In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     Syrian refugees (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    Syrian refugees (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    Changes – a new documentary, changing communities and more.


    Changing spaces

    From Bethlehem to Williamsport, Pennsylvania is full of wonderful cities with rich industrial histories. What happens to a city when the industry closes or changes? Our third documentary, “Keystone Crossroads: Changing Spaces,” explores how these communities tackled reinvention in the 21st century. The program premiered on November 12 on WITF and will air at stations throughout the Commonwealth. Don’t want to wait to watch it on TV? Watch it right here.Want more rust or revival? Catch up on our previous programs, “Keystone Crossroads: Bridging Our Communities” and “Keystone Crossroads: Municipalities in Distress.”Changing the wage gap

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    In an effort to close the gender wage gap, corporate and foundation dollars are funding a free Boston program that teaches women how to negotiate a higher salary. Pittsburgh has experimented with some programs as well, including one directed specifically at gender wage parity at nonprofits. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf discussed pay inequity during his campaign. Perhaps Pennsylvania cities could adopt long term programs. Research shows that gender parity in management is related to strong company performance.The CEO of Salesforce, a San Francisco cloud-based software company, ordered an internal review of payroll records after receiving employee complaints about unequal pay for women. After spending $3 million to close the gap the next step is to bring gender parity to the company’s workforce, especially in leadership roles. (The Atlantic

    Changing perceptions

    Refugees fleeing Syria, coupled with recent acts of terrorism have raised questions about the vetting process of refugees entering Pennsylvania. On average, it takes two years of living in a resettlement camp while intense screening takes place, including initial fingerprinting, biometrics, interviews and fact-checking. (Newsworks)Some state governors began to suspend refugees from entering their borders. In a statement, a spokesman for Gov. Wolf’s administration said that “Pennsylvania will continue working with the federal government to ensure that all individuals have gone through the proper screening process.” (PennLive)Noting the many Muslims currently living in Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto promises to accept Syrian refugees. “At a time like this, we can no longer close our hearts or our doors to the opportunity that they need.” (WESA)

    138 Syrians have come to Allentown since the start of the civil war. The Syrian community understands the concerns raised from officials. “I remember 911,” says Radwan Jarrouj, a long time member of Allentown’s Syrian community. (Newsworks)

    No change — budget gridlock

    As Pennsylvania enters its sixth month without a budget, lawmakers have proposed changes to remedy the municipal pension problem. But Gov. Wolf’s spokesman Phil Sheridan says that only state pension reforms will be part of the final budget.Pennsylvania’s municipal pensions are underfunded by $7.7 billion. Keystone Crossroads pension series explains why.The advocacy group Campaign for Fair Education Funding met with lawmakers in Harrisburg to ask for an end to the stalemate and to keep local control of property taxes. (Newsworks)As reported by the Berks County Community Foundation, a survey of the nonprofits in Berks County found that many are struggling. Food pantries and substance abuse prevention programs are among those feeling the squeeze, and trying to get by on reduced staff and loans. (The Reading Eagle)

    Changing communities

    Wilkes-Barre and Scranton have a lot in common: Coal, county seats and a spirit of collaboration. As two of 50 quarter-finalists in the “America’s Best Communities,” contest, they are now also friendly competitors. Each city receives $50,000 to develop a “Community Revitalization Plan.” Eight semi-finalists are then selected for the next round. No matter what the outcome, cities plan to move forward and implement their plans.SEPTA unveiled its first new train station in 18 years. Lansdale is now home to two train stations. The newest station is in a former industrial site, hoping to spur more housing density and walkability. (Newsworks)A new coordinated state and federal effort in the midstate, is cracking down on violent crimes in Harrisburg, York, Williamsport and Wilkes Barre. The focus is crimes involving drugs and firearms. (WITF)

    While homelessness has declined nationwide, a report released on Thursday by HUD shows that Pennsylvania’s homeless population continues to increase. Families make up 44 percent of the homeless population in Philadelphia, and a majority of the homeless in York, Scranton, Eastern Pennsylvania and Bucks, Montgomery and Beaver counties.Changing lanes

    The wider the road, the more likely drivers’ speeds increase and the health and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers are at risk. A section of Race Street between Old City and Chinatown will be narrowed, as part of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s (DVRPC) “road diet” to reduce speed and accidents. (PlanPhilly)

    Last year, a Dutch town opened a bike lane comprised of solar panels. Results exceeded expectations. The lane generated enough energy to power three households for a year. Idaho and the U.K. are exploring a similar idea. (CityLab)

    Changing tech

    You know the saying, “there’s an app for that.” Well for Philadelphia, there is a new app to pay for parking by mobile phone. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) launched the app Thursday for selected locations. (PlanPhilly)

    From reporting potholes to getting the 311, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have a few civic apps and have used local coders and hackers (think Philly Codefest and Steel City Codefest) who volunteer their time to create open source apps. Civic apps either promote communication or action.

    Enjoy your weekend.

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