Fixing for a Change

Kensington's Philly Fixers Guild works to keep broken items
out of the landfill 

 Philly Fixers Guild co-founder Holly Logan and founder Ben Davis created a long-term repair group to teach people how to fix their own broken items. | Photos by Megan Matuzak

That formerly dependable but now inoperable vacuum cleaner doesn’t have to go to the landfill, and neither does that broken necklace or anything else you have that doesn’t quite work. In Kensington, a determined pair is working to repair those items, and to teach others to do the same. 

Philly Fixers Guild founder Ben Davis and co-founder Holly Logan met in 2012 while on the steering committee for Sustainable 19125 & 19134, a nonprofit in the Fishtown, Port Richmond and East Kensington neighborhoods that aims to create the greenest zip codes in the city. 

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Household Name

Postgreen’s new green building project Awesometown aims to live up to its name 

Erin Witman wasn’t planning on becoming a homeowner when she walked into Fishtown’s Lloyd Whiskey Bar one evening after work in March. But a colleague had encouraged the real estate professional to stop by for the launch party of Awesometown, a collection of 14 super-insulated and energy-efficient townhomes that will soon be rising along the 400 block of Moyer Street in Fishtown. Created by the local residential development firm Postgreen Homes, the houses promise to be rich in utility-saving features: LEED Platinum design specs, rainwater collection areas, low-flow bathroom appliances, and triple pane windows to keep both warm and cool air inside the homes, which are scheduled for completion next summer.

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Celebrate near completion of the Big Green Block by volunteering this weekend

Over the past four years, Sustainable 19125 has scored a series of eco-forward victories for the Kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond communities. Founded in 2009 by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), Sustainable 19125 is a coalition of residents, businesses, and institutional partners with the collective goal to create a more sustainable, safe and friendly neighborhood.

When NKCDC held a kick-off party for the group in January 2009, they discovered two things: one, that community members and local businesses were passionate about greening their neighborhood, and two, that vacant land could be an asset, not an eyesore. The result was the Big Green Block, a $44 million project with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Philadelphia Water Department to create a green infrastructure master plan for 20 acres between Frankford Avenue and Front, Norris and Palmer Streets. The blocks include the new LEED Platinum certified Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School (the first public school in the U.S. to have this certification).

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Design Forward: Four new projects in the Community Design Collaborative’s queue

Each year the Collaborative provides more than 30 service grants to nonprofits. The grants provide organizations with the predevelopment design services necessary to getting their projects off the ground. Below are four of the latest projects from the Collaborative, all offering a unique vision for improving a community. 
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Sustainable Communities in Action: Sustainable 19125

Philadelphia, as the old trope goes, is a city of neighborhoods. While each has its own concerns and culture, sustainability is a key for all in establishing and maintaining a neighborhood that nurtures and uplifts those who live there. In our Sustainable Communities in Action series, GRID will highlight organizations that are working to make their neighborhoods greener, safer places that residents can feel proud of.

Residents of the east kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond areas of the city are served by Sustainable 19125, an innovative community partnership created by the New Kensington Community Development Corp. (NKCDC) to address sustainability issues and quality-of-life concerns. The initiative’s goal is equal parts community revitalization, greening and neighbor-to-neighbor camaraderie.

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Feature: Food Desert

North Philly still lacks fresh food access
by Tenaya Darlington

Kensington, one of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods, has undergone significant revitalization over the last few years, especially along the southern corridor that borders Northern Liberties. You’ll now find a coffee shop, a Spanish imports store and even a sustainable fish merchant amid the tattoo parlors and check cashing stores that dot Girard Avenue between Front Street and 5th, the loosely defined borders of what neighbors call “South Kensington.” Keep moving north, though, toward Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and you’ll find yourself in something of a nutritional wasteland.
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