Wanted: Ideas for turning Philly vacant lots into power producers

The “Lots of Power” mentoring program from the wind power company Clean Currents is looking for ways to bring new life to vacant lots in Philadelphia’s Kensington section. To get some ideas, the program is matching high school students with professional designers and architects.

Clean Currents president Gary Skulnik says the company kept hearing from residents about the problem of vacant lots — they’re an eyesore, a crime magnet, in general just sort of a depressing thing to have in the neighborhood.

“So we came up with this concept ‘Lots of Power,’ really an idea of instead of having a lot of disenfranchising, make it be empowering for the community that it serves,” he said. “Could be a little wind installation or a solar installation or they could put a garden or a Zen spot or an artistic installation — really it’s what the imagination will bear.”

Skulnik says two ideas for vacant lot revitalization will be selected and funded.

“Our goal is, we don’t just want to do this contest and walk away. We want them to be a real catalyst for improving a community,” he said. “So we want something that does have staying power but it doesn’t have to be for the next 100 years.”

He says the program is working with the American Institute of Graphic Arts and is currently recruiting more mentors to help the students.

Philadelphia has more than 40,000 vacant lots. 

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