Category Archives: Philadelphia Gardens


Community Gardens Day

Community Gardens DayPhoto by Jeff Stroud, Nature Spirit Photography

WHEN:     SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 10 A.M. TO 3 P.M.

WHERE:   BEL ARBOR COMMUNITY GARDEN,  10th & Kimball Sts., South Philadelphia

WHAT:   The newly revitalized Neighborhood Gardens Trust is kicking off the summer season with the first citywide Community Gardens Day! Participating gardens of NGT and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, as well as others throughout Philadelphia, will celebrate with a variety of family-friendly activities. Gardeners and garden lovers of all ages can join in garden tours, hands-on garden workdays, arts and crafts projects, and opportunities to enjoy the city’s beautiful community gardens and learn more about gardening. A perfect way to celebrate the first day of summer!

The event at Bel Arbor will launch the festivities with noted guests and the reading of a Mayoral Proclamation announcing Philadelphia’s inaugural Community Gardens Day.   Check for the up-to-date map of the 30 participating gardens, many of which are protected from development by NGT, whose mission is to acquire and preserve community gardens and shared open space in order to enhance the quality of life in Philadelphia neighborhoods. With 42 million Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, residents and visitors to Philadelphia can experience how community gardens enhance the quality of life in their neighborhoods, provide healthy food for everyone, and help the environment.


  • Margaret McCarvill, Board President, Neighborhood Gardens Trust
  • Mark Focht, First Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
  • Drew Becher, President, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • Councilman Mark Squilla, First District
  • Carla Puppin, NGT Board Member, Bel Arbor Garden Representative & Co-Founder

Additional Photo and Video Ops:    Visit the Strawberry Mansion Green Resource Center for a workshop on composting.  (link to:

The Strawberry Mansion Green Resource Center is located on Ridge Avenue at Natrona Street. The lots that make up the site are leased from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and contain 31 community beds and 15 beds for students at the Strawberry Mansion High School across the street. The site acts as a Green Resource Center for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, one of five spaces that support neighbors and other urban farmers in growing fresh, healthy food and creating a more beautiful city landscape.

Drop by the Spooky Gardens ( to check out the “community backyard” and complete an arts & crafts activity.

The Spooky Garden, located on two lots that stretch from North Fourth Street to North Leithgow Street, between George Street and Girard Avenue, acts as a “community backyard” for the nearby residents. Like many city gardens, the lots that compose the Spooky Garden were a former dumping ground that the surrounding neighbors cleaned up more than 20 years ago. The yard hosts community vegetable, herb & flower gardens, trees (including a magnificent elm that is estimated to be over 75 years old), shrubs, a community composter, sitting areas and a small open lawn.

The 2,000-square-foot space has seven distinct mixed-use growing plots, and currently serves 11 member households (18 adults and eight children). While some members follow a traditional community garden approach, focusing on growing vegetables, herb and flowers, others use the yard primarily as a gathering space to socialize with and get to know their neighbors, and some see it as a safe place for their young children to play and learn about nature. This wide range of uses makes the Spooky Garden unique among community gardens in the city and enables it to meet the needs of a diverse group of neighbors.

Since the clean-up years ago, neighbors tried all avenues available to preserve these lots as open community green space. When the lots were listed as “For Sale By Owner” in a craigslist auction in January 2011 without any posting or notice to adjacent neighbors, a powerful wave of community support and network news coverage got the attention of Councilman Darrell Clarke. After visiting the garden and meeting with neighbors, Clarke expressed his approval of and support for the community’s efforts by removing the properties from the auction block and securing the current license agreement between the city and NGT.

The name Spooky Garden is inspired by the garden’s annual Halloween celebration, which attracts hundreds of Philadelphians from across the city.

Help finish a mosaic art project at Hicks Street Garden (

Hicks Street Garden is located on South Hicks Street between Moore and Mifflin. The garden was founded and preserved in 2007. More than 20 gardeners, including young children, cultivate primarily ornamental plants in this single-lot garden. The lot is located on a small street in South Philadelphia where increasing development pressure has created demand for open space. The garden provides an opportunity to restore the quality of life for residents and make the entire neighborhood safer. In addition to planting, the gardeners have been developing a wall mural engaging children and families as it evolves to completion.

Hear the AMLA Youth Latin Jazz Ensemble performing at 11 AM at the NET Garden at 4404 N. 5th Street as part of Make Music Philly,  AND MUCH MORE!! 

Through its ongoing programs and special projects, AMLA promotes the development, dissemination, and understanding of Latin music in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

AMLA’s programs are directed mainly to Latino youth, families, and community members, but are open to all students, families, musicians, dancers, and aficionados of Latin American music and culture. By teaching and inspiring love for and disciplined knowledge of Latin music and dance, AMLA helps build bridges between frequently divided racial and ethnic communities. AMLA, like its partner organization Esperanza, believes that strong engagement in culture strengthens community.

Community Gardens Day is made possible through the generosity of its sponsors: Chanticleer, Mostardi Nursery, Whole Foods Market-South Street, Urban Jungle, and Valley Green Bank.


The Neighborhood Gardens Trust acquires and preserves community gardens and shared open space in order to enhance the quality of life in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Over the past two years, NGT has re-examined its mission and gone through an organizational renaissance that has led to new vision for the future. Now, with a new board of directors and a recently completed strategic business plan in place, NGT seeks to re-introduce itself to the Philadelphia region and establish itself as the city’s leading non-profit community land trust.

Media contacts: Alan Jaffe, PHS, 215.988.8833, (m) or Nina Zucker Assoc at 610.457.4387 or

Photo by Jeff StroudNature Spirit Photography

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ARTiculture, Philadelphia Flower Show

2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, Explores the Fusion of Art and Horticulture. Great museums collaborate with floral and garden designers for “ARTiculture

PHILADELPHIA – Beautiful flowers, gardens and landscapes have always been an inspiration for artists, while great horticultural design has become a form of living art.

The fusion of art and horticulture will be celebrated in “ARTiculture,” an extraordinary presentation of the 2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show on March 1 to 9, 2014, when guests will be inspired to let their inner-artist bloom in their own gardens.

An unprecedented collaboration of Flower Show designers and the nation’s great art museums will turn the exhibition space of the Pennsylvania Convention Center into a 10-acre living canvas of exquisite landscapes, gardens and floral arrangements.

ARTiculture, Philadelphia Flower ShowJ. Downend Landscaping

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society also will announce the hot new flowers, plants, products and design ideas for Spring 2014 at the Flower Show to serve as a consumer’s guide to creating fantastic home gardens.

The entrance garden of “ARTiculture” will be inspired by the paintings and dynamic sculptures of Alexander “Sandy” Calder, a member of the historic family of artists whose works are found throughout Philadelphia, and will feature a remarkable vertical dance troupe who will perform above and within the multi-dimensional display.

Marsden Hartley, Flower Abstraction

Marsden Hartley, Flower Abstraction

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will partner with internationally renowned art museums, organizations and institutions for the exhibits in “ARTiculture.” Participants include the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York City), the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C.), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia), the University of Pennsylvania Museum (Philadelphia), the Brandywine River Museum (Chadds Ford, Pa.), the Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, N.Y.), the Noguchi Museum (Long Island City, N.Y.), Storm King Art Center (Hudson Valley, N.Y.), Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, N.J.), the North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, N.C.), Fresh Artists (Philadelphia), the Wayne Art Center (Wayne, Pa.), and the Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia).

The region’s great garden clubs will be paired with area art schools – the University of the Arts, Philadelphia University, Moore College of Art, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – to compete in the show’s Artistic Classes.

Marsden Hartley, Flower Abstraction

Special exhibitions at the show will include a selection of the Andy Warhol “Flowers” Series from the Bank of America Collection; selections from the West Collection, of Oaks, Pa.; and works by sculptor Steve Tobin, of Bucks County, Pa.

International exhibitors in the 2014 show will include British garden designer Andy Sturgeon and Provence-based garden designer James Basson, whose exhibit will be inspired by a painting from the Collection of the Prince’s Palace Monaco.

An interactive exhibit designed by the Crayola Experience will give show visitors the opportunity to express themselves in the Convention Center’s Grand Hall. Visitors also will show their artistic side in an expanded “Make & Take Room,” where they can create a variety of craft and garden projects. The family attractions at the show will include the Butterfly Experience, where visitors will interact with 20 species of exotic and domestic butterflies, and the Camden Children’s Garden.

Let yourself bloom at the interactive, collaborative 2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, and leave equipped to practice “ARTiculture” in your own home and garden.

Zoe Walker, Neil Bromwich, Siege Weapons of Love, Tank 1, 2007Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich, Siege Weapons of Love, Tank 1, 2007, The West Collection


The 2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest flower show, which blooms every March at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The show features the world’s premier landscape designers and florists, who turn 10 acres of the Convention Center into a floral fantasy of beautiful plants and cutting-edge designs.

In addition to the major garden displays, the Flower Show hosts world-renowned competitions in horticulture and artistic floral arranging, gardening presentations and demonstrations, special events, a mammoth indoor Marketplace, and a Flower Show Week celebration throughout the Philadelphia region.

The Premier Sponsor of the 2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is Subaru, and the Exclusive Sponsor is Bank of America.

Official Sponsors are ACME, Bartlett Tree Experts, Einstein Healthcare Network, EP Henry, Green Mountain Energy, Organic Gardening, Parx Casino, and Tourism Ireland. Supporting Sponsor is Celebrity Cruises. Contributing Sponsors are LeafFilter Gutter Protection, Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing, and QVC. Promotional Partners are Apple Vacations, Collette Vacations, Cruise Planners, Gold Key Resorts, Greater Philadelphia Falun Dafa Association, Mid-Atlantic Center for Arts & Humanities, On the Avenue Marketing, and Power Home Remodeling. Garden Tea Sponsor is Stash Tea. Preview Party Sponsor is U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. Media Partners are WPVI-TV 6abc and CBS Radio.

Proceeds from the Flower Show benefit the year-round programs of PHS, which is celebrating its 186th year of gardening, greening and learning. PHS initiatives include the PHS City Harvest program, which creates green jobs and supports a network of community gardens that raise fresh produce for more than 1,200 families in need each week during the growing season.

For more information, please visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @PhilaFlowerShow.

ARTiculture, 2014 Philadelphia Flower ShowARTiculture2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

ABOUT The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1827, dedicated to creating beauty and building community through gardening, greening and learning. With more than 25,000 member-households throughout the world, PHS offers programs and events for gardeners of all levels, and works with volunteers, organizations, agencies and businesses to create and maintain vibrant green spaces. Proceeds from the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show and donations from foundations, corporations, government and individuals support PHS programs, including Plant One Million and PHS City Harvest. For information, visit

ARTiculture, 2014 Philadelphia Flower ShowVincent Van Goat

MEDIA CONTACT: Alan Jaffe, PHS Director of Communications, 215-988-8833, (m) 267-968-0859,

Photographs by DoN Brewer

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Autodidactic Ingenuism

Autodidactic Ingenuism, Coalition Ingenu

In 1995, Robert Bullock volunteered to help set up an art show for a non-profit organization that helped to provide creative outlets for people with histories of mental illness. After much research, he found a gallery that would agree to host the exhibit under one condition:  everything had to be framed. As he collected the artwork from the people who wanted to participate, Bullock began to realize two things: 1) It would not be enough work to fill the gallery and, 2) None of it would be framed.

For the most part, he was dealing with people who had not been formally trained or significantly exposed to fine art. Most of them were living in small apartments on social security benefits. They didn’t have any money for art supplies or framing. And yet, Bullock thought that some of the work had a very unique and original quality to it. It wasn’t pretentious. It didn’t take itself too seriously.

He went to framing shops and asked for donations of discarded frames. He bought glass and mat board and made some of the molding from scratch using cheap wooden firring strips from Home Depot. He researched and contacted other community art programs in homeless shelters and mental health centers to find more artwork. By the time the show opened in May of 1995, Bullock was able to fill one of the largest galleries in Olde City with art from several different programs, only one of which was able to contribute a very small amount of money to help defray his personal costs. At the time, he was unemployed and living in a carriage house rent-free, in exchange for his agreement to work on the property.

The show was a success. In those days, first Friday openings in Olde City involved food, beer, wine, and live music – and this one was packed. The art was also inexpensive and accessible. The gradual emergence from the shadows of a thing called “Outsider Art” was reaching the collective consciousness. Even people, like Bullock himself, who had never even heard the term before, were searching for something raw and genuine — something not deliberately different or contrived, but essentially different, and deeply ingenuous.

The first use of the term “Outsider Art” was in a book by Roger Cardinal published 20 years earlier. It described art made by people from “outside” of the mainstream art community. People who had not gone to art school or college, but also who were not aware of all the trends in fine art as defined by academic tradition. Bullock, too, was a person who had never gone to art school. A person who had always enjoyed doodling, and had recently done a great deal more of it during a two and half year trek throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Southeast Asia. He had decided, upon his return, to further explore his interest in art, but had no idea where to go with it. Most of the modern conceptual art confused him and left him feeling disconnected from his emotional instincts. Abstract impressionism seemed too limited and too “safe” in its’ deliberate rejection of representational content. Frankly, he didn’t know very much about any of it.

That first exhibit in 1995 established the foundation of an enduring passion for Bullock. In 1996, he chose the name Coalition Ingenu for his second group exhibit in Olde City, entitled “Philadelphia Self-Taught”. He continued to search art programs and seek out individual artists for the next 18 years, and gathered like-minded friends and volunteers to help with his efforts. Coalition Ingenu received non-profit status in 2001, but deliberately remained very small and true to the original concept. Its’ mission was to encourage exploration of the imagination and promote appreciation for the creative process independent of results. To cultivate self-esteem and confidence, generate motivation and passion, and encourage the use of creativity as a tool for the gradual healing of emotional and psychic wounds. To build a community of mutual support among self-taught and self-motivated artists precluded from formal training or significant exposure to fine art as defined by cultural bias. To establish an alternative to art built upon layers of academic tradition and affirm the value of inviolate creativity in all its’ many forms and expressions.

Over the next 18 years, the collective would assemble over 180 exhibits and display over 6000 pieces of art by hundreds of different artists from mental health centers, hospitals, prisons, senior centers, retirement communities, physical rehabilitation facilities, substance abuse programs, and homeless shelters. The would also discover, by word of mouth, many individuals who made art on their own, independent of any formal program.

In 1997, Coalition Ingenu had begun to conduct open studio art programs in various locations, but went beyond just providing the participants with something to do. They respected the work that was made in these programs, and considered it just as beautiful, inspirational, important and thought provoking as anybody else’s artwork. They believed that the extraordinary life circumstances experienced by each artist were a more direct and original source of inspiration than the exhaustive study of academic tradition. And they believed that artwork by lower income, less visible, and less formally educated people deserved equal opportunity to be displayed in mainstream art galleries by virtue of its’ validity as uniquely inviolate expressions of real-life people in an often difficult and disappointing world.

Bullock invested the past 18 years of his life in pursuit of this belief, and his wife supported him in doing this, even as the couple began to experience a long string of financial difficulties. For the most recent half of the its’ 18 year history, the Coalition Ingenu funding stream has grown increasingly dryer, while a 2004 layoff forced Bullock’s wife to eventually take a job making less than half as much money. But the exhibits only got better. As some of the members became better known and the group attracted new and more accomplished artists, and the collective adapted and evolved into a respected arts organization. Their growing reputation earned the attention of higher profile venues from New York NY to Pittsburgh PA — and as far south as Washington DC and Durham NC. But this is where it will end:

In less than two months, Bullock and his wife will be moving to Florida for family reasons. If resources permit, the Coalition Ingenu Self-taught Artists’ Collective will eventually resurrect and pick up where it will leave off when it departs Philadelphia this December. The groups’ final exhibit is, very appropriately, at the gallery within the visionary masterpiece of local artist Isaiah Zagar. The exhibit features nine of the groups most popular and renowned artists, and is entitled Autodidactic Ingenuism, which essentially means self-taught and without restraint.

The opening reception is this Friday, October 11 from 6 – 9 pm, at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street. It runs until Friday, Nov. 15.

Written by Robert Bullock, Coalition Ingenu

Dear Farmers, Florists, Community Leaders and Artists


You or someone you know may be interested in participating in Millville’s First Annual Flower Festival, created by the Downtown Millville Merchants Association, the same folks who bring you the AMA Festival every year since 2008.

Please read the Press Release pasted below and find the attached postcards for your convenience.  If you would like to register, reply to to get your registration forms emailed!

Ivy Chaya



February, 2013, Millville, NJ.   Planning for a regional Spring Flower Festival is well underway by a group of High Street merchants, organized to advocate the interests of Millville’s Downtown arts and business community – it was announced by Edward Shiffler, a local musician and Downtown gallery owner.  The first in what will be an annual festival will take place Saturday, May 11, starting at 10am, in the heart of the city’s Glasstown Arts District.  Sidewalks and storefronts along High Street, open lots and the Riverfront, will be filled with flowers, floral art, installations, performers, music and vendors for the daylong event.  Colonial Flowers, Levoy, RRCA and Master Gardener at Garden on High, Kim Conner are lending their support on behalf of the City, together with the Millville Development Corporation, for what the merchants’ steering committee envisions as ‘made for families, moms, and flower lovers’ event, thematically set the day before Mothers Day, while showcasing the region’s important artists, merchants and gardening guru’s of every discipline.

The Flower Festival was part of Jim Penland’s dream, when he started the Arts Music and Antiques Festival back in 2008 along with the DMMA.  “We want to showcase the work of serious artists working in a variety of disciplines…” Said Jim about the AMA Festival, “We intend to make this Festival an expression of the aspirations our city planners had for the Glasstown Arts District when they conceived it…”  Our goals and commitment to Millville and the first annual Flower Festival are the same.  Jim’s dream for Millville’s Arts District is as alive in our hearts as ever, and so is the district itself.  Now all we need is to successfully bring the regional and community support pumping back into the heart and veins of the Glasstown Arts District. More of these well conceived and properly executed festivals plus smaller downtown events will bring returning business to our local artists and merchants, as well as businesses in the surrounding area.

Respected practitioners of the arts and crafts, florists, farmers, garden, and environmental groups are invited to participate.  Local and regional plein-air artists also have an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to capture Spring flowers in the moment at sidewalk easels.  Registration deadline is April 25, 2013.  To request a registration form, email or  A $35.00 exhibit fee for each 12’ x 8’ space will be charged to Festival participants coming from outside Millville.  Plein-air artists living outside Millville will be charged a $10.00 entrance fee.  Sponsorship opportunities are available.

For more information, please contact Edward Shiffler at or call 609-425-3510 or 347-813-5090.


DoN Brewer Photography: Perkins Center for the Arts, Da Vinci Art Alliance Gallery, Photographic Society of Philadelphia, The Plastic Club and The Philadelphia Sketch Club

DoN is running this town just like a club!  Art clubs, that is – with fine art photography in open and juried art shows in five major art spaces in South Jersey & Philly.  The Art of the Flower show @ The Philadelphia Sketch Club is a juried competition with an enormous turnout of talented artists; DoN feels great relief that his decision to include an inkjet print photograph collage of Carnivourous Plants @ Bartram’s Garden has been recognized by the jurors to be included in the highly coveted show.

 DoN Brewer Photography: Perkins Center for the Arts, Da Vinci Art Alliance Gallery, Photographic Society of Philadelphia, The Plastic Club and The Philadelphia Sketch Club

DoN Brewer, Carnivorous Plants @ Bartram’s Garden, digital photograph, Photoshop collage, inkjet print @ The Philadelphia Sketch Club‘s annual Art of the Flower Exhibition, a blind juried competition of all types of art.

DoN helped install the Small Worlds show @ The Plastic Club; the team of volunteers hung over three hundred small images through out the old town house, each room, gallery and hall is filled with a myriad selection of art.  The tremendous trove of work is smooshed in but exhibitions chair Alan Klawans foresees a day when cuts will have to be made.  And, listen to DoN when he says – prepare your art properly for installation and rough handling, DoN had an artist’s piece literally come part in his hands and Plastic Club President Bob Jackson spent extra hours kindly adding wire to art submitted by artists, after spending two days logging art by hand in the log book and then hanging work on the walls Bob really doesn’t need to prepare your work for you.  Really, if they have to make cuts, the first to go will be poor presentation, artist Art Ostroff & DoN griped about the lost skills of presentation.  Ironically, DoN was a wire offender but took his work home to fix himself – if Bob Jackson wired your art for you to be in a huge show like Small Worlds, you owe him a big favor.  Speaking of favors, DoN doesn’t know who dropped out but he has five photographs included in the Downstairs Gallery @ The Plastic Club, a prestigious honor bestowed only on members in good standing.  DoN is presenting a group of abstract landscape photographs from his series, light beings,  several new images have been added to DoN‘s on-line gallery.

Plastic Club Small Worlds DoN Brewer

DoN Brewer, Panama Street, digital photograph, Photoshop, inkjet print, 8 x 10″ @ The Plastic Club’s Small Worlds art extravaganza.

 The opening reception for Diverse Perspectives @ Da Vinci Art Alliance was super fun, DoN will write a separate review of the group show in South Philly.  The group that came together organically and easily, organized an art show that DoN is proud to be a part, truly diverse, artistic and eclectic – just like DoN!

Diverse Perspectives @ Da Vinci Art Alliance: Bud Boehringer, DoN Brewer, Lorna Kent, Yeoun Lee, Marcy Morris, Lee Muslin, William Myers & Edna Santiago

DoN Brewer Photography @ Diverse Perspectives at Da Vinci Art Alliance Gallery, 704 Catharine Street, South Philly.  DoN will be hosting a discussion, Search Engine Optimization for Artists, Saturday, March 5th, 2011, 2 – 4:00 PM.

The Perkins Center for the Arts Photography 30 Show is almost over,  it has been such an honor to be included in the exclusive annual photography event.  The show is truly inspirational, aspirational & astounding – no kidding.  As photographer Bonnie Schorske said, “…it’s a feather in your cap!”  Thank you to Uncle Dave and Aunt Barbara, Cousin Carla & friends, Shoshka, Lola, Rob, Bonnie and all my friends & family who cheered me on and braved the snow to visit the beautiful mansion in Moorestown, NJ.  You got to tip on the tightrope!

DoN has a new piece on display @ Bonte’s, 9th & Walnut that is a departure from the abstraction he’s known for, a church lady hat store window titled South Street Chapeaux, a documentary still life composition that Shoshka will love.  The on-going show promoted by the Photographic Society of Philadelphia is a cool spot to show along with fellow photography enthusiasts; the PSoP events @ The Plastic Club are always informative, the recent talk by photographer Ed Snyder and graphic designer John Bacille about how to produce your own book was inspiring and a recent field trip to the Wistar Institute for the Nikon Small World show is exclusive and informative.

DoN Brewer Photography: Perkins Center for the Arts, Da Vinci Art Alliance Gallery, Photographic Society of Philadelphia, The Plastic Club and The Philadelphia Sketch Club

DoN Brewer, South Street Chapeaux @ Bonte’s Cafe, 9th & Walnut Streets.  Thank you so much to the good people at the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, The Plastic Club and Da Vinci Art Alliance for providing the art opportunities, diverse creative outlets and intellectual peer support in the heart of the coolest city in the world.