It’s a New Year

 which always feels like an opportunity to refresh & renew our lives. The Board of Directors of East Mt. Airy Neighbors sends greetings, & a pledge to continue to work on behalf of the residents, businesses & institutions of our community. As always, we welcome your input & participation.

            We got off to a great start with our Christmas Tree-Cycling events. Weather conditions were not optimal at either event. Despite an icy morning on the 5th, during the afternoon we chipped over 150 trees into mulch for community gardens. At the event at Awbury Arboretum on the 11th, in sometimes-pouring rain, we tree-cycled 80 trees. Our intrepid volunteers at both sites were wonderful. Many thanks to those neighbors who braved conditions to bring us their trees; we appreciate your participation in these activities, & we received lots of great feedback about making this service available. We were happy to do it!

            The Mt. Airy Schools Coalition, (a partnership among EMAN, WMAN & MAUSA), was able to make grants to our 6 neighborhood public elementary schools at the end of 2013. The principals & teachers were excited & grateful, & we were happy to be able to meet some of their needs, even if in a small way compared to the enormity of those needs.

            We will be continuing our efforts to promote & support our schools, (Linglebach, Henry, Houston, A.B. Day, Emlen & Jenks), & will keep you informed about our activities & progress. We are currently working on strategic planning, setting priorities, etc. As we continue to work out our plans & process, we will also let you know about volunteer opportunities.

            Recently, the MASC co-hosted a tour of several of the schools for neighborhood realtors. Katey McGrath, an Elfant Wissahickon realtor & a public school parent, set this up so that local realtors can give prospective home-buyers a better idea of what’s going on in the local schools. The funding crisis has led to an avalanche of bad press about Philadelphia public schools; many of the realtors who participated were very pleasantly surprised to see the many programs offered, the everyday achievements that happen in those buildings, the dedication of the principals & teachers.

            Thank you to Abby Thaker, who directs education partnerships for MAUSA & has been coordinating our efforts, working tirelessly & cheerfully. 

          There will be a meeting to set up a new Town Watch group in the area of the Mt. Airy Train Station, on Tuesday 1/21st at 6:30. Doug Evans of Town Watch Integrated Services will be the presenter. The meeting will take place at the 14th Police District building, at 43 W. Haines St.

            I am sad to tell you, (if you haven’t already heard), that Walk A Crooked Mile Books will be closing at the end of August. This has always been more than a bookstore. It’s been a neighborhood treasure. It’s been an integral, vital part of the neighborhood……………..a gathering place, a performance space, a hub of neighborhood information. Greg & Cynthia Williams have been major contributors to the community since they opened 18 years ago, & we appreciate everything they have done here. Greg was the 2010 recipient of EMAN’s Edgar A. Baker Award, which acknowledges outstanding community service & dedication to “making a good community better”. It was well-deserved. We can’t quite imagine the neighborhood without him.

            Monday, January 20th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday that inspires people to get out into their communities for volunteer work & service projects. In addition to larger city-wide activities, there are several activities happening in Northwest Philly:

  • Awbury Arboretum, which hosts many community activities, is seeking volunteers to help organize the historic Francis Cope House, to make more community activities possible. They’ll be working from 10:00 till 1:00. For info: (

    1. Friends of the Wissahickon will be cleaning the Lincoln Drive Trail from 10:00 till 1:00. Meet at Historic RittenhouseTown. Register, so they can let you know if weather causes a cancellation or change. (

    2. The Unitarian Society of Germantown is sponsoring a variety of activities & projects in the Germantown/Mt. Airy area, ranging from street cleaning to ceramics projects. Volunteers should arrive at 8:00, for a light breakfast. There will be services at 9:00, & volunteers will head to their worksites at 9:30. Visit their website for

    3. The Trolley Car Diner & Ken Weinstein will be focusing on education this year, at Houston School. Starting at 8:00 AM & continuing all day, volunteers will be working both outdoors & inside the building. To get details or to sign up, contact Steven Urgo at 215-247-5555, x. 201,

    4. Mutual Mt. Airy’s volunteers will be working in the library at Houston School, as they do regularly. Their efforts are ongoing, not limited to MLK Day. If you would like to help, (hundreds of donated books have to be labeled & catalogued), please contact Joan Farnsworth at 267-254-2039, or

    5. The Waldorf School will be partnering with Face-to-Face, a multi-service organization in East Germantown that provides services to low income & homeless individuals & families. Volunteers will be packaging toiletries for Face-to-Face guests. Activities start at 9:00 & will finish by 12:30. The school is located at 7500 Germantown Ave. (New Covenant Campus, Eagles II Building). To sign

            Another kind of help is urgently needed, & it really is a matter of life-&-death. Blood donations, which are generally lower at this time of year, have been further hampered by recent Winter storms. The Miller Keystone Blood Center, which supplies blood to 26 hospitals in PA & NJ, including Chestnut Hill Hospital, reports that its inventory has hit critical levels. There are several local blood donation drives coming up; we will list local donation events on our website calendar.Sign up to be a donor at Click on “My Profile”, create a username & password, & you’re ready to go. You can also get more info at that website, or by calling 1-800-B-A-DONOR (1-800-233-6667).  

             May 3rd seems far away, but Mt. Airy Day planning meetings are underway. The next meeting is on January 30th at 7 PM in the EMAN Office. We’re looking for volunteers who are willing to work on planning & at the event. This is an enormous undertaking, so a lot of help is needed. This is a great way for students to get those required community service hours! If you’re interested in working on this, & can’t come to the meeting, e-mail

           EMAN has to bid a sad but fond farewell to our Board Vice President,Matt Mueller, who is leaving the area for sunny Arizona. Matt has been an outstanding asset to the organization, a committed community advocate, & a very good friend. We wish him the best; we'll miss him a lot.

 EMAN WELCOMES YOUR MEMBERSHIP & PARTICIPATION! We can’t continue our work in the community without your support. You can join at our website (click on “membership”) using PayPal or by printing out a form & sending it in.

Our next Community/Board meeting will be on February 4th. (A complete listing of meeting dates is on the website.) The Board meets in Executive Session at 7:00 & then we welcome community members at 7:30. We want to hear your ideas & suggestions about issues that are important to you.

Stay warm!