Technologies are more often tools than solutions (and no, that’s not the same)

A team of Temple University Fox School of Business MBA students who won a March 2011 innovation contest for improving the North Broad Street corridor in Philadelphia.

When re-purposing technology tools as  solutions, the core problem and end user are often ignored and so little will be accomplished.

Back in March, I was on a panel of judges for Temple University’s Center for Design and Innovation NorthBroadband DesignWeek competition.

In short, nearly 100 Temple students from six different schools were broken into cross-disciplinary teams and given a week to conceive of plans to grow opportunity along the beleaguered North Broad Street corridor in Philadelphia. Community members, leaders and other thinkers on the subject were brought in, student teams were encouraged to take to the streets and employ what they already knew.

Continue reading Technologies are more often tools than solutions (and no, that’s not the same)

Universities should host the newsrooms of their neighborhoods

Universities should host the newsrooms of their neighborhoods, towns and counties. If a university has a journalism department, college media and audience, this seems like a foregone conclusion.

Picture Temple University. It is a big, diverse, robust, public research university with a clutch of respected professional schools and an expansive undergraduate population that has been slowly and controversially expanding into at least four different, distinct, overwhelmingly black neighborhoods around it.

When you drive south on I-95 east of Philadelphia at night, look off to your right while only the tallest skyscrapers are yet in view a few miles in the distance, the blur of bright lights made of a dozen square blocks and a cluster of high-rise buildings among a swath of stout two story row homes is the university’s main campus.

Halfway between those stadium lights and Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall is another beacon of light, that old White Lady, 400 North Broad Street, the legendary location of the Philadelphia Inquirer and its sister paper the Daily News.

Mood lighting isn’t the only lesson Temple should take from the investigators of the Inquirer.

Continue reading Universities should host the newsrooms of their neighborhoods

Nearby Francisville is led by a man with a past

By Christopher Wink | Sept. 25, 2007 | The Temple News

In June 1968, two months after his death, the Francisville community of North Philadelphia named what they boast to be the world’s first monument for Martin Lutherwink-christopher.jpg King, Jr.

In June 1968, Fred Sneed, who now works for Temple University’s facilities management, was a member of the Morocco’s, a dangerous part of a growing gang community in Philadelphia.

It has made all the difference.

TROUBLE COMES YOUNG

Sneed was born in South Philadelphia in early 1954. He lived with his grandmother, either five or 5 million miles away from his mother in North Philadelphia, depending on whether you were trying to get there by car or by hope. He started young, giving a gun to a friend who killed a rival not long after Franciscville’s monument to peace went up. A boy needs to be with his mother, they said. So, Sneed moved north and transferred to Ben Franklin. He ran with a fast crowd based around 18th and Ridge.

Continue reading Nearby Francisville is led by a man with a past

Boxing legend and son fight different type of foe

By Christopher Wink | Oct. 16, 2007 | The Temple News

Marvis Frazier has always had to live up to expectations.

He was the boxing son of a boxing legend. Names carry a lot of weight. Sometimes even enough to crush a heavyweight boxer with big hands and big plans. It might have been nothing more than God and a humble self-awareness that has allowed him to thrive in a different mission.wink-christopher.jpg wink.jpgwink.jpg

THE LEGEND OF SMOKIN’ JOE

“Joe Frazier’s name means something to people,” Marvis said of his father and former heavyweight champion.

Indeed, it is a name everyone knows, though perhaps not everyone can place. Joe Frazier once formed what is easily one of the greatest rivalries in the history of sport. The three bouts Frazier had with Muhammad Ali in the 1970s are regularly touted as some of the finest in boxing history.

He may be the most perfect face of Philadelphia. He is legendary and historic and immortalized. He is stubborn. He is criticized. He is tormented by ghosts.

Continue reading Boxing legend and son fight different type of foe

Larry Rosenthal

By Christopher Wink | May 9, 2007 | Philadelphia Stories submission

Larry Rosenthal is an old man. Tired hands and worried eyes. Worried eyes and a wrinkled forehead. He was once young and awfully worried. He wasn’t worried anymore, but his forehead, his eyes, they only knew how it was. He had been inside for thirty-three years, long enough for him to not seem so dangerous anymore. His life was taken a long time ago. Thirty-three years is an awfully long time to live in a cage.

I might have met Larry Rosenthal. Seen his hands or eyes or everything else that holds them in place. But he was inside and I was outside and keep your eyes on the road when you’re passing the Fairhill Projects. So, formal introductions, you see, were indefinitely postponed.

I ride a bicycle everywhere in the 135 square miles of Philadelphia County. But mostly I ride on 11th Street, between trolley tracks and side view mirrors. I ride to save the $2.60 for a round trip subway fare. I ride to exercise and make good time and because I’ve never been able to keep from smiling when I pedal around City Hall.

In North Philadelphia, I ride past the Blue Horizon and the Church of the Advocate and down Ogontz Avenue so fast that Olney can’t stop me. I ride mostly on 11th Street, between trolley tracks and side view mirrors, but I never look up to try to find Larry Rosenthal. Of course, he wouldn’t be there, but I don’t know that.

It is dark sometimes when I want to save $2.60. I ride just as fast, contemplating real estate and chasing black alley cats. There are many black alley cats to be chased. Sometimes corner boys are out hiding from rain underneath sneakers strung up in power lines, and they ask me what I want. Other times the corners are empty. Gangsters have to sleep, too.

My life holds the fluidity of freedom. Larry Rosenthal, of course, doesn’t speak of such things. You can be happy to know, though, that he forgot years ago what that would feel like. He wears the same maroon uniform everyday, the same as everyone else, but he was allowed to choose his own shoes. A man should choose his own shoes.

There are an awful lot of Chinese stores these days. People go in with money but never seem to come out with lo mien or dumplings. Larry Rosenthal didn’t like dumplings either. That is how maroon became his least favorite and most worn color.

He was smart, had two hands, insightful eyes and, from the beginning, a determination to be independent. Anyone can see he was too capable for his neighborhood to be anything but a dismal failure in society. Larry Rosenthal, his friends used to joke, is so black he is blue. But I wouldn’t know any of that.

A man I respect once told me that you should never trust a white man with a beard or a black man without one. Larry Rosenthal didn’t have a beard, but, then, he seems now to be awfully fresh-shaven. As if his reliability had been unquestioned until this morning. As if everything changed this morning. Like I rode up 11th street in the narrow strip of pavement between the trolley tracks and side view mirrors and didn’t see Larry Rosenthal this morning. Not that I would have been looking.

As submitted to Philadelphia Stories in May 2007. See the publication here.