Your correspondent observed and spoke with Chestnut Hill Local Editor Pete Mazzaccaro on a busy Monday morning as he was busy finalizing stories with his associate editor, staff writer and interns, churning out the obituaries that are usually handled by the vacationing articles editor, deciding on lead stories and knocking out headlines, then laying these out with photos for the front page. The weekly, a publication of the Chestnut Hill delivers news and features to some 5000 residents of Northwest Philadelphia and neighboring Montgomery County through with its printed edition and to thousands more regular readers of its online edition, https://www.chestnuthilllocal.com
Under the auspices of Turn PA Blue and Indivisible Philadelphia Northwest, Ann Mintz distributed packets of postcards to 20 some neighbors at the High Point Coffee Shop in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia this Wednesday. Seated around tables, each week the group hand writes postcards to voters in the surrounding counties urging them to support Democratic Party candidates in November elections. Boosting Jennifer O’Mara, Democratic candidate for state representative in Pennsylvania’s 165th district in Delaware County was the focus of this week’s efforts. Mintz cited research showing individualized postcards can boost voter turnout up to 3% which can make a difference in close elections. In a recent instance, a Democrat won a legislative seat by a mere 76 votes. Named for an aunt who was murdered in the Holocaust, Mintz relates that the administration’s immigration policies are very personal to her - handcuffing of 4 year old immigrant children, separating them from their parents. She also deplored the administration’s attacks on the LGBT community, tax cuts for the wealthy and the rollback of environmental protections. “I want my country back” Mintz intones. She notes that a health reporter from the Washington Post is visiting an upcoming postcard writing session with an interest in writing about how political activism is helping people cope in these times. Watch video interview of activist organizing voters to write postcards for Democratic Party Candidates in 2018 Pennsylvania midterm elections.
Photo: Sue Wells of Wyndmoor (left) and Charlotte Law of Manayunk (right) were among nearly 20 people gathered at the High Point Café in Mount Airy writing postcards in support of Democratic Party candidates in neighboring counties running for the Pennsylvania state legislature. In the center is Andrea Koplove, Director of Outreach for Turn PA Blue which is also spearheading canvassing and phone banking events throughout the weeks leading up to the November midterm elections.
Above: Olin and Shirley Gentry
Philadelphia Stories Presents: Local Literary Voices was one of three events hosted by Philadelphia Stories at the Chestnut Hill Book Festival on Sunday September 22, 2013. Philadelphia Stories is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a community of “writers, artists and readers” in the Delaware Valley through literary magazines, events such as the Book Festival readings and educational programs. At the Chestnut Hill fest, Philadelphia Stories local authors talked about and read from their works. Unfortunately your correspondent’s video phone battery died before the program finished and he failed to capture the beautiful funny reading by Hal Sirowitz and readings from the open mic portion of the program. So Sorry! See Bios of authors below
Daniel Torday, appearing at the Chestnut Hill Book Festival reads from his novel to be published by St Martin's Press in 2015. Forming part of the novel about the narrator's uncle , a Hungarian Jew who flew on bombing missions for the Royal Air Force during WW II is his recently published, award-winning novella, "The Sensualist." Watch video here.
Sabrina Vourvoulias, editor of 200 Years of Latino History in Philadelphia by the staff of Al Dia newspaper talks about the book. Watch video here.
These are the short bios of the presenting writers appearing on the Philadelphia Stories website. http://www.philadelphiastories.org/chestnut-hill-book-festival-workshops-kids-reading
Awbury Arboretum on Friday night, April 26,2013 was one of many venues set up throughout the city for stargazing as part of the 10 day Philadelphia Science Festival. A few dozen or so people showed up at the Arboretum in Germantown. Teenager Maya Anderson came to just hang out with her family and, as a choir student at Settlement Music School, sang impromptu from some of her repertoire. Katie Virtue, a meteorologist and volunteer with the Franklin Institute was on hand to guide visitors to the celestial sights. Some astronomy enthusiasts brought powerful telescopes and lines formed at these for viewing the four moons of Jupiter on this clear, cool spring night. Video story here. And here is Maya "Piping down the valleys wild" from Songs of Innocence by William Blake.
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.
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.
Nancy-Ellen sculpted characters from her book “Nana’s Wicker Back.” The title references the scarring pattern on her own grandmother’s back from whippings as a slave. “These women are bought and sold [many were bore] into slavery who were regarded as mules or just property. Yet I wanted to depict that they had spirits, they had souls, they fell in love, they cried and some were very overt in personality some were very quiet and timid. And I never know what I’m going to make. As I start pushing clay, they start telling me who they are.” Nancy-Ellen. Watch video interview here
Sherry Canary, of the musical group “Hot Club Canaries” takes DJango Reinhardt songs and puts lyrics to them. And she writes her own songs in the gypsy jazz idiom. She does a lot of collaborating as a member of an Internet group FAWM February Album Writing month., http://fawm.org Members compose 14 songs in 28 days and listen and comment on each other’s work. Participants include all kinds of composers from housewives to professionals. Canary also participates in “skirmishes” - writers have only one hour to write the music, the lyrics, produce it and get it online. Watch video interview and singing here. In another video, Canary sings her composition satirizing the world's dictators, "Coffee with Gadaffi." The Hot Club Canaries perform at the Mermaid Inn on Thursday May 10, 2012
Somewhere I saw, a long time ago, a button or bumper sticker that said "Readers are Leaders" And I think that's really true- that people who read find out details about the world and have things to talk about. And it's much more effective to be in the world with other humans when you have things to talk about.
We have a rule in our household that if there's a book that's been turned into a movie, you have to read the book first- the Harry Potter movies... there's been a lot of kids books that they've taken and changed around and made them into movies and it's been pretty funny. Because they change them! But I always insist that my kids read the books first. Of course we have to do that ourselves, mind our own rules. So my husband and I had to read "The Lord of the Rings" when that coming out as a movie a while back. We had to read them again. I had read them in high school It was actually work!
Being at this book festival, people are walking by and they're talking about books which is so much fun. And there were some women here earlier at my table and they were talking about kids books that were turned into movies, "The Hunger Games" and how excited they are about that. And we started talking about the books that we love, as adults but they also might be kids books. And then we started talking about the books that are narrated, that are read on tape or CD. And one of the leader-readers, it's so obvious, is Barack Obama, You know he got a grammy award for reading his own book aloud?.. That poor guy has such a job!
Laura Richlin, Chestnut Hill Book Festival
As she slept, a young woman was bitten on the cheek by a spider. But it wasn't a spider and if it was, it wasn't any ordinary bite. It became inflamed and, alarmed, she went to the emergency room. The doctor, too, was alarmed. An x-ray revealed that whatever bit her had laid eggs and they were beginning to hatch and work their way out through her skin. Or so it was according to a story retold with convincing feigned veracity by Linda Lee, a folkore PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania who was giving a talk on urban legends at the Chestnut Hill library. Watch video here.