It’s not every day that one goes from neuroscientist to blogger, but that’s exactly what Emma Fried-Cassorla did.
Fried-Cassorla has been spreading love notes about Philadelphia for almost a year. These notes aren’t distributed the old-fashioned way, but instead in the modernized form of blogging.
Philly Love Notes was started in May 2012 when Fried-Cassorla realized she needed a change in her life.
“Working in a lab affected me in a negative way,” Fried-Cassorla said. “I was not happy with the fact that I would go entire days without interaction. The blog was a response to that and an opportunity to do something new and different.”
An avid traveler and former resident of places such as Glacier National Park and Flagstaff, Ariz., Fried-Cassorla said she has always loved escaping from the city – but found that her home has been and will continue to be Philadelphia.
Fried-Cassorla said she found that she can take charge of her own destiny in terms of community.
“Love our community. If we love our community, we can create the change we want and have a better outlook on the city and like it more,” Fried-Cassorla said.
As a way to love the Philadelphia community more, Fried-Cassorla began to ask for submissions after starting her blog – first by asking her friends and having them ask their friends for submissions of places that people loved and wanted to share. Eventually, word spread and now people send in submissions without Fried-Cassorla having to ask.
“When I started, my personal goal was to meet places, see places and have positivity about the city, and I’ve reached that goal,” Fried-Cassorla said. “Now, my goal is to make [the blog] last.”
The blog covers many different topics, including places in Fairmount Park, bars, statues and even post offices. When Fried-Cassorla was asked which love note was her favorite, she didn’t hesitate.
“The top of the PSFS building is the best place that’s come out of this,” Fried-Cassorla said. “It’s an incredible view. I take everyone there now.”
Another notable place, Fried-Cassorla said, is the FDR Skatepark. Photo blogger and Washington, D.C., native Hilary Malson sent in the love note about the park, wanting others to share the experience. A full-fledged skate park sitting under Interstate 95 on Broad Street and Pattison Avenue is not just for the fun of experienced skaters. Malson, who does not skate herself, urges everyone to go.
“I will say it was extraordinarily diverse, though maybe not at first glance,” Malson said. “One group that was heavily represented there were skaters, of course. [There is a] diverse group of people [who come] from all walks of life. Young, older. Black, white. Men and women. FDR definitely defies any notions of skating being a teenage boy thing.”
Philly Love Notes was created so that these types of stories could be shared, according to the page itself.
“I’ve known how much love FDR and how much that single place defined my experience with Philadelphia,” Malson said.
Philly Love Notes shows a wide variety of places, so there can be something that suits anyone’s interests.
Fairmount Park has a wide array of activities, but paper cutout artist Joe Boruchow and new Philadelphian Emma Jacobs found one to be particularly interesting. Near the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, the Puryear’s Pavilion is hidden among the trees.
“It’s one of my favorites,” Boruchow said. “I chose to write about it, because not too many people know about it, and it really is a hidden treasure. The Pavilion is free…if you can find it.”
Looking through Philly Love Notes, it’s clear there are plenty of other “hidden treasures” to be found. Fried-Cassorla said she has found seeing these places and meeting new people refreshing.
“I’ve met people who have done interesting things,” Fried-Cassorla said. “This makes me feel more inspired. I just do the advertising. Other people write the pieces, and I share them, so the credit goes to those who wrote love notes that are heartfelt and have meaningful thoughts to them. This was a personal project, but it’s based on the goodwill of others.”
Wanting to be seen as a positive beacon of light, Philly Love Notes avoids the negative aspects that come up in everyday living in Philadelphia, Fried-Cassorla said.
“Philadelphia people focus on the negative, which rightfully deserves press, but a lot of good things are overlooked,” Fried-Cassorla said. “There are really cool things in the city, but people like to be negative, because it’s easier to be so. But talking about the positive can make you see what you want the city to look like.”
It’s easy to get discouraged by big problems faced in an urban environment, but Philly Love Notes is a reminder of the more pleasant things Philadelphia has, Boruchow said.
“Philly Love Notes is an excellent introduction to what the city has to offer,” Boruchow said. “It’s great for newcomers and long-time locals alike.”
Fried-Cassorla said on her blog that she is planning on changing the dialogue of the city, and, she said, it can be done by loving the community and changing perspective.
“Philly Love Notes is such a wonderful project, because it gives Philadelphians a platform to share their love for a special place with a really wide audience,” Melson said. “It also lets the small business owners, the employees at [the Department of Parks and Recreation], the architects, the museum curators, the SEPTA bus operators, the restaurant servers and everyone else working at Philly Love Notes destinations that their work matters to other people.”
Philly Love Notes takes all submissions and is looking for new ones every day. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelsea Finn can be reached at email@example.com.