Sprouting Possibilities: Cultivating hope with Creative Solutions

Written by Sprouting Possibilities partner, laura c carlson My project partner, Moya, and I began Sprouting Possibilities with the understanding that collaboration is necessary for any successful ecosystem. In the face of today’s environmental issues, working together can help cultivate hope through creative solutions. How can we, as the initiators of climate change, act more Read more about Sprouting Possibilities: Cultivating hope with Creative Solutions[…]

Why design? Pt. 2

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post ahead of our Student Design Competition introducing the importance of design. This post (read it online) serves as a follow-up examining the need for site-specific ecological design at the Urban Arboreta sites. What makes for ‘great design’? Great or successful design does not exist in isolation: Read more about Why design? Pt. 2[…]


The jury of Tom Dalfo of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Professor Sean Burkholder of University of Buffalo, Professor Karen M’Closkey of University of Pennsylvania, Professor Anne Spirn of MIT, and Skip Weiner of Philadelphia Urban Tree Connection met on Friday June 3 in Philadelphia to review the submissions for URBAN ARBORETA: Transforming Ground Read more about COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED[…]

A Reflection on Urban Tree Campaigns

New York. Los Angeles. Miami. Denver. Around ten years ago now, each of these cities made a commitment to plant one million trees within its boundary. Mayors far and wide grabbed onto this seemingly simple solution to a myriad of health, equity, and environmental issues confronted in their cities: plant more trees. Simple enough, right? Read more about A Reflection on Urban Tree Campaigns[…]

Urban Arboreta Sites: A Brief Land Use History

As a non-native of Philadelphia, I regret to say that I had largely forgotten about the city’s historical significance until moving here last fall. Sure, I associated Philadelphia with William Penn, Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell, but much of my eighth grade American History had been lodged in the back of my mind, unstirred Read more about Urban Arboreta Sites: A Brief Land Use History[…]

Transforming Ground: Philadelphia Orchard Project

In our next series post addressing reuse of vacant land, we look to an organization that is active in our own backyard: the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP). The organization has been greening Philadelphia’s underutilized spaces while strengthening communities and improving access to fresh fruits. Since its founding ten years ago, POP has made incredible progress. Read more about Transforming Ground: Philadelphia Orchard Project[…]

Urban Aboreta takes root

Originally posted on Knight Blog by Chip Schwartz. Empty lots are a common sight in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is dotted with vacant land in just about every corner, and this surplus of space could serve any number of purposes. Urban Arboreta has an unequivocal approach to the issue of urban land: trees. Read more about Urban Aboreta takes root[…]

Greening the Void

The Knight Cities Challenge asks: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful? For team member Matt Langan, the prompt was different from that posed by the 2005 Urban Voids: Grounds for Change design competition, but the answer was the same: an Urban Arboretum. Langan imagined large underutilized swaths of Philadelphia transformed into a Read more about Greening the Void[…]

Welcome to Urban Arboreta

Hello and welcome to Urban Arboreta: Transforming Ground, a 2015 Knight Cities Challenge winning project in Philadelphia. Urban Arboreta is dedicated to transforming vacant lots into hybrid spaces for nursery production and neighborhood use, improving the ecological, social, and economic health of neighborhoods by offering a new model for community based job training and engagement. We’ll be sharing Read more about Welcome to Urban Arboreta[…]