Back in 1727, Ben Franklin posited the idea that social action springs best from simply being social. As a result, he started the Junto, a group focused on the debate of philosophical topics ranging from business to ethics for "mutual improvement" of society and self. Now on, the eve of his 308th birthday, the concept appears to making a return.
"Celebration! Benjamin Franklin, Founder" will celebrate Ben's big 3-0-8 with a day of remembrance, merriment, and—of course—drinking. But, while the Junto lead to the establishment of the first public hospital, volunteer fire departments, the first library, and the University of Pennsylvania, this likely will simply add up to a good time.
And, what's more, all of Philadelphia is invited.
Hundreds of Philadelphians are expected to attend the festivities, which include a seminar on Franklin's works, a procession and wreath laying ceremony, and a luncheon courtesy of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Starting at 11, a historical procession will begin through Old City towards Franklin's grave, where members of this modern-day Junto will pay tribute to Philly's greatest patriot.
The seminar and procession are free, but if you want to dig in with your fellow Ben Franklin fanatics, it'll cost you $70 a plate.
There is, in effect, no better way to carry on Franklin's inventive spirit in the modern age. Not even the Franklin impersonators can do that, largely because they miss the hallmark of the inventor's life: progress. Certainly we can't accomplish that by sticking ourselves immovably in the time period and personality of a great American long past.
We can, however, accomplish that progress by looking back and giving thanks. And if we as Philadelphians do it in a group hundreds of members strong, all the better.