Jamar White got his first car two years ago at age 33. He had failed his driving test when he was 16 and it wasn't until he met his future wife, Marsha, who encouraged him to try again that he passed the test on his first try and bought his first car. He lovingly polishes the black Ford SUV during his lunch breaks. Just a few months ago he and Marsha married and they drove right down to Baltimore to connect with what turned out to be a memorable honeymoon cruise to the Bahamas. Watch video here.
Claire Chappelle had passed by the Handcraft Workshop in Germantown for a year before she ventured in and took a pillowcase-making class. So enthusiastic was she about the experience that in the days leading up to Christmas she was coming in to sew dozens of pillow cases for gifts to friends to family. On the Friday eve before Christmas Chappelle, attended an Open Sew and was putting the finishing touches on some pillowcases while proprietress Heather Hutchinson Harris was cutting fabric and giving instructions to a gentleman working on pajamas. Harris says the pajama making classes are popular with students who take the introductory pillowcase class and then want to move on to a more challenging projects that require working with a pattern. Harris sewed up a career as a teacher and geriatric social worker before launching her shop. Husband Andre Harris, an IT professional, was on hand at the Open Sew helping out.
On the eve before Christmas Eve, Paul Rossetti was standing in the rain at the corner of Highland and Germantown Avenues hawking “One Step Away” newspapers for a $1 each. (small photo at right) And he has been working this and other corners in the city throughout January despite the bitter cold and light pedestrian traffic. (above photo)
Rossetti grew up around the Pottstown area and got involved in drinking and drugs through the influence of peer pressure. DUIs (driving under the influence convictions) landed him time in jail. He’s now living at the Germantown Y men’s home.
According to its website, “One Step Away is Philadelphia's first street paper aimed at raising awareness of homelessness and providing employment to those in need. With each dollar received, 75¢ goes directly to the vendor. The other 25¢ covers the printing costs. The vendors are people experiencing homelessness or joblessness. While the vast majority of One Step Away vendors are living on the street or in temporary shelters when they start with the project, most are able to use the money earned by distributing One Step Away to secure their own housing.” http://osaphilly.com/
Rossetti says he’s going to NA and AA meetings and trying to stay on his feet and keep busy. Rules at the Y are strict; if he should come back high or drunk, he would be given 15 minutes to vacate his room. With janitorial and construction experience, Rossetti hopes to find work and secure an apartment of his own. Eventually he would like go into business for himself.
The name, “One Step Away” is meant to highlight how so many people in society are close to becoming homeless through unforeseen financial and personal crises. At the same time, the name honors the major step the formerly homeless individuals who are producing and distributing the paper have taken away from a life on the street.
It appeared that Rabbi Yitzchok Gurevitz’s faith in the accuracy of the weather forecast was rewarded last evening. Skies cleared just before the public lighting of a large Hanukah menorah at 6:30 pm on a grassy area beside Chestnut Hill Plaza at the bottom Germantown Avenue above Cresheim Drive.
Twenty some people such as Norm and Leah Schwartz of Mount Airy who brought their granddaughter, braved the near freezing temperatures and driving winds which had blown out the afternoon’s rain and sleet, to celebrate the first night of Hanukah. As Gurevitz, leader of Chabad-Lubavitch of Northwest Philadelphia, lit an oil wick candle, they sang prayers to mark the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the successful revolt of the Jews against the Syrian king Antiochus in 165 BCE in Judea and the rededication of the Temple that had been desecrated at his orders.
Hanukah is a special holiday, Gurevitz explained, because Jews are called upon to observe it not just in the home but outside with the community at large. (In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court got involved in the national Chabad movement practice of lighting menorahs in public places made controversial by the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state, when it allowed a public display in Fountain Square, Cincinnati)
Referring to the case, Gurevitz emphasized the menorah as a symbol of freedom for all people and interprets the freedom message at a personal level- “the freedom to be the best that we can be, the freedom to be the most we can be.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a celebrant placed a large boom box atop his car parked in the adjoining driveway and broadcast festive Chanukah music as those gathered huddled against the cold, schmoozed, and enjoyed latkes (traditional potato pancakes) with hot cider.
For the next week, one additional electric candle will be lit every day in reenactment of the Chanukah story that oil found in the reclaimed Temple, sufficient for only one day, miraculously lasted eight days. Electric current is coming courtesy of Yu Hsiang Garden restaurant next door.
The youngest person at Chestnut Hill’s Fall for the Arts festival Sunday may have been two day-old Xavier Brubaker. Sleep-deprived but happy parents Japheth and Suzanne recently returned to Chestnut Hill with their 2 year-old daughter, Quinn, to be closer to family. They were the southernmost exhibitors at the festival, promoting their new fitness and personal training studio, "Water and Rock," at 8109 Germantown Avenue. Visit http://waterandrockstudio.com/ for more information.
College students majoring in exercise science are not just a bunch of meatheads who love to work out and run around lifting up things, says Tristan VanderMeer, majoring in the field at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. VanderMeer was drawn to the field as a way of learning more about his body and how to live a healthy life. Graduates in the field can work in a variety of careers such as in nutrition, physical therapy or as a personal trainer but for VanderMeer, it will be a component of a nursing career.
He explains the metabolic and hormonal basis of why he advocates a high non-saturated fat, low carb and low processed food diet. He also stressed the importance of regular exercise, getting out and moving about whether it’s biking or walking, and getting some strength training in.
For some “action” scenes, VanderMeer indulged your correspondent by demonstrating some beneficial exercises- hanging from rungs while twisting his trunk like a windshield wiper, sprinting barefoot and doing push-ups.
Watch video here. (At the J.S. Jenks children's park, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia)
In her book, “The 7 Secrets of the Prolific, the definitive guide to overcoming procrastination, perfectionism and writers bloc,” Hillary Rettig offers many insights and tips for authors and others on how to become successful. It’s not laziness or lack of discipline that keeps people from moving forward, Rettig says, but dis-empowerment, meaning they have temporarily lost access to their skills and strengths including their capacity to write. Perfectionism is the biggest constraint according to Rettig. She says that perfectionists set impossible standards and then punish themselves when they don’t achieve them. Along with offering insights into the barriers that writers face, Rettig offers strategies in line with her philosophy of “compassionate objectivity” like managing one’s relationship with one’s writing. One technique is doing timed writing exercises and giving oneself little rewards upon completion, whether it be a good stretch or a little treat and appreciating what she or he has done by engaging in the process. Rettig, who also authored “The Lifelong Activist” has practiced her philosophy and techniques in her own writing . She gives workshops on perfectionism and time management online and in other places. Her books are available through Amazon and other retailers or through her website, www.hillaryrettig.com where she offers free information and useful articles. Watch video interview here.
A young woman waiting for the bus is reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It’s about managing your mind to think in a certain way to accomplish your financial goals and dreams, she says. She describes the book as “awesome” and although she has just started the book, she’s already re-read some pages she has found so worthwhile. As a financial advisor with Primerica Financial Services who handles the gamut of financial products from investments and insurance to debt elimination, she hopes to work her way up RVP and eventually to owning her own branch office one day. Watch video here.
On a walk around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts we stopped at the site where Thoreau had built his cabin. I asked another tourist if she might not read aloud the quote from Thoreau carved on a sign. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Watch video here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.