September: Comings & Goings

Mayor Nutter takes Policy position with University of Chicago
After serving eight years as Philadelphia’s mayor and 14 years on City Council, Michael A. Nutter will bring his experience to the University of Chicago’s Urban Labs, which partners with policymakers from large cities to strategize improvements in the realms of crime, education, energy and environment, health, and poverty.

“Urban Labs uses science, data and evidence-based programs to inform and develop urban policy for the biggest impact possible,” said Mayor Nutter, who will continue to be based in Philly while he serves as executive fellow to the program.

Nutter, who left Philadelphia’s City Hall in January after reaching his term limit, also serves on Urban Labs’ National Advisory Council, which is composed of business and civic leaders who provide strategic guidance to Urban Labs.

New Law Allows More Places to Sell Wine, Beer
Act 39, which has been viewed in a generally positive light by those in the liquor industry, went into effect in August, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is reviewing applications for new permits.

Under the new law, grocery stores can apply to sell wine; wineries will be able to ship directly to customers; more gas stations will be allowed to sell six-packs of beer; brewpubs can sell spirits; and state liquor stores can stay open for longer hours.

City Receives $7.3 Million to Reduce Pollution and Congestion
Five projects aimed at improving air quality and reducing traffic congestion have been awarded more than $7 million in competitive federal funding. 

Distributed by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the funding includes $416,280 to double the frequency of shuttle service between the Navy Yard and AT&T Station on the Broad Street Line.  $2 million will be used to purchase new waste haulers that run on compressed natural gas, which will reduce engine-related methane emissions. 

Almost $2 million will contribute to the construction of 10 new bus stations at five intersections on Roosevelt Boulevard, which supports a new bus service currently planned by SEPTA.

$868,700 was awarded for a half-mile multi-use trail connecting the Fox Chase Regional Rail station at Rhawn Street to over 16 miles of existing trails along Pennypack Creek in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

Villanova and Aqua America Collaborate on International Water Projects 
Experts and engineers from Aqua America Inc. and Villanova University’s College of Engineering traveled to Panama and Nicaragua in August to inspect water project sites, meet with community members and connect with local nongovernmental organizations.

Aqua will provide engineering and water infrastructure expertise to Villanova’s international service work. Past projects include 25 years providing engineering support on water-related infrastructure projects in the Alto Bayano region of Panama, as well as implementation of water supply networks to provide safe drinking water for rural communities in Waslala, Nicaragua.

Philly Vegan Culture Featured in Humorous New Book
V for Veg,” Vance Lehmkuhl’s column in Philadelphia Daily News chronicling the rise of plant-based eating in Philadelphia, is now out in a “best of” collection under the same name. Paperback and ebook formats are available from Sullivan Street Press.

Lehmkuhl’s work has appeared in many publications in the region, including the now-shuttered City Paper, where he served as political cartoonist for 12 years and as a contributing writer.

Solar Nonprofit Updates its Building, Raises Funds for Two New Jobs
Community outreach center Serenity House is now powered by the sun after raising funds for roof-mounted solar panels through San Francisco nonprofit RE-volv

The installation is facilitated by Serenity Soular, which is a collaboration between students and faculty at Swarthmore College and North Philadelphia residents that is based in Serenity House. A stipend was crowdfunded to enable two local young people to attend solar training classes and shadow the installers during the project.

MT. Airy Art Garage Finds New Home
Arts and culture nonprofit Mt. Airy Art Garage will move to its new location in 2018, thanks to a partnership with community development organization Mt. Airy USA, which is developing a mixed-use space at 6651 Germantown Ave.

Mt. Airy Art Garage, which hosts exhibitions, performances, classes and other public events, closed recently after losing its lease and will operate as a pop-up at 6622 Germantown Ave. until the new location is completed.

Local Filmakers Honored at BlackStar Film Festival
Judge and audience favorites from Philadelphia’s international BlackStar Film Festival were honored at a ceremony in August.

“Migration” was the theme for 2016’s festival, which served as a platform for independent black filmmakers and films about black people from around the world. Local filmmakers honored for their work at the ceremony included Kyleel Rolle and Isabella Tan (“Praey”), Zach Hauptman (“Mil’s Life”) and Philip Asbury (“See Me on the Beat”).  

Energy Sprout Winners Announced
Pennsylvania businesses and nonprofits were awarded $160,000 in grants from this year’s Energy Sprout competition.

Winners include the Energy Coordinating Agency, which hopes to demonstrate the effectiveness of new technologies and create linkages with the public health system; Serenity Soular, which provides job training and job creation for solar panel installation; EthosGen, for a prototype to harvest thermal energy from renewable and waste heat resources; and Renewable Homes LLC, which promotes development of net-zero energy residential rental properties. 

The big winner at Energy Sprout was CEWA Technologies Inc., based in Wyomissing,
Pennsylvania, which was awarded $100,000 to reduce manufacturing cost and time per unit on its “concentrating solar power” dishes.