Philadelphia United Jazz Festival 2018


On a Saturday in September, we popped up our mobile parlor at the Philadelphia United Jazz Festival to talk with locals & visitors about the city.


What’s your Philadelphia story? What do you love about the city? How could we make it better?

Photographer Heather McBride captured portraits & notes:

How did you plant your Philly roots?

Anthony Phillips.jpg

Anthony Phillips


“My grandmother and grandfather grew up in South Carolina and both had an 8th grade education. They were sharecroppers. They decided to move in the 1950’s because my grandfather’s brother lived in New Jersey, and they made a stop in Philly. Now our family has always been here. They had six kids, and they have all stayed around North Philadelphia. I live in Mt. Airy now and I am a committee member. I really love it here, it is a community city. There are tons of people and six degrees of separation with everyone.”  


Aliya Amilani2.jpg

Aliya Amilani

“I moved here 11 years ago from Jersey to become a music journalist. I’ve been involved in the music scene for forever and that’s what keeps me here. I feel like that’s what is so strong about this city—we have such a cool music scene. It’s really diverse, awesome, safe and inclusive—while also still being dingy and dirty. You want both of those elements, you don’t want to lose your edge in things like rock & roll.

I think that people forget that Philly exists when they go on tour, but they are starting not to because of places like Union Transfer and Kung Fu Necktie that are bringing acts that wouldn’t normally come here.

“It’s not an easy city to plant your roots in. It took years of being in different houses in different places. Like most places, there is a weird amount of people. And it’s the East Coast so you get that weird mix of friendly and total asshole—and people who want to make the city better. So there is an interesting combination.

But I finally found a home I like living in, and being around good people. Once you find your group of friends—your music scene, your comedy scene, your whatever scene, you really feel like you’re home. I just needed to leave to come back and realize that I was home all along.”

What’s one idea to make Philadelphia better?



More Transit.

“I think we need to strengthen our transportation system. I think we have incredible buses, but I really think we need to strengthen the subway system. It just goes straight up and down and that’s just not enough. I think that more Philadelphians would want to come down to Center City to shop, and the city would be more robust, if they could get around easier by subway. Younger people would be able to say ‘I don’t need a car’ if the transportation system was stronger.” —Anthony Phillips, Mt. Airy




“I think there should be volunteer groups to come around, especially in underdeveloped parts of the city, to help pick up trash and make sure things get recycled properly. I know there are different programs with non-profits, and even grocery stores that give you money for your recycling.” —Naja

“I think the city is great and wonderful. It really has all the makings of an awesome city. Not without its flaws, of course. The one big flaw is oh my god the trash. Do something about the trash on the streets, that is my one biggest complaint. I’ve been to a lot of other cities over the years, and it’s just not like it is here.” —-Aliya Amilani



Better streets.

“Philadelphia is a lovely place. I love the buildings and the atmosphere. I like the Rocky steps. Parking is hard here, so I don’t like that. I do translation work for lawyers so I am in Center City a lot. And the taxes! They are very high. Well, I don’t mind the high taxes, but I wish they used it to fix things in the city like potholes.” —Daniel





“It would be great if there were more opportunities to open Philly streets to pedestrians to interact with history, art & culture.”

—Anusha Alikhan, visitor



Housing for all:

“How can there be so many homeless people and so many empty houses all around? That to me is just so mind-blowing. Obviously not everyone can get jobs, but there is this weird disproportionate thing.”

-Aliya Amilani



Land use.

“There are a lot of empty lots, especially in the North. We have all that space so we might as well take advantage of it. And that is definitely something that Philly lacks outside of, like, Old City. So I figure, use that and develop those lots as multi-purpose lots, because you can do a lot with that.” —Avery Mayhews

“I really love it here, it is a community city. There are tons of people and six degrees of separation with everyone.” 

—Anthony Phillips

With thanks to Knight Foundation, Witty Gritty & Heather McBride Photography.

Read more about our pop-up parlors here: