Friday, September 23, 2016

Meet Fast Forward Presenters >> Alex McNeil & Gregory Trainor

What is your Big Idea for Philadelphia?
Philadelphia Community Corps:
Salvaging our past to reimagine the future

Philadelphia has an estimated 50,000 abandoned buildings. These neglected structures lower property values, attract crime, and present dangers such as collapse and fire. Removing these buildings would have a positive impact on the city - this lies at the core of what the Philadelphia Community Corps has set out to do.

Traditionally, building removal has been done by demolition - using heaving machinery to reduce structures to rubble and send them to the landfill. Instead, the PCC utilizes the method of deconstruction to systematically dismantle buildings and salvage the materials for reuse or recycling. Through this process we keep nearly 90% of the “waste” out of the landfill while employing 7 times as many people as a demolition crew. Further, since we are not relying on heavy, pollution causing, machinery to smash the building, we are reducing the amount of dust and toxins (such as lead and asbestos) released into the air.

In addition to blight removal, the utilization of this method can create jobs in the deconstruction industry and other fields around material reuse. Our job training programs work with individuals who face barriers to employment - providing the skills and experiences for meaningful careers in sustainable development and material reuse. 

Gregory Trainor
Executive Director & Board President
Greg learned how to deconstruct buildings in 2006 as an AmeriCorps NCCC Corps Member working for several disaster response organizations in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.  Greg had the idea that became the Philadelphia Community Corps in 2009 as a journalism intern for the Philadelphia Inquirer assigned to read “A Prayer for the City” by Buzz Bissinger. While reading about the abandoned housing blight he realized that what Philadelphia needs is an organization that can go through blighted neighborhoods clearing the abandoned housing out, much the same way the disaster response organizations he worked for in the Gulf Coast did. In 2011, Greg incorporated the Philadelphia Community Corps as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation to revitalize blighted neighborhoods by deconstructing abandoned buildings, but put the organization on hiatus in 2012 to create a more sustainable business model. In September 2014, Greg launched the Philadelphia Community Corps for the third time as a job training program and it has been growing exponentially ever since. 

Alex McNeil
Managing Director
Alex is an educator and social worker by trade but also has experience in nonprofit management. In addition to serving as an education and outreach coordinator for various out-of-school time programs for youth, and a substitute teacher, he began a nonprofit organization while attending Temple University. Alex first joined the PCC as a Foreman and Instructor of the job training program and has since taken on an administrative role. In addition to obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Social Work, he also studied art, political science and education policy. Alex is constantly seeking large impact solutions to social problems.  

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