March 2024 Newsletter: Cherry Trees, Climate, and Curated by Carla

Issue 92, March 2024


The Cherry Trees on Cherry Street
Friends Center’s cherry trees—on Cherry Street, naturally—usually bloom twice a year: partially in December, and fully in late March or early April. This year they have bloomed almost continuously since November. With spring on the way, they are blooming more fully now, earlier than usual. And they never really stopped blooming since the winter. I can’t help but think it’s the result of our warming climate.

This week, Erick Emerick and I gave tours of Friends Center to students from Sandy Springs Friends School in Maryland. He pointed out Friends Center is not only a tool in itself for slowing climate change, it’s also a model of a sustainably built environment, which can inspire others to act, too. (In case you don’t already know: In 2009 we renovated Friends Center to the LEED Platinum level, with a geothermal heating and cooling system, green roof, solar panels, graywater capture system, and more. See our website for details.)

Recently I heard Princeton Professor Ruha Benjamin speak at the Parkway Central Library about her new book, Imagination: A Manifesto. She stresses that imagination isn’t a luxury. It’s a powerful tool for liberation. Whatever our organization’s mission is, may we continue to imagine a better world through our efforts every day, where every cherry tree—and every person—has a chance to blossom in all the ways they’re meant to.
— Chris Mohr, Executive Director
Cherry trees blossom in front of a red brick building with black shutters and white trim. A black metal fence is in the foreground at the bottom.


Welcome to our newest tenant:
Junior Achievement of Southeastern Pennsylvania!

Junior Achievement of SEPA moved here in January. JA SEPA equips young people for economic mobility and the pursuit of their own ambitions. In collaboration with educators, community organizations, and businesses, they ensure young people (5-25) have access to high quality financial education and career-readiness learning experiences. JE SEPA focuses on under-resourced communities and expanded programming for middle and high school students. See:

Many thanks to Stephanie Gambone and the JA SEPA team for hosting the tenant breakfast on March 5. It was a nice introduction!

♻ First Alert! 
Earth Day E-Waste and Shredding Collection Drive
Once again, in honor of Earth Day on April 24, Friends Center plans to collect electronics for recycling and papers for shredding. Most likely we will have collection bins in the lobby in mid-April, perhaps the week of April 15. Stay tuned for details!

See the end of this newsletter for two upcoming events curated and hosted by our own Carla Gamble!

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Gaza Relief Efforts

A major current focus for AFSC is emergency aid effort in Gaza. AFSC is helping to alleviate suffering in the short term and reduce inequality and oppression in the long term. AFSC has provided emergency relief to displaced people in the Khan Yunis and Rafah regions of Gaza, reaching more than 297,673 people. 

AFSC has offices and staff in Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, and Jordan. AFSC has been present in the Middle East since 1948 when the United Nations asked us to organize relief efforts for Palestinian refugees in Gaza. 

» Learn more:

Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (CPMM)
Community Game Nights

CPMM will have Community Game Nights on Friday April 19 and Friday May 10 in the Cherry Street Room.  We set up around 6 pm (give or take) and end by around 9:30 pm. Bring games, snacks, friends—or just yourself! Game Night policy is that if any participant wants people to mask, then all people mask. We will have masks to hand out if needed.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM)
PYM Friends Join Pilgrimage for Peace Walk

On February 14, PYM Friends gathered with neighbors of many faiths to help kick off the first day of a Pilgrimage for Peace journey, walking from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to Washington DC.  The pilgrimage included nearly 400 people who joined at various points during the 150-mile walk to advocate for a permanent ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and an increase in humanitarian aid. The Pilgrimage took place in 92 cities around the world to call for change in Gaza. The pilgrims included a diverse coalition of faith leaders, activists, and artists from across the United States, and many faith traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.
» Learn more:


Spring concert: Earth, Wind & Fire
Saturday, March 16, 4:00 pm
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA

With Singing City, Rollo A. Dilworth, Artistic & Music Director
Northeast High School Choir, Patricia Betcher, Director
Philadelphia Creative and Performing Arts High School Choir,
B. Lauren Thomas-Moyett, Director
Teen Voices of the City Ensemble (T-VOCE), Whitney Covalle, Director
This concert explores the beauty of the natural world and invites us to examine the effects of climate change and environmental justice. Featuring The Voices of Earth, a newly commissioned work by Brandon Williams, Haydn’s The Heaven’s Are Telling and Awake the Harp from The Creation, Hark I Hear the Harp’s Eternal by Alice Parker, and much more! 

Old First House Historic House Move

As mentioned in December, Community Ventures is working with the Old First Reformed United Church of Christ to develop 34 permanent supportive housing apartments for formerly homeless individuals, as well as community, office, and commercial spaces. A historic home at 151 N 4th Street, built in 1760, will be restored to its original façade. The house was recently moved some 40 feet to make room for the new building!
» Watch the video from the project architect, OZ Collaborative:

WHYY: Delaware Valley saw first set of deadlines to pick 2024 health insurance during ACA open enrollment

During Affordable Care Act open enrollment last fall, WHYY quoted Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, who said that the most common advice she gives people is: “Don’t wait to shop.”



2 upcoming events curated and hosted by our own Carla Gamble!
Voices of Philly Soul
Mental Health Panel & Brunch (Ladies Edition)
Saturday, Mar 16, 2024, 11:00 AM

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Philly’s own Carla Gamble has curated a Mental Health Panel of our city’s most beloved and celebrated music community leaders, pioneers, and visionaries. They will share their life experiences and offer advice from an artistic musical perspective. Facilitated by Roxi Fab, panelist Dyana Williams, Lady Alma, Ursula Rucker, Frenchie Davis, and Ciara Chantelle will discuss topics including:
  • “Life be Lifeing” – Grief, Anxiety and Depression
  • Your Network, Your Networth – Community Networking and Finances
  • Work-Life Balance – Family, Friends, and Social Life
» Free, register here:

Voices of Philly Soul – Ladies Edition
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Doors: 6:30pm | Show: 8pm
Music Hall at World Cafe Live | Ages 21 and up

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Philly’s own Carla Gamble has curated a local lineup of ladies in our city’s vibrant R&B and soul scene. Enjoy performances from musicians Carla Gamble, Seraiah Nicole, Nitro Nitra, Lady Sarkazym, Chioke, Jo Rivers, Rae Dianz, and Rhythm HB, plus DJ sets from DJ Queen Yaszy B. The event will also feature guest speakers, including Philadelphia City Council leaders and the Blackwell Cultural Alliance.
» Ticket info:

SEPTA Announces Bus Revolution Community Meetings for March/April 2024

SEPTA is holding eight (8) community meetings across Philadelphia from March 12 – April 4, 2024 to share the latest Bus Revolution recommendations. We invite you to learn more about changes to your bus route and ask questions of our project team. Can’t attend, but still want to be heard? You can provide input at the Bus Revolution website or submit comments by email at or by phone 267-291-6045.
See SEPTA’s detailed listing of SEPTA Bus Revolution March/April Community Meetings here.