There is a whole lot of nothing to look at in Philadelphia, and there’s an organization that wants photos of it all.
The Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land, a coalition of 40 labor, community and faith-based groups, is seeking pictures of the city’s best- and worst-used vacant lots.
There are plenty to choose from. According to TBVL, there are 40,000 blighted lots and buildings in Philadelphia.
The contest’s purpose is to heighten public awareness of the blight the campaign says plagues the city. Since 2011, the organization has been pushing for creation of a land bank that would convert empty, abandoned or tax-delinquent properties into productive uses – like food production or affordable housing.
There are vacant or abandoned parcels pretty much all over the city, and the organization has been getting photographs from many neighborhoods, TBVL organizer Nijmie Dzurinko said in an Aug. 15 phone interview.
“We’ve had a lot of submissions,” Dzurinko said.
This year, City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (D-7th dist.) introduced a bill to create a Philadelphia Land Bank. The measure has not been reported out of Council’s Committee of the Whole yet, Dzurinko said.
“We want a hearing on that bill,” she said. “We want a strong land bank.”
The councilwoman’s measure, Bill No. 120052, was introduced in February.
It calls for creation of a land bank that would acquire, hold and dispose of vacant property as well as consolidate all publicly owned surplus property.
“The mission of the Land Bank is to return vacant property to productive status using a unified, predictable and transparent process, thereby revitalizing neighborhoods and strengthening the city’s tax base,” the measure reads.
In a recent news release, the TBVL stated it supports “re-introducing and strengthening the bill to ensure a transparent and accountable land bank with a clear mandate on who gets land or for what.”
There is no fee to enter the contest. Submissions may include up to three photos along with short descriptions and contact information. The contest will run through Aug. 31.
Send to via e-mail to email@example.com or by U.S. Mail to Take Back Vacant Land c/o Liberty Resources, 714 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19106, or upload to www.facebook.com/CampaignToTakeBackVacantLand
Winners will receive home or yard improvement gift cards as well as cleanups for the worst lots.
In an additional effort to improve the city’s vacant lots, the organization Keep Philadelphia Beautiful has initiated its “Light Up Your Lots” campaign. KPB is supplying communities with solar powered light kits as a deterrent to nighttime trash dumping and other acts of crime and vandalism.
To be eligible for lights, a lot must be maintained with low-cut vegetation, must get six to eight hours of sun daily, and must have a means to secure the lights. KPB will donate up to $100 in lighting for the lot if eligibility is met.
To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the location, size and maintenance schedule of the lot.
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or email@example.com.