Data on the more than 40,000 vacant lots in Philadelphia is extremely difficult to come by and can be even harder to use. The city’s current land management policies are severely lacking in transparency. Grounded in Philly – www.groundedinphilly.org – consolidates vacant land data from the multiple city agencies who currently manage vacant lots and makes that data accessible to residents and activists. Additionally the site provides resources for individuals interested in securing legal use of a vacant lot or making one’s current use of a vacant lot more permanent.
This app also allows users to interact with data by correcting it, marking vacant lots if they are currently in use, and connecting with other users who are interested in starting a project on vacant land. Once users of Grounded in Philly elect to become a “watcher” or “organizer” on a particular lot, the site connects watchers and organizers and site facilitators can help these individuals start a conversation about initiating community-use of a piece of vacant land.
Grounded in Philly was created through a partnership between the Law Center’s Garden Justice Legal Initiative and 596 Acres out of Brooklyn, New York. 596 Acres launched a similar mapping tool two years ago and has since engaged with 14 groups that have started initiatives on vacant lots.