August 9: Data for Black Lives | Not in Philly | Fireflies

Data science, representative leadership, and whimsical lanterns on the parkway in this morning’s news:

Founded by an organizer and a mathematician, Data for Black Lives aims to mobilize “data scientists, software engineers, mathematicians, et cetera, and people working in and on the front lines of black communities” to create concrete and measurable change in the black community, writes NextCity’s Deonna Anderson. The organization uses interdisciplinary tools such as visualization, mapping, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, as well as mentorship and training, in an effort to bridge the gap between the “historically” siloed groups. The founders recognize too the historic gap due to “a really politically, racially charged and often violent history”.

Norris Square Neighborhood Project’s former executive director Justin Trezza discusses his decision to step down to make way for a leader “representative of the demographics” the community organization serves, writes Generocity’s Julie Zeglen. Trezza speaks frankly about “being a white, straight male when [NSNP serves] mostly Black and brown youth [and] a large LGBTQ population, [noting that] ‘it was time that someone that these kids could potentially relate to and can understand a little bit better’ ”. Trezza shares some lessons learned and his advice for other nonprofits considering leadership changes.

A coalition of business groups have slammed legislation for a new severance tax on natural gas production, and a new gross receipts tax on natural gas consumers., StateImpact PA’s Marie Cusick and Susan Phillips report. The coalition, which includes the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Energy Association of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, and Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania, argue that natural gas will effectively be taxed at four different points, while proponents of the bill argue that Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax on production. The bill is also unpopular with environmental groups, as it would take away some authority from state environmental regulators.

The Philadelphia Citizen highlights Litter? Not in Philly!, a volunteer-built, interactive site that aims to link “community engagement and participation [with] an immediate return in your neighborhood.” With help from Code for Philly and supply donations from city programs, the nonprofit developed a program and tech platform to encourage residents to pick up litter on their block for six months. Not in Philly is now working to replicate and localize volunteer litter pickup programs in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn.

For the 100th anniversary the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Philadelphia Association of Public Art has commissioned Fireflies, an art installation with 27 pedicabs crowned with 1,000 lanterns, writes WHYY’s Peter Crimmins. Kim Paynter has shots of Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s whimsical lanterns in the works in Kensington as he readies for the September 14th opening ceremony. 

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