Hi. I’m a Philadelphia-based journalist who believes local news is essential for thriving communities, and that its format will continue to evolve.
I spent six years overseeing both editorial content and revenue generation at Billy Penn, a startup acquired by public media organization WHYY, and I’m a former food and beer writer with bylines in local and national publications.
With my husband Mark Henninger, I co-own Imagic Digital, a commercial photo-video firm we founded in since 1997.
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For the first time since I started writing, I only published stories in one publication this year. One of the reasons I love my Billy Penn gig is it allows me to cover a very diverse range of subjects and topics.
In chronological order, here are my 15 favorite stories from 2017.
Chef David Ansill started doing pop-up weed infusion dinners, and I went to one. It was pretty damn awesome.
Continue reading 15 favorite things I wrote in 2017
I remember when I realized the value of America’s military.
My parents, radical activists who came of age in the 1960s, raised me to abhor war. Whether or not they intended it, by the time I was a teenager, their anti-violence philosophies left me suspicious of the police and disdainful of anyone who voluntarily chose to join the military.
I knew very little about the armed services. My father had avoided the Vietnam War draft by donating his services as a VISTA lawyer (absconding to Canada was considered the alternative). Whether or not his own father had served in WWII I never knew — I have a vague feeling my great-uncle had, but it was rarely discussed.
On my mom’s side, what I knew was that my grandparents had very narrowly escaped Berlin, right before the Nazis clamped down and corralled all Jews into concentration camps. I was aware that the U.S. had helped bring down Hitler, but I somehow placed it all in the past, some fuzzy bygone era where fighting was necessary. War was bad, and those involved in it were bad, I was convinced. I went to “No Nukes!” rallies and shunned friends who enlisted.
Then I went to college and met my husband. Then I dropped out and learned more from him, and with him, than in any school I’ve ever attended. One of those lessons was the realization — epiphany, really — that a military was an essential part of society. Continue reading How I learned to believe in Memorial Day
With a group of popular mainstays celebrating two decades in business and a host of creative newcomers now fermenting in both the city and suburbs, it’s a bright time for the Philadelphia brewing community.
Philadelphia’s beermaking tradition is a long and rich. Many of the Founding Fathers were homebrewers, and brewpubs abounded in the city in which they navigated the tricky waters of crafting the nation — in 1793, Philly was said to be producing more beer than any other seaport in the New World. The first American lager is thought to have been brewed in a basement in the Northern Liberties section of the city in the 1840s, after Bavarian immigrant John Wagner successfully transported the cold-loving yeast across the Atlantic.
By the 1870s, there were upwards of 65 commercial brewhouses in the city — many of them in the neighborhood now known as Brewerytown — and the surrounding counties were home to hundreds more. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Philadelphia was essentially the brewing capital of the United States — but then came the temperance movement. In the leadup to Prohibition, the city’s robust brewing industry was decimated. After Repeal, it was not among the first to bounce back.
Fast-forward to the late 1980s. In California and Colorado, the independent brewing movement was gathering steam, starting to reverse decades of industry consolidation and decline. Not so in Philly. In fact, when Schmidt’s Brewery shut down in 1987, there wasn’t a single professional beer-making operation inside the city limits. Continue reading Philly’s brewing scene: On the rise again
The internet is great at coming up with new words. Some of them are easy to sound out (selfie, wearable, even “emoji”), but acronyms are a much tougher phonetical nut. They’re no less words than the clusters of letters around them, yet don’t have agreed upon pronunciations. When you read them, what do you hear? Here’s my take.
Continue reading Sounds of the Internet’s Most Annoying Acronyms
Music is the sound of consciousness breathing.
Like a runner out of breath or a contentedly sleeping child, the music emanating from Earth is the whistling sound of life.
Breathe in: babies are born, bees pollinate, cities grow, birds migrate, farms prosper, a new species is discovered!
Breathe out: clashes of might and power strike individuals to the ground, forests are destroyed, vehicles spout poison, people die.
Tragedy or bliss, the music plays on.
My least favorite thing about Twitter is the cornucopia of tw- words it spawned. But in Philadelphia, we also have to deal with ph-words. Which is worse?
Continue reading Portmanteau-No
After six years with various iPhones, I lasted all of five days trying out my first Android smartphone. But I’m not mad about the $50 restocking fee I had to give the AT&T store to give the Galaxy S5 back. It was a worthy experiment that made me realize what I do like about iOS and what I want out of a phone in general, plus helped me break some less than stellar habits. Here’s what I learned.
1) I want my text messages pushed to me.
I’m not a big fan of push notifications — I have pretty much all of them turned off — but I rely on push for accessing texts quickly and easily. It’s something that defines the medium (for me, but obviously not for everyone). I used to get miffed/mystified when my Android-using husband didn’t get my texts right away, but now I know why. Continue reading iPhone 5s vs Galaxy S5: Why I Lasted 5 Days on Android (and You Should Too)
“Social media is a thorn in the court system’s side,” said the man at the front of the room to the pool of potential jurors nervously awaiting our turn to avoid being picked, but really he wasn’t just a regular court employee, he had some kind of pull, some kind of position of power, enough that he interspersed his inspirational speech about how jury duty is the quintessential building block of a just society with slightly indignant reminiscences of his efforts to streamline the system.
He wants our email addresses, no, we won’t automatically be called again if we give them, because that will save on postage, did you know it can take up to three. whole. stamps. to get one potential juror in the seat we are now in? That’s because we all want to be scofflaws and giving our email address to the City of Philadelphia won’t fix that but it will save on postage and that’s not his money he’s talking about it’s taxpayer money so give up that @ will you please. Continue reading Babbling Brook at Philadelphia Jury Duty