Category Archives: Friends of TWS

Katie Kerl: Fall Fun Guide

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Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Falling for Philly

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The weather in Philly is finally changing! I had to pull out the sweaters, boots, and scarves last weekend. It was sad to see summer go, but I also love everything fall. Not to mention shorts, sweaters, and scarves happen to be my favorite. No pumpkin spice for this girl though; unless it is my own homemade pumpkin pie and cookies. I made them with my mom and grandmother for as long as I can remember. It is one of my fondest memories as a child. I am more of an apple cider girl, and happen to make pretty potent cider sangria. The recipe proven sneaky enough to put down the heaviest of drinker haha!

 

Cider Sangria Recipe:

1.5 L bottle of Pinot Grigio

½ pint fireball

1.5 c regular whiskey

4 chopped apples

½ c orange juice

5 cinnamon sticks

1 pint fresh apple cider

1 Chopped orange

½ c sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Chop orange and apples into tiny pieces add cinnamon sticks. Then rub them with the cinnamon sugar. Pour in the liquids. Mix and refrigerate. Let the sangria sit for at least 6 hours to overnight for best taste. Add more or less of anything to your liking.  (Guaranteed to leave a few corpses behind at your fall parties)

 On the first day of fall, also fell the first dinner service at K’Far Cafe. This happens to be the newest spot opened by the number one restaurateurs’ in the country, Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook. It was the most exceptional meal that I have had here in Philadelphia. I left in the happiest of food coma after ordering almost the whole menu. I highly suggest checking it out before you can not get a reservation. 

 Linvilla Orchards is great for all ages. This is the best place to go pumpkin and apple picking. It is a very large working farm that makes their own amazing baked goods, grows their own Christmas trees, hay rides, corn mazes, face painting, pony rides, play area for the kids, and many farm animals.

 A few of my favorites from there are the homemade apple cider & donuts, Dutch apple pie, apple/pumpkin butter, apple bread mix, house made honey from their own bees, cheddar bacon bread, and the grilled corn. Let’s just say if you were looking to gain a few extra fall pounds for winter like myself; it is a perfect place to pig out. Not to mention getting everything to decorate the house in the craft section, and coming home with piles of pumpkins to roast seeds and carve.

 If you are not up to leaving the city this year Morgan’s Pier stayed open for Fall Fest. Every weekend you can carve pumpkins and take photos around their foliage decorated deck. All while sipping a crisp cider relaxing before the winter air comes rolling in on the water.

If you are more into horror check out Nightmare before Tinsel in the gayborhood in Philadelphia. It is a seasonal bar, which was most recently Blume for the summer months. Owned by Teddy Sourias, his group is killing the bar game in Philadelphia. You are guaranteed a spooky time here.

 People watching by the park is also fun, P.J Clark’s in Washington square offers a 7 day a week happy hour. That is pretty amazing in any season. The interior is old school chocolate and red leather tufted seating, white table cloths, and an array of black and white photography. Making you feel nostalgia just by walking in the door. Sitting in the walnut room you look out onto the kaleidoscope of colors the city has turned itself into.

 Onto a few parties in the city you would not want to miss. Every fall I attend The Taste of Philly. Being a foodie it is not one to miss, it is held at the Crystal Tea Room. Sampling Philly’s top food and drink destinations, followed by a dance party with a DJ at the end.  

 If you are into house music like myself check out Hallowink 5 featuring Louie Vega & Josh Wink at Warehouse on Watts on the 31st. It is a party that has yet to disappoint me.

 Also, at the same venue the next night Nov.1st, is 14th Annual PEX Halloween Ball “Wizard of Woz. If you want to feel like you have been transformed to another place in time this is the party for you. It is not for the basic bitch bar hopper that is for sure. Get your most extreme costume ready, or just paint it onto yourself. PEX the Philadelphia Experiment is a group of burners (meaning they attend Burning Man) that throw the most fantastic BE YOURSELF parties free of judgment.  

 Now if you are not really into that sort of thing; it is not for everyone. I also noticed on Oct. 26th there is a Haunted Halloween boat party on the Moshulu, and a 2 hour open bar with a VIP ticket. On Oct.26th Dj Ghost will be playing at Noto Nightclub, and 3lau will also be at Noto Nightclub on Halloween night.

 There are tons of other great events through the month. You just have to do a little digging to find what fits your vibe.  Cheers to Falling in love with Philly this Season.

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Katie Kerl

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-eroticism-wins/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Announcements, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Still Life, Student Life, Travel, Women

A.H. Scott: Elevation

A.H. Scott

 

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Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2019

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ELEVATION

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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

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First step; imagine this, you’re 18 with a bangin’ body and a lightweight brain.

Second step; now, turn around and you’re 50 plus with a not so lightweight body and a bangin’ brain.

Well, let’s see if my courage can match my feet and see where this one goes, shall we?

This is E L E V A T I O N.

Elevation is the mind, spirit and body.

She is a woman of a certain age.

She is a woman beyond the years so tender.

She is ME!

Women of a certain age are not trying to be in their 20’s or even trying to pretend to compete in the eyes of men aligned solely for youth.

There it is, that term; ‘women of a certain age’. Oh, sigh.

So, let’s explore. 

Okay, so is what elevation is completely based on sexuality, sensuality and scintillation?

It would be foolish to say it is and foolish to say that it isn’t.

I guess both halves of the whole are a part of what elevation is.

Being in some mythical lineup of long legs, buns of steel, and jugs of joy which haven’t been flirtatiously tapped by Father Time’s golden wand of gravity yet is not who I am.

Oh, so is that elevation?

Okay, maybe that might be it.

Or, is it a spiritual renewal or should I say reconnection with my own being.

Maybe the reconnection isn’t reconnection after all. It might be something far more exquisite; a first contact of my spirit that I have always avoided. Be it out of anxiety or fear.

Anxiety over having exuberance or an unseen joy, then thinking of the selfishness for being out ahead of my skis in hoping for that type of happiness for myself.

Fear of a conscious or unconscious thought of rejection if I said what I felt inside or acted upon my own desires for pursuing dreams beyond where I am situated.

Just give in…

Just let go….

Those are two thoughts that come to my mind.

Give in to what I want. Yet, what if I don’t know what I want.

I don’t mean being fickle or flaky, as if I can’t choose between chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry or even interest from the opposite sex towards me.

No, it’s that overarching ‘ask’ that probably the universe puts out there for me to answer of what I want from life or more importantly, from myself.

Expectations are a daunting thing to comprehend. And, as with the aspect of ‘want’ and ‘release’, I would say ‘expectation’ is that subject that can tip the balance of scales.

But, you know when I think of what is expected of me, as a woman is also mixed with that level of fear that can rise up in my backbone of obligation.

Expectation would be stark and purely rooted in base physicality; as obligation relies upon layers of depth.

Primal and callous hookup in a hotel room without strings and void of patience is what I think of as an expectation of me from another. Veneer ever so shallow of knowing this is in the end of a brief amount of conversation or dinner will end up with him trying to get me into bed.

And, if I’m being honest to that other person and more importantly to myself; that is not the type of woman I wish or hope to be.

Okay, so if the question that is asked of what I want; it comes to be something more than a ‘kitten’ and ‘rooster’ quickie that seems cold.

And, when I mean ‘cold’ I don’t mean there couldn’t be a feverish tumble in between the sheets. Oh, no, I mean vacant of emotion beyond him just getting off and using me as that warm body he’ll enjoy for a short while.

Yep, so I guess that is what I don’t want.

And, if I can say what I don’t want, it then shifts to what I do want.

Then there are men in this world that are evidence that there is something different which is offered. They afford me a path of ease without having to feel constantly in some seen or unseen perception of competition. So nice they are, I am relaxed and even have let my guard down during the give and take which is experienced with them.

On reflection I’d have admit it to myself; but I have had this feeling of obligation in showing a man’s kindness with actions and words of my own in return. That’s probably where I would make a misstep that could stem any furtherance of a relationship.

Let go. Yet, what if I release the reins I’ve held onto so tightly in the lane of self preservation all these years and what I’ve feared in my heart would come to pass?

Mocked and dismissed is what I fear, so my hands grip those reins as tight as I can hold to my core.

The fear of never really measuring up as a lover chills me to the marrow, as I’ve seen other women just swim effortlessly in emancipation’s intensity when it comes to being with a man.

You could say I’m like a door slightly ajar, open enough to be inviting to friends and strangers; but, not being exposed to the fullness that life holds.

The question that I hold in the back of my mind and stem of my soul is this: If I completely reveal myself sexually and spiritually, would there possibly be that crucial connection from another?

Conundrum is one way I could describe it, as taking that step to another level.

And yet, here I am grasping the brass knob and opening the door wider than I’d ever imagined.

This time in my life is my elevation of rising higher in spheres of relationships, from family and friends. But, more importantly, it is the exploration into other avenues of connection.

I know what I don’t want; casual hookups with a shrug of aftermath when departing a locale of liaison.

Never been into one-night stands when I was younger, and I sure as hell ain’t gonna start doing it now. That’s not me. That is not the woman I am.

The only thing about me that is casual is my wardrobe.

I know what I do want; something more than that.

I’m not a teenager, and I’m not in any way trying to be one. But, you know what; one thing which those that are younger have is that fearlessness in knowing they have their whole lives ahead of them. They don’t get bogged down in pessimistic perceptions of who they are and what stirs their exhilaration.

Okay, okay, I won’t play the ‘old lady’ card. But, wow, to be young, tight and full of flight can even make me stand on my tippy-toes to soar carelessly across the light fantastic. So, watch out, whippersnappers! (ha, ha)

You know as you go through life, as the days pass by and turn into years; you have those little interactions along the way. Chit-chatting here and there leads to one mutual dialogue of four words from my lips to whomever I’m talking with – ‘same old, same old’.

Question: Hey, how’s your life going?

Answer: Same old, same old.

Ugh, that wand of Father Time has whacked me on the ass with the SO-SO life! Whoa, that stings!

I know what I want, and it is something more than just same old, same old. But, then again, having a ‘so-so’ life is like a comfortable sweater or snuggly blanket of what one gets used to in keeping things on a thermostatic balance. Not too hot, not too cold. Just so-so.

My predictability has become that two-edged thorn that pricks me from time to time. One side is positivity of being a person that can be relied on, based on my patience, adaptability, and calm demeanor. But, that second side is a bit more tenuous in explaining the downside of being a person that is predictable. In some ways, that predictability is like having my feet planted in cement; for I can be perceived as being not a sprig of spontaneity, but a reed of regularity. 

Yet, life as we live it right now is happening all around us. And, a tiny sledgehammer is coming out of my back pocket to chip away at that cement of caution, as my hips start to sway and my arms begin to embrace enchantment.

Waiting for another to capture that spark from within is a fool’s errand. And, my parents didn’t raise a fool. (Knock wood on that fact) So, I guess I’m claiming that spark for myself. For me – hooray!

Exploring what flips my switch and ignites my motor is the journey that I am on. I’m not speeding down an unseen road, but coasting along at a speed of moderation taking in all that my eyes and soul can seek and absorb along the way.

So, what have I learned as that half century point has spun like golden thread on the spinning wheel of my life?

Desire doesn’t fade and the adventure of life can be filled with possibilities and exploration in coming moments, months, or years.

Some who may be reading this are probably thinking when I use those two words ‘possibilities’ and ‘exploration’; would snap to the conclusion of what I’m referencing is a whom.

Oh no! Although, if the universe is listening; hey, you never know.

Possibilities can go from learning the basics of a new language to diving headlong into off-beat subjects that may peak my interest. Or, even just as tiny a goal of losing another ten pounds and keeping it off. (Fingers crossed and brownies scratched off my shopping list)

Exploration can be as varied as updating my fashion style with a few accent pieces here and there; to hitting bookstores for some paperbacks or heftier fare.

Trying out some new recipes or even letting my taste-buds go on an unknown escapade of flavors. Who knows? The world’s an open kitchen!

Aspects of each have a way of going from that which is non-consequential to the beneficial in the big picture of my life.

I believe there is always room for improving oneself; even when you might not see it in the moment you change something about yourself.

For me, it’s in the knowing that desire that fills my soul and keeps this heart within me beating fast when I accomplish or learn something new is that feverish sense of fulfillment.

As for that fulfillment, it doesn’t have to appear as a connection from an outside insertion inward, but an internal blossom outward from within myself.

May not be that inferno of decades past. Yet, that flame still remains. It smolders. It lingers. It sizzles. It flickers.

Flickering….oh, flickering….and, even those embers that remain are perpetually tickling.

To my own surprise, I am rising! I am exploring! I am elevating to that next level! I may not know what awaits me around the next corner, but my embrace is in a single direction – upward!

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-do-right-woman-a-travesty-in-two-acts-2/

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Environment, Erotica, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Bob Shell: Social Security, Slavery, etc.

Bob Shell: Social Security, Slavery, etc.

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Social Security, Slavery, etc.

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The Social Security System; You work, you pay into it all your working life, and then when you turn 65 you get a monthly check from the government, right? That’s what people think, but there’s a catch. I worked all my life, paid into Social Security, but now I can’t collect a penny. I’m 71 years old now, probably 72 by the time you read this, and that money would sure make my life easier. But when Congress wrote the Social Security Act, they inserted a clause exempting prison inmates from collecting. I paid in like a good citizen, and now when I need it, it’s unavailable to me. I was astonished to learn this when I turned 65. What does being in prison have to do with my previous work history? I think it’s criminal on the part of the government to deny benefits to someone imprisoned when their crime has nothing to do with their previous work history. I paid their damned self-employment tax every year that I was a freelance photographer/writer, often scrimping on things to come up with the money, and now they tell me, “that’s tough, we have no money for you.”

On a related point, slavery is illegal in the U.S.A., right? It was outlawed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, wasn’t it? Go back and read what that 1865 Amendment actually says. It reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”. So, since I’m being punished for a crime whereof I was “duly convicted,” I’m legally a slave. I’ve lost my right to vote, and many of the other rights a citizen enjoys. Legally condoned slavery, in 2018 in America! Isn’t it long past time to change this? Changing the Constitution is very difficult, and for good reason, but this antiquated vestige of the “Civil War” should go.

I believe it’s time for a major overhaul of the US Government and state governments that would purge these antiquated laws from our books. You hear politicians giving lip service to “criminal justice reform” and similar catchy phrases, but nobody is doing anything except talking. Everyone knows the system is broken and gets worse every year, but no politicians dare really try to fix the problems, lest they be tarred with the label, “soft on crime.”. As retired senator Jim Webb said, something is very wrong when the US has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Either we have the worst people on Earth, or the system has run amok.

How can we fix things when legislatures, both state and national, are more concerned with their petty partisan squabbles than with the wellbeing of our country? Maybe things will change with the midterm elections, but I really don’t hold much hope.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-the-token-photo-sets/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Health Care, History, Politics, Popular Culture

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Julian Domanico: The Pursuit of Justice

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Text by Julian Domanico, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Styling: Shirts courtesy of Old School Shirtmakers New York

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Assistant Producer: Anthony Colagreco

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THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE

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Coming from a small, blue collar town in Michigan, I grew up thinking of myself as a “big fish” in a “small pond.” I was a hard worker in school, a competitive runner, and worked on my grandparent’s small farm. My family was one of the only Caucasian, French-Italian immigrant families in a majority of Middle Eastern families. Yet, although I was biracial and surrounded by races of all hues, my light brown skin afforded me more opportunities than my darker friends from Yemen and Eritrea enjoyed. In the 1990s in Michigan, no one used or appreciated the terminology of ‘birth lottery’ or ‘white privilege.’ Then, I did not understand what made me different, nor that it mattered. In hindsight, although I had similar experiences of poverty and being raised by a single parent as the Middle Eastern kids, we had starkly different outcomes. What I understood at the time was that I was expected to leave my rust belt town for greater challenges while the Middle Eastern kids were expected to stay to work in the steel processing plant across the street from my house.

On a sweltering day in August 2008, I took my first steps into my new life on Penn’s campus as an undergraduate. I reveled in the idea of being surrounded by bright people from across the globe to think and create alongside. I dove in quickly to my Penn experience, but haphazardly. I desperately wanted to throw away my old life in Michigan that seemed out of touch with the sleeker, more academic version I was creating in Philadelphia. I soon learned, however, that — trying to be someone I was not – created an emptiness and did not satisfy my passion to do better.

My realization that I was not finding a meaningful experience caused me to forge my own path and to take a different approach. In the summer of 2010, I worked in the office of the 56th Street Philadelphia Census Bureau. It was my first experience in government and working around highly intelligent people outside of Penn. My census colleagues spoke of activism, advocacy, and systems of oppressions in ways I had never heard. Their integrity and passion for purposeful work that served others made me question my own professional motives. Their mantra, “Why does it have to be like this,” has been forever etched into my memory. When I returned to Penn following that summer, I was thrown a curve ball that altered everything about who I was.

My life abruptly changed when Penn asked me to take a leave of absence because I was failing academically. My heart, my psyche, and my sanity were frayed. I lost my identity and, with it, my drive. In retrospect, this road of uncertainty gave me the opportunity to commit myself to self-care and my research. I studied the experiences of African Americans with obsessive compulsive disorder and also tested atypically developing children with psychosis. This work showed me a lack of access and understanding of the systems by disadvantaged persons that I – as a person of relative privilege – more easily navigated. I came to understand why so many people were disadvantaged by our power structures and how they lived lives of sustained suffering. This revelation forced me to shed my selfish lens of what I thought I lacked, to see how fortunate my life had always been, and to resolve to live authentically. I returned to Penn with a renewed and laser focus as to what mattered to me: the betterment of other people by concerted efforts to lift others up. Armed with a clear direction of how meaningful a Penn education can assist me with my goals, I graduated with the highest GPA of my undergraduate experience and immediately began working at the Public Defender’s office in Philadelphia.

Understanding mission driven was my calling, I successfully channeled my past difficulties that emerged from being different and feeling “othered.” I chose to give back through youth-centered work and become who I needed as a child. In addition to the full acceptance of my sexual orientation, which I wrestled with during my leave from college, I finally felt as though I could fully exhale. My identity as a queer male of color informed my experience in and passion for advocacy moving forward. As my world broadened through my ability to empathize and spread my compassion for others, I hit a stride that remains a vibrant cornerstone of my brand and career to this day.

Nine years of work and collaboration with top leaders in the fields of the judiciary, psychology, nonprofits, government, and politics has allowed me to deeply commit myself to a life of positive social impact. I have seen the interconnectivity and understand the “through line” that runs across people-centered service. Throughout my working life, I saw how my knowledge of juvenile mental health played a role in the juvenile justice defense work that I did across the state. I was able to tie that criminal justice understanding to the desperation one experiences during bouts of homelessness and poverty. While working at the Catholic Archdiocese, I delved into philanthropic and the direct service world which gave me an understanding of how religious communities create short-term stability, especially for black and brown youth who had contact with the criminal justice system. I then pivoted to learn about the benefits of education and afterschool programming at City Year and the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) because early educational interventions reduce the potential for poverty, addiction, homelessness and underemployment. All of this work better informed my board work, political volunteerism within Philadelphia, and even my connection with people as a part time barista for the last two years.

This ability to connect has also opened me up to new, creative pursuits. Armed with what I learned as an advocate, by overcoming personal adversities, as well as my self-care routine, I have been able to attract new career opportunities. In June 2019 I was approached by Reinhard Modeling and Talent Agency to begin work as a professional model. Modeling has been a wonderful outlet for my creativity and passions outside of advocacy. However, I want my modeling to be and mean more than the superficiality that plagues the industry. I want my work to be used as a platform for social change and positive acceptance. I’d like to shine a bright light on the power of being genuine in your own skin, believing in what you stand for, and not settling for less than you deserve. Through each of our “birth lotteries” therein lies the ability for a meaningful life that serves others while protecting your individuality. As a kid from the Midwest, modeling was never planned to be the route reveal itself. However, in life I have always been most fortunate on the road less traveled. I hope you will join me in creating your own path.

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Julian Domanico is currently the Public Health Management Corporation’s Director of Community Outreach for the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, Project Leading Youth for Tomorrow (Project L.Y.F.T.). Through his nonprofit career, Julian has advocated for juveniles in placement, marginalized persons (with emphasis on people of color and the LGBTQ+ community), education equity, and on public policy issues impacting millennials.

Julian holds an appointed seat as the Social Justice Chair of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee, serves as the Board Secretary for the LGBTQ+ fundraising nonprofit, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) and is also a board member of a youth-led, education nonprofit, UrbEd, Inc. Within Philadelphia’s political ward system, Julian is one of two Democratic Committee Person representatives for Ward 5, Division 11 (within the boundaries of 13th St. to 10th St., Walnut St. to Spruce St.). He also professionally models commercially and in fashion for Reinhard Modeling and Talent Agency. This is Julian’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

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