Like any crush, I was cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a long-term relationship—while reasonably doubting that my mountain girl heart could ever make a home in America’s sixth biggest city.
But a turning point came one March night four years ago, when my husband booked a table at Double Knot, a newly opened, subterranean izakaya, for my birthday. We didn’t know what awaited us down the hidden flight of stairs, but our group was immediately awestruck by the moody candlelight, smoking cocktails, stunning bar, and edamame dumplings. (Especially the dumplings.)
It’s the sort of place you’d never find in Utah’s suburbs where I grew up, and one that makes you love a city bold enough to create it. In the following years, Double Knot has never lost its charm, becoming our go-to destination for date nights and hosting out-of-town guests.
Beloved only-in-Philly experiences like this quickly evolved beyond bars and restaurants to unforgettable moments: partying in the city after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, racing down Broad Street with 35,000 people in the pouring rain, and singing on SEPTA in lederhosen and dirndls after one-too-many Oktoberfest beer samples.
These moments make Philly, well, Philly, charming us (and others) to come and stay—years beyond any planned expiration date. Whether you’re a born-and-bred Philadelphian or a transplant like me, we hope to showcase this vibe in Sensi, sharing the unique stories of the city and its characters.
In our March issue, we talk tiny houses, booze-free cocktails, where to find Philly’s best CBD goodies, and why you need a personal brand. We hope you love what we’re creating, but Sensi is here for you, and we want the pages of this publication to reflect that. Whether you email or @ me, let me know what you want to see in Philadelphia’s newest magazine.
Whether you dance the night away at a “fur ball,” catch one of many film festivals, or sip on spirits during Wine Week, March is the first taste of spring in the city, and a perfect time to shake off Old Man Winter and venture out. Feeling extra motivated? Join in on Philadelphia’s largest half marathon or a Phillies-themed 5K.
Photo Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
Women’s History Month
Throughout March Various locations, Philadelphia visitphilly.com For this city-wide celebration of historical and modern-day women, expect museum displays, pop-up events, film festivals, and tours.
Mar. 5–7 Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Center City philorch.org
POPS Rocks Phil Collins
Mar. 6–8 Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Center City phillypops.org
The 23rd Annual Fur Ball: The Great Catsby
Mar. 6 Bellevue Hotel, Center City morrisanimalrefuge.org The Roaring ’20s return for this night of Jazz Age dancing and debauchery to raise funds for the Morris Animal Refuge, America’s first animal refuge.
Mar. 7–8 Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, University City ansp.org
Mar. 15 Market Street, Center City phillyparade.com Philly goes green for the city’s largest parade with more than 20,000 participants. Expect floats, marching bands, dance groups, youth groups, Irish associations, and thousands of spectators lining the block.
Mar. 28 Penn Museum, University City penn.museum Nowruz, meaning “new day” in Persian, is an ancient event marking the Persian New Year celebrated by people in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Experience this tradition with live performances, gallery tours, workshops, and a Persian bazaar.
Mar. 28 23rd Street Armory, Rittenhouse Square chocolatewinewhiskey.com Indulge in chocolate cupcakes, cookies, candy, and more at this fest featuring your favorite sweet treats paired with unlimited samples of whiskey and wine.
Mar. 28 Vie by Cescaphe, Philadelphia redcross.org Support the American Red Cross at its largest Philadelphia fundraiser of the year. Expect a black-tie, reception-style gala. Funds support the Red Cross.
Mar. 30–Apr. 6 Various locations, Philadelphia phillywineweek.org Pop a cork all week long at this wine-centric event with tastings, flights, pairings, and specials at restaurants and bars across the city.
Where: Marriott Downtown When: Jan. 18, 2020 Photos: Philip Gabriel Photography
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) honors a young girl named Alex Scott who set up a front-yard lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for cancer while fighting her own. The Lemon Ball continues this tradition, raising over $900,000 for childhood cancer research this year. The evening included dinner, dancing, dessert, silent and live auctions, and heartwarming speeches from childhood cancer heroes. The 14th annual event coincided with what would have been Scott’s 24th birthday.
More than 670 supporters of The Superhero Project gathered to raise funds for premature babies at its fourth annual gala. The project was launched in 2015 by school teacher Kelly Gallagher after her twin sons spent a month in the Holy Redeemer Hospital’s NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Almost $150,000 was raised this year, spearheaded by a $30,000 donation from Lauren Holiday, a former World Cup soccer champion. To date, Holiday and her husband have donated $85,000 to this cause.
Personal branding expert and photographer Robyn Graham didn’t always help people craft their public personas. But after growing tired of her job in pharmaceuticals, her husband suggested she pursue her love of photography, and she jumped at the chance. After launching her photography business (robyngrahamphotography.com) Graham quickly honed in on personal branding and now works exclusively in this space. She calls the career her “second phase” and uses lessons learned along the way to help others through her podcast, named The Second Phase.
“I’ve learned from so many mistakes,” Graham says, “and I can help people not make those same mistakes and brand their business from the get-go.” We asked Graham all about personal branding.
What is personal branding?
It’s that infusion of your personality into your business so people online can immediately get to know you, like you, and trust you. Before, people would decide in person if they liked you, but since Instagram and LinkedIn hit the scene, business people now meet online for the first time, and how you’re perceived in that space matters.
What makes up a personal brand?
A personal brand includes a logo, mission statement, branded photography, and your content. You have to prioritize those based on what your audience values. A logo is very important because it makes you instantly recognizable, but the logo is not going to build the like, know, and trust factor. If you have a set budget and are looking to build a personal brand, start with visual content through professional photography. People will get to see your personality first-hand and how you work in your business.
Even if you can’t afford a full-blown photoshoot, you should get a professional headshot. Your eyes and smile are gateways to your soul. As for your mission statement, it lets people know who you are and why you do what you do. This will inspire them to want to work with you.
Who needs personal branding?
Everyone needs a personal brand. I say this because even if you’re corporate, you have a personal brand. You may work for someone else, but how do you stand out? Show why you’re the expert, why you’re the go-to, why you do that work better than anybody else.
People are also finding their next employee through LinkedIn and social media sites. Recruiters won’t stop on a person who has a gray head and no profile pic. Just having that professional headshot shows you care about quality and want to represent yourself for advancement—not just the day-to-day grind.
If you can’t afford a professional headshot, I offer a free e-book that helps you use your smartphone to take better headshots at home.
How do you start building your brand?
Identify your niche first. You need to know who you’re serving. Combine your values, vision, and passion to help identify your niche. Once you’ve done that, you can start identifying your ideal client. Then use your mission statement to connect with your audience and get them to trust you.
Branded photography is used to get your personality out there. People don’t buy products and services; they buy personality. That’s why big brands use people in their ads to represent their brands. It helps you connect with the products, which converts to sales.
How do you find your audience?
Once you’ve identified your niche and audience, find out where they hang out. For me, LinkedIn is an incredible tool because I want to work with professionals. I do get business from Instagram, but LinkedIn is where my ideal clients are. From the real world to online, find where your best potential clients are and connect with them there.
In the age of social media, do people still need personal websites?
If you have a business, even if it’s a service industry, you need a website. People need to be able to find you, they want to see you, and they want to know what your “why” is before they call or email you. Even one page of who you are and what you do is critical.
A website adds credibility to your brand. Often people just have an Instagram and Facebook page, but to me, that’s not representing you as professionally as a website.
What else do people need to build their personal brand?
An email list. This allows you to touch base with your audience anytime you want. Whether you’re running a special or have an update to your business, having that touch point is powerful for a personal brand. Social media may not work or a company could fold, but your subscriber list is always yours.
How do people work with you on brand building?
I do a free 15-minute strategy call. I ask them to send me their website and social media links prior to our call and give them, in a nutshell, an idea of what I think would benefit them.
I also offer a one-hour strategy session where I tell you how you can do the least to grow the most. You get a recording of that session and then I type up recommendations. My brand insider program is a customized package that includes a website, photography, copy, and a logo. I have a studio just outside Philly, but I also come into the city and I have clients all over.
A library of more than 800 games await at Thirsty Dice, Philadelphia’s original board game café. Located in the Fairmount neighborhood, the café welcomes all ages (guests 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult) to play its collection for just $5 per person. But its games aren’t the only draw; the café has an all-day food menu featuring inventive options like grown-up Lunchables, donut PB&Js, weekend brunch waffles, and desserts galore.
While it offers the usual drink suspects—craft beers, draft wine, boozy milkshakes, and cocktails—it’s the spirit-free sippers that stand out. Whether you’re reducing your alcohol intake or you don’t imbibe at all, you’ll love this smoky, not-so-sweet mocktail named for a popular Japanese card game. Mix one up for at-home game nights or try it at Thirsty Dice.
6 to 8 ounces of coconut Assam and mint green teas (or substitute Lapsang souchong tea)
¼ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce ginger syrup
Brew iced tea with a 3:2 ratio of coconut Assam and mint green teas.
Using a smoking gun, smoke iced tea for about six minutes. (If you don’t own a smoking gun, substitute Lapsang souchong tea, which has a naturally smoky flavor.)
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled, highball glass.
Feb. 19–Mar. 20 Pisces Listen to the compliment that presents itself to you as a criticism; energies will make you better through jealousy and roadblocks. It could be that you realize it’s time for a change.
Mar. 21–Apr. 19 Aries There is something to celebrate that presents itself to you. To thank the universe for this opportunity or inspiration, donate to an organization a few times this month.
Apr. 20–May 20 Taurus Do not try to impress anyone who isn’t treating you well. Please agree with the vibration that you are perfect the way you are—and totally step back from the people who are taking advantage of your good nature.
May 21–June 20 Gemini It’s time to apologize for the things you have done to hurt people. If your ego won’t let you actually call them to apologize, write them a “spiritual” letter telling them you were unfair to them and that you are sorry.
June 21–July 22 Cancer “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The door to your future couldn’t open any wider. If you want the job, you can have it. If you want that relationship to go to the next level, you can have it.
July 23–Aug. 22 Leo People are about to prove to you how much they love you. March is when your gratitude toward people who are supporting you will make all the difference.
Aug. 23–Sept. 22 Virgo There are angels surrounding you. Pennies and feathers in your path are likely. This is a month of being aware of how things are lining up for you. Accept all invitations.
Sept. 23–Oct. 22 Libra Coincidence will be your best friend this month. It’s time to drop (old) ideas that you can’t have what you want…you totally can. Pay attention!
Oct. 23–Nov. 21 Scorpio Practice saying nice things about people. Do not take on the bad karma right now of backstabbing those who truly do not deserve it. Ask yourself: “Am I basing my opinion on someone else’s agenda?”
Nov. 22–Dec. 21 Sagittarius
You are the owner of this lifetime and acting as though you do have the power to change things will make all the difference this month. You will get a sign that you are on the right track.
Dec. 22–Jan. 19 Capricorn When you focus on one thing at a time, you are a genius. Avoid multitasking this month. Better to spend the time to make sure it’s done right the first time.
Jan. 20–Feb. 18 Aquarius Embrace the high energy of spinning lots of plates right now. You are the chef who has many pots simmering, and it’s time to admit that you like it this way. Thrive by making the magic happen with all the resources available to you.
I visited Jay Shafer’s meticulous American Gothic–style house in a sun-dappled Iowa City backyard shortly after we launched Natural Home magazine in 1999. The Dow had just surpassed 10,000, mortgage credit requirements were melting into oblivion, and America had a bad case of McMansion Mania. Shafer’s 130-square-foot home (yes, you read that right), built for $40,000, was a hard “no” to all that. It was also cozy and inviting, and Shafer described himself as a claustrophile (someone who loves closed-in spaces).
Shafer won the Philosophy and Innovation Award in our Natural Home of the Year contest because his adorable house embodied everything the magazine stood for, and he wasn’t afraid to say things. He said that we Americans like our homes like we like our food—big and cheap—and he was the first to figure out that putting a tiny house on wheels makes it an RV and therefore not subject to city and county minimum-size standards and codes. He wasn’t shy about his intention to make tiny homes a revolutionary alternative in a housing market headed for disaster.
“I am certainly not proposing that everyone should live in a house as small as mine,” Shafer wrote in the letter accompanying his contest entry. “Such minimalism would be excessive for most people. What I am saying is that the scale of our homes should be as varied as the spatial needs of their inhabitants, and that it is those needs rather than government regulations and conspicuous consumption that should determine house size.”
Shafer’s message was radical, and largely ignored, in the frenzy leading up to the 2008 crash. But his company, Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, built a following, and he built a name for himself as the godfather of a fledgling tiny house movement (one blogger called him “the George Washington of simple and sustainable living”). He wrote The Small House Book and was on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Then he lost the company in a business dispute and his house in a divorce, and he was homeless for a while, living in a pigpen inside a shed. Determined never to live that way again, Shafer designed a 50-square-foot home that cost $5,000 in Sebastopol, California. He gives master class workshops at tiny house festivals around the world (including the Tiny House Festival Australia in Bendigo, Victoria, March 21–22).
“The evolution of tiny houses has paralleled the digital revolution, since this whole tiny thing started at the turn of the century,” Shafer told foxnews.com in 2014. “Once it became possible to have a remote little phone instead of a landline and a wall-mounted flat screen instead of a 2-foot-by-1-foot chunk on the dresser, folks started seeing the potential for living in what basically amounts to a laptop with a roof.”
A Status Symbol for Humble Braggers
Though 82 percent of renters say they would like to buy a home someday, according to Fannie Mae, homeownership is at its lowest point since 1965. Ordinary people can’t afford the American Dream (median listing price: $310,000). In the Bay Area, homebuyers paid twice their annual income for a house in the 1960s; today, they shell out nine times their yearly salary. Only 13 percent of millennial renters in the United States will have enough cash to put 20 percent down on a house in the next five years, according to an Apartment List survey.
Tiny homes are much cheaper, with prices ranging from $10,000 to more than $200,000 (averaging about $65,000), and operating and maintaining them costs a lot less. When the International Code Commission made changes to its residential code to facilitate tiny house construction in 2018, it reported lifetime conditioning costs as low as 7 percent of conventional homes.
That reality is driving the spike in interest in tiny homes, which are getting a lot of attention as a solution to the affordable housing and homeless crises, with the added bonus of being kinder to the planet than a traditional three-bedroom/two-bath. Whether they live in tiny homes for financial reasons or not, climate-aware homebuyers get a status symbol that flaunts their honorable choice to reduce their footprint and live with less—no easy thing to do, even in this post-Kondo age.
It doesn’t hurt that tiny homes—generally defined as homes with less than 400 square feet—are now readily available in every style, from your basic shed to sleek Dwell-worthy models. You can buy plans and build a tiny house yourself or pick out one online and have it shipped to you. You can even order one on Amazon. Used tiny homes, along with inspirational stories and information, can be found at sites like tinyhousefor.us, tinyhousetalk.com, and tinyhouselistings.com. Tiny Home Nation: 10K Strong
More than half of Americans would consider a tiny home, according to a National Association of Home Builders survey. Potential buyers and just-dreamers flock to check out micro-houses, “schoolies” (converted school buses), and vans at tiny home festivals like the Florida Suncoast Tiny Home Festival in St. Petersburg (March 28–29) and the People’s Tiny House Festival in Golden, Colorado (June 6–7). But the reality is that only about 10,000 people in North America—the lucky ones who have managed to find parking spots—actually live in tiny homes.
Like anything that disrupts the norm in a conformist capitalist culture, building a tiny home in a world of ticky-tacky boxes is not easy. The good news is that times are changing, as municipalities consider tiny home villages as a way to house the homeless and marginalized communities. Still, most states only allow tiny homes to be parked in rural areas (Massachusetts, California, Florida, and Oregon are somewhat more lenient). Because most zoning laws in the United States don’t have a classification for tiny houses, most owners have to follow Shafer’s lead and register them as RVs, trailers, or mobile homes.
In most places, zoning ordinances won’t allow you to buy land, park your tiny home/RV, and live happily ever after. You either have to rely on the kindness of family and friends with backyards or pay a monthly park fee to rent a space in one of the tiny home villages cropping up across the country. Park Delta Bay, an RV resort in Isleton, California, now has a row reserved for tiny homes. At Village Farm, an RV resort that’s turning into a tiny-home community in Austin, Texas, residents pay about $600 to $700 a month to park and use the services.
Slowly, city and state governments are responding to homebuyers’ demands for tiny home opportunities beyond RV resorts. Portland, Oregon, (but of course) has relaxed its ordinances to allow for everything from tiny house communities to tiny house hotels. In Rockledge, Florida, citizens demanded zoning changes allowing for a pocket neighborhood with homes ranging from 150 to 700 square feet. A tiny home community for low-income residents is under way on Detroit’s west side, and Vail, Arizona, built two dozen 300- to 400-square-foot houses for schoolteachers.
Advocacy groups have been paving the way for tiny homes since Shafer and a few friends founded the Small Home Society in 2002, and they’re seeing a resurgence. In 2017, a group of University of California-Berkeley students launched the Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY) project to promote research and development and raise awareness of tiny house communities. Operation Tiny Home is a national nonprofit that helps people “maintain a life of dignity” through high-quality tiny housing and empowerment training programs.
In Canada, activists calling themselves Tiny House Warriors are taking the revolution to the next level, placing “resistance-homes-on-wheels” along the pathway of the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline. “We are asserting our inherent, God-given right to our lands,” says Kanahus Manuel, a leader of Tiny House Warrior. “We’re defending what’s ours, and tiny homes are how we’re doing it.”
Get fit for festival season with the Sensi Seven Festival Toner workout guide. Read
CBD is in everything, but sunblock is one place where it really seems to work. Read
Giselle Woo and The Night Owls are generating some serious pre-Coachella buzz. Read
Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month. Read
It’s an explosion of butterflies fluttering around the Coachella Valley. Read
Get fit for festival season with the Sensi Seven Festival Toner workout guide.
It’s that time of year again—music festival season! With Coachella and Stagecoach right around the corner, thousands will be making their way out to the Valley to spend the weekend dancing and celebrating.
All that moving and grooving is sure to take a toll on the body, so we asked Jaime Jimenez, owner and trainer at One Eleven Conditioning, to create a program to get you festival fit. If you’re looking to build up your stamina or get that perfect Instagram photo, this workout plan, called the Sensi Seven, will kick your body into gear so you can enjoy making those once-in-a-lifetime festival memories.
The equipment-free, monthlong program, is a combination of seven movements that balances cardio, strength, and recovery. The workouts are completed using an interval timer. Each week the intervals increase while rest time decreases in order to intensify the calorie burn through progression. Beginners can tailor the workouts to their level, while gym junkies can push the movements to maximize muscle definition.
The Sensi Seven can be done at home, at the office, in the gym, or at a park.
Day 1: Full Body • Bodyweight squats • Knee taps (pushup position) • Crunches • Flutter kicks • Shoulder taps (pushup position) • Pushups • Fly-jacks Day 2: Cardio • Run, bike, swim, etc. (45 mins)
Day 3: Leg Focus • Fast feet • Step-up (left side) • Step-up (right side) • Bodyweight squats • Plank with alternate leg raise • Reverse crunch • Jack squats Day 4: Recovery • Walk, yoga (45 mins) Day 5: Core • Punching strikes • Jumping jacks • Shoulder taps (pushup position) • Up/down planks • Bicycle crunch • Boat pose/ v-sit • Pushups
Sunblock is mandatory, whether you are Hula-Hooping and grooving at festivals or just taking a hike into the desert. These days CBD—or cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive extract of the cannabis plant with claims on soothing skin and aiding sleep—is in everything, from soda to adult lubricants. Sunblock is one place where it really seems to work, since CBD is proven to hydrate and soothe the skin. This water-resistant lotion merges SPF50 sunscreen with all those rejuvenating effects of CBD.
Giselle Woo and The Night Owls are generating some serious pre-Coachella buzz.
Not a cloud was in sight on a warm winter day at a coffee shop in Palm Springs. The birds were chirping and bees buzzing when a quiet voice from behind me said, “I was lost, but now I am found.” It’s Giselle Woo, singer/songwriter, whose recent announcement about performing at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival with her band, The Night Owls, has created its own “buzz” around town.
“So many years of going to Coachella and just standing there in the crowd, watching and admiring, and like fuck I can do that, I want to do that, ya know?” said Woo in her naturally laxed tone. The invitation to perform at the giant annual music festival came two years after Woo and her bandmates, Christian Colín, Jose Ceja, and Marco Murrieta, were crowned the winners of the Annual Tachevah Music Showcase. They walked away with career-advancing prizes—leading to the release of their first EP, Gemini. “You have to take all those steps too; it’s not just like I’m just going to perform and that’s it. People want to hear that song that they heard. They want to learn the words,” she said.
With no gimmicks or interest in notoriety, Woo was surprised by the idea that the Coachella Valley is recognizing her as a top musician in the area. “Despite all the things we’re missing, like an updated website, or someone posting on our Instagram every week, it’s just us. It feels really surreal to me.” The natural progression of her career has grown from singing in her room to open mic nights to, now, standing onstage at one of the world’s largest festivals. She credits her music for ultimately “finding her” as she prepares for the new journey she’s about to take. Her final thoughts before stepping out on the new platform: “This time, I’ll probably pray a little bit because that’s what my grandma would tell me to do.”
Giselle Woo and The Night Owls will be performing Friday, Apr. 10 and 17, kicking off both festival weekends.
By Stephanie Wilson, Editor In Chief
1. READING ROOM The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf, $27). Showcasing her signature literary prowess, Mandel explores the infinite ways we search for meaning in this much-hyped new release, expected March 24. Also out this month: It’s Not All Downhill from Here by How Stella Got Her Groove Back author Terry McMillan.
2. STREAM THIS Freeform’s The Bold Type. Now in its third season, this sleeper hit could be your new favorite series. It’s mine, in no small part because it centers on three young women working for a New York mag. But also because it’s witty AF, aspirational, and depicts successful women who are defined not by their relationships but by their careers. It’s empowering, and you should watch it for free on Freeform, or on your favorite streaming platform.
3. LISTEN UP NPR’s Life Kit podcast offers tools to keep it together. And by you, I mean me; I need all the help I can get. Picking out a lightbulb last fall had me staring mouth agape in a store aisle for a half hour trying to make sense of all the options. After listening to “Picking Out a Lightbulb, Made Easy,” I know which bulb’s for me. Life Kit’s episodes are short, to the point, and offer tips on how to do things like start therapy, start a book club, master your budget, remove stains, and juggle paperwork, appointments, and repairs. Basically how to adult.
4. GROWING TREND Pot in Pots. The Swiss-cheese-leafed Monstera is last year’s “It” plant. Cannabis is the hashtagable houseplant of 2020. Get in on the trend. Depending where you live, you can find clones or seeds at select dispensaries with an easy google—while you’re at it, look up local laws regarding home grows. Cannabis cuttings (a.k.a. clones) are pretty easy to root—check Leafly.com for tips—and you should definitely bring some to your next plant swap. Spread the word, spread the love.
Butterflies in the Sky
It’s an explosion of butterflies fluttering around the Coachella Valley. The orange- and brown-painted lady butterflies pass through the desert on a one-way trip up north that will end in a few weeks, after they lay their eggs. Experts say the amount of butterflies we see depends on how much rain we get during the winter months since the insects rely on vegetation during their caterpillar stage to give them energy on their long journey.
Collaboration is a wonderful thing. When my friend Rosston Meyer told me a few years ago that he was planning a pop-up cannabis book, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I knew Meyer ran an independent publishing house designing pop-up books in collaboration with artists. Meyer is a designer with a passion for art and pop culture, so I imagined his books were a modern upgrade of the old-school pop-up books I played with as a child—3-D elements and foldouts, tabs to pull and wheels to spin—but with a modern aesthetic that appeals to adults. “A pop-up on pot would be cool to flip through and play with,” I remember thinking. “I hope he does it.”
A few years later, Meyer came around to show me a physical mock-up of his pot-themed pop-up, which he’d titled Dimensional Cannabis. What he showed me was a modern art form I wasn’t aware existed. Yes, the book featured 3-D elements and foldouts, with tabs to pull and wheels to spin, but what I had pictured was similar only in concept. These were intricate and elaborate kinetic paper sculptures that painted a picture and brought it to life. I was blown away. So, when he asked if I’d be interested in writing the words to go on the pages before me, I signed on immediately.
Altogether, Dimensional Cannabis took more than three years to complete, with a total of nine people contributing to the final product published by Poposition Press, Meyer’s independent publishing house. A small press, Poposition designs, publishes, and distributes limited-edition pop-up books that feature artists or subjects that Meyer finds of deep personal interest. He got started in the genre in 2013, when he started working on a collaboration with Jim Mahfood, a comic book creator known as Food One. The resulting Pop-Up Funk features Mahfood’s diverse designs transformed into interactive three-dimensional pop-ups. The limited-edition run of 100 copies were all constructed by hand.
Since then, Poposition has worked with a number of contemporary artists to publish titles like Triad by cute-culture artist Junko Mizuno and Necronomicon by macabre master Skinner.
Meyer has been fascinated by pop-up books since he was a kid, and in 2013, he began concentrating on paper engineering and book production. “After making a couple books focused on just artists, I thought that creating a pop-up book about cannabis would be a good idea,” he says. “There’s nothing else like it in the market, and there’s an audience for adult-themed pop-up books.”
For Dimensional Cannabis, Meyer collaborated with Mike Giant, a renowned American illustrator, graffiti writer, tattooer, and artist. Giant’s medium of choice is a Sharpie, and Giant’s detailed line work is instantly recognizable. An avid proponent of cannabis, Giant illustrated the entire Dimensional Cannabis book.
Giant and Meyer met at a weekly open studio Giant hosted in Boulder. “When the idea of doing a pop-up book about cannabis came up, he asked if I would illustrate it,” Giant says. “I’ve been an advocate for cannabis use for decades, so it didn’t take long for me to agree to work on the project.”
Meyer began by sending Giant reference materials to visualize. “I’d get it drawn out, hand it off, and get some more stuff to illustrate,” Giant says. “He’d send me previews of the finished pages as we went. It was really cool to see my line drawings colored and cut to shape. That process went on for months and months until everything for the book was accounted for.”
The process of making pop-up books is called “paper engineering.” I love obsessives, and the engineers who put this book together, make no mistake, are the ones who spend endless hours figuring out the tiniest details of the folds and materials necessary so that water pipe emerges every time you open the paraphernalia page.
“David Carter and I started talking about the idea a couple years prior to actually starting on the book,” Meyer says. “The initial concepts for each spread were figured out, and a different paper-engineer peer was asked to design each spread so that the book had variation throughout.”
Dimensional Cannabis is divided into six pages, or spreads, covering the cannabis plant’s biology, medical properties, cultivation, history, and influence on popular culture. The paraphernalia page features many items we associate with cannabis consumption over the years in America, from rolling papers and pipes to vaporizers, dabs, and concentrates—and that foot-long bong that miraculously appears as you turn the page.
One spread opens to the full plant, with information on its unique and fascinating properties. Another opens to a colorful, meditating figure with text about the healing properties of cannabis. One page is dedicated to its cultivation possibilities, basic genetics, and the differences between indoor and outdoor growing.
The history spread takes us back to the beginnings of the curious and long-standing connection between humans and cannabis. Engineer Simon Arizpe had worked with Meyer before and jumped at the chance to work on that one. “I wanted it to be Eurasian-centric as the viewer opens the page, showing the early uses of cannabis in ancient Vietnam and China,” Arizpe says. “As the viewer engages with the pop-up, cannabis’s use in the new world spreads across the page,” he adds. “We decided [to focus] on moments in time that were either politically relevant, like weed legalization, or culturally significant, like Reefer Madness.”
Arizpe feels like the entire project is an example of what can be done working with talented people outside the traditional publishing engine. “Rosston came up with an idea that has a big following and made it happen,” he says. “It is pretty exciting when people can do that out of nothing.”
For Meyer, who says he likes a good sativa when he’s working, the project was a labor of love that spans all his areas of interest. “Not only was this a great experience putting together such a unique book, but having different paper engineers work on each spread made this a real collaboration,” he says. “There have only been a couple pop-up books produced with a roster of engineers. Dimensional Cannabis is for cannabis lovers and pop-up book collectors alike.”
Vibrant restaurants, crowded sidewalks, and towering skyscrapers. These are things we love about living in our bustling city. And while the Wissahickon and Kelly Drive offer welcome doses of nature, as spring returns, we’re on the lookout for more green in the city. That’s where Philadelphia’s new urban trails come into play. From the Rail Trail to The Circuit, we’ve got the scoop on new greenways to get outdoors this spring—without ever leaving the 215.
Elevated railways were once vital for transportation in Philadelphia and New York City, carrying passengers and freight into city centers. Used from the late 1800s to the early 1980s, these railroad viaducts were eventually abandoned and left to deteriorate. But as wild plants crept over the old tracks and calls to demolish the “eyesores” grew, a coalition of citizens advocated for an alternative future: revive the freight lines as elevated green spaces.
New York City’s rails-to-trails plan came to fruition first, with the lauded High Line rising in the Hudson Yards neighborhood in 2009. The 1½-mile parkway draws tourists and locals alike, with Instagrammable railroad track segments preserved to showcase its transportation past. Today the iconic High Line is arguably too successful, becoming a packed destination for art, food, and garden strolling 30 feet above the city streets. Its achievement pushed forward Philadelphia’s plan for an elevated rail trail on the Monopoly-made-famous (albeit long abandoned) Reading Railroad Viaduct. Raising $10.3 million dollars was enough to get construction underway in 2016, and the Rail Park’s first quarter-mile section opened in 2018.
This first phase rises above Callowhill, a gritty post-industrial neighborhood that’s changing fast in the Rail Park’s wake. The park is a walkable oasis with city views, porch swings, art installations, and places for you—and your pup—to lounge and chill. Love City Brewing opened a few blocks away, and an outdoor pop-up bar called The Patio serves up creative cocktails and beers with midcentury vibes during summer months.
A Growing Greenway
The Rail Park’s initial construction is just a taste of what’s to come. As funds are raised, restoration of the worn viaduct will continue—with hopes for it to one day span three miles through 10 neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Cutting across 50 city blocks through elevated railroad platforms and tunnels, the completed Rail Park would be twice the length and width of New York City’s High Line (but who’s comparing?).
Philly’s Rail Park also differs from the High Line because of its three distinct zones: the current elevated section (the Viaduct), a below street level that’s open to the sky (the Cut), and an underground area (the Tunnel). Phase one is open daily and can be entered off Noble Street near the bridge over 13th or on Callowhill between 11th and 12th.
The park also hosts events such as February’s Lunar New Year festivities, which brought a Hong Kong–style celebration, dancing, a flower market, calligraphy classes, and themed food and drink to the space. And its nonprofit organization, Friends of the Rail Park, is also launching events to spearhead fundraising for the next phase. You can help by attending the April 2 Off the Rails fundraiser, which will honor advocates of public green spaces and just be a damn good time outside.
Once the full three-mile Rail Park is complete, it will give pedestrians and cyclists a safe, car-free path across the city while providing outdoor events, education, and recreation to residents and visitors.
The Circuit Trails
Beyond the Rail Park, the Greater Philadelphia region is quietly boosting its own new collective trail network called the Circuit Trails. You’ve likely run or biked a few of these trails without even knowing it. The name references a collective of 300 multiuse miles traversing southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It’s already one of the largest trail networks in America—and it’s right in our backyard.
The Circuit Trails include some of Philadelphia’s most iconic paths, including the Schuylkill River Trail, Schuylkill Boardwalk, Manayunk Bridge Trail, Pennypack Trail, Cooper River Trail, and the Wissahickon’s Forbidden Drive.
From waterfront walks to forested paths, the Circuit’s trail diversity highlights how special Philadelphia is as a big city. You can quickly escape the skyscrapers and be alone in nature on a wide variety of biking and pedestrian paths. But many are disconnected from one another, requiring more work for cyclists and pedestrians to use them. This is a big reason why the Circuit Trails Coalition—a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and agencies—is working so hard to advance the completion of the Circuit Trails in Greater Philadelphia.
The Circuit Trails Coalition hopes to add 200 miles to its maps in five years, and while it may seem like an audacious goal, the group is on track to realize its dream by assuring the funding and completion of 166 in-the-works and in-the-pipeline trails.
Upcoming completions include linking the Delaware River Trail from Spring Garden Street to Washington Avenue, building a path between the Chester Valley Trail and the Schuylkill River Trail to create 89 miles of continuous trails, and building the 34-mile Wissahickon Gateway to connect Philly’s Schuylkill River Trail to Montgomery County. Connecting the paths adds to their appeal and promotes safer walking and riding in the region.
In West Fairmount Park, an abandoned, overgrown 19th century trolley line will rise again as the Trolley Trail, a five-mile loop for hikers and cyclists. The trolley brought city dwellers to the park until the 1940s, and this revived route will follow much of the original pathway, showcasing old bridge abutments and tunnels formerly used by the trolley.
By 2040, the goal is to complete an 800-mile Circuit Trail network. But you don’t need to wait 20 years to enjoy them. Visit circuittrails.org for maps and directions to current Circuit Trails, or use the site’s itinerary tool to find guides for 12 lauded trails.
Once completed, both the Rail Park and Circuit Trails will link the region’s urban, suburban, and rural communities, providing a vast network of connected paths for residents and visitors to enjoy. This spring, instead of another run on the crowded Schuylkill Boardwalk, take a new Philly trail for a spin.
Maybe it’s a bit bold to launch Sensi in 8 new markets in a single year after only four years in business. But for our team, expanding the reach of this publication and bringing the Sensi spirit to Philadelphia matters. We’re a small—but mighty—force in today’s publishing world, and the industry is taking notice. In 2019, our magazine won Publication of the Year (for the third time in a row) at the Cannabis Business Awards in Las Vegas, and we’re just getting started.
This February in Philadelphia, we’re covering innovation, invention, and our city’s ability to rise to the challenge—especially in the face of adversity. Whether it’s Carson Wentz throwing for a record-breaking 4,000 yards in a season (with his star players riding the bench) or the dilapidated warehouses of Fishtown taking on new life as vibrant distilleries, restaurants, and bars, Philly is the city of the underdog, rising up when others doubt it.
National Geographic named once-gritty Philly the best US city to visit in 2020, and as residents, we’re not even surprised. The City of Brotherly Love is stepping out of New York City’s shadow, reinventing itself in the new decade as a post-industrial capital for food and fun, proving you don’t need to be the biggest dog to have the best bite.
We share this vibe with features on Fishtown’s dramatic transformation, the story of two South Philly runners bringing adventure travel to urbanites, and the scoop on two long-awaited restaurant openings. What do you want to see in Sensi magazine? Email me with your ideas for making Philadelphia’s newest publication its best.
From the Flower Show’s dazzling floral installations to the Auto Show’s exotic cars, February in Philadelphia brings spectacular sights worth leaving the house for. If you’re stumped on planning a Valentine’s Day date, attend our alternatives to make your significant other (or Bumble date) swoon.
Black History Month
All February Various locations, Philadelphia visitphilly.com As an important center for African American culture and history, Philadelphia goes big on celebrating with a month of service days, book talks, mixers, and more.
Feb. 6–16 Various locations, Greater Philadelphia theatrephiladelphia.org Experience affordable theater productions, readings, and interactive events at this 10-day celebration of the city’s vibrant theater community.
Philadelphia Orchestra: Sorcerers, Spells, and Magic
Feb. 13 Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Center City philorch.org
Valentine’s Day with Tiny Dynamite
Feb. 14 Manayunk Brewing Company, Manayunk tinydynamite.org Bring a date or fly solo at this casual look at modern love put on by talented Philly performers. Bonus: every ticket includes pizza and a pint.
Feb. 23 Reading Terminal Market, Center City readingterminalmarket.org Help preserve the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmer’s market at this nighttime fundraiser that transforms the market into a party with more than 1,000 revelers. Expect bites from 30 market merchants, four open bars, six live bands, and casino games.
Feb. 29–Mar. 8 Philadelphia Convention Center, Center City theflowershow.com Floral fans unite at the world’s largest and longest-running indoor flower show. Launched in 1829, the event draws 250,000 people to see themed displays. This year’s “Riviera Holiday” is inspired by vibrant Mediterranean gardens.
When William Penn settled our city in 1681, he named it after the Greek words philos, meaning “love,” and adelphos, meaning “brother”—making The City of Brotherly Love a literal translation of its name. But now, for one year only, Philadelphia has a new official moniker. The city council voted to re-nickname Philly “The City of Sisterly Love” for 2020 to honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, which gave women the right to vote. A full year of food, fitness, history, and wine events centered on sisterhood are planned to celebrate the centennial.
Here Philly street artist Amberella installs one of her signature “Goth Hearts,” complete with a sisterly love theme, at 2005 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown.
Long a Broad Street eyesore, the iconic Divine Lorraine has been scrubbed of its ghosts and graffiti with a complete renovation to the tune of $44 million. Opened in 1884, the building first held luxurious apartments before being converted into the Divine Lorraine Hotel in 1948. After its abandonment in 1999, the building sat vacant until 2015 when developer Eric Blumenfeld brought the building full circle—converting it back into opulent residences. And while its new apartment homes are dazzling, the much-anticipated Italian restaurant, Cicala, has the city buzzing.
Run by restaurateur couple Angela and Joe Cicala, the menu focuses on Sicilian cuisine with family flair. The restaurant’s empty, warehouse-type space has been lovingly reconstructed as an Italian eatery of old, with an heirloom-filled dining room featuring old Cicala family portraits, velvet-draped windows, and vintage furniture sourced from Angela’s grandparents.
Expect hearty plates of pasta, fresh fish, cured and cooked meats, and inventive appetizers. Don’t miss Angela’s signature dessert: a clementine that echoes Cicala’s logo (a reference to Joe’s great grandmother Clementina). The “orange” is actually spumoni gelato ball with candied citrus on top of orange almond cake. Expect this and other delightful surprises at Cicala at the Divine Lorraine Hotel.
From running the red rocks of Moab, Utah, to scaling the Sierra Nevada’s rugged, alpine peaks, adventurous trips to some of America’s (and Italy’s) most beautiful destinations can be booked right here in Philly with Highline, an active adventure travel company. Each of its trail run–focused, small group retreats is designed to help you unplug from the modern world and connect with nature.
South Philadelphians JT Kane and Ryan Callahan thought up the concept for Highline on a two-week road trip across the American West. “We were in this place of coming back from burnout,” says Kane, “and taking the time to escape and run and hike in these wild spaces was kind of the antidote to years of these high-pressure jobs.”
As they traveled, Kane and Callahan dreamed of sharing the experience with others. Both runners with event production backgrounds—Callahan as the founder of the successful Philly 10K race—they realized a running-focused adventure travel company was the perfect partner project. Both South Philadelphians through and through, the duo launched and now run Highline out of the neighborhood’s BOK Building. Since Highline’s first Death Valley retreat in 2017, the company has added one-of-a-kind trips at home and abroad—all centered on trail running in the world’s most epic natural landscapes: Shenandoah, Moab, and as far away as the Italian Dolomites.
Trips focus on taking a break from our 24/7 news cycle and reconnecting with people. “We’re trying to provide people with this intangible reprieve from daily life, and people really do seem to be getting that out of the experience,” says Kane. “We try to activate in places that don’t have cell phone service or access to e-mail, and really quickly people find that they’re thankful for that level of disconnection.”
These restorative, exploratory vacations are never the same twice, but attendees can expect daily trail running and speed hiking along with hot spring soaking, yoga, and lodging that runs the gamut from fancy tents to four-star resorts.
Trips are designed for all levels, but participants should be able to comfortably run three to 10 miles to best enjoy the experience. “We try to keep the pace slow and approachable,” Kane adds. “We take a lot of breaks for photos and make it more enjoyable because it’s not a race, it’s a fun, run-focused vacation.”
And while most participants come from nearby, Kane says the word is getting out. “Being based out of Philadelphia, we get a lot of people from Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic area, but we’ve started to see it expand. We’ve had people from Texas and California.”
Experience Highline yourself on its long-weekend in Shenandoah in June, the Italian Dolomites adventure in July, an Eastern Sierra trip in August, or its September retreat in Moab.
In Fishtown, an old ice cream equipment factory takes on new life this month as Fabrika, a one-of-a-kind, modern cabaret dinner experience. Late nights bring variety show–style performances paired with Eastern Mediterranean cuisine by Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides and drinks by lead bartender, Andres Sanchez.
The centerpiece of this fresh, vegetal cocktail is Pennsylvania’s own Boyd & Blair potato vodka paired with Fabrika’s house-made beet juice and custom citrus cordial. (You can mix one up at home with your own citrus peel cordial and store-bought beet juice.) Taste the original Tuesday through Sunday evenings during Fabrika’s happy hour or dinner theater.
Makes 1 cocktail
1½ ounces organic beet juice 2 ounces Boyd & Blair Lemon & Lavender potato vodka ½ ounce Fabrika citrus cordial ½ ounce lemon juice Fresh dill
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously, then double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Loneliness is a killer, more dangerous than obesity and smoking. Studies have found it leads to heart disease, stroke, and immune system problems, and it could even impair cancer recovery. A researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found loneliness a strong predictor of premature death, declining mental health, and lower quality of life in cardiovascular patients, and a Brigham Young University professor’s meta-analysis of studies from around the world found that socially isolated adults have a 50 percent greater risk of dying from any cause than people who have community.
That’s sobering, especially when you consider that 40 percent of American adults suffer from loneliness, according to an AARP study. And it’s one reason coliving—a new form of housing in which residents with similar interests, values, or intentions share living space, costs, and amenities—is exploding.
Coliving situations run a spectrum, from the resident-driven model to small homes with a half-dozen or so people to massive corporate complexes like The Collective tower with 550 beds in London. Residents, who stay anywhere from a few days to several years and usually don’t have to sign a lease or pay a security deposit, sleep in their own small private rooms (sometimes with bathrooms) and share common spaces such as large kitchens and dining areas, gardens, and work areas. They’re encouraged to interact with one another, often through organized happy hours and brunches. Ollie, which operates coliving spaces in New York and other cities, advertises that “friends are included.”
“Coliving is different than just having roommates, who may be people you found on Craigslist and just happen to share [your] living space. It’s done with more intention,” says Christine McDannell, who lived in unincorporated coliving houses for years before she launched Kindred Quarters, a coliving operator with homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, in 2017.
Author of The Coliving Code: How to Find Your Tribe, Share Resources, and Design Your Life, McDannell also runs Kndrd, a software company for coliving managers and residents, and she hosts the weekly Coliving Code Show every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Soundcloud, and coliving.tv. She has watched—and helped—the industry grow up, and she’s amazed at how few, if any, horror stories she hears. That’s largely because millennials—by far the largest demographic among colivers—are accustomed to sharing and being held accountable through online reviews, she adds.
“You just don’t hear the crazy stories about roommating with strangers in an unfamiliar city,” she says. “When people write bad reviews, it’s usually about the Wi-Fi.”
As companies fat with funding expand into cities across the globe, coliving is newly corporatized—but it’s hardly a novel concept. Boarding houses provided rooms and shared meals for single men and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries; one of the most famous, the Barbizon Hotel in New York, was a “club residence for professional women” from 1927 until the 1980s.
People lived communally throughout most of history until industrialization facilitated privatization of family life and housing throughout the 20th century—with a few disruptions. In Israel, people have been living in communal villages called kibbutzim for more than 100 years. In the US, hippies attempted to create communes in the 1960s, but they were destroyed by free love, drugs, and egos (which did a lot to discourage coliving, even today).
At the same time in Denmark, however, cohousing (an earlier iteration of coliving) was emerging as a way to share childcare. Today, more than 700 communities thrive in Denmark. In Sweden, the government provides cohousing facilities.
A handful of cohousing communities following the Danish model have been established in the US, and hacker houses are common in tech capitals like Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, but the concept has been slow to catch on until recently.
As it becomes increasingly impossible for mere mortals to afford skyrocketing rents in desirable cities, Americans are coming around to coliving and finding creative solutions to all sorts of social issues. Older women are shacking up together following the Golden Girls model. Coabode.org matches single moms who want to raise kids together. At Hope Meadows in Chicago, retirees live with foster kids.
The opportunity to pay lower rent (in many but not all cases) and share expenses makes all the difference in places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. When New York–based coliving operator Common opened a development with 24 furnished spaces in Los Angeles for between $1,300 and $1,800 a month, more than 9,000 people applied.
McDannell says coliving is exploding because it solves important challenges that plague modern society. “People are signing away their paychecks on rent and feeling increasingly isolated,” she wrote in “Why We’re Building a CoLiving Community Ecosystem” on LinkedIn. “It is due time that HaaS (Housing as a Service) disrupts the antiquated industry of property management and real estate.”
Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month. Read
The nationwide trend (finally) takes off in Philly. Read
Fewer Penalties, More Perks
Free Library of Philadelphia axes outstanding debts on late books.
Cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and now Philadelphia are ending late fees on overdue items and wiping out old library patron debts. Why? To remove barriers from those who felt the library wasn’t for them. The policy takes effect in the spring, and the Free Library hopes it encourages people to use the library’s services. But don’t think this means you can “borrow” books and keep them forever. New books can’t be checked out until overdue ones are returned (or paid for if lost). Not a bibliophile? The library also rents plenty of museum passes, string instruments, birding backpacks, streaming video devices, and board games. Plus it offers free meditation, yoga, and tai chi classes.
Ignite with Flavor
Dan Bilzerian, known as “The King of Instagram,” first built his empire using social media marketing. In 2017, he launched Ignite, a line of CBD products, which has since expanded to include vapes, drops, toothpicks, topicals, pet products, gummies, and lip balm. Flavor profiles include blood orange, lemon, cherry, lavender, and tropical fruit. Its all-natural CBD drops are blended with essential oils. Topicals are made with 100 percent plant-based ingredients. Its newest product is the 350 mg full-spectrum drops and bath bombs. Ignite / $15–$65 / ignitecbd.co
LOVE-ly Philly Gifts
February is a great time to show your love for the city with these only-in-Philly gifts.
Rosen & Co. Philly Skyline Candles Fill your home with fragrance with these soy wax candles housed in a Philadelphia skyline glass. $25 / rosenandco.us
LOVE Necklace Based on Robert Indiana’s renowned Philadelphia LOVE sculpture, this necklace is available in real gold and silver finishes. Buy locally at Verde on 13th Street. $74 / weheartphilly.bigcartel.com
Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates Give your love a taste of Philly with this series of nine handcrafted chocolates featuring symbols of the city. $20 / marcieblaine.com
Party Like It’s 1999
Old school becomes new again.
With the nostalgia of the ’90s revival including the comeback of scrunchies, old school hip-hop parties, cartoon reboots, grunge fashion, army pants, vinyl records, and the Friends craze ever present, why not celebrate like it’s Y2K?
The ’90s were the era when grunge was born; punk rock got a resurgence; indie music fests took off; personal style was nonconformist; music was insanely good, angsty, dance-worthy, and impactful (Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tupac, N.W.A., Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, and so many more); and the teens and twentysomethings finally felt like their voices were being heard.
By Stephanie Wilson, Editor in Chief
1. Primary Focus A New Hampshire law requires the Granite State to be the first presidential primary in the nation. This election cycle, that goes down on February 11, after which my home state becomes irrelevant for another four years.
2. Leap of Faith While the calendar year is 365 days, it takes the Earth 365.24 days to orbit the sun. Every four years, we add an extra day to the month of February because without it, the calendar would be misaligned with the seasons by 25 days after just 100 years.
3. Born This Way The odds of being a “leapling”—a person born on a leap day—is 1 in 1,461.
4. Right On On February 29, some places celebrate Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins Day—both a nod to the old Irish tradition that gave women the right to propose marriage to a man on leap day. If he declined, he was required by law to pay a penalty, often in the form of gloves so she could hide the shame of her bare ring finger.
5. Modern Love Since we’re not all Irish, but we are all feminists (because we all believe in the equality of the sexes, of course), any of us can propose to whomever our heart desires whenever we want. Except Valentine’s Day. There’s no law prohibiting it but, sweetie, pay-as-you-go forced romance is anything but romantic.
6. PETA Violation The origins of the canned-love holiday are as cruel as a red rose delivery in February is clichéd. According to NPR, V-day traces back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a brutal fete during which naked men sacrificed dogs and goats—and whipped women with the animal hides. Stop, in the name of love.
Food Hall Fever
The nationwide trend (finally) takes off in Philly.
Philadelphia’s arguably home to America’s first food hall, 126-year-old Reading Terminal Market, but the city has been slow to join the modern iteration of this trend. Recent years have seen the launch of three food halls in Philadelphia, bringing you bitty-sized shops from favorite local eateries and new hot spots.
A sad food court no more, this 1895 commodities exchange building has been reborn as an artisan food hall serving the Independence Hall area. Try globally inspired eats from 30 vendors, cocktails from Bluebird Distilling, or find your way out of the 1980s at the on-site escape room. Our can’t-miss foods are Prescription Chicken’s hearty soups, TaKorean’s Korean tacos, and Mighty Melt’s inventive grilled cheese sandwiches. 111 S. Independence Mall East / theboursephilly.com
Feeding students, faculty, and visitors to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, this hall has communal seating for 175 and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Vendors include falafel favorite Goldie, DK Sushi of Double Knot fame, and a third location for hummus-centric Dizengoff. Don’t miss Dizengoff’s new sweet treat, frozen labneh. It’s an upgrade to traditional frozen yogurt topped with strawberry shortcake or chocolate peanut. 3401 Walnut St. / shopsatpenn.com/franklins-table
Find Asian street eats in this day-to-late-night eatery in Chinatown. From Korean to Cambodian cuisine, you’ll find 12 diverse food vendors plus cocktails and upstairs karaoke rooms. Taste Kurry Korner’s unique Southeast Asian curries and rolled ice cream from Ice NY. 1016-18 Race St. / chinatownsq.com
Humans have used color to express ideas and emotion for thousands of years, according to color specialist and trend forecaster Leatrice Eisman. As executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Eisman is the world’s leading authority on the topic of color, authoring many books on the subject. In The Complete Color Harmony, Eisman describes how even the most subtle nuances in color can result in shades that excite or calm, pacify or energize, and even suggest strength or vulnerability. “They can nurture you with their warmth, soothe you with their quiet coolness, and heighten your awareness of the world around you. Color enriches our universe and our perception of it,” she writes.
According to her research, we all respond to color at a very visceral level, associating specific hues with another time or place. “Color invariably conveys moods that attach themselves to human feelings or reactions,” she notes. “Part of our psychic development, color is tied to our emotions as well as our intellect. Every color has meaning that we either inherently sense or have learned by association and/or conditioning, which enables us to recognize the messages and meanings delivered.”
It’s with all this in mind that she and a team of experts choose the Pantone Color of the Year, which the institute has named annually for more than two decades, gaining more attention and having more impact with each passing declaration. So this year, expect to see a lot of blue. The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is known as Classic Blue.
Describing the shade as “evocative of the nighttime sky,” Eisman explains the choice: “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”
She contends that Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious, expand our thinking, open the flow of communication. Her comments are rooted in color theory, which says that a good part of the emotions that colors evoke is tied to natural phenomena. Classic Blue is the color of outer space (look beyond), of the celestial sky (look beyond), of the deep ocean (open the flow).
One of the earliest formal explorations of color theory came from German poet and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His 1820 book Theory of Colours explored the psychological impact of colors on mood and emotion. Yellow, Goethe wrote, is the color nearest the light, yet when applied to dull, coarse surfaces, it is no longer filled with its signature energy. “By a slight and scarcely perceptible change, the beautiful impression of fire and gold is transformed into one not undeserving the epithet foul; and the colour of honour and joy reversed to that of ignominy and aversion.”
Of red: “All that we have said of yellow is applicable here, in a higher degree.” Goethe’s theories continue to intrigue, possibly because of the lyrical prose rather than its scientific facts.
Today, it’s generally accepted that shades of blue are associated with steady dependability, calm, and serenity. Yellow evokes the color of the sun, associated with warmth and joy. Green connects with nature, health, and revival. White stands for simplicity; black for sophistication.
A 1970s study on the body’s physiological responses to colors revealed that warm hues (red, orange, yellow—the colors of the sun) aroused people troubled with depression and increased muscle tone or blood pressure in hypertensive folks. Cool colors (green, blue, violet) elicited the reverse, but the important finding was that all colors produced clinically tangible results.
It’s not woo-woo science; humans have been using color as medicine, a practice known as chromotherapy, since ancient Egypt. In fact, chromotherapy is as tested a practice as any other alternative medicine—Ayurveda, acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology. While it is widely accepted that color affects one’s health—physically, mentally, emotionally—more studies are needed to determine the full scope of impact as well as its potential to help heal.
This isn’t a new theory, either. In the late 1800s, rays of color/light were shown to affect the blood stream. Later research found color to be “a complete therapeutic system for 123 major illnesses,” according to a critical analysis of chromotherapy published in 2005 by Oxford University Press. Today, bright white, full-spectrum light is being used in the treatment of cancers, seasonal affective disorder, anorexia, bulimia, insomnia, jet lag, alcohol and drug addiction, and more. Blue light is used to help treat rheumatoid arthritis. Red light helps with cancer and constipation. And that’s just the beginning.
On the Bright Side
When your physical landscape is devoid of bright, vibrant hues, your emotional one is affected as well. That’s where color therapy comes in. It has a deep effect on physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of our lives, and it comes in many forms: light sessions that include color wheels. Colored crystal lights. Breathing in colors through meditation. Infrared saunas with chromotherapy add-ons.
There are actually many ways of adjusting the color in your life, and not all of them require a trip to see a specialist. Unlike trying to self-administer acupuncture (don’t do that), techniques can be as simple as putting on colorful attire or getting some bright throw pillows or plants. You can never have too many plants. And you should eat more plants, too, filling your plate with healthful fruits, vegetables, and spices from every part of the spectrum.
If a lack of sunlight has you feeling a lack of joy, paint your home or office—warm, vibrant yellows and oranges showcase excitement and warmth; browns and neutrals decidedly do not. Choose wisely. Painting not an option? Consider temporary wallpaper or hanging large artworks. On a budget? Head to the thrift shop and repurpose an old canvas by painting it white and then adding whatever hues you are vibing with this winter. If it doesn’t turn out well, cover it up with more white paint and start again.
Have fun with it, consider it art therapy.
There are also an array of therapeutic options popping up as add-ons, as wellness studios, spas, and alternative medicine practices incorporate chromotherapy treatments into their offerings. Many infrared saunas are starting to offer chromotherapy benefits, and the combination of the full-light spectrum and the heat effectively tricks the brain into thinking it spent a full day basking in the sun, causing it to release those sweet endorphins that flood your body when the warm rays of spring hit your face when you step outside. It feels good and really, that is everything. Color is everything.
Friday, 11 p.m. The Garage’s roll-up doors are wide-open, and crowds spill onto the patios and sidewalks along Girard Avenue. Across the street, twentysomethings line up for Joe’s cheesesteaks and Weckerly’s ice cream sandwiches. It doesn’t matter that winter temperatures dip below freezing; on weekends, droves of people from New Jersey and all over Philly come by train, car, and Uber to the hopping Riverwards neighborhood of Fishtown.
Named in the 1800s for its booming shad fishing industry, Fishtown became a manufacturing sector filled with shipyards, lumber, and textiles when the fish ran out. Eventually, Fishtown fell into blight, surviving as a working-class neighborhood full of dilapidated warehouses, shuttered storefronts, and frequent drug abuse. In the early 2000s, the narrative began to change. Bisected by the El’s Market-Frankford line, the epicenter of Fishtown’s action is where its rebirth began: the corner of Frankford and Girard Avenue. Here a neighborhood bar named Johnny Brenda’s changed ownership in 2003 and put this crossroads on the map. Others followed, drawn by vacant buildings and cheap rent.
But it was Frankford Hall, Stephen Starr’s indoor-outdoor beer garden, that brought Center City crowds in 2011. Eight years later, Fishtown has become a destination in its own right—instead of an afterthought to the nearby and already successful Northern Liberties. And as its restaurants and bars receive awards and rave reviews, the change keeps coming, with new rowhomes and restaurants rising by the day.
However, Fishtown’s success comes with a cost: rising real estate prices, new businesses replacing old favorites, and the tearing down of many structures to make room for progress. Fishtown residents have begun to wonder if they’ll lose the neighborhood they’ve come to love. But Fishtown is different. In a time when America’s suburbs all start to look the same, its residents have fought to preserve its character even as corporations seek to cash in.
Fishtown is located in Northeast Philly’s Riverwards along the Delaware River, but where exactly it starts and ends is unclear. The parameters set by the nonprofit Fishtown Neighbors Association say Fishtown runs “from the Delaware River to Laurel Street, Laurel Street to Front Street, Front Street to Norris Street, Norris Street to Trenton Avenue, Trenton Avenue to Frankford Avenue, Frankford Avenue to York Street, and York Street to the Delaware River.” Easily accessible by the El’s Market-Frankford Line, it’s less than a 10-minute ride to Center City and walkable to Northern Liberties and Old City.
A Neighborhood’s Evolution
Seventeen years after Johnny Brenda’s kickstarted Fishtown’s rebirth, the bar still anchors the neighborhood with delicious eats, an upstairs concert venue, and Citywide Specials (Philly’s beloved beer-and-a-shot combo).
When we first moved to Fishtown six years ago, Frankford Avenue was a bit of a dark, dead, not-so-safe walking zone between Frankford Hall and the opposite end’s Pizza Brain. But when La Colombe opened its flagship roastery, it pushed the progress of the street on with Heffe Tacos, Kensington Quarters, and Philly Style Bagels opening soon after, and row after rowhome rising along its corridor.
Now-vibrant Frankford Ave. is home to Suraya, an all-day Lebanese café and restaurant that critics (and regular folks) agree is Philly’s best, along with other faves such as Cheu Noodle Bar and izakaya bar Nunu. On the adjacent alley, Pizzeria Beddia (long a two-man operation that sold just 40 pies a day) has returned with a new 120-seat, sit-down space, making some of America’s best pizzas that are now paired with wine, soft-serve, and salads.
And while much has been torn down in the name of new construction, other historic sites and classic businesses remain. When the long-vacant Ajax Metal Company was converted into Philadelphia Distilling’s gin lounge and an East Coast Fillmore concert venue, preservationists cheered. Evil Genius Beer Company found an abandoned auto mechanic shop on Front Street and remodeled it into an ’80s-themed beer bar—repurposing some of the old auto body equipment into a chandelier.
Neighborhood haunts like Murph’s, an Irish bar with a basement chef, still serve up some of the area’s best Italian, and classic dives such as El Bar and Fishtown Tavern continue to thrive. But swanky establishments have found an audience in Fishtown too. Wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta star at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, an Italian eatery in a long-abandoned whiskey bottling shop, and 20-course, sake-paired meals (that cost as much as an airline flight) are served at Hiroki, a neighboring Japanese omakase restaurant. You can sip cheap happy hour Old Fashioneds at Fette Sau or chic craft cocktails next door at R&D. All coexist, catering to the different Fishtowners who can’t get enough of this evolving neighborhood.
Farther down Frankford, axe throwing, arts and crafts workshops, breweries, fitness studios, and mommy and me fitness boutiques have gentrified the region—with lauded bar Martha elevating this neighborhood’s food and drink offerings. And even though it seems like every vacant shop and empty lot is taken, the area is still developing at breakneck pace. This month, the new Corridor Contemporary art gallery opened on Frankford, and Fabrika, a long-awaited cabaret-style dinner theater, is hot on its heels.
But a community is growing here too. Charity events like the Chili Cookoff gather neighbors together and raise funds for the Fishtown Neighbors Association, and residents pitch in to pick up trash at cleanups fueled by free pizza and beer. Fishtown Beer Runners, the area’s running club, has made the neighborhood nationally recognized as it’s grown the club across the country and even launched the filmed-in-Fishtown movie, Beer Runners.
The Next Brooklyn?
Philadelphia has already been nicknamed Manhattan’s sixth borough as tides of New Yorkers move south. And where do many of them land? Fishtown. Seeking a Williamsburg-type experience, many Brooklynites resettle in this neighborhood where a couple can still afford a home. As accolades pour in, foodie walking tours and unfamiliar faces become more common sights. The media is catching on too. Forbes named it “America’s Best Neighborhood” in 2019, Condé Nast Traveler called it “Philadelphia’s best neighborhood” in 2017, and the Wall Street Journal even noted that its historically affordable housing market is fast rising.
With the honors come corporations looking for a slice of the success, but the neighborhood residents and business owners remain committed to maintaining its hyperlocal focus—while continuing to improve the area. You’ll find nary a Chipotle, Walmart, or big-box retailer on Frankford Ave., with unique, home-run establishments ranging from fancy restaurants to old dive bars filling the block. And even as its popularity soars, there are only two hotels: the Lokal Hotel, with six apartment-style rooms, and Mulherin’s Hotel, which has just four suites, leaving visitors to ride in on the train or book an Airbnb and experience Fishtown like a local.
Culture over Corporations
But corporate giants are closing in, much to the dismay of Fishtownies. I grew up in Salt Lake City in the ’90s, and we once boasted a hip, Fishtown-esque neighborhood called Sugarhouse, which was packed with consignment stores, coffee shops, and unique boutiques. But as the buzz grew, the wrecking balls came, bringing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Barnes & Noble to fill new shopping centers. As a Fishtown resident, I’m grateful the community believes in growth and change, but not at the risk of losing its Riverwards soul.
When Starbucks came knocking with hopes of opening a “local-centric” store in a new building on Frankford Ave., the neighbors fought back. Starbucks had to present its concept to the Fishtown Neighbors Association—thanks to the Central Delaware Zoning Overlap, which mandates that restaurants and nightclubs meet with communities to make sure proposed businesses fit into the context of the area. Despite plans to cover the place in fish murals and host local events, the neighborhood wasn’t having it. The Fishtown Neighbors Association voted overwhelmingly (12 for, 40 against) in opposition to the proposal, a win for those set on protecting the corridor’s character by keeping corporations out. The coffee chain was denied a special exception under the Central Delaware Zoning Overlay and is expected to appeal the decision. But for now, the neighbors hold sway, keeping La Colombe and neighboring Steap and Grind as the block’s prevailing coffee shops.
Sure, there’s no Target in Fishtown and no Starbucks to over-caffeinate us, but we don’t need it. Fishtown isn’t perfect. But it’s ours. A hipster haven filled with makers, moms, and regular folks dreaming and creating only-in-Philly businesses that survive and thrive.
And when you think you need that Frappuccino, swap it with La Colombe’s draft latte from its Frankford flagship. While you’re at it, grab a Philly Style salt bagel topped with homemade cream cheese—just don’t ask them to toast it.
Just beyond the city’s art museums and skyscrapers, find Philadelphia’s most wild place—Wissahickon Valley. Once the hunting and fishing ground of the Lenni Lenape people, it became a site of mills and inns in the 1800s—some which stand preserved today.
This Valentine’s Day, explore the lower valley on a guided morning walking tour with master naturalist Kris Soffa. See the creek, “Lover’s Leap” rocky outcropping, and Forbidden Drive—an old gravel turnpike-turned-pedestrian route. Dress in layers, bring a snack, and plan to walk 2.5 miles roundtrip. Online registration required (fow.org).
Following the hike, continue on Forbidden Drive to see relics of the milling era and Philadelphia’s only remaining covered bridge. Originally built in 1737, it’s the only covered bridge still standing within a major city in the United States.