Carla Robinson. Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill Loca.

Our water matters: How we produced this special project


Grid teamed up with the Chestnut Hill Local and Delaware Currents for our December feature about problems with the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters initiative. Carla Robinson, editor of the Chestnut Hill Local, wrote this note about the collaboration, and we’d like to share it with Grid readers.

About a year and a half ago, shortly after I became editor of this newspaper, I got a visit from East Mt. Airy resident and retired environmental engineer Kelly O’Day. Tucked under his arm was a big white binder filled with white papers and maps. He had a question for me.

“We have a problem with flooding in our watershed that nobody seems to be paying attention to,” he said. “Can I get you interested?”

My answer, of course, was yes. This was news that clearly mattered to our readers.

The trouble was, we are a tiny staff with a small budget. It was immediately apparent that this would be a big project, and require the kind of focused attention we didn’t have the resources to give it.

So that binder sat on my desk until many months later, when we found Kyle Bagenstose, an independent journalist who has the right combination of skill and ambition to handle a job like this one.

Yes, he was interested. In fact, he’d already been talking to Grid Magazine about a related issue – the city’s problem of sewer overflows into our rivers and creeks. Not only that, another one of his clients, Delaware Currents, would also likely be interested.

Several phone calls later, the editors of each publication had teamed up and decided to share costs, contacts and information so that we could hire Kyle to put in the reporting time the project would require.

As a result, we bring you this special investigation. It is the first report in what will be ongoing coverage of this issue.

It is also a shining example of what a group of committed journalists can accomplish when they work together – no matter how small, or under-resourced, their news organizations may be.

Carla Robinson. Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill Local.

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