Chantelle Todman and their beloved puo at Black.Bird.Rising. (GIH | Rasheed Ajamu)

Miami native Chantelle Todman (they/she) moved to Germantown at the height of the pandemic but has lived in Philadelphia longer than anywhere else they’ve been. Though they’ve lived in different parts of Philly — Northeast, South, and North — they’ve always “dreamt” of coming to Germantown.

“Every time I came here, I felt such a kinship,” Todman shared with Germantown Info Hub. “It’s giving very much Auntie’s porch. A deep-rooted sense of belonging and connection to the land, but also to shaping culture.” Germantown is also where Todman said they began to explore their artistry and creativity, like Black Femme Lullabies, which explored the dreamscape of Black Femme and how they are creating new worlds and honoring their histories.

One of Chantelle’s dreams, as a Queer, Pansexual, and Genderqueer person, was to open a community space that centers the healing of Black Queer and Trans folks. And they did just that late last year when they founded Black.Bird.Rising (BBR) on the corner of Germantown Avenue & Rittenhouse Street. BBR provides a safe space for rest, creativity, and celebration through energy work, bodywork, herbal remedies, workshops, and retreats for Black Queer/LGBTQIA2S+ and Trans folks — and the people who love & support them.

“I just couldn’t think of a better place in the city to locate that and to have that be a reciprocal relationship where we’re not just extracting from the community or bringing outsiders into the community,” Todman shared about launching the space in the neighborhood.

The Germantown Info Hub asked this healer and community builder about their favorite things about Germantown, and they graciously shared them with us.

Favorite places to grab a bite

Todman is  the first in this series to shout out Wayne & Berkley Seafood (4529 Wayne Avenue). Proudly showing off her choice of grub, they shared, “I always get the seafood boil with Alaskan snow crabs. And my kids love it!”

They also praised the fairly popular Tipsy Cafe & Catering (5227 Germantown Avenue) for its Shrimp BLT and home fries.

Favorite park to frequent

“I really like Rittenhouse[Town] because you can get the experience of the Wissahickon without getting deep into all that it entails like Forbidden Drive,” said Todman. They raved about the ponds, the benches, and the bridge, calling it “serene.”

Favorite leisure activities

Todman says that walks throughout the neighborhood are their favorite leisure activity. One of the places they walk by and in often is The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM) at 4613 Newhall Street. They uplifted TCGM for their efforts in honoring and celebrating the “everyday colored girl.”

They also gushed about the stories that a walk through Germantown can tell. They explained: “Every block is different and tells a different story. You could really walk for a long time and just see the beautiful greenery and the beautiful people.”

Favorite shops

“Listen,  I love some Yadain,” exclaimed Todman about the hair and skin care product shop at 100 West Chelten Avenue. “I have dropped too much money on them body butters!” 

They also uplifted Attic Brewing Company, which they occasionally bartend at. They say they’ve made great community connections in the space.

Recommended historic destination

They once again uplifted TCGM and expanded on their connection to the space, saying, “The stories that get told there are in a very intentional way.”

Fun fact about the neighborhood

“There’s an orchard that they’re growing at Fernhill Park,” shared Todman. They said there are also many random occurrences at the park, like when they encountered the Philly GOAT Project. Todman says they would love to see the park get more attention and love.”

Favorite seasonal activity

They laughed while sharing, “I’m putting up my pop-up pool in the summertime!” When they’re not fighting pollen in the air, Todman also says they enjoy seeing the cherry blossom trees bloom in the spring.

Neighbor or community-group shout out

 “I literally love the stories y’all cover,” Todman says about us — the Germantown Info Hub. “I love that Germantown has its own publication that is just about very clear about who it is prioritizing and the stories that it wants to show. And it really makes me feel more connected to Germantown as a community.”