From Flying Kite
If you walk past North Philadelphia’s Rainbow de Colores Park on a summer day, you’ll see children playing on a playground and running through sprinklers, a bustling handball court and a well-tended community garden. Newly installed solar lights mean the activity continues well into the evening.
Five years ago, Rainbow de Colores looked very different.
“It was a playground that was basically controlled by drug dealers,” says Andrew Frishkoff, Executive Director of the Philadelphia office of the Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC).
Less than a block from a prolific drug-dealing corner, the park served as a base of operations for a local drug-trafficking organization. Community members were reluctant to leave their homes, let alone play in the park.
Beginning in 2010, however, community members, local nonprofit organizations (including LISC), a Philadelphia police captain and the local councilwoman joined forces to take back the space.
While LISC worked with community members to clean up the park, 26th District Police Captain Michael Cram and his team dedicated themselves to keeping away criminal activity. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sanchez and the Department of Public Property delivered approximately $200,000 to support the cleaning and rehabilitation efforts, and the community drove the decisions to include the handball courts and community garden.
“It’s a little bit of judo,” says Frishkoff. “Taking something that is blighted and a hub of criminal activity and not just trying to move the crime but actually turning that space back into an amenity for the community.”
Read the rest of this great story at the Flying Kite at this link.