Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Comfortably N.U.M.: Meet the City's new go-to agency

Call it the new office with the funny name. Mayor Nutter on Monday signed an executive order formally creating the Office of New Urban Mechanics, which will serve as “an internal innovation hub connecting city departments and agencies with outside entities to create, support or pilot small-scale projects to work towards solutions for civic problems,” according to a city press release.

Comfortably N.U.M.: Meet the City's new go-to agency

Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall

Call it the new office with the funny name. Mayor Nutter on Monday signed an executive order formally creating the Office of New Urban Mechanics, which will serve as “an internal innovation hub connecting city departments and agencies with outside entities to create, support or pilot small-scale projects to work towards solutions for civic problems,” according to a city press release.

What kind of civic problems? Well, since the Office of New Urban Mechanics has been up and running for a few months already – Monday’s order simply made it official – its co-directors Story Bellow and Jeff Friedman – already can put to a few examples. One is Neighborhow where people can find out, for example, how to get a street or yard tree.

Friedman has been working for the city since 2008, previously working as the Philly 311 Project Manager. He is paid $105,000. Bellows joined Philadelphia in April from Washington, D.C., where she was director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. She is paid $95,000.

And where does the office get its name? Stolen from Boston, the first city in the country to have an Office of New Urban Mechanics. Beantown’s office was named for Mayor Thomas Menino, whose nickname is the “urban mechanic” because of his drive and attention to detail.

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