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Frankford Pause: The Pink Park

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Frankford has been the same for a while now, and a team of volunteer designers from the Community Design Collaborative thought it was time to paint it hot pink.

Anticipated for Spring of 2015, on the corner of Paul Street and Frankford Avenue, is the pop-up park dubbed the Frankford Pause. Headed by architect and long time volunteer for the Community Design Collaborative, Alexa Bosse, the design team worked to make the visions that the Frankford Community Development Corporation (CDC) had, come true. Though it was an unusual task, Bosse and the rest of the team, which included her husband Ari Miller, took it on.

Miller and Bosse “had worked on several projects together” in the past says Bosse and therefore the two were easily able to begin designing the Frankford Pause. The first steps they took were to assemble a team. Realizing that the park required a huge lighting component, lighting designer Robin Miller was added, along with architectural designer and long time friend and coworker of Bosse’s, Andrew Allwine. And finally, Ben Cromie joined as a Planner in order to “take into account the entire commercial corridor of Frankford Ave.” and evaluate the surrounding schools and playgrounds to make sure the team would provide a park most usable to the community. Ari Miller also contributed as a landscape architect and Bosse as an architect.

When asked Bosse says, “No, I haven’t done anything of this type” before but she was not daunted by the task. “In a way doing a pop-up was a lot easier than a permanent installation because it’s a testing ground and they only have to last for a year”, adds Bosse. The temporary structure turned out to be “freeing” rather than a challenge for both the design team and the client, the Frankford CDC.

Kim Washington from the Frankford CDC and Ian Litwin from the City Planning Commision have been working on Destination Frankford and its many projects for a while now, including the more recent pop-up gallery done in conjunction with Philadelphia Sculptors this summer. When it came to the Frankford Pause, Washington and Litwin asked Bosse and her team to design a “crazy… unusual park that would bring people to the neighborhood”. This way the park “is not only for Frankford, but will create a destination where people can go and say “Hey, this is a pretty cool neighborhood”, says Bosse. This is how the park became laced with an attention getting hot pink.

With the intention of creating the desire for a permanent park, the design team made sure to make it easy to maintain the Pause long term if need be. The name however, reflects not just the brevity of the park but its location. While taking a tour of the site in order to become acquainted with the area, the team had to take a “Frankford Pause” in their conversation and wait for the El to pass by. The El has been passing through Frankford for almost 100 years and its clamor is such an integral part of the neighborhood, that Bosse and the team couldn’t help but be inspired by the noise. This translated not only into the park’s name but its design.

Ari Miller woke up one night with an idea in the shape of a megaphone. Instead of trying to work around the noise of the train, Miller had the idea to shape the park like a megaphone and have the noise be a part of the Pause. The loops in the park resemble a distorted megaphone and to add to the experience the overhead lighting also works with the noise. As the train passes by the lights will illuminate from one end and get dimmer as the noise fades away.

On the opposite end of the park, Washington requested a stage. Any type of event can now be held on Frankford Avenue, from musical performances to rallies, etcetera. And the music or other sounds from those events will also cause the lights to illuminate where it is the loudest and dim where it is quiet.

Another component added to the park is a community garden curated by the Frankford CDC. It will be maintained by both staff and children from the community. And finally, the designers built a series of platforms and planting beds on the northern wall, as well as seats.

Bosse, Miller, and the rest of the team “didn’t go into it with an idea” of what to do with the assignment. But the neighborhood of Frankford took care of that and inspired them. As they “took it in… the train had the biggest impact” and brought to life the Frankford Pause.

Photos courtesy of Community Design Collaborative and Destination Frankford.

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A Healthier Frankford

This past June, Health Partners Plans, Aria Health and the Frankford Community Development Corporation came to the aid of Frankford residents. The annual Health Fair provided fun and games for children while giving adults the medical care and information they need.

The fair which took place at Aria Health’s Frankford Campus consisted of screenings for blood pressure and Body Mass Index as well as face painting and other activities for kids. Volunteers, along with Events and Outreach Programs Manager for Health Partners Plans, Chi Dang, attended to the long line of eager Frankford residents ready to receive these much needed services. Dang explained that screenings like the ones provided at the fair are simple, but necessary, preventative measures that everyone should have access to. Health Partners Plans works to make sure that those who would otherwise go without testing and information are taken care of.

The event that has been going on for three years now continues to grow and to help members of the surrounding community. Certainly living up to their motto of “doing it right” Health Partners Plans in partnership with Aria Health and the Frankford CDC are making strides in the right direction to help everyone maintain a healthier lifestyle.

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A Spirited Day

On July 4th, while celebrating the day of our nation’s independence, residents came together for the now annual, Frankford Community Spirit Day Honoring Al Stark, Jr. The event was organized by local non-profit Keep the Faith in Frankford and entertained the masses with fun, games, and remembrance.

Spearheading Keep the Faith in Frankford, organizer Pat Smiley expressed her wish to have a day for families who were not on vacation during the holiday to have fun in their own community. Many families attended including the Hohensteins who have members of the Frankford community for years. Jack Hohenstein, also a member of Keep the Faith in Frankford says the organization’s goals are not limited to the dealings with the church but they also aim to bring the community together. The charity also participates in the NECH Dining with Dignity Program that operates out of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church where Al Stark’s event was held.

20140705_154452Mr. Stark, a father, husband, and devout member of St. Joachim Church  and the Frankford community, passed away recently. During the event, named in honor of him and his family’s contributions, everyone gathered to remember his life and legacy. Pat Smiley spoke heartfelt words and recounted fond memories of Stark as she presented his family with a certificate of appreciation. Though tears were shed, there was clearly a silent consensus amongst the attendees that this was a celebration of his life, more than a mourning of his death.20140705_152025

Along with celebration of the holiday and life of Al Stark, came games and fun. A water balloon tossing tournament was moderated by Joe Hohenstein and brought smiles to everyone’s face. Carnival inspired fun took place in the parking lot and children did not go home empty handed. Gift bags were also given out to all. The event, which proved successful, shall continue with this new tradition for many years to come.

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Destination Frankford: A Renaissance

Beneath the clamor of the El and beside the tides of the Delaware lies the neighborhood of Frankford. Centuries ago our neighborhood had a mansion on every block. Decades past, Frankford Avenue bustled with business and we prospered. Unfortunately, everything is not as it once was. But residents of this historical corner do not fear, Destination Frankford is here.

Through the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and with the help of the Frankford Community Development Corporation, Philadelphia Sculptors, and the Globe Development Group, Destination Frankford plans to “reclaim, rediscover, and reanimate” the neighborhood. Every Saturday until July 26th visitors can witness this rebirth of Frankford through events such as the Destination Frankford art gallery.

On the corner of Frankford Avenue and Paul Street, music could be heard as patrons beat the heat with cold beers and good food. Outside, Mayor Michael Nutter posed for pictures with attendees, while inside, the pristine white walls were donned with art pieces by a host of different sculptors. Art Director Leslie Kaufman still believes that Frankford has a lot to offer and that it can be seen in these artists’ works. “All the artists use their art to add dynamism, spirit, and wonder to common and overlooked materials”, she says. Events likes this gallery will hopefully do the same and bring attention to the commonly overlooked neighborhood.

Having also been deeply involved in Philadelphia Sculptors, Kaufman knew that when she sent word about the project to the organization, many talented artists would join the movement. Inspired by the idea of reanimating a community, one such artist,

Deanna McLaughlin with her repurposed wooden door at the Destination Frankford: Reanimate gallery opening.

Deanna McLaughlin with her repurposed wooden door at the Destination Frankford: Reanimate gallery opening.

Deanna McLaughlin, answered the call. The artist who says her work is, “at times meditative, but always inspiring” presented two pieces at the gallery opening. What was once an old shopping cart was born again as a colorful chaise lounge. And a simplistic rocking chair showed more depth when its roots as an old wooden door from the very neighborhood of Frankford were revealed. McLaughlin understood and identified with the concept of bringing new life to the old in order to shepherd in modernity as many of her pieces carry the same idea.

Both Kaufman and McLaughlin know that galleries and renaissance are not things often seen in Frankford. However, Destination Frankford is not planning to stop here. Unafraid of unconventionality, the organization plans to bring a pop-up park to the neighborhood by the spring of 2015. Also on the corner of Paul Street, the vibrant park will be a center of entertainment, relaxation and a sign of progress. As the neighborhood grows, the hot pink detailed park will be a sign to those inside and outside the community that Frankford is not to be forgotten. Along with hot pink astroturf the park’s design was inspired by a megaphone. Frankford is no longer a quiet neighborhood. Architectural and Landscape Designer Alexa Bosse describes how the lights that crisscross above the park will be

Destination Frankford's next project, the Frankford Pause pop-up park.

Destination Frankford’s next project, the Frankford Pause Pop-Up Park. Photo Courtesy of

sound activated. Knowing that one huge, unmistakable, part of Frankford is the El, Bosse and the other volunteers utilized the noise in the neighborhood to light up the park. Bosse says that as a band plays on one end the lights will illuminate, following the sound. And as the El passes overhead, the lights will follow its tracks. Dubbed the Frankford Pause, Bosse and the other contributors hope this park will make residents and visitors alike stop, and take another look at Frankford.

The neighborhood of Frankford, though it’s had its setbacks, refuses to be held back. With the help of many organizations and the support of the community, Destination Frankford can definitely take this neighborhood anywhere. Thanks to innovative ideas by creative individuals such as these, Frankford has finally entered its renaissance.

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Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory Boat Launch

It’s “About Time” to christen this boat!

The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory has been around since its founding in 1996 and on Saturday June 21st the organization continued its lengthening legacy of spreading the smiles on the faces of its students with their boat launch. Students from all over Philadelphia came together after school for an entire year to build nothing other than sailboats. This past weekend, their hard work finally came to fruition at the Frankford Arsenal Boat Ramp on the shores of the Delaware River.

Three boats, Atlas, About Time and the Purple Lady set sail on Saturday as proud parents and mentors looked on from the dock. But for these kids and the Executive Director of the innovative after-school program, Brett Hart, sailing had not always been so breezy. “I grew up in Frankford,” Hart expresses, and although he was afraid of the activity when it was first introduced to him at the age of seven, he says he’s “also really intrigued by the things that frighten [him]”. Hart believes that everyone should “live at that moment where things have to push you to be outside of your comfort zone”. “I think that’s where you grow” he says.

Hart and the other staffers at the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory (PWBF) encourage their 23 students to find that very moment. From budgeting, fundraising, building, painting, and sailing, students like Anisha Ellis, 16, a junior from George Washington Carver Engineering and Science High School, earned every bit of pride they felt as their boats were christened on Saturday. Philadelphia high school students and boat building aren’t necessarily two things that most people would put together. Ellis knows from the reactions of those around her that what she’s doing is “something different and fun. It’s not something you would normally get involved in”. The uniqueness of the program, Ellis says, means “you have to talk to the right people” in order to get them involved, “because if they aren’t about hands on activities, group work and communication, then it won’t be fun for them”.

“I came into this program knowing nothing about boats”, Ellis says, but the relationships the students have with their mentors is “comfortable… you could talk to them and they’d help you”. Hart agrees that, “we’re at our best as staff when we’re acting as a resource”. And just as Ellis and the other students benefit from the wealth of knowledge the PWBF staff offers, Hart says the staff learns from their students as well.

If the kids take anything away from the program, Harts says he hopes that the “connections [they’ve] established with [their] students will allow them the strength and resiliency to take risk and to fail and to recover from that failure”. “Thats the most important part”, he adds.