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Showing posts from January, 2014

I View Break Dancing in a Whole New Light

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On Saturday, January 18th, 2014 my organization helped sponsor a Break Dance competition for youth from the Southeast Philadelphia area.  It was held at the Southwark House at 101 Ellsworth Street.  The competition was open to teenagers between the ages of 14 - 21.  The grand prize was a $150.00 gift card from TD Bank.  The South Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders collaborated with the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative to make this happen.  Nathan Schneck and I visualized the program and it came to fruition in a positive way.

We had a two fold purpose for this event.  As part of the South Philadelphia Coalition, one of the requirements for admission was to complete a youth substance abuse survey.  We are pursuing a grant that would help to address the use of gateway drugs at the intersections of 7th & Snyder Avenue and 22nd & Tasker Streets.  With the help of Mike and Jasmine Bell, we had at least 45 surveys completed.  This helps our original goal of 100 youth surveys.  Also,…

Central African Republic is ill prepared for Terrible Conflict Going On Now

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There is a terrible conflict going on in the Central African Republic right now.  Almost one million people have been displaced in the former French colony by clashes that began when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a coup in March 2013.  Christian self-defense groups known as 'anti-balaka' have since taken up arms against them and the violence has claimed more than 2,000 lives.  This conflict will not command the attention that the ongoing civil war in Syria has.  It will also not reach the news like the continuing conflicts in Iraq.  I wanted to take some time to shine the spotlight on this country.

The Central African Republic came into existence on August 1960.  It was a former French colony.  French soldiers have been some of the first peace keeping entities on the ground to try to keep citizens safe.  It is a country comprised of at least seven major ethnic groups: Baya, Banda, Mandija, Sara, Mboum, Mbaka and Yakoma.  I am wondering if the number of ethnic gr…

Andrea Leigh Anderson: Rest In Peace

It was a whirlwind weekend for those of us in the community service field.  My organization collaborated on a Break Dance competition with the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative.  It was so nice to see young people involved and competing with urgency.  I don't know who won the $150.00 grand prize but I will find out today.  Strategy breakfasts and service projects aside, I also attended the Homegoing service of Andrea Leigh Anderson.  It was held at Slater Funeral Home on 15th & Fitzwater Streets.

I am friends with three of Ms. Anderson daughters.  We grew up one small street apart.  They lived on Titan Street and my family grew up on Latona Street.  The turnout for the service would indicate that she was a woman that was beloved by her friends and community.  Cheryl Anderson is my age and I am sorry that I missed her big 5 - 0 celebration in December.  She is a great friend and now works for the City of Philadelphia.  Her Mother was a Beautiful woman and her offspring ref…

MLK Day of Service in Grays Ferry: Awesome

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Yesterday was a great day around the region for service projects in memory of the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.  I participated in a project in the Grays Ferry section of South Philadelphia as part of my duties with the South Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders.  We collaborated with the Young Chances Foundation and I feel that we made a major impact during this cleanup.  We met residents and we transformed the 1500 Block of South Taney Street in addition to the 2800 Block of Dickinson and other adjoining streets.

Grays Ferry has been in the news for reasons that have not been positive recently.  There was a 19 year old man murdered there on January 9th, 2014.  I attended a press conference at the Vare Recreation Center in his memory and as an impetus to help deter the violence there.  There was a story in the Inquirer this morning about a 16 year old who was walking down the street with a pump rifle last week.  When confronted by police, he did not immediately drop h…

Tom Corbett Cancels a visit to Central High School: He didn't expect protesters?

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The Governor of Pennsylvania was scheduled to make a visit to one of the best high schools in Philadelphia this morning.  Central H.S. is a magnet school that produces a high rate of college bound students.  Because of budget cuts caused by the Governor's aversion to increased funding for schools, Central has suffered from a lack of Guidance Counselors, reduced library hours and other shortages.  The Governor still felt it necessary to laud the accomplishments of this venerable institution.

On the other hand, a school like Thomas Edison could have used a visit from the Governor.  He could have observed first hand the busted pipes that inhibit learning.  Or he could have visited Strawberry Mansion, which has been declared one of the country's most dangerous schools.  Also, he could have visited Lincoln H.S. or Sayre Middle School and offered solutions to improve the outlook of the students and staff at these institutions.

Governor Corbett's staffers must have warned him ab…

Bridgegate: Governor Christie's Political Downfall?

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I was totally surprised by this developing story.  In September 2013, several of Governor Chris Christie's top aides decided to exact political retribution against the Mayor of Fort Lee, NJ.  On the first day of school, they decided to trim the number of lanes entering the George Washington Bridge from three to one.  The boneheaded actions caused traffic delays that lasted up to four hours.  Even though the delays might not have been the cause, a 91 year old woman died while waiting for emergency medical services.

The timing of this story breaking now could not have been worse for Governor Christie.  He was being hailed as a star within the Republican Party.  In fact he was doing work on behalf of the National Republican Governor's Association.  He became the Chairman of this powerful board this year.  He had jockeyed with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal back in 2012 over who would lead the organization.  The position controls a budget of $150 million.  It also involves leade…

Gary N. Bell: Rest In Peace

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Sometimes a blog can be really impersonal.  A writer like myself can opine about numerous subjects that never affect their life or community.  I have written on numerous topics.  In this situation, it is the first time I have written about one of my siblings.  I am listening to a Teena Marie song, Deja Vu, in which she talks about not coming back anymore.  If it was one time in which I needed to see someone another time, it would be now.  Teena Marie passed away at 54 years of age a few years ago.  My Brother, Gary N. Bell,
passed away on January 4th, 2014 at 54 years of age.  He was in hospice care only for a day when the cancer that ravaged his body took him away.

Gary had battled cancer for the last four years.  Up until the time in which he had an episode at work, he was the picture of health.  He was an Army Ranger.  He was an avid bicyclist.  He also earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  He was in awesome shape and was living a great life.  He was happily married to Dr. Lynne …

Happy New Years 2014

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I thoroughly enjoyed New Years Day 2014.  My little brothers, Mike and Skeeter Wallace and Tyrone Grier, coordinate a cookout during the Mummer's Parade.  For the last four years, they have organized what has become a mini South Philadelphia reunion.  Yesterday, at least 100 people showed up for free food and beer.  Gram Bell and Mike Wallace worked the grill.  Dennis Brooks prepared Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens.  We meet in the parking lot of Saint Rita's church.  The school is soon to be demolished and we were reminiscing about our time there.

Murray Spencer bought Red Strip Beer and burgers.  Kevin Parks assisted with the set up of the tents.  I served rolls and bought bowls and utensils.  I also donated beer and made an additional beer run.  I was having so much fun that the actual Mummers Parade was an afterthought.  Kia Boggs-Pinkney and Susan
came back to the house afterwards for drinks.

The owner of Scotty's, Juanita Floyd, came down to hang out with us.  Sy…