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On the Ground : In The News

9 On the Ground Articles | Page:

Beer garden confirmed for Reading Viaduct

As we reported in December, a PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden is coming to Callowhill. The plans have now been confirmed.

This summer, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society plans to open two pop-up beer gardens, a return to 15th and South streets plus a new park at the foot of the Philadelphia Rail Park.

Thanks to a $360,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphians will get their first extended interaction with the planned Rail Park. A pop-up garden is set for 10th and Hamilton streets, at the base of the Reading Viaduct. Today, the area is a tangle of crumbling concrete, overgrown lots and decay, but with the help of PHS and noted landscape architect Walter Hood, the project aims to merge the post-industrial structure with urban green space. The pop-up will raise awareness for the creation of the Rail Park as it blends art, history and horticulture. The location is convenient to live music venues Union Transfer and Underground Arts, as well as the Chinatown and Callowhill neighborhoods. Perhaps even more so than the other PHS pop-ups, this location will challenge the way Philadelphians interact with and envision their urban spaces.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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On the Ground: Parkside Journal welcomes Flying Kite to the neighborhood

The local paper invited Flying Kite publisher Michelle Freeman to pen an intro to the program.

In 2011, Flying Kite Media deepened its coverage around neighborhood news and began to explore the possibility of transforming vacant spaces into pop-up community media hubs.

With very limited funds and a desire to connect directly with people across the city helping to move their communities forward, the On the Ground program was born.

The On the Ground program aims to dive deep into changing neighborhoods, uncovering the people, places, and businesses that contribute to its vitality. The Flying Kite team embeds itself in a neighborhood for a period of 90 days, bringing a currently vacant space alive by creating a temporary media hub that hosts meetings, events, art exhibitions, and open office hours...

Flying Kite’s team is thrilled to report that their On the Ground program is up and running once again, as of this summer, and has landed in Parkside. Made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Flying Kite will take its On the Ground program to four of the five neighborhoods that the Fairmount Park Conservancy is initiating their Re-Imagining Civic Commons initiative, which will activate some major public space projects over the course of several years.

Original source: Parkside Journal
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The new Promise Zones are announced, include Camden, N.J.

The Obama administration has announced the latest round of "Promise Zones," and Camden, N.J., is on the list. It joins Mantua in West Philadelphia, part of the first group.

[The administration singled] out eight economically struggling communities for special government attention as they work together to reduce poverty and crime, increase economic and educational opportunities and attract private investment...

Under the program, communities designated as zones receive preferential treatment when applying for federal grants, benefit from more coordinated government assistance and would be singled out for possible congressionally approved tax incentives.
The federal government and local leaders in these communities work together to increase economic activity and educational opportunities, attract private investment, reduce violent crime, improve public health and address any other priorities that the communities identify.

Original source: The New York Times
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Camden once again has a supermarket

In a huge boon for food access in the city of Camden, a PriceRite Supermarket has opened.
Camden had been without a chain grocery for more than a year since the Pathmark on Mount Ephraim Avenue closed. PriceRite is the first supermarket to move into Camden in 40 years, officials said.

"One year ago, when Pathmark closed, it left many people doubting, could we relocate a supermarket to this same site?" Mayor Dana L. Redd said. "A promise made is a promise kept today. This project and others like it will be the catalyst for the Comeback City."

The store is owned by Ravitz Family Markets, a family-owned business in operation since 1968, which also plans to open a ShopRite in 2016 on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden. Ravitz owns five ShopRite stores in Burlington and Camden Counties.

Jason Ravitz described the PriceRite store as a hybrid of Aldi and Costco, with low prices and bulk items. Shoppers bring their own bags or pay 10 cents a bag, a cost Ravitz said would go toward keeping prices low. For the first few weeks, PriceRite will give out reusable bags.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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New York Times details transformation in Camden

The New York Times adds to the changing narrative about Camden, lauding increased security and community engagement.

It has been 16 months since Camden took the unusual step of eliminating its police force and replacing it with a new one run by the county. Beleaguered by crime, budget cuts and bad morale, the old force had all but given up responding to some types of crimes. Dispensing with expensive work rules, the new [police] force hired more officers within the same budget -- 411, up from about 250. It hired civilians to use crime-fighting technology it had never had the staff for. And it has tightened alliances with federal agencies to remove one of the largest drug rings from city streets.

In June and July, the city went 40 days without a homicide -- unheard-of in a Camden summer. The empty liquor bottles once clustered on the porches of abandoned houses as memorials to the murdered have disappeared. There are fewer killings to commemorate. The city is beginning to brush up its image...

“It’s absolutely a different place,” said Tim Gallagher, a social worker who works with students. “You feel safe walking the streets now. The police officers aren’t afraid to come out of their cars and interact with the community, and that’s changed how people feel about them...”

There are other signs of life. The county has put millions into park improvements. The state has paid to knock down some abandoned houses. Charter schools are rising, and a ShopRite, the city’s first new supermarket in three decades, is to begin construction next year.

Original source: The New York Times
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GQ spends a season in Camden's Little League

GQ sent a writer into Camden to chronicle the power of youth baseball in a struggling city.

Three years ago, Camden ranked as one of the poorest cities in the country and the single deadliest, with a murder rate twelve times the national average. That was also the year that Camden, faced with a mounting deficit, decided to lay off almost half its police force. Ah shit,everyone was thinking, this is when all bloody hell breaks loose. Some drug dealers printed up T-shirts proclaiming January 2011: It's Our Time.

And Bryan Morton? He had an idea: "Let's start a Little League."

...For Bryan, baseball is a multipurpose tool: It can unify the neighborhood, and it pits the diamond against the corner. Since the dealers recruit kids at about the same age as the coaches do, Bryan's in a tug-of-war for the souls of these 12-year-olds, some of whose parents are out there slinging, too. "Look," Bryan says, "we can all agree on children, you know? That they should be free to be kids. And if Dad or Mom is at a game for a few hours a week, they're not hustling. They're at a game."

Bryan's philosophy in a nutshell: Don't let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.
Original source: GQ
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Martin Luther King High School emerges from school closings turmoil with success on the gridiron

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported on the absorption of Germantown High School's football team into that of rival Martin Luther King High School. Despite the heartache of the merger, the team had a triumphant season.

Martin Luther King High School had one victory in 2012. And that was by forfeit. This fall, a $304 million budget shortfall in the Philadelphia school district forced a merger with archrival Germantown High. Many doubted the merger would work...

Then something wonderful happened. Defeat became liberating. Desperation forged unity. Coach Edward Dunn, 27, embroidered a team from a ragged collection of players. Each game became a kind of playoff and King went more than two months without losing.

The Cougars won nine straight games and their first Public League championship. Quarterback Joseph Walker was named the league’s most valuable player. Delane Hart became the league’s career leader in receiving yards (1,932) and the first with more than 1,000 yards in a season. He sometimes wore socks with a Superman logo and little red capes that fluttered as he ran pass routes.

Original source: The New York Times
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On the Ground Redux: Shining a light on an amazing Germantown renovation

Nicole Juday's jaw-dropping renovation of a derelict Germantown home is highlighted in a gorgeous New York Times feature. Click through the slideshow and prepare to drool.

It wasn’t abandoned, but it may as well have been. A fire had destroyed much of the second floor, and raccoons were living in the attic. In the backyard was the marshy remains of what had once been a swimming pool, a cesspool that parents worried their children might fall into...

So in 2010, she and her husband bought the seven-bedroom house and all of its contents from the elderly owner for $125,000.
Even at that price, it was no bargain. “I think the house was possibly condemnable,” said Ms. Juday, 43.

It took another $400,000 and thousands of hours of labor to make it habitable. That included rebuilding it from the studs out, with new wiring, plumbing, roofing and plaster, and installing historically accurate windows and millwork. Beams were added to shore up the structure, and the brick exterior was repointed. The swimming pool was filled in, and an old caved-in Chevy was hauled out of the side yard.

Original source: The New York Times
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Redfin names next hot neighborhoods for 2013

According to Redfin, the next hot neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area will be...drumroll...Phoenixville, Brewerytown and our very own #ontheground home West Germantown.

West Germantown is a historic neighborhood that went from riches to rags. It was once the sought after destination by aristocrats, but its large stone homes sat dilapidated for years when the money left. Now these beautiful dwellings on both sides of Johnson Street are slowly and steadily being renovated.

Original Source: Redfin (via Curbed Philly)
To see the complete list, click here
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