I’m originally from Michigan. Relatively speaking, the majority of residents in Michigan are very nice people. After receiving my MFA in 2004, I moved to Philly and have lived in several different neighborhoods within the city center. I was shocked by many experiences. People in Philly would tell me to give it a few years. I would shrug my shoulders thinking that I would definitely not give this gritty city more than two. Well… here I am. Thirteen years later, I’m still living in this edgy and tough North East place I call home.
FIRST LIBERTY BELL:
My first Liberty bell was given to Mike, owner/manager of the mailbox store, in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. If anyone knows this kind and quiet man– you’ll know he runs a smooth and efficient business. Anytime I have to ship hundreds of Christmas cards or a few packages, I start having anxiety about the post office. Thinking to myself, “how long will this take me?” Definitely two or three hours! My family in Michigan has no clue how fortunate they are. They walk in, the employee knows their first and last name, and he or she takes care of them in minutes! Most places in Philly have a line that wraps around endlessly inside the small building. And while waiting in line you are forced to hear an older woman in front of you with her angry heavy gasps and the guy behind you screaming at his baby mamma. And then I think to myself, “OH NO! I need to move my car! It’s been two hours and PPA is going to give me a $32 dollar ticket!” So with that being said, Mike has saved my mental status on several occasions. I now drive across the city and ship my packages from the Mailbox Store in Northern Liberties. I’m not the only one who feels this way!
I thought of this idea because of Mike. What a great person! One day I was short money and he paid for it. I mean…..who does that? Mike does. He had a bronze Liberty bell on his desk, but it wasn’t even half of a bell. I thought to myself. Mike deserves better than that! Because of him, thank you kind Sir, I’m now going around the city and giving Liberty bell’s as trophy’s. As “hard” as this city is, I’m quite certain, people like to be appreciated. I’m not saving any lives by doing this– I just thought it would be nice to be nice.
SECOND LIBERTY BELL :
My second Liberty bell was given to Gleaner Cafe in the Italian Market area of Philadelphia. This amazing coffee shop is tucked away on 9th Street. I feel like most tourists walk by, and amazingly enough, see their own reflection and keep walking. Or they open the door and Electric Wizard or The Black Angels are playing and they realize they can’t buy a Philly t-shirt or cheese steak. Every employee is super nice. I’ve never felt like I was intruding or making their lives difficult by ordering my usual red-eye and Gleaner on Pumpernickel. They have a different artist every month- and the artwork is always eclectic and quality. Mostly two-dimensional but not always. I’ve always had Amelia, Shannon, and Tara take care of me. But I’m sure every employee is awesome. Thank you, ladies! I’m showing my ceramic sculptures there in June. Come and see for yourself how great Gleaner Cafe is!