Cindy Kauffman on RiverFest 2006 and the History of the Festival

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Berks.TV caught up with RiverFest 2006 organizer Cindy Kauffman this past weekend at the festival, which took place Friday-Sunday along the Schuylkill River near the Reading Area Community College (RACC) campus. We asked about the history of the event, and how it became the celebration it is today.

This segment also features singer/songwriter duo Maggie Spike performing their original “A Place By the River,” a song they dedicated to the development efforts along the waterway in Greater Reading. This footage was shot as they performed at RiverFest 2006.

NOTE TO READERS: Special thanks to Maggie Spike for sponsoring this month’s CD giveaway. If you sign up for the Berks.TV weekly newsletter by September 30, 2006, you’ll have a chance to win their CD entitled Passenger Station, courtesy of Maggie Spike.

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Jon Scott, Berks Economic Partnership, On Drawing New Business to Greater Reading, PA

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Having been impressed with last year’s U.S. Air Attaché special advertiser section showcasing Greater Reading, we were anxious to meet the agency behind the project. It turns out that things at the Berks Economic Partnership are just getting started, as CEO Jon Scott explains in this segment.

We asked him about key things that will draw business to Berks County. He named the impressive workforce, proximity to major metropolitan areas, and overall quality of life. What’s new to the mix, he explains, is that the region is beginning to market itself to the outside world.

Also new is the realization that the region needs to operate as a unified whole. “As a community, we need to work together for community and economic development,” Jon said. “We need to speak with one voice.”

It seems to be working. Not long ago the region secured $15 million in state funding, something to which Governor Rendell himself proudly alluded in a segment here on Berks.TV just last week.

Of course, we were glad to hear Jon speak about the power of the Web as a way to promote the community. “It’s the foremost marketing tool any community has in this day and age,” he said. We couldn’t agree more.

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This segment is sponsored by Pipe Up! Media, LLC, a Greater Reading, PA-based company offering web video, blogging, and search engine optimization services for companies of all sizes. Pipe Up! Media, LLC, is pleased to announce that they’ve recently become part of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and are proud to be doing business in Berks County. Contact them at info@pipeupmedia.com.

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Tito Rivera and the Hip Hop Culture Foundation, Part One

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From the first time he wrote a rap ten years ago, to launching the Hip Hop Culture Foundation in Reading, PA, Tito Rivera has been hooked on the power of musical culture as a shaping force in society.

In this segment, Tito talks about the gap between the gangster-oriented commercial perspective on Hip Hop and what he calls the “genuine Hip Hop” that focuses on the cultural expression of break dancing, graffiti, emcee’ing, and DJ’ing.

The idea behind the Hip Hop Culture Foundation, he explains, is to promote character and career development through the common language of Hip Hop. Tito envisions a series of programs that appeal to a variety of age groups and to single individuals over a period of many years.

“The Hip Hop Culture Foundation is about figuring out ways to develop our young people, to develop our community, and another part of it is to create a network, to create a real community and ways for them to interact,” Tito says.

In a future segment on the Hip Hop Culture Foundation, we’ll hear about some of the Foundation’s specific projects, and how Tito would like to see the community get involved.

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Governor Ed Rendell: More Opportunities Coming for Latinos in Reading

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We caught up with Governor Ed Rendell this past weekend as he visited the 20th Annual Latin American Festival on Saturday afternoon.

We asked him about his hopes for the Latino community in Reading.

“Cities all over Pennsylvania have begun the process of revitalizing with state help,” he said, “but nobody has done it better than Reading. As that revitalizaton continues to roll out, we’re going to see more economic opportunities for the Latino community here in Reading.”

What about help for the Latino American children of Reading? Governor Rendell wants to continue to fund early childhood education to cut the gap between minority and majority achievement, and roll out a program called “Cover All Kids,” which aims to provide health care insurance for children who lack coverage.

In the coming days, we’ll be sharing excerpts from an interview with an up-and-coming leader in the Reading Latino American community, Hip-Hop expert and cultural visionary Tito Rivera.

NOTE TO READERS: Please take a moment to sign up for our weekly email update that contains summaries of the past week’s videos and the latest information about upcoming programs on Berks.TV.

We’re pleased to announce that if you sign up by September 30, 2006, you’ll be eligible to win the Maggie Spike CD entitled “Passenger Station.” Maggie Spike is a Reading, PA-area duo who will be featured as part of RiverFest 2006, being held September 22-24, 2006.

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Celtic Oyster Festival Reaches New Heights in Berks County, Pennsylvania

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This year’s Celtic Oyster Festival, held at St. Benedict’s Picnic Grove this past August, was a daylong celebration of Celtic culture–music, food, song, and dance.

In this segment, festival organizers Terry Algier and Tom Healey talk about the origins of the four-year-old festival and also about the connection between the festival and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Catholic group responsible for hosting this year’s festival.

“We decided this year we wanted to give it a good push and see if we could get this festival to take off, and as you can see, it has,” Terry said. An estimated 1500 people attended the event, which was a fundraiser for an Irish home for the Hibernians in the Reading area.

This segment also features highland piper Nate Green and dancers from The Martin Family Band. Other acts included the well-known Irish performer Seamus Kennedy.

A note to readers: Check back for an in-depth segment featuring The Martin Family Band in coming days here on Berks.TV.

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Reading, PA’s Blogging Mayor Tom McMahon, Part Two

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A techie at heart, Reading, PA, Mayor Tom McMahon has a big vision for Reading, including ubiquitous wifi, Internet at the Pagoda, and safety and information cameras around the city.

In this segment, recorded just last week, Mr. McMahon shares some elements of this vision. A blogger himself, Mr. McMahon also talks about his blog-reading habits and how he uses the Internet for research as part of his job as Mayor. He also says he’ll watch the occasional news video via the web. We’d love to see him become a regular subscriber to Berks.TV!

After you watch the video, why not head over and check out his blog?

NOTE TO READERS: Just days left to enter the September 1, 2006, drawing to win the new CD from local singer/songwriters Julie Edlow and Kris Kehr. Sign up to receive our weekly email update and you’ll have a chance to win one of three CDs. Winners will be notified via email on or about September 1, 2006.

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Reading, PA’s Blogging Mayor Tom McMahon, Part One

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We think it’s safe to say that he’s one of the only blogging mayors in the U.S. In fact, Google shows Reading, PA, Mayor Tom McMahon poised to break into the top ten in a search for “mayor blog.” That’s pretty good for a guy whose full-time job is running a city! But never mind Google juice. Mr. McMahon’s blog is both a platform for personal expression and a venue for community dialogue.

As you can imagine, Mr. McMahon, an engineer-turned-mayor, has been high on our list to interview for Berks.TV. He didn’t disappoint. Come to find out, he and Berks.TV rather have a lot in common when it comes to a passion for tech and the Internet. When we visited his office earlier this week we talked Wikipedia, wifi, blogs, online video, and putting the Web to work for communities.

In this segment, Mr. McMahon shares how he got started blogging and some of his favorite topics to blog about–entries on trash cleanup, mentoring and reading programs, and things to do around town.

In an upcoming segment with the Mayor, you’ll hear about his blog reading habits and how he uses the Internet as part of his job. He also answers the question of whether or not he reads other mayors’ blogs. And yes, he gets some of his news through online video. We think you’ll definitely enjoy learning about the man behind the blog, so stay tuned!

NOTE TO READERS: To stay in touch with Berks.TV, you can sign up to receive our weekly email update, or you can use a news aggregator or iTunes to subscribe to our RSS feed.

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Sarah Reese of the Berks Equine Council: Why more adults are getting passionate about riding

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We’re pleased to present this follow-up to last week’s segment with Sarah Reese, president of Berks Equine Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to horses, horse owners, open space, and educating people about what horses bring to Berks County. We spent some time last week at Sarah’s Passport Farms in Oley, PA, learning about her farm and work with the Council.

Here, Sarah talks about how she became hooked on horses and why she thinks more and more adults are gravitating towards riding.

“Traditional sports just don’t quite offer the complexity they’re looking for,” she said. “I think I’m typical of a lot of adults who yearn for something that gets them outside and demands a lot of them in terms of expertise and learning. You’re never done learning about a horse. You’re never done learning about the sport. When you think you know what you’re doing, it’s time to get a new horse and try something different.”

This weekend–Saturday, August 12–the Berks Equine Council is hosting a “Mini-Prix” competition. You can find more information about this and other upcoming events on the Council’s calendar.

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Sarah Reese: “Berks County is a wonderland for horse owners”

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A quick drive out Oley Turnpike earlier this week found us in the equine paradise of Passport Farms. We’d been invited to spend some time with Sarah Reese, president of Berks Equine Council, to hear about the Council’s work in the community and some of their upcoming events.

“Berks County is a wonderland for horse owners,” she said. The Council is a non-profit dedicated to horses, horse owners, open space, and educating people about what horses bring to Berks County.

Though perhaps not as famous for horses as neighboring Chester County, Berks County, PA, has a deep and well-preserved equine tradition, as you’ll hear Sarah describe. Frontier-day horses from Berks County pulled settlers West, Sarah said. Michael Matz, an Olympian and trainer of the race horse Barbaro, hails from Shillington, Berks County.

The tradition lives today, and the Council, through its education programs and professional shows and events, is at the center. More information about upcoming events Sarah mentions can be found on the Council’s calendar.

In an upcoming segment with Sarah, you’ll hear her talk about how she got hooked on horses, and why she sees many becoming passionate about horses as adults. She’ll also share her thoughts on the race horse Barbaro, this year’s Kentucky Derby winner who suffered a career-ending injury in the Preakness.

The handsome Hubley, the other star of this segment, is a 14-year-old belonging to Sarah’s daughter. Considering how patient and friendly he was (even in the 100-degree heat), we suspect this isn’t his first starring role!

UPDATE and Note to readers: Horse aficionodo or not, you’ll enjoy this higher resolution (640×360) version of the same video presented above. At 32 MB, it’s only slightly larger, but the more vibrant colors and detail are worth the extra download time. Enjoy the clip in your browser, or right-click on that link above and save the file, then view it after it’s fully downloaded. This will give you a sense of the exiting things to come on Berks.TV, and with video on the web in general.

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Bob Behling: Flooding validates master plan

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Despite recent Schuylkill River flooding, river development plans in Reading, PA, continue undeterred. With many projects in the “completed” column, and a deep queue of projects to execute, RiverPlace Development Corporation‘s Bob Behling is confident they have the right approach to get things done.

Many projects, including the Canal Heritage Mural, trail bridge over Lancaster Avenue, and a planting of Japanese cherry trees, are complete. Spring will see ground breaking on one of the most ambitious projects yet, a multi-use amphitheater designed to hold up to 2000 people. A good number of projects are championed by community volunteers, and more are needed.

What about the impact of the latest round of flooding?

“We believe that the flood validates the RiverPlace master plan, which calls for a continuous park and trail system along the river and in its floodway, and then for flood-proof construction to be on sites along the river,” Bob says.

You can find more information on the events mentioned in this segment by visiting the RiverPlace events page.

We think you’ll enjoy the waterway footage seen in this clip–all taken from the shores of the Schuylkill near the Reading Area Community College (RACC) campus and from the banks of the Wyomissing Creek near the Reading Public Museum. We shot the flood footage you see here from atop the Penn Street Bridge at around 7:30 pm on June 28, 2006, the night the river crested. You can see more of that footage in one of our earlier segments.

For an introduction to the river development master plan, see an earlier segment published here on Berks.TV.

The view looking north on the Schuylkill River from Reading, PA:

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RiverPlace’s Bob Behling: Using the Power of the Schuylkill to Unite Communities

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RiverPlace Development Corporation opened its GoggleWorks offices to Berks.TV this week for an inside view and update on efforts to revitalize river communities in Reading, PA.

In our first segment on the development efforts, Executive Vice President Bob Behling introduces RiverPlace’s vision and outlines the scope of the effort.

We were impressed by the firm’s long-range perspective and community-centered purpose. Those of you who participated in the June 21 Solar Flair walk from GoggleWorks to the Reading Public Museum have a sense of the scale and potential of this endeavor.

In a coming segment, Bob talks about how recent flooding impacts the plan and how RiverPlace hopes to enlist more individuals from the community to help with individual projects.

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Kutztown Folk Festival – and Allan Johnson on Natural Soapmaking

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A pinnacle of Pennsylvania Dutch goodness comes each summer in the form of a weeklong celebration of art, music, technology, food, faith, and domestic method. Berks.TV was there this year at the Kutztown Folk Festival, in Kutztown, PA, on a beautiful weekday morning to grab some stunningly colorful footage on our high definition camera.

Here we’re pleased to present some clips from around the soapmaker’s kettle, the bandstage, and the barnyard (our favorites are the sleepy chick and the kissing bunnies).

A special thanks goes out to Allan Johnson of Herbs for Healthful Living of Saegertown, PA, and all the guys from Blue Mountain Gospel Express, who you see near the beginning of this segment.

Stay tuned to Berks.TV for more from Allan Johnson about the unique and ancient process of making soap the natural way.

The festivities in northeastern Berks County wrap up on July 9.

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Reading Flood Makes CNN.com!

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As we sat in our Berks.TV offices the afternoon of June 28, we were surprised to see pictures of a flooded Reading, PA, parking lot flash across CNN.com.

The waters of the Schuylkill River made their way into the Reading Area Community College’s (RACC) riverside campus and beyond.

Right around the time the river was cresting, Berks.TV’s cameras captured the action from the Penn Street Bridge (which remained open) and from the second floor of a RACC parking garage a block upriver from the Penn Street Bridge.

Be sure to check out more flood pictures from Berks.TV.

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