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How Awarding Startups Free Rent for 6 Months Is Kickstarting a Renaissance in Scranton

Photograph by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend

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The cultural and economic identity of America has long been linked to innovation and entrepreneurship. A thriving economy relies on a balanced mix of established corporations and startups.

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However, a national decline in new business formation is threatening this healthy balance in all but just a few super-performing cities. Startup formation has become geographically clustered, with half of the rise in new business creation from 2010 to 2014 occurring in only 20 of America’s 3,000-plus counties — ultimately creating elite hubs for job growth and tax revenue and limiting those with entrepreneurial spirit in the rest of the country.

Business and real-estate developer Donald Rinaldi, of Scranton, Pa., realizes small businesses are “the engine that drives the economy of any city.” That’s why he ignited an initiative — the “Kickstart Art” challenge — to provide resources and mentorship to creative entrepreneurs earlier this year. The challenge encouraged businesses focused around the arts to compete for a storefront in Scranton’s Bogart Court Boutique Shops, part of the Renaissance at 500 Lackawanna Avenue, a downtown residential and business development that’s also complete with luxury residences, a park, and retail and restaurant space. The award for winning the challenge was free rent for the first six months of a one-year lease. Rinaldi saw the competitive challenge as an opportunity to be the first piece in the puzzle of creating an arts district in Scranton.

“I knew this could help arts-related businesses who always wanted their own brick-and-mortar store to take the next step by giving them a head start,” Rinaldi said.

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Not one but three new businesses won the challenge: Trinity Studios, Grapevine Design & Trinka Studios, and AOS Metals.

Kari Johnson is the artist behind AOS Metals. The shop, which stands for art of simplicity, sells hand-made metal jewelry crafted by Johnson.

AOS Metals owner, Kari Johnson, right, selling her handcrafted jewelry to a customer. | Photograph by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend

Photograph by Elena Yu, Better than the Weekend

Photograph by Elena Yu, Better than the Weekend

She said she wouldn’t be a business owner without the help of Rinaldi’s vision for an arts district.

“I knew how to create, but I didn’t understand what it took to form your skill into a business — not until Don mentored me throughout the process of the ‘Kickstart Art’ challenge,” Johnson said. “Don went through the ins and outs of what it takes to start a business. I learned a lot from him. We also had to take a free class through the Small Business Development Center to be considered for the challenge.”

Johnson admires what her mentor, Rinaldi, is doing for the city of Scranton.

“He’s making it possible for people to stay in Scranton and not have to leave the area to find success in starting a business or building a career that deals with creativity,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to stay around here and have a business like this. Bogart Court used to be a dirty back alley. The people I talk to who come to the shop keep saying how they’re dying to see more opportunity like this in Scranton.”

AOS Metals also sells hand-made items by other artists.

“I know how difficult it can be to get in the zone of turning your art into a profitable business,” Johnson said. “I want to help other people get in that mindset by selling their items in my store. Whether it’s handmade greeting cards, T-Shirts, scarves, whatever, I know how that when people are buying and appreciating your hard work, it can be extremely motivating to keep creating.”

Handcrafted soap sold at AOS Metals in Scranton, Pa. | Photograph by Elena Yu, Better than the Weekend

Handcrafted wallet sold at AOS Metals in Scranton, Pa. | Photograph by Elena Yu, Better than the Weekend

Handmade birth announcements sold at AOS Metals in Scranton, Pa. | Photograph by Elena Yu, Better than the Weekend

Johnson said she hopes the new storefronts at Bogart Court Boutique Shops will inspire others to stay in the city of Scranton and turn their skills into new businesses in the new year.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Brit

    December 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Kari at AOS has been an absolute visionary from Wyoming, Montana, I think Colorado and many others. If you’re looking for a unique piece or anything no one else can find go to this girl.

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Living

A Man’s Penis Can Shrink from Lack of Sex

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On average, men think about sex 19 times a day. And they should! When men go without sex, their penis can shrink!

The website Meaww reports a penis requires a regular flush of blood to maintain its elasticity. Going without sex deprives the penis of the natural process of erecting to its fullest potential, and may lead to a reduction of 1-2 centimeters.

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Additional disadvantages for men who go without sex include erectile dysfunction, lower self-esteem and an increased risk of getting prostate cancer. The report notes having sex on a regular basis can reduces a man’s rick of prostate cancer by up to 20 percent.

Psychology Today states men are hornier than women across every study they’ve come across.

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Perhaps its because their health depends on it?

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When Scranton, PA’s Planned Parenthood closed, this woman took praiseworthy action

Autumn Granza

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The election of Donald Trump has sparked a resurgence of the feminist movement. Having a misogynist in the White House has motivated women who fear the president will dissolve the rights of both women and minorities to kick some ass. Suddenly, feminists are everywhere, organizing and rallying in record numbers — nationwide and on local levels.

Sabrina Lynn Hannon is the chapter leader of NEPA NOW — the Northeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization of Women. She says the election of Trump was a wakeup call that feminists still needed.

“For so long I would hear people say, ‘We don’t need feminism anymore.’ People had become complacent. Then, Trump was elected — something so many people thought was impossible. How could we have a President who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy?”

Hannon started NEPA NOW after Planned Parenthood in Scranton, Pennsylvania closed in November 2016 with just two weeks’ notice.

Sabrina Hannon, left, and Anne Williams, lady secretary of NEPA NOW, right, attend the March to End Rape Culture in Philadelphia.

“My thoughts were ‘why weren’t groups like NOW working to ensure this didn’t happen? Why weren’t there more resources for them?’,” said Hannon. “That’s when I started to do my research and found out that there simply wasn’t a group.”

The closest NOW chapter was over two hours away, inaccessible to women in Hannon’s home region.

Since the chapter began earlier this year, members have been working to get the chapter’s name out there and network with other groups. Chapter members host letter writing nights where they get together and write to local officials or organizations to make their voices heard.

In September, members traveled to Philadelphia to participate in the March to End Rape Culture. Chapter members also get involved with the community. The chapter adopted a local family for the holidays and within a week had everything on the family’s list, and still have members who want to contribute. In January 2018, members will travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the Women’s March, and the chapter will host an art show on the First Friday in March — Women’s History Month — at a local female-owned business, to showcase female artists.

“I hope [the meetings] make those who attend [feel] like they are helping their communities and making their voices heard,” said Hannon. “It is so easy now to feel frustrated with the current political climate and I want this to be a place where we can do something about those frustrations.”

Hannon believes that feminism is important and hopes the negative connotations associated with the word are coming to an end.

“Feminism is the belief in equality for all and I think finally some of the very effective slander against feminism as ‘man hating’ has started to fall off,” said Hannon. “Feminism is important because it holds that we are all equal and it fights to make that a reality for everyone…Feminists have always been about putting thoughts into action and that is what the world needs.”

The chapter meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Adezzo in Scranton.

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Hold On to Your Crotch Rocket! These Porn Star Bios Will Be the Best Thing You Read Today

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In a time when writing the perfect Instagram bio can cause a headache, there might be an answer few have ever thought of before: Find the person who writes bios for porn stars.

When a friend of mine encouraged me to look at the porn on his phone for the savage description of a horny-vore named Kleio Valentien, I realized skin flicks aren’t all about sex. They can also be a great read.

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Kleio Valentien

Kleio Valentien is punk rock’s response to adult contemporary pornography. She’s a bottle-blonde, tatted-up babe with an attitude that makes most men clam up before they can stop their loads from spilling down their pant legs. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, she certainly adopted that town’s motto to keep it weird and freaky. If Austin isn’t your average Texas town, then Kleio isn’t your average Texan porn slut. She was always determined to make a name for herself by breaking boundaries and slamming expectations. Kleio has done all that and more. She can eat a cunt out like a ravished horny-vore. She can suck a dick like a vacuum on steroids. She can take cocks in her vagina or asshole and ride them until the very last thrust. Kleio really shines in an orgy, where she always out-screws every partner every time. When everyone else in an orgy needs a breather or a smoke break, Kleio will just flick the shit out of her bean and keep grabbing at cocks and cunts in a sweaty frenzy. Kleio can be the subservient slave girl, or the domineering queen bitch, and she loves kinky roleplay almost as much as she loves the taste of cum. Her skills have made her a leading star at studios like the punky Burning Angel. Sometimes going by just ‘Kleio’, this girl is an all-year-round holiday for your testicles. Via Pornub

Jayden James

Hold on to your crotch rocket, boys, because this is the one and only Jayden Fucking James. No other girl in the business has commanded such erectile attention as Jayden, with her swimsuit-edition body, gorgeous good looks, and shameless appetite for filthy bedroom boundary pushing. Jayden has been a fan favorite superstar slut since shooting her first scenes while still a wholesome community college gal. Since then, she’s been flexing her awesome fuck-hole muscles for tons of bone thrusters in over 300 films. She’s an award winner of everything from Best Body to Best Orgy Scene, meaning it doesn’t matter if she’s riding solo or surrounded by dripping pussies and drizzling dicks, she always delivers up the goods. Speaking of goods, Jayden has a full house of all the right porn stuff. Her Double D rack has been carefully crafted and enhanced to plushy perfection, and doesn’t it look so good glistening with a milky pearl necklace. She’s got a vajayjay so addictive, you’d think guys were getting hits of oxygen from the way they inhale at her pussy. Once that filthy flower spreads its petals, you know it’s time to enter the bone zone. Jayden’s shapely ass is an absolute dick magnet, and once it’s greased up with a generous heaping of sex oil, like in Elegant Angel’s “Big Wet Asses 17”, where Mike Stefano made her gape like he was opening up a vortex to paradise, you’ll be transported there, too. Via Pornhub

Sara Jay

Lady Jay, Lady Jay, what can we say? We know you’re here to stay with those amazingly massive and booming Ta-Tays! OK, enough with the poetry, because Sara Jay has got no time for words in her mouth when she’d sooner be swallowing meters of macho meat. If there’s one thing that keeps bringing the soldiers to lay down arms and surrender to Sara, it’s her jugs. Take a look at those swollen melons and can’t you imagine suffocating your face buried deep in their hot mama cleavage? She’s got those Double Ds to match her attitude: Down and Dirty. No matter how mature this busty cougar gets, the nastier she likes to take it, and one way this self-proclaimed “most curvaceous porn star in the industry” likes to take it is Big Black Dick, her favorite dish. She’s got numerous awards for her interracial action, because of her love of dark meat, and her curves and booty can rival any Nubian beauty. Off camera, Ms. Jay is less into rivalry and more into good health and living right, and we here at Pornhub commend a lifestyle of staying fit but also keeping it large and in charge… it’s like the best of both worlds. So speaking of both worlds: Tits and Ass, Sara Jay is one burning sun to heat them all. Via Pornhub

Mia Malkova

Some girls are so damn hot that they can get you bent out of shape. Well, tawny blonde Mia Malkova can bend her body into any shape she pleases, and that’s sure to please all of the horny cocks and wet pussies out there. This girl has acrobatic and contortionist abilities that could even twist a pretzel into a new knot. Ankles behind her neck and feet over her back so she can kiss her toes, turned, twisted and gyrating, she can fuck any which way she wants. And that ass! Talk about perfection… maybe it’s all the acrobatic work that keeps it in such gorgeous shape? Who cares really, because you just want to take a big bite out of it and never let go. But it’s not all about body. Mia’s also got a great smile, which might not sound kinky, but trust us, it’s a smile that will heat up your innards and drop your pants. Is it her golden skin, her innocent pink lips or that heart-shaped face? There’s just too much good stuff going on with Mia Malkova, which is maybe why these past few years have heaped awards upon awards on this Southern California native. Mia has the honor of being Brazzers contract girl under her belt, so you know she’s only going for top-notch scenes with top-game performers, men and women. Better hit up that yoga studio if you ever dream of being able to bang a flexible and talented chick like Lady Markova. Via Pornhub

Christy Mack

Now here’s a girl you want to ride like you would straddle a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and cause absolute hell with in awesome filthy fuck fests. Christy Mack is a badass, tatted-up chick whose naked body is a piece of rated-XXX artwork. She started her famous career being a model for tattoo magazines and websites, as well as some photo shoots for Brazzers and Bang Bros. Being so close to actual professional fucking tempted this girl to spread open her legs and take it multiple times in her twat and up her ass. Now, you can own your very own copy of both her fun-holes as Christy has lent her naughty designs be turned into Fleshlights. What’s better than watching your favorite porn slut and wanking it right into an exact replica of her vajay and butt tunnel? Christy Mack was the official Miss Freeones for 2013 which proves her fan loyalty and dedication to testicular stress relief. Christy is a natural fetish freak with a hankering for amazing double penetration, like she might leak out all her sex guts if she isn’t regularly plugged up with dick. If it’s not dick she’s slaughtering, this girl can suck the orgasm out of a pussy like she’s the cunt whisperer. When she played Zatanna in Vivid’s “The Dark Knight XXX”, you can bet she converted tons of dudebros to nerdy comic fanboys, albeit fanboys with major raging boners. Via Pornhub

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