5 stories we fawned over in 2016 - Generocity Philly

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Dec. 29, 2016 12:14 pm

5 stories we fawned over in 2016

The stories we're most proud of from the past year.

Five stories we fawned over.

(Photo by Flickr user rauter25, used under a Creative Commons license)

This past year was a vital one for Generocity.

It was our first full year of existence under Technically Media since our transition from founding organization Generocity Community Alliance in the fall of 2015.

In 2016, we had room to experiment, to build relationships, to discover and understand what this community cares about most — and, of course, write about it.

We undoubtedly have plenty more to learn about this community and the role we can play in making it better, but we’re nonetheless proud of the work we put out in 2016. Here are five stories we feel are representative of the journalism we did in 2016 and can continue to do in 2017, handpicked by Generocity Lead Reporter Tony Abraham.

1. Al-Bustan is Philly’s beacon for Arabic culture in Donald Trump’s age of hate

Growing anti-Arab sentiment is a product of misunderstanding Arab people (wallah, this reporter knows firsthand). In Philadelphia, nonprofit Al-Bustan is working to preserve and promote Arab culture.

Founder Hazami Sayed, born in Lebanon and raised in Kuwait, told Generocity she founded Al-Bustan partially out of a desire to ensure her children remain connected to Arab culture in post-9/11 America. In 2017, the nonprofit will be working on a project that brings the narratives of displaced Arab refugees together with those of marginalized Philadelphians.

“You don’t have a reason to think all Arabs are terrorists when you can attend a concert and hear kids singing in Arabic and they’re from all walks of life,” said Sayed.

2. There’s ‘no time’ for the long road to justice in Omar Woodard’s neighborhood

The GreenLight Fund Philadelphia executive director is typically soft-spoken and mild-mannered. Generocity caught up with Woodard six months into his job at GreenLight after he had axed his run for state senate.

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Woodard expressed his frustrations with a lack of progress in his North Philly neighborhood and made his new mission known:

“We’re damning mostly Black and Brown people to a substandard quality of life,” he said. “The urgency for me has never been greater. I’m not interested in reducing poverty anymore. I want to end it.”

3. BlackStar founder Maori Karmael Holmes is ‘not afraid’ to end the festival someday

What would Philadelphia’s BlackStar Film Festival be without Holmes, its celebrated founder? This story looks into the festival’s struggle to find adequate funding in its five years of existence — and the amount of work it takes for Holmes, who runs the festival on the side, to keep it going.

If the festival is to continue, Holmes told Generocity, someone will have to be running it full-time. That doesn’t necessarily mean her — and that’s OK.

“Things have a moment. Oftentimes we’re afraid to end things. There’s no reason things can’t end if they have a really lovely life,” said Holmes. “I don’t know if [BlackStar] should end or not, but I’m not afraid of it.”

4. ImpactPHL just launched and here’s the first thing it needs to do

After years of buildup, nonprofit ImpactPHL launched with a mission to turn more funders on to impact investing, a venture capital strategy to fund mission-driven businesses. Over 150 people attended an opening celebration at Ben Franklin Technology Partners headquarters in the Navy Yard. Very few were people of color. We wrote about it.

And chair John Moore wrote back.

Generocity wants to exist to make the community we report on better by challenging it to be better. This was an example of how we can do that in the future.

5. This will be the state’s biggest social impact project ever. How will Philly fit?

This story broke the news that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is launching two new initiatives to lower recidivism rates through a super-wonky public-private funding strategy called “pay for success.”

(We think that term is really, really awful and the bane of our existence.)

It’s an innovative strategy that’s still very much being experimented with in the United States. Pennsylvania will be leading the charge with two projects. Interestingly, the City of Philadelphia had been vying to launch its own pay for success project around recidivism, but couldn’t do so without the state’s involvement.

Not only did we break the news of the new initiatives, but we looked into how Philadelphia will fit in Pennsylvania’s statewide initiative — and whether or not the city’s dreams of having its own project are dead. More on that in 2017.

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