Akeem Dixon has a favorite community development success story.
He often stopped in the store of a guy who owned a small pest control business in his neighborhood to chat, and one day convinced the business owner to attend a local community meeting with him.
Years later, Dixon found out that the man had continued attending meetings and eventually got a contract for his business with Penn because of connections he made at them.
“He’s blossomed just because he got involved,” Dixon said.
Dixon does this type of people-to-people work every day as the economic development director of New Kensington Community Development Corporation, and previously as commercial corridor manager for 52nd Street through The Enterprise Center.
Now he’s bringing that expertise to Generocity with a new Dear Abby-esque advice column on all things community development.
Dear Akeem — or the column’s formal title, “Cool Things Wit Cool People” — is an opportunity for Philadelphians to ask questions that will “assist them in becoming more involved in the redevelopment of their community and ultimately lead to communities becoming more self-sustainable,” as described by Dixon.
“This column would bridge the gap between community residents, business owners, city officials, and developers informing them all of the others perspective,” he said, “creating a dialogue that leads to system change.”
Some examples of questions he’s down to answer:
- How do I make the Checkers in my community safer?
- I have a vacant lot on my block. Can we use it? I want to plant fruits and vegetables.
- Who do you call for clean up supplies?
- This pothole on my street is driving me crazy. How do I get the city to pay attention?
Want to ask your own question about making your community better? Email Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out on Twitter @akeemdixon.
Generocity: What do you want people to get out of this column?
Akeem Dixon: Access to resources and accountability. Most people want the opportunity to be a part of transforming their communities. My hope is, I can help them do just that be connecting them to the people in the city who are also dying the help them.
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G: Why are you the right person to connect them?
AD: I’m fortunate enough professionally to talk to a lot of these people every day. It’s like on “Game of Thrones” — I sit down with other kingdoms and I break bread. I learn about the things they’re passionate about, what their city departments are doing, but I also find out it’s really hard for their departments to gain access to the people.
G: Why is this column called “Cool Things Wit Cool People”?
AD: Because, one, I think I do cool things. And two, I want to make something cooler or start something cool in your communities. The only rule is, if you use my advice, just make sure you invite me to the block party or ribbon cutting.-30-
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