Web tool aims to help Philly residents rescue blighted lots

 Web tool Grounded in Philly was set up to help make it easier for people to figure out how to make the best use of vacant lots in the city. This map is the starting point at groundedinphilly.org.

Web tool Grounded in Philly was set up to help make it easier for people to figure out how to make the best use of vacant lots in the city. This map is the starting point at groundedinphilly.org.

The push to transform Philadelphia’s many vacant lots will continue Wednesday with new initiatives to help residents turn those neglected spots into productive spaces. 

The mapping and organizing tool “Grounded in Philly” was created in partnership with a New York group that’s done similar work in that city, according to Amy Laura Cahn of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. 

“We have worked with 596 Acres over the past several months to create a website that democratizes information about vacant and abandoned parcels in Philadelphia, provides an opportunity to make transparent the mechanism for getting access to that land, and as importantly — or sometimes more importantly — preserving existing projects on that land in Philadelphia,” Cahn said.

Cahn said the Web-based tool will make it easy for residents to find ownership, zoning and other information about vacant lots. 

“If you’re an individual gardener who wants to figure out how to access the parcel across the street from you — maybe you’ve been gardening that land for 20 years — it’s really hard to figure out how to make that space permanent,” said Cahn. “Even if that space is something that has been providing a community resource for decades or even generations.”

This week, green advocates also will launch a citywide education and advocacy coalition called “Healthy Foods Green Spaces” to bring green space and urban agriculture supporters together to work for transformation of empty, blighted land.

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said she’s happy to see a diverse group of organizations transforming blight into opportunities to create healthy foods, green spaces and economic opportunities.

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