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How you can help Philly reimagine our civic spaces

Friday, June 15, 2018

By Jamie Gauthier and Patrick J. Morgan via The Inquirer

Philadelphia’s growing skyline is not the only sign of the city’s ongoing renaissance. Recent and deep investment in the public spaces that bring us together is also a sure signal of our city’s revival.

This week, Philadelphians welcome two new park projects as they complete the first phase of their development: Centennial Commons in West Fairmount Park and the Rail Park in Callowhill. With these two ribbon cuttings comes one important lesson learned: community engagement is crucial to creating a common vision for Philadelphia’s civic spaces and for our city overall.

Centennial Commons and the Rail Park are just two of several projects involved in Reimagining the Civic Commons, a national initiative piloted in Philadelphia that seeks to revitalize civic spaces, and counter the economic and social fragmentation that are all too common in communities across the nation.

Initially launched in 2015, with support from the Knight and William Penn Foundations, and facilitated by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, Reimagining the Civic Commons has supported  local leaders around the development of Centennial Commons and the Rail Park, as well as the Discovery Center in Strawberry Mansion, Lovett Library and Park in Mount Airy, and Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philadelphia. Our collective goal? To connect and empower residents, change perceptions of neighborhood safety, and encourage additional investment in local businesses, while maintaining neighborhood affordability.

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Jamie Gauthier is executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Patrick J. Morgan is the Knight Foundation’s project director in Philadelphia.