Philadelphia Productions kickoff party

Click to enlarge.

Photographer Colin Lenton, whom I came to know during our college newspaper days, and a few of his colleagues have rented out beautiful space in the Frankford neighborhood and have made it into a unique studio space.

This weekend, Philadelphia Productions, what they call themselves, held a great grand opening party.

They had a camera set up that could take portraits with a click of a button and everyone had fun with it. See examples here.

Lenton and I did as well.

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NEast Philly: West Frankford Town Watch profile

Phil Pappas, of West Frankford Town Watch, investigating an alarm near Comly and Bustleton on early Saturday morning July 10. Click to enlarge. It's my photo.

Earlier this month, I went on a ride-along with the West Frankford Town Watch in lower Northeast Philadelphia. For the love of hyperlocal journalism and community coverage, I put together a 2,500 word profile of the organization, with a handful of photos of mine. It was good to remember that I got into this whole scene for a love of writing. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Mike Mawson smells something.

It’s past midnight on Comly Street near Bustleton in Mayfair. The sun went down hours ago, but forgot to take this sticky July heat with it. Mawson is riding shotgun in the sensible four-door sedan that his partner Phil Pappas drives. The West Frankford Town Watch patrol was circling around to head back south of Cheltenham Avenue to drive the streets of its namesake neighborhood when Mawson caught a whiff of something off in the still nighttime air.

“It smells like something is burning,” confirms soft-featured Pappas, 53, sitting upright with two hands on the steering wheel and dressed with purpose in matching earthtones. “I’ll pull over.” MORE

Read the rest of it here.

Metro cover on Frankford recovery homes, their content partnerships

The cover of a regional edition of the highest circulated daily newspaper in Philadelphia featured a news story of my own yesterday.

Rumors on the possible sale of an alleged drug-infested nuisance property veiled as a recovery home in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood that came out of last week’s Frankford Civic Association meeting was enough to warrant front page coverage of Metro. The property has been seen as something of a rallying call on the issue of illegal ‘recovery homes.’

I attended the meeting as a former resident and occasional contributor to NEast Philly, the Northeast hyperlocal, that started last month a content partnership with the Philadelphia edition of the international free daily newspaper franchise.

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What I learned from working with the Frankford High School journalism club

I spent portions of a couple school years while at college helping get a newspaper underway at the Franklin Learning Center, a strong, diverse magnet school in the Spring Garden neighborhood of Philadelphia.

So, I was excited to take some time away from my freelancing work once a week to work with the journalism club at Frankford High School. It was a short walk, and I could just fill in the time lost at night.

I was suddenly the professional journalist half of a Prime Movers program that formerly had me as the student journalist.

I made it a half dozen Thursday after-school meetings, enough to meet the core group of seven or so students and help them launch a WordPress blog for their content, but some rather large, fairly unexpected changes have happened.

I bought a house in a neighborhood that made the trip a 15-minute El ride (and added some responsibility) and, as a larger conflict, I then accepted a full-time job.

So, now I’m reaching out to a host of colleagues to fill as many of the coming weeks with insightful professional journalists (if you’re in Philly and are interested, contact me). Still, though I’ve worked with high school journalism clubs before and only worked with the Pioneer Times of FHS for a couple months, I certainly learned a thing or too — in addition to, I hope, teaching some of those kids something.

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Leaving Frankford

Frankford Terminal, taken in 1918, before the construction of the Frankford El. Obtained from the Philadelphia City Archives. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Frankford Terminal, taken in 1918, before the construction of the Frankford El. Obtained from the Philadelphia City Archives. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Updated h/t

He was an ogre of man, slimy, rat-toothed and overbearing, with day old five o’clock shadow and a crunch of black hair falling out of a sun-weathered red trucker hat.

This man, maybe 45, was propped up on the aged bar of Quinn’s Irish Pub II, a neighborhood drinking establishment with so colorful a stable of regulars that they made this second one just up Frankford Avenue here in Philadelphia from the first. It was passed closing time, the lights were low and the rumble of the adjacently-running elevated train dutifully making its way back home to the Frankford terminal ended hours ago.

The bar maid, fair-skinned, with light-brown hair in a pony tail and a stain or two on a white t-shirt, had taken a seat and served another round on the house. She, the man, two other patrons, a buddy and I had fallen into a conversation of seeming interest to all those involved.

What do you do with Frankford?

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PW: Frankford addiction recovery homes

Dignity Recovery sober-living home at 1734 Harrison St. in Frankford, as seen on Fri, Feb. 6, 2009. Add a Caption Save CaptionCancel

The heated debate on private addiction recovery homes in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia takes the front stage in a story I wrote for today’s Philadelphia Weekly.

It’s 1997, and Jeffrey Jackson is getting wet.

He’s balled up, trying to sleep inside New Way Out, an addiction-recovery house in Kensington.

The 28-year-old addict is in the process of kicking heroin after moving on from cocaine, but he’s starving and sweating and can’t somebody stop that damn rain from coming in?

“I told the director, ‘Hey, your roof is leaking,’” Jackson says now. “The guy looked at me with a straight face and said, ‘Then move your bed.’” Read the rest here.

Go there, read the story, comment and return here to check out the extra information and quotations that didn’t make it into my final story.

Community journalism: What's the job and what's your life

I live in Frankford, an old neighborhood in lower Northeast Philadelphia. Community journalism – the important and perhaps least paying element of the craft – is something I cherish and, as I understand it, begins, funny enough, in your own community.

So when I moved here back in November, I was excited to discover and learn and experience a new neighborhood. My interests reached beyond the professional, I wanted to help and learn and develop with Frankford, like I would wherever I lived. So, I reached out to my legislators – State Rep. Tony Payton and Councilwoman Maria Sanchez. I went to the first neighborhood meeting I found and began what I hope will be a monthly habit, sitting in on the Frankford Civic Association meeting earlier this month.

As life will do, I learned plenty doing just that, a lesson I think every journalist, freelance or otherwise, should recognize.

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