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The joy of letting things go

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

I am easily stressed. I always feel the need to accomplish something even though I do not have to. Whenever I see people cranking out essays furiously in McCabe or complaining (read: humblebragging) about how sleep-deprived they are, I psych myself out, questioning whether I have worked enough. Even though I have the pass-fail cushion this semester, I have bailed out of social events on several occasions for fear of not studying enough. At a high-pressure institution like Swarthmore, it is sometimes difficult to relax, even for just a moment. An unexpected event changed my mindset. How? Here’s my story.

Three weeks ago, I received an e-mail about SwatDeck, offering $15, a one-day Independence Pass to Philadelphia, and an opportunity to travel with three Swarthmore students. I signed up without hesitation, even though I did not totally understand how the event worked. However, as the day for SwatDeck approached and work started piling up, ambivalence struck my mind: would it be alright if I took a break? Soon, the day came; I deviated from my study-Sunday for the first time by joining SwatDeck. I did not regret my decision.

When I arrived at the Swarthmore Station, there were many Swatties chatting with one another while waiting for the train to arrive. After checking in with the organizers of SwatDeck, I introduced myself to the other three members in my group, two of whom I had come across but never talked to. The group’s diversity was impressive. In terms of academics, there was an interest in classics, economics, computer science, and foreign languages. In terms of extracurriculars, we had lacrosse, badminton, and softball athletes, as well as a columnist for the Phoenix (me, apparently). None of us live in the same dormitory or take the same classes. Indeed, the event provides an escape from the “Swarthmore bubble.”

Soon after, the organizers handed us a list of recommended places, such as the popular restaurants in Chinatown, historic sites within Philadelphia, etc. Fortunately, the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a free entrance on the first Sunday of every month, and because this coincided with SwatDeck, my group paid a visit to the museum to see the art exhibition. Having never visited any art museum before, I was thrilled to see such famous works of art as Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain.” Thanks to the fact that one of the members in my SwatDeck group was knowledgeable in art history, I could see the art and appreciate the background behind some of the works as well. Moreover, the museum trip introduced me to many controversial debates, such as whether a work of art could be made of non-art structures and what the essence of art is. After our museum trip concluded, my group dined at a delicious Chinese restaurant nearby and had a great conversation.

What do I make of this experience? First of all, after reflecting upon SwatDeck, I realized that, counterintuitive as this claim sounds, I learn more from “learning” less. During the past few months, I have focused on the classes I am taking to an extreme degree. As each class intensifies in its difficulty, I find it progressively more difficult to explore other subjects with which I am unfamiliar. However, SwatDeck made me realize that doing random activities can be educational, as well. Thanks to my visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I understand more when my friends debate such topics as what qualifies as a work of art or whether one should, when interpreting art, take the artist’s history into account. Had I decided to finish my homework that day, I would not have found my interest in art or art history. The joy of letting the pressure to work go led me to somewhere unexpected.

What I also appreciated about SwatDeck is that the event helps people who are unlikely to meet to socialize with one another. Although the small size of the Swarthmore community can help foster close relationships, such relationships may not necessarily occur. In my case, because I am not heavily involved in sports and usually take STEM classes, I would never have met an athlete who enjoys studying classics had it not been for SwatDeck. This situation applies to every person across our institution. It is unrealistic to take the size of Swarthmore for granted and expect to meet new people automatically. To break out of the “Swarthmore bubble,” one must take the initiative to meet and build relationships with those outside of one’s social circle.  

Lastly, when I let go of the work-first mindset, I experienced the joy of living in the moment. The thought “I must work” does not cloud my mind as it used to. I realized how unrealistic it is to tell myself I must finish every piece of work before I can relax; no matter what day of the year it is, I still have some tasks to finish or some activities I want to do. In other words, one will never truly have free time; work always exists, no matter what. Sometimes, work can wait, and we can focus on some events that cannot.

All in all, by deviating from my habits, I discovered an unexpected joy from meeting new people and visiting places I had never been. The joy of living in the moment comes from freeing oneself from the binding pressure to always work and differentiating between what needs to be done and what needs to be done now. And this joy is invaluable, indeed.

 

Gallery-Hopping in Old City

in Arts by

For this week’s piece, I tried venturing outside my regular streak of museum exhibitions and visited a few galleries on North Second Street in Old City. Maybe you already know about this Philadelphia neighborhood, a lively trove of art, food, and history, but it was my first time visiting. To be perfectly honest, I always feel slightly out of place in neighborhoods like Old City, namely because of the bougie parts. A Roche Bobois (a high-end French designer furniture store), farm-to-table restaurants, and Yoga studios attended almost exclusively by white women are just a few things that tune me into this. Last Saturday, however, when I visited the galleries, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved by the cordial nature with which I was received. Everyone I met in the galleries, whether they were an artist or curator, was excited to talk about the art with me.

I’ve gone gallery-hopping in Chelsea, Manhattan, and you can always make a day out of it. The best part about these smaller galleries in Chelsea and Old City is that they are not only concentrated in one area, but they also do not charge for admission! Visiting these galleries is an excellent way to expose yourself to new artists you have never heard of, or see new work by artists you do know. It’s always ever so slightly draining, mentally and physically, but you can look at so, so much art in one day without paying a dime. It is, of course, difficult to forget about money entirely with the occasional price tag in commercial galleries artists have to make a living too!

This week, I chose to focus on two galleries that are actually located right across the street from one another: Muse Gallery and Larry Becker Contemporary Art Gallery. Right now, both galleries have contemporary abstract paintings on view, which might make them worthwhile to visit in tandem.

Founded in 1978, Muse Gallery is actually an artists’ cooperative, meaning it is run by and exhibits the same practicing artists without ties to a larger institution or corporation (like a museum). The cooperative was initially established with feminist underpinnings, which persist to this day with 18 of the 19 artists in the cooperative identifying as women. Currently on view until April 30th is “Disturbance in the Color Field,” a solo exhibition of Diane Lachman’s new paintings.

Lachman works in oil, watercolor, and acrylic, with some of her wooden panel paintings bordering on sculpture. Her paintings focus on color and explore it as a means of communication through abstract and geometric shapes. These shapes bear few if any ties to observable realities. The wonderful thing about color is that you don’t need to study art for years to appreciate it, so shows like this have the potential to be enjoyable for a lot of visitors. My personal favorites of the show were her watercolors; there’s something about the soft, ethereal fields of different hues that pleases my eye (and heart, honestly), something that’s innate to the medium of watercolor itself.

But others may find Lachman’s acrylic or oil on wood paintings more interesting, which, for me, evoke nostalgic memories of colorful wooden toy blocks. These oil on wood paintings, likely from her Color Chords series, apply concepts of musical expression and composition to painting and color. On her artist website, she writes about this series and the application of music theory.

“Like musical chords, where tension between different tones is resolved by their participation in the whole, I strive to compose harmonious paintings by carefully selecting color notes. I search for an exquisite chord that transcends the individual notes until I find the visual perfect pitch,” writes Lachman.

Muse Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 5pm. If you are interested, the gallery will also be holding a reception celebrating the show on April 23 from 2p.m to 5p.m during which you can meet Lachman and the other artists in the cooperative!

Across the street from Muse Gallery is Larry Becker Contemporary Art Gallery. I was drawn to this gallery by the colorful Thornton Willis painting, “Stepover,” hanging near the window, having just looked at Lachman’s show. Upon entering, I was pleasantly surprised by the worn wooden floor (most galleries have this austere sterility to them, but not this one) and the gallery owners’ cat. The gallery’s current show “18: Six Artists [Some Paintings]” exhibits the work of Willis, John Zinsser, Peter Tollens, Tim Schwartz, Steve Riedell, and Marcia Hafif. There are 18 paintings, three per artist. This show will be up until May 6, and the gallery is always open Friday and Saturday from 11a.m to 5p.m.

I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted looking at the art, yet I distinctly remember each of these 18 paintings, which speaks to how memorable these works were. Willis and Hafif have been painting since the 1960s, with the other artists having worked for at least thirty to forty years, so in their newer work exhibited here, I felt I could see the honing of each artist’s style of investigation. Some artists are more concerned with color, like Hafif, while others seem to focus more on the materiality of paint, like Zinsser. The juxtaposition of these works with slightly different foci, however, allows us to compare what the various artists have done with the paint, and prod at the question of why they each did what they did. In sum, while this show exhibits artists some people may never have seen or heard of before, it also allows for individuals more familiar with the artists and their work to engage with the show as well. It’s fun for newcomers, but not boring for connoisseurs, in other words.

There are so many other little galleries to check out on North Second Street that I haven’t covered here, like Twelve Gates Art Gallery, 3rd Street Gallery, The Clay Studio Gallery, Pentimenti Gallery, and many more. I definitely recommend making a trip to Old City for these fun little art galleries. Go see this!

Students join with North Philadelphia’s green economy initiative Serenity Soular

in Around Campus/News/Regional News by

On Friday, March 31st, members of Serenity Soular, the initiative to address social and climate justice issues and to make solar power affordable in North Philadelphia, met in the Intercultural Center to update the Swarthmore community on their recent actions and new aims, including a project to outfit Morris Chapel Baptist Church in North Philadelphia with solar panels.

Serenity Soular, spelled as such to ensure that people, relationships, and their inherent worth are acknowledged in the work being done, is a project of Sustainable Serenity, a larger program in North Philadelphia that also maintains the Peoples’ Garden at Serenity House and its co-op. The initiative began in 2012 when Professor of environmental studies Giovanna Di Chiro founded the group with O, the caregiver and a leader in Serenity House, which is an old United Methodist Church that now offers “Spirituality and Holistic Healing Ministries such as women’s and men’s support groups, Bible studies, book and film discussions, exercise and stress management sessions, and the development of a Serenity Garden in partnership with students from Swarthmore College,” according to the group’s website.

Since the group’s inception, Swarthmore students, although neither the founders or the drivers, have been important members in the process of different programs through Serenity House. Di Chiro notes how students have become involved since the partnership was made through different academic programs on campus.

“Serenity Soular is a campus-community collaborative that developed out of my environmental studies course, Sustainable Community Action, which was first offered as a Directed Reading course in Spring of 2013 [and] is now offered in the environmental studies major as ENVS 004: “Urban Environmental Community Action” recognizing its focus on community-based sustainability in inner-city, urban contexts,” Di Chiro said. “In the course, students work in action-based research clusters to address issues of concern to local urban communities, including urban agriculture and food sovereignty, renewable energy and community solar, environmental justice organizing for public health, community arts, and social change.”

This semester, the group has added many new members including attendees of the launching party, as the Facebook event titled it. Students that hosted the event with Di Chiro and O were Allie Naganuma ’20, Tessa Hannigan ’20, Nathan Anderson ’19, and Katherine Zavez ’17, as well as alum Nora Kerrich ’16.

Naganuma recounted how Serenity Soular and the issues it engages with are in dialogue with the curricula here at Swat.

“As students, we constantly notice parallels between our involvement with Serenity Soular and our academic lives when we learn about climate change in biology courses, when we discuss racial inequality in peace and conflict classes, and when we read about the importance of hearing underrepresented or erased voices and histories in my environmental studies classes,” Naganuma said. “Swarthmore engineering professors, like Carr Everbach, and students have also contributed to this project by sharing information about solar panels with the North Philadelphia community. This project also revolves around the ideas of the green economy, the creation of green jobs and the combating of gentrification, all of which have ties to Swarthmore’s economics and political science departments.”

Di Chiro spoke on Serenity Soular’s developments this year, particularly how the program and its partners collaborated in the growth of the green economy and training of community members in it.

“In the fall of 2016, a group of Serenity Soular members (students, alums, and North Philly community members) were selected as a part of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance’s (PACA) program to support the development of worker-owned cooperatives in Philadelphia,” Di Chiro said. “This group is now working on developing a business model to launch a solar installation co-op in North Philadelphia that would be staffed by local youth trained in the green economy. Other members of our collaborative (including first-year students) are looking into working with North Philly residents to develop a local food co-op and a local bike sharing and bike repair business. Others are allying with local initiatives including the Earth Quaker Action Team’s campaign to demand that Philadelphia’s energy utility, PECO, source its electricity from local rooftop solar.”

The launching party focused on reintroducing the group and its efforts in North Philadelphia to the Swarthmore community members gathered in the IC. An essential part of that meeting was the announcement of a $30,000 campaign to equip Morris Chapel Baptist Church, across the street from Serenity House, with solar panels and to train two North Philadelphians in the growing green economy in the city.

Anderson highlighted how Serenity Soular has partnered with groups beyond Swarthmore students, including “people-funded renewable energy” nonprofit RE-volv and a renewable energy systems supplier Solar States.

“Serenity Soular’s connections to RE-volv and Solar States are important for the communities of North Philadelphia not only in that they provide the platforms and support for Serenity Soular to succeed, but in that these organizations are committed, and have been committed, to supporting the project in the long term,” Naganuma said. “Our collaboration with Solar States has lasted for two years now, and they have committed to the project for much longer into the future to help us realize our goals. We are also currently in our second year of working with RE-volv, with a third year anticipated, and so we see these stable collaborations as beneficial to working towards our success and our goals of promoting environmental justice in North Philadelphia.”

Di Chiro expanded this point by noting the green economy Sustainable Serenity hopes to bring to North Philadelphia.

“Collaborating with a national solar-financing organization such as RE-volv and with a successful solar installation business such as Solar States, encourages communities in North Philadelphia to see themselves as being part of the growing ‘solar energy revolution,’” she said. “The opportunity to gain skills, training, and living-wage jobs in the solar industry means that residents of North Philly can imagine what ‘sustainability’ can look like in their communities.”

By developing a green economy, Serenity Soular hopes to “launch a triple bottom line worker-owned solar installation company” and combat issues from food deserts and gentrification to climate change. This effort, although running along each level of society, is rooted in the local community and the growth of North Philadelphia. Anderson stated some proximate goals as those long-term ones come into view.

“Some of the current and upcoming projects in addition to helping support apprenticeships are the RE-volv solar installation projects at Morris Chapel and hopefully New Visions, as well as our continued collaboration with the People’s Garden, located a couple streets down from Serenity House,” she said. “The People’s Garden is a neighborhood garden that is managed and maintained by members of the North Philadelphia community, and the Serenity Soular team partly overlaps with the team managing the garden. By the end of this summer there is the goal of installing a more permanent structure with a solar feature that would be coordinated with help of Serenity Soular.”

Naganuma went on to describe the major milestone that Serenity Soular wants to reach: growing Philadelphia into a place of innovation for green energy and the protection and advancement of workers’ rights.

“If the installations and our other collaborations prove successful, then we anticipate that our goals won’t exactly change, but instead get broader and more grand in scope. Serenity Soular sees its ultimate goal as creating a worker-owned solar installation co-op that would train and hire members of the North Philadelphia community and also serve North Philadelphia by installing solar panels,” Naganuma said. “We see the installations and collaborations we are involved in currently and in the near future as important stepping stones to promoting environmental justice and making North Philadelphia into a ‘Solar Hub’ to eventually see our goal of a solar co-op become a reality.”

The establishment of these programs was through partnerships and community participation throughout the region. Di Chiro listed how Swarthmore students have participated in the program.

“[Students] have applied for and been selected as Solar Ambassadors from RE-volv and successfully crowdfunded one solar array on Serenity House and one current project on Morris Chapel Baptist Church to support local nonprofits to go solar. They have helped a block of 20 longtime, low-income, African American homeowners in North Philly to enter and win the city’s ‘coolest block’ contest, which provided homeowners with a host of home retrofits and energy saving benefits — weatherization, insulation, windows, white roofs, energy star appliances,” Di Chiro said. “They have applied for and received grants and awards to support local sustainability projects including a three-year Lang Center Pericles Grant, and a Penn State EnergyPath Award for building the People’s Garden and designing a solar-powered gazebo to provide lighting for community events and gatherings in the new garden. Students are now working with community members to envision a local food and community arts co-op to support ‘place-making’ activities in North Philadelphia neighborhoods to challenge ongoing displacement and gentrification in the city. There are many ways that students can contribute to these important efforts to advance social, racial, and environmental justice in North Philadelphia.”

Naganuma emphasized that Swatties were not the center of the project and that members of communities in North Philadelphia that are the drivers of Serenity Soular.

“As a recent Swarthmore alum and current Soular Serenity member has said, ‘Serenity Soular has been a partnership of really diverse individuals coming together at a table. There have been students, faculty, and staff from Swarthmore, and now from University of Pennsylvania, sitting alongside residents from North Philadelphia, seeing each other as equally valuable, and co-creating an alternative vision of the future,’” Naganuma cited. “We think this speaks to student involvement in its purest sense: we have acted as collaborators and community members first and foremost.”

Serenity Soular works to create a greener North Philadelphia while fighting systemic and interpersonal problems in the region, and their newest projects aim to build a green economy with the workers with whom they partner. Swarthmore community members have been a part of this initiative since its inception, and the group is collaborating with the people of North Philadelphia and partners across the operation to work against systems of oppression and to work towards the generation of new opportunities in the green economy. If you are interested in getting involved, contact kzavez1@swarthmore.edu, and to contribution to the Morris Chapel project, the crowdfunding campaign can be found through RE-volv at https://re-volv.org/project/morrischapel/.

Philly beat springs forward

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by

If i’m not mistaken, this will be my third to last CJ piece this semester, which means the year is wrapping up. It’s kind of crazy how simultaneously fast and slow time moves here. So with only a few weeks left and the finals period about to kick in, here are some possibilities to blow off some steam, or just treat yourself.

The other night, I went to Hibachi Japanese Steak House and Sushi bar, which is just up the road. Unless you’re in a large group, it makes for an intimate experience dining with total strangers, embarrassing yourselves as the chef insists on flipping shrimp off the grill and into your mouths. In my case, the family sitting next to us had an extra coupon for 50 percent off your second entree, so I can’t complain.

After that, if you feel like walking, it’s only a five minute walk to the AMC Marple theater, and while I waited for the movie to start, I wandered in and out of Five Below, Marshalls and DSW.

Kong: Skull Island is in theaters now, which if you’re a fan, I would recommend. It’s a good dose of monsters and anxiety and Samuel L. Jackson blowing things up. But if that’s not your thing, Beauty and the Beast is showing, and Get Out is still in theatres, which if you haven’t already seen, you MUST.

If you are a sushi lover and haven’t tried Poké, there is a place nearby in Ardmore called Poké Ono. It’s a Hawaiian rice bowl with cubed raw fish and tons of other good stuff from edamame to kimchi. You can either build your own or order their specials. There’s also a place in Philly called Poké Bowl on 958 N 2nd St that is smaller than the one in Ardmore, but not by much. The one in Philly has better specials, but the one in Ardmore gives you more toppings if you build your bowl.

A great place to unwind and catch a quick exhibit is UPenn’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), located on 36th and Sansom. The museum is entirely free and often hosts artists events and workshops. Their most recent exhibition, The Freedom Principle, offered a survey of the visual culture that accompanied South Side Chicago’s avant-garde, post-1965 jazz movement, complete with interactive and sonic installations. Unfortunately, the exhibit ended last week, but the museum will be reopening April 28, so in the meantime, follow them on social media if you want up-to-date info on exhibits and events.

If you feel bold enough to venture out of University City, hit up Bluestone Lane Coffee for a late brunch. They have two Philly locations, one in Rittenhouse, and another right next to City Hall. Be sure to try their avocado toast or coconut oatmeal — both are good as hell.

On the flip side, while I’m reticent to mention this to all you future gentrifiers, 52nd street is the heart of West Philly and also poppin’. But since I know a lot of you will be moving there, I’m gonna push you to at least try to be patrons of some local business, so you don’t mess it up like ya’ll did Brooklyn. For great juices, love, and Caribbean food, hit up Brown Sugar Bakery. Get yourself some oxtail with the green callaloo, or curry goat roti. Get a fresh detox juice with that, stop playing yourself.

Overall, there are countless new events, activities, and spots to check out before the semester ends. Some are closer to Swarthmore, and others are further away – but all of them are worth it.

Philly Beat: treat yo self edition

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by

Hello friends, spring break is coming up. It’s so crazy to me how simultaneously fast and slow time passes here. Another few weeks, another spring break, another few weeks, another Worthstock, another finals period, another graduating class, and the cycle repeats itself (give or take a few bitterly cold months).

Excuse my half-hearted, semi-bitter sentimentality — spring break is EXCITING because it means the SUN is coming back. If you know me, you know that the return to constant sunshine is the pinnacle of my year. It’s time to treat yourself — believe me you deserve it. This is perhaps geared more towards those staying on campus, but there are some things in here you can indulge in from afar, or later on after you return.

  1. COLOURPOP.com (or Colorpop, honestly don’t even start) – For all you lipstick lovers, colourpop is discontinuing some of their products and so they are selling at reduced prices right now for $4. Just go (but also hurry because they’re selling out.)
  2. On 212 Arch street in the Old City, there is a little pink stand alone bakery called Tartes. It’s cute, ~aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram~, and has the best key lime pie I have ever tasted. Honestly treat yourself to this one, it’s a good find.
  3. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – Please please please take yourself, take your family, take your friends, your partners and go watch this. It is so incredibly VITAL whether you’re familiar with James Baldwin or a generally decent person. There is no shortage of conversations to be had on the subjects that plague our society.
  4. The Faimount Park Horticultural Center – I could spend all day in here. Humble, open space, calming greenery, all the dappled sunlight and none of the cold. There are benches for you to sit on, and you can read, take pictures, or walk around. I find it very soul-soothing. I’ve also decided I could/probably should, live in a greenhouse.
  5. Take a day trip to Baltimore! A $15 bus will get you there. I love this city, it reminds me of Atlanta in so many ways. For those of you who don’t know me, my dad is half American and from there, so I visit often. Go to Maryland Institute of the Arts (MICA) campus and walk around. The art and architecture, bookstores, and the abandoned railway station are beautiful. There is also a place I discovered called R House. It’s an “industrial-chic” food court in an old warehouse and is run by 10 chefs who are looking to start restaurants. The space is for them to try their hand at it and, honestly, it’s so incredible. There’s Korean food, Arepas, Poke, smoothies, vegetarian and vegan options and desserts. I’m still dreaming about it.
  6. Back to Philly now: Menagerie Coffee — is a hip little place on 18 S 3rd St, also in the Old City. The tea is good; the vibes are better. The front of the shop has communal tables against a red brick wall, which are ideal for doing work. The last time I was in there, they were playing Solange’s album and it was warm and quiet. Get off campus, even if you feel drowned in work. You definitely don’t have to stay on campus to get it done.
  7. Take a trip to the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philly. I haven’t personally been here yet but it’s the top of my list, and I’ve been dying to go. Admissions is by donation and there are tours every 45 minutes (I believe). The gift store also has beautiful prints, many of which decorate my walls.

So friends, that is all I have for you today before we head into our well-deserved spring break. I hope your weekend is restful and next week passes fast. Happy spring (and maybe a passive aggressive reminder that global warming is not a myth).

Philly Beat: Valentine’s Day

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, our City of (Brotherly) Love really should not disappoint. Whether you’re looking for a cozy date night or a fun meal out with a few friends, there are plenty of activities, attractions, and eateries all around Philadelphia. This year’s Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday with celebrations and specials happening on both the surrounding weekends. I decided to put together a list of potentially romantic (?) places to go that will enable you to enjoy what Philly has to offer this weekend.

  1.     Spirit Cruises

Taking off from Penn’s Landing, Spirit cruises offer a two-hour cruise on the Delaware river, inclusive of a freshly prepared lunch buffet along with complimentary coffee, tea, iced tea, and water. On the cruise, you will be able to experience an incredible view of the Philadelphia skyline along with landmarks including the Naval Shipyard, Ben Franklin Bridge, Battleship New Jersey, the historic Olympia warship, and more. There is on board entertainment including a DJ that takes requests. They have both lunch and dinner cruises that vary in price, beginning at $33.

  1.     Race Street Pier

Situated right under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the pier has the most incredible view of the Delaware river, and can be ideal for a picnic depending on the weather. Race Street Pier often hosts events throughout the year, so be sure to check for updates. Events include live music, classes, fireworks, and more.

  1.     One Liberty / City Hall Observation Deck

Head to either one of these observation decks for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. One Liberty Observation Deck is on the 57th floor of Liberty Place with landscape views for miles. The deck also offers information on the history of Philadelphia and its evolution into a cosmopolitan American city. City Hall Observation Deck is known for its incredible view of the city, and stops right underneath the colossal statue of William Penn.

  1.     The Italian Market

Stroll through Philadelphia’s iconic Italian Market, and sample their amazing spread of charcuterie — fresh meats, cheeses, and other gourmet treats. There is a two-hour tour that includes meeting the local store owners, learning the history of the place, and stopping along the way for more samples. Purchase dinner items at DiBruno Bros for either a picnic or a cozy dinner at home.

  1.     Riverside Ice Skating

Located on Penn’s Landing, enjoy Winterfest at Blue Cross RiverRink. The atmosphere at Penn’s Landing is incredible with little places to eat right by the water. After ice skating, the lights and cozy places to sit will make it the ideal Valentine’s date place.

  1.     Classic Love / Amor Statue

As cliché as it sounds, the classic visit to the Philadelphia Love Statue is a foolproof idea. There are two located around Philly, the ‘Love’ statue and the ‘Amor’ statue, whichever is your preference.

  1.     Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see for everyone, and if you have not visited yet, then this time of year is ideal. Get lost in the gallery during the day, or go on a Friday for their weekly event called “Art after 5” that turns a part of the museum into a cabaret, featuring different visiting artists from all over the nation. The events are usually free after admission, and there is an option to make a reservation to order tapas and drinks. Although a little after Valentine’s Day, Feb. 24 has some incredible artists and performances including a Silent Disco and a performance called “Love Hurts” by Revolution Shakespeare.

  1.     Mural Arts Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program tends to be very underrated. The murals are absolutely incredible with over 3600 pieces that have been developed over the past 30 years. There is a “Love Letter tour” that is incredibly popular and takes you on a train ride past a sequence of 50 love letters created by the artist Stephen Powers. Furthermore, on Feb. 11, they are hosting an event called SExSE Valentine’s Day Pop-Up, which is a Southeastern Valentine’s Day sale where visitors can purchase textiles, weaving, and all sorts of gifts from community members.

 

Swatties attend Women’s March, reactions mixed

in Around Campus/News/Regional News by

On Jan. 21, Swarthmore community members traveled to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to participate in the Women’s March. Demonstrators took to the streets to protest the proposed policies of the Trump administration that would largely affect marginalized communities as well as other issues coming out of the nation’s capital.

Students largely saw the Women’s March as productive with shortcomings in intersectionality; they and faculty see these Marches as a first step toward confronting actions by the government in the coming years.

On Nov. 29, Violence Prevention Educator & Advocate and Women’s Resource Center Advisor Nina Harris announced over email that the WRC, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and the Center for Innovation and Leadership would subsidize transportation to the March through chartered buses to Washington. Later, Executive Director of the Lang Center and Associate Professor of political science Benjamin Berger stated on Jan. 19 that the Center would offer free SEPTA tickets into Philadelphia for the March as another avenue to be involved with the network of Sister Marches.

“There were 144 people signed up to ride the buses including five people who came through a standby process that morning when others didn’t show up. Of that 144, 24 were staff/faculty. There were 59 people on the waitlist,” said Director of CIL Katie Clark.

Berger said that the Lang Center provided 225 round-trip SEPTA tickets for students to attend the Philadelphia Women’s March.

“By all accounts that I’ve heard, both marches were tremendous successes. We were pleased to be able to support our students’ engagement,” Berger stated.

College administrators across the organizing institutions had to negotiate shifting logistics within the college and with the plans of the Women’s March regarding how to best move three buses of students to Washington and ensure each person experienced the March as best as they could. Harris noted the difficulties particular to getting students to Washington but pointed out the drive of the community to participate.

“I think the most challenging thing about the logistics is that the national organizers [of the Women’s March] were still managing details and logistics up until the day of, so we just had to be responsive as information was coming out as late as the day of,” she said. “We did our best to work with that, but I think everyone was aware of what the dynamics were, so people were prepared and committed to being a part of the process.”

These logistical challenges, did prevent some students from taking the schools bus. Lydia Roe ’20 was able to attend the March on Washington despite getting wait listed for the chartered bus due to limited seating.  

“I went to the D.C. March; I caught a ride with a high school friend who was driving down … I did at first sign up for one of the buses and didn’t get on, which could have been a bummer, but it worked out okay for me,” Roe stated.

Marian Mwenja ’20, who used SEPTA tickets through the Lang Center to reach the March in Philadelphia, did wish the March on Washington was more accessible.

“I think it was great they had buses to D.C. and SEPTA tickets to Philly, but I think they should have gotten more D.C. buses because the wait list was so long,” Mwenja said.

Once at the Marches, the experiences of demonstrators varied with regards to space and venue, and many of the views converged on the role of intersectionality in the March. Roe saw the March largely as purposeful, but because of the dramatic policy changes in the first days of the Trump administration, felt somewhat deterred from her initial optimism.

“Overall, I thought the march was quite positive.  It was obvious that first and foremost it served as a cathartic experience for so many people to come together in their mutual anger about the current state of our country. The vibe was energized and upbeat, almost weirdly so — a week and a half later, as Trump’s blatantly evil actions pile up on each other, I’m having a hard time remembering why we all felt so happy and empowered … I mean, I do think the organizers and speakers did a good job of stressing that the March had to be only the beginning.  And there was a heavy emphasis on intersectionality and the fact that not all women are going to be equally impacted by the new administration too which was great,” Roe said.

Gabriel Brossy de Dios ’20 also highlighted the empowering nature of the March and being in the Swarthmore community, but agreed with Roe on the disappointing first actions by the Trump administration.

“Despite its logistical challenges that led to a lot of standing around, I thought that the March was generally a good morale booster for people, myself included, because seeing so many people protesting Trump makes one hopeful that they can be mobilized against him in the future, like we’ve seen on a smaller scale with the airport protests against what’s essentially the Muslim ban,” Brossy de Dios stated. “It was nice to be there with friends from Swarthmore, and to know that there were more of us scattered through the crowd, but I think it would have had a similar vibe regardless of who I came with.”

The Marches were not without criticism. Roe did note some troubles she had with the amalgamation of ideas at the March, which speaks to the March’s national and bipartisan draw.

“The media, at least that I had read, ahead of the March seemed to focus on how divided we all were about race, class, and even politics, but to me, that didn’t ring quite true in the moment on the ground,” she said. “However, that’s not to say those fault lines weren’t present—near me, for example, was an older white women who said indignantly, ‘What about regular women?’ when a speaker was listing those we had to keep our voices loudest for: immigrant women, black women, Muslim women, etc. — not to diminish other groups!”

Mwenja saw the March in Philadelphia as much less focused on intersectionality, citing racialized feminism as a barrier to being included in the demonstration.

“I thought the march was problematic in that it was overrun by unchecked white feminism. I really appreciated how many people came out against Trump, but I did not feel safe in the space because of the lack of critical analysis, especially concerning not checking white privilege, that made it clear that many of these participants were not prepared to do what is necessary to stop the rise of fascism,” Mwenja said.

Mwenja continued with more specific ways in which the March could have been more productive in terms of demonstrating power to authorities, including the college.

“I think the March could have been a lot more impactful because of the impressive number of people who came,” she stated. “We could have shut down multiple roads, but the leaders did not take that more effective route. Swat is a lot like the March in that it fails to be radical enough in thought [and] in action to effectively combat fascism.”

Gabriel Brossy de Dios ’20 commented on the college’s involvement in the Marches, arguing that administration should take a more substantial stance on issues during this new administration.

“In general, I think that the college’s response to the Marches was pretty adequate […] Beyond providing transportation, I think that an endorsement of the Marches would be less meaningful than an actual endorsement of or opposition to policies, like they did in response to the Sanctuary Campus walkout, which would be more concrete,” Brossy de Dios said.

In reference to the campus community, however, Title IX Fellow Becca Bernstein stressed the unique experience the Marches presented for the Swarthmore community to be united with a large number of other groups and individuals.

“As someone who was there, I would add, it was awesome. I stayed in a group of about 10 to 12, a real mix of students and staff, and just to be together — it was a moment, I think, as a member of the campus community where people really did feel like they were together. I know that not everyone had that experience, but I felt really lucky that I could have that experience with students.”

Bernstein continued, stating the Marches must be used to build a more inclusive and intentional college community.

“Some people had overwhelmingly positive experiences. For some people, it was their first march; for other people, they’ve been involved in things like that in the past,” Bernstein said. “I think creating space for all of those experiences to come to the surface, and to be okay, and for people to come up with their own understanding of what they want to do next.”

Harris echoed these ideas, concentrating on the large base of support on campus and the momentum it has carried forward from the Marches.

“[In addition to student support,] we had a significant number of faculty and staff that came together to support it as well … We really wanted to be intentional about how we came together as a community to do this—and not just like, ‘We got free rides to D.C.,’ but […] why come with the Swarthmore community, why connect here around these issues, and how do we move forward. […] I think the post-March gathering was the beginning stages of processing what the experience was, and how we can connect that back to our campus community.”

Harris described further how she and other institutions on campus plan to be intentional through concrete educational and action-oriented opportunities.

“The WRC and CIL are working on doing a series of conversations. I think, again, one of the things that came up is we have this kind of newfound solidarity, or do we, or what does that look like? How do we have a genuinely inclusive community that raises up everyone’s needs and issues, so creating some more space to have a more intersectional movement, what does that look like, how do we do that, what skills do we need to develop as a community to be effective in that kind of organizing,” Harris asked.

She outlined that the WRC will begin holding educational and organizing opportunities around Reproductive Justice Fridays. This series will teach participants about reproductive laws and legislation while offering leadership and community development.

The lasting sentiment from students is that, as of now, the March has provided a short-term sense of community beyond the campus, which must be fortified if there is hope for a continued effort against unsavory politics. Roe shared she wanted the March to provide a basis for progressive action that would define the left moving forward.

“I personally had my own troubles imagining all the people there who had voted for Clinton in the primaries, or all of those posting tributes of pure adoration to Obama on Facebook, as I think neither of them represent the truly progressive direction we must go in as a country and have committed their own evil actions that provoked no response from general society,” Roe said. “And therein, of course, lies the rub—while the majority of Americans can agree that we don’t want Trump’s policies, we can’t, or at least haven’t in the past, been able to agree on what we DO want, and how we’ll get it.  It was great to feel unified for a day, but unfortunately that unity is illusory.”

Brossy de Dios held similar feelings of the March’s troubles, but he identified that it is a foundation from which action needs to be scaffolded.

“Like most marches, the Women’s Marches didn’t change the mind of the person in the White House, but they did change the minds of people who attended and people around the country about what scale of action is possible now. And although I saw a fair amount of signs for racial justice and heard some speakers who spoke about it, the event could have been made better to expand its scope beyond women’s rights and into other areas, of which race is only one. But again, despite its logistical and programmatic shortcomings, the March was a good symbol at the right time,” they said.

The college community largely came together in protest of the new administration and policies. Many in the community hope the campus can act in the best interests of those groups that are most affected by the Trump administration’s policies.

There is Light

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by
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Hello, friends. I hope you are all doing okay. As I write this pre-election, thinking about what tomorrow holds, all I can think to say is that I sincerely hope you are okay. There’s a weird energy on campus today; and we’re right at that peak of time when the sensory overload is exhausting and everything feels surreal. There is light, though, I promise. And I’m here to talk to you about it. The first order of business being “MOONLIGHT.” Did you know that there is a indie movie theater in the Old City called Ritz East? I’m planning to go back to see Nocturnal Animals, which you should look up the trailer for it’s coming out soon and it’s directed by Tom Ford! Moonlight is absolutely stunning in every aspect. Treat yourself. This isn’t a movie review, but I’m just here to tell you that, if you think it might be something you are interested in, it is worth it a hundred times. It was breathtaking and heartbreaking, yet it didn’t leave you feeling empty as some movies tend to do. I don’t remember the last time a movie left me with this kind of excited awe.

I also had the opportunity to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see its current exhibit, which is open through Jan. 8th Paint The Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950. It was my first time seeing Frida Kahlo paintings in person, and it was wonderful (also, if you haven’t watched “Frida” (2002) yet, it’s on Netflix). I could’ve lost myself all day amongst so many striking works of art embedded in the social fabric of change. I was yelled at by a security guard for getting too close to a painting because I was fascinated by the detail that went into the colour gradient on a woman in a painting. There is an entire colourful gift store specifically for this exhibit, which I grudgingly left with plans to return before actually leaving the museum (which didn’t happen because, even though the people in the store said they were still open after the galleries closed, we got kicked out when I went downstairs to get my wallet. I’m still salty).

After leaving the Mexican Modernism exhibit, we made our way upstairs to the New South Asian Galleries through rooms within rooms, with walls draped in Persian carpets and decorated with Persian tiles. I never realized how huge this museum is, and the curation in the New South Asian Galleries is truly impressive. When they kick you out of the museum at 5 o’clock, you should go out the back entrance where there is a little walkway and two gazebo-type structures that overlook the water. The light will be golden. Perfect for impromptu photoshoots. Go sit on the benches and revel as the sunlight turns you to gold. Look at the sky. Take pictures. Talk about everything or nothing. Figure out the spaces where you find your clarity, and seek those spaces out again and again. They will keep your soul happy and your mind at ease, and that’s so, so important. Especially now.  

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