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A major merger supports big plans in Fairmount Park

Big news keeps coming out of Fairmount Park: On April 21, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, the two nonprofits that support the city's park system, formally announced their merger.

The Conservancy, founded as the Fairmount Park Foundation in 1997, began primarily as a fundraising agent for the park, but in the last few years, the organization has partnered with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to branch into many aspects of planning, project management and outreach. It’s now also helming the recently-announced Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.

The Trust, a public/private venture launched in 1992, focuses on professional preservation services to nonprofits and City agencies, managing historic buildings, public art and "cultural landscapes."

The new combined organization -- boasting the name Fairmount Park Conservancy -- isn’t shedding any jobs on either side; it will employ a combined staff of 16 and have an annual operating budget of about $2 million. Former Conservancy Executive Director Kathryn Ott Lovell will continue in that role while former Trust Executive Director Lucy Strackhouse has transitioned into the title of senior director of preservation and project management. 

Bringing the two groups together was a long process.

"We started talking about merging in 2007," recalls Strackhouse. A lot of meetings took place, but "then 2008 happened," and city-wide financial pressures caused by the recession led the organizations to table the talks until 2010.

But once the discussion was back on track -- with the help of pro bono legal services from Pepper Hamilton -- the boards reached a memorandum of understanding in mid-2014, with official notice of the merger reaching both offices at the end of the year.

While the January merger was no secret, the delay of a formal public announcement until late April had to do with getting the new organization’s branding and website up to speed.

"What we’re really going to be looking at is not just preserving these resources for history’s sake, but really thinking about how the historic properties are activated in new ways," says Lovell. "What you’ll see from our combined entities are some really exciting announcements about historic properties reimagined."

Between PennPraxis' plan The New Fairmount Park, the Civic Commons, and other initiatives, "City government can’t manage on their own," says Lovell of the Conservancy’s increasingly important role in Fairmount Park stewardship.

These plans encompass the natural, historical and cultural assets of the park, she adds, "reinforcing the fact that the merger is a really positive thing for both organizations, but ultimately for the park."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Kathryn Ott Lovell and Lucy Strackhouse, the Fairmount Park Conservancy

Community College of Philadelphia makes tuition free for eligible students

Earlier this month, Community College of Philadelphia announced its 50th Anniversary Scholarship program -- the school is offering associate's degrees at no cost to eligible Philadelphia high school graduates. And that was only the beginning of the good news.

On April 16, word came down that Philly native and Community College of Philadelphia graduate Deesha Dyer has been named White House Social Secretary. According to a statement from the White House, before starting as an intern in 2009, Dyer worked for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust for nine years; she also worked as a freelance journalist from 2003 through 2010. Dyer returned to college at age 29 to get an associate’s degree in Women’s Studies.

"It really is great news," says Greg Murphy, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Community College of Philadelphia Foundation. The national limelight seems perfectly timed to shine a light on the school's new program, which jump-starts a college education for motivated local students who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

"Basically, it’s meant to eliminate barriers," he explains, adding that these are "last dollar scholarships." That means eligible students file a FAFSA and those dollars get added to any state help available (including Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance) and funds from applicable grant programs. But if there’s still a gap in the tuition owed, Community College of Philadelphia can now step in with a scholarship to cover those costs, putting an associate’s degree within reach for the cost of the textbooks.

The program covers any Pell-eligible 2015 graduate of a Philadelphia high school who wants to enroll this fall. They must satisfy the college-level academic placement requirement and be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credits per semester) in a degree program of study.

The scholarship, which the students will apply for annually along with their FAFSA, is good for up to three years or through the completion of an associate’s degree, whichever comes first. To remain eligible for the dollars, students will need to maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA at the end of each year and meet a few other requirements, including at least one campus or community-based extra-curricular activity.

"The idea is you really want to fund students who are making progress," insists Murphy. "All of that contributes to a student who is eager and ready to enter the workforce or further their education. It’s truly part of what the city wants. The city is looking at a future where they need many workers with higher-level skills, and so we are trying to match what the city needs in terms of creating skilled workers."

The college's 50th Anniversary Scholarship dollars are philanthropic not public. According to a statement, the program is projected to cost $200,000 in year one, $300,000 the following year and $350,000 in year three.

"I don’t think anything before has excited the Foundation board to raise money as much as this has," adds Murphy. "They’re really inspired by this scholarship and what it can do for the City of Philadelphia."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Greg Murphy, the Community College of Philadelphia

 

Update: Lancaster Avenue's Neighborhood Time Exchange makes a difference

Winnipeg native and Montreal resident Kandis Friesen loved the two months she spent in Philly this year as part of Lancaster Avenue's Neighborhood Time Exchange (NTE) residency, which offers studio space and a stipend for hours of service the artists contribute to community-based projects.

The intitative, continuing with multiple artist cycles until the fall, is a partnership of the Mural Arts Program, the Ontario-based Broken City Lab and the People's Emergency Center.

An interdisciplinary artist who works with media including sound and video, Friesen, in her mid-30s, has been working as an artist only for the last five years or so.

"Before that, I was doing social justice-based and community-based work," she explains. "I’ve always seen it as part of my life, whether I’m making art or working a different job."

During her NTE stint (which ran from February 1 through April 1), she offered some of those project-manager skills to her peers: negotiating time, projects and space. In a program connecting residency artists to community service requests, that meant "working with really diverse groups of people who might have really different ideas, or similar ideas but…really different personalities," she explains.

Her own contribution to the neighborhood had many facets. She worked with the New Africa Center on a walking tour of Black History in West Philly, focusing on the saga of the self-identified Black Bottom Tribe, a thriving 19th-century African-American community living where University City stands today. The Tribe suffered forcible evictions under city development plans and university expansions in the early 1900s, alongside redlining laws that made it nearly impossible for African Americans to obtain mortgages.

This especially touched on Friesen’s interest in archives and memorials -- and how they’re made and maintained.

She also did a lot of work for the Artistic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Program at Martha Washington Elementary School.
ACE instructor Hope McDowell had written a script called More Than Martin, and enlisted Friesen to help her shoot and edit it. In the film, now available online, Martin Luther King, Jr. comes back to say, as Friesen explains, "I’ve been carrying Black History for myself for too long…I would like to introduce you to all these other people in African-American history, and you also might make history."

"It’s a great film, in line with my own practice as well," enthuses the artist. "People being able to tell their own histories."

She also led a variety of arts workshops for Martha Washington students, and collaborated with her fellow NTE artists on other projects, including time with the Earthship Philadelphia project and the New Bethlehem Baptist Church.

"We all helped each other in different ways, and that was also really nice to have a collaborative environment for our community work," she adds. "I think the strength of this residency was that it really was an infrastructure created." The artist residents didn’t operate on any assumptions about what they were bringing to the neighborhood: instead, they listened to hear what needed to be done, to "reinforce or connect what is already happening."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Kandis Friesen, Neighborhood Time Exchange

 

A North Philly grant leaves no excuse for litter

Earlier this year, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) announced a new micro-grant program to help local community organizations boost safety, walkability and commerce through resident-led clean-up programs. The first round of grantees included the North 5th Street Revitalization Project, which received $1000. The dollars are already going a long way on a range of initiatives.

The North 5th Street Revitalization Project has been operating since 2008 with funding from the Commerce Department. While their umbrella organization is the Korean Community Development Services Center, they have their own branding and offices.

The initiative's service area covers about a mile and a half of the Olney neighborhood: It runs from Roosevelt Boulevard to Spencer Street, and then a block on each side of N. 5th Street. The organization runs a sidewalk cleaning program (including two staffers who work five days a week to keep litter off the streets), removes "bandit signs," logs and repairs dozens of 311 issues each month and leads neighborhood cleanups, like April 11's city-wide Philly Spring Cleanup Day, which drew about sixty neighbors to volunteer.

The Project also focuses on public safety, holding twice-yearly meetings with police representatives and local merchants to discuss issues of crime and security, and helping participating businesses install security cameras through a dedicated city program. And it provides a wide range of business assistance, from helping locals get business permits or apply for eligible grant programs, to facilitating a business association and offering financing help.

"We have 340 active businesses on North 5th Street," says Program Director Philip Green. Most of them are small "mom and pop" stores, and many are "immigrant-owned and operated, so it’s really hard for them to obtain traditional bank loans."

Finally, the Project promotes the corridor in general through events such as open mic nights, community clean-ups and seasonal programming.

The KPB dollars funded a fun DIY photo-shoot for Philly Spring Cleanup Day volunteers, which the organization will share throughout the coming year, keeping the spirit of the clean-up alive and reminding people that maintaining the neighborhood is a year-round activity.

Leftover dollars will go to projects such as revamping the Project’s existing brochure on responsible homeownership and neighborhood maintenance, and translating it into multiple languages for Olney’s diverse community. Green also hopes the money will help buy more "Keep 5th Clean" tee-shirts -- like the ones teen clean-up crew captains wore on April 11 -- as well as decals for neighborhood recycling bins.

"Community clean-ups aren’t really about the trash ending up in a trash bag and going away to the dump," explains Green. "It’s really about the message that community residents cleaning up sends to other people."

Teenagers working in festive matching shirts are particularly motivating, he hopes.

"People will see that and realize that they have absolutely no excuse to litter, and no excuse not to take pride in their neighborhood."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Philip Green, North 5th Street Revitalization Project

 

New GSK dollars at the Food Trust will boost youth health and wellness citywide

A $5 million GSK IMPACT Grant to a Philadelphia collective led by The Food Trust will allow the local food and health access leader to significantly expand its existing HYPE (Healthy You, Positive Energy) program to reach 50,000 kids over the next three years.

The dollars, administered through the Philadelphia Foundation, are going to boost programs at nine partner organizations citywide, with a special focus on North Philadelphia. The new collective’s work will be known as Get HYPE Philly!
HYPE has already been working with local kids in about 100 different schools over the last several years, explains Food Trust executive director Yael Lehmann.

"It’s going to build on this existing program," she says. "And at the same time we’re going to be working with all these other groups," who will also be expanding their own work. 

The Get HYPE collective includes Guild House West’s Greener Partners, East Park Revitalization Alliance’s Common Market, The Village of Arts and Humanities, and the Garden Education Program of Norris Square Neighborhood Project. Also partnering under the Food Trust umbrella are the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center (and branch-based teen mentoring program), The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, The Philadelphia Youth Network, The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation and Equal Measure, which will help evaluate the Get HYPE programming’s impact throughout the grant’s three-year span.

Some of these organizations will focus on urban farming, nutrition, literacy through food-based activities, and exercise; others will build on different aspects of overall health such as workforce development and entrepreneurship.

"This is really going to strengthen the networking between all of our agencies," insists Lehmann. "It’s going to have this awesome ripple effect throughout the city."

Lehmann is particularly excited about the new youth advisory board the grant will create, which will consist of about fifteen to twenty teens from around the city. They will be able to direct mini-grants of up to $2,000 (or a total of $70,000 per year for the life of the program) to student-led initiatives focused on things such as exercise, urban agriculture and healthy food donations.

"It’s not just window-dressing. They’re going to have some work to do," Lehmann says of the students who will be involved (their selection process is still TBD).

The grant’s allowance for evaluating the programs is also important, she insists, "to be able to tell the story, and look at how this is impacting kids in Philly, and help us adjust as needed."

And she hopes Get HYPE Philly! will continue far beyond the initial three-year roll-out.

“From day one, all the collective partners and the Food Trust will be thinking about how to sustain this beyond the grant," she says. "We see this as a long-term project."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Yael Lehmann, The Food Trust

 

PlanPhilly finds a new home at WHYY's NewsWorks

Ever since its launch in 2006 as a project of University of Pennsylvania’s PennPraxis design school, PlanPhilly has been in a fortunate yet challenging funding situation. Now, with a new home at WHYY's NewsWorks, the publication is looking at some exciting new horizons.
 
In itself, PlanPhilly is "not an entity," explains manager Matt Golas, a veteran journalist and former Metro editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The publication features in-depth reporting on the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, zoning code battles, and all aspects of the Philly's built environment, from transportation to historic preservation to casinos and the Delaware Waterfront.
 
"We're a project of something else that’s a 501 (c) 3, so the idea of bringing money in was unbelievably complex," says Golas. "We were very reliant on foundations."
 
Though PlanPhilly had the good fortune of funding from the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation (which is making the current move possible), and the Knight Foundation, it had long wanted to expand and diversify its financial footing. And with increasing readership -- up to 150,000 pageviews per month -- that shift is warranted.
 
Their new home will help them achieve this goal. Golas will transition into the new title of project editor at NewsWorks, while maintaining a "non-fiduciary relationship" with Penn -- the university is supportive of the move and will continue to help PlanPhilly get the scoop. (The site's reporters and editors will become independent contractors at WHYY.)
 
"They’re fundraising experts," says Golas of WHYY. "It has way more potential for us to generate some revenue and work toward being more sustainable."
 
With longterm financial stability, Golas hopes PlanPhilly will be able to expand their coverage in the Northeast and other outlying areas of the suburbs such as Conshohocken, Cherry Hill and King of Prussia. They want to produce a record of more zoning and development meetings, and also to begin to master the world of podcasts and radio segments.
 
And the benefits aren’t just for PlanPhilly: WHYY’s NewsWorks, a longtime content partner, will get a boost as well.

"We have some unique areas of coverage and unique people doing it," explains Golas. Examples include their in-depth coverage of zoning issues, their attention to the Land Bank, and stories about transportation geared towards the user experience. Since so many people listen to WHYY in their cars or while riding on SEPTA, it’s a perfect fit.

In the future, the PlanPhilly site may merge with the NewsWorks site, but for now, they're staying put. While PlanPhilly reporters will work out of WHYY headquarters when they’re not out on their beats, "you’re going to able to find PlanPhilly the same way you find it now," insists Golas.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Matt Golas, PlanPhilly


Alaina Mabaso is also a freelance contributor at WHYY’s NewsWorks. 

Rad Dish is Temple's new sustainable student food co-op

Temple University junior Lauren Troop started out as an environmental studies major, but when she became part of a bold new food co-op business plan with her fellow students, she found the perfect convergence of her interests, and switched to studying entrepreneurship.

The concept for Rad Dish, which opened on February 5 in a former Sodexo café space in Ritter Hall, grew out of a student research project completed a few years ago. The idea failed to move forward once the original thinkers graduated.

But then founding Rad Dish co-op members got hold of the idea, and began working in fall 2013 to make the space a reality. The group met under the auspices and mentorship of Temple’s Office of Sustainability, with participation from campus organizations such as Students for Environmental Action, Temple Community Garden and Net Impact, the university’s sustainable business club.

The team started meeting once a week with help from a three-credit independent study course that allowed them to devote the necessary number of hours to getting the co-op café off the ground. Meetings with West Philly’s Mariposa food co-op, as well as other student groups, including one from the University of Maryland, helped them clarify their vision.

"Our mission was really to provide affordable locally and ethically sourced fresh food to our Temple community," explains Troop, a Lancaster native. "We do that by sourcing everything within 150 miles."

Items like tea and coffee and certain spices, which the co-op can’t get locally, are sourced through a major organic and fair-trade supplier. 

Rad Dish opened its doors with the help of one year of free rent from Temple and $30,000 in seed money from the Office of Sustainability to help cover the first round of inventory and salaries for workers.

The space is a café now, but Rad Dish organizers hope to expand into more of a grocery model as they gain experience and more local, seasonal produce becomes available. In the meantime, the space already has its own appealing vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows and art on the walls.

The community has already started to embrace the idea. Someone donated a bike-powered blender, and then a record-payer.

"People have just started to bring in random stuff that made it a unique space to hang out in," says Troop.

Prospects for the co-op’s future are good, she adds: a large crop of sophomores are just now stepping into leadership roles, replacing graduating founders.

"My favorite part about the project is how we’ve incorporated so many fields of study and so many people with different majors," insists Troops. "There are people from our business school, arts school, communications, engineering, and people who just love food."

Rad Dish is now open from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in Ritter Hall, on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and 13th Street.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source, Lauren Troop, Rad Dish

Microgrants will launch community anti-litter initiatives in 2015

Last week, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) released a new RFP for community nonprofits looking to nab seed funds for their anti-litter initiatives.

"You can have all the ideas in the world but not secure the funds to do it," explains Michelle Feldman, the organization's director. "At Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, we're not the only ones with good ideas."

The new program consists of three microgrants: two of $1,000 and one of $500. A former CDC employee herself, Feldman knows how far even a small amount of money can go for a community group trying to get a new idea off the ground.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful "believes that communities know their challenges and opportunities best," says the RFP of working through grantees on litter abatement. "We want to provide community-based organizations with the resources to help solve neighborhood beautification concerns, and the space to experiment and test new ideas."

Successful applicants will need to demonstrate measurable, collaborative, sustainable and scalable impact, says Feldman (she expects at least ten to 15 applicants for the inaugural round). The organization will consider brand-new proposals or expansions of existing programs that meet the criteria.

Empirical data proves that tackling litter can have a direct impact on factors like the growth of small businesses, property values, crime, and perception of the neighborhood both inside and outside the community. According to Feldman, a good example of community innovation on the issue is the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation's $1-A-Day program -- participating businesses each contribute $365 a year toward daily litter clean-up.

It turned into "a great way to help fund the daily cleaning and involve the community, and give them ownership over the cleaning effort," she explains.

The hope is that this year’s participants will be help model best practices, inspiring and informing other groups in the future.

Proposals are due on March 1; the winners will be selected by March 15. The project cycle will run through December 15, 2015.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michelle Feldman, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful

EFE Labs boosts local startups through Ben Franklin Technology Partners alliance

For many aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses, finding the money to design and prototype their ideas can be a tremendous challenge.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) helps bridge that gap through its various programs and grant offerings, and a new alliance with EFE Laboratories will provide young companies with even more of the connections, technical expertise and financial capital they need to bring their products to market.

Led by majority owner and engineer Kip Anthony, EFE is a leading manufacturer of controllers, communication tools, medical devices, and other electrical and mechanical engineering solutions.

With 35 employees and growing, the Horsham-based lab has already helped clients obtain matching Ben Franklin FabNet (BFFN) prototyping grants.

For example, its work with SureShade has allowed founder Dana Russikoff to both expand the company's market reach, and move the design and manufacturing of its retractable boat shades back to the Philadelphia area.

Not content to simply refer clients to the BFFN program, EFE actively reaches out to growing companies facing various developmental challenges and a lack of R&D capital.

"I’m trying to make sure that, through the network and connections I have, clients receive the help they need to move their manufacturing process forward," says Anthony.

An established engineer with an MBA, Anthony understands the vital role manufacturing plays in the economy, and is passionate about sharing EFE's capabilities and experience with the larger entrepreneurial community.

"There are a lot of good people behind this," he insists, discussing how EFE's new alliance might help bring manufacturing jobs back to the region. "[There’s] a lot of shared passion, and a lot of drive and desire to succeed."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Kip Anthony, EFE Laboratories

 

Mr. Milkman, an organic dairy delivery service, is now available in Philly

All it took was a single taste of Trickling Springs Creamery's premium ice cream to convince Dan Crump he had to leave his job at FedEx and follow his passion of supporting local farms and healthy organic eating.

Shortly thereafter, he purchased the Lancaster County-based organic dairy delivery service known as Mr. Milkman.

At the time, Mr. Milkman had a limited delivery area and only a few customers -- it was really more of a hobby than a business for its previous owner.

"I knew it would mean a pay cut," recalls Crump. "But I also knew I could use my FedEx [logistics] knowledge to make [the business] work."

Almost immediately after purchasing Mr. Milkman, Crump began to wonder whether or not he should expand services to Philadelphia. Without an advertising budget or established customer base, he figured the costs would be prohibitive. Fortunately, a fruitful visit to Reading Terminal Market convinced Crump to add Philadelphia-area delivery services a few months back.

Now, thanks to the airing of a spotlight piece on Lancaster County’s WGAL last week, Mr. Milkman’s business in Philadelphia has taken off.

Due to the spike in orders, the company has added new Philly-area routes. It delivers each Saturday, and is poised to continue its growth with a hiring push. Crump is also working with a gluten-free bakery and will be offering fruit and veggie boxes this spring.

In addition to Trickling Springs Creamery dairy products, Danda Farms organic meats, artisan cheeses, raw honey and a number of other organic goodies, Mr. Milkman also delivers raw milk from Swiss Villa.

"We’re dedicated to supporting our local organic farmers and their workers," says Crump, "while ensuring that busy moms, families, and other [Philadelphia] residents have access to healthy food."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Dan Crump, Mr. Milkman

 

Germantown United CDC hiring its first commercial corridor manager

In a neighborhood as historic as Philadelphia's Germantown, the Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) is an anomaly: The organization isn't yet three years old.
 
When it formed in late 2011, the community was still reeling from allegations of severe mismanagement on the part of Germantown Settlement, a social services agency. During its formative months, Germantown United's main goal involved becoming known as a trusted and transparent community partner.
 
To a large degree, that goal has been accomplished. GUCDC regularly hosts well-attended events and forums, and recently undertook a business district tree-planting campaign.
 
Now, according to Executive Director Andrew Trackman, the organization is hiring its first commercial corridor manager. The position's first-year salary will be covered as part of a reimbursable $75,000 grant from the Commerce Department.
 
The corridor manager's responsibilities will mainly involve working as a liaison to the business and property owners of the Germantown and Chelten Avenue business districts. They might listen to retailers' complaints, for instance, or help them apply for development grants such as the Commerce Department's Storefront Improvement Program (SIP).    
 
"We're looking for this corridor manager to be kind of a defacto business association head," explains Trackman. The new employee will also be heavily involved in business corridor cleanup efforts in coordination with the Germantown Special Services District.
 
"[Local businesses] need help with capacity and technical assistance," he adds. "We're just trying to improve the overall business climate of the district."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Andrew Trackman, Germantown United CDC
 

Calling Local Artists: Frankford Avenue First Friday Fracas wants your work

In the riverward districts of Fishtown and Kensington, Frankford Avenue First Friday events have been showcasing the area's increasingly extensive creative output for some years. And it's not just the boulevard's art galleries, but also its cafes, eateries and boutiques.
 
According to Joanna Winchester of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), that creative and economic energy has been steadily inching its way northward along Frankford Avenue over the past few years.

"We've been wanting to put a highlight on some of the newer businesses that are coming in on the northern side of avenue," she says.
 
At the same time, NKCDC has been keen for local artists to become more involved with the avenue's monthly First Friday events. In an effort to satisfy both those goals, a new-and-improved event was born: the Frankford Avenue First Friday Fracas, which Winchester describes as a fairly typical "art stroll-style event, but with a really energetic twist to it."
 
On September 5 from 6 to 10 p.m., Frankford Avenue between Susquehanna and Cumberland will be closed to traffic for the street party. "We're hoping to have performers, and food trucks, and artists selling their wares," adds Winchester.
 
NKCDC is currently soliciting applications from artists who may want to perform or sell their work at the Fracas. And while priority will be given to those from the 19125 and 19134 ZIP codes, anyone is welcome to apply, as long as they meet the August 20 submission deadline.

Applications can be found online at NKCDC.org and FrankfordAveArts.org

Source: 
Joanna Winchester, NKCDC
Writer: Dan Eldridge

Next City launches a job listings site for the urban affairs crowd

Originally a highly-regarded print magazine for the city planning and urban issues set known as The Next American City, the Philadelphia-based publication Next City has grown its influence substantially since becoming an online-only outlet three years ago.
 
Today, Next City features daily coverage of international public policy, infrastructure and economic development. It also publishes Forefront, a news and analysis newsletter. And for five years Next City has produced a popular annual conference, Vanguard, which attracts young urban leaders from around the country.
 
In mid-June, the site’s editorial staff announced its latest project: a national job search engine, Next City Jobs, which lists open positions in the urban development and civic engagement sectors.  
 
"I think Next City has always informally served as a convener for people in the urban affairs field," says Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief Diana Lind. "We've decided to take on more of a role as a professional development leader within the field, so the jobs page is one step in that direction."
 
Though it went live just weeks ago, Next City Jobs is already displaying more than 6,600 available positions. And while many of those listings were aggregated from other sites, Lind says her staff is taking steps to increase the percentage of jobs exclusive to Next City’s portal.  
 
Lind also hopes to increase the diversity of positions offered.

"The idea is to reflect the cross-discipline approach that Next City has in its content," says Lind. "So you'll have everything from a job for a transportation planner to a public policy expert at a for-profit [company]. Our hope is that it'll become a site people will be looking at every single day, or every week, depending on how [seriously] they’re looking for a job."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Diana Lind, Next City

 

Nab tickets for the 2014 Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival

Thirteen percent of Philadelphia's population is now of Hispanic or Latino descent -- that's nearly 200,000 people within the city limits alone. The organizers of the third annual Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival (FLAFF) -- the only annual festival of its sort in the Greater Philadelphia area -- have released the scheduled lineup for this three-day event, which runs April 25-27 at The University of the Arts, the Kimmel Center and International House Philadelphia. This year's films represent a diverse range of Latin countries and include full-length features, documentaries, shorts and even a family-friendly animated film from Uruguay.

Standouts include Cesar's Last Fast, a film about a one-man hunger strike held by Cesar Chavez in an effort to shine a light on the negative effects of pesticides, and Yo, Indocumentada, an exploration of the Venezuelan transgender community.    
 
According to FLAFF co-organizer Beatriz Vieira, "part of what we want to do [with FLAFF] is to make sure the audiences are being built very, very carefully." To that end, a fair amount of community engagement has been baked into the festival, she says, "to make sure [it] has a lot of relevance for the region."
 
For example, a student member of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians will discuss the struggles of learning to read and write as an adult following the screening of Las Analfabetas, a Chilean film about a middle-aged illiterate woman. FLAFF is also partnering with The Food Trust and Fair Food; representatives from both groups will discuss their work with the audience after the screening of Cesar's Last Fast.   
 
Click here to view film trailers or purchase tickets.
 
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Beatriz Vieira, FLAFF

 

State of Young Philly 2013 offers new opportunities for young activists

Narcissistic. Apathetic. Cynical. State of Young Philly (SOYP), the annual, week-long activist celebration from Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP), rails against the unfortunate descriptors often associated with generation Y. This year, events run from Friday, October 25 through Saturday, November 2.
 
"There are a lot of articles out there stereotyping young people as the 'me' generation," says Mike Kaiser, Events Chair for YIP. “When you come out to YIP events, it's a totally different picture. We're trying to challenge that [perception]."
 
The week focuses on civic skill-building. Highlights include an opening night reception and civic engagement fair featuring Campus Philly, Groundswell, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Need in Deed, Impact HUB Philly, the People's Emergency Center, and many others; Navigate Philly, a series of short presentations by local leaders on topics such as politics, media and education; Sustainability Night, an instructional event on recycling, composting and waste disposal; Get a Job, featuring advice from human resource professionals; and a "Welcome to Philly" happy hour featuring a "minimalist" Halloween costume contest.
 
Then, on November 2, YIP will host their first civic engagement un-conference. Participants will be encouraged to share ideas and best-practices.
 
"We know there are people out there making progress and positive change in Philly," says Kaiser. "This is a chance to bring everyone together to share that knowledge. We're trying to accelerate ideas and connections."
 
Last January, YIP's new board launched a quarterly "Learn, Grow, Do" series. It introduces Philly activists to fundamentals such as first-time home buying, networking and park cleaning. SOYP will give existing members the chance to reflect on their progress and engage new potential members.
 
"It really reaffirms that what we're doing matters," says Kaiser. "For new people it’s, 'Here’s something simple you can do to join this movement.'"
 
Source: Mike Kaiser, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry
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