I've landed in Philadelphia, home of the legendary Philly Sound. Already got down to "Mr. Big Stuff" and "Backstabbers" at White Dog Cafe, with its 16 local or sustainable food providers spelled out on the back of the menu. Eight Pennsylvania brews and one from over the river in Jersey. Regional splendor.
The White Dog Cafe's founder, Judy Wickes, helps lead the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE. BALLE is a national network in support of small businesses of all types in 29 cities throughout North America. The cafe is in the Univ. of Penn campus area, and hosts talks, table talks, films and other events in support of local and organic agriculture. All poultry, eggs and meat are pastured,--not pastuerized!--so the food is healthier for you and the environment, as all those wastes aren't concentrated in industrial feedlots.
Walking here was a perfect pleasure until it started to pour rain. The streets in the Old City, Ben Franklin's old stomping grounds, are abuzz with local cafes, bars, shops and foot traffic. Even a few bikes braved the cobblestones--no fancy racing bikes here. Walnut and Chestnut are fabulous urban streetscapes, popping and bopping, cars and people acheiving a nice balance with the "bulbed" intersections preventing auto dominance. An "80's Band" giving a live performance out on the sidewalk for no apparent reason. Very few chain stores spotted, one each Dunkin' Donuts and Applebees the exception. Street trees abound, parks, no parking lots, no overhead wires of any kind make the old gas lamps stand out even more.
Before the dark clouds scuttled in, the light was a good way to highlight the varigated patinas of hundreds of years of urban life. Skyscrapers do not dominate, so the city center is dense without the urban canyon effect.
Can't wait to explore more on this visit, my second. Tomorrow I will be talking urban sustainability at the Philadelphia Urban Sustainability Forum at the Academy of Natural Sciences Auditorium, 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with other speakers from the city, as well as locals from universities and citizen groups.