the show. “It was beautiful.” Coupled with the play was a lively panel discussion on Jewish history and social justice that included Rabbi Arthur Waskow (The Shalom Center),  Reverend Gregory Holston (Partnership for Working Families), and Reverend Mark Tyler (Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church). The veterans asked pointed questions to the panelists about issues they struggle with every day: racism, equity and justice. “The conversation about the slavery of the Jewish people, and the traditions and celebrations of their freedom, was intertwined with the struggles of the black population,” said Sandefur, who accompanied the group. VUB students read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and later went on to further immerse themselves in Jewish culture by participating in the Annual Freedom  Seder at the National Museum of American Jewish History. This event has its roots in the 1969 Freedom Seder that took place during the Civil Rights Movement and it is an opportunity to share an evening of food and stories of liberation at the community Passover table. Many VUB students find such multifaceted engagement with the humanities uplifting and inspiring in the moment, but it also contributes to the veterans’ later success in postsecondary education and in their lives more broadly. Exposure to the region’s cultural assets opens up worlds of exploration, uncovers learning opportunities and reveals nascent interests. Within the supportive community of Penn VUB, veterans are able to heal past wounds, build confidence inside and outside the classroom and make meaningful changes in their lives and their communities. Students are challenged to think deeply about their experiences and express them in ways that strengthen skills in college-level writing and verbal communication. The veterans themselves are vocal advocates of VUB and the data supports their enthusiasm -- after graduating, most participants had improved academic performance based on standardized testing. Pennsylvania Humanities Council is proud to partner with Penn VUB to enhance a humanities curriculum that fosters both personal and academic growth for the region’s veterans. “PHC has afforded the VUB students with experiences that, for some, did not know existed,” said Diane Sandefur. “For other students the experiences provided by PHC were previously thought to have been a far reach and something they could only dream of attending."   Related Content For Philadelphia-Area Veterans, the Humanities Build Academic Skills--and a Path to Positive Change Penn Veterans Upward Bound Partnership  

Jun 20, 2018

Learn how youth organizations and libraries can promote positive youth development skills through the humanities and civic engagement through this latest installment of the Teen Reading Lounge webinar series. Teen Reading Lounge is built on the belief that the humanities and the skills they teach provide a pathway to positive development in young people. In this webinar, youth development experts and Teen Reading Lounge practitioners explore how the award-winning program helps young people cultivate 21st century skills essential for success, develop a stronger understanding of their own identity and of different perspectives, and identify solutions to challenges in their communities.    The webinar was produced by PHC and moderated by Valerie Adams-Bass, Assistant Professor of Youth and Social Innovations in the Department of Human Services at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. Practitioner panel guests include: Jo Bradley, OST Director at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School Kimberly King, Youth Services Coordinator &Assistant Director at Priestley Forsyth Memorial Library Shakira King, Activities Director at Sunrise of Philadelphia Inc. @ South Philadelphia High School   Click here to watch the webinar.   Related Content Outreach & Recruitment: A Teen Reading Lounge Webinar Teen Reading Lounge Expands to OST Sites, Makes Longer-Term Investments in Libraries Data Show that Teen Reading Lounge Inspires Positive Action  

Mar 27, 2018

On March 20 MacArthur Fellow and National Humanities Medalist Anna Deavere Smith led a Master Class in Empathy with 120 Philadelphia-area leaders, including former mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Richard Ross. The class effectively launched “Move in Closer,” a series of activities designed to celebrate Leadership Philadelphia’s 60th anniversary. Founded in 1959, Leadership Philadelphia mobilizes and connects the talent of the private sector to serve the community. It is the original and flagship model for 400 such organizations across the country. The year-long sweep of “Move in Closer” activities is partially funded in partnership with PHC through a National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman’s Grant. During the Master Class, Smith guided participants in using what she calls “empathic imagination.” One exercise asked them to pair off to ask each other “Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Have you ever been close to death? Do you know the circumstances of your birth?” and then perform back their partners’ answers. “What an incredible experience,” said PHC Executive Director Laurie Zierer, who participated in the class as a Leadership Philadelphia alum. “By sharing skills connected to her deep theater expertise, and teaching us to apply them to our lives and communities, Anna Deveare Smith put the humanities in action to open our minds, and reveal new horizons of possibility.” Over the next year “Move In Closer” activities will be documented and produced for broadcast by Philadelphia public radio station WHYY and covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer on multiple platforms. (Read Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Ronnie Polaneczky’s account of the Master Class here here and Julie Zeglen’s recap for Generocity here.)    

Mar 20, 2018

In early March, a group of PHC staff and board members traveled to Washington for Humanities on the Hill, an annual opportunity to meet with members of Congress and make a persuasive case for the value and impact of the humanities. The goal of this national event is to advocate for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—and in turn for state humanities councils like PHC. The FY2020 NEH budget request is $167.5 million, including $53 million for state humanities councils. This funding is crucial for PHC, which receives no annual support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “Humanities on the Hill offers the chance to describe the incredible impact of the humanities in Pennsylvania, and to request the resources we need to sustain our work,” said PHC executive director Laurie Zierer. “PHC raises additional program support from state and federal agencies, private foundations, corporations, and individuals, but NEH funding is our lifeblood.” Zierer was joined in Washington by PHC staff members Mary Ellen Burd and Donna Scheuerle and PHC board members  Christina Saler and Jane Sheffield. In conversations with 17 members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation or their staffers, the PHC team chronicled the role the humanities play in educating citizens and strengthening communities in Pennsylvania, highlighting PHC’s Teen Reading Lounge, Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Communities, the Chester Made initiative and our partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Veterans Upward Bound program. The group also reported on the humanities’ economic impact. Pennsylvania’s 4,500 humanities organizations—from libraries and historical societies to museums and community arts and culture groups—together generate $1.6 billion in revenue annually.  The strength of the humanities sector in Pennsylvania, and the impact it has on local residents, is due in large part to consistently strong federal funding. The National Endowment for the Humanities provided $24.4 million in grants in Pennsylvania over the past five years. PHC invested an additional $1.1 million and leveraged 150 partnerships to keep the humanities strong. “We leverage $5.69 for every federal dollar we receive,” Zierer said. “Through building strong partnerships across sectors and working collaboratively with other funders, we ensure that NEH is making a sound investment in Pennsylvania.” For the third year in a row, President Trump’s budget proposal requests elimination of NEH and other federal cultural agencies, which would put PHC's work and the entire humanities sector in jeopardy. Please contact your elected officials today to describe the impact of the humanities in your community and to advocate for strong NEH and PHC funding!

Mar 12, 2018

The Federation for State Humanities Councils recently awarded PHC a grant for $35,693 to facilitate a community dialogue in Chester and Carlisle, focused on understanding the roles that journalists and residents can play in telling a community’s story and motivating positive change.  Through storytelling and conversation, the goal is for journalists to gain insight into the ways that residents and grassroots organizations can help reveal the complex truths of their community. Likewise, the project aims for community members – including residents, activists, artists, and local historians – to better understand the tools and perspectives journalists bring to exploring these same subjects. This grant comes from the Federation’s “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” program, which seeks to examine how journalism and the humanities can enrich understanding of local and national issues and inspire an engaged citizenry. A collaboration with the Pulitzer Prizes, the grant requires collaboration with a Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist to explore these issues.   One project will build on the community-driven efforts through Carlisle Heart & Soul to preserve local sites of African American history and struggle, including an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church and cemetery that was founded by a freed slave as well as an Underground Railroad and Civil War trail. Community dialogue will focus on contextualizing historical racism in Carlisle and exploring how it informs present-day relationships, as well as how these issues are covered in local media. The other project connects to Chester Made, a collaborative led by PHC, local artists, the City of Chester, and Widener University. One of the recurrent themes we have encountered in Chester is resident concern about negative media coverage that focuses on violence rather than stories about citizens making positive change. Our project will organize a community discussion around these issues of image and the role that residents can have in changing that narrative.  In both Carlisle and Chester, we anticipate holding facilitated community meetings later this year. The meetings will be recorded for broadcast on partner radio stations, podcast release, and segments for local, regional, and national radio, ensuring that this work has a broad reach.  This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.

Jan 30, 2018

Beginning this past fall, I have had the pleasure of being PHC’s communication’s intern. Given my rhetoric and public advocacy background, I’m interested in exploring community development and the importance of creating transparency among a group of people. A peer exchange weekend with the Chester Made initiative gave me the opportunity. Chester Made is a civic engagement project that brings together various residents from artists and local leaders to entrepreneurs with a common goal of changing the perception of Chester and building a stronger community. In fall of 2016, the Chester Made team--staff of PHC, Widener University, the City of Chester, and artists from Chester-- travelled to Chicago, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana, for a peer exchange hosted by the Illinois Humanities Council. The purpose of the exchange was to bring people together with similar goals for their communities, motivated to use their skills to transform through the arts. The 2017 exchange gave the Chester Made team the opportunity to share their home and their art in a similar way. (Watch a video summary of the 2017 exchange.) Being a city that has been affected by economic turmoil with a major industry relocating, Chester residents have a goal to revitalize their home. Prior to attending the Chester Made Exchange weekend events, I had not known much about the history of the city or its role in the making of America. By the end of the evening, I had discovered not only some historical facts but what makes the people of Chester so special. The day’s events began with breakfast, followed by a meet and greet between artists from the three cities and partners of the programs. We then had the opportunity to see more of Chester beyond the event location. The driving tour included Chester gems such as Calvary Baptist Church (where Martin Luther King Jr. first began his years preaching), Deshong Park, and a museum on the Avenue of the States. Later that evening, we enjoyed a curated dinner with guest presentations on individual projects by Gary and Chicago guests. As a new witness to Chester Made’s strives in civic engagement, I sat down with a few guests from Gary and Chicago to ask them about their reactions to what they had witnessed during the weekend’s events. The first person I talked to was Krystal Wilson, a poet and artist from Gary, Indiana. She wears many hats that vary from youth poetry program facilitation to creative directing for musicians. She explained her love for the art that she has seen as a part of the exchange experience, stating, “Chester artists have their own distinct thumbprint that adds to the uniqueness of the city with an unashamed urbanism.” Rather than simply being an individualistic process, Chester cultivates various talents for the benefit of the art and the community. Krystal believes that type of structure is what they are trying to achieve in her hometown. When I asked if her community could benefit from a project like Chester Made, she responded, “I definitely think Gary could benefit. It was inspiring to see a platform created for both the youth and adults. Not only as an artist, but just as a member of a community, it is important to come together and show that you care about the direction.” Sam Salvesen, a redevelopment fellow with the City of Gary, was also among the guests. Being that he is not an artist himself, I was curious to know why he was interested in Chester. Sam responded, “On paper, Gary and Chester have a lot in common. Having similar issues to Gary, I wanted to know what are they doing about it? I wanted to see how Gary could profit off of what Chester is doing.” I believe there is much power in residents taking control of their own destiny. Sam expressed admiration for Chester artists in this regard, saying, “Artists are more than just artists, they are community builders. I appreciate how they are building this city with their own imprint.”     After engaging with residents and community builders during the peer exchange, I believe Chester Made is not only an initiative to bring residents together but a motto for the city and the embodiment of what it means to be a part of Chester. It gives people something to “sink their teeth into,” as Greg Irvin, a Chester resident put it. Devon Walls, artistic director of Chester Made, exemplifies what it means to be Chester Made. He is an artist that was born and raised in Chester. Devon has been key in developing spaces such as his Artist Warehouse, the Chester Made Exploration Zone, and the revamped MJ Freed Theater. They are all spaces for educating young people, as well as their parents, and encouraging them to express themselves through various art forms. Devon also invested time and money into Chester Made, a project he believed in, for the people he believes in. He was once told that people will not go to Chester to buy art because of the demographic, but programs within Chester Made prove them wrong. Residents of all ages create works of art all while uplifting their community and discussing how to bring about change. There is an inherent community driven nature within Chester Made. By the end of the peer exchange evening, I was in complete awe of what I had witnessed. I saw the potential of what the city could become and how transformative a model such as Chester Made could be for other communities on a national level. There are so many things in the making that are very inspiring for urban areas, such as creating an arts district, a sense of community, and wealth being established by and for the people. Witnessing the 500 block of Avenue of the States was ground breaking for me. This location is the hub of Chester Made activities and home to the Chester Made Exploration Zone. It is an entire block of African American owned businesses and that is so very rare and I honestly could not name one prior to visiting. That is the definition excellence. That is molding a community from the inside out.    Nangorlee Demenwu is a Communications Intern at PHC. She is a recent graduate of Temple University with a Bachelors of Arts in Strategic Communication, concentrating in Rhetoric and Public Advocacy, minoring in Digital Media in Technology, a collaboration of communications and computer information science.  Nangorlee has worked on a student run campaign to spread awareness of food insecurity on Temple University’s campus. This four month project exposed the issues of hunger on college campuses through seminars, social events, media, and fundraising. She then took this issue with her as she studied abroad in Dhrangadhra, Gujarat, India, this past summer. There, she worked on a mini documentary on food insecurity, nutrition, and general health of local citizens. Beyond her food insecurity initiatives, she has served as a board member of an organization called Black Diamonds Union. Their goal is creating after school outreach programs at elementary schools in North Philadelphia surrounding Temple University.  

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