Thursday, August 27, 2015

Preparing for September's Papal Traffic and Transit Disruptions

(Pterodactyl Map by Bradley Wrenn; source: PlanPhilly on Facebook)

Exactly a month from now, the city of Philadelphia will be hosting the World Meeting of Families, starting Tuesday, Sept. 22, and concluding over the weekend with a two-day visit by Pope Francis and a Catholic Mass on the Parkway. Security measures are being put in place to regulate the roads and the ridership of SEPTA, particularly throughout the long weekend. We are expecting a lot of disruption at this time, both with people who want to leave Center City and people who will not be able to enter (or re-enter) it.

So, we up here in the Northwest would like to help. The Big Blue Marble is offering our second and third floors as a haven for those who are unable to get to work on Friday, September 25, due the added security. Come to the bookstore for refreshments, WiFi, a pleasant place to hang out during the day, and possibly a sympathetic ear.

We also recommend that people who are planning to come from beyond the neighborhood to our YA book club/Terry Pratchett Tribute on Thursday, 9/24, or Poetry Aloud & Alive on Friday, 9/25, check their routes before proceeding!

And now, here is a clearinghouse of sorts, with links to the current information the City has provided about the traffic and transit security. Will try to update, as much as possible.

latest update: 9/22/15 - City Ave. more closed than we thought (but not continually?), Schools closing Monday too, Museum and Zoo schedules and exchanges, more timelines, bicycles, and info for Northwest Philly.

compiled by Jennifer Sheffield

1) "One Map to Rule Them All," Plus Three Websites of the Elves, or maybe it's Six of the Websites of the Dwarves?

A local data scientist named Lauren Ancona has put together an interactive mega-map, where you can scroll around the area, zoom in and out, and toggle on and off the features you want to see. The transit section isn't complete, but there are state roads, "festival grounds" entrances, hospitals, the "pope ride bike routes" (?), parking/towing zones, locations of the jumbotrons, and more! Here's the direct link to the map.

Update 9/19: Three websites to know:
A) From, a compendium of interactive maps. Note the little tabs above the first map, toggling through different modes of transport. The second map toggles through the security countdown, starting 9/20.
B) From PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, There's even a "Current Conditions" traffic section! (Though it claims the Parkway is open and slow, when I thought it closed this morning.)
C) From a private bus service business, Shuttle buses from locations in PA, NJ, DE, and MD, to the nearest open SEPTA stations, on the weekend of the Pope's visit.

Update 9/22:
D) Security Timeline as brief bar graph.
E) Security Timeline as detailed list (as of Monday, 9/21).
F) The List of Prohibited Items. In case anyone missed it before, because it's way down this page, ONLY PLANTS AND MINERALS (AND SEEING-EYE DOGS) MAY SEE THE POPE! Among the "Prohibited Items" are "Animals, except for service animals". Proceed with care.

2) In Northwest Philly

Information that may be useful for those of us staying in or traveling through the Northwest. Much of this (but not all) appears elsewhere on this page.

A) The Place for Displaced Workers Lounge! Reiterating the bookstore's Friday (9/25) plan above to welcome displaced workers with WiFi and snacks.
B) Chestnut Hill West Regional Rail Station. Here is what access to the station will look like on Saturday and Sunday. See the SEPTA section below for more info on Regional Rail, etc.
C) The Chestnut Hill Growers' Market at Germantown Avenue and Mermaid Lane is planning to be open on Saturday, September 26. There will be fewer vendors, and they cannot guarantee prompt arrival, but they do intend to be there!
D) Papal Mass. For those wishing to see it from within the neighborhood and with your neighbors, the Unitarian Society of Germantown will be live-streaming the Papal Mass in the Sanctuary at 4pm Sunday (preceded by a 3:30 primer).
E) Trash Collection. This is actually city-wide: according to the Streets Department, collection will be cancelled Friday and Monday, with trash being held for one week, rather than shifting to later in the same week. So mid-week collection days will be unaffected.

3) Security Perimeter Maps, by Date and Time

This is a series of eight maps, from Thursday at 10pm to Sunday at 6am, showing exactly where the different perimeter lines will be when and what they mean. Color coded and nicely detailed. Answers questions like "Exactly when does West Philly get involved, and to what extent?"

NOTE: As of this writing, these maps still say "Traffic Box" on them. Be cautioned that the term "traffic box" has now been banned, according to this article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer (8/27), in favor of the more welcoming term "Francis Festival Grounds".

Here also is a summary of information from a security briefing on 9/10, including parking, bikeshare, and trash collection.

4) Parking and Towing Within Perimeter

There is now a schedule of parking restrictions/towing plans in the most vehicle-secure areas, starting the weekend *before* the Meeting, on 9/20. The article includes some alternative parking options for residents, some of which allow cars to stay in place until 9/24.

Updates 9/19:
A) Easing of parking restrictions: Certain resident parking permits will be honored on "any permit-parking block in the city" while the no-parking rules are in effect. (Caution: Does this mean any block outside the restricted zone, or any block at all? Not clear from the way it's stated.)
B) Towing plans finalized.
C) Parking Authority's web page on Where and How to Park During the Papal Visit. Includes links to the parking garages with open spaces for sale (fee waived for those with valid resident permits.

5) State (and some local) Road Closures

A map of state road closures during the papal visit.
According to the Playbook (see below), these roads will close at 10:00pm on Friday, Sept. 25.

Update 9/22: City Avenue (Rt. 1) will be more closed than what's posted on the road closures map! According to this Inquirer article (9/22), the stretch between 76 (which I take to include the City Avenue Bridge) and Belmont Ave. will be open only at "certain unspecified times," and only going southwest. Other than that, the road is closed off. By the way, traffic will be allowed to cross City Ave. at Belmont, Conshohocken State Road, and Lancaster (Rt 30).

Further Update 9/22: Slightly different information about City Ave from Channel 6 ABC. (You'll need to scroll or search to find it.) Not sure whether they actually conflict. Very detailed article, though, with maps, and also includes a list of streets and sections of streets in Center City to be closed, and a current traffic map.

Okay, while we're at it, here's what's going on with the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and River Drives. Note that this article is from 9/19, so when they say "Friday" and "Saturday" they mean this past weekend.

6) SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority) Transit Changes

Lots of detail on the SEPTA website's special papal visit page. Buses, trains, trolleys, regional rail, station details, ADA accessibility, etc.

Specific information on the Airport Line from today's Inquirer (8/27).

Map of walking distances from various SEPTA stations (pictured here).

Update 9/10: SEPTA will be expanding service for the Market-Frankford El and the Broad St. line. Here's a map of the revised station options and an accompanying article (9/9) describing the changes in stations, timing, and fares in more detail.

Update 9/11: New, more comprehensive interactive station map, on which all the active Regional Rail stations are linked to individual station maps (here's Chestnut Hill West) showing parking, road closures, and station access.

7) PATCO (Port Authority Transit Co.), South Jersey, and the Ben Franklin Bridge

Map, operating stations, fares, and parking information on the PATCO website. There's also information on the Ben Franklin Bridge closure. Spoiler: pedestrians only. (Editor's note: I saw an article that said "If you're planning to walk across the bridge, get an early start," to which my sweetie replied, "Like about three weeks.")

Here's a article (8/27) on road closures in South Jersey.
Find information on New Jersey buses and rail lines at the NJ Transit website.
You can also get to (and from) Center City that weekend by Riverlink ferry from Camden.

Update 9/19: Waterfront parking in Camden is now available. Article includes a link to purchase parking permits for 9/26 and 9/27 (daytime only).

8) City Government Website has a special papal visit page. Even more maps! Includes some of the maps listed here, along with maps of details like walking distances to the perimeter, locations of grocery stores and hospitals, etc.

Helpful Inquirer article from back in August (8/20): "City to residents: We will help you with pope security restrictions". There's some good general information in the article, with details about the 311 hotline and the "Papal Visit Playbook" mentioned below, and other useful facts: "Residents can drive within the box, though Nutter cautioned that streets could be filled with people." Hmm.

9) The Papal Visit Playbook

The Papal Visit Playbook contains lots of useful information, such as the following, from the How to Prepare page:
You may want to think of the Papal Visit weekend as a snow weekend, where moving around the city will be difficult. Expect busy hotels and restaurants. Food delivery may also be limited due to the vehicular traffic restrictions from Friday, September 25 – Monday, September 28.

To avoid walking through large crowds to get to grocery stores or local eateries, be sure to stock up on food essentials prior to the weekend. Daily life should only be impacted for a few days, but it never hurts to be prepared and avoid any unnecessary hassles. You may want to consider stocking up on basic household essentials in addition to your regular grocery list – pantry staples, specialty food for infants and elderly, medications, and hygienic supplies. Also, make sure you don’t forget your pets – keep an extra stock of supplies and pet food for your loving four-legged family members!
Topics on the How to Prepare page include bicycles (okay in the traffic box Francis Festival Grounds but not the secure area...and you can take bikes across the BF bridge if you walk them) and Amtrak (which is requiring reservations for that weekend).

Update 9/15:
A) Hard copies of the Papal Visit Playbook were distributed this past weekend in Sunday's Inquirer and Daily News (9/13). So if you have a copy of the newspaper, or know someone who does, you can extract the nicely laid-out insert to read (and carry with you) on actual newsprint.
B) According to the paper version, there is a Go Philadelphia! mobile app. searchable on Google Play and iTunes. This seems different from the AlertPA/GoPhila app. mentioned in the online version, which is for emergency alerts.
C) ONLY PLANTS AND MINERALS (AND SEEING-EYE DOGS) MAY SEE THE POPE! Among "Prohibited Items" listed in the playbook are "Animals, except for service animals". Proceed with care. Also "Structures". Structures?

10) Schools

The School District of Philadelphia will be closed from Wednesday, September 23 (Yom Kippur) through Monday, September 28. (Monday recently announced.)

For information on other districts/schools, check their individual calendars.

11) Farmers' Markets

The Chestnut Hill Growers' Market at Germantown Avenue and Mermaid Lane is planning to be open on Saturday, September 26. There will be fewer vendors, and they cannot guarantee prompt arrival, but they do intend to be there! Check the Farm to City website for closure plans for Farm to City markets. I don't see any indication yet one way or another on the Food Trust market site.

12) Bicycles

Here is The big list of where you can and can’t ride your bike in Philly during the Pope’s visit. Includes bike racks, bike share, perimeters, SEPTA, and a brief mention of the Schuylkill River Trail. Also links to the organized Pope Bike Ride and information from the Bicycle Coalition.

13) Museums and Zoos

There are lots of Vatican-related exhibits at the local museums in honor of the papal visit. The Franklin Institute Science Museum opened its Vatican Splendors exhibit on Saturday, and in the main atrium they have, perhaps coincidentally, connected this exhibit to the Art of the Brick exhibit with a Lego Vatican (see photo below)!

However, the FI and other museums will not necessarily be open during the weekend Here's a schedule of museum and library closures.

The Philadelphia Zoo will also be closed to the public on Saturday and Sunday (plans still unclear for Monday). Meanwhile, the nearby Elmwood Park Zoo has announced (in the same City Ave. article mentioned above, though I haven't found it on their website yet) that they are offering free admission to Phila. zoo members during the weekend.

Left: Cardinal in my front yard.
Right: Lego Vatican at Franklin Institute.
Photos ©2015 by Jennifer Sheffield.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Maps! Maps! Maps!

You asked for them, we got them! Maps. Remember those? Never be lost or disoriented again with Rand McNally's Philadelphia street map, the Streetwise Philadelphia map, and for those going further afield, the Rand McNally Philadelphia and Southeast Pennsylvania map. Enjoy the experience of viewing the entire region at a glance!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Celebrating Multiracial Families and Friendships: A List of Books for Kids and Teens

This past April, at the Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival, we welcomed Tanya Hutchins, author of Born Beautiful Biracial: A Compilation of Children's Essays, and Mt. Airy author Lori Tharps, creator of ?RU! t-shirts (for sale in the bookstore!), to facilitate a fascinating discussion dealing with the "What Are You?" questions that many people who grow up biracial or multiracial regularly face, as well as issues around who is perceived as family.

Here's a list of books we started compiling then, that address these questions in some way. Some feature multiracial families; some feature strong interracial friendships. Others celebrate the wide diversity of skin tones and other physical features among people of different races and cultures. It is, of course, only a small subset of all such books, though I expect it to grow over time. At the end is a list of links to other lists and resources, with even more books to explore.

Within each section below, the books are arranged chronologically, to give a sense of how things have evolved over time. An asterisk * marks a book in which multiracial/multicultural identity is incidental and not central to the story. (If I don't know or am not sure how to characterize it, I've left it off.)

Compiled by Jennifer Sheffield, with help from Jennifer Woodfin and Lori Tharps
latest update: 7/9/17


Talking with kids about race:

The Skin I'm in: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas, illustrated by Lesley Harker (2003)
Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester (2005)
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler, illustrated by David Lee Csicsko (2005)
Born Beautiful Biracial: A Compilation of Children's Essays (by children ages 6-14), compiled by Tanya Hutchins (2014)

Board books for babies and toddlers:

*More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams (1990)
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza (1992)
Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney (2000)
*Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee (2001)
I am Latino: The Beauty in Me by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney (2007)
Global Babies, a Global Fund for Children book (2007)
American Babies, a Global Fund for Children book (2010)
*A is for Activist (2013) and Counting on Community (2015) by Innosanta Nagara [also available in Spanish]
*Good Night, Wissahickon Valley Park by Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper, illustrated by Scotti Mann (2016)

Picture books about families, bodies, and reproduction:

*All Families Are Special by Norma Simon, illustrated by Teresa Flavin (2003)
The Family Book by Todd Parr (2003)
*The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith (2010)
*Who Has What? All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies by Robie Harris (2011)
*What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth (2012) [This book separates the genetic/biological components from the emotional component of making a baby, thus allowing for nontraditional families.]
*Living with Mom and Living with Dad by Melanie Walsh (2012)
*It Takes Love (and Some Other Stuff) to Make a Baby by L.L. Bird, illustrated by Patrick Girouard (2014) [Two-mom family using donor insemination.]
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang (2015)
One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez (2015)

General picture books:

Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff (1973)
*Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (1993)
*Jamaica and Brianna By Juanita Havill, illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien (1993)
All of the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka (1994)
Jalapeño Bagels by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Robert Casilla (1996)
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, illustrated by Leslie Staub (1997)
*A Child's Calendar: poems by John Updike, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (1999)
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz (1999)
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2001)
It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (2001)
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (2001)
*The Princesses Have a Ball by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Lynne Cravath (2002)
*Felicia's Favorite Story by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Adriana Romo (2002)
I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Elivia Savadier (2002)
The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka (2005)
Oscar's Half Birthday by Bob Graham (2005)
I am Latino: The Beauty in Me by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney (2007)
In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco (2009)
*Shopping with Dad by Matt Harvey, illustrated by Miriam Latimer (2010)
*Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010)
*A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc (2011)
I am the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr. (2013)
*The Lonely Typewriter by Peter Ackerman, illustrated by Max Dalton (2014)
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (2015)
*The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton (2015)
*Double Trouble For Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (2015)
Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (2016)
My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo (2016)
Quackers by Liz Wong (2016)
*Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo (2016)
*The Airport Book by Lisa Brown (2016)

Middle Grade/Chapter books:

*The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, starting with Sandry's Book (1997)
Crossing Jordan by Adrian Fogelin (2000)
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee (2003)
*The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (2007, basis for the 2015 DreamWorks movie Home)
*The Popularity Papers series by Amy Ignatow, starting with The Popularity Papers (2010)
*The Flower Power series by Lauren Myracle, starting with Luv Ya Bunches (2010)
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine (2012)
The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (2012)
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman (2013)
*The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher (2014) and The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island (2016) by Dana Alison Levy
[Note: The asterisk here refers to the first book; the sequel does deal with race as a significant, though plot-secondary, issue.]
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (2014)
*Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff (2014)
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrations by Katie Kath (2015)
Ghosts by Raina Telgemaier (2016)
Threads by Ami Polonsky (2016)
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, with illustrations by Caroline Hadilaksono (2017)

Young Adult books:

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson (1994)
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (1995)
If You Come Softly (1998) and Behind You (2004) by Jacqueline Woodson
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (2001)
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña (2008)
Liar by Justine Larbalestier (2009)
*The Legend trilogy by Marie Lu, starting with Legend (2011)
*Hidden by Helen Frost (2011)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2012)
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (2012)
*Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (2013)
*The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson (2014)
Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, edited by Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios (2014)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (2014)
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (2015)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (2015)
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015)
An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay (2015)
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S Davis (2016)
*Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (2016)

Some other lists and resources:

Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America's Diverse Families (2016) by Lori Tharps, author of the blog My American Melting Pot (as well as creator of the shirts mentioned above)
Cool Mom Picks blog: How to talk to your kids about prejudice with the help of 12 of our favorite books
Pinterest: Anti-Bias Children's Books
Goodreads Listopia: Children's Books Depicting Multiracial Families
What Do We Do All Day blog: Multicultural and Diverse Children's Books (a list of lists)
Multiracial Asian Families blog: Multiracial Asian Children's Books
ComeUnity Adoption books: Multiracial Diversity Books for Children
Gay-Themed Picture Books for Children blog (includes foreign language books): Mixed-Race Families
Goodreads Listopia: Alternative Families in Children's Literature
Oakland Library: DÍA (Diversity in Action!): Great Kids' Books with Multiracial Characters
Goodreads Listopia: Mixed race protagonists in middle grade and young adult novels
Booklist Online: Classroom Connections: Multiracial Characters (Middle Grade and YA)
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA): Mixed, But Not Mixed Up: Biracial Characters in YA Lit.

*An asterisk marks books in which multiracial/multicultural identity is incidental and not central to the story. If I don't know or am not sure how to characterize it, I've left it off.