Next American City is pleased to announce three Philadelphia Journalism Fellows, Ryan Briggs, Allyn Gaestel and Patrick Kerkstra, whose writing on urban policy issues in the City of Brotherly Love will be published as on our Philadelphia page and as part of our longform Forefront series.
Briggs, Gaestel and Kerkstra will report on issues of infrastructure, entrepreneurship, arts and culture, placemaking, transportation and other concerns related to the livability of Philadelphia. Using a comparative lens, their journalism will address local issues in a national, and even international, context in order to better evaluate Philadelphia’s practices and learn from those in other cities. Through public events at the Storefront For Urban Innovation, the fellows will help foster dialogue on crucial issues for the city’s future.
All three of our fellows are Philadelphia-based journalists who have demonstrated a keen understanding of the city and its complex challenges through reporting for a variety of publications locally and nationally.
Our first fellow starting in September, Ryan Briggs, began his career working in Philadelphia’s City Hall on neighborhood economic development issues. From City Hall, he went onto work in the non-profit community development sphere before taking the leap into in urban journalism. Ryan’s writing has appeared in City Paper, Philly Weekly, Metropolis and Hidden City. As a Next American City Philadelphia Fellow, he will report on development and infrastructure, as well as other issues related to the city’s economic health.
Our next fellow, joining NAC in October, will be Allyn Gaestel. Allyn recently returned to her adopted-hometown of Philadelphia after a stint in Haiti covering the nation’s earthquake recovery for publications including the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters and The Atlantic. Most recently, she has reported on health and health care for the Philadelphia Inquirer through a grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Press Foundation. Allyn’s work has also taken her to the Bahamas, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. She will be reporting on community development, transportation, entrepreneurship and culture in addition to other topics related to the city’s livability.
Our final fellow will be Patrick Kerkstra. A familiar byline in Philly, Patrick has covered the city and region for 12 years, including a decade spent at the Inquirer, where his beats ranged from City Hall to real estate development and the Iraq war. Now a freelancer, Patrick is a writer at large for Philadelphia Magazine, a special projects reporter for PlanPhilly and a guest columnist at the Inquirer, where he writes about urban affairs. Through his NAC fellowship, Patrick will continue to cover urban affairs, economic development and placemaking, covering these topics with a deeper comparative analysis.
Through a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, these fellows will help Next American City fulfill its mission of connecting cities and the people working to improve while raising the level of urban affairs discourse in Philadelphia.
Ariella Cohen is Next City’s editor-in-chief.