I spent three years of my time as an undergrad working 20-30 hours a week as a barista. I served all kinds of coffee in the heart of Center City and worked alongside my best friends. I made and worked to perfect drinks like oat milk lattes, caramel cold brews, and good ole black coffee too. The only reason I stopped being a barista was because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Philadelphia is Home for me, and throughout the pandemic, I have really tried to only go to essential places. There was a point in time when I would only make coffee at home because I deemed going out for coffee as a non-essential task. Now, nine months later, being an at-home barista doesn’t always cut it. We have learned to social distance appropriately and I am back to occasionally grabbing a coffee on the go, but the only coffee shops that are close by are chains like Dunkin’ and Starbucks.

To put it simply, this is problematic because I am a big believer in supporting small businesses. Especially when it comes to treating yourself or a loved one to a cup of coffee. Here are a few reasons why you should try supporting local or small business coffee shops before you buy from a major corporation.

Local Coffee Shops Add to and Enhance Your Community

Purchasing a coffee from a local business has a greater impact on your community than purchasing from a large chain. For a large corporation, your purchase is just another sale, but for a small business, your decision to make a purchase genuinely impacts their income.

Quality Coffee is a Guarantee When You Shop Local

Coffee independents do it better. Without having to prioritize appealing to mass target audiences, local coffee shops are able to focus on what they love doing. Coffee becomes an art rather than a task.

Local Coffee Shops Value Your Money

When a brand is recognizable, the average person is more likely to purchase from it with no exceptions. Because of this, popular brands charge more for products whenever they can. The public is just not fully aware of the other-- and sometimes better--options out there. However, expensive or well-known does not always equal quality. Local coffee shops will value your money and provide you with quality coffee-based drinks.

This blog post was written by Alexis Levant, Director of Public Relations.

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Despite the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in our world, the 2020 holiday season can still be remembered as a period where we have fun with family and friends. Of course, this quality time will look different than in years past; however, this is the perfect chance to get creative in thinking of ways we can be with the people we love while being safe and socially distanced. If you need a place to start, I have come up with some ways you can get the most out of your time at home, without letting COVID-19 ruin the last few months of 2020.

1. Go to an orchard to satisfy your ‘fall experience’ cravings

There’s only one time during the year where we can get our fix of caramel apples, go pumpkin picking, find our way through a corn maze, and go on a hayride. Luckily, there are a countless number of orchards in the Philadelphia area you can visit to take advantage of this time of year! The one closest to my hometown, and one where I spent every fall growing up, is Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA. Others include Indian Orchards Organic in Media, PA; Styer Orchard in Langhorne, PA; Barnard’s Orchard in Kennett Square, PA; Solebury Orchards in New Hope, PA; Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown, PA; and so many more. There will be some things that are not available due to COVID-19 restrictions, but this does not mean that the overall fall feeling has to be taken away.

2. Spend your Black Friday at an outlet mall

Although true outlet malls are few and far between they offer some of the best deals and sales on clothing, shoes, health and beauty products, and so much more. Additionally, outlet malls are fully outdoors; this way you can get the experience of Black Friday without being in a crowded, germ-infested indoor mall. For people that around the Philadelphia area, the closest and most popular outlet malls are the Gloucester Premium Outlets in Blackwood, NJ, and the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Pottstown, PA. There are other, more spacious shopping centers in the area as well; however, these are the malls that will give shoppers the most stores to choose from without making multiple stops at other shopping centers.

3. Go to Christmas Village to get in the holiday spirit.

One of the best parts of Christmas time is festive activities with family and friends. We may not be able to go to each other’s houses and watch Christmas movies or bake cookies, but outdoor Christmas villages can provide an atmosphere that will get us in the holiday spirit. Christmas Village in Philadelphia is the only one I have visited, and there are so many activities including ice skating, pop-up shops, hot chocolate stands, and festive light shows! There are other Christmas Villages and places with Christmas lights in the area as well, including Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville, PA, and the Miracle on 13th Street in South Philadelphia, PA.

4. Celebrate the New Year with pots, pans, and the Mummers Parade

Although a fairly weird tradition, banging pots and pans at midnight on New Year’s Eve is a great way to celebrate socially distanced with family, friends, and neighbors. Historically, people would make this noise to ward away any evil spirits; however, it seems as though most parents give children a pot and wooden spoon so they don’t have to go out and buy noisemakers. Another tradition that has been alive in Philadelphia since 1901 is the Mummers Parade, where members of various clubs dress up and parade down the streets of Philadelphia in a competition with five divisions: The Comics, The Fancy, the String Bands, the Wench Brigade, and the Fancy Brigade. Although this historic event has been canceled for 2021, watching past Mummers parades and performances can get you in the New Year’s Day spirit.

COVID-19 has altered many experiences for the world in 2020, but we must stay positive and find ways to make the ‘new normal’ work for us. There are many things to do with family and friends while being socially distanced. Instead of letting this global pandemic dominate our holiday spirit, let’s be positive and make the most out of the beloved season (safely, and socially distanced, of course).

This blog post was written by Olivia Mianulli, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

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  • Temple PRSSA

As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Temple PRSSA this year, I was able to experience the international conference hosted by PRSA, ICON. Although I wish I could have had my first conference experience in Nashville, where it was supposed to be held, I still feel like I walked away with knowledge that I am able to use in my college career and future public relations career.

When participants logged in through the PRSA website (with their PRSSA login credentials) they were taken to the “lobby.” It mimicked a real lobby with people walking, screens with a slideshow of pictures of ICON’s sponsors, and various places for the participant to go, whether it was to see the keynote speaker’s speech, attend breakout sessions, or chat in chat rooms to network with other attendees.

We can all attest to the zoom fatigue at the end of any particular day; however, I did not get that same feeling with the way PRSA set up the conference in this virtual space. Even though I was online for almost six or seven hours for four days straight, at the end of each day I felt empowered and ready to learn more.

We started each day with a keynote speaker and a panel of established communications professionals from around the world. The most impactful presentation I attended was with Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and author, Laurie Garret. In her session, Garret talked about the dangers of misinformation on COVID-19 and our government’s role in it. It is so easy for us to go on Twitter or Instagram and digest our news; however, we do not realize how unreliable some of the information is. Something as harmful and widespread as COVID-19 should be reported on with the most accurate facts and figures, but that has not always been the case.

Throughout her presentation, Garret uncovered and debunked all of the false information we have heard about the pandemic, and shed light on the way the government has handled the national emergency. Although it is disheartening to relive the tumultuous year of 2020, the keynote speech offered a different, more professional perspective on everything happening.

As the Director of D&I, I attended breakout sessions that dealt with building and expanding D&I initiatives, multicultural communication, and how to create a safe and authentic environment. All of these sessions featured renowned and inspiring professionals, many of who have experienced discrimination firsthand.

One of the biggest takeaways from the D&I sessions was how to defeat imposter syndrome in the workplace. Imposter syndrome is described as the psychological pattern that high achieving individuals experience when they doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments, and have a constant fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” The impact of not acknowledging this is detrimental to one’s mental health, for they experience extreme forms of procrastination, resistance to starting something new, self-doubt, overworking, and positioning yourself as “just an X” or “I am only X.”

The only way to beat this syndrome is by embracing it, and when thinking about the topic in this way, there are many similarities in the term “inclusion.” Thinking about inclusion in the same way we think about imposter syndrome allows us to fully understand what inclusion means. They are similar because both include the reflex to “cover,” which is when a person downplays a known stigmatized identity to conform with the mainstream. 61% of people in the workplace cover, and that high of a percentage begs for the inherent need to bring authenticity to the table. In addition to this, both ideas have the factor of being seen; however, the struggle that the person is going through is unknown.

One of my favorite sessions, led by Rob Biesenbach, was titled, “Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results.” Biesenbach is a communications professional who also works as a keynote speaker, consultant, workshop facilitator, and an established author. He talked of his unfulfilling journey through traditional jobs in PR and marketing which ultimately led him to “connect the dots” in his career. He realized the tools he was learning in creative classes, improv, and commercials could be applied directly to his business in communications, and from there he found his true passion and understood his “story.” He stated that stories stick in people’s minds more than statistics do, and they even stimulate the brain in the same way a real-life experience does. Your story will set you apart from the hundreds of people applying for the same internship, job, or leadership position: those who are reciting their resume from cover to cover are no longer in the running.

This lesson about telling your story, on top of the countless others I learned at ICON over the course of the four days, are tools and techniques that I have added to my skill set and will apply to my career in college and in the future. It was inspiring to be surrounded by the knowledgeable and powerful individuals at the conference, and my ICON experience only made me more excited to be a part of the wonderful field of public relations.

This blog post was written by Olivia Mianulli, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

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