Local Business: Potato Head

Three Potato Four’s new retail space on Shurs Lane feels a bit like a macro version of their beautiful, deliberately-chosen salvaged items and antiques. A former wool mill that’s over 100 years old, the converted space (once used as a dye room), has taken on myriad other incarnations in the last few decades, including a furniture repair shop, a dog collar factory and host to a couple of raves in the ’80s.
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November Letters

Swim Fan
Thanks so much for the Dispatch
you printed in the September issue of Grid (“The River Wild”). Five years ago, I lived for a while in Heidelberg, Germany, and was able to swim in natural waters pretty often.
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Intersections: Fair Play

The Philadelphia Center for Architecture and the Ed Bacon Foundation have launched their Fifth Annual Ed Bacon Student Competition. This year’s theme—“Designing for the Fair of the Future”—asks local and international college students to transport themselves to the year 2026, designing a venue for the World’s Fair celebration, held on the occasion of America’s 250th birthday. The student submissions will be judged on creativity, vision and the effectiveness of their solution for utilizing a vacant site in an underused section of South Philadelphia. Those with the winning designs will split $6,000 in prize money and attend an awards ceremony at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture on December 7. The competition reimagines the vision of Edmund Bacon himself, whose dream of a 1976 World’s Fair was never realized.

November 2 is the deadline for receipt of competition submissions; the awards ceremony will be held on December 7, edbacon.org

Intersections: Sunny Days

By Mark Syvertson

The Bourse at Independence Mall recently installed a 43-kilowatt solar array on its roof, becoming one of the first historic buildings in the city to employ photovoltaics. Due to the Bourse’s landmark status, there were concerns about preserving the integrity of the structure. SolarDock, a green energy company from Wilmington, DE, installed the panels in non-permanent brackets, mounting them at a 25 degree angle (as opposed to the standard 10), taking maximum advantage of the sunlight in the heart of Old City.

For more on the project, visit discoverthebourse.blogspot.com

Local Business: Into the Woods

Throughout Philadelphia, crumbling factories recall a faded past. But in the wooden beams that once held them up—century-old timber taken from vanished virgin forests—Steve Ebner sees beauty, opportunity and a chance at renewal. “You can’t get better than this,” he says, gesturing toward the massive stacks of reclaimed wood that make up the stock of his business, Manayunk Timber, Inc.
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Shoots & Ladders: Roll the Credits

Sigh. It’s that time of the year again—days are on the wane and winter is on its way. As much as I’d like to replace the contents of each container with a promising crop of hearty root vegetables, the Earth’s revolutions (and my neighbor’s bathroom addition) shelter my little blue roofdeck from most of the sun’s beneficial winter rays.
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Technology: Wheel House

Ever since its first iteration in the 1960s, bike sharing has been a bit of an idealistic campaign. It sounds great, sure. But in reality, bike sharing systems often lead to underutilized, vandalized and stolen bikes—keeping overhead high and program initiation low. Now, one local company is using innovative software to change the economics of this sought-after city asset.

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Intersections: Money Matters

If Philadelphia hopes to become one of the greenest cities in America, now is the time. Thanks to two multi-million dollar grants from the federal government (distributed as part of President Obama’s Recovery Act), Philly is embarking on initiatives that will create green jobs, address energy concerns and offer sustainable solutions to some of the city’s longtime problems.
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Foraging: Pawpaw Paradise

photos and story by Lee StabertI’ve watched enough Survivor to know that building a fire is hard. Or at least it should be. But then I witnessed Casey Spacht start one in less than a minute—a couple quick strokes with a string bow and some delicate blowing was all it took for the carefully prepared tinder to explode into flames.
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Recipes: Soup's On

My mother is a true believer in soup. Her biggest pot comes out at the first hint of fall and remains on the stove until the last wisp of chill leaves the air the following spring. Her specialty is chicken soup (she is a Jewish mother, after all), but she is also fluent in lentils, beef stew, creamy squash and all varieties of cruciferous vegetable.
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Farm Profile: Taproot Farm

Taproot Farm has only been in business for one year, but farmer George Brittenburg has been growing much longer than that. While attending college in Pittsburgh, he was an impassioned advocate for urban agriculture and community garden projects. “For me, the local food movement became very important,” he says. “This farm was a dream we’d had for a long time.”
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