Essays

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Page 1
A bell tower with thick brown wooden posts and cross-pieces and a small tiled roof, against summer greenery and a cloudy sky.

One man, his van, and 18 hours: Journey to an orphanage in Kyiv

“I drove and got them.”

Philly composer and essayist Kile Smith was traveling in Germany when he met an electrician with an extraordinary story in the months following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 6 minute read
A shiny, large old brass phonograph trumpet with floral designs pressed into the metal.

It’s no big deal to get glasses or treat anosmia. Why was it so hard to face my hearing loss?

A sound realization

Anndee Hochman had no problem getting help when her sense of smell or her sight suffered. But somehow, addressing her hearing loss felt different.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
An exterior photo of a hospital with a large vertical sign that says “emergency” in red letters.

I had a life-threatening miscarriage in 1979. Would I have survived the same thing today?

Abortion access saved my life

Fredricka Maister suffered a hemorrhage after she became pregnant in the late 1970s. Abortion access may have saved her life. She worries about the dangers pregnant people face today.
Fredricka R. Maister

Fredricka R. Maister

Essays 6 minute read
A selfie of Anndee, a white woman with short gray hair, wearing a black facemask in an airline cabin.

From Philly to Chile: meeting the pandemic in a whole new hemisphere

How to change the sky

After almost two years of sheltering at home, Anndee Hochman flew to Chile, and experienced a very different response to the pandemic there. What made the difference, and why is it important to witness?
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
Infrared NASA image of a spiral galaxy that looks like a swirling gauzy reddish disc with a shining white sphere at center

School reunions in a pandemic make us wonder what could have been, but are we looking in the wrong direction?

The universe inside

A pair of school reunions this year, plus emerging from the shutdowns of the pandemic, restarted Michelle Chikaonda’s habit of wondering who she would be in an alternate universe. But this time, something is different.
Michelle Chikaonda

Michelle Chikaonda

Essays 5 minute read
Adam & Eve are two brown-haired white people standing together in a pond, blooming lilies around them in a colorful diorama

Why a trip to Kentucky’s Creation Museum makes me worry about Pennsylvania’s future

Because the Bible says so

Nowadays, Kentucky’s Creation Museum is starting to feel awfully familiar to the Christian battleground looming in Pennsylvania, thanks to far-right politicians like Doug Mastriano. Rob Laymon considers.
Rob Laymon

Rob Laymon

Essays 5 minute read
A little brown wren, its beak open, perches on a wire against a blurred background of green leaves.

A walk in the woods, with the wrens, makes me wonder: if things were simpler, when?

Where do house wrens go home?

A photo of a common bird gives flight to Kile Smith’s thoughts on technology and gratitude. Were things really simpler “back then”? What do we witness nowadays, and how?
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 5 minute read
Daralyse, a smiling woman with light brown skin, in an athletic yoga pose, balanced on her arms with legs held up to one side

When your disability is often invisible, it can be hard to claim your identity

Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Journalist Daralyse Lyons was living with the symptoms of a rare connective-tissue disorder long before she had a word for it, but her official diagnosis led to an important life decision.

Daralyse Lyons

Essays 4 minute read
A white boy of about six years old lies on a bed, wearing headphones and looking at an iPad. He wears a gray t-shirt.

As a retired librarian who loves to read books, I’m all for giving kids screen-time

Welcome to iPad Land

As a bookworm kid who became a librarian, Roz Warren used to assume screens were bad news for youngsters. But now she takes a different view.
Roz Warren

Roz Warren

Essays 4 minute read
Costumed actor plays Betsy Ross, smiling & holding a 1770s US flag while 2 young Black children point excitedly to its stars

On Independence Day 2022, is our democracy failing? Not if we listen to our children.

We have to grow up. So does our country.

SaraKay Smullens knows a thing or two about adolescence: she’s a social worker, a family therapist, and a mother. Things in the US seem pretty bleak, but she argues that this is our adolescence, and we can still seize a bright future.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Essays 6 minute read