Rally for Science in Downtown Phily

2018 Rally for Science

This April was the second anniversary for the Rally for Science in Philadelphia, formerly known as the March for Science. This year we did not march, but instead gathered at the Thomas Paine Plaza in Center City.


The weather was exceptionally hot for early Spring – especially considering the freezing temperatures we had only a few days prior.  It was madness that I was standing in 83 degree weather and still had a snow shovel and bucket of salt by my front door!  I was very happy that our rally day wasn\’t freezing or raining.  It was a fluke weather day; bright, sunny, and uncomfortably warm.  Although I wouldn\’t know it, only two days later the weather would change dramatically – and caused flooding throughout the tri-state region. But – back to the rally.

The Freethought Society (http://ftsociety.org) was attending the 2018 Rally to support and advocate for science and reason along with the Philadelphia Science Action (http://phillyscienceaction.org/) organization. But at this early hour, there wasn\’t anything to do and no one was on site.  So I put on my sun glasses and started to walk.

Geocaching and Art


Having arrived very early (to avoid traffic) and finding myself with several hours on my hands, I fetched an iced-coffee and headed out to do my favorite thing: explore.

Still trying to complete the geocaching 2018 game Planetary Pursuit, I sought out several caches in the area.  It was so early there was very little foot traffic and I was able to get some amazing photographs of public art found in Philly.

Paint Torch Sculpture


The Paint Torch sculpture was installed in 2011. In my world, a very recent installation. I was very familiar with the city\’s art, murals, quirks, weird-features, and good coffee; I had lived and worked in the city.  So in 2011, it was quite a surprise when I turned a corner and saw a giant pile of orange dog poo on the pavement.  I stopped and stared.  It is large, brightly colored – and very eye catching – pile of dog poo. What?

After a quick pause, I realized there was a massive paint brush sculpture that loomed over my head and was partially hidden by buildings, causing a delayed realization that I was not staring at dog poo.  Once you see the brush, you realize the orange \”poo\” is a dab of paint that fell off the brush and landed on the sidewalk. I love the visual interaction this sculpture creates.

So this sculpture will always make me smile as I recall the first time I saw it, and my first reaction.  On this morning, there\’s a lovely plaza with seating areas and a cafe serving hot coffee. It was a nice resting place before I continued my exploration.


Plane Crash Sculpture


In the same plaza you will find a work of art that begs you to approach: a crashed plane.  It is large, impressive, and approachable.  How many times can you walk up to a \’crashed\’ airplane?  I read online that the inside of the plane is supposed to be a living greenhouse with plants and a watering system.  I\’m not sure if this is still maintained. Or if the idea of living plants inside a crashed airplane is supposed to be a juxtaposition of life found inside death?  I\’m not sure what the meaning is supposed to be. I just love the novelty of a crashed airplane sculpture.  When visiting on this bright Saturday, every plant inside the plane was quite dead.  You can approach the windows and see that the remnants of a  few plants. Perhaps the unintended message was more dire than the artist originally intended!


Frank Rizzo Sculpture


The controversial statue of Frank Rizzo stands proudly at Thomas Paine Plaza, waving to fellow Philadelphians. It is hard to photograph this statue as he is mounted on the top of stairs and is very large in scale.  This statue experienced some controversy due to Rizzo\’s mixed history. Due to this, the city has agreed to relocate this statue to another location (yet to be determined).  But for now, Rizzo is located across from City Hall and in front of the Municipal Building.




Thomas Paine Plaza Game Pieces


On Thomas Paine Plaza there are several over-sized game pieces: bingo chips, dominoes, chess pieces, etc.  People seem drawn to these iconic images and climb all over them, lay on them, and use the Bingo chips as benches.  I was grateful to have the plaza (mostly) to myself on this very hot morning, so I could capture a few pictures without a bunch of tourists playing with the pieces.

Speaking of tourists: I am amazed at there are tourists lining up to take a photo in front of the LOVE statue in Love Park.  My school mates and I walked past this statue every single school day. Now suddenly I find that tourists are queuing up for pics and selfies.  I love it! I\’m proud of my city and I love that people are capturing our local scenery.  I am guessing that our tourist traffic has been increasing every year – and this iconic image is a must-see stop for tourists.  Cool.

Triune Sculpture


While strolling around the area, I snapped a colorful photo of the Triune sculpture against the bright blue April sky reflected in the building\’s windows.

As a native Philadelphian, I\’m spoiled. I grew up in this city and have grown accustomed to significant history being located on every corner, and a creative art installation being located on every other corner.  I thought this was what every city was like.  As I travel move, I love discovering what other cities have that is an expression of their culture and creativity. But I return to Philly with a growing sense of pride.  I\’ve been very lucky to have lived and worked in a city so liberally decorated by public art works of every style and fashion.  The murals are worthy of visitation alone.

Not to mention the stunning and impressive City Hall building itself! Our City Hall building is a living art form covered with art and stunning beauty.  As a kid, it was nicknamed \”Pigeon Palace\” due to the number of pigeons living INSIDE the open galleries of the building. But with some effort, this has been resolved and a major cleaning project has exposed the stunning beauty of the building.

So, yes. I do enjoy walking around Philadelphia.  Especially on a quiet early morning when the foot traffic is light.


Rally for Science


It was time for me to return to the Plaza and lend a hand in setting up the stage for the Rally, as well as the presentation table for the Freethought Society. People were beginning to arrive at the plaza and grabbing the prized Bingo chip seats. A very talented band, 6W\’s, was playing on the stage.  One of the band members had his daughter on the stage, and she was an absolute charm! She danced and clapped along with her father on the stage the entire performance.  She was too cute. The band had a great sound and really kept the audience entertained.

I\’m not sure of the band\’s full name, but I heard something like: Who, What, When, Where, Why and Werewolves.  LOL. Werewolves! Luv it.

As the sun beat down on the crowd, people started to migrate to the building\’s shadow.  It was so hot! I feel like my eyeballs got sunburn from the sunlight bouncing up off the plaza surface.

I strolled along the crowd to snap pics of their creative signs and outfits. Decorated white lab coats were common, and I really appreciated one woman\’s \”brain cap\” with spinal cord!  Some people are so creative, I would never have thought of this idea.


Thomas Paine actor, Julien Musolino, gave a wonderful opening speech for the Science Rally as Thomas Paine.  The Freethought Society was thanked for their efforts and acknowledged for helping to name the location after Thomas Paine.


And then the rally really kicked off.  Speakers approached the mic and gave invigorating and immensely informative speeches.  They called for engagement and involvement by all attendees. I was genuinely inspired and motivated. Especially by the younger speakers who have taken steps of leadership and inspiration.  I hope to see these individual grow, lead, and inspire for years.

I\’m very hopeful that these rallies and call-to-actions inspire people to get involved with policy change. The recent trend of anti-science, anti-logic is baffling and frightening. What is left for us to use if we don\’t have verifiable facts to rely upon?


Wrapping Up

All too soon the rally was over and everyone started heading home. I helped to break down the table and pack up the cars – and headed home myself.  I added the PSA org to my Twitter and Facebook feed to keep in the loop with their activities and information.

Upcoming Science

Is it ironic that in a few weeks I would be joining other science lovers to explore Fairmount park for garnet and other minerals. A good old-fashioned science hunt and nature hike. I signed up immediately!


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