RECREATION Feed

Chestnut Hill celebrates with music, dancing, food and gardens

Your correspondent went to the Chestnut Hill Garden Fest in the morning when it was still drizzly and cold.

But the weather didn't stop the Morris men from dancing and hitting their sticks together and the muscians and Morris men, women, boys and girls from kicking up their heels

Melody Mora,Ten Thousand Villages store manager was outside the store pitching the Village's exclusive small batch fair trade coffee, "Level Ground" while inside associate Tiara Richardson treated customers to tastes and imparted background information.

Meanwhile, Keven Wang was busy at his "Asian Name Painting" stall deftly brushing water colors with small, handmade leather brushes.

Outside the new "Greenology" store, Fritzie, Ken Hay and Harvey Gurst, described the mechanics and construction of koi ponds for aquaponics, growing greens and vegetables.

I returned in the windy but sunny late afternoon to hear a winsome young woman singing "I can't wait". Further up the street the peoples were boogie-ing to "Happy" and "She's a Good Girl" by the City Rhythm Orchestra.


How Lego conquered the toy industry brick by brick

Legos - it's about the brick

The Lego Company has been fantastically successful. In each of the last 5 years sales have risen 24% and profits, 40%. But it was not always so. For most of its 80-year existence, its reach did not extend so far beyond Billun, Denmark, where Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter unable to secure enough wood to build furniture during the 1930s depression, began experimenting building wooden toys.

The company under Christiansen’s progeny soared in the last couple decades but tie-in products to the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies nearly doomed the company in 2003; sales of those products crashed when the movie franchises hadn’t yet come out with new films.

This, according to Wharton Professor Dave Robertson and former LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland's Institute for Management. Robertson, a Chestnut Hill resident, discussed his new book, “Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry” at the William Jeannes Library in Lafayette Hill this past Thursday evening.

He began his slide talk by distributing baggies, each packed with the identical same six logo pieces, and instructed the audience to “Build a duck” and gave us only a minute or two. Participants then brought their “ducks” up to the front table. At the end of the talk, Robertson pointed to the wide variation of these Lego “ducks” as evidence that incredible creativity is possible even when severe constraints are imposed, a major thesis of his book.

He credits Lego Company’s resurgence to its imposition of key constraints: drastically reducing the number of parts (about 14000 different ones at peak) that had made the manufacturing process unwieldy, getting back to products that are more “Lego-y” and subjecting product proposals to the approval a committee of 3 seasoned Lego designers. And, ultimately, insisting that projected profitability be a constant constraint.

What Lego pioneered was not just a toy, Robertson maintains, but a system of play. And that system “is about the brick.”

Watch video here.


Dozens clean up Cresheim Creek new parkland

cresheim creek new park - 31

(Above, volunteer Marilou Buffum)

Dozens of volunteers showed up on Saturday to help remove invasive plants and debris from newly acquired Philadelphia parkland in Mount Airy.

Efforts of the Wissahickon East Project spearheaded by Antje Mattheus who lives nearby at the 2 acre historical Cresheim Farm, along with the Friends of the Wissahickon, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, and ultimately Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation headed by Michael DeBerardinis,  helped spare the overgrown six-acre woody tract abutting the Cresheim Creek from private residential development.

Work began in earnest on rehabilitating the site and creating a quarter mile loop trail under the direction of David Bower, Fairmount Park Volunteer Coordinator.

Watch video here.

(Below, Volunteer Rick Greenstein)

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Night geocaching at Andorra Natural Area

Night geocaching

Scenes from the video featuring Wen-Young and his son Manny of Plymouth  Meeting, PA.

“That’s what we’re looking for- the waypoints”

“It’ll say the gecoache is that way but the trail goes this way or this way.”

“We won’t send you through the woods bushwhacking”

Destination- “Soggy Bottom” at the troll bridge

Garmin device accidentally restarts

Device  now says ready to navigate

On the trail to the cache

“It must be around here”

“Found it!”

What’s inside the cache which is a canteen?

Is it a toy toilet or a stamp out of ink?

No, it’s a star punch to punch our paper to prove we found it.

Another group arrives at Soggy Bottom

Excitement back at campfire

Night geocaching with Wen-Young and Manny

“How was your first geocache experience?”

----  >

“Sweet. Marshmallow- sweet, get it?”

Found 6 caches!

Credits the gps device and the help of friends.

Watch video here


Mount Airy community beats drums

Community drum circle in Mount Airy

The story, according to Ron Kravitz, goes that some years ago, Elise Rivers of Community Acupuncture of Mount Airy called him from Ashland, North Carolina 9 pm one Saturday night where she was participating in a community drum circle and said, “Ron we got 85 drummers here. We got to do this in Philadelphia.” And so she arranged for a gathering space in the shaded park-like area adjacent to the Lovett Public Library in Mount Airy.  The local drum circle is now in its third year. Along with Kravitz, Bobby Tyrone and Quint Lang, a drum teacher from Collegeville, help lead the sessions, open to novices and experienced drummers alike.

But Kravitz, of Glenside, appears to be the force behind the drum circle. He is well known in the area for his association with or founding of a number of other grass roots music ventures: Music in the Moment, Underground at Ron's, African drum classes and more. He brings a selection from his 1000 plus collection of Bata and djembe drums, bells, and other percussion instruments for anyone to use.

About 25- 30 people participated at the first Sunday of the month July session on a steamy hot afternoon including some kids who just had happened to be passing by.

Among the other attendees were several first-timers like 12-year-old Jacob Slifker who had discovered the existence of the circle while searching online with his parents for somewhere to use his djimbe. During breaks, he got some tips  from the experienced hands on using it.

The afternoon heat and repetitive, shifting drum rhythms induced a hypnotic effect and Kravitz drew the circled drummers into chanting along and some into dancing. The circle next meets on Sunday August 4th from 1-3 pm next to the Lovett Public Library at 6945 Germantown Avenue.

Watch video here.


Combines yoga, hula hooping

hula catch

Vanessa Hazzard-Tillman teaches hula hooping in East Falls, entertains at parties and at the Public Eye: Artists Animals July 4th Vegan Potluck picnic in Harper’s Meadow in Chestnut Hill, she showed off some of her stuff.  A former clown and currently involved with the vibrant Philadelphia circus arts community, Hazzard-Tillman is also a massage therapist and yoga instructor.

She especially likes to combine yoga and hooping. While being distracted by her young son, Phoenix, she nevertheless managed to twirl a hoop smoothly around one rotating foot in the air while switching from one yoga pose lying on the ground on her side to an inverted pose.

Hooping is good for muscle toning, she explains while demonstrating some “off-body” exercises that can be easier than “on-body” exercises.

Hazzard-Tillman often studies online videos and is now training to do fire hooping.

The circus community likes to give back, she says, introducing one of her ambitions. In addition to being President of the United States and a rock star according to her online profile, she hopes to successfully audition with a troupe that instructs youngsters in circus arts in one of the refugee camps in northern Thailand. The two-month program in which the children learn juggling, clowning, poi spinning, silks and hooping culminates with the refugee children mounting their own performance.

Hazzard-Tillman makes her own hoops out of black polyethylene tubing, covers them fun tape like Batman or Hello Kitty themed patterns and also sells them online through Amazon and her own website nirvanalandessentials.com where she also sells jewelry, gemstones and African soap.

Her business card also lists her profession as “Reiki Master/Teacher.” Had my interview with her continued further, I definitely would have asked how she manages to juggle it all!

Watch video here.

See other photos here.

Pick your own berries

Picking strawberries

The “locally” grown strawberries that are now showing up at Chestnut Hill groceries can be yours for the picking at farms in Montgomery and Bucks Counties and in New Jersey in nearby Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. A comprehensive guide can be found at as http://www.pickyourown.org Bill Roach’s family has a tradition of picking fruits and vegetables every year.  They got a start this past holiday  weekend at Rowand’s Farm in Glassboro, New Jersey. The large strawberry patch, laid out in neat long raised beds, were flush with heavy, red, ripe berries when we arrived but a short hour later families like ours had harvested all but the unripe pink and white berries. The Roaches move from farm to farm in the area and will also be picking cherries, blueberries, raspberries and more as those crops come in. Watch video here.


Lead keeper welcomes giraffes

Lead keeper welcomes giraffes

Two bull giraffes, 3-year-old Dhoruba and 10-month-old Jukuu, are making their official debut this Memorial Day weekend at the Elmwood Park Zoo, according to the Lansdale Reporter. They are on loan to the zoo through October.

According to lead keeper Stephanie Stadnik, the giraffes may represent a shift from the zoo’s tradition of exhibiting only animals native to North and South America. Giraffes, although not “super endangered” are very popular with zoo visitors in general, she says, and drawing them in gives Elmwood the opportunity to introduce visitors to overlooked native animals, some of whom can be found in our own back yards. Stadnik points out that through breeding in captivity, the black-footed ferret population has rebounded into the thousands from what was thought near extinction. Conservation efforts have similarly benefited eagles and alligators.Among our native species, wolves are some that Stadnik hopes visitors will take the time to appreciate and shed notions of the “big bad wolf.”

At the time of this interview in late April, construction of an enclosure was underway. Stairs and an elevated platform could be seen where the giraffes can be fed “browse”, small branches with tree leaves, as they would eat in their native African habitat.

From experience working with giraffes at the St. Louis Zoo yet reluctant to badmouth any animal, Stadnik relayed her impression that there is not so much going on in their heads. By contrast, with squirrel monkeys, she immediately senses the way things click with them. To round out her description, she did her giraffe “impersonation.”

On June 15th, the Zoo will host “KUWAKARIBISHA TWIGA”, a “Welcome Giraffes Beast of a Feast” fundraising event featuring R&B singer Barbara Mills. Attendees will get to feed the giraffes and feed on, uh, barbecue.

Watch video interview here.