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Tell us what you find hopeful

Even just paying attention to the bright spots helps us all feel… well, brighter. Take time to notice and share things that make you hopeful!



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Where to Find Hope

It’s so hard to be optimistic these days. But look closely and you’ll find reasons for hope all around us.

Where to Find Hope

It’s so hard to be optimistic these days. But look closely and you’ll find reasons for hope all around us.

I hesitate to start a story about hope with despair, but in case you haven’t noticed: Things are pretty terrible lately. There’s the tragedy and horror of the pandemic (still; again). The climate. Afghanistan. Our cracking democracy. The shootings of young adults; the shootings of children. The sorry state of our schools. The continuing inequity. The anger. The fear—the unending fear—of what other tragic horror is to come.

It’s hard—even as someone whose days are devoted to finding solutions and civic connections, whose general nature is to tilt towards hope—to find reason for optimism these days. It is, also, more important than ever to find it because we cannot heal what ails us if we don’t think a cure exists.

Feeling hopeful is a choice, a deliberate act of personal and collective consciousness that sometimes takes hard work. And when you look for it, you can find beacons of hope everywhere—even in these times.

At a memorial service for the mother of a dear friend last weekend, a mourner stood up to relate a story about her that made my ears perk up. In a conversation about Pandora’s Box, she reminded him that the only thing left—after chaos was unleashed—was hope. So he asked her, in trying times, where to find hope now. Her answer stuck with him, and now (paraphrased) with me: Look in a mirror, she told him. Hope lies with you.

Corny? Maybe. But it’s also true that feeling hopeful is a choice, a deliberate act of personal and collective consciousness that sometimes takes hard work. And when you look for it, you can find beacons of hope everywhere—even in these times.

Below, some moments of hope and joy from near and far to get us through. (This is by no means a complete list. Please share things that make you hopeful with me!)

Where to find hope right now

Making the best out of a bad situation? | Photo by Allison Carafa

1. The remnants of Hurricane Ida were an unmitigated disaster for many. But who could fail to be charmed by our ridiculous, tetanus-risking Philadelphians doing back flips, floating in an inner tube, kayaking on the Vine Street Expressway “river”—or the designer who made a T-shirt to commemorate the event?


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A post shared by Rachel (@rdorothyp)

2. That back-flipper? He was apparently Justyn Myers, who is a Philly-style hero for our times: Before the Ida flips, he was known for the dumpster pool; after, for turning a not-yet-open-to-cars roundabout into a Fishtown roller rink. Someone make that guy king of the city.

3. In the midst of the tragedy of Afghanistan is the pride of being in Philadelphia, which was the second city, after Washington, D.C., to welcome refugees, with open arms and spirit: with welcoming signs at the airport, food, medical care and homes. The Nationalities Services Center had more than 1,000 people signed up as volunteers as of a couple weeks ago, with donations of money and supplies pouring in as well. We are spectacularly generous.

how to help immigrants
Philadelphia gained 78,000 new residents over the last decade—most of whom are immigrants. | Photo by Maryland GovPics / Flickr

4. That’s a reminder of another thing that makes our city so wonderful: It’s diversity. According to the Census, we gained about 78,000 people over the last decade, mostly immigrants. That means: a more vibrant city, more small businesses, a more interesting population—and an international food scene (hello, Northeast Philly!) that is an unending source of exploration.

5. Amidst the often empty promises from corporate America about Black lives mattering, Philadelphia is poised to become a national leader in socially-good investing, with 10 new funds worth over $350 million set to launch this year with the aim of making positive, equitable change in the city.

6. Meanwhile, in response to last year’s economic disaster, Philly has also become a national leader in keeping people housed through an Eviction Diversion program which mediates landlord-tenant disputes, to create (for example) payment plans that benefit both parties. The program, praised by the U.S. Department of Justice, has kept thousands of renters in their homes since last September.

Hemp masks by local B. Corp United By Blue, dog-approved

7. The return of mask mandates feels like a setback in our plague year(s). But less so when they are hemp masks from local B Corps United By Blue, which (in addition to picking up a pound of trash from waterways for every purchase) donates a mask to homeless Philadelphians for every package of three masks purchased. So far, they’ve donated over 30,000 masks.

8. The ultimate in Philly optimism: The first 22 seconds of this year’s Eagles hype video starting with Jason Kelce’s moccasins, ending with his ”Go Birds.”

9. We have sweets, from delightful local purveyors, like Okie Dokie Donuts and Crust Vegan Bakery, both women-owned, and like women, sweet and tough: Crust insists on masks in the shop, charges anyone who comes in without one $1 for a disposable one, and then donates that money to ProjectHOME.

This photo of two women packing an aid box accompanies an article about how to help people in Haiti and Afghanistan right now
Our city saw an explosion of locals stepping up to help those in need during the pandemic. Philly, we ❤️ you so hard. | Photo by Danielle Butin / Flickr

10. The pandemic, and its related economic fallout, left even more Philadelphians hungry than usual. But 2020 also saw an explosion of help: Philabundance distributed 55 million pounds of food last year, nearly double what they gave out in 2019, and that pace has continued this year. That is only possible because the hunger-fighting group also doubled its donor base, from an anonymous $1 million donor to kids who pulled change from their piggy banks.


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A post shared by Mama-Tee Fridge™ (@mamateefridge)

11. Also: As of earlier this month, there were 30 free community fridges all over town, powered and supplied by volunteers.

12. Philly is awesomely weird, and one of our (epically talented) weirdos, Johnny Showcase, made it big this summer, with a good run on America’s Got Talent. His audition reel says it all.

13. If David Attenborough can be optimistic about the state of our earth, then dammit, I can too.


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A post shared by Who Gives A Crap (@whogivesacraptp)

14. This is where I talk about toilet paper—specifically my current favorite B Corps, Who Gives a Crap, which delivers sustainably-manufactured toilet paper to my door and also funnels 50 percent of its profits to build toilets around the world. Mostly, though, I take delight in the company’s silly, pun-filled emails, blog posts and marketing, which invariably make me chuckle while feeling good about my choices.

15. Yes, I (rightly) complained last week about the rage-inducing start to the school year. But also: 120,000 students went back to school this month in person. That’s a beautiful thing.

Happy hour with goats? Philly Goat Project has you covered.

16. I have to admit that I don’t really understand goats, or why people do so many yoga things with them. But I love that Philly Goat Project has unleashed them on our city. I don’t know about goats, but people really are so kooky and wonderful.


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A post shared by booked. (@booked_chestnuthill)

17. Somehow, in our Amazon world, we have become a city of local bookshops, of different varieties, all over town. The newest one, booked., opened its doors last week in Chestnut Hill. You can order your books from any of them on Indiebound.

Nizah Morris by Marisa Velázquez-Rivas, which is part of the #SisterLove street art project
Don’t even think about messing with Philly’s street art. We’ll come for you! | Photo courtesy Conrad Benner

18. We don’t just have more public art than… I’ll just say anyone—we are fierce defenders of it, as evidenced by the Philly outrage when London-based Minor Figures pasted ads for its oat milk on top of existing wheatpaste artwork around town, some of it thanking essential workers. Even months later, I am heartened by the message—don’t mess with our street art—that our free-for-all open-air art gallery is here to stay.


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A post shared by Wes (@someguyinphilly)

19. Speaking of: There’s a moment on a sunny day, when the light hits them just exactly, that all four of the metal beacons at Washington Avenue and Broad Street reflect rainbow-hued sparkles at the same time and make everything seem dazzlingly bright.

Philly will get its first statue of a real-life Black woman, Marian Anderson, soon. | Photo by Carl Van Vechten / Wikimedia Commons/

20. Yes, courts have decided we must maintain our monuments to Christopher Columbus, arguably the Italian least worthy of celebrating. But we are, finally, on our way to erecting the first statue of a real-life Black woman in Philadelphia, the awesome, trailblazing Marian Anderson, in front of the Academy of Music.

21. Because everyone can use a pick-me-up, I’ve started sending a surprise bouquet of flowers every month to a different friend through Bouqs, a monthly subscription service. My friends’ delight is matched only by my own when I get their heartfelt thank yous—proving that a random act of kindness is really a kindness to everyone involved.

22. Live music is back. On my docket: Oh Sees, Bat Fangs and Shannon and the Clams. Who are you going to see?

23. It’s hard to remember with all the frustration over low vaccine rates nationwide, but: The fact that we have a vaccine at all is gob-smacking. As a colleague put it: “We have the ability as a species to rally against a common threat, and that brings me hope. We may not have the political will power to emerge without deep scars and needless losses, but at least we have the ability. And that’s a hell of a lot better than no ability at all.”


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Header photo: Sembrando Sueños Cosechando Esperanzas by artist Patricia Barrera for Mural Arts Philadelphia | Photo by Steve Weinik

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