Take Back Vacant Land: Nominate the Best and Worst Lots in PhillyBy William Yang |
A contest is focused on putting Philadelphia’s vacant land to good use, and with over 40,000 vacant lots in the city, there are plenty of spaces to choose from.
Take Back Vacant Land — a coalition of Philadelphia community, faith, and labor groups that joined together to pass a law that gives communities control of vacant land — is asking the public to submit lots that have been long ignored. On the flip side, if people are doing something productive with an abandoned space, they are encouraged to submit those lots as well.
The top three winners will receive home and yard improvement gift cards ranging from $50-$150, and the worst submission will receive a lot cleanup organized by Take Back Vacant Land.
“The contest really has a duel purpose,” said leader Marcus Presley, from Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land. “We are highlighting the problem that exists in Philadelphia’s communities right now.”
“As for the best lots, we are demonstrating the vast potential that exists because of all of this vacant land, and all the good things that can happen when people have a say in how land in their community gets used,” said Presley.
The organization hopes to collect these stories to show City Council the properties all over the city that breed crime, garbage, and eventually bring down property values.
According to the campaign, the city spends $20 million a year on lot maintenance, and yet, there’s no shortage of abandoned properties lacking attention.
New research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that blighted land in Philadelphia reduces the city’s total wealth by $3.6 billion. Lead author of the study Eugenia C. Garvin, MD explains, ”Our theory is that transforming vacant lots from a space overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash to a clean and green space may make it difficult for people to hide illegal guns and conduct other illegal activities such as drug use in or near the space. Additionally, green space may encourage community cohesion.”
Ultimately, the goal for the campaign is to have City Council establish a “Land Bank” that would consolidate all city-owned land under a single entity with clear guidelines, authority, and transparency.
To enter the Take Back Vacant Land contest submit up to 3 photos along with a short description (2 – 3 sentences) along with your name, address and phone number via:
- Email: email@example.com
- Mail or drop-off: Take Back Vacant Land c/o Liberty Resources, 714 Market St. Philadelphia PA 19106
- Facebook: Upload photos with description at facebook.com/CampaignToTakeBackVacantLand