Kiersten Adams at Awbury. (Photo provided by Kiersten Adams)

Kiersten Adams (she/they) is a storyteller who uses written and photographic expression to document the lives of Black Americans, with a particular focus on those in Philly. Her work reflects her exploration of the strong connections between the natural and (un)natural worlds, drawing inspiration from environmentalism, surrealism, and Afrofuturism.

Adams was raised in Mt. Airy but has boots on the ground in Germantown via her leisure time and the work they do at Awbury Arboretum. They are currently the Marketing and Programs Manager of the Arboretum. However, they used to be the Project Manager of the S(tree)tworks program, a public art project connecting the community to environmentalism through music and art.

Her love for the environment extends beyond Northwest Philly’s borders. They also sit on the board of UC Green, which empowers volunteer environmental stewardship in University City and its surrounding communities. Aside from the Germantown Info Hub,  Adams has freelanced for many local and national outlets like Womanly Mag, GRID, and the Inquirer.

Adams sat down with Germantown Info Hub to share some of her favorite things about the neighborhood.

Favorite place to eat

Adams raves about Salam Cafe (5532 Greene Street), saying it’s their “number one.” Their go-to orders are injera and chicken & rice. They also uplift Ultimo Coffee (5901 Wayne Avenue), saying they’ve been going there for years.

Favorite leisure activities

“Taking a class” and “getting on the pole” at Pole Empress (4555 Germantown Avenue)) is Adams’ idea of fun in the neighborhood. 

She also praises the quarterly Germantown Art & Sound show. She explains: “[I] love the different artists they bring in there. Germantown doesn’t get the foot traffic, and there aren’t a lot of places to just hang out. That feels like a place that draws [the] community together.”

Favorite park to frequent

Of course, they give a big shout-out to Awbury Arboretum. “ It’s the biggest and has a lot of green space. “You can go there and not have to sit on top of anybody,” she says.

Favorite shops

As an avid thrifter, Adams undoubtedly chose Bargain Thrift Center (5261 Germantown Avenue). For her second choice, she pinpointed Pomelo, which is right down the street at 5336 Germantown Avenue. She says that aside from the plants she’s bought, she loves the “knick knacks” and specialty items they sell.

Most used public transportation

They list the H, K, and 18, saying, “I use [them] all the time.”

Suggested site to learn more about

They immediately said The Sun Ra House at 5626 Morton Street. When asked for “It’s Sun Ra. Y’all don’t wanna fuck with space more and get in touch with your higher selves?”

Favorite fun fact about Germantown

Making their love for Sun Ra more evident, they stated, “Sun Ra once said, ‘In order to save the Earth, I had to go to the worst spot on the planet, and that was Philadelphia, which was death’s headquarters.’ And then he moved into Germantown.”

Favorite seasonal activity

“Spring and summer because of the Wyck Rose Garden Festival and the Honey Festival,” Adams shared. “ That’s where I get all my local honey!”

Neighbors/community groups shout out

Adams shouts out Stephanie Watts at the Germantown Historical Society, saying that she “really has a creative spirit and mind” that will help her advance the organization’s work

They also uplift neighbor Roz McKelvey and the Germantown Deaf Ministries. Over the past few years, Adams has been learning American Sign Language (ASL) bit by bit and has recognized it as an invaluable and necessary tool. They feel that all Americans should learn ASL because “it’s still a part of the American English language.” 

When they have time to learn more, they say, “That’s gonna be the first place [they] look.”

An addition they’d like to see added to the neighborhood

“More restaurants where people can sit,” Adams shares almost instantly. “Places where people can gather. Somewhere to sit and catch up.”