West Philly Apartment Complex Houses Innovation

Cheyenne Shaffer and I wrote this story for Philadelphia Neighborhoods in the summer. West Philadelphia has a high concentration of creative and entrepreneurial people, due to the many college and affordable rent in the area.  

Students at the helm of three startups decided against office space or summer travels in favor of working on their companies from a University City apartment tower. Their motivation, they said, was the close proximity to each other — and other young founders.

The three cofounders of pre-launch collaborative writing platform Escalate.us are sharing an apartment at the Radian — no matter that one is in enrolled in school in Ohio and another in central New Jersey.

The Radian is modern gray apartment building with retail on the ground floor, built into a two-story cement foundation anchor by popular watering hole City Tap House. It is managed by a private Texas property management giant and while it has no official ties to Penn, it caters almost exclusively to a student population. Founders of the now-exited cobrowsing company Firefly also once used their apartment as a makeshift office.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Everyone Organized Against Rape

Everyone Organized Against Rape

Beth Boyle

The offices of Women Organized Against Rape are quiet. Polite signage around the waiting room requests that doors be shut with care and cell phones should not be used. The staff speaks in soft, polite tones and there are white noise machines to keep conversation during counseling sessions from being overheard. WOAR offers private and group counseling to adults (male and female), teens, LGBTQ and child survivors of sexual assault and abuse, so the need for privacy and a feeling of safety is of utmost importance.

“You know you’re my fourth interview today? It’s not even noon!” WOAR’s Executive Director Carole Johnson smiles as she says it. The phone ringing, her stacked schedule and the media attention all means that WOAR is doing what it’s supposed to do: provide as much support as possible to sexual assault survivors every step of their way. WOAR’S services include: court and medical accompaniment, counseling and support for survivors and their loved ones, and education and outreach to campuses, workplaces and community groups and awareness-raising events.

Carole Johnson at work

Carole Johnson working on her next proposal (photo credit: Beth Boyle)

 

Their next big event is the 9th annual Take It All Back walk on April 26th. April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. One of the pivotal organizers of the event and WOAR counselor Alea Cummings said, “The name is a reference to the Take Back the Night. We wanted to do something like that, but Take It All Back is intended to be more inclusive, and to break down the myth that sexual assaults only happen at night. This event is for everyone. We didn’t want anyone to think, ‘It didn’t happen to me at night, I must not count.’”

Whereas most days at WOAR are quiet, Take It All Back is about making noise. “Our event is survivor-centric. We sing, we chant, we carry signs, there’s a drumline. When we get to the Independence Visitor’s Center, there’s a SPEAK OUT where survivors tell their stories, read poems, just open up. We’ll also have food and this year we’will have Zumba breaks. It can get pretty intense and we want to encourage healthy coping.”

Women Organized Against Rape was founded in 1971 as one of the first rape crisis centers in the U.S. After taking early retirement from her position as HR Director at AT&T, Carole came to WOAR, first as a volunteer, then gradually moved up to Executive Assistant in 1990. Alea came to WOAR as a graduate intern 2011 to May of 2013 and then returned as a counselor in June of 2013. Continue reading