March 7, 2012

our friend, kensington

We love our town.  We love our neighborhood. In fact, we love it so much we think of it more as a person than a place. It’s scrappy. It’s seen a whole lot of history. It’s constantly growing and changing for the better. We can relate.

From the industrial revolution through World War II, Philadelphia generated the lion’s share of the nation’s industrial output. At that time, greater Kensington was among the most important neighborhoods in America. It’s scores of factories employed thousands and its businesses were a veritable who’s who of American production.  This is the proud history of the neighborhood Pizza Brain calls home.

Yet, Kensington and particularly lower Frankford Avenue was largely void of businesses by the 1980s.  Although nearly 30,000 people live nearby today, the effects of years of flight and abandonment on our business district are only now just beginning to abate.

So, while the bustle of factory workers has long-since ebbed, the area is experiencing an active rebirth.

Artists and artisans are joining longtime residents in their commitment to building a new Kensington.  They are also aiming to achieve a different development aesthetic than “gentrification” typically serves up.

Artist communities, production collectives, urban farms and design studios are being built in the places where factories once operated.

Community organizations such as EKNA, FNA and the NKCDC have been instrumental in declaring lower Frankford Avenue the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor. In just a few years, several new galleries and cafes have opened.

Restaurants have opened, too.

…some even getting nods from the food network.

And word on the street is, a certain food museum is being built.

Regenerative renewal. That’s a phrase Pizza Brain would use to describe what’s going on right now in Kensington – and we like it. Circle of Hope, our faith-based community, likes it and lives it just a few doors down from us.

Their thrift store, Circle Thrift, provides affordable housewares, baby goods and clothes for surrounding residents. On top of that, 20% of their profits go out the door to help fund other regenerative, positive projects around the world.

We think there’s a lot to borrow from this idea.

Some might struggle to find the connection between a neighborhood, a pizza shop and regeneration. But it’s not that much of a stretch. We love pizza because it’s inherently communal. It makes people happy. When you get right down to it, we’re just facilitating the sharing of this happiness. We’re building a space that takes the American pizza experience back to it’s roots – creating a place where life is celebrated and friends, family and strangers can connect. Increasing the piece, so to speak.

And all this can occur because of a thing so simple, so ubiquitous as pizza.

* To the 181 individuals who have doughnated to our kickstarter page thus far, you have our sincerest thanks. Keep spreading the word! We’re 66% funded as of this post.

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