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MilkCrate, a Yelp for local sustainable living, launches on Indiegogo

Morgan Berman was living in West Philadelphia when she experienced what she calls her "first burst of sustainability consciousness," and began attempting to live a life that was aligned with her newfound values.

She joined a neighborhood food co-op, took a job as Grid magazine's director for community engagement, and slowly became more involved in the local sustainability scene.
 
"But there wasn't a central hub where I could go and understand what sustainability means," recalls Berman. "It didn't feel like anyone had quite created the tool that people need to answer their quick questions about [sustainable living]."
 
Berman's new app for Android and iOS, MilkCrate, aims to fill that void -- initially here in Philadelphia, and if the app takes off, nationally.
 
Described by its nine-person team as a digital hub for sustainability, MilkCrate currently exists as a database-style listings service -- not unlike Yelp -- with a collection of more than 1,600 Philly-area businesses that operate sustainably and promote economically responsible practices.

"Everything from fashion to food to furniture [to] energy," explains Berman in a video created for the app's current crowdfunding campaign. "Anything you could possibly want that fits into your local, sustainable lifestyle."   
  
At the moment, MilkCrate-approved businesses are organized in both listings and map layouts. But with the infusion of the $20,000 Berman hopes to raise through an Indiegogo campaign (launched on August 25), users will be able to write reviews, add news businesses, and search by keyword and neighborhood.      
 
Perks for campaign funders include MilkCrate T-shirts and tickets to the app's upcoming launch party. Click here to donate. 

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Morgan Berman, MilkCrate

Sumo Heavy puts it to brick and mortar on South St., hiring programmers, project managers

Sumo moves. Last time we checked in, Sumo Heavy Industries was operating as a virtual company. The eCommerce design, development and consulting firm takes that whole location, location, location thing very seriously and is now at Fourth and South.
 
"It's very grown up," says Bart Mroz, who leads a tour of the multilevel space. "Altogether we are now 25 people," says Mroz, who began the company with partner Bob Brodie in 2010. He says the fifth floor suite at 525 South 4th Street can hold around 10 people, with five now working in the space. 
 
Sumo's windows overlook the TLA. Inside, Mroz and team handle the online retail needs of clients including Eternal, Bonobos and Listrak. "We're planning on hiring," says Mroz, who is looking to woo developers and project managers. "We buy lunch every day." 
 
Sumo is on a two week billing cycle. "Everything we do is based on two weeks. Our structure, our billing, and our jobs. We break out projects in two week sprints, and our clients and contractors get paid every two weeks," say Mroz.
 
"We went from four clients to six or seven clients in the last year," says Mroz, who attributes growth to word of mouth. "Most of our clients are long term engagements."

And as far as Sumo Heavy taking on South Street?

"We don't need much. Give us Internet access and we're good to go."

Source: Bart Mroz, Sumo Heavy
Writer: Sue Spolan

Forget Bush. The Reckoner is the new decider

Got a tough decision? Plug it into The Reckoner and see your peers' opinions. "One of the great things the internet has told us over the last four years is that you can ask it for advice and get actual good information back," says Dan Koch, founder of ReckonLabs, which created The Reckoner. "Giving practical answers to individuals has worked well for Q&A sites, but has not yet worked well for polls. Internet polling is still back in 1998."
 
The Reckoner seeks to bring the internet poll into the present, with a new kind of content curation and a heaping helping of humor. Launched at the end of November, the site took off immediately. In its first month, reports Koch, The Reckoner welcomed 11,000 unique users and 81,000 page views. One of the more popular questions currently in rotation asks:

TICKLING: ADORABLE DISPLAY OF AFFECTION OR A LEGAL FORM OF TORTURE?
 
The Reckoner, says Koch, will make money via two primary revenue streams: "The first is advertising. The second part is feedback. Knowing what customers are thinking is valuable." 
 
Koch envisions a company posting two possible ads on The Reckoner to elicit feedback, for example. He trusts that an occasional sponsored question will not ruffle feathers. "In America, so much of our culture is based on shopping and our relationship with our brands." For its part, The Reckoner offers advertisers unique access to an affluent, educated young adult demographic. "The Reckoner has to achieve a certain scale to make it worthwhile," says Koch.
 
Coming from Accenture, where he was a consultant on the road most of the time, Koch returned to his hometown of Philadelphia to create a business where he grew up. "One thing I've learned is that Philly has a great tech scene, much better than I ever thought," says Koch, who is a member of Indy Hall and participant in Philly Tech Meetup.
 
The future of The Reckoner rests on solid visitor numbers, with 10,000  and 50,000 unique visitors the two benchmarks. "The timeline is the key thing," says Koch, who has set July 2012 as the deadline to decide if the website is self sustaining, with an interim analysis scheduled for this March, at which point Koch will make a decision about pursuing outside investment.

Source: Dan Koch, The Reckoner
Writer: Sue Spolan

State of Young Philly has never looked better

If you want to know how young Philly's doing, let me sum it up for you: smart and good looking. From the highest reaches of government right down to our youngest up and comers, there's never been a more attractive bunch of people in charge.

The second annual State of Young Philly, convened by the all-volunteer Young Involved Philadelphia for a two-week run, was a series of six events designed to engage, connect and represent citizens. Targeting community engagement, education, sustainability and the creative economy, State of Young Philly drew close to 1,000 young professionals and representatives from over 50 organizations in the city, according to organizers. From the first packed event at World Cafe Live on Oct. 4 to the standing-room only crowd at the finale at The Gershman Y, the crowd was diverse in age and background and alike in its forward-thinking approach.

Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia Board Chair, says, "When I first moved to Philadelphia just over a decade ago, I was initially struck by the negativity of the city. But the spirit in the discussions over the course of the past few weeks has been very different than that initial perception I got when I first moved here. Rather than focusing solely on what was in need of improvement, each of the discussions was as much about how to build on already existing innovation and assets the city has to offer."

Alain Joinville, Public Affairs Coordinator for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and a Young Involved Philly board member, adds, "It was easier to get partnering organizations involved. The State of Young Philly series is the biggest and most audacious project our organization has undertaken in its 11-year history, and we did it pretty well last year, so we are seen as a credible organization in the eyes of the City's leaders and leading organizations."

Robertson-Kraft points to several initiatives that launched in the lead-up to this year's State of Young Philly: a local version of the online web portal Change By Us,a partnership with United Way to improve Philadelphia public education, entry into the Open Data Philly challenge, and social media hashtags #WhyILovePhilly and #PhillyArts.

But ultimately, the draw of State of Young Philly is the promise of doing good combined with a commitment to fun. Reports Robertson-Kraft, "Let’s just say that the after-party went into the late hours of the night. At all of our events, we strive to achieve that perfect balance of meaningful conversation and a good time."

It's a whole new take on a thousand points of light.

Source: Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Open Data Race lets you vote for data sets that are most fit for public consumption

Data collection and dissemination: how much fun is that? If you are participating in Philadelphia's Open Data Race, you might actually squeeze a good time out of otherwise flat statistics. Voting in the Open Data Race is open to the public until Oct. 27, and currently, you can make your opinion known on which of 24 data sets you would like to see made public.

"We hope to generate excitement around open data," says Deborah Boyer, project manager at Philadelphia-based Azavea. Nominations contributed by non-profit organizations were reviewed by OpenDataPhilly partners, namely Azavea, NPower Pennsylvania, The William Penn Foundation, and Technically Philly.

It's probably too early to judge, but right now the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's request for stats on reported bike thefts is atop the rankings with 55 votes, followed by Demographic Info for Individuals Accessing Shelter Services submitted by Back on My Feet with 50 votes. Other organizations represented in the voting ranks include the Committee of 70, The Urban Tree Connection and The Sustainable Business Network.

Boyer says, "Public participation has been a key feature of OpenDataPhilly and is also crucial to the Open Data Race. We encourage people to submit data sets for inclusion in OpenDataPhilly or nominate data they would like to see made available."

Boyer points to difficulties municipalities might have in identifying which data is most needed. "Through Open Data Race, non-profit organizations have the opportunity to let the city and OpenDataPhilly partners know what information they need to fulfill their missions."

Winners, to be announced on Friday, Oct. 28, will receive cash prizes. First place gets $2,000, second place gets $1,000, and third receives $500. At that point, the fun really begins, when OpenDataPhilly works with the city to unlock the requested sets and then hosts hack-a-thons to create applications that use the data.

Source: Deborah Boyer, Azavea/OpenDataPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

What's all this about LevelUp? Help your mom figure it out

My mom called. "What's this LevelUp? I got an email on my BlackBerry that I have two dollars off at Miel." When a brand new tech company already has the attention of the 70-somethings, it's got to be good.

LevelUp, which has a rapidly growing presence in the Philadelphia area, is a new kind of customer loyalty program for local business. Rather than carry around a walletful of punch cards, says launcher John Valentine, who has just been promoted to VP of LevelUp for the east coast. The company is hiring here in Philly, with two positions open in implementation and sales. Each city is slated to have a total of six employees.

Currently, says Valentine, there are 129 businesses in the LevelUp community, with 10 new merchants signing up each week. Here's how it works: Customers sign up online with a credit card. Participating businesses have a device, which is really a smartphone on a lucite platform, which reads a QR code on your phone screen (Valentine says the next generation of readers will be smaller and more streamlined). LevelUp then charges your card, bypassing the shop's cash register, and every 24 to 48 hours, says Valentine, LevelUp sends payment to merchants. As the customer, you receive several dollars off each purchase, and LevelUp tracks your activity, rewarding you for repeat business.

LevelUp evolved out of SCVNGR, a DreamIt Ventures funded startup. The location based scavenger hunt game led to a desire to solve the loyalty piece of the puzzle. "How do we get someone to frequent a place?" asks Valentine.

LevelUp is growing concurrently in Philadelphia and Boston, with plans to take over the world. New York is next, then Atlanta, Washington DC and Miami. "There's been enough validation for what we're doing in Boston and Philadelphia that we need to scale up fast." Valentine, who calls it sticky, says those who start using the program come back for more. "Within the next two weeks, 49% use LevelUp again."

Aside from the novelty factor, says Valentine, LevelUp gives businesses several advantages: the loyalty program brings people back more, brings in new customers, and has the added effect of incentivizing people to spend more money. Because shoppers are getting 5 to 15% back, they're actually spending more, according to Valentine. If you'd like to try LevelUp, Valentine is offering $10 in global credit to Flying Kite readers. Just use the code TECH when you sign up.

Source: John Valentine, LevelUp
Writer: Sue Spolan

Crowdsourced education comes to Philly with Skillshare

What do you know? There's a new way to make money based on your particular set of skills and talents. It's called Skillshare. Launched in Philadelphia last month with national headquarters in New York City, Skillshare allows anyone to teach anything and get paid for it. Brendan Lowry has been in charge of launching the program in Philadelphia. "Every city is a university, all the restaurants and cafes are classrooms, and our neighbors are our greatest teachers," says Lowry, whose title is Special Operations.

Here's how it works: Say you are really good at knitting. Sure, you could sell your stuff on Etsy. But with Skillshare, you can also hold knitting class at a location of your choice. Set your own price per student, and get paid through PayPal. Skillshare deducts 15 percent of every ticket sold.

Skillshare, on a mission to democratize and redefine education, launched in New York in May of this year, and is now operating in Philadelphia and San Francisco, with hopes for setting up in cities across the US. Each city needs to be unlocked by popular vote. When the vote count surpasses 500, a team is created to get the word out. "We've targeted the tech community. It's one of the first industries we tapped into, but we don't want to fall exclusively in that category," says Lowry, who says right now there are over a hundred classes on offer in the Philadelphia area, ranging from The Art of the Cold Call to Beer 101. Teachers post credentials and a feedback process is designed to ensure a quality learning experience (full disclosure: I am teaching Communications for Startups on Sept. 20).

"Our marketing budget is literally zero dollars," says Lowry, who has done outreach through social media and word of mouth. There is also a newly created, limited time $1,000 scholarship fund which encourages more people to take classes in Philly and SF. Skillshare is set to launch next in Boston, Washington DC and New Orleans.

Source: Brendan Lowry, Skillshare
Writer: Sue Spolan

All geeked up: Inaugural Philadelphia Geek Awards gets nuts

The thing that surprised Eric Smith the most about the first annual Philadelphia Geek Awards wasn't the guy who accepted his honor in a fox head costume. It wasn't the sold out crowd of over 400 who packed the Academy of Natural Sciences auditorium last Friday night. It was the negative feedback from folks who were upset by who was left out. "It shows that people were invested and care about what we're doing," Smith reflected after a good night's sleep. "It was supposed to be something mostly for fun, but it got a lot more serious." In the two weeks leading up to the Awards, Smith says press coverage blew up, and tickets disappeared.

The Geek Awards, the brainchild of Smith, Tim Quirino and Michelangelo Ilagan, who make up the staff of Geekadelphia ("A Guide to Everything Geek in the City of Brotherly Love"), were by all measures a total success. Sponsored by a host of local organizations including The Academy of Natural Sciences, who provided the venue free of charge, along with Drink Philly and National Mechanics who donated food and beverages, the event celebrated dozens of the city's technological finest, with just under twenty categories, from Best New Blog (a tie between DrinkPhilly and Naked Philly; the latter wore the fox head) to Outstanding Achievement in Fashion & Lifestyle, which is not the first attribute that comes to mind in the geek world, but Philly happens to have some very hip and good looking techies. Cadence Wrist Watch Company, home of the 4-bit, 4:20 and Wrist Rocket models, won that title.

"It was always something Tim and I wanted to do," says Smith of the awards. "We have all these great awards in Philly, but nothing for geeks." Let's just say that PriceWaterhouseCoopers did not oversee the process. Smith and cohorts at Geekadelphia designed the ceremony and chose categories, nominees and winners (with a little help from friends like Alex Hillman of Indy Hall). Next year the Geek Awards will be even more inclusive and probably a lot more serious, with spots for scientists, web developers and programmers.

Following his moment in the spotlight and cheering crowds, Smith returns to his day job at the Philadelphia based Quirk Books, which turns out bestsellers including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, as well as the aptly titled Geeky Dreamboats.

Source: Eric Smith, Philadelphia Geek Awards
Writer: Sue Spolan

South Philly resident grows composting collection business

Your scraps are Tim Bennett's gold mine. Bennett Compost offers urban dwellers the opportunity to recycle food waste without expensive equipment or outdoor space. Bennett began the business out of a personal need. "At the time, where I was living in South Philly, I wanted to compost, but I had no backyard." After dissatisfaction with home composting systems costing around $300, Bennett created a composting service that would benefit city homes and businesses at a fraction of the cost.

For a $15 monthly fee, residential customers receive a covered bucket, and Bennett's truck swings around once a week to empty and return the container. Commercial customers, including coffee shops, a florist and some restaurants, pay on a sliding scale depending on volume and frequency of pickup, but Bennett adds that the cost offsets commercial trash hauling fees, and in some cases commercial customers are able to save money on refuse.

Used food and some types of paper are sent to a composting facility in Delaware and then picked up for distribution to area community gardens. Customers can opt to receive up to 10 gallons of the finished product free of charge; beyond that, compost is available at a discounted price. You don't have to be a customer to buy compost. Five gallon buckets are available to the general public for $10, and will soon be sold at area retail locations including Essene Market and Green Aisle Grocery.

Current offices are based in South Philly at Bennett's home, with a North Philadelphia warehouse. Bennett was able to quit his day job at Temple University last summer to devote his career full time to compost. "We bootstrapped our way up. Now we are profitable enough that I am able to pay my own salary, and we have three part time employees." The business continues to grow, with 300 residential customers and 20 businesses distributed across the entire city.

Source: Tim Bennett, Bennett Compost
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: SEPTA's TransitView, MAC founder raises $75M, and Phila. Printworks strikes chord

Flying Bytes is a recurring roundup of innovation and quick updates on the people and companies we're covering:

SEPTA launches TransitView

Back in January, we reported that SEPTA was weeks away from launching a real-time, system wide tracking program. The future is finally here. Like SEPTA's TrainView for regional rail, the new TransitView provides live updates on the whereabouts of buses and trolleys throughout the city. Also launched: SMS Transit Schedule Information, allowing customers to receive a text with the next four scheduled trips, and Schedules to Go, a mobile website function that provides information on the next ten scheduled trips.

Shah closes $72 million IPO with Universal Business Payment Solutions

Following a hot tip, we learned that Bipin Shah, creator of the MAC, was seeking $72 million for payments startup Universal Business Payment Solutions. On May 13, UPBS (NASDAQ: UBPSU) got its money. According to Shah's partner Peter Davidson, "we closed on 12 million shares at $6.00 per share. The underwriters have a 45 day option to cover any over-allotments, which they have not exercised to date." Investors include hedge fund magnate J. Kyle Bass, who purchased about 800,000 shares.

Philadelphia Printworks up, running, finding its market

The lovely ladies at the helm of Philadelphia Printworks are going full speed with their new T-shirt business. Co-founder April Pugh reports that most of PPW's customer base has come from custom work, particularly from local indie rock artists. PPW loves its rockers right back and offers a band discount. Pugh says she and partner Ruth Paloma Rivera-Perez are now seeking partnerships with retail outlets and will be selling at upcoming summer festivals.

Specticast expands with EuroArts partnership
Digital entertainment distribution company Specticast continues to widen its reach. The company, which we originally profiled back in April, announced an exclusive partnership with EuroArts, bringing live and pre-recorded events from Berlin's Philharmonie, The Sheldonian Theater at Oxford University, and Madrid's Teatro Real, according to Mark Rupp, SpectiCast president.

Source: Andrew Busch, SEPTA; Peter Davidson, UBPS; April Pugh, PPW; Mark Rupp, Specticast
Writer: Sue Spolan

New hive for all things local and literary, Apiary, launches next week

Heard of slow food? In the age of instant communication, there is a slow words movement at hand. The Philadelphia based literary magazine Apiary is set to release its second issue on June 3 with a First Friday launch party at The Painted Bride Art Center, which includes a screening of Apiary's public access show, The Apiary Mixtape.

The 150 plus page illustrated semiannual, brought to life by a $4,000 Kickstarter campaign, has quickly attracted top names in the city's literary community, including Jim Cory, Lamont Steptoe, Nina 'Lyrispect' Ball and Janet Mason, but even more impressive are Apiary's young contributors, who represent the great diversity of culture to be found in Philadelphia.

Lillian Dunn is one of the founders of Apiary and serves on the editorial team, which, she says, reflects the diversity of Apiary's content. "Two of us live in South Philly, one in North Philly, and one in West Philly." Apiary was partially inspired by a multicultural reading series run by co-editor Tamara Oakman.

"We started out of a desire to read something exciting," says recent Swarthmore College graduate Dunn, who considers Apirary a much needed central location for writing not seen elsewhere. "Literature is one way to access other people's reality. It makes your brain light up in a way that statistics don't."

The Apiary website has a comprehensive local literary calendar that will have your head spinning, listing multiple events nearly every day of the month.

Apiary's upcoming launch party at the Painted Bride promises a cross section of Philly literary scenes, a mission the magazine takes to heart, with MC J Mase III, members of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, readings from Apiary authors, plus live music from Kuf Knotz and jazz trio Peace Love Power The Unity. Issues of Apiary will be available at the event or at these local outlets: Bindlestiff Books, Penn Book Center, Brickbat Books and Wooden Shoe.

Source: Lillian Dunn, Apiary Magazine
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts kicks off this week with giant squid

Dan Schimmel's head might be in augmented reality, but the picture is pretty clear to him.

"Right now there's a giant, 100 foot squid hovering over the falls at Boat House Row," says the director of Breadboard, the art and technology program at Science Center that oversees the Esther Klein Gallery. Breadboard is participating in the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) with the free citywide VPAP@PIFA, the Virtual Public Art Project. Granted, explains Schimmel, you need a smartphone or other mobile device to see the Augmented Reality squid. "That's somewhat foreign to people, but this is where society's headed."

PIFA is about to overtake the city like a giant encornet (that's French for squid) with over 135 events, running from April 7 to May 1. If bright lights in the big city get you going, check out the 81 foot Eiffel Tower replica at the Kimmel Center, which serves as festival headquarters, with a light show daily at 7 and 10 p.m. The theme of PIFA is Paris 1911, tying in with the recent French-flavored Philadelphia International Flower Show. All over the city, you can catch performances, lectures, dance parties, installations, readings, a fashion show and eleven French chefs in residence at area restaurants.

The $10 million extravaganza showcases local and international talent. Visit a day-long free Parisian street fair April 30 on Broad Street where you can ride a giant Ferris Wheel and enjoy a multitude of acts including Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. PIFA is also sponsoring daily wine tastings, crepe samples, free concerts, and French lessons.

Philly-Paris Lockdown, on April 17 at 8 PM at the Kimmel, features Philly's own ?uestlove of The Roots along with singer-songwriter Keren Ann, followed by an underground afterparty. Fourth Wall Arts hosts a special Salon on April 23 at the newly opened National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall, featuring Ursula Rucker, Mimi Stillman and muralist David Guinn.

JJ Tiziou's How Philly Moves, which just raised $26,000 in a Kickstarter Campaign, will be projecting massive images of Philadelphia's dancers on the side of the Kimmel throughout the festival. Hope: An Oratorio, is a work PIFA commissioned by composer Jonathan Leshnoff, to be performed April 24, performed by The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, along with four soloists, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.

The Painted Bride, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Slought Foundation, the African-American Museum in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, WXPN, Philadelphia's Magic Garden, and the Independence Seaport Museum are just a few of the many PIFA sponsors and event hosts. Get detailed program information, tickets, and download a festival brochure at the PIFA website. PIFA, along with the GPTMC, is also offering hotel and ticket packages for the festival.

Source: Dan Schimmel, Breadboard; PIFA; GPTMC
Writer: Sue Spolan


Energy Innovation Hub grows as U.K. firm announces move to Navy Yard

Less than two months since $122 million was announced to create an Energy Innovation Hub at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the project is already taking shape. United Kingdom-based Mark Group, a European home energy efficiency leader, was welcomed on Friday by Gov. Ed Rendell to its new home at the Navy Yard, where it will hire up to 320 workers over the next three years.

Mark Group was founded in 1974 and boasts of improving the energy efficiency of more than 2 million homes, installing more than 6,000 measures every week that help consumers save. The company is in growth mode, having recently established an Australian base of operations.

Led by a Penn State University-headed team, the Clean Energy campus at the Navy Yard is one of three regional clusters nationally that are designed to bring together leading researchers and the private sector to develop energy efficient building designs. Buildings accounty for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption.

"The creation of alternative energy sources is key to America's economic future," says Mark Group CEO Jeff Bartos. "We are excited to launch our business from Philadelphia and to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to homes throughout the nation."

As part of the move, Mark Group received a $3.28 million financing package from the Governor's Action Team. Bringing the company across the pond was truly a collaborative effort: The state Department of Community and Economic Development's international trade off, the City of Philadelphia, Select Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and the TeamPA Foundation were all credited.

Source: Jeff Bartos, Mark Group
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Society of American Registered Architects conference comes to Society Hill, honors Philly firms

Where can an interested Philadelphian go to see some of the most cleverly designed buildings in the world? According to the Society of American Registered Architects, the search could take you from China to Chestnut Street as the group honors various design achievements both local and abroad. But you might be better off seeing them all at once as its annual conference, like many of its award recipients, is being held right here in Philadelphia.

"This is a juried awards program so they are looking for something beyond the norm, they're looking for innovation, they're looking for cutting edge design," says organizer and jury chairman John Di Benedetto, who operates his own firm in Jenkintown. "And this year, many of the projects that received awards incorporated a sustainable design feature."

Hosted at the Society Hill Sheraton, the SARA conference boasts a litany of architectural events from a city tour of significant architectural projects to a President's Award Celebration Dinner featuring the Mummers and honoring International Award Winners Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and the late Louis Kahn of famous Manayunk firm Venturi, Scott Brown. The Philadelphia Jewish History Museum's renovation will also be honored.

"The current challenges in the profession are related to the economy so from a business standpoint, the society tries to serve it's members by seminars and education in terms of how to maintain a practice in a down economy," says Di Benedetto. "From a design standpoint, the current trend is for sustainable design and the society goes out of its way to create a venue for information and education in those areas. Like many other professional organizations, this is a venue to encourage advancements in the profession and in individual practices."

Source: John Di Benedetto, Society of American Registered Architects, Philadelphia Chapter
Writer: John Steele

Interactive mapping platform launched to connect Philadelphians to their local communities

It's one of life's great mysteries: you can travel to a thousand cities and eat at a hundred fancy restaurants and drink a dozen craft beers at each of the bars along the way. But a meal never tastes as good as one at your favorite neighborhood haunt. And according to Philadelphia's sustainability leaders, this phenomenon is not just good for your appetite, it can be good for your neighborhood and your city as well.

Based on a concept created by the William Penn Foundation, partners from the Sustainable Business Network, Azavea and NPower created Common Space, a new mapping platform that creates a network of neighborhood establishments within a certain walkable, bikeable or busable distance to help residents support local business.

"The really cool thing is, I can map my friend's common space as well as my own," says SBN Executive Director Leanne Krueger-Braneky. "So if I am leaving from my office in Center City and meeting my husband who is coming from our house in West Philadelphia, he could say he is going to bike for 15 minutes and I could say I was going to walk for 20 minutes and Common Space will map the area where we would be able to meet up and map local culture events and businesses in that field."

Partnering with tastemakers like UWISHUNU and Yelp, Common Space shows you the best spots in your transit area, allowing you the most sustainable way possible to hit your next favorite haunt. After their trial run, organizers hope to partner with citywide festivals and cultural events like LiveArts and Philly Beer Week.

"Sustainability was one of the values William Penn outlined, which is why they wanted to partner with us," Krueger-Braneky says. "Because the application does encourage walking, biking, and public transit, it's a way of showing what's going on in the city while encouraging alternative transit."

Source: Leanne Krueger-Braneky, SBN
Writer: John Steele




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