Since its launch in 2011, Conrad Benner has taken Streets Department from a blog for urban art celebration, to a platform for positive change in his home city of Philadelphia.
What restaurant are you always excited to get back to?
There's something about that back bar at Monk's Cafe, or the upstairs at Tattooed Mom's, or anywhere at Mission Taqueria, or the bar at White Dog Cafe after a long summer walk, or the home-y feel of Johnny Brenda's on a random weeknight, or Que Chula Es Puebla when I want to BYOB with some friends, or...I could go on forever. Philly's incredible food and bar culture is a big key to our city's social cohesion.
How did you end up in your industry?
I got hit by a van that was turning on a red light while I was biking at 6th and Spring Garden Streets. I was 24 years old. That crash broke my leg and I went into a months-long depression. I started StreetsDept.com as an activity to find joy and keep myself busy. It turned into me finding my community and building a career.
First piece of music you ever purchased?
TLC, but I was so young and didn't know that artists could have multiple albums so I bought CrazySexyCool when I meant to buy FanMail!
How has your business pivoted during the COVID era?
We lost our main advertisers when Covid hit, so over the last year we pivoted to a reader-supported model of funding through Patreon subscriptions. It's honestly one of the best things we've even done. I'm so grateful to our Patreon members, who allow us sustain and build this effort every day!
Who is someone you admire right now?
My friend Aubrie Costello, who over the last two years has curated, organized, and launched one of the most ambitious arts projects I've ever had the luck to be so close to with their, The Erotic Project. It's a stunningly layered collaboration of some 40+ artists who are all teaching us how to connect better with ourselves. Google it now!