Through images, words, video and sound, we show readers what the city really looks like and spotlight voices that aren’t always heard.
CityWide Stories is managed and published by Witty Gritty, a civic-minded Philadelphia-based company that showcases, engages, and connects their clients through marketing, events, and engagement.
Funding for CityWide is generated through grants, underwriting agreements, and event production.
Our coverage areas include:
- Doers: stories, photo essays, and profiles on makers, builders, businesses
- Events: listings, previews, and coverage on events, art & design, music, etc.
- Places: features, photo essays, and updates on neighborhoods, green spaces and green building initiatives
- The Report: articles on science, health and tech
- Exchanges: profiles and conversations with locals, first person narratives, culture pieces
Through our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and in your inbox on the last Monday of every month, our talented contributors will share news and stories of the people and places shaping our neighborhoods and city. You can get CityWide Stories free in your email box each week if you sign up here.
SWABREEN BAKR, ENGAGEMENT EDITOR, CITYWIDE STORIES
Originally from Georgetown, Guyana, Swabreen immigrated to the United States at age 16 and has been living and working in Philadelphia ever since. A graduate of Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media. She has 10 years of content creation, communications, digital strategy and marketing experience with a focus on photography, writing, social media marketing, and grassroots activations in industries ranging from start-ups, food and beverage, film, travel, fitness, news media and online learning. As a consultant, she’s worked with brands such as Tastemade, PHL DNC and Bacardi USA. Swabreen also has a background in journalism and continues to write in a freelance capacity.
ALAINA JOHNS, LEAD CONTRIBUTOR, CITYWIDE STORIES
Alaina is a freelance writer and editor hailing from East Passyunk. She has spent the last decade covering arts and culture, science, business, social justice, urban design and more for many outlets throughout Philadelphia and beyond. She’s the associate editor of Broad Street Review, Philly’s hub for arts, culture, and commentary. You can also visit her at her blog, where fiction need not apply.
MICHELLE FREEMAN, CEO, WITTY GRITTY
Michelle has worked in marketing and events in Greater Philadelphia since she was an undergrad in Drexel University. In 2008, she founded Witty Gritty, a civic-minded Philadelphia-based company that showcases, engages, and connects their clients through marketing, events, and engagement. As a lifelong resident, Michelle is strongly committed to Philadelphia. She dedicates much of her work and focus to projects that highlight economic and urban development in neighborhoods and across sectors. She was named one of Drexel University’s “40 Under 40” in 2015 and a top “Keeper and Connector” by Leadership Philadelphia in 2014. She was also identified as an Emerging Leader by the Philly DoGooder Awards in 2013 and received the Emerging Leader Award from the Forum of Executive Women in 2011.
JAISON SMULSKI, CREATIVE & DESIGN, WITTY GRITTY
Jaison is a friendly and focused graphic designer and event production specialist, with more than a decade of experience in design, marketing, and logistics. He has worked with both established organizations and start-ups, helping to build brands from initial concept to actualization. Jaison helps presenters tell their story through visuals and slides and creates programs, signage, and promotional giveaways to enhance event experiences. From social media graphics to annual reports, Jaison works closely with clients to best communicate their message across mediums.
LIORA LEBOWITZ, MARKETING & OUTREACH, WITTY GRITTY
Liora hails from Boston, MA, but Philadelphia has become her new favorite city. While her background has been varied, from working at a Jewish farm camp, as an outdoor educator, and at small nonprofits, she is excited to connect her community-minded background with social media strategy.
LEAH MCGLONE, CONTENT & ENGAGEMENT, WITTY GRITTY
Leah moved to the Philadelphia area almost seven years ago and has been in love with the region ever since. With experience in graphic design, marketing, and project coordination, Leah enjoys working with everyone and anyone to help them achieve their goals. She works with clients and projects to plan and create social media strategy, online marketing tactics, and all things related to digital content layout and creation.