September: Comings & Goings

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Solar Program Extends Registration Through October
Solarize Philly, the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s first initiative to get more homes powered by the sun, has extended its signup period by one month, to Oct. 31.

The program launched in April and has signed up more than 1,600 households to receive solar installations from three companies vetted by PEA: Solar States, Kiss Electric and Moore Energy.

“PEA will help the developers keep the costs low by bundling neighborhood installations, reducing marketing and outreach costs, and working with the Office of Sustainability, L&I and PECO to keep the process moving as quickly as possible,” states Solarize Philly’s website. Installations will help fund solar job training through the school district.

Fair Food Executive Director Steps Down
Ann Karlen stepped down in August as the executive director of Fair Food, which promotes locally grown food and sustainable agriculture practices.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are so grateful for everything she has accomplished,” reads a statement from Fair Food, acknowledging Karlen’s 17-year history with the organization. “Her tireless dedication to the cause has truly made positive change in our regional food system.” 

Board member John Rhoads will serve as interim executive until a permanent executive director is hired.

Second Philly Free Streets Scheduled for Oct. 28
After positive feedback following the inaugural event in 2016, Philadelphia will host its second Philly Free Streets program Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Led by the Managing Director’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems, this program temporarily closes streets to cars, inviting people to walk and bike. A map of the 7-mile round-trip route, between 3rd and Chestnut to 5th and Indiana streets, can be found at phillyfreestreets.com. This year’s event will also include programming to highlight the ways in which street design can benefit neighborhoods and individuals’ health.

“Philly Free Streets will transform our streets into a safe environment for physical activity and learning, and further my commitment to improving neighborhoods and bettering the futures of children,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. 

City Names New Deputy Director for Planning, Zoning
Philadelphia’s new deputy director for planning and zoning is Eleanor Sharpe, who has three years of experience with the City Planning Commission and has previously served as director of planning in New Rochelle, New York.

“In my new role, my focus as deputy director for planning and development is to oversee how those four organizations can work better together—how the Zoning Board, Historical Commission, Art Commission and Planning Commission can align what we do so that centers can serve the citizens of Philadelphia together,” Sharpe told the Philadelphia Tribune.

The Howard architecture grad also has a master's in city planning from Penn and is a LEED accredited professional.

Latino Organizations, Santander Bank Launch Pathway to Citizenship Program
The nonprofit lending institution FINANTA—along with Santander Bank and the Latino community organization Ceiba—announced a pilot program Aug. 14 to help low-to-moderate income immigrants secure low-cost loans for expenses associated with attaining U.S. citizenship.  

The effort, titled Programa Adelante (The Forward Program), also provides financial literacy education, credit and budget counseling, immigration-related workshops and free tax preparation. A press release states: “At the end of the program, not only will participants have increased economic ability to apply for an immigration remedy, but their enhanced financial literacy will enable them to more effectively integrate into the American economy in a secure way.”

“It is great to be part of a program that helps people achieve their dream of U.S. citizenship and, through that, build on other American dreams like homeownership and financial security,” said Luis Mora Rechnitz, president of FINANTA, which serves low-income, immigrant, and minority entrepreneurs and consumers.

City Releases Action Plan to Address Waste, Litter
On Aug. 7, Mayor Jim Kenney unveiled the city’s Zero Waste and Litter Action Plan, which stems from his executive order to set a goal of “zero waste” in the city by 2035—eliminating the use of landfills and conventional incinerators. 

“Philadelphia disposes of nearly 1 ton of waste for each of our 1.5 million residents,” Mayor Kenney said. “So, while everyone knows cleaning up litter is important, we also have to concentrate on reducing waste before it has the chance to become litter.”

Among the measures identified by the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet that would help Philadelphia reach its goal are: advocating for products that eliminate need for incineration or landfill burial; recovering items for reuse, resale, recycling or utilization as waste-to-energy material; promoting low-impact or reduced-consumption lifestyles; and improving access to recycling.

The program will be administered by Nic Esposito, a longtime urban agriculture advocate who recently worked with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

Also announced at the Aug. 7 meeting was an interactive, data-driven website for residents, cleanphl.org, which aims to help residents find resources and engagement opportunities for addressing litter abatement.

Local shops Blackbird Pizzeria, Moon and Arrow Expand
Blackbird Pizzeria opened a new location Aug. 16 at 614 N. 2nd St. in Northern Liberties. The restaurant serves the same vegan menu as the original spot at South 6th and Lombard streets, including pizzas with Violife cheese, salads, seitan cheesesteaks and tofu scrambles.

South Philadelphia Boutique Moon & Arrow has also expanded inside of its location at 754 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row. The store now includes a dedicated section for children’s clothing, toys and other items. Many items are hand crafted or made by local artisans.