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October 15th | Posted In Philadelphia, Policy

Recycling Right

628px-Recycling_symbol.svg

Every day seems to bring another good piece of “green” news in Philadelphia: new parks in underutilized spaces, bike share, and the success of City initiatives like Green City, Clean Waters, TreePhilly, and the new energy benchmarking program, to name a few.

One success story you might not know as much about, however, is the City’s recycling program. So let’s look at the facts:

Since Mayor Nutter took office in 2008, Philadelphia has seen a 155% increase in tonnage of materials recycled

New materials have been consistently added to the City’s recycling program, including cartons and cardboard

The Philadelphia Streets Department has distributed tens of thousands of recycling bins to residents in every corner of the City

195,000 households have signed up for the Recycling Rewards incentive program, where Philadelphians can earn points for recycling and then redeem those points for coupons and discounts (Eligible, but not signed up? Sign up here! Signed up already? Make sure you’re logging in to your account and collecting your rewards!)

And if you’re a business owner, the Streets Department has you covered with their new Business Recycling Toolkit

All of this has made a measureable impact, too. According to the City’s Recycling Office and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Philadelphia’s recycling efforts in 2012 alone helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. Not to mention, the City actually makes money from recycling (to the tune of about ten million dollars a year).

So, great, right? We’re doing a really awesome job at recycling in Philadelphia. Go, team!

But that’s not quite the end of the story.

Increasing participation in Philadelphia’s recycling program can too often lead to (innocent) recycling mistakes. As we approach America Recycles Day (a national holiday for us recycling fanatics), it’s important to remind ourselves of what you should and shouldn’t throw in your blue bin.

First and foremost, no plastic bags! They tear easily and end up damaging processing equipment at recycling facilities. Return your plastic shopping bags to specially-marked drop off locations at supermarkets or big box stores. Better yet, figure out a trick to remind yourself to bring that reusable bag along with you to the grocery store, and cut down on your usage of plastic bags. And in no circumstances should you put your recyclables in an opaque or black plastic bag. They’ll be mistaken as regular trash.

Other common “problem items” found in Philadelphia’s recycling stream include:

Food waste (consider composting!)

Garden Hoses

Wire and Christmas Tree Lights

Small appliances

And if in doubt, consult the Streets Department’s comprehensive list of what is and is not recyclable in the City.

With so many exciting things happening all over Philadelphia, it can be easy to forget about every-day municipal functions like our recycling program, and how they impact the health of the City. So we leave you with a call to action: keep up to date on what you can and cannot recycle in Philadelphia, and urge at least one friend to do the same. Then ask that friend to tell someone else. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Phil Bresee is the City of Philadelphia’s Recycling Director, where he oversees and supports programs and policy planning for the City’s recycling program, one of the largest in the country.

Michelle Feldman is the Executive Director of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, and Outreach Chair for YIP. You can reach her with questions about recycling at michelle@keepphiladelphiabeautiful.org, or find her on twitter at @michelle92486

May 21st | Posted In Policy

Lessons for Philly, Piled a Mile High

RK a mile high

The author, a mile high

The views and opinions expressed in this article of those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Young Involved Philadelphia. Young Involved Philadelphia is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by the author of this article.

The satirical news blog, the Daily Currant, ran a piece back in January with the headline, “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization.” The article painted a picture of a city in chaos, with medical facilities overloaded with hapless pot abusers. ,As I’ve come to sadly expect, a number of readers didn’t realize the site was satirical, leading to – on my Facebook feed anyway – the usual hand-wringing paired with smug I-told-you-so’s.

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May 19th | Posted In Policy

#YoungPHLVotes – A Guide to the Ballot Questions – Question #2

Tuesday, May 20th is primary day, the day to pick your party’s candidates for the general election in November and elect smaller party positions, like committee person. There are also 3 ballot questions this year, and a special election to fill former Councilman Bill Green’s seat.  To help you make an informed decision, YIP is providing the pros and cons on the three ballot questions. For more information on the ballot questions, read The Inquirer’s coverage here.  The following review of Ballot Question #3 was written by YIP Board Member Mike Kaiser.

Ballot question #2: Do you think city subcontractors should receive a “living wage”?

Currently, the City of Philadelphia has a set standard that requires companies with city contracts must pay their workers 150 percent of the federal minimum wage. This comes out to $10.88 per hour.

However, if one of those companies with a city contract then hires a subcontractor, then they are not required to pay them the same $10.88 rate. Instead, they can pay them minimum wage.

Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. is the sponsor of this ballot that would extend the same wage standard to subcontractors.

Further reading:

http://www.seventy.org/uploads/files/225857635849197812-plain-english-statement-minimum-wage-may2014.pdf

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140519_Ballot_questions_include_ending_resign-to-run_rule.html

May 19th | Posted In Policy

#YoungPHLVotes – A Guide to the Ballot Questions – Question #3

Tuesday, May 20th is primary day, the day to pick your party’s candidates for the general election in November and elect smaller party positions, like committee person. There are also 3 ballot questions this year, and a special election to fill former Councilman Bill Green’s seat.  To help you make an informed decision, YIP is providing the pros and cons on the three ballot questions. For more information on the ballot questions, read The Inquirer’s coverage here.  The following review of Ballot Question #3 was written by YIP Advocacy Committee member Nikki Allen.

Ballot Question #3 asks whether the Home Rule Charter should be amended to give City Council the authority to approve contracts for one year or less, worth $100,000 or more that involve the legal representation of Philadelphians who cannot afford an attorney in certain proceedings.

Background: One of the most commonly known legal rights are your Miranda rights – you know: “you have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” To provide legal representation for Philadelphians who cannot afford an attorney, the City contracts with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Community Legal Services and the Support for Child Advocates to provide such representation. However, if one of these organizations is already representing the opposing party in the case, the City must appoint an “outside” attorney.

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May 13th | Posted In Policy

You need to read tapped out

I don’t have much to say about the amazing series The Daily News is publishing this week, other than this: you absolutely need to read it.

Read it. Right now.

I’ve read enough psychology to know that humans are instinctually tribal. We constantly and subconsciously assess the world around us and place people into one of two buckets – like me or not like me. This distinction can fall along cultural, racial, political, gender, religion and socio-economic lines. But with some effort and understanding, we can overwhelm our inherent biases, these evolutionary leftovers from when human life was nasty, brutish and short. Today, many of us can see past race, religion, gender and ethnicity and see a “like me”.

But life is still nasty, brutish and short for those in abject poverty. When we see someone struggling – if we see them at all – most of us see a “not like me.” And when we make someone into the Other, they become easier to blame for the misfortunes that behalf them. And so what are misfortunes to us are consequences with them – bad luck becomes deserved results.

Understanding is the first step towards empathy.Reading this series can be a first step to overcoming this lingering bias.

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April 25th | Posted In Policy

Leveling the Playing Field for Philadelphia

The views and opinions expressed in this article of those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Young Involved Philadelphia. Young Involved Philadelphia is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by the author of this article.

On May 20th, Primary Election Day, voters in Philadelphia will see a ballot question that will ask whether or not they want to reverse a law that has reduced our city’s influence for over 60 years. When the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter was written in 1951, they added a clause that says elected officials must resign from their current office in order to run for a new office – otherwise known as “Resign to Run.”

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April 8th | Posted In Policy

A Puny Report on a Pew Report

Pew recently released its State of the City 2014 Update. It’s a short and sweet update of some of the demographic trends in Philly. Here is YIP’s even shorter and sweeter report on Pew’s fascinating report, highlighting residential housing growth, population growth, job growth, and a decline in crime – all good things, but most in marginal amounts.  That means there is plenty more to be done to keep the city going down the right path.

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April 3rd | Posted In Policy

Inky Op-Ed: Make Hall Monitor Permanent

 

When Lord Acton wrote “Power tends to corrupt, and absolutely power corrupts absolutely” he wasn’t talking about political power – at least not in the traditional sense. Acton was speaking out against the First Vatican Council’s promulgation of papal infallibility. Acton lost his doctrinal dogfight, but he remained a devout Catholic his entire life.

Right now, Philadelphia is facing another fight about power and corruption. As noted in the Inquirer’s Editorial on Thursday, Hall monitor worth keeping, “Stories of local officials using their offices for personal profit are as wearying as they are familiar.” City Council can take Lord Acton’s advice and make the Inspector General’s Office permanent.

When the Church ignored Acton, he managed to keep his faith. If City Hall ignores Acton, will Philadelphians will be able to do the same?

The views and opinions expressed in this article of those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Young Involved Philadelphia. Young Involved Philadelphia is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by the author of this article.  

April 1st | Posted In Policy

Ask The Right Why

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Stu Bykosky pondered the decline of driving in the Delaware Valley in his latest article, “Kids to cars: Drop dead“.  I agree with Stu that figuring out the answer why is intriguing, but I don’t think he asked the right “why”.  

The auto industry doesn’t understand millennials. That’s the take away from this article in Fast Company… and the point of this article in The Atlantic, the gist of this article in The Atlantic Cities, and a prominent feature in this other Atlantic article. Stu quoted an editor at AOL’s Autoblog, who said that kids these days would be “just as excited” to own a car as prior generations, provided the economy was better. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that someone working at AOL has a mentality stuck in the 90s.

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March 14th | Posted In Policy

Mayor Announces Public Policy Case Competition

Mayor Michael Nutter has announced the Philadelphia Public Policy Case Competition.  The competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students in the Greater Philadelphia area.  The winning team will be whoever responds best to this question: What can the City of Philadelphia do to further attract and retain millennials?  

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March 10th | Posted In Philadelphia, Policy

Philadelphia Freedom

preambleHere in Philadelphia, there is a reverence for the nation’s historical documents, as befits a city with such a deep and abiding connection to them. Visitors touring the historic district are unlikely to miss the preamble to the Constitution, emblazoned on the front of the eponymous center.

This connection makes victimless crimes stand out in stark relief to some of us who live here in the Cradle of Liberty. The Declaration of Independence adopts the clear stand that the state shouldn’t interfere with the pursuit of happiness. Yet today Pennsylvania lags behind our neighbors in Washington and Colorado by continuing to deny freedom to people who want to pursue the happiness in the form of marijuana.

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February 20th | Posted In Philadelphia, Policy

We (and City Council) Want to Hear from You

Don’t we make you sick sometimes? YIP that is. Aren’t we just a bit too pro-Philly to stomach? How many #whyilovephilly tweets can one group of people produce, after all?  (I don’t know, but it looks like we had 444 Instagram posts in February.)

We’re worse than a drunk couple at the bar, making out when they think no one is looking, even though we’re all staring daggers and would probably throw actual daggers if we had them.

Listen, we know we’re a bit saccharine sometimes.  Much like the grammar behind “jawn”, Philly ain’t perfect, and we get that.  We all have things we’d like to see changed around here.  Hell, that’s one of the reasons why YIP exists (and you thought it was just the happy hours and resume padding). We want to improve the city and believe young Philadelphians can contribute something valuable towards making that happen.

Today, that something valuable is also something simple: we need your opinion.

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January 27th | Posted In Philadelphia, Policy

One Blogger’s Take on the Pew’s Millennials in Philadelphia Report

It’s like college again.

The coverage of Pew’s recent report on millennials sent me back to my sophomore year philosophy seminar, rolling my eyes as I listened to a pretentious yet deluded senior falsely accuse Nietzsche of nihilism and crimping all of his ideas from Schopenhauer when the professor suddenly snapped.   After informing him of how to properly pronounce the German’s name and explaining that he rejected the asceticism of otherworldly religion in favor of the full embrace of tangible life on this earth, the professor cruelly hissed “Where the hell did you get nihilism from the Genealogy of Morals?  Did you even read it?!” 

I want to shout Did you even read it!?to nearly everyone commenting on Pew’s report.  Like the Genealogy of Morals, it’s a wonderful read, fascinating and enlightening.  (Full disclosure: the report quotes me, so it could have been awful and I’d still like it a bit.  But, seriously, it is full of engrossing data that even unbiased geeks will love.)

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January 17th | Posted In Policy, Politics

Process Stories: More Important Than the Media Thinks

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Who could say no to this voter?

There were a lot of sexy news stories this week in the Delaware Valley.  Comcast announced its flashy new building, Bill Green was nominated to chair the School Reform Commission, Uncle Charlie returned to the Phils, and, perhaps sexiest of all, this guy entered our lives.  But there were a few slightly more demure stories that, nonetheless, are incredibly important.

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January 16th | Posted In Nonprofit, Philadelphia, Policy

There’s Mighty More Promise to Mantua Than Just a Zone

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Driving down Lancaster Avenue in the midst of West Philadelphia, one cannot ignore the signs of neglect and decline in this historically underserved area. Buildings lay abandoned, windows hold shards of broken glass, and various amounts of trash, debris, and forgotten shoes line the sidewalks.  Yet, there is promise – not just the January 2014 federally appointed designation as a “Promise Zone,” but the promise of a brighter future, education, and level of community: a mighty promise for the children, teens, and families of West Philadelphia and Mantua.

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January 2nd | Posted In Policy, Politics, YIP

The Reasons Behind Our Resign to Run Poll

CityHall

Back in the day, YIP would take strong public stands on various issues in Philly that mattered to young adults.  We’ve always believed that making Philly vibrant and youthful is good for the city as a whole. Over the past few years, though, YIP has been more focused on building the next generation of local leaders, especially in the nonprofit sector. Over the last year, more people have asked us to return to local policy and politics again (while maintaining our nonprofit work, too – you people are demanding).  Well, we’re listening and launching a new effort to ensure that we can effectively listen to, and speak for, Philly’s young professionals.

We first dipped our toes into the ocean of advocacy when Councilman Oh’s office asked us to support the Councilman’s “Resign to Run” proposal.  We decided to ask our members what they thought, and their tepid response kept us from taking a plunge.  Philly’s political waters can be murky at the best of times, so, for transparency’s sake, we wanted to explain what we did and why. Read more