How to play nice with others at camp…

DISCLAIMER:  This is a reprint of a guest post I wrote for the Philly Creative Guide.

Philly has become the unofficial “Camp Town” From BarCamp to TrendCamp, HigherEd Camp to HealthCamp, Philly has been drawing the best and the brightest in many different fields all sharing and exploring the newest and current trends, information, apps, and discussions. Whether it is looking forward at TrendCamp or looking at the now at NewsInnovation Camp, the wellspring of unconference format events in Philadelphia (21+ in the last 3.5 years – a full list is below) is a testament to the vitality and growth of the creative and technology communities in the City of Brotherly Love.

For the as yet uninitiated, an unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose. The format consists of multiple sessions of attendee generated content. The participants are the speakers, discussion leaders and sharers of information. (see for more details)

The central message in the tremendous growth of all of these unconferences is that the community wants to come together. They want to share. They want to learn from each other. Which brings us to the question – who gets to decide what gets shared, how it gets shared? What is the etiquette? And most importantly, how do we as a community get the most of out of these gatherings. A few tips gathered from participants at the recent BarCamp Philly gives us some insight on how to maximize the experience as individuals and as a community.

  1. Be open-minded – Realize that not everyone is going to like the same things, but that sometimes we learn best from those who have different viewpoints and experiences.
  2. Don’t hog the stage – Don’t do the same presentation at the same events over and over. Rather than present, lead a discussion and let everyone learn from each other. Better yet, encourage someone new to the community who is knowledgeable on the same topic to present. Give someone else a chance to share their expertise.
  3. Get outside your comfort/knowledge zone – Attend a session or camp on a topic you know nothing about. Expand your knowledge and grow your circle of connections.
  4. Get involved – Present, lead a discussion, volunteer, ask questions, be a sponsor.
  5. Get others involved – Be a community builder by encouraging others to get involved. One of the greatest things about the camp experience is meeting and learning from new people.
  6. Exercise the rule of two feet – Not getting what you were hoping for out of a session? Don’t sit and heckle, quietly leave and find one more to your liking.
  7. Relax – the day is not about selling anyone anything and it is not about cramming as much knowledge and networking as you possibly can in to a single day. It is about opening ourselves and our minds to possibilities, insights, information, and people.
  8. Remember the Golden Rule – Do onto others and you would like them to do onto you. Be polite, courteous and respectful to the session leaders and other participants.
  9. Make it about the Community – Show support for other groups in the community by attending and helping spread word about a camp you might not normally go to.

What would your tips be?

Alphabetical Listing of Philadelphia area Camps (If any are missing from this list, please feel free to let us know)

Philly “BloggerGate”

Last night I attended the “Bloggergate” Happy Hour where city officials tried to answer questions and provide explanations of the current city tax regulations and how they are applied to members of the creative economy and freelancers.  There is an excellent writeup on the Phillyist site, so I am not going to summarize everything that was discussed.

I posed a question that seemed to be on the minds of many of the local bloggers I know –
The current Philadelphia revenue regulations require that anyone conducting business and receiving revenue in the city of Philadelphia is required to have a Business Privilege License.  An issue that arose among the blogger community is not the requirement to have the license and pay taxes on actual income.  The issue is the “recreational” blogger who does not blog for income.  They may place an ad on their site and charge just enough to cover hosting and domain renewal costs.  They are now being told because they receive revenue (the payment for ad placement) that they are a business and are required to have the Business Privilege License and pay taxes.  Obviously because it is a break-even financial arrangement, they will not owe any taxes, however, they are now being required to buy the Business Privilege License which likely amounts to much more than the amount they are charging for their blog ads.  Is this issue being looked into?

The city indicated that, because of situations exactly like this one, they are looking into the relevancy and applicability of the Business Privilege License.  They made no promises that change would come, but they are considering options.   They genuinely seemed to have had their eyes opened to some of the differences in conducting business in this new creative economy.   That the old ways of regulation and collecting taxes have to be re-evaluated to better apply to how a large majority now do business.  It is a start.

Several other freelancers and business owners asked questions and expressed their frustration with the current tax system and the complexity of starting a business in Philadelphia.  To the city officials credit, they listened and did their best to explain the current system.  The city gets props for showing up on “our” (the tech community’s) turf, National Mechanics (as opposed to say a stuffy room in City Hall), for listening to the questions and complaints and for, at least appearing to, trying to understand the issues and questions.  No one got the answers they wanted last night, but anyone who came expecting instant results was being unrealistic.   As I said to KYW’s Robin Culverwell,

“The fact that they called this meeting tonight, they’re willing to come out, they’re willing to take questions of any kind is a positive step forward.”

Flat Emmy’s visit to Philadelphia

Recently I got to go see my friend Gloria at her home in Philadelphia.  She tried to show me as much of her beautiful, exciting city as possible. She knew that I like history so we went to see a lot of the historic sites, but we also took a day and went "down the shore".  It was funny to hear her say that, but I learned that in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey area, they do not call it going to the beach.  They go down the shore.


                            Our adventures in Philadelphia started with a ride on a SEPTA bus.  SEPTA is the
        Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

We took the bus the Philadelphia Art Museum.  It was such a nice day that we decided not to spend the day in the museum.  Gloria told me all about the beautiful paintings and sculptures and I want to go back and see it another time.  It was fun seeing the outside of the Art Museum because the steps are famous.  They are the steps that Rocky ran up in the movie.  I also got to take my picture with the Rocky statue.  

We walked back into Center City (downtown) on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It is very pretty with parks and fountains along the length.  It is also a very good spot to see the Philadelphia skyline.  See how pretty it is.

 Our walk down the Parkway took us through Center City and into the historic part of Philadelphia.  This area is called Old City because it is where the city originally started.  Several of the buildings are over 200 years old and there are even some streets that still have cobblestones. Philadelphia is an interesting city because there will be a little tiny very old building right next to a big skyscraper. 

We started our tour of the historic district at Penn's Landing.  This is the spot where William Penn landed when he came up the Delaware River and established the city of                                             Philadelphia.   From Penn's Landing you can see the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.  It was the                                         first bridge that crosses the Delaware River between New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Also at Penn's Landing, I got to see the Tall Ship Gazella.  The ship is very pretty with its very tall masts and sails.  There is a group in Philadelphia that works very hard on preserving the original ship.  It was very interesting to find out that they still sail this ship even though it was built in the 1800's.                                                                                                 


.  From Penn's Landing we crossed a bridge over the highway onto Market Street. This led us into Old City and we started exploring all of the historic sites. Gloria was very nice and explained all of the history to me while we "playing tourist" as she called it.                                                                                           

Emmy enjoying the park at Christ Church
Emmy at Christ Church
Emmy on Alfreth's Alley


One of the things I learned is that there are some beautiful parks scattered throughout
the city. We visited one next to Christ's Church.  Christ Church was founded in 1695.
That's over 300 years ago!  Several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence
were members of the church and for a very long time, it's steeple was the tallest thing
in the city of Philadelphia.  Our next stop was Elfreth's Alley.  It was like stepping
backwards into Colonial times.  Gloria told me that it is the oldest continuously
inhabited residential street in the country,  There are people who still live there now. 


From Elfreth's Alley, we walked around the    
corner to Betsy Ross' house.  It is the
house where she sewed the
original flag.  I never realized how
tiny Colonial houses were, even for
short people like Gloria and I. 
Betsy Ross was nice enough to take
a picture with me.   I also got to take a picture with a nice
Colonial lady named Mary who showed me how to knit.

Emmy at Ben Franklin's Gravesite Sign
Emmy at Ben Franklin's Gravesite
Emmy at the Quaker Meeting House with her new friend William

Just down the street from Betsy Ross' house is the Christ Church burial yard.  It is were Benjamin Franklin is buried.  In my picture you can see the pennies that people throw on his grave for good luck.  Gloria says it is kind of funny that they do that since Ben Franklin is the one who said a penny saved is a penny earned.   Across the street from the cemetary is the Free Quaker Meeting House.  A meeting house is the Quaker version of a church.  It also served as a community meeting hall.   There was a very nice man named William who was telling everyone about the meeting house.   He showed me how to play the glass armonica (no, I did not mis-spell it) that you can see in my picture.  The glass armonica was one of Ben Franklin's many inventions.  It makes really beautiful music.


Flat Emmy at the United States Mint
Emmy at the National Constitution Center

Across the street from the meeting house is the US Mint and the National Constitution Center.   We couldn't take pictures in the Mint, but it was really cool to watch them make coins.  They were making pennies the day we were there.  Our penny adventures continued!   The National Constitution Center was just built in 2000 and it is the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to the Constitution.  At the time we were there, we got to see exhibits about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and how the Constitution has changed throughout the history of the United States.  It was really interesting and fun.  

We saved the most historic places in the city for last, but before we walked over to them, Gloria wanted me to see a SEPTA subway station.  We walked down underground to the subway station.  It was a little scary, but I it was really cool too.  All of those trains running for miles underneath the city.


Flat Emmy at the Liberty Bell
Emmy at Independence Hall

After a quick lunch, Gloria took me to see the last
two stops on my tour of Philadelphia.  Independence Hall
and the Liberty Bell.  We had to go through some really tight
security but it was really worth it.  The Bell is a lot bigger than I thought it would be. 
Independence Hall is very impressive.  It looks just like it did in Colonial times. 
It was very cool to stand in the same room where they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Wow, we had a very full day and got to see a lot of interesting and fun places.  I was really tired, but I couldn't wait for the next day.  We were going down the shore with Gloria's sons, Drew and Sean.

We went to Ocean City, New Jersey.  It is in Southern New Jersey.  Gloria explained to me that New Jersey residents are either from North Jersey, Central Jersey or South Jersey.  They say this because all three areas of the state are very different.  North Jersey is very industrial and suburbs of New York.  South Jersey is a lot of suburbs of Philadelphia and is more agricultural.  Central Jersey is a combination of the other two.  Ocean City is south of Atlantic City and is on an island.  The drive down to the shore was fun.  I got to meet and talk to Drew and Sean.  For teenagers, they are really cool and funny.   We did a lot of very fun things. It was a very sunny day and there were a lot of people on the beach and the boardwalk.  We went on the beach for a little while, but the water was still too cold to go into the waves.   We walked on the boardwalk, had pizza and french fries that were really good.  We stopped in the arcade and played skeeball.  There is a part of the boardwalk that has rides.  We didn't ride any because the ones that were not too scary for me were too little for Drew and Sean.  It was fun watching everyone else on the rides.  Gloria told me stories about when Drew and Sean were little and the rides they used to ride on this same boardwalk.  A lot of the rides were the same and we giggled about how silly it would be to see them trying to ride them now.   Drew and Sean's grandmother has a house in Ocean City so they have spent almost every summer at the shore.   The last thing we did before heading back home was to play miniature golf. I actually made a hole in one! 

Emmy in Ocean City New JerseyEmmy at the shoreEmmy's friends Drew and SeanEmmy on the Ocean City, NJ boardwalkEmmy playing mini-golf on the boardwalk

  I had a great visit to Philadelphia!  There was so much more that I wanted to see, but Gloria promised I can come back anytime I want.  I can't wait!                                                                                                                  

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I was reminded tonight why I love this city.  I was such a suburb girl for so long that I couldn't imagine living in the city.  Then a few years ago I started working downtown – 2 blocks from Independence Hall – and I was hooked.  The city was so vibrant and energetic.  At the time it was great to be in the city and then go back home to the countryside (Chester County) at night.  But the longing started then to start to explore more of what this beautiful city had to offer.  So, last September, Bart and I took the plunge and moved into an upcoming neighborhood known as Northern Liberties.  It was wonderful.  So much was within walking or subway distance.  We got to do so much, learn so much and meet so many new people.

While our relationship did not last, our love for the city has not changed.  Although it was bittersweet because the move meant the end of something very wonderful, my move in June from Northern Liberties to Olde City was amazing.  I have a beautiful, huge loft that is within steps of of fantastic restaurants, bars, shops, markets, parks and history. I am walking distance to just about everywhere in the city and am lucky enough to be only a couple of blocks from 2 of my dear friends. 

The 3 of us (Denise, Tom and I) are city adventure buddies.  We seek out new things in our very exciting city and try to experience all it has to offer.  So, here we come to the reason for tonight's post.  We attended an event called Night Lights on South Broad.  The Academy of Fine Arts and the Center City District put together a street event with bands, stilt walkers, magicians, jugglers, food from the restaurants on South Broad and the best of all, light shows projected onto the sides of some of the beautiful famous buildings.  We wandered up and down the street just watching the entertainers and gazing in awe at the light shows.

The beauty of the displays, the fun of the entertainers and bands, great taste of the nibbles and the companionship of great friends, just another reminder of how vital and vibrant this city can be.  And why I am enjoying spending time here. 

Building awash in colorHula Hoop girlMusic men


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My adopted city – why I Love Philadelphia

 I was born in Oklahoma.  My mother was from there and my father is from Texas.  Almost all of my family lives in Texas and I will always carry a part of Texas in my heart.  "Deep in the heart of Texas"   :) 
But fate, a man and probably a few bad choices led me to the Philadelphia area over 20 years and there are so many reasons I have not left.  Some having to do with circumstances, some with pride, some with love and some just because this is such an amazing place to be. My father was a career Army officer so we did our share of traveling. I've visited or lived in a lot of other places in the beautiful USA and each is unique.  There are a lot of places in the country where the history is as rich, the culture as dignified and the excitement as intense, but there is a feel to Philly that no where else has. At least for me. 

It's definitely not the weather that keeps me here.  I hate to be cold, but the beautiful change of seasons can be worth bundling up for.   Maybe it is the small town feel of this big city.  Everyone says this is a city of neighborhoods and it is completely true.  From one block to the next you can move into a different world, yet it is all the same and we are all tied together by proximity and our love for this place.  And it's not just the city, this entire area – Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, Delaware.  The diversity, the changing views, it becomes difficult to express how wonderful it all is and why I feel so at home here.   I have spent time living in apartment complexes in the ultimate suburbia of South Jersey  which has its own charm when you really want a neighborhood feel.  And the shore (the beach/ocean for those of you not from here) is less than an hour away!   I've also lived out in the rolling hills of Chester County (about 45 minutes west of the city) in beautiful old 100+ year old houses .  The openness, the green, the history and never really being that far from anything was comforting and natural.  Probably why I spent almost 10 years out there.  For the last year+ I have lived right in the middle of this gorgeous city.  Right in the middle of the excitement, the history, the beauty and other people, who like me, love the feel and pulse that reverberates down the cobblestone streets, the fantastic restaurants, bars and shops, the little tucked away neighborhood parks, the skyscrapers, bridges and the river. 

I am sure that everyone has their reasons and their feelings about where they live.  As for me, I will always be an Oklahoman and a Texan, nothing breaks family ties, but I am most definitely now a Philly girl too.

Check out my photos on Flickr as I post pics of the things in my city that catch my eye.   So what do you love about you live?

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