August 11: Planning like ecologists | Colliding development goals | “All the Light You See”

Smoke from a Bucks County scrap metal fire floats to Brooklyn and skips Philly, but how? This and other news to start your day:

As development and housing prices rise in Callowhill/Chinatown North/Spring Arts, the goals of developers and the Chinatown community are sure to collide, the Inquirer’s Julia Terruso writes. Terruso speaks with the longtime and recent residents of the rapidly changing neighborhood, including Asian Americans United’s Alix Webb, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation’s John Chin, Independence Business Alliance’s Zach Wilcha and Callowhill Neighbors Association’s Sarah McEneaney. Asian Arts Initiative has been going through a two-year cultural planning process; the organization is hosting a design resources workshop and sharing the findings of a six-month survey on neighborhood cultural assets on August 15th.

Hidden City Philadelphia highlights one of the few remaining survivors of the Convention Center expansion, a thin, keystone-covered building on the northwest corner of Race and Camac Streets. The history of the 110-year-old building’s owners and uses reveals the timeline of Philadelphia commerce and the transition of fading industries.

Brooklynites 50 miles away could see and smell smoke from a scrap metal fire in Morrisville, Pennsylvania Thursday morning, WHYY’S Linnea Harris reports. A New Jersey DEP official explains how higher humidity and lower temperatures helped the smoky fog skip Philadelphia.

All the Light You See: A large neon sign is temporarily on display atop the former Santoro's Beer Distributor, writes Naked City’s Mr. Fox. Mural Arts, Fairmount CDC and Gazelle Signs teamed up to bring the art installation to light while developer MM Partners works on the property’s next life. The sign designed by artist Alicia Eggert alternates between illumination and darkness, reading "all you see is past."

A History of Zoning, Part III: Missing the Trees for the Forest: Strong Town Media’s series continues with an examination of a primary motivation for local governments—responding to perceived chaos and disorder—that resulted in a “massive collection of useful inefficiencies,” aka zoning laws. Strong Towns offers some suggestions to mitigate the negative effects of zoning, calling for cities to approach urban planning like scientific foresters

About the author

Diana Lu, Community Engagement Editor

Diana runs PlanPhilly’s community outreach and engagement online and in real life. She has spent more than ten years in the non-profit and public sectors working on urban development issues including environmental justice, design-based manufacturing, and community and economic development.  Prior to joining PlanPhilly, Diana worked as the Director of Partnerships and Outreach for 10,000 Small Businesses, a public-private initiative focused strengthening local businesses through revenue generation and local job creation.  Follow Diana on instagram @dianaluwho and email her at

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