May 23: PHA buys Vaux High School | Growing Home | SEPTA token-eating squirrel mural genesis

The Philadelphia Housing Authority has purchased the former Roberts Vaux High School in North Philadelphia, WHYY’s Aaron Moselle reports. PHA bought the property, which was closed four years ago due declining enrollment and poor academics, for $2 million as part of the agency’s half-billion-dollar plan to transform the surrounding Sharswood neighborhood. PHA has pledged up to $15 million into building renovations over the next three years and the School District has contracted the nonprofit Big Picture Learning to manage Vaux. Big Picture Learning, which also runs El Centro de Estudiantes in Kensington, will be paid $23 million over six years. The school is slated to open in September.

The Philadelphia Citizen digs into ‘Growing Home’ at 8th and Emily streets, one of the two community gardens run by the Nationalities Services Center’s Refugee Urban Agricultural Initiative. The garden, which aims to provide new immigrants with vegetables from their culture and former professions, also expands NLC’s career training services. The Citizen highlights that while Growing Home’s location “isn’t technically a food desert,” the nearby Acme at Passyunk and Reed is expensive for residents who rely on food stamps “only a few local corner shops offer fresh food or produce from refugee’s countries of origin. NSC offers a three-year training program for aspiring immigrant farmers who help manage the gardens…while receiving technical agrarian training” to run their own self-sustaining garden. PlanPhilly’s Catalina Jaramillo told the story of one refugee gardener, Merthus Mbonigaba, and the garden’s African eggplant from the Congo, for the Pulse in March.

Philly Magazine interviews Evan Lovett, the artist behind the SEPTA token-nibbling squirrel mural on the 2200 block of North Hancock Street. Lovett, whose Kensington pigeon mural was the first in Visual Urban Renewal & Transformation’s (VURT) Local Critters project, credited the homeowner who donated the wall for the token idea while he and the VURT team were looking for a symbol that would link the squirrel to the neighborhood.

Which Philly neighborhoods appeal to millennials the most? Niche, a website that analyzes public data sets and reviews on schools and neighborhoods, has ranked neighborhoods for young professionals based on access to bars, coffee shops and restaurants, and affordable housing. Using data from the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and FBI, Niche calculated the highest grades for Chinatown, Graduate Hospital, and Fitler Square.

Ford has ousted its CEO Mark Fields, the New York Times reports. The motor company has struggled to adapt ‘fast enough’ in the self-driving technology and ride-hailing landscape, experiencing a 40 percent drop in its stock price since 2014. William C. Ford Jr., Ford’s chairman, “also felt the need to step in and smooth the testy relationship by speaking directly to Mr. Trump” following controversy over a $1.6 billion plant that Fields had planned to build in Mexico. Ford has tapped 62-year Jim Hackett, a Silicon Valley veteran in workspace adaptation and former Michigan-based office furniture maker, as the new CEO.

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