Hello…It’s Me

It feels like I blinked and it was suddenly December. I’ve been gone for a minute and neglected to post on the places I visited through the end of the summer. The change in seasons (summer to fall to winter) brought so many changes in my personal life and I’ve been spending a lot of time nurturing myself and adjusting to my new life. This fall I broke up with my partner of almost a year after a difficult transition to long distance love and both of us needing self care to recover from episodes of depression. I threw myself into my new job, a temporary position as an Outdoor Experience instructor with the Parks and Recreation department. Since the day I accepted the position I had to defend my decision to my parents and peers and it definitely caused me to question myself and my career path.

However, interacting with kids and with my colleagues and role models in the Parks and Recreation department has been so rewarding that I know I should never doubt my intuition again. I’ve also dedicated myself to expanding my almost non-existent social circle by joining a womanist collective (like our page on Facebook for info on our events) and joining a friends effort to build a black literature centered college preparation organization for Philadelphia high school girls. I put a lot on my plate and I’m excited to continue documenting my life on this blog. The purpose of this blog isn’t to gain readers or popularity but to actively reflect on my life and challenge myself to be more outspoken and engage with the world a little bit more. Anyway, thank you for sticking with me through this blogging dry spell. Here’s some pictures from these past months, which include visits to:

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Benjamin Franklin Bridge

Springhouse Farm

Mixto Restaurant

Graffiti Bar

Wissahickon Park

Philly Trans March

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Mount Moriah Cemetery

Logan Circle

Canoemobile on the Schuylkill River

Rooftop beekeeping in South Philly Continue reading

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Post-Disaster Property Rights: A Case Study on the Redevelopment of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward

The impacts of climate change have and will continue to deteriorate fee simple absolute property rights of littoral and riparian property-owners. Climate change has exacerbated and increased the frequencies of destructive storms that have effectively demolished homes, buildings and other private properties. Hurricane Katrina and its devastating impact on New Orleans is a prime example of the power of natural and climate-related disasters to essentially “take” or reduce private property owners’ fee simple absolute rights. Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans August 23rd through August 31, 2005 and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans up to 20 ft.[1] Seventy-one percent of homes in the city sustained damage (See Figure 1).[2] Consequently, Hurricane Katrina resulted in the greatest resettlement in American history with an estimated 1.5 million people abandoning their homes.[3] Since 2005, the City of New Orleans and various private groups have been working on rebuilding and repopulating New Orleans. Specifically, rebuilding efforts are targeted at the Lower Ninth Ward, which scattered a population of 14,000 people. In 2010, the Census reported 2,842 residents and as of 2013, only 30 percent of former residents have returned to the Lower Ninth Ward. [4] In 2000, population of the Lower Ninth Ward had 95 percent African-American residents, with an average household income slightly under $30,000 a year.[5] Homeownership in the Lower Ninth Ward was high, with approximately 54 percent of the homes homeowner-occupied.[6] Post-Katrina, approximately 82 percent of the residential units in the Lower Ninth Ward were damaged or destroyed.[7] The Lower Ninth Ward was the first neighborhood in New Orleans to receive remediation funding and was declared an area in need of revitalization: $60 million for street repairs, $50 million for rebuilding schools, and $14.5 million for a new community center, in addition to federal homeowner and rental assistance funds.[8] Post-Katrina, local, State and Federal programs and plans aimed at rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward has influenced the ability and conditions under which former residents can rebuild their homes. Since the Lower Ninth Ward hasn’t yet rebounded and hundreds of homeowners have chosen not to or have been unable to rebuild, the status of those refugees’ fee simple absolute rights can come into question.[9] Below, I explore the status of Lower Ninth Ward refugees’ fee simple absolute rights to their property since Hurricane Katrina and analyze how governmental response has facilitated or hindered owners’ ability to rebuild. Continue reading

Essay / Academic Rant: Sugarhouse Casino

Philadelphia, PA is now the largest city in the United States with a casino. SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia is a highly contested and controversial development. Since being awarded one of two gaming licenses in 2006, SugarHouse has been challenged by the City of Philadelphia, neighborhood associations, cultural groups, and local non-governmental agencies. Although many parties feared the entrance of casinos into Philadelphia would lead to more violence and neighborhood decay, there is still uncertainty as to whether the development has had the predicted negative impact on Philadelphia, and whether it’s as positive an economic resource as predicted. SugarHouse Casino and casinos in general were brought into the state to generate revenue and increase tourism into the state. The introduction of the gaming industry into Pennsylvania is a political move fueled by backdoor politics, money, and patronage.

casino

Figure 1. SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown, Philadelphia, PA. Continue reading

Urban Exploration Through the Abandoned Reading Viaduct

Several weeks ago I took my second trip to the abandoned Reading Viaduct. The Viaduct begins at Vine Street, between 11th and 12th, where it then moves north from Chinatown to Callowhill Street and then branches to the west and northeast. The Reading Viaduct was formerly used to carry trains into Center City for almost 100 years, and has since become a haven for urban explorers, graffiti artists, photographers, and the like.My first trip here was during the fall of last year for a night hike and the walls of neighboring buildings, steel structures and bridges were covered in graffiti. There were two swings fashioned out of discarded rubber and a tire swing hanging off of the bridges. SH and I climbed one of the bridges and had a fantastic view of the city skyline. When I returned, two of the swings were gone (the tire swing appeared to have been burned, probably for warmth during the colder months) and the graffiti was all new. In the summer daytime, the Viaduct looked brand new and even more beautiful. I’d recommend anyone interested in some light urban exploration to come visit the Viaduct and experience its rapid changes before its too late. Continue reading

Brain Obsession at the Franklin Institute

Did you know there was a brain exhibit at The Franklin Institute?! As many times as I’ve visited The Franklin Institute (it has to be close to 20 times) I’ve missed out on visiting its newest permanent exhibit on the human brain. The Franklin Institute is an awesome science museum that was founded in honor of Benjamin Franklin. The museum has a dozen permanent child-friendly exhibits, Live Science programs, visiting exhibits, an IMAX theater and a gorgeous planetarium. SH and I literally popped into the Franklin Institute at the last moment when I heard that admission to the museum was free yesterday! Target Community Nights (which is what we participated in) are from 5:00-8:00 pm, on the third Wednesday of the month. Check the museum out for free next month, or drop by for regular admission which is $20 for adults and $16 for children (you can also reduce the cost by becoming a member and visiting often!).

Anyway, check out some photos I took at the Brain exhibit before I started running around playing with the interactive exhibits with the kids. After the Franklin Institute, SH and I dropped by one of my favorite spots, he fountain at Logan Circle. I’ve missed this fountain so much! As a kid I used to splash in the water, picnic and have lunch in the grass and on the benches, and it’s so close to the Franklin Insitute, and some of my other favorite spots including the main branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, Moore College of Art and Design and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Continue reading

Beekeeping at Greensgrow Farms

This post is hella late, but here are some pictures of a visit I took to Greensgrow Farms a few weeks ago. My partner keeps bees and has been antsy for me to meet some of the bees he works with so I shadowed him as he went to check on the bees living at and pollinating the plants at Greensgrow Farms. If you haven’t heard of or yet visited Greensgrow Farms, I highly recommend checking it out. Greensgrow Farms is an awesome urban farm located at 2503 E. Firth Street with a great CSA (Community/City Supported Agriculture), a seasonal partnership where you can buy locally produced fruits, vegetables, and dairy or vegan protein options. Read more about Greensgrow Farms and their CSA here.

SH and I toured the farm for a bit at first and then headed over to the Living Roof, where the hives for the honeybees were located. I watched SH smoke the bees out a bit to calm them down before opening the hives–apparently the smoke mimics a forest fire, which alerts the bees to eat as much honey as possible in preparation for a long commute to another hive location. As a result, the bees’ bellies will be so full, they’ll have a harder time stinging. I watched him check several frames to see if the combs had larvae, if the Queen was intact and producing offspring, and how much honey were in the hives. While he was working, I quelled my fears and held some frames, and even got to taste some honey straight from the comb! It was delicious.  Continue reading

Essay/Academic Rant: The Market-Frankford Elevated Line

The Market-Frankford Elevated Line, also known as the El, the MFL, MFE, and the Blue Line, is one of Philadelphia’s oldest modes of public transportation.  The MFL is a high speed-rail spanning 13 miles running directly over city streets and underneath as a subway. It runs along Market St toward Northeast Philadelphia, which is the principal east-west axis and mass transit corridor in West Philadelphia (See Figure 1). The line is owned and operated by SEPTA—Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority.[1] The route spans three areas of Philadelphia: the Market St Elevated runs above Market St between 46th St. Station and 69th St Station in West Philadelphia. Upon reaching 46th St, the train runs underground Center City toward 2nd St. Finally, the train runs aboveground again toward Frankford Transportation Center in Northeast Philadelphia. The MFL is one of the most convenient and utilized forms of public transportation in Philadelphia with a long and complex history. Continue reading