Northwest: Five People Making A Difference In The Community

The Northwest section of Philadelphia is filled with passionate people dedicated to bettering their communities. Listed below are five such leaders who use education, communication, healing, expression, fitness, farming and more to engage and inspire their neighbors to lead more balanced, positive lives.

Anaiis Salles, resident beekeeper at Green Sanctuary Community Apiary at Awbury Arboretum

“If you like to eat, you like bees,” said Anaiis Salles, explaining the catastrophic implications of the impending honey bee extinction (currently projected to occur by 2035).

Salles puts the “active” in activist. She is currently the resident beekeeper at Green Earth Sanctuary Community Apiary at Awbury Arboretum, the creator of a children’s board game, “Visualize World Bees,” and the recipient of a research grant from the University of Vermont for her innovative new hive design. Still, the artist/consultant/marketer/activist describes beekeeping as a hobby. You can experience her gentle, earnest style of environmental activism  first hand by signing up for one of her workshops at Awbury.

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Dave Schiman stands in communal treatment room at Roxborough Community Acupuncture

Dave Schiman, owner, practitioner, Roxborough Community Acupuncture

Dave Schiman is the owner and lead practitioner of Roxborough Community Acupuncture, a sliding-scale clinic located on the second floor of a chiropractors office’s atop the Manayunk “Wall.” He opened his community acupuncture clinic in his own neighborhood because he wanted to treat the people he was around on a daily basis.

“I just felt that people would want it in this neighborhood,” he said.

Schiman estimates his model allows him to see four to five times as many patients as private practitioners.

“Watching Dave and seeing how many people he was able to treat in such a short period of time, but how many lives he was able to touch in a positive manner- it blew my mind,” said Melissa McConnell, who works alongside Schiman at Roxborough Community Acupuncture. “There is such a beauty in the healing”.

Christa Campbell is having an open house to present the studio to future dancers
Christa Campbell is having an open house to introduce Merge Dance Studio to the community, order dance wear and register for upcoming summer and fall classes

Christa Campbell, owner, Merge Dance Studio

“I have the pleasure of working with our wonderful students every day and sharing the joy of dance with them!” said Christa Campbell, the enthusiastic owner, artistic director and multi-course instructor of Merge dance and fitness studio. “What could be better than that?”

Campbell, a life-long dancer who has now been teaching for more than a decade, welcomes students of all skill levels, aged two and up, to her weekly classes,which range from pointe to Piloxing. 

Quaiser Abdullah challenges teenagers to learn about other faiths

Quaisier Abdullah, Interfaith Council

Quaisier Abdullah makes a powerfully positive impression. In both the computer science classrooms where he teaches at Temple University and the dozen programs he is involved with at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, Abdullah is a leader and creator of community. He challenges the teenage participants in his “Walking the Walk” interfaith discussion groups to cross imagined boundaries between themselves and those of other classes, races, religions and neighborhoods alike.

“Provide the space for individuals to come together, engage, speak, be authentic and individuals will be able to leave understanding more,” he said.

“Walking the Walk” meets monthly during the school year.

Corrie Spellman prepared
Corrie Spellman takes a look at the plants before planting them

Corrie Spellman, farm manager and educator at Teens 4 Good

Corrie Spellman, the farm manager and educator at Teens 4 Good, is very dedicated to the environment. In the past, Spellman has been involved with many farms and gardens across the country. While in college, Spellman worked as a resident director in her college’s Ecovillage. There, she and other students organized composting, edible landscaping, natural building and planting of native plants.

Today, Spellman teaches teenagers how to plant food, the importance of having a good diet and a few business skills to make the farm thrive. She helps her students mentor the younger kids coming to the farm in the morning. Spellman also makes sure the community is involved. They are regularly invited to come to the farm and meet the teenagers working there.

“People from the neighborhood come out and get a chance to be outside and learn where their food comes from,” said Spellman.

– Text and images by Alison Vayne and Victoria Marchiony 

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