July: Comings & Goings

North Philadelphia North Philadelphia’s Peace Park is Rebuilding
Peace Park—a garden and education space in the Sharswood neighborhood of North Philadelphia—began rebuilding June 15 on land donated by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Lowe’s Home Improvement has provided funding, and PennDesign students donated labor.

Habitat for Humanity will serve as a main partner and also support a land-care program run by the Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood Advisory Committee. As part of the program, 40 qualified owners with low incomes in occupied homes in the area will also receive funding for repairs.

The resolution comes after a land dispute with the Philadelphia Housing Authority that displaced Peace Park from its original location.

Urban Consulate Launches in Philadelphia
Urban Consulate—a winner of the James L. Knight Foundation’s 2015 Knight Cities Challenge—launches its Philadelphia program this month with a salon at Le Meridien hotel. The monthly series, hosted by Michele Freeman and Jermaine Jenkins of the company Witty Gritty, is open to the public and aims to foster a dialog about innovations within the city.

Urban Consulate organizers seek to connect people within and across cities through its programs, and hopes that the three cities taking part in the project so far—Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia—will share best practices and inspiration to become a “United Nations” for some of America’s urban centers.

5th Square and Bicycle Coalition Hold Rally for Protected Bike Lanes
On June 14, representatives from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and 5th Square held a rally in Center City to urge the city to continue its work installing protected bike lanes. Also present was City Deputy Managing Director Clarena Tolson from the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems. Organizers gathered 1,000 signatures for a petition presented to Mayor Jim Kenney after the rally.

New Leaders Appointed in Top Nonprofit Organizations
In June, Paul Steinke was named the new head of the Preservation Alliance. He served as the general manager of the Reading Terminal Market for 13 years before running an unsuccessful campaign for City Council.

Carol Austin, formerly the vice president of the Philadelphia Youth Network, was named executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. Austin spent nine years with the Philadelphia Youth Network, five of them as vice president.

Broad Street Ministry hired Michael J. Dahl as executive director. Since 2001, Dahl served in roles including managing director and general counsel for Pew Charitable Trust.

Rick Magder will head the Fairmount Park Conservancy, after 16 years in various roles promoting the national Groundwork movement, which elevates the connection among open space, waterways and urban renewal.

Philadelphia First in Nation to Pass Sugary Beverage Tax
A controversial sugary beverage tax has passed in Philadelphia City Council. Opponents framed the bill as a grocery tax that would hurt poor Philadelphians. Advocates stressed that the tax would support underfunded city programs, an argument that eventually held sway.

The Sustainable Business Network took an early stance in favor of the tax, stating on their website, “The Mayor’s proposal will lead to the upgrade of dozens of City recreation centers, libraries, and parks, creating safe spaces where residents can learn, play, and lead active lifestyles.”

Once implemented, the law will impose a tax of 1.5 cents on beverage distributors for every ounce of a beverage that contains sugar or artificial sweeteners. The average six-pack of soda will now cost about $1.08 more. According to NPR, Mayor Jim Kenney has calculated that plan will raise $400 million over the next five years.

Impact100 Gives Grants to Sustainability and Art Organizations
Art-Reach, CASA Philadelphia, and CASA Youth Advocates of Delaware County each received a project grant of $100,000, plus an operating grant of $6,667 from Impact100, a philanthropic organization composed of, and funded solely by, women.

Art-Reach connects underserved audiences, including residents with disabilities and low incomes, and provides discounted tickets to cultural events for disabled people who otherwise might not be able to attend.

CASA Philadelphia trains and supports volunteers to serve as court appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes, placed in the foster care system and under the supervision of the Department of Human Services.

Inventory of Philly Street Trees Underway
A digital inventory of Philadelphia’s approximate 150,000 curbside trees will soon be searchable and open to the public through the same cloud-based mapping system used for the city’s massive street mapping data. The city will utilize Cyclomedia, a “geospatial information system,” and employ two technicians to keep track of the health, size and species of each plant; one goal of the program is to prevent roadside accidents by keeping a tab on dead and unhealthy trees that might fall over.

Sustainable Energy Fund Receives Grant
The Sustainable Energy Fund, a nonprofit that assists energy users in overcoming educational and financial barriers, received two grants in June totaling $100,500 from West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund. $20,000 of the sum will go toward funding Energypath 2016, the state’s largest energy conference, which will be held in State College on July 28 and 29.

Community Calls for Disqualification of Philadelphia Energy Solutions
At a June 21 board meeting in Port Richmond of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, community activists from Action United and Green Justice Philly called for Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) to be disqualified from the list of contenders to expand the Southport Marine Terminal. Advocates are citing the fact that PES has been in “significant noncompliance” with EPA environmental regulations as one of the reasons that PES should not be considered for the project, which would expand the terminal’s operations for the first time in 40 years.