In Memory of Jeffrey Featherstone

Over the weekend, I learned of the sudden and untimely passing of Jeff Featherstone. To say that I am still shocked is an understatement. Jeff was the first chair of our department, and was the person who first hired me as an adjunct at Temple. I am proud to call him both colleague and friend. His leadership, knowledge, and infectious laugh will be missed.

When I was hired full-time back in 2012, it was Jeff who helped me teach my first studio course, resulting in the award-winning Aging with our Communities master plan for Montgomery County, PA. He showed me how to nudge graduate students, who were just on the verge of entering professional practice, in a direct but kind way, towards excellence. And so as I’ve pulled together the work from this year’s course, I’ve been thinking about him, and the example he gave all of us.

May his memory be for a blessing.


What’s in a name? Plenty!

Yesterday, the Temple University Board of Trustees voted to approve name changes to our department, and to our Master’s Degree. We are now the Department of Planning and Community Development, with a MS in City and Regional Planning.

While this might seem like a minor change, it reflects the exciting changes our department and program have made over the past few years. Over half the world’s population lives in cities right now, with that expected to reach two-thirds by 2050. Learning how to create and foster sustainable communities has always been our program’s focus; now we are making it clear that most of that work will be in cities over the coming decades.

Our department’s name change also highlights our commitment to equitable development, here in Philadelphia, across the Commonwealth, and in cities throughout the world. Our practice-focused BS in Community Development trains future professionals, and I am proud of the work our students are already doing. We know that this field will continue to grow, and Temple graduates will lead the way.

2015 Studio Wins SE Section Scholarship!

Members of the 2015 Studio team (L-R): Jamie Magaziner, Mary Ellen McCarty, Enrique Rivera, Valerie Panacio, Brandon Vaughn, Lauren Van Dyk, Brian Blacker
Members of the 2015 Studio team at the awards ceremony (L-R): Jamie Magaziner, Mary Ellen McCarty, Enrique Rivera, Valerie Panacio, Brandon Vaughan, Lauren Van Dyk, Brian Blacker.

Last evening, the Southeast Section of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association presented the 2015 Student Scholarship Award for a Group Paper to our 2015 Studio. According to the official notification,  “The report is very thorough and professionally packaged. The Review Committee was quite impressed.”

Another Temple Planning student, Jason Hachadorian, was awarded the 2015 Student Scholarship Award for an Individual Paper at the event as well. He was recognized for his strategic plan for the Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition, which was written for my Community-based Organizations class in Fall 2014.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

2013 Planning Studio wins State-wide Award

This morning I received notification from the PA Chapter of the APA that the studio project, “Aging with Our Communities,” has been selected as the winner of the 2013 PA Chapter Award in the category of Student Project. They wrote, “The PA Chapter Awards Committee believes this work exemplifies the best and brightest in Pennsylvania Planning in 2013.” The award ceremony takes place during the annual PA APA conference in Harrisburg, during the luncheon on Tuesday October 22.

I’m very proud of our student’s work, which can be seen here. Please join me in congratulating them.

Sustainability and Sport

Large sports arenas are perhaps one of the most inefficient land uses out there. Large buildings, used for a handful of days a year, with oversized parking lots and traffic nightmares for the community. Since my days taking classes with David Harvey at Johns Hopkins — when we spoke about all the problems with the (then) newly opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards — I have been critical of this wave of publicly funded stadium construction.

14 35-foot microturbines installed at the stadiumSo I was a bit skeptical back in late 2010 when the Philadelphia Eagles were trying to be the first net-zero energy stadium. Then, when the deal with SolarBlue fell through, I wasn’t surprised. But last spring, the Eagles once again announced a plan to install solar and wind facilities at Lincoln Financial Field — this time with Princeton-based NRG. And this time things are moving forward.

11000 solar panels affixed to Lincoln Financial FieldI had a chance today to take a tour of the stadium, as part of the Campus Sustainability Week activities here at Temple. And I have to admit that I was impressed. A few details:

  • Everything used in the stadium — all the way down to the beverage cups, hot dog wrappers, and beer cans (no more plastic) is either recyclable or compostable. Both are taken to off-site facilities for reprocessing.
  • The team makes green sourcing (paint, carpets, etc.) a condition of any RFP they issue.
  • And for what the team can’t control (tailgate trash), waste is separated and brought to a nearby cogeneration facility.

The result: 99.89% of waste is diverted from landfill.

Now, all of this isn’t going to make me an Eagles fan, but I have to say I’m very impressed by their result at Going Green.