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Monthly Archives: January 2014

January 31st | Posted In Uncategorized

More Arrows in the Quiver

In case you missed yesterday’s Daily News, YIP’s very own Stephen St.Vincent (no relation to the singer, which is oh so cruel), wrote one hell of a letter to the editor in response to the tone of the tabloid’s coverage of the Pew report on Philly’s millennials.  Read it here.

My favorite line in the letter: “[R]ather than seeing these Pew statistics as representative of failings of our city, we should see them as opportunities to improve, and more arrows in the quiver in our fight for fair school funding.”

As St.Vincent notes, what millennials want isn’t exactly diametrically opposed to what other generations want.  Our concerns – jobs, schools, crime and public transit – are largely everyone’s concerns.  We just need to work together to fix them.  Millennials cannot – and will not – sit on the sidelines and wait for our elders to fix the city’s problems.

That’s why YIP is holding our “Ward Politics 101“.  YIP President Nick Marzano described it best: “To change the city, you need understand the city, and YIP’s goal is to make that palatable and approachable.” Don’t wait to get your tickets here, folks, because, as Nick noted “We’re anticipating a sell-out, and there’s not much we can do after that. As you might imagine, a place called Ladder 15 takes fire code seriously.”

January 30th | Posted In Philadelphia

Surprise! SEPTA Doesn’t Suck as Bad as You Want

MFL at 40th St

When I moved to Washington, D.C., in 2008, after growing up in the Philly suburbs, I thought I was coming to live in a public transit nerd’s heaven.

The Metro, as the rapid transit system down there is known, goes everywhere, and every platform has displays to tell you how long you’ll have to wait for the next train. And those Metro stations, some of them are basically cathedrals, cross-shaped with vaulted ceilings.

Although plenty of complaints surrounded WMATA and much of it was warranted, I often proclaimed, proudly as Philly-area natives do when speaking of their own region, “Yeah, well, trust me, it’s still MUCH better than SEPTA in Philly.”

It seems I was wrong. Not by much, but, still, quite wrong.

Read more

January 29th | Posted In Entrepreneurship, Nonprofit

Coffee for a Cause

mande

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self.”

I constantly have thought about this idea while in line at any coffee shop listening to orders ever since You’ve Got Mail (that early 90s movie featuring Tom Hanks, AOL, and Meg Ryan) came out on VHS: the idea that we identify and brand ourselves down to the very caffeinated beverages we consume and the places we purchase them from, drawing upon the brand’s identity and mission to make a statement about ourselves and what we care about in life.

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January 28th | Posted In Philadelphia, Trivia

Trivia Tuesday!

Philadelpia_merchant_exchange

Isn’t quizzo the greatest?  Whether you are a New Deck purist who spells it with just one ‘z’, or prefer to win “adult” toys at a round of Kinky Quizzo, you can’t help but to love the thrill of being the only person at your table who knows the name of the first monkey in space‡.

To celebrate my love of Philadelphia and our love of quizzo (which is one of the reasons #whyilovephilly), I give you a Philly-focused trivia question every Tuesday.  Answers after the jump.

This week’s trivia question:  If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself wandering around town admiring Philly’s awesome architecture.  We have William Strickland to thank for a ton of the beautiful buildings.  Strickland a founder of the Greek Revival movement and the man behind the Second Bank of the United States, the National Mechanics Bank (now home to the bar), and the Philadelphia Naval Asylum.  Strickland died while working on his final work, which many consider to be his masterpiece and was buried within it.   Hint: it looks a lot like the Merchant Exchange (shown above) and is NOT in Philadelphia.

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January 27th | Posted In Philadelphia, Policy

One Blogger’s Take on the Pew’s Millennials in Philadelphia Report

It’s like college again.

The coverage of Pew’s recent report on millennials sent me back to my sophomore year philosophy seminar, rolling my eyes as I listened to a pretentious yet deluded senior falsely accuse Nietzsche of nihilism and crimping all of his ideas from Schopenhauer when the professor suddenly snapped.   After informing him of how to properly pronounce the German’s name and explaining that he rejected the asceticism of otherworldly religion in favor of the full embrace of tangible life on this earth, the professor cruelly hissed “Where the hell did you get nihilism from the Genealogy of Morals?  Did you even read it?!” 

I want to shout Did you even read it!?to nearly everyone commenting on Pew’s report.  Like the Genealogy of Morals, it’s a wonderful read, fascinating and enlightening.  (Full disclosure: the report quotes me, so it could have been awful and I’d still like it a bit.  But, seriously, it is full of engrossing data that even unbiased geeks will love.)

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January 25th | Posted In Citizenship

The Five Day Citizen

keepcalm

I love jury duty. I love the cross-section of Philadelphians in that big holding pen at 1301 Filbert.  I love the genuine enthusiasm with which the judges welcome you to your civic duty.  And I even love that circa 1992 video that walks you through the questionnaire you finished answering twenty minutes ago.

Of course, when my turn came back around recently, I was pulling to be sent home. As much as I appreciate jury duty in theory, the practice is a beast.  You’re herded like cattle into a courtroom, eyeballed like a piece of civic meat by council, and left to age for hours like a cut of marbled beef, unsure of what outcome ultimately awaits you (A two week trial?  A quick dismissal?  A classy steakhouse’s plate?).

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January 22nd | Posted In Events, Politics, Programs, YIP

A Cynic’s Conversion

This past weekend, I was holed up in a room with the rest of Young Involved Philadelphia’s new Board of Directors for a two-day long meeting and strategy session.  We had every right to be burned out on all things youthful, Philly or involving involvement.  But the Board, including a usually pessimistic me, emerged from that never-ending meeting feeling more energized than a drum-playing bunny.

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January 21st | Posted In Philadelphia, Trivia

Trivia Tuesday!

BenFranklinDuplessis

Isn’t quizzo the greatest?  Whether you are a New Deck purist who spells it with just one ‘z’, or prefer to win “adult” toys at a round of Kinky Quizzo, you can’t help but to love the thrill of being the only person at your table who knows the name of Richard Nixon’s Dog*.

To celebrate my love of Philadelphia and our love of quizzo (which is one of the reasons #whyilovephilly), I give you a Philly-focused trivia question every Tuesday.  Answers after the jump.

This week’s trivia question:  Benjamin Franklin’s birthday was last week.  If he were alive today, he would be 308 years old and so sort of vampire or zombie.  Thankfully for all of us, Franklin is dead.  But before Poor Richard bought the farm, he accomplished an amazing amount of awesomeness.  Besides founding the University of Pennsylvania and giving Philadelphia its first fire department, Ben was an inventor and innovator.  Below is a partial list of Ben Franklin’s contributions to Philadelphia, America and the world at large.  Your task this week: find the only thing in the list that cannot be attributed to namesake of the Free Republic of Franklin.

America’s first lending library; glass armonica; bifocals; lightning rod; Franklin stove; the concept of “pay it forward”; the first property insurance company in America; the American Philosophical Society; the 111th Infantry Regiment; Daylight Savings Time; a carriage odometer; signer of the Declaration of Independence; signer of the Constitution Ambassador; swimfin innovator; Postmaster General; publisher; President of Pennsylvania; slaveowner; abolitionist; demographer; first man to chart the Gulf Stream; the principle of the conservation of charge; the concept of cooling via evaporation; the “pros and cons” list; America’s first hospital; coiner of the electrical terms “battery”, “conductor”, “positive”, “negative” and others still used today; the first American political cartoon; a phonetic alphabet; first American member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; the flexible urinary catheter.

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January 17th | Posted In Policy, Politics

Process Stories: More Important Than the Media Thinks

grandma

Who could say no to this voter?

There were a lot of sexy news stories this week in the Delaware Valley.  Comcast announced its flashy new building, Bill Green was nominated to chair the School Reform Commission, Uncle Charlie returned to the Phils, and, perhaps sexiest of all, this guy entered our lives.  But there were a few slightly more demure stories that, nonetheless, are incredibly important.

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January 16th | Posted In Nonprofit, Philadelphia, Policy

There’s Mighty More Promise to Mantua Than Just a Zone

450px-West_Philly_Vista

Driving down Lancaster Avenue in the midst of West Philadelphia, one cannot ignore the signs of neglect and decline in this historically underserved area. Buildings lay abandoned, windows hold shards of broken glass, and various amounts of trash, debris, and forgotten shoes line the sidewalks.  Yet, there is promise – not just the January 2014 federally appointed designation as a “Promise Zone,” but the promise of a brighter future, education, and level of community: a mighty promise for the children, teens, and families of West Philadelphia and Mantua.

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January 15th | Posted In Philadelphia

Literally HUGE News From Comcast

comcast011514_2Comcast just announced that it is building a new skyscraper that, according to Comcast subsidiary NBC, will “redefine Philly’s skyline, create thousands of jobs and shift the city’s image from a Rocky, blue-collar town to a city of innovation that rivals the Silicon Valley.”  This is freaking awesome.

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January 15th | Posted In Uncategorized

Looking to Get Involved? We can help

Every month, Young Involved Philadelphia partners with some of the city’s best nonprofits for a happy hour meet-and-greet we call the Get Involved Happy Hour.

We’re trying to make this more than just another networking happy hour by focusing it on connecting young professionals with nonprofits.  When I first moved back to Philadelphia, I knew I wanted to get involved with a civically engaged organization, but didn’t know how.  I looked on some websites, emailed some contacts, but that didn’t get me face-to-face with actual people who could describe what their organization did and what they were looking for from volunteers.  It wasn’t until I stumbled across YIP that I found a group right for me (and even with YIP, it took me a long time to find out how to get involved).

Young Involved Philadelphia believes that helping our civic institutions connect with young professionals, and each other, provides a tremendous benefit to those institutions and, therefore, the city itself.   The Get Involved Happy Hour is one way we try to help make those connections.  For us, its more than just a happy hour.  It’s where we hope a meaningful relationship can get its start.

So, join us at Field House January 23rd from 5:30 to 7:30.  We will be joined by PhilaSoup, which brings together diverse sectors of the Philadelphia education community and supports initiatives that enhance the learning experience of Philly students, Rock to the Future, which provides music education to Philly’s underserved youth at no cost to the families, and the Asian Arts Initiative, which uses art as a vehicle to explore the experiences of Asian Americans and their diverse communities.

Admission is only $6.25 if you sign up online ($7 at the door) and includes your first drink free and some appetizers (beeteedubs: the main reason we charge is because people RSVP for free events but then never show, which is lame.  Consider that your event planning pro-tip of the day: charge a tiny fee if you want an accurate RSVP head count)

January 14th | Posted In Education, Philadelphia

If Johnny Can’t Read, Maybe We Can Try Sue(ing)?

school district

It’s beyond obvious to state that Philadelphia has a school funding crisis, but since this is a post about school funding, I have to lay the groundwork.  So, Philadelphia is having a school funding crisis.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the $300 million (give or take) lying around to plug the budget gap, and neither does YIP, so we can’t save the district’s budget on our own.  But two local nonprofits are trying to do just that. Read more

January 14th | Posted In Uncategorized

Trivia Tuesday – Name that Famous Philadelphian

To celebrate my love of quizzo (which is one of the reasons #whyilovephilly), I offer you a Philly-focused trivia question every Tuesday.

This week’s question:  We all know that Philadelphia is a city full of firsts.  We made the first cheesesteak.  The Phillies were the first professional sports team to hit 10,000 losses.  Penn is home to the world’s first business school, the first computer, first endowed professorship named after a daytime talk show, and first century old building named after a gossip columnist.

We also had a number of famous folks live here who were the first American (or person, period) to do many an amazing thing.  One famous Philadelphian served as first director of the United States Mint, but is perhaps better known for his contributions to astronomy (he was the first American to view Uranus, observed the transit of Venus, and completed two advanced orreries).  Some historians believe that the stars on Flag of the United States of America are honor of this man.  Who is he?  Check out the answer after the jump.   Read more

January 9th | Posted In Philadelphia

More Than Just Sips – New Jobs Report by Center City District

centercity

The Center City District just published a new report on jobs in Philadelphia, and it is just chock full of severely interesting statistics and graphs.  I highly recommend spending sometime with it, maybe cozying up in front of a fire place with it and some hot coco or mulled wine (if you’re old enough).   But, if you’re short on time, I  skimmed it and annotated of some of its notable notes.   Read more

January 8th | Posted In Entrepreneurship, Nonprofit

No Need To Wait – Advice for New Nonprofits

Seed Philly

Seed Philly

This article on Generocity.org about Seed Philly finally getting 501(c)(3) status got me thinking about some common misconceptions about nonprofits, 501(c)(3)s and other tax-exempt organizations. Specifically, this part: “[Seed Philly CEO Brad Denenberg said] that the IRS was not responsive when it came to figuring out when the organization could expect official nonprofit status. And without that certainty, it is very difficult to even begin seeking funders, Denenberg said”. It kills me that Denenberg had trouble finding funders, because, if you understand a little nonprofit tax law, there was absolutely no reason to wait.   Read more

January 7th | Posted In Philadelphia, Trivia

Trivia Tuesday!

Isn’t quizzo the greatest?  Whether you are a New Deck purist who spells it with just one ‘z’, or prefer to win “adult” toys at a round of Kinky Quizzo, you can’t help but to love the thrill of being the only person at your table who knows the name of Robert E. Lee’s horse*.

To celebrate my love of Philadelphia and our love of quizzo (which is one of the reasons #whyilovephilly), I’ll be bringing you a Philly-focused trivia question every Tuesday.

This week’s trivia question:  You know that Philly is renown for our cherished historical landmarks and vibrant arts scene.  But did you know that our vibrant arts scene is also historical?  Philly is home to the oldest continuously running theatre in the English speaking world (Broadway and the West End ain’t got nothing on Philly).  Name the theatre!

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January 7th | Posted In Philadelphia, Programs, YIP

Want to Write for the YIP Blog? Why, Of Course You Do!

Independence Hall

Independence Hall is so inspiring

Do you care about Philly’s nonprofit sector, civic engagement, community service or all of the above?  Have a way with words and a bit of spare time?  Sounds like you might have what it takes to contribute to the YIP Blog! Read more

January 6th | Posted In Philadelphia

Philadelphia Worships the Eagles… Literally

DawkinsPrayer

Saturday was a dark day in Philadelphia, as we watched our beloved Eagles lose in the final seconds to the New Orleans Saints.  As God-awful as the outcome was, the name of New Orleans’ football team wasn’t the only thing holy about the game.  According to moral psychologist and UVA professor Jonathan Haidt, sports and religion serve remarkably similar social functions: both bring people together into cohesive communities. Read more

January 2nd | Posted In Policy, Politics, YIP

The Reasons Behind Our Resign to Run Poll

CityHall

Back in the day, YIP would take strong public stands on various issues in Philly that mattered to young adults.  We’ve always believed that making Philly vibrant and youthful is good for the city as a whole. Over the past few years, though, YIP has been more focused on building the next generation of local leaders, especially in the nonprofit sector. Over the last year, more people have asked us to return to local policy and politics again (while maintaining our nonprofit work, too – you people are demanding).  Well, we’re listening and launching a new effort to ensure that we can effectively listen to, and speak for, Philly’s young professionals.

We first dipped our toes into the ocean of advocacy when Councilman Oh’s office asked us to support the Councilman’s “Resign to Run” proposal.  We decided to ask our members what they thought, and their tepid response kept us from taking a plunge.  Philly’s political waters can be murky at the best of times, so, for transparency’s sake, we wanted to explain what we did and why. Read more