Ricardo Jimenez always liked to sing along to the radio when he was young. one time in Italy, his grandfather called him over to the television to watch the three tenors sing and he became transfixed. The next day he joined the school choir. At 14 he entered conservatory full time. He has performed in his home state of Florida and in Nicaragua. He also pursued a degree in accounting for economic security. Six months ago he moved to Columbus, Ohio to be with his girlfriend. While he chauffeurs people around as a Lyft driver he has a keyboard in the front passenger seat. When he can, he practices warm-up scales and sings. He aspires to the greatness of Pavarotti and Caruso and other opera stars whose biographies he has read. He has just successfully auditioned for the local production of Madama Butterfly and heard the kind of words from a conductor he has been longing to hear, " You have an incredible instrument." After delivering your correspondent to the Blackwell Inn he was bravo-ed by passersby when he sang “Santa Lucia” outside. Watch Lyft driver sing scales in car in hope of becoming opera star.
5/21/2018 UPDATE: According to Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, the selection committee is seeking additional submissions but anyone visiting the official website for the project http://mtairyusa.org/cresheimproject/ would not know that the deadline of April 13 for artist submissions has been extended.
Before a couple dozen community members at the newly renovated Lovett Library this past Monday evening, Cathy Harris of Philadelphia Mural Arts issues a call for artists to design a mural for the rusted abandoned railway trestle over Germantown Avenue below Cresheim Valley Drive. First envisioned fifteen years ago, the project is being relaunched now that the City of Philadelphia is acquiring the former Pennsylvania Railroad trestle from PECO. Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, a project partner, provided historical information on the structure and Mural Arts founder Jane Golden encouraged attendees to "spread the word" to artists to answer the "Call for Submissions." The Deadline for submissions is April 13, 2018. Your correspondent has posted a PDF of the "Cresheim Trail Mural Project Call for Submissions" here until it becomes available online from the collaborative which also includes the Trolley Car Diner, Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT), Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Chestnut Hill Rotary, the Mount Airy Learning Tree and ChestnutHIllPa. The abandoned railroad is being converted to a trail linking Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill with Springfield Township. See reporter Sue Ann Rybak's coverage in the January 18, 2018 Chestnut Hill Local The mural’s completion is intended to coincide with the opening of the extension to the existing trail which begins at Allens Lane and Lincoln Drive. In June the public is welcomed to vote "in several community locations" to choose a winner from among a handful of proposals narrowed down by Mural Arts. After the meeting, I approached Sam Hanna who had been intently taking notes during the presentations. As a business account manager for the Center for Employment Opportunities, Hanna planned to relay what he had learned to a client. While in prison for twenty years, that client began to do art. And after getting out last year at the time of the Monday evening meeting, was at a job he had just started. Things are looking up.
(In the photo left to right -standing: Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, Jane Golden and Cathy Harris of Mural Arts Philadelphia, seated 2nd from left- Sam Hanna of CEO and Judy Weinstein of MALT)
It wasn't easy growing up for this educator. When he was about 10 years old, he got diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability. He was not picking up cues and it was difficult and taking him longer to comprehend things. He also showed signs of ADD, tending to rush and not keeping things in their place. He says he is unique, nearly affected with Aspergers syndrome but not actually on the autism spectrum Academically, he was accommodated for the disability by being given special homework and prep materials and allowed more time on tests. But his trouble reading social cues kept him from being part of social groups at school and subjected him to bullying. At college, life became easier because his classmates were more accepting. Meanwhile. he has developed several coping strategies - writing things down more, using organizers and technology such as an electronic chip that lets his keys, should they be misplaced, communicate with his phone. He is finding that talking with others openly about his disability, such as with your correspondent, is helping him build his confidence. He has come a long way since he was younger and terrified of talking on the phone. Video Interview of teacher who overcomes non-verbal learning disability.
Weighing in a hefty 12 pounds at birth Darren Fenice's right shoulder was damaged by forceps during delivery. Erb's palsy resulted from the injury that stunted his arm and significantly impairs his range of motion. In school, he lashed out at the kids who were tormenting him him and was once expelled. When he grew up he began to practice martial arts as a means of self-defense, focusing on American Kenpo. A back injury sustained in competition has now sidelined him. Based on his experience being picked on growing up, he remains a strong advocate against any form of bullying. He is currently pursuing a career in science education and he pursues another of his passions - cooking dishes from his Austro-Italian heritage. Watch video interview here.
Zak Zaklad leads Mount Airy Tai Chi one early spring day outside at Ned Wolf Park. The group is learning the 37 form Cheng Man-Ching Simplified Yang Style Tai Chi. A self-desribed martial arts guy who began to find Karate's fast explosive moves hard on his aging joints, he's being doing Tai Chi for twenty years. "To my mind, Tai Chi is the most wonderful healing practice-body mind and spirit. Watch video here.
Elijah Fletcher ran away from the George Junior Republic residential school north of Pittsburgh last July because he was missing home and even missing trouble. That memorable adventure in a swamp being attacked by mosquitos ended with his return to the school. On June 3rd he was beaming at his high school graduation with his proud Dad by his side, about to begin his first job, and with a handsome college scholarship in hand. After earning a degree in psychology and sociologist, he plans to give back through work helping youth find a better life than stealing and drugs. Watch video here.
The Reverend Paul Adler, installed just last summer as rector at the Episcopal Church of Saint Alban in Roxborough, Philadelphia prays for people who come across him seated and collared in the nearby Starbucks coffee shop. An occasional customer is drawn to his table by the license plate size "FREE PRAYER" sign atop it. When he's not engaged in an impromptu prayer session, he will address email correspondence or work on sermons. A medical student seeks God's help with medical exams about to begin. A young woman who has a newborn child and also a very ill, hospitalized mother-in-law seeks prayer for her family. Adler believes that prayer is a way of spending time with God and spending time with God is worthwhile, even if prayer doesn't always work in the ways supplicants are expecting. Watch video here.