Season’s greetings from Community Progress

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359 Season’s greetings from Community Progress! As 2013 comes to a close, we took some time to reflect on the last twelve months. It’s easy to declare, “It was such a busy year!” – when is it not a busy year? – but we’d like to say, sincerely: it was a remarkable year.

Here are just a few of our top highlights of 2013, from our offices and beyond.

We grew, a lot:

Our full-time staff expanded to 15! Danielle Lewinski joined us as Vice President and Director of Michigan Initiatives, Brian Flood as the Director of Finance and Administration, Sara Toering as General Counsel, Chelsea Allinger as Director of Communications, and Luke Telander as Communications Associate. And, as we shared last week, we welcomed four new board members.

reclaiming vacant properties 9-10-2013-0240  Photo credit -Tieshka Smith for Center for Community ProgressYou joined us in Philadelphia:

800 people descended on the City of Brotherly Love for the fifth Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference in September. You visited places like the Big Green Block in Kensington and the Schuylkill River to learn from Philly’s efforts to revitalize its vacant land. Five mayors joined us  for a frank roundtable discussion about combating blight. And, in between jotting off more than 1,700 tweets, you presented and participated in 50 sessions.

74698_558191574217443_1863574834_nWe released a first-of-its-kind land bank manual:

If you’re in Georgia and are involved in land banking, the Georgia Land Bank Resource Manual is a great resource  – but it’s also a model other states may wish to follow. PS: There are limited hard copies available at no cost: just send us an email!

You traded tips, from one end of the country to the other:

From in-person peer exchanges between leaders in Detroit, New Orleans and Pittsburgh, to the online exchanges happening on LinkedIn, we’re all getting better networked than ever before.

We racked up a lot of frequent flier miles:

We crisscrossed the country to advise dozens of communities on code enforcement, land banking, tax foreclosure and lots of other tools that fill the blight-fighting toolkit.

photo (6)And we were continually inspired by you!

Everywhere we go, progress is underway. In New York, for example, the very first piece of property was transferred to a land bank just a few weeks ago, in Syracuse. Last month, leaders from across the state decided to establish the New York Association of Land Banks. And in Michigan, two cities — Flint and Detroit — completed landmark land use visions, marking a major step toward positive transformation.

So yes, it was a remarkable year. We hope 2014 moves us even closer to a future in which blighted, vacant properties have been transformed into the building blocks of strong, vibrant communities. But first, we hope these last days of 2013 are filled with joy and renewal – and a little time to relax!

Best wishes for a wonderful New Year,

Your friends at Community Progress