October: Comings & Goings

Four U.S. Cities Join Philadelphia in Funded Sustainability Plan
Akron, Chicago, Detroit and Memphis received $40 million in September to fund Reimagining the Civic Commons, an environmental initiative piloted in Philadelphia to demonstrate the positive effects of investment in public spaces.

The pilot program, Civic Commons Collective, began in 2014 with an initial $11 million from the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. It consists of several organizations working on five public space projects: the construction of the Bartram’s Mile trail and greenway, the Centennial Commons creative playspace, the Viaduct Rail Park elevated green space, the Discovery Center in East Fairmount Park and plans for the now-closed Lovett Library.

Mayor Jim Kenney and Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted a forum in September for the mayors of the participating cities to discuss the lessons Philadelphia learned throughout the process and how to collaborate in the future.

“From river to river and out through Philly’s many diverse neighborhoods, our citizens, businesses and local funders are working to make recreation and nature accessible for all,” said Mayor Kenney, whose first major piece of legislation this year was the sweetened beverage tax to support a $300 million investment in the city’s parks, recreation centers and libraries. Four national foundations—The JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation—are investing a total of $20 million, to be matched by local sources from the four partnering cities. Civiccommons.us will soon include information on partner cities’ progress. 

Hundreds March in Philly to Protest Dakota Pipeline, 7 Arrested
Local friends and allies of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota marched against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in a number of protests this fall, demanding that TD Bank divest from the majority owners of the project. Business was disrupted at five TD Bank locations during a rally Sept. 17, resulting in the arrests of seven people. 

The pipeline plan, which has garnered national attention, would place a tunnel beneath the Cannonball and Missouri rivers as well as Lake Oahe, all of which are near sites of cultural significance to different Native American groups. 

The Sept. 17 protest was organized by Philly #NoDAPL Solidarity to put public-relations pressure on TD Securities, a lead lender to Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics—majority owners of Dakota Access, LLC. Previous protests on Aug. 26 and 27 included a walk from Independence Hall to Penn’s Landing to show support. The full 1,100 mile, $3.8 billion system would run from Illinois through the Dakotas. In 2013, the Associated Press reported that there were nearly 300 oil pipeline spills over a two-year period in the area. 

Hospitals Honored for Healthy Food Programs
Six hospitals were honored at City Hall on Sept. 14 for taking part in Good Food, Healthy Hospitals, a nonprofit effort to reduce and prevent chronic disease by providing healthful food for patients, employees and visitors.

The program, concluding its second year with 10 participating hospitals, is led by food distributor Common Market and the city’s Public Health Department.

“Philadelphia has some of the highest rates of diet-related chronic disease in the nation,” said Tatiana Garcia Granados, Common Market co-founder and CEO. “By increasing access to healthy food served on site, these hospitals are treating these illnesses before they begin, saving thousands of dollars and years of preventable suffering.”

Good Food, Healthy Hospitals cited examples of laudable practices, such as Lankenau Medical Center’s utilization of its own organic farm, Jeanes Hospital’s weekly farm stand and the default option of whole grain bread on menus at all six facilities honored at the event.

Schuylkill Center to Give Highest Honors to Sustainability Educator
The Meigs Award for Environmental Leadership will be presented to Carole Williams-Green at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education on Nov. 17, where she will speak about her life in the environmental movement and then join a panel discussion on environmental education and underserved audiences.

Williams-Green, a former public school teacher and administrator, is the founder and president of Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center in West Philadelphia. The free event begins at 7:30 p.m.

Renovations Underway for Sewing and Fashion Studio, Education Space
A 3,635-square-foot space at 448 N. 10th St. is under renovation to house MADE Studios, which currently operates its sewing and couture classes at a smaller location in Old City. In the early 1900s, the seven-story building served as the home to Haverford Cycle Co. and is one of the last industrial buildings to remain undeveloped in the area.

“The larger space will allow us to now offer monthly studio memberships that will provide students and working designers the workspace, industrial equipment, and professional networks to launch and maintain successful fashion businesses,” said Rachel Ford, owner of MADE Studios.

The newly signed lease was announced by Arts & Crafts Holdings, an investor and developer that helped fund a rebranding of the Callowhill area with the Mural Arts Program, dubbing it the Spring Arts District.

PA Growing Greener Coalition Requests $315M for 2017–2018 Program
The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the state’s largest network of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations, has called for $315 million for Growing Greener III, to invest in Pennsylvania’s waterways, parks and trails, as well as green open spaces and locally grown food. 

Pennsylvania Sen. Killion (R-9th District), announced in September he will be the prime sponsor of a Growing Greener III bill that proposes the $315 million, along co-sponsors Sen. Alloway (R-York) and Sen. McIlhinney (R-Bucks).

Funding for the state’s Growing Greener program, established in 1999, has decreased from an average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to $57 million this year—a nearly 75 percent cut. The program is currently funded through tipping fees on waste disposal, as well as contributions from the Marcellus Legacy Fund and the Oil and Gas Lease Fund.