Kenney, Comcast Champion IoT Tech at Philadelphia Smart Cities Summit

Mayor Jim Kenney addresses the crowd at Philadelphia’s Smart City Summit, June 14th. Photo by Haley Weiss.

This week Mayor Jim Kenney welcomed representatives from tech and other industries across the globe to Philadelphia at the Smart City Summit, the culmination of a packed week of industry events hosted by the LoRa Alliance and Comcast’s machineQ. The summit followed up the 8th LoRa Alliance Open House & Marketplace, which showcased some of the world’s top data technologies.

While addressing attendees at the Franklin Institute, Kenney, who continues to show his support for Philadelphia’s growing technology scene, highlighted the importance of making the city’s growing innovation space inclusive and accessible.

“Philadelphia is the poorest big city in America,” he said, encouraging tech leaders to act as mentors for future innovators in Philadelphia’s schools. “Over the next thirty to forty years, unless kids in our struggling neighborhoods have access to technology and innovation, that poverty needle will never move.”

Kenney’s Rebuild program, which would renovate the city’s recreation centers, libraries, and city parks, will be an opportunity for the city to integrate technology into those spaces. The $500 million program was approved by Philadelphia City Council on Friday.

Read more »

5 Philadelphia Projects Win $5M in National Knight Cities Challenge for 2017

Each year, the Knight Foundation asks communities for their best ideas to make cities better, and this year, five Philadelphia groups submitted ideas worth backing to the tune of about $5 million total.

Each idea focuses on one or all of three key drivers of city success, according to the Knight Foundation: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Nationally, 33 winners were selected from a pool of more than 4,500 submissions, and Philadelphia along with Detroit had the most winners for 2017.

One winning Philadelphia idea, “A Dream Deferred: PHL Redlining—Past, Present, Future,” came from marketing and branding agency Little Giant Creative, which will receive $300,000. The project’s ambitious aim is to explore Philadelphia’s complex history of redlining through a series of convenings to discuss equitable community development. This isn’t the first time Little Giant Creative leaders Meegan Denenberg and Tayyib Smith have won a Knight Cities Challenge grant. Last year, the team was awarded for The Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship, a creative business training program that connects the ethos of hip-hop to building and running a business. Read more »

An Electric Light Mural Just Arrived in South Philly

A light installation titled “Electric Street” just arrived in South Philly, and it looks exactly how it sounds.

The mural is the brainchild of artist David Guinn and lighting designer Drew Billiau, and it’s up and ready to view on Percy Street, just south of 9th and Wharton streets. Streets Dept.’s Conrad Benner has pinned the location on Google maps, since it’s a little difficult to find.

Read more »

A Walk Around Philadelphia – Literally

Border explorers, from left to right: JJ Tiziou, Adrienne Mackey, Ann de Forest and Samantha Ward. Photo | Adachi Pimentel

Border explorers, from left to right: JJ Tiziou, Adrienne Mackey, Ann de Forest and Samantha Wend. Photo | Adachi Pimentel

Can you tell where Philadelphia ends and the suburbs begin without a sign to tell you?

For most of their 102-mile walk along the Philadelphia city line, writer Ann De Forest, theater director Adrienne Mackey, and photographer JJ Tiziou couldn’t either. But aside from finding a border that wasn’t, the group found the trek itself as fascinating as anything they saw along the way.

And they did find some interesting things along the way. Read more »

Four Philly Projects Named 2016 Knight Cities Challenge Winners

The Reading Terminal Market, already a crossroads for Philadelphians of all stripes, will serve as a bridge between the city's ethnic communities through a Knight Cities Challenge-winning series of cooking classes. Photo | Fletcher6 from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Reading Terminal Market, already a crossroads for Philadelphians of all stripes, will serve as a bridge between the city’s ethnic communities through a Knight Cities Challenge-winning series of cooking classes. Photo | Fletcher6 from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the winners of the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge April 12, and this year’s 37 winners include four projects from Philadelphia.

The foundation received more than 4,500 answers to the question it posed: “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?” The 37 winning ideas will each get a share of $5 million in grant money distributed through the challenge. All of them aim at helping cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement. Read more »

Knight Cities Challenge Is Back and Looking For Ways to Boost Philly

Top left, bottom right: Pop-Up Pool Project; center: Wikimedia Commons; top right: Neighborhood Conservation Kit; bottom left: Next Stop: Democracy! The Voting Signage Project

Top left, bottom right: Pop-Up Pool Project; center: Wikimedia Commons; top right: Neighborhood Conservation Kit; bottom left: Next Stop: Democracy! The Voting Signage Project

Along with the boom in office and residential construction, Philadelphia has had civic-minded projects blossoming here and there. Just off the top of our head, there’s the Urban Arboreta, the Pop-Up Pool Project, South Philly’s Stoop project, Rail Park, and many more.

But what else do these projects have in common besides bringing neighborhoods together and promoting better quality of live within those communities? Each has received funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation by having been, with the exception of the Rail Park, recipients of the Knight Cities Challenge. (See past winners here.)

Established in the last few years, the Challenge is a competition seeking to find the biggest ideas that will help Knight Communities (yes, Philadelphia is one of them) attract and keep talent, expand economic opportunity, and create a vibrant culture of civic engagement within said area. Its goal, essentially, is to see a city succeed by giving a boost to those projects and ideas looking to find innovative ways of making the aforementioned traits happen in a given community. Now, the Challenge is back in town.

Read more »

Schuylkill River Trail Update: Bartram’s Mile Design Workshop May 14th

2013 Concept sketches of Bartram's Mile - Images via Advisory Group Meeting #3 Public Presentation. Courtesy of Michael Greenle.

Concept sketches of Bartram’s Mile | Images via Advisory Group Meeting #3 Public Presentation

Skip to the Bartram’s Mile Before/After Concept Sketch gallery we’ve included below if you must, but do consider this Thursday’s event please. Here’s why:

As some may already be aware, Bartram’s Mile is a one-mile long plot of land situated between Grays Ferry Avenue and 58th Street in Philadelphia’s Kingsessing neighborhood. It’s been vacant for several decades despite its proximity to Bartram’s Garden, one of the country’s oldest botanic gardens. Fortunately, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation office and Schuylkill River Development Corporation have teamed up with the John Bartram Association and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation in recent years to do something about that.

Rather than let the prime real estate languish in wasteland purgatory, the group has been taking steps to transform the empty publicly owned site into a usable, neighborhood-friendly green space complete with visions of bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, riverfront access, and recreation spots. Not only that, but it would serve as yet another stretch on the Philadelphia segment of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Read more »

“South Philly’s Stoop” and Six Other Local Projects Are Recipients of the Knight Cities Challenge

Google Street VIew

The former Edward H. Bok Technical School via Google Street View

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation–which recently partnered with the William Penn Foundation to award $11 million to five Philadelphia parks (including the highly anticipated Rail Park)–has announced the thirty-two recipients of its annual Knight Cities Challenge this year. Seven of them–really nine, as you’ll read in a bit–are in Philly.

The organization is known for running similar competitions in various fields throughout the country, but it’s the Cities Challenge that seeks innovative civic ideas that will help enhance Knight Foundation communities into “more vibrant places to live and work.” Thank goodness we’re one of them, right?

Read more »

Morning Headlines: 5 Philly Parks, Including The Rail Park, Get Boost in Funding

The William Penn Foundation will partner with The Knight Foundation to donate $11 million to five city parks, according to a report from Inga Saffron in The Inquirer. The announcement will be made formal today and give a shot in the arm to some special projects, including the funding of the landscaping at The Rail Park at North Broad at Noble Streets. According to Saffron:

All five projects are shovel-ready, have raised most of the necessary construction funds, and can be completed relatively quickly, in less than two years.

The money will go to the Fairmount Park Conservancy as part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative in an effort to realize five projects:

  • $1 million for landscaping at The Rail Park
  • $6 million towards the creation of creative playground called Centennial Commons in Parkside near the Please Touch Museum. According to Saffron, the “development includes a climbing wall, a mini-mountain range, and a spray park that turns into a winding ice-skating track in winter.”
  • $250,000 to help kickstart Bartram’s Mile along the Schuylkill in Kingsessing
  • $1.75 million towards the Lovett Memorial Library project in Mount Airy
  • $1 million for an Audubon/Outward Bound program in the Discovery Center in East Fairmount Park

Foundations partnering to enable railroad viaduct park [The Inquirer]

Other can’t-miss news stories…

Read more »