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Essays

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At the arcade, a young “DAN” imagined being a superhero, but adulthood brought surprising changes. (Photo by Arcade Perfect, via Wikimedia Commons.)
At the arcade, a young “DAN” imagined being a superhero, but adulthood brought surprising changes. (Photo by Arcade Perfect, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Here’s what my blindness made me realize about superheroes

Reinventing the hero

Danie Jackson grew up loving superheroes, but a changing career and coping with vision loss brought a new perspective on helping and accepting help.
Danie "Ocean" Jackson

Danie "Ocean" Jackson

Essays 5 minute read
The author, her partner, and their housemate bless challah—made from a family recipe—on a recent Friday. (Image courtesy of the author.)
The author, her partner, and their housemate bless challah—made from a family recipe—on a recent Friday. (Image courtesy of the author.)

Here’s how my Jewish great-grandparents’ Philly bakery lives in me today

The food chain

While braiding and baking the Friday challah, Anndee Hochman imagines her great-grandmother’s journey from Russia. What did she carry with her? Are those things alive today?
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 4 minute read
Offering effective care and compassion means being ready to do it again and again. (Photo by Alaina Johns.)
Offering effective care and compassion means being ready to do it again and again. (Photo by Alaina Johns.)

What being a caregiver in the pandemic taught me about real revolution

When anger isn’t enough

Before the pandemic hit, Michelle Nugent defined herself by her work as a teacher and writer. But a necessary shift to caregiving taught her more about our moment than she expected.
Michelle Nugent

Michelle Nugent

Essays 5 minute read
A signal of better days to come? Philly leaves the lights on for us all. (Photo by Camille Bacon-Smith.)
A signal of better days to come? Philly leaves the lights on for us all. (Photo by Camille Bacon-Smith.)

Who’s behind the lights of Philly’s most iconic nighttime landmarks?

Light at heart

Just like any major city, Philly wouldn't be the same without the lights dotting its skyline. Camille Bacon-Smith talks to the people who keep them on.
Camille Bacon-Smith

Camille Bacon-Smith

Essays 5 minute read
Time for everyone to look inward: a huddle from PlayPenn’s 2016 conference. (Photo by John Flak.)
Time for everyone to look inward: a huddle from PlayPenn’s 2016 conference. (Photo by John Flak.)

Philly’s pandemic-era arts reckoning gives leaders a choice

Will we survive? It’s up to us

The current controversies on our arts scene didn’t begin with the pandemic—but life in lockdown forced the community to reckon with its true priorities. Tenara Calem explores the choice arts leaders must make.
Tenara Calem

Tenara Calem

Essays 7 minute read
Danie Jackson plays the guitar, giving and receiving smiles. (Image courtesy of the artist.)
Danie Jackson plays the guitar, giving and receiving smiles. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

How do protests and a pandemic invite us to rediscover play?

The power of play

Danie Jackson knows that taking a walk is safer for some bodies than for others—but there are still ways to stay open to the good in the world.
Danie "Ocean" Jackson

Danie "Ocean" Jackson

Essays 4 minute read
Nowadays, the ways we show kindness have shifted. (Photo by Anndee Hochman.)
Nowadays, the ways we show kindness have shifted. (Photo by Anndee Hochman.)

Deep in the pandemic, can a neighborhood’s character survive?

Still the one who walks

Before a virus turned the world upside down, Anndee Hochman was a familiar figure to her neighbors as she walked Germantown Avenue. What has changed? What is perennial, even in a pandemic?
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
Melissa Strong (top left) with fellow Summer Session participants at the Sojourner Truth memorial on the African American Heritage Trail in Florence, MA. (Photo courtesy of the author.)
Melissa Strong (top left) with fellow Summer Session participants at the Sojourner Truth memorial on the African American Heritage Trail in Florence, MA. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

When the pandemic hit, what was your beloved community?

The city is my home

What might Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for beloved community look like in pandemic-era Philadelphia? Melissa Strong considers.
Melissa Strong

Melissa Strong

Essays 5 minute read
Back when bronze was here to stay: the statue of Frank Rizzo before its removal earlier this summer. (Photo by Caitlin Martin, courtesy of the Association for Public Art.)
Back when bronze was here to stay: the statue of Frank Rizzo before its removal earlier this summer. (Photo by Caitlin Martin, courtesy of the Association for Public Art.)

What’s next for the Frank Rizzo statue?

A real monument to the people

The Frank Rizzo statue is in city storage. What did the bronze body and its removal signify, and what comes next? Helen Walsh considers.
Helen Walsh

Helen Walsh

Essays 4 minute read
Someone I could never disappoint: Lucky was a beloved childhood companion. (Photo by Christina Anthony.)
Someone I could never disappoint: Lucky was a beloved childhood companion. (Photo by Christina Anthony.)

After fostering a cat in quarantine, I had to rethink my relationships

Lucky’s legacy

The pandemic led Christina Anthony to foster a homeless cat for two weeks, and she remembered that our relationships with animals can say a lot about our relationships to people.
Christina Anthony

Christina Anthony

Essays 5 minute read