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Community Planning: Round 3

March 11, 2011
Even the grandest redevelopment goals don’t amount to much on their own. Between the vision and the reality are a long series of jobs that have to get done. Wednesday night at a community meeting at William McKinley Elementary School, about 35 residents of Eastern North Philadelphia continued the difficult task of figuring out who, exactly, will be doing the work, and what ought to be done first. 

Residents and leaders examine community assets during the first meeting in January

It was the latest step in a project that dates back to last November, when LISC and APM jointly hosted a gathering of almost 200 residents and community leaders and asked them to share their dreams about what Eastern North Philadelphia should become. Since then, residents working with APM, LISC and the urban planning firm Interface Studio, have collected neighborhood data and refined the community’s vision for the neighborhood.

On Wednesday night the job at hand was a little more practical. Residents were asked to identify specific steps that needed to be taken to attain the goals they had already identified for each of the community’s priority areas, which are the physical environment, income and wealth, economic development, education, leadership, healthy environment and lifestyle, arts and culture, and children and youth.

Attendees broke into small groups, one for each priority area, and worked to identify partners – groups, organizations or individuals – who would be responsible for each job. They asked themselves which goals should be tackled first. Was it better, for instance, to focus on graduation rates or broader education reform? Each group also attempted to identify an early action project, a single, tangible step that could be taken soon.

The answers didn’t come easy, but the groups did make progress. Their conclusions are being compiled by Interface Studios, and should be available soon.

– by Patrick Kerkstra

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