Talia Young’s love of fish is evident at first blush, even digitally. Her email signature says it all: <*)))><
The visiting professor at Haverford College’s environmental studies department has devoted much of her academic career to studying fish — what they eat, what eats them, their environments, and how they’re changing.
“But I really wanted to do more work that involved people,” Young says.
That’s how she came to study fishing communities, and how she learned some fishermen think Americans only eat cod and salmon filets, an assertion she heard at a 2016 fisheries conference.
“What Americans are you talking about?” she thought.
Young is Chinese American. She grew up in New York City eating all manner of seafood, much like her Black and Caribbean friends.
“Amongst certain crowds, seafood is something that you eat if you’re fancy. And that is not true in my experience in working-class communities, especially working-class communities of color. It’s a thing that people eat even if they’re really cash-strapped.”
So this former community organizer and South Philly science teacher wondered: Is there a way to connect local fisheries to would-be regulars at the Chinatown seafood counter? And could get students involved?
“I was like, ‘That’s what we should do. We should start a seafood business with young people.’”
That’s how she dreamed up Fishadelphia, a community-supported fish share run by Philly high schoolers. The program delivers biweekly shipments of fresh catch from the Jersey Shore to pickup sites throughout the city, and it teaches kids how to run a business in the process. They’re paid an hourly wage for balancing the books, on-boarding new customers, and managing the program’s social media, among other tasks.
Now in its second year, Fishadelphia is up to 250 members, some paying the full rate, and some paying a discounted community rate. It’s launching a monthly oyster club, and working to add more customers, branch out to restaurants, and recruit students from new schools.
And this summer, Fishadelphia hired two high school alums as official part-time staffers.
“What’s happening is that the adults have been infiltrated by former students,” Young says. “They’re growing up and they’re doing it for real.”