What Philadelphia can learn from its history of citizen-led park projects - Generocity Philly


Jul. 5, 2016 9:15 am

What Philadelphia can learn from its history of citizen-led park projects

SPOKE and PlanPhilly explore the past and present struggles of getting resident-driven developments like the Schuylkill River Trail off the ground in the face of bureaucracy.

Schuylkill River Trail-blazin'.

(Photo by Flickr user Tom Ipri, used under a Creative Commons license)

Repurposing public space is all the rage, but it’s not an easy process for citizen-led projects in cities draped with bureaucratic red tape.

Over at SPOKE magazine (which, btw, has a beautiful new site), PlanPhilly transportation reporter Jim Saksa took a look at the history of resident-driven projects in Philadelphia, including the struggles coalitions and organizations have had getting those projects off the ground in the face of bureaucracy and how the development of those local projects compare to counterparts in peer cities.

The reason why projects like the Schuylkill River Trail and the Grays Ferry Triangle take longer than similar projects in cities like Chicago and New York, Saksa writes, is that those cities don’t have a process that allows groups and individuals the opportunity to veto a project.

Read the full story

Saksa offered some advice to citizens looking to turn their idea for a public project into reality: Show your worth as soon as possible, create alliances and get yourself some funding.

“To win over elected officials and city agencies, successful local projects demonstrated value early on, promoting a compelling vision through imaginative renderings and on-site activities,” Saksa writes. “They built large coalitions, identifying natural allies — like running and cycling groups for the trail — and soliciting financial support from Philadelphia’s philanthropic purses. Perhaps most importantly, they then approached city officials as potential partners.”


From our Partners

These 8 Philly orgs that support Black communities have made public pledges, organized cleanups and called for action

Do you feel like you are drifting in the sea of fundraising on a tiny raft, all alone?


Generocity Philly

¿Cómo preparamos a estudiantes sin ninguna historia familiar de educación universitaria?


Brandywine Health Foundation

Senior Program Officer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Episcopal Community Services

Digital Marketing Manager

Apply Now
Philadelphia (currently remote)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence

Human Resources Director

Apply Now

‘We came up with a 5-part educational recovery package for nonprofits. Here’s how we did it’

Updates on foundation and fund responses to COVID-19

Area foundations and funds continue to respond to COVID-19 crisis


Generocity Philly

How do we prepare first-generation graduates for college?


Urban Technology Project

AmeriCorps Digital Service Fellow

Apply Now

Heifer International

Director of Philanthropy, Mid-Atlantic Region

Apply Now

Public Health Management Corporation

Special Education Teacher

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity