From the Grid Office: New Year, New Website, New Issue

February 2013 / Issue 46Happy 2013! The past few weeks have been busy ones here at the Grid office, and we’re so excited to finally share what we’ve been working on.

We’ve updated our website to make access to our print and online content even easier. Articles are now sorted by topic and can be accessed through individual “blog” and “magazine” sections. Plus we’ve added a sidebar to give easy access to our latest tweets, podcasts and upcoming community events.

We’ve also uploaded the digital edition of our February issue, which is on newsstands this week. The cover story looks at the vacant land problem that plagues Philadelphia and the proposed solution—a land bank that could give the current 40,000 vacant lots real development potential. Other highlights include a food column on why the lowly Russet potato should be a staple in winter kitchens and a lesson in tree identification at Awbury Arboretum.

We’re looking forward to 2013 and already have some exciting projects planned—including a special editorial partnership for March, a new insert on local food, and Grid’s 50th issue. Our next Grid Alive won’t be until March, but expect some details on a special February event to be shared shortly. In the meantime, explore the website, check out the new issue and get ready for a new year of sustainability stories!   

Banking On It: PA land bank bill one step closer to passage

Vacant land in South Philadelphia | Image via planphilly.comRemember that vacant lot in your neighborhoodthe one you always thought would serve the neighborhood better as a community garden than a dumping ground? And remember how complicated the process was to even consider the space for redevelopment?

With 40,000 vacant lots throughout Philadelphia, this is a common problem—just finding out who owns the empty property can be a challenge. But with the approval of a bill (HB1682 and SB1414) on April 3 by the Pennsylvania State Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, Philly is a step closer to having a new way to deal with this issue.

Under a unanimous vote, the bill pushes the initiative to allow local governments to establish land banks. More than 75 local governments throughout the country already have similar land banks in place. Creating a land bank in Philly would give the city government the power to purchase, or obtain by other legal means, vacant land parcels to maintain and eventually sell. Currently, 75 percent of vacant land isn't owned by the city. Instead, it's owned by private individuals, making the selling process lengthy and often complicated, especially when ownership histories are unclear.

Read More