September 14: Mixed-use library | Fingerprints in data | “Youthful vigor”

Philadelphia continues to use data to make sense of the city’s past, present, and potential future:

On the continuing courtship with Amazon: Inga Saffron pens an open letter to the tech giant, pitching Philadelphia as the “dynamic, well-connected, up-and-coming home” that can maintain the company’s affections in the long term. Philadelphia has shed its inferiority complex, Saffron writes, and regained population, created new jobs, and built shiny new developments to house the city’s latest life cycle. And on life source, Philly “crackles with youthful vigor” with a combo of “committed old-timers and passionate newcomers.”

Yet, Philadelphia’s poverty rate remains stuck at 26 percent, according to the latest American Community Survey (ACS) Census data released Thursday, WHYY’s Aaron Moselle reports. The Center for Hunger Free Communities explains how while more families are employed, wages remained stagnant and the cost of living is increasing. In the region, Camden’s poverty rate fell by 10 percent and surrounding Pennsylvania counties saw “modest or minuscule declines.”

On public memory and public spaces: Monument Lab inventor Paul Farber discusses with Hidden City’s Nathan Popkin the project’s aim to understand how Philadelphians seek to express “presence and power in public spaces” without permanent dominating materials. Farber encourages visitors to participate in the citywide collective study and leave “fingerprints in the data.” One notable participatory installation that Farber highlights is Mel Chin’s Two Me housed at the center of municipal power, City Hall’s courtyard. Chin’s intervention encourages users to interact with static pedestals, resulting in neverending snapshots not unlike artist Bruce McLean’s seminal 1971 piece Pose Work for Plinths.

A Center City-based personal injury law firm has compiled government data on DUI arrests from 2006 to 2016 to create an interactive map that allows users to see the number of arrests from any point A to point B. The firm’s data visualizations team noted a large concentration “between the sports stadiums in South Philly and Center City” and released an advisory to passionate football fans.

Public-private partnership model to explore! In Milwaukee, public officials partnered with private developers to upgrade a one-story library into a mixed-use space with a ground floor library and apartments on top. This complex ownership and financing model resulted in a reasonably priced new library and consistent tax revenue for the city. Strong Towns Media goes into the breakdown of the partnership and how the library’s flexible design embraced its 21st Century functions as the town hall and community center of the neighborhood. In Philly, Malcolm Burnley looked into the bold redesign of Logan Library as part of the 21st Century Libraries Initiative.

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