Brandywine Battlefield: Delco’s historic gem

By Victoria Lavelle

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Uniforms of the American Revolutionary War on display at Brandywine Battlefield Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa. Photo by Victoria Lavelle
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The Gideon Gilpin House located on the grounds of Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford, Pa. Photo by Victoria Lavelle
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Brandywine Battlefield Associate Director Janet Bowen welcomes visitors to the park in Chadds Ford, Pa. Photo by Victoria Lavelle
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General George Washington’s Headquarters at the Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford, Pa. Photo by Victoria Lavelle

Delaware County’s rich history linked to the American Revolutionary War is long-standing: it’s home to one of Pennsylvania’s preserved historical shrines and open to the public year-round, yet the Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford Township remains a commemorative memorial often overlooked by locals and passersby.

Most people think of Philadelphia in the War for Independence, as they are reminded of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, according to Jeffrey LaMonica, associate professor of history at Delaware County Community College.

“The Brandywine Battlefield is reflective of the much more complicated realities of Philadelphia in the war, a story of military setbacks and mixed allegiances,” LaMonica said. “The scope and scale of the Battle of Brandywine is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it was an important campaign of the War for Independence, involving tens of thousands of troops over 10 square miles. A curse in that it makes it difficult for tourists to explore the actual battlefield, as much of it is on private property stretching from Chester to Kennett Square.”

Visitors to its small, quaint museum, located just off U.S. Route 1, are welcome to view an introductory video presentation, take a stroll through the museum, and go on an escorted or self-guided tour of its stately grounds, which showcase the saga of a pivotal event in American history.

The 52-acre lot is a National Historic Landmark owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), according to PHMC administrator Janet Bowen.

“The Battle of Brandywine covered more than 10 square miles across the region, yet this site served primarily as the Continental encampment in the two days leading up to the battle,” Bowen said.

The park grounds are home to several prominent old-time landmarks still standing due to upkeep by the museum’s commission and efforts by the nonprofit Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates.

In addition to educational programs offered to thousands of students each year, the historical museum, Benjamin Ring’s house, Gideon Gilpin’s home, and orientation film usher in an average of 5,000 visitors annually.

Sitting atop the grounds’ entrance is the Benjamin Ring House, also referred to as Washington’s Headquarters according to Andrew M. Outten, Brandywine Battlefield’s director of Education and Museum Services.

“The American Revolution-era home was built in two stages beginning in 1731 and is a superb example of a traditional Quaker stone home,” Outten said. “The home and surrounding land was the residence of prominent Quaker Benjamin Ring, whose three sons were on the musters list. In 1731, General George Washington utilized the home for a council of war, but took shelter in a tent just outside the home.”

Modern-day technology now offers visitors an innovative smartphone-guided journey across the grounds from the privacy of their own car.

There are two ways to take part in the newly enhanced mobile phone tours. The first option is for visitors to call 484-396-1018 at each designated attraction and follow the prompts.

The alternative is for drivers to park at each individual property and use the following cellular queues: #215 at the Benjamin Ring House — #216 at the Gideon Gilpin House — and #217 at the Birmingham Friends Meetinghouse located outside the park.

Parking areas located at each site are provided for solo drives, while drivers with multiple visitors are welcome to operate the self-guided guided tours on speaker phone.

In 2009, the state closed the park and three other museums temporarily due to a lack of funding which resulted from a budget crisis. The historical landmark reopened two weeks later under an interim agreement between PHMC and Chadds Ford Township assisted by Brandywine Battlefield Associates and Friends of Brandywine Battlefield.

Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates is currently working with the Friends of Valley Forge to enhance visitors’ experience by offering more attractions to the cellular tour menu in the near future.

Last year marked the Battle of the Brandywine’s 240th anniversary, the largest single day battle of the American Revolutionary War, according to Brandywine Battlefield Park Associate President Linn Trimbell.

“Understanding the importance of Brandywine Battlefield’s role in forming this nation has often come from museum visitors,” Trimbell said. “People from around the world tour the museum and share stories of their ancestors who fought in the war.”

In 2019, Brandywine Battlefield Associates will continue the newly launched Revolutionary Dining Series at The Gables of Chadds Ford Restaurant with a lecture by local artist and historian Adrian Martinez at 6 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Brandywine Battlefield welcomes volunteers and college interns. For more information, please visit BrandwineBattlefield.org or contact Janet Bowen at JanBowen@pa.gov.

Contact Victoria Lavelle at communitarian@dccc.edu

New Pa. representative shares her vision for change

By Valerie Battaglia

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Newly elected Pennsylvania Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-165) stands in front of The Communitarian newsroom on Marple campus. Photo by Valerie Battaglia

The 2018 midterm elections brought fresh faces into Congress, including Pennsylvania Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-165).

Disgusted by the presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle during the 2016 election, O’Mara said she was inspired to run for state representative.

“I wasn’t running to win,” O’Mara explained. “I was running to show anyone who felt politics didn’t belong to them that it can.”

O’Mara visited DCCC’s Marple campus on Nov. 21 to discuss the issues she campaigned on. She said pursuing a change surrounding these issues is a matter of funding and requesting the right congressional committees.

Throughout her campaign, O’Mara heavily focused on education funding. She is in the process of requesting the House Education Committee to work on legislation that would proportionally distribute school funding from the state.

“The issue I heard the most about from people within our district was education funding,” O’Mara said. “I want to work really hard on implementing the Fair Funding Formula in Pennsylvania.”

The Fair Funding Formula was created in 2015 to replace the outdated formula currently in use. If fully implemented, public school districts would receive funding per pupil.

At the time of the agreement, it was decided that seven percent of funding would be distributed through the Fair Funding Formula. It is O’Mara’s goal to move 100 percent of funding through the Fair Funding Formula.

O’Mara would also like to improve public schools in zip codes where quality public education is lacking, so parents don’t have to rely on charter schools. She said this would also eliminate the issue of families having to uproot due to inadequate schools within their districts.

In addition to other changes dire to the state’s healthcare legislation, O’Mara emphasized the importance of protecting the expansion of Medicaid within Pennsylvania, as well as lowering prescription costs.

“I don’t think it’s fair that I hear from constituents that they’re choosing between getting their prescriptions filled and paying their bills,” said O’Mara, adding she also wants to make mental health treatment more accessible and less stigmatized. Drawing on her personal experiences, O’Mara explained that she lost her father to a gun-suicide.

“[My father] was a firefighter,” O’Mara said. “We now know that many firefighters, police officers, and first responders are dealing with PTSD.”

Having conversations about mental health is the first step to ending the stigma, O’Mara believes.

“We need to help people realize it’s a very normal thing to seek treatment for mental health,” O’Mara said. “It should be as second nature as calling the doctor when you have a cold or the flu.”

O’Mara discussed the importance of destigmatizing mental health issues in the classroom too. She said including this topic in the regular K-12 education curriculum teaches children how to communicate their emotions, as well as what warning signs to look for in loved ones.

The inadequacies of how Pennsylvania handles and discusses mental health are just as relevant to O’Mara as bipartisan issues, such as gerrymandering.

In politics, gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating district boundaries to favor a certain party, which disproportionately elects members of the party responsible for gerrymandering.

Pennsylvania redrew its congressional maps this year, which affected the congressional election for voters within the district O’Mara represents.

“Remember, both sides gerrymander,” O’Mara warned. “I think the way we fix [gerrymandering] is creating a nonpartisan commission to draw the maps. That is what Fair Districts PA has been working on for the past two years, probably longer.”

While on the topic of nonpartisanship, O’Mara shared her opinion on gun control as a Democrat.

“I always preface this conversation by stating that my husband and I are both gun owners,” O’Mara said. “We see both sides of the conversation.”

O’Mara wants to start with regulations most Americans agree on. According to her, 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks before purchasing a firearm.

To O’Mara, an important part of gun regulation is ensuring that only individuals qualified to own a firearm are able to purchase one. Reasonable background checks would prohibit those with a history of domestic abuse and individuals experiencing a mental health crisis from gaining access to guns.

“Other states have red flag laws,” O’Mara explained. “If a family member you know is in crisis, or expresses that they might hurt themselves, you can temporarily take [their gun] away from them. That’s been proven to prevent gun suicides.”

Drawing on personal experience from both her father and other family members, O’Mara discussed the importance of DCCC’s education for her brother, who graduated from the Marple campus with his associate degree in business administration.

“[My brother] thinks if he went right to Temple [University] he doesn’t know if he would’ve been able to handle it,” O’Mara said. “Going here first gave him the skills he

O’Mara is confident the students currently enrolled at DCCC have the opportunity to achieve the same level of academic success as her brother, Joe.

“You are in a great place,” O’Mara said. “Keep going. Set a goal for yourself. Set smaller goals to help you achieve that larger goal. If I can flip the 165th, you can do anything.”

Contact Valerie Battaglia at communitarian@dccc.edu 

I was at the Springfield Mall shooting

By Caroline Sweeney

While typing in the rewards information for a young woman I was ringing up at Aerie in Springfield Mall, I was suddenly interrupted by my frantic manager, who demanded her store keys resting in the draw under my keyboard. I tossed her the keychain and continued ringing up the customer.

Handing her the large Aerie bag, I smiled before bidding her goodbye and moving on to the next customer.

Once again, I started to type in the rewards information of my new customer when she asked me, “Why are the doors on the store closing?”

I quickly looked up and watched as the gate of Aerie closed; then I looked through the archway connecting Aerie and American Eagle and also saw their glass doors being slammed shut.

I slowly shook my head no at the new customer before a young mom rushed at me. She had an iron grip on her young son’s hand and had an exacerbated look on her face. “Can I take my son and hide out in your fitting room?”

Unsure of what was going on, I nodded at her; she then turned to the line of people in front of me and said that there was a shooter at the mall.

Shootings have become something people hear about fairly regularly, and even though events like this happen all over the world, people don’t think about what they would do if it happened to them.

Now I found myself in that position.

I live in a middle-class suburban area of Delaware County called Ridley Park, about 15 minutes from the Springfield Mall. Events like this are something that I only hear about on the news, and never imagined it would happen so close to home.

I have worked at the mall in Aerie for about two and a half year and never considered that a shooting is something I would need to worry about. It is something that doesn’t happen in my neighborhood.

I was terrified.

The mother quickly turned around, making her way to the fitting room. I had no idea what was happening or what to do. I was hoping that someone would have said something over the headset all the employees wear, but it was silent.

Out of reflex, I continued ringing through the line that had accumulated. I also kept looking around to see if other store had closed their doors and gates as well, but people did not seem to be panicking.

Finally, my manager informed the employees that we would being going into lockdown. She ran to me, saying, “Finish everything you’re doing, grab everyone in your store and get over to the American Eagle side.”

At this point I was shaking a little. I rushed back to the mother and took her to the other side of the store. I could tell she was extremely upset and scared, so I tried to keep my emotions under control, so I wouldn’t upset her further.

In fact, my coworkers and I all had to hide our emotions as we rushed to move people to the back of the store and check out all the remaining customers in line. There were about 30 customers in the store and 10 employees. Once everyone was in the back of the store, we just had to wait.

I watched as my three managers rushed around making phone calls and explaining the circumstances to annoyed and confused customers. My coworker Kelli, who had just returned from her break, came up behind me. “What is happening?” she asked. “Someone said there is a shooter? This is insane!”

At this point, I had a better idea of what was happening in the mall. I knew that there was someone with a gun, but they he was outside of the mall. The knowledge of that seemed to have spread through the store and added a small sense of security for everyone.

After answering several questions from customers and replying to concerned text messages from friends and family, a police officer violently knocked on the front doors.

The officer began escorting us out of the store and through the empty mall. Armed police lined the sides of the corridors, creating a walkway for us.

When everyone was finally outside, our customers rushed to their cars while the rest of my coworkers and I waited for our managers in the cool October air. The parking lot was littered with police officers from several townships, onlookers watching the chaos, and news reporters with their camera crews.

Despite the intense circumstances, we were able to relax. Our manager eventually came out carrying all of our personal items that we were not allowed to grab when we were evacuated.

Eventually, management announced that the mall would be closed for the rest of the day and reopen the next morning. We were informed that no one was injured, but the idea of “What if…” kept creeping into my thoughts.

Once I was finally home, I found out that a result of a fight between two groups of people. The exchange began in the mall before moving to the parking lot, where multiple shots were first fired.

Several cars were hit by bullets; those involved in the shooting fled the mall, and no arrests have been made.

But my heightened adrenaline did not subside until the next day. I found myself more anxious and stressed than usual. I never thought I would have this experience until I did.

Contact Caroline Sweeney at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu

Predicting the unpredictable: The Stanley Cup playoffs

By Caroline Sweeney

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Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown checks Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore during first period action in game three of round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo courtesy of Robert Gauthier/LA Times

Approximately 2,500 games later the stage is set, and the matchups are finalized. After playing a long 82 game season, 31 teams have been whittled down to 16, all in the pursuit to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup. The playoffs began on April 11 with the first round matchups.

The Western Conference matchups for the first round are the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche, the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Wild, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Los Angeles Kings, and the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks.

First round matchups for the Eastern Conference are the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New Jersey Devils, the Bostons Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I predict that the Western conference finals will include the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, with the Predators prevailing for their second appearance in the cup finals.

For the Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Bruins will be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Bruins win, they will head to the cup finals against the Nashville Predators.

Three playoff series that I am mostly looking forward to watching is the Flyers and the Penguins, the Lightning and the Devils, and the Golden Knights and the Kings.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the past two Stanley Cups and are on the hunt for a third. The Penguins are one of the favorites to win the cup because of the simple fact that the team has won the cup multiple times in past seasons.

The Penguins have also shown their power and resilience during the regular season. With the number one ranked power play percentage and goals on power plays, it is difficult to defend against this dominant team.

Most importantly, the Penguins also have two of the best players in the league in Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Those two players alone give them a leg up on the Flyers. However, the Flyers have the ability to get under the skin of the Penguins players.

Once that happens, the Penguins begin to struggle and make poor plays, opening the door for the Flyers. When the game is not going the way the Penguins want it to, they become overly aggressive. The Penguins take unnecessary penalties, and these penalties lead to opportunities for the Flyers to score.

In the west, the Golden Knights have been the major surprise throughout the NHL season, despite being an expansion team with nothing but young, inexperienced players from other teams and a few veterans that have been in the league for years.

With a 51-24 regular season record and ending with 109 points, the Golden Knights lead the Pacific division and occupied third place in the Western Conference. Even with their impressive regular season, the Golden Knights will probably not make an impact in this year’s playoffs because they are an inexperienced playoff team and do not have the same depth in players that the Kings do. The Kings have a majority of the same players from the team who won the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup.

The Kings were the number one team in goals allowed, despite having a top ranked, former Vezina trophy winner in Jonathan Quick. The Kings let in a lot of goals, and the quick shots and slick hands of James Neal and William Karlsson have made their mark on this playoff series and the regular season.

The playoffs are unpredictable, and anything can happen. Teams that have been at the top of the standings, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, have the real possibility to lose in the first round to the New Jersey Devils.

Naysayers may argue that what happens in the regular season is an indication of what is to happen in the playoffs. But every team is now on a clean slate since making the playoffs. During the regular season, the Devils swept the Lightning, one of the top teams in the league. The Lightning were number one in goals scored and second in power play goals.

Tampa Bay has built their team through the draft and made big moves during free agency, so they will not fall in the first round. They are simply too good in many different categories.

Anything goes in the playoffs. NHL analyst, commentator, and former player Edward “Eddie” Olczyk said it best: the playoffs are a war, players are bloody and beat up, like nothing you have ever seen.

So anything can happen. Maybe the “City of Champions” feeling will inspire the Flyers and Philadelphia will have a third parade.

Contact Caroline Sweeney at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu

Philadelphia plumber’s podcasts promote pop culture

By Shane Soderland
Special to The Communiarian

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In his spare time, Philadelphia plumber Anton Reed produces a podcast that is getting noticed. Photo courtesy of Anton Reed

“See that,” Anton Reed says, motioning to the bottom of his street. “A kid got shot on this street and some people made that for him.”

The telephone pole at the base of his street hasbeen used as a local shrine to the slain young man. The memorial consists of a handwritten poster, a few multicolored ribbons, and various stuffed animals.

Reed, 25, is marching fervently through the Walmart’s electronic department in search of a microphone. Frustrated by the device’s absence from shelves, he departs immediately.

“Next up is Target,” he says. Rejuvenated, Reed advances toward the store in a last ditch effort to find the audio tool.

“We don’t have any of those,” the clerk tells Reed. “Sorry, we don’t sell that kind of mic.” Reed leaves the store, seemingly anxious and disappointed.

“Sh-t!” Reed exclaims. “I gotta make due with one mic. Maybe, we’ll just take turns on the mic. I don’t wanna mess with the audio — it sounds weird when I turn the audio up. You can hear motherf—–s breathing and sh-t. I’ll figure something out.”

Reed is not some run of the mill tech enthusiast. He is the creator of a podcast called “Sweetdogg and Friends.”

The show is a platform for Reed to discuss various pop culture events, such as sports, music, and film.

Reed will often have friends appear on the show to discuss these events, hence the name.

Reed records, edits, and distributes the podcast out of his home in Northwest Philadelphia.

Since Reed’s podcast has recently garnered the attention of the station manager from “G-town Radio,” Reed now does weekly broadcasts from their studio and continues to record material for his podcast.

Reed enters his grandmother’s home and hastily runs upstairs to get his laptop computer. He goes to the basement to set up for his sports broadcast.

“I wanna make sure I clean my computer before I do anything,” Reed says. “Just clear any junk files that could slow down my Mac. See, this ain’t so bad. A lot of the time when I work on this stuff, I gotta trash like 2000 files.”

Reed highlights numerous files and marks them for deletion. Afterwards, Reed moves the files to the trash and clears his junk files.

Next, Reed opens “Mixcloud” on his computer to display the material that he has uploaded to the service. The service holds less than a dozen of his podcasts.

Reed then mentions “Soundcloud,” a music streaming platform that he has uploaded content to.

The material includes a collection of a few personal songs — some even written and performed by him and his friends. His most popular song, “Blood Water,” has more than 1000 views.

Afterward, Reed shows the two types of editing software he uses for his audio. “This one is ‘Garageband’ — it works fine, but it doesn’t do everything I need it to do,” he says. “This next one is ‘Audacity,’ which is free to the Mac. I like this one because I can censor cursing on this if I want to.”

Reed then displays the software’s capabilities using a song from the catalog of artist Biggie Smalls.

“See, if I don’t wanna hear the n-word, I can just highlight that part and bleep it.,” he explains.

Reed went to Martin Luther King High School and apprenticed as a plumber for Kenneth J. Klein Plumbing and Heating after graduation. He has been working as a plumber for the past three years.

Reed is unsure what triggered his love of music and pop culture. “I’ve just always loved hip hop,” he says. “I’ve loved it as early as I can remember.”

Reed was inspired to do a podcast when the rapper Cam’ron was accused of being chauvinistic. “A white male feminist said Cam’ron was a misogynist,” Reed says. “I thought it was bullsh-t, and wanted to talk about it.”

Reed initially had little technical prowess. “I just kind of play with things,” he says. “I’m still learning things about this equipment.”

Reed’s content has had moderate public success — regularly maintaining steady viewership of about 20 people per podcast.

“I just do this for fun,” he says. “If something is big in the news and I don’t feel like talking about it — I won’t.”

Reed attributes his success to a helpful stranger. “Someone sent my former show to the station manager and he liked it,” he says. “My old show was called Hip Hop History.”

Reed also bi-weekly performs open mikes in Philadelphia at various venues and shares a few thoughts on how it applies to his Podcasts. “It helps with public speaking, I suppose,” he says. “I just do that because I’m bored.”

Reed pulls out a child’s book bag and combs through his show notes. “These are just some I wrote for today,” he says. “I’ll just thumb through this before the show. Sometimes, I look at it during the show, just to remember the talking points.”

Reed puts the notes back into his green folder and checks the time.

“Damn!” he says. It’s almost three o’clock. Mans is gonna be here soon — gotta put the game on.”

Mans, a friend of Reed’s, will arrive soon to watch a basketball game and be a quest on the show.

Reed then briefly speaks about his expectations for the show. “I’m doing this for fun right now,” he says. “I would hope people like what me and my friends think about things.”

Reed is unsure of the potential avenues the podcasting will take him down, but he remains positive.

“I have no idea,” Reed says. “I can’t even imagine where the shows could be. I would love to get paid to just talk about hip hop.”

Contact The Communitarian at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu