So here’s my ode to Philly. Philadelphia. The Ill-adel. The city of brotherly love.
I love this city. I love it so much. I love the people I’ve met. I love the lessons I’ve learned. I love the experiences I’ve had. I love the work I’ve done here. I love that the Phillies won the freaking World Series while I was living here. That NEVER happens! Philly is the kind of city where you go from blight and blown out to bright and blinged out in just 2 blocks. One minute you are tripping over tourists and the next minute you’re getting busked by a musician, pan-handled by a Vet and bullied by a drunk guy. It’s a tough city. It’s a dirty city. No, that just doesn’t do it justice. We invented the word grit.
It was such a challenge adapting to the culture of the city 8 years ago but I’ve grown so much in that short time. In many ways Philly has allowed me to embrace and conquer the American Dream. I bought my first home here but lost it after the bubble burst. I opened a successful business here during the biggest economic slump of my generation. But it wasn’t easy. It stung. Like Rocky sending a knock-out punch, this city smacked me so hard in the face it hurt. At times Philly reached up and caught me when I fell. This city challenged me to do more when I was feeling apathetic and it gave me down time when I needed to go inward. Philly lifted me to my highest potential and sent me shaking down to my roots for many reality checks. My friend Danielle likes to say that opening a sliding scale Yoga and Reiki studio in South Philly was a bit like cutting my teeth on steal. That pretty much sums it up.
I love the breadth of experience I’ve had here. In Philadelphia I helped get voters out on Election Day, I helped build interest in Earth Day, I discovered Yoga, I discovered Reiki and Integrated Energy Therapy. This city gave me a lesson in gender, class, race, religion and food. Of course if you don’t live in Philly you’ve probably got a pretty f—ed up impression of who we are and what happens here. The media will have you believe that it is crawling with murderers, rapists, drug addicts and corrupt politicians. Of course we do have a bit of that, as any major city does, but it’s blown out of proportion in the news. We also have some of the best ideas and most inspirational people. We are a real city with real people. You don’t get very far here with extra degrees, letters after your name and a long resume. You get ahead by building relationships, looking out for people, doing favors and hanging out with your block captain. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Yup, that’s Philly all right.
Here’s a few reasons why I love Philadelphia:
1) It’s Affordable
I’ve now lived in 4 very different neighborhoods in Philly and one thing is clear to me. You can get by on very little if that’s your thing. There is a huge supply of affordable apartments and houses here. I’ve had situations where I paid as little as $300 a month for a room, including utilities. I’ve gotten by on as little as $100 a month for food. We are lucky to have Trader Joe’s, the Italian Market, large asian grocery stores and half a dozen other affordable grocery chains. There were times where I couldn’t even afford a bus ride but it didn’t matter because I loved riding my bike (and it was usually faster than SEPTA anyway). Philly is really good at supporting a non-traditional path and the simple life.
2) It’s Green
Talk about the buzziest of buzz words. Philly is greening faster than you can say “Go Green!” Philly’s got your eco-friendly lifestyle covered: car sharing, composting, recycling, thrift stores, bike lanes, farmers markets, trees, brew pubs, organic cafes, food co-ops, public transportation, green events, smoke-free bars and restaurants. We also have the largest urban park system in the United States. Philadelphia has some of the most innovative ideas for environmental activism and sustainable development. The city has improved SO much in the short time I’ve been here. I can only imagine what’s next. To keep up on the latest local green news look no further than GRID Magazine, a highly successful monthly publication based right here in Philly.
3) It’s the Perfect Size
Philadelphia is too big but also too small. It’s too big to do everything and see everything. It’s too small to hide from your past and burn bridges with people. Philadelphia is also big enough and small enough. It’s big enough to have several options no matter what your field of study or work. It’s small enough to walk or bike from one end to the other. It’s a manageable city. It takes time to get in tight with the lifetime residents but once you do you are in for good. I love the different neighborhoods of the city. They all have such unique character.
4) It’s Full of Art and Artists
You want art? We have that too! Check out the Mural Arts Program, the Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia Open Studio Tour, First Fridays, Philly Fringe Fest, the multiple art schools, the many music venues, film festivals and theatre companies and the new Barnes museum to compliment the other art destinations along the Ben Franklin Parkway. Philadelphia is artsy fartsy. We love our art and we support our artists. There is a huge appreciation for art and the artist’s lifestyle in Philly. There is a general acceptance that artists live among us and they are an important part of the community.