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She advocates to free an Orca at CH Garden Fest

Chestnut Hill Garden Festival 201304

Lolita is an orca “killer” whale who has been performing at the Miami Seaquarium (http://miamiseaquarium.com/Shows/Killer-Whale-and-Dolphin) since 1970 and Gigi Glendinning is the founder of 22reasons.org (http://22reasons.org), an organization that teaches “compassion and reverence for all animals” who believes Lolita deserves a rehabilitative retirement where she has round-the-clock veterinary care and the opportunity to return to the sea.

Glendinning was out advocating at a booth at the Chestnut Hill Garden Festival on Sunday with a niece costumed as a killer whale.  Kids were invited to paint a life size illustration of a killer whale on a huge tarp on the ground.  22Reasons and  several similarly missioned organizations are mounting a petition drive and urging parents to NOT buy tickets to shows like Lolita’s where animals are forced to perform.  It sends a contradictory message to children, Glendinning maintains, to attempt to instill respect for these animals while simultaneously mistreating them.

According to Glendinning, Lolita was illegally captured and is being illegally contained in a concrete pool so small her tail touches the bottom and where, as a member of an exceptionally intelligent and social species, she is deprived of necessary social contact and subject to many confinement-related afflictions.

She presented your correspondent with a copy of the book, “Death at Sea World: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity” by  David Kirby  (St Martins Press 2012) about killer whales in the marine park industry, their advocates and the brutal and sometimes lethal attacks on  trainers over the years, attributed to captivity-related aggressiveness of the orcas. Watch video interview here.

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Life at Henry Got Crops Farm

Henry Got Crops Manager Nina and Minna

During a break from cultivating and weeding a raised bed of peas at the Weavers Way Henry Got Crops farm in Roxborough where he volunteers, your correspondent captured a slice of life on the farm.

The farm grows crops mainly for the 120 members of the CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture” organization) but also regularly sells product through the Weavers Way stores in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, at an onsite farm stand and downtown at Head House Square.

When I arrived, CSA Manager Nina Berryman was busily sketching out the day’s plan on a chalkboard in the farm shed. I followed Berryman around as she lamented some stunted carrots with experienced worker Minna Latortue, who had just graduated nursing school, examined the cold season greens in the hoop houses, made plans with Laura Mass Forsberg to plant potatoes later in the day then getting her started on a weeding task and finally doing what she calls the hardest part of the job, doing deskwork at a laptop computer communicating with CSA members and such.

I caught up with farm educator Tara Campbell as she waited for the first of four school groups to arrive and watched as she and educator Clare Hyre prepped students from Saul Agricultural High School (where the farm is located) and got them out working down the field.

And ebullient compost guy Scott Blunk showed off the composting operation as he directed a frontend loader to dump just-arrived vegetable waste into the ten thousand pound capacity grinder and activated it massive rotating tines. See small video of Blunk here

Your correspondent shot some footage of cows grazing peacefully but did not include it in the accompanying video because the dairy operation belongs to the Saul School and not Henry Got Crops. Your correspondent also looks forward to comparing notes and photos with Lanie Blackmer who later arrived to do a story for WHYY/Newsworks.

Watch video here.


Exchanging seeds to preserve heirlooms and feed people

Exchanging seeds

For the third year in a row, Joel Fath and Mira Adornetto of Philly Seed Exchange, set up their table top with seeds and small brown envelopes for packing and labeling seeds on a recent sunny, spring day outside the Weaver’s Way Coop in Mount Airy. According to the organization’s website, http://phillyseedexchange.org, “Philadelphia Seed Exchange is a collective of gardeners and farmers in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey dedicated to preserving open-pollinated species and developing new plant species to meet the nutrition and caloric needs of our neighborhoods.” The Exchange hosts events like this in different neighborhoods and encourages people to both bring and take seeds although it is not necessary to contribute any seeds to take some. They ask only that participants grow out the plants from the seeds they take and harvest some of the seeds to bring back to the Exchange. One enthusiast who took a seat at the table was Nate Kleinman, who works on community garden projects in the region. He had brought a plastic grocery bag full of seeds including purple bush beans, bloody sorrel, and Nanticoke Indian squash, an heirloom variety of the Nanticoke Indians who lived in South Jersey and Delaware. Raina Ainslie, who had brought some lavender seeds, picked up a packet from Kleinman’s bag of Kyoto moss spores, meant for growing under a bonsai tree or terrarium which she will try out. Through the afternoon, people came and went, congregating around the table, sharing their knowledge as much as the great variety of vegetable, flower and tree seeds. Some contributed bean seedlings were eagerly grabbed up. From left to right: Kleinman, Ainslie, Adornetto. Watch video here.


Foster parents rescue dogs

Foster parents rescue dogs

Grace Kelly Herbert [center] founder of  Finding Shelter http://findingshelter.org, a no-kill foster based animal rescue operation based in Norristown and current “foster parents” like Chava Spivak-Birndorf [left] seek permanent homes for dogs outside the Bone Appetite store on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.   A blind, hydrocephalic dog she describes as “amazing” that Herbert and her husband had rescued inspired them to help find homes for other rescue dogs. Expected to live only two weeks, the dog lived another two years. Finding Shelter encourages prospective “adoptive parents” to submit multiple applications for dogs and tries to find the best fit for each dog and home. Watch video interview here

 


The Mount Seniors' Fun Day for Charity

Mount St Joseph's Academy Charity Day

With glittery facial make up and sporting their school’s purple and gold colors, Mount Saint Joseph Academy seniors Cassidy Peikin (left) and Michelle Handy took a lunch break at Bruno’s from the school’s annual Charity Day festivities. It’s a day of fun, the girls say, and the seniors get to dress up crazily. The day’s celebration features a talent show including skits by teachers, singing and Irish dancing which Handy performed in the morning and demonstrated in the accompanying video. This year’s donations will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation and the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation. Upon graduation Peikin plans to pursue social work and Handy, to become a therapist. Watch video here.


Blind, they sculpt

photo Michael Gieschen, who lost his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa, sports a tee-shirt emblazoned with a group of walkers under the words “Blinds to Go” the name of his team (blind art students from Allens Lane Art Center and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The team walked in the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Walk to raise funds to research and combat retinal diseases. Shown here in the Allens Lane Vision through Art class, is Gischen with the parrot fish he sculpted, poised above coral. The family has become enamored of the parrot through vacations in the Caribbean. Shown with him is daughter Kara who is helping out with the final stage of his work, applying brilliant colors, which Gischen is very particular about, naturally, as he worked as a graphic designer before losing his sight. Watch video here.

Sculpture class for Blind

Carol Konopinski teaches the Vision Through Art class at the Allens Lane Art Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. The class which is open only to those who are legally blind has been going on for 25 years and the artists work mainly in clay but are branching out into mixed media. ---------------

This is the best day of the whole week. I live for Wednesday mornings … Hi, welcome to Vision Through Art. We’re a sculpture class for the blind and visually impaired. We have artists here who have a range of vision to no vision. And You have to be legally blind to be in here. Even though the teacher and the assistants are not, that’s OK. Someone’s got to have vision- stupid sighted people! We have a great time. It’s a super family. We’ve been going for almost twenty-five years now. We have a great group of artists and they do anything from small to large pieces. We work mainly in clay but we’re moving out into mixed-media pieces. So we’re doing a lot of really fantastic work here- working on the wheel, sculpture , papier-mâché, you name it we do it they’re game for anything…It looks like we’re going to have another day of mass chaos as usual but hey, you go with the flow and enjoy it. Chaos is good! It’s all about the creativity and the chaos… Frank’s going to be working on wedging and getting back on the wheel… Betsy’s got a piece to finish up, a little girl and a dog and then Plato is working on a piece that he’s going to make a mold of but he’s still finessing and getting the shape right so he’s being the master sculptor right now. Carol Kopinski, Teacher, Allens Lane Art Center Vision Through Art class. Watch video interview here.

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Betsy Clayton sculpts very realistic human and also imaginary creatures despite being legally blind for many years at the Vision Through Art program at the Allens Lane Art Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

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Wait a minute, maybe I can turn the table over and maybe it’s white on the other side. YES, IT HAS YOUR NAME ON IT. This is my piece that I think of as an undersea creature. I don’t know what I’m going to call it. I was thinking “Riders Under the Sea” or “Undersea Riders”… I used gold, red and green. At first I painted it all green and then I dabbed on colors to make it look fantastical. WHAT CAN YOU SEE OF IT? It’s a blur to me. I mean I can see that there’s color on here but I don’t know what the colors actually are or where they are. When I painted them I knew where I wanted certain colors. THEY’RE PRETTY BRILLIANT DO YOU SEE ANY OF THE COLORS? Are they brilliant? Not to me, they’re just dull. DO THEY HAVE A SHADE, THE COLORS? Green I can see. But everything looks green to me. . . The back of him is supposed to be like an octopus thing, tentacles. WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? They have no arms you see. Because they’re really not people. They’re things that live under the sea. Creatures. I don’t know what they do under the sea. But, they like to ride the monster or whoever he is… I see leaves on the trees all winter. I do. If I look at a tree, it has leaves. HOW IS THAT, WHY? I don’t know. EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT THERE? It’s not in full leaf like it would be in summer but I see green all around the trees because I see green. That’s probably why. Betsy Clayton, Vision through Art, Allens Lane Art Center, Philadelphia.

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November 28, 2012

In this video, Cara Gieschen demonstrates to a class of blind sculpture students applications on the iPad that may be useful to the vision impaired. One app speaks aloud the color the iPad's camera is focused upon. The app identifies solid colors well but hilariously identified the hair color of  some grayheads in the class as greenish and purplish. Gieschen demonstrated another app, VisionSim which, upon clicking on one of several eye disease in  a list,  simulates what a person with that disease actually sees.


April, 31years old, Ryerss Horse Farm Retiree

April, 31 years old, retired at Ryerss Farm

Gregory Marincola volunteers at Ryerss Farm, a “retirement” community for old and formerly abused horses, located on nearly 400 acres of land in Chester County. http://www.ryerss.com There, Marincola visits with the first horse of his wife, now deceased, a half Tennessee Walker, half Paint who was called to Ryerss from her place on the waiting list when she was 31 years old.

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I’d like to introduce you to my three horses that I have up here at Ryerss. I’ll show you a picture.  [Pointing to photos on wall] This is my wife, Andrea, who has passed away, and this is our horse, “April,” when she was a baby. She’s like two years old there. And to the right we have Vicki, who has passed away, and our little pony Mindy, who has also moved to the other side. And, again, this is April, a bit older now; she’s still living, she’s still with me. This is their wall of fame here at Ryerss and you can see it’s all the horses that are here now, who have been through here and passed on and some of their owners. This is open to the public. They can come in here and look at the horses and get an idea what’s going on….This is Arian’s April’s Dawn, my wife’s first horse and we got her when she was two years old. We kept her at home until she reached the age of  thirty-one. DID YOUR WIFE RIDE HER? Yeah… She’s strictly a pleasure horse and she’s half Tennessee Walker and a half Paint. We had put our horses on a waiting list here at Ryerss and a year after my wife passed away, I got the letter, it was time for them to come home. So this is where she lives now. Gregory Marincola, with April, at Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines, South Coventry Township, Chester County, Pa.

Watch video here

Wife's horse April, 31, retired at Ryerss


"Computer Lady" refurbishes computers for students

Wynne Hill computer refurbisher

I’ve been retired now for about twelve years.  And ever since I’ve been retired I’ve wanted to do something. I’m not a lay home watch soap opera kind of girl.  I ran into a place called non-profit technology resources down near Spring Garden and Stan introduced me to recycling. And what I do is the donations that have come into the YWCA where I started and Malt Computer Volunteer Group, with the donations that come in, they were just sitting around. So I decided to tinker with and fix them.

As of the past four years we’re a Microsoft authorized refurbisher. We’re licensed by Microsoft to refurbish computers and install licensed products. Because we’re an authorized refurbisher, that means I’m obligated to wipe any and all hard drives. So I can assure people if they want to donate it or someone comes in and says I want to donate and I want my data, I’ll open the computer up and pull the hard drive out and hand it to them. Because when I re-image it, it has to be wiped. I have other hard drives.

You used to be able to put computers out on the sidewalk. Now you can’t do that. Also industries can’t dispose of their computer equipment the way they used to. So they donate it. They say you come get it. No you drop it off because I know they’re saving money (plus they’re getting a tax deduction} because they don’t have to pay for disposal.

My concern is since I’m a grandmom my concern is with schoolchildren, middle school through high school and college students. When I get donations of laptops, the college students are first on the list AT REDUCED PRICE? At minimal price. Especially a high school student who comes in and they’re honor roll. They get a whole PC for twenty bucks. AND HOW DO THEY FIND OUT ABOUT YOU? Usually word of mouth. Everybody knows “Miss Wynnie, the computer lady.” Wynne Hill, Summit Presbyterian Church, Mount Airy.

Watch video here.


Daughter and dog wait for running Mom

Waiting for Mom at Run for Hill of It

Morgan DeVries of Marlton, New Jersey and her dog, Guiness. Guiness usually runs as a partner in the races, but not this hot July day, where he is waiting patiently for Mom, Shelly, who was competing in the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project sponsored "Run for the Hill of It" on July 30, 2011 on Forbidden Drive, Wissahickon Valley. Watch video here.

Waiting for Mom at Run for Hill of It