By Ukee Washington


READING, PA (CBS) — We took a trip to just a few of the spots in Reading, from the heart of the city to some cool waters. Pop into downtown Reading on a summer Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and you’ll find Penn Street Market, a popular spot to pick up fresh healthy food.

“I love seeing our regulars come out on a week-to-week basis,” market manager Courtney Shober said. “Fruits and vegetables, a lot of them are grown locally. Produce vendors usually bring some flowers. We have live music going on right now, so throughout the season, we have lots of people coming out to visit, to showcase all the great things that are in and near Reading.”

Reading is working hard to support a new generation of entrepreneurs, such as Deli Olaewe and his custom apparel business Pagoda Apparel, including his Reading-themed T-shirts.

“That’s something I came up with to put on apparel and started to wear it around,” Olaewe said.

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Jobany Bedoya helps entrepreneurs, including the city’s majority Latino community, connect with lenders and resources as a small business coordinator for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

“There’s lots of diversity within this community as far as business ownership,” he said. “I mean, just on the block we’re sitting on, there’s a hobby shop, a bakery, a T-shirt shop. The backbone of the economy right now is the small businesses, and Latinos have a huge part in that.”

Some of Reading’s old industrial buildings are filled with new life. A former goggle factory is now GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

“The GoggleWorks is sort of a co-working space where we have artists that rent the studio spaces sort of running their own business,” artistic director Tim Compton said.

One of the factory’s old areas is now a pottery studio. Another is a huge glass working space. You don’t have to be a pro to come. GoggleWorks offers classes for the public.

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“We’re feeling really fortunate that we are able to repurpose this space and make it a vibrant community for Reading,” Compton said.

Visitors who crave the outdoors can wander the waters of the Nature Place in the city’s Angelica Park, run by the nonprofit Berks Nature.

“It’s a beautiful habitat of wetlands and woodlands and lowlands and provides a great teaching opportunity for us,” Berks Nature president Kim Murphy said.

Last year, more than 350 children attended their weeklong summer camps, including 10-year old Rowan Caspescha, who enjoyed “being with friends and catching crayfish in the creek.”

Many more came to visit on field trips to learn about the world around them.

“We believe that nature is essential to our quality of life,” Murphy said.

Ukee Washington