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How horticulture and green space can be used as community-building tools

Look at all that green stuff. January 8, 2016 Category: FeaturedMethodPeople
Horticulture provides two dimensions of use as a community-building tool.

Not only does it give communities a project to work on something together, but the results that stem from that work make communities a better place to live, work and play.

Community gardens provide access to healthier food options. Beautifying a vacant lot adds value and removes blight. Greening helps foster a sense of place in neighborhoods and reinforces a sense of beauty across the city.

Recently appointed Pennsylvania Horticultural Society President Matt Rader knows a thing or two about community building. Most recently, Rader was executive director at the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust. There, he rallied “broad groups of community members and volunteers,” city government and the philanthropy sector around a common vision for the park. PHS, he said, is part of that same network.

Rader said his success with PHS will only be as great as the organization’s ability to work with those groups to create and implement ideas about urban greening and how it can transform the city. At FPHPT, Rader helped find new uses for the park’s historic buildings through partnerships with both nonprofits and private entities.

“It took a lot of conversation and change management to make that happen — understanding common aspirations for the park to be a more vital place with more activities and better maintenance,” Rader said. “I’ve got experience building coalition and it’s really going to be a key part of our success [at PHS].”

But first, Rader said his first steps at PHS will be to get to know the society’s full landscape of supporters — members, volunteers and financiers. He’ll also be working to get to know Mayor Jim Kenney‘s administration and identify key partners in the philanthropy sector.

That will reinforce PHS’s mission to create healthier, more sustainable, more beautiful communities.

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