Octavia Coaks poses for a portrait at the Olive-Harvey College library in Chicago in 2015. The idea of free community college has been touted by Democrats and Republicans. Chicago offers the Star Scholarship. The idea is to curb student debt and boost employment by removing cost from the equation. But offering free community college isn't supported by everyone.  (AP file Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
December 23, 2016 | Keystone Crossroads

Ideas worth stealing: Free community college finds bipartisan support

Programs in Chicago and Tennessee have been beneficial for the community colleges and students.

File image of Zach Hassinger at an apartment in downtown Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in 2015.  Hassinger got the apartment through the Union County Justice Bridge Housing Program, which tries to prevent people on probation or parole from re-offending. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
December 5, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Why this program for ex-offenders is working better in rural areas

Re-entry programs focused on housing aren't uncommon, exactly. But it's rare for local public housing authorities to be involved, and rarer still for them to spearhead the initiatives.

A street in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia is seen near Sugarhouse casino. In 2008, two neighborhood groups signed a community benefits agreement with HSP Gaming, L.P., the developer of the casino.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
August 30, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Agreements between developers and communities

How communities can ensure public investment benefits the public.

Cyclists move past a Philadelphia Mural Arts Program piece by New Orleans artist Candy Chang called “The Atlas of Tomorrow: A Device for Philosophical Reflections,” in Philadelphia. The piece features a 6-foot dial that visitors are encouraged to twirl while thinking of their challenges. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
August 24, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Public art to revive a community

Re-engaging the community while enhancing public space.

Some cities are looking toward alternatives to requiring developers to provide off street parking.  In this file image, bike share and parking spaces are available at Pittsburgh’s Bakery Square.  (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
July 25, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Trading parking requirements for more mobility choices

Developers are often required to provide parking spaces with buildings, but some cities are looking at new options.

On March 29, residents gathered at the Kingsley Association in Pittsburgh's Larimer neighborhood to participate in a deliberative democracy forum on affordable housing. The forum exemplifies the kind of interactive democracy Vermont is known for. (Margaret J. Krauss/For Keystone Crossroads)
June 8, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Vermont town meetings

Every year, on the first Tuesday in March, Vermonters gather for Town Meeting. 

From left to right: Panelists Pat Clark of Jackson/Clark Partners, Alex Gilliam of Public Workshop, and Donna Carney of the Citizens Planning Institute spoke about engaging communities and developing leaders at the Keystone Crossroads Urban Ideas Worth Stealing conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 10, 2016.  (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
June 1, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Making leaders and strategies to empower urban communities

The problem with a lot of community planning is that it ignores the community.

May 24, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Cooperate — or create a crisis

Community planning and leadership are increasingly critical as dysfunction snowballs in Harrisburg and Washington, specialists say.

Marine unit police officer Robert Jonah walks through flood waters from the Schuylkill River on Main Street in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia on May 1, 2014. Heavy rains sent rivers and streams over their banks, flooding low-lying areas in Philadelphia and surrounding counties and forcing the evacuation of several apartment complexes and many rescues. (AP file Photo/Matt Rourke)
May 19, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Preparing cities for warmer and wetter weather

Helping Pennsylvania cities adapt to climate change. 

Jim Jacek and Kathy Fox dance during a free jazz performance outside of ArtsQuest and the Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks, the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation plant in Bethlehem, Pa.  (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
May 18, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Have an old place tell a new story

How can cities and developers decide which buildings and sites are worth saving?

Sometimes the deal for new parking meters can be sweetened with the promise of local revenue for projects. (Photo by Mike Linksvayer via Flickr)
March 28, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Parking benefit districts

Sometimes the deal for new parking meters can be sweetened with the promise of local revenue for projects.

The Lexington Police Department swearing in new officers in July 2014. (Josh James/WUKY)
February 15, 2016

Ideas worth stealing: Recruiting bilingual police officers

How Oklahoma City found Spanish-speakers, and Lexington, Kentucky, created them.

Louis Singleton receives water filters and a test kit from Michigan National Guard Specialist Jelena Tasevska Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 in Flint, Mich. The National Guard, state employees, local authorities and volunteers have been distributing lead tests, filters and bottled water during the city's water crisis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
February 11, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Replace all lead pipes

Madison, Wisconsin replaced all of the lead service lines in the city through an initiative started in 2001. 

Instead of subsidizing rent, could vouchers help people with low incomes become homeowners? (Photo Jessica Kourkounis)
February 4, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Section 8 voucher money to assist with homeownership

Instead of subsidizing rent, could vouchers help people with low incomes become homeowners?

Traffic moves along the main street as signals change in Butler, Pa.  (AP File Photo/Keith Srakocic)
January 13, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Easing traffic with technology, not more blacktop

Adaptive traffic signals that react to changing traffic patterns can ease commutes.

Fast food worker Lateefa Davis gathers with others for a May Day demonstration calling for a raise of the minimum wages to $15 an hour Friday, May 1, 2015, at a McDonald's restaurant in Philadelphia, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
January 8, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Encouraging employers to pay living wages with a carrot, not a stick

A non-profit in North Carolina is trying to convince employers to pay living wages through a voluntary program. 

A man walks through a vacant lot where the impression on a demolished home remains on a standing building in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
December 30, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: How to recruit more landlords to work with Section 8 tenants

Smart marketing, rent and security deposit guarantees, and overall efficiency can help convince landlords to work with the program.

The myBurgh app lets users request service, check the trash and recycling schedule for their block, or just ask a question.
November 20, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: Civic apps to inform citizens, provide access to government

Civic apps can connect citizens to their local government or make it easier to influence their leaders' work.

A bicyclist commuting during rush hour keeps an eye on a car turning in front of him in Seattle, Washington. (AP File Photo/Elaine Thompson)
November 13, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: Cycling safety beyond bike lanes

As cities ramp up biking infrastructure and programs, there's still more they can do to make biking safe. 

Tourists and Parisians take advantage of Paris Plage, an artificial beach set up on the right bank of the Seine river with palm trees, outdoor showers and hammocks in Paris, France, Monday, July 20, 2015.  (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
November 4, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: A competition to bring urban innovation to forgotten properties

Urban design competitions can bring international talent and innovative ideas to cities — should Pa. cities consider hosting such competitions?  

Volunteers Malcolm Kenyatta and Kylie Patterson assemble home weatherization kits during the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, at Girard College. (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)
September 30, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: Cities can mobilize volunteers, but figuring out how is key

For cities with tight budgets, harnessing the power of volunteers effectively can help get things done. 

The downtown Cleveland skyline is seen on Lake Erie.  Cleveland is one of the cities installing a municipal broadband network that it hopes will bring about economic development. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
August 27, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: Can municipalities build better broadband networks?

Some states, including Pa., have laws limiting municipal broadband. Passed under the guise of constituent protection, some communities insist on having the option.

A laser light display is shown in misting fountains of the Cheonggyecheon river in central Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
August 20, 2015

Ideas worth stealing: [Re]moving urban highways

As city leaders reconsider their waterfronts through the lens of a post-industrial economy, moving urban highways has become more of a priority.

The ParkRight app shows the availability of street and garage parking and can direct the driver to a nearby open spot using their phone's GPS.
July 27, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: Real deal real-time parking information

London has an app that shows realtime availability of parking spots to driver. Could this make driving better in Pennsylvania cities? 

In this photo made on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, a lane is blocked by construction equipment as work continues on the Birmingham Bridge that spans the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. The ongoing work is part of an ambitious agenda that will accelerate highway and bridge repairs that Pennsylvania is implementing thanks to a $2.3 billion package of higher taxes, fees and fines supported by former Gov. Tom Corbett, who was defeated in his 2014 re-election bid. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
July 17, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: Investing pension funds in infrastructure projects

Some large pensions funds around the world are funding infrastructure projects and getting returns. Could this be an option in Pa.? 

Berlin turned its former airport Tempelhof, the site of the Berlin Airlift, into a park. The runway is a path for walking, biking, and roller skating. (Marielle Segarra/WHYY)
July 14, 2015

Ideas Pa. cities might want to steal from German cities

The fifth in a series of Keystone Crossroads posts from German cities.

A swimming pool amidst the old structures at Zollverein, a former coal mine that was turned into a park and cultural space. (Marielle Segarra/WHYY)
July 7, 2015

How German cities are turning former coal mines into parks [photos]

The fourth in a series of Keystone Crossroads' posts from German cities.

Women wearing head scarves buy fruit in a street in Duisburg, Germany. ( AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
June 29, 2015

How Berlin is helping immigrants and trying to get residents to think differently about national identity

The third in a series of Keystone Crossroads posts from German cities.

Prinzessinnengarten has a few cafés, where employees sell food that grows in the garden.(Marielle Segarra/WHYY)
June 23, 2015

An urban garden in Berlin that’s about more than growing vegetables

The second in a series of Keystone Crossroads posts from German cities.

A cyclist rides beneath an overpass along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
May 28, 2015

'Open streets' in Pennsylvania's cities: closing streets to cars, opening them to cyclists and salsa lessons

Open streets can reconnect citizens to their cities and neighbors, as well as provide more equitable opportunities for physical activity.

People play basketball at Enright Parklet, a small park that sits by the Penn Plaza complex in Pittsburgh. The city owns the park and tried using it as a bargaining chip when negotiating on behalf of evicted tenants with the Penn Plaza owners. More recently, the mayor said the park will help bring greenery back to the neighborhood. (Sarah Schneider/WESA)
March 8, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: When evictions happen, laws to soften the blow

Penn Plaza’s mass eviction was legal but it raised alarms in a city concerned with losing affordable housing. Are there ways to protect tenants?

In this Jan. 6, 2012 file photo, the Boston city skyline is illuminated at dusk as it reflects off the waters of Boston Harbor. The waterfront is one of the areas where the city is trying to encourage developers to set aside affordable housing units in their projects, using inclusionary zoning.  (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
March 17, 2016

Ideas Worth Stealing: Inclusionary zoning to grow affordable housing

Inclusionary zoning encourages developers to set aside a certain number of units in a project as affordable housing. 

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