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A Fishtown native helps steward her neighborhood's radical revitalization

Sandy Salzman, Executive Director of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, is a key force behind the stunning changes happening along Frankford Avenue and throughout Fishtown.

According to an excerpt from the article:

If you want to understand the cultural renaissance happening in Fishtown -- a neighborhood Salzman says was redlined by banks as recently as the late '90s -- you can't find a better guide than the executive director of the NKCDC. This fourth generation Fishtowner remembers the neighborhood before it was cool.

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Brighton, a unique Cincinnati neighborhood, is home to industry and artists

People make things in Brighton. Nestled in the northern tip of the West End, and bordered by Central Parkway on the east and Spring Grove Avenue on the west, Brighton’s demographics defy easy explanation.

According to an excerpt from the article:

Slaughterhouses and manufacturing plants dot one stretch of the neighborhood, while experimental and fringe-friendly artists find refuge in historic warehouse spaces nearby. Bound together by a combination of cheap rent, central location and lots of space to be inspired by hard work, these disparate communities not only co-exist, they co-mingle.

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Chicago could be home to America's largest urban farm district

Chicago's blighted Black Belt area could become America's largest urban farming district. 

According to an excerpt from the article: 

In the coming weeks, the city’s planning department is expected to approve the creation of a green belt with a strong focus on urban agriculture within the neighborhood of Englewood. The plan is an element of Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development’s (DHE) Green Healthy Neighborhoods initiative, designed to shepherd and foster redevelopment in 13 square miles of the South Side. Years of disinvestment and population decline have left the area riddled with 11,000 vacant lots totaling 800 acres.

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Don't Miss Investing in the Future: Unlocking Hidden Values

Planning is well underway for “Investing in the Future: Unlocking Hidden Values” -- the 2013 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference to be held in Philadelphia September 9-11.

Community Progress is shaping the 2013 content to reflect the challenging but exciting times we’re in. With cities, towns, counties and states struggling to find the resources they need to fund basic services, the conference will focus on how to integrate vacant property prevention and revitalization with broader strategies that promote economic stability and help communities meet both short-term financial and long-term community revitalization goals.

We are building on the conference’s foundation of exciting and informative plenary sessions, mobile workshops showcasing innovative projects in our host cities, networking opportunities, state caucus meetings, and in-depth sessions on the essential tools of reclamation that have become the hallmarks of Reclaiming Vacant Properties conferences. In 2013, you’ll be exposed to topics that reflect the ever-changing environment and the new challenges and opportunities that have arisen from work around the country. The conference will examine topics such as:

·      Finding the Resources in Our Hidden Assets: In line with this year’s focus, we’ll pay particular attention to the ways in which communities recognize and capitalize on the value from their vacant and distressed properties in order to reduce costs, increase revenues, return equity to individuals and create a stable foundation for future prosperity.

·      The Essential Toolkit: Over the years communities across the country have distilled the essential tools for preventing, controlling and adaptively reusing vacant properties.  These sessions will provide a strong base of knowledge that every city, town and neighborhood needs and can use.

·      Think Forward; Act Now: Keeping an end goal in mind better enables communities to develop the right strategies and tactics. These sessions will take a look at how communities are thinking about the future while aligning current resources to get where they want to go.

·      Vacant Properties Are Everyone’s Issue: It has become ever more clear that vacant properties are an issue of concern to all who care about cities, towns and their residents.  Here we’ll explore the links between vacant properties and the issues of primary concern to those working for public safety, racial and income equity, community revitalization and full and fair employment.

·      Public Policy Reform: Like many innovative solutions to national challenges, the solutions to the problems of vacant and abandoned properties have largely emerged from the grassroots. From local to statewide efforts, we’ll highlight successful policy changes to provide the inspiration and guidance needed for others to take similar action in their communities.

For those interested in putting together a workshop, click here. If you’re ready to book your hotel room and plan for registration, visit our website to find out about the early registration discounts. We hope that you’ll share our plans with all those who can contribute to and learn from each other in Philadelphia.
 


Pittsburgh embraces its rivers, green design

Pittsburgh utilizes its rivers and green design to revitalize the city.

According to an excerpt from the article:

Emphasizing urban design and environmental protection, the southwestern Pennsylvania city has leveraged a $124 million investment in publicly accessible riverfront into $4 billion in corporate, public, nonprofit, and entertainment activity downtown, according to Riverlife, the city's nonprofit think tank for waterfront design.

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New study indicates residents feel safer when vacant lots are greened

A recent study by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that residents feel safer when vacant lots have been greened.

According to an excerpt from the article:

"Vacant lot greening changes the physical environment of a neighborhood from one that may promote crime and fear to one that may reduce crime and make people feel safer," said lead author Eugenia C. Garvin, MD, a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. "Our theory is that transforming vacant lots from a space overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash to a clean and green space may make it difficult for people to hide illegal guns and conduct other illegal activities such as drug use in or near the space. Additionally, green space may encourage community cohesion."

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Community development and health philanthropy no longer working on parallel tracks

Realizing that life expectancy can often be determined by a zip code, health organizations are beginning to merge with community development authorities, working together to create healthier, happier communities.

According to excerpts from the article:

For decades the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the country’s largest health philanthropy, has worked to improve health and health care in low-income neighborhoods, but only recently have we realized that while we work in the same places as the housing and community development sectors, we’re often working on separate, parallel tracks.

But this is changing. In 2009, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published an article in an issue of Community Development Investment Review about the work of RWJF’s Commission to Build a Healthier America, convened in 2008 to explore factors outside the health care system that affect health and make actionable recommendations for change.

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L.A. Mayor announces "50 Parks Initiative"

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa recently announced the "50 Parks Initiative." The Mayor hopes to have all 50 new park sties acquired by the end of next summer.

According to an excerpt from the article:

The announcement took place at grand openings for two new parks in South Los Angeles: 49th Street Park and McKinley Avenue Park. Both small parks are located near the intersection of 49th and Avalon, just over a mile southeast of Exposition Park and USC. Both parks are on sites formerly occupied by blighted dilapidated housing.

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Two academics document rebuilding efforts in the Midwest via photography

A sociologist/photographer from Chicago and an urban historian from Milwaukee are documenting the rebuilding of the Midwest via photography.

According to an excerpt from the article:

In mid-2009, Chicago sociologist and photographer David Schalliol and Milwaukee-based urban historian Michael Carriere launched a collaborative study of creative revitalization efforts in urban areas across the country, particularly those hardest hit by decline. They've since visited more than 30 cities and turned up nearly 200 outfits and initiatives, creating a national map of grassroots renewal, from Albuquerque to Providence.

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Using entrepreneurship to save our cities

Can entrepreneurship save our cities? Journalist Tanveer Ali explores efforts across America. 

According to an excerpt from the article:

Policymakers, philanthropists, venture capitalists and even pop stars have jumped onto the urban entrepreneurship bandwagon. For today’s savvy startup, increasing amounts of public and private dollars are there for the asking, with grant competitions and investment programs popping up everywhere from Chicago to New Orleans to Newark, N.J. Windy City journalist Tanveer Ali examines how these burgeoning efforts are reshaping urban economies, providing a birds-eye view of how a strategy based on investing in entrepreneurial risk is playing out for cities. Spending time such places as Halsey Street in downtown Newark — where entrepreneurs are bringing life back to the decaying retail strip that birthed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — Ali explores the question that an ever-more-influential segment of urban economists have tried answering for over a decade: Can for-profit enterprise raise all boats in cities?

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