Happy Sunday, Philadelphia. Hope you’re savoring summer as it rapidly comes to an end. Today, we’ve got a craving for the “powerful rice" Craig LaBan recently ate. We also talked with Kristen Balderas who works on the Inquirer’s Made in Philly series that highlights young people in Philly making positive changes in their communities.

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Behind the story with Kristen Balderas

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with Kristen Balderas, a Lenfest Fellow who works on the Inquirer’s Made in Philly series.

What is Made in Philly and its mission?

Made in Philly is a Philadelphia Inquirer series developed by the 2018 Lenfest Fellows class. Its mission is to highlight millennials in Philly who are working to address community challenges and driving change for the future.

What inspired the project?

A big part of this project is that we look to cover people from communities that have historically been neglected or misrepresented by the media. The inspiration for this project came to us while one of the six fellows behind Made in Philly was out reporting on a story about smoking trends in North Philadelphia. Aneri Pattani, another Lenfest Fellow and health reporter at The Inquirer, was asking teens about their smoking habits when a young North Philly resident asked why she chose his neighborhood for a story on smoking and not something positive. We think about that interaction a lot because we know that while he was the first person to ask this while talking to a fellow, he was not the first person to think it.

Has there been a particular story that resonated with you?

All the stories I work on for Made in Philly are a little extra special to me because I feel like I get to spend a lot of time with my sources and really learn about their lives. Last year and into this year, I worked on a story with Aneri Pattani about LaQuisha Anthony. We spent four to five months spending time with LaQuisha and seeing the important work she’s doing around elevating the voices of black women in the conversation about sexual violence. We got to see LaQuisha mentor young girls, go to church and be a support system for women who needed her. It was incredibly inspiring.

What lessons have you learned from taking part in the project?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there’s always someone doing the work. It’s easy to feel like there’s just a lot of bad out in the world, but there are so many people in Philly doing positive things that are shaping the future. Working with those people to share their stories has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my job.

What do you hope readers take away from Made in Philly?

Ultimately, I hope people are inspired. I hope that our series introduces them to a space, community, organization, person that can serve as a resource to them and that they are motivated to reach out. I also hope that people are inspired to start their own projects and feel like they can also make change.

Learn more about Made in Philly here and check out a video of our conversation with Kristen. Stay in touch with Kristen by following her on Twitter at @kristenbalderas or emailing her at kbalderas@inquirer.com.

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Great to have the Birds back ... hope they don’t continue to suffer key injuries in preseason as they already have too many players among the walking wounded. The team appears to have great depth but hard to predict whether those depth players can perform adequately until it counts.

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