East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors jointly hosted a jolly Christmas tree recycling event this first Sunday after New Year’s at Upsala mansion. Dampness and near freezing temperatures didn’t keep people away. Car after car arrived with trees lashed to their roofs. A large, m ostly youthful contingent helped unload the trees and stage them for the chipper. Alex Aberle, president of WMAN and who lives at the mansion will use the chips in his his garden at the historic site. Recyclers were asked to donate five dollars towards the cost of renting the chipping machine. Any remaining proceeds will be split between the neighborhood groups. For those who didn’t make the January event, the Philly Goat Project at the Awbury Arboretum will welcome the trees for their goats to snack on. And the Streets Department has 13 tree drop-off locations, also. Your Jewish correspondent has a very large potted solstice evergreen he drags inside and then back out again at this time of year and hopes someone might resuscitate the rent-a- Christmas-tree drop off and pick up program initiated by a neighborhood high school science teacher some years ago. Watch video here
Since September, your correspondent has been posting polls on NextDoor to inform and learn from the community, to take its pulse and to move the community on issues near and dear to him. As few as four and as many as 330 people have voted in these polls with naming the bookstore and a ban or leafblowers being the most popular. See more about NextDoor at the end of this post.
Nov 3 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT PROTECT THE VOTE RALLIES BEGINNING NOV 4?
Takeaway: Most support the rallies but after 16 people registered their choice, NextDoor shut down commenting but left one comment from a detractor standing. It may also have closed voting in the poll. Here's the poll link
Nov 2 POLL: WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?
Takeaway: Before the poll was taken down only hours after its posting, 17 people voted, many citing counting of mail-in ballots as top concern. 3 or 4 people had grumbled about the post as harmfully sowing anxiety.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?Our State Rep Chris Rabb and a local computer expert don’t believe our electronic voting system is secure. https://youtu.be/2n9uraDCSng
And there are news reports of confusion over PA’s mail in ballots counting https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/us/politics/Pennsylvania-presidential-election.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage . Some polling places are bracing for possible voter intimidation http://www.pikecountycourier.com/news/local-news/open-carry-and-voter-intimidation-what-does-pa-law-say-DC1370036 Of course you have voted or are going to BUT WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?
Mail-in ballots may not be accurately counted
Electronic voting system may be hacked
Irregularities at polling stations may negatively impact the count
Other (See my comment)
Nov 1 POLL: DO ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS?
Takeaway: the NextDoor algorithm may have made this the last visible post on anyone's news feed
Oct 27 POLL: HOMELESS IN MOUNT AIRY - IS THERE A RIGHT TO HOUSING?
Takeaway: 40% believe not or are unsure and since children are people, that means that nearly half are unwilling to say that children have a human right to housing.
Oct 21 POLL: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE OCT 22 CHESTNUT HILL LOCAL?
Takeaway: A fair amount worth saying something about. (In the 10/29 edition there is a help wanted ad for an associate editor.)
Oct 21 POLL: DO GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS?
Takeaway: You will know your good neighbor by the good fence they build between you and them
Oct 9 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER OR BACK THE BLUE?
Takeaway: Of 133 votes, less than a third believe it is possible to support both
Oct 6 POLL: WOULD YOU ATTEND A (VIRTUAL) CHESTNUT HILL TOWN HALL AND WHO MIGHT HOST?
Takeaway: There is only some interest in a virtual town hall and even less interest in the question
Oct 5 POLL: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE FINALISTS ARE...
Takeaway: By a considerable plurality but with only a third as many people voting in this finalists poll as in the original poll, the peoples really like "Books on the Hill"
Oct 2 POLL: Should the CDC require face masks?
Takeaway: The people have spoken; make facemasks the law nationwide
Sept 28 POLL: I'M SORRY: WHAT ARE YOU SORRY ABOUT FOR POSTING ON NEXTDOOR?
Takeaway: For the most part, NextDoor users stand by what they posted
Sep 25 POLL: IS COVID-19 POSTER AT POST OFFICE MISLEADING?
Takeaway: If you've posted to a NextDoor group with only 6 members don't expect more than 6 responses
Sep 18 POLL: POLICE PERMANENTLY PARKED TOP OF THE HILL? PROTECTING BANKS OR PEOPLE?
Takeaway: Most people believe the police presence at the top of the Hill benefits some combination of the public and small businesses but 25% believe they are there at the bank or banks' behest. The police have not responded to a request for clarification.
Sep 15: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE CH LIBRARY FRIENDS WANT YOUR IDEAS
Takeaway: 324 people and likely more with opinions is giving the Friends Board pause before deciding on a name
Sep 4 POLL: SHOULD WE BAN OR RESTRICT GAS POWERED LEAF BLOWERS?
Takeaway: About half or more people would consider a ban or restrictions on gas powered leaf blowers
Two separate rallies, one for Black Lives Matter and the other for Back the Blue both kicked off at 10:30 am on October 10, 2020 in Springfield Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania in two nearby township parks. Was it coincidental??? Watch short video of rallies here. An unscientific poll of 99 respondents on the NextDoor app indicates that people who support both causes are in a distinct minority, about 27%. It also indicates 76% support Black Lives Matter and 47% Back the Blue. Caveat: there is always the question of what people are thinking who are neither participating in such a poll or even on the social media platform where the poll was conducted. It's also worth noting that people may support the causes espoused without ascribing to a provocative movement or slogan.
As a member of the minority who espouse both causes, your correspondent attended only part of each rally so the material here is certainly not comprehensive and due to personal history, not necessarily well balanced. Photos of both rallies here.
At the Back the Blue Rally in Cisco Park, your correspondent heard 37 year veteran, Michael E. Pitkow, Chief of Police, thank the community for their support and the dedication of his officers. He spoke of a survey being conducted [the outgrowth of community meetings] among community residents soliciting their input about what they want from their police department. He remarked about the challenging times ensuing after the onset of the corona-virus pandemic and the "death of Mr. George Floyd" but noted Springfield Township hadn't experienced the civil unrest occurring in many other places around the nation.
Michele Chesaitis, an active member of the Friends of the Springfield Township Police is concerned when people make negative generalizations about the police. She comes from a police and fire department family and is proud of her family’s service. She considers the close knit community of law enforcement as part of her family, too. When asked whether the Black Lives Matter protesters had any legitimate issues she answered "There are legitimate and valuable issues for every walk of life," and as to what whether police could do better, "that we stop lumping police into groups.” When introduced she began her public remarks by asking everyone to join her in a prayer for the police, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit...."
At the Unity and Diversity rally to honor Breonna Taylor, clumps of young adults, families and older adults were spaced far apart in Mermaid Park listening to the speakers. Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence contrasted the actions of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who fired out from inside their home, defending their home with the act of a white vigilante who traveled from his home and killed protesters “There’s a hypocrisy. That’s why Black Lives Matter. Because when it happens to us it’s always something that we did wrong to end up dead.” He highlighted a recent incident in Upper Gwynedd Township in which police successfully de-escalated a situation and no one died; they were able to disarm a man who had fired a shotgun at them. “It absolutely can be done.” Napoleon Nelson, who is running for representative in the 184th district of the Pennsylvania State House, encompassing Springfield Township spoke next. He had visited the police rally, too, and a photo of him there appears in the photo album above. Your correspondent regrets an opening didn't present itself to interview him, being apparently only one of three African-American adults present at the police rally. The African American Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette was similarly engaged with others and Barnette's mother declined to be interviewed. The below is only an excerpt of Nelson's remarks. Readers are encouraged to listen to the fuller versions of both Lawrence and Nelson here.
"Before I got here I was over on the other side of the Township at a Back the Blue rally. And I do, I support police. I think there’s an important role for law enforcement in our community. But this day, this time, is not about backing the blue.
Your correspondent accompanied his spouse for the Public Library Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, February 25-29, 2020 and had a blast. Here are some photos and videos captured from that time.
For two consecutive days, some attendees of the Public Library Association Annual Conference stood outside and nearby the convention center soliciting signatures on petitions in support of IMLS funding. According to one of the signature gatherers, the President has been trying to shut down the Institutes for Library and Museum Services (IMLS) for four years. IMLS is the major federal source of funding 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums according to everylibrary.org, a political action committee for libraries.
Our guide, Texas born, North Carolina raised Caitlin, belted out facts while walking backwards to groups of prospective students and their parents at the college she attended.
This prepared her well when she moved to Nashville with her partner recently to pursue a career in tourism. We heard her loud and clear as she informed and entertained us with fun facts aboard the tour bus which looped us around the city. After the tour, she obliged your correspondent for an interview touching on the serious flooding several years ago and current concern about the high level of the Cumberland River, the Woolworth's restaurant, site of sit-ins during the civil rights era and still open for business, her enthusiasm and hopes about Amazon's upcoming opening of its eastern U.S. headquarters in Nashville, line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon and paying to get insulted when served at Dick's Last Resort.
This is a collage of little videos from the Public Library Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee, February 25 -29, 2020. In order they are
- the steps with PLA 2020 on the risers at the Music City Center (MCC)
-dressing up for the "Wonderosity" green screen at Demco's booth at the exhibit area, MCC
-Michelle Bloom singing along with her album "Big Backyard" in the exhibit area
-Changing color light entrance to the children's area at the Nashville Public Library (NPL)
-Petitioning the government to fund public libraries through the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) outside the MCC
-"String City" History of Country Music puppet show at the NPL
-Country band at the Ingram party at the NPL
-Salt Lake City librarians partying at the Ingram Party, NPL
-Country line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon along with Matt McAtee
-Time lapse view of street outside MCC
-Country singer in MCC lobby
-Revelers partying and pedaling on a Nashville Pedal Tavern
-Crossing music bar packed Broadway
-Music pouring out of Legends Bar on the corner of Broadway
On her album of children’s songs "Big Backyard" , Michelle Bloom motivates kids to go outside, explore to find bugs and such, and just to experience nature! She encourages families to visit the national parks - "It'a big back yard” she exclaims. Bloom was promoting her CD at the Public Library Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee and obliged your correspondent by singing along to some of her songs, producing a wonderful stereo effect.
Every day at 4:30 there's free line dance lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon on 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Country line dancing continues for hours with a live performer. We were entertained by Matt McAtee, who says he always get asked to play his song, "I can't stand Tome Brady" and when he did, there didn't seem to be any Bostonians or Patriots football fans in the bar.
Librarians pass the time in a lobby at the Music City Conference Center in Nashville waiting for the doors to open to the ballroom to hear an interview with comedian -personality-commentator Samantha Bee at the close of the Public Library Association conference.The soundtrack is singer KC Johns and fellow musicians singing at the Legends Bar on Broadway.
Book artist Judith Robison held a "Marie Kondo” sale of books she has created at the December holiday "Book, Paper, Scissors" book arts fair at the Free Library of Philadelphia on the Parkway, co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book. In keeping with the advice of the famous de-cluttering author Kondo, Robison was parting with excess copies of her books. A sign read “Marie Kondo sale everything is five dollars unless you think it is worth more in which case you can pay up to $10” The bargain basement pricing drew your correspondent and a friend over to her table and we were soon taken in by the artistry, cleverness and quirkiness of Robison's work. We each scooped up several, among them an exquisite foldout book, "The Cellist of Sarajevo." In the accompanying interview, Robison describes another, as she turns its pages. "This is one of my favorites -Book Marks, which is just a play on all the ways we make marks in the books. For example, when we are little children we write in books, scribble in books and get scolded for that. Then when we're in college we take notes in books. This is the history of marginalia (and goes way back) - writing commentaries in books. This is authored books, just taking a book and playing with it from the point of view of art. And finally, this is actually my father’s bird book. He checked off whenever he saw a bird, in the index, and that’s a photograph of him with his binoculars." Watch video interview of book artist here.
Your correspondent is helping out with "Witness for Prosecution," the Agatha Christie play at the Stagecrafters Theater in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia running November 22nd through December 8th. He cornered a few actors who indulged him by delivering their favorite lines. The clip below features Jaime Roanne Schwartz as Greta, Mark Sherlock as Leonard Vole, John Pinto as Justice Wainwright, Tom Tansey as Sir Wilfred, Tom Libonate as Mr. Myers,and Leah O'Hara as Romaine.NOTE: CONTAINS POTENTIAL SPOILERS
At Philadelphia's Juneteenth celebration in Germantown, Iraina Salaam performs a libation ceremony in honor of African ancestors as members of Boy Scout Troop 1719 and the Tyehimba drum group look on. Juneteenth, June 19th, is a celebration that marks the day in 1865, two and a half years after the emancipation proclamation when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of slavery. Also in the video Cerise Dash sings "Oh Freedom," a spiritual. Watch video of Germantown, Philadelphia's Juneteenth emancipation from slavery celebration featuring a libation ceremony, gospel spirituals, colored Union infantry troops and more
Author Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks sells copies of her recent book with many photographs by noted photographer John W Mosley about the racially segregated beach between Mississippi and Missouri Avenues in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Using a handloom built by former school parent and woodworking teacher, John Fiorella, Philadelphia Waldorf middle-schoolers set up yarn on three spindles for people to crank out their own soft jump ropes. Admissions Coordinator Maggie Davis says the students decided to donate all monetary proceeds on Sunday April 7, 2019 at the Clover Market in Chestnut Hill, to UNICEF after reading Alan Gratz's book, "Refugee," about the plight of refugee families from three different countries in three different time periods. Watch video of Waldorf students using a hand loom to weave jump ropes to benefit UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.
At the Chestnut Hill Fall Arts Festival, people took up pieces of colored chalk and wrote anonymously on a large community chalk board, revealing their personal hopes and plans and dreams for the future, completing the sentence, “Before I die, I want to…” The Philomusica Chorale mounted this community “bucket list” and director Gayle Wieand will weave them into an original, classic-style choral composition to be premiered May 18 and May 19 at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church. Wieand was moved by some of the posts such as someone who wanted to provide energy to the world and serious about it enough to enter a NASA competition. Others held personal appeal for Wieand such as “…have a cottage on the water.” “And I have a desire to get all the people who put skydiving on the list together to skydive!” Watch video of people writing on chalk board what's on their bucket list for new choral piece
Dying and such with a musical focus was also the subject of another group presenting at the festival.
The Threshold Choir sings soothing acapela non-religious songs for the dying at several hospices in the Philadelphia area. And it performs for people dealing with other situations such as addiction or the premature birth of a child. The songs emphasize loving-kindness, peace and freedom from suffering. The Choir began in San Francisco and now has chapters around the world. “It’s people who want to sing and give their voice at times of change” Member Patty Rogers. The choir will not sing to people who do not want to be sung to. In order of appearance speaking in the accompanying video, were Jim Knight, Kris Olson, and Rogers .
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.
November 6 Election Day Update: Southeastern PA turns blue!
Update form Andrea Koplove of Turn PA Blue
"Hello Red to Blue,
Before the news cycle moves too far ahead, I want to thank you for the indefatigable, unbelievable, and never-ending support of each and every one of you who gave your time and energies and resources to organizing, canvassing, hosting, fundraising, postcarding, and phonebanking for the entire slate of candidates running up and down the PA ticket! Here's some of what we did over the past few months:
We volunteered for over 560 canvassing shifts, knocking more than 17,000 doors in five counties.
We met for twenty-one Wednesdays at High Point and wrote more than 24,000 postcards to voters.
We participated in nine phone banking parties and made nearly 5,000 calls.
We greeted countless voters at the polls and helped ensure that our candidates had coverage at every single polling location in their districts throughout Election Day.
Our work made a huge difference!
Please take a moment to savor these election results:
We netted an amazing eleven seats, with fourteen flipped seats in Southeastern PA (SEPA)! Among those for whom your hard work paid off are many familiar names: Liz Hanbidge, Joe Ciresi, Joe Webster, Steve Malagari, Melissa Shusterman, Wendy Ullman, Danielle Friel Otten, Dave Delloso, Mike Zabel, and Jenn O’Mara. As if you need more proof that every vote counts, O’Mara won by just 163 votes!
We broke the Republican super-majority and picked up at least five seats. Among the victories were four candidates whom we supported in SEPA: Katie Muth, Maria Collett, Tim Kearney, and Steve Santarsiero. Tina Davis’s race is still too close to call, with Davis trailing by a mere 100 votes.
Just remember, these are seats that have been gerrymandered to prevent us from winning, which makes these results all the more staggering. Way to go!
Finally, SEPA contributed 4 US Congressional flips that were central to winning the House majority (currently at 28 seats and counting) for the Democrats!
With pickups including SEPA’s Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Susan Wild, and Chrissy Houlahan, Democrats can now provide a direly needed counterbalance to the destructive policies of Trump’s GOP.
What's next? That's easy: MORE WORK AND MORE RACES TO BE WON!
More on that in the coming weeks..."