Monday, February 8, 2016

331 Shirts Speak a Thousand Words

We could all use a visual reminder of how many lives are lost to guns in Philadelphia. This one is a stunner. It depicts, in T-shirts, each gun murder of 2012. You can see it on the front lawn on the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. It was erected on Saturday.

331 Shirts Speak a Thousand Words


We could all use a visual reminder of how many lives are lost to guns in Philadelphia. This one is a stunner. It depicts, in T-shirts, each gun murder of 2012. You can see it on the front lawn on the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. It was erected on Saturday.

Here's info about the memorial, from a press release distributed by Heeding God's Call:

This project, intended to demonstrate to passersby on heavily trafficked Germantown Avenue, was the vision of Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, Rector of St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill.  The plan is to move the memorial every few weeks to another faith community, so many Philadelphians can get a graphic idea of the enormity of the destruction visited upon the city by rampant gun violence.

Yesterday's construction of the memorial was accompanied by song and prayer and a blessing of the memorial and all who worked to make it by Rev. Cindy Jarvis, Senior Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

Immediately upon its completion cars driving by on Germantown Avenue began slowing to view it and to read the signs describing its purpose.  Rector Kerbel said: “Our hope is to dramatize the sad and amazing loss of life from guns our city faces each year, month and day.  We want people to understand that gun violence is more than back page news reports, more than black and white statistics on a page.  We hope that people witnessing our memorial will take the need for change to heart and wil so demand that our political leaders, starting with Mayor Nutter, will take on the courage of Martin Luther King, Jr. and work for real and meaningful change, not just talk.”

 Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God's Call, the faith-based and grassroots movement to end gun violence, said: “I hope others are as stunned by the memorial as I was.  We hope faith communities across the city will seek to host the memorial at their places of worship.  And, we hope that people and communities of faith beyond Philadelphia will learn about the memorial and construct similar memorials of the murdered in their cities.  We hope to hear from many.”

 Heeding God’s Call is the faith-based and grassroots movement to prevent gun violence.  Headquartered in Philadelphia, Heeding is growing rapidly and has active chapters in Northwest, Northeast and West/SW Philadelphia, on the Main Line, in Harrisburg, Baltimore and Washington, DC.  Heeding seeks to bring faithful and public pressure to bear on gun shops in order to persuade them to avoid selling to those who would put guns on the street.  Heeding was instrumental in bringing federal authorities to shutter notorious Colosimo’s Gun Center on Spring Garden Street in late ’09.  Heeding is currently active at two gun shops in Northeast Philadelphia and one in Washington, DC.

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When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

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