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The process of writing an action plan for PhillyRising in Frankford began last night.  Jimmie Saunders, Ade Fequa, Manny Citron and John Farrell led a group of 25 Frankforders through the process of visualizing the future.

The Subject issues were identified in previous meetings of Frankford residents as being at the top of their wish list:

  • After school activities
  • Infrastructure
  • Community health
  • Vacant lots and green space
  • Economic development

What amazed me was the qualified people who walked through the door of Denby’s last night.  Everybody seemed to be an expert at something except me, so I just took notes.

I’m kind of cautiously optimistic about this PhillyRising thing because I am tired of people making promises they don’t keep.  PhillyRising only promises to help us find out what we can do using what is already available.  There is no magic, no smoke and mirrors.  We’ll get something done if we focus and plan and make use of existing resources.

Some great ideas emerged at the meeting but it is far from final yet.  There will be another followup meeting in a few weeks.

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Frankford to be Test Area for Philly Rising

From the Mayor’s budget address today:

We’re investing in our communities and they’re stepping up and joining us in a new partnership to move this city forward.

Let me tell you about one of those communities, the Hartranft community in North Philadelphia.

Over the last year – in Hartranft – we have piloted a new approach to providing neighborhood services, reducing crime, and improving the quality of life in our city.

Working with the community we identified the particular problems in their neighborhood and together we implemented solutions.

We demolished 14 dangerous buildings, cleaned and abated 85 vacant lots, removed graffiti from 330 properties, and organized four community clean-ups.

We opened an indoor pool at the Hartranft Community Center, brought in the Police Athletic League, and opened a new community computer lab at Hartranft Elementary School.

It was the folks in the neighborhood – working in partnership with the City and others – who made all of this happen.

We trained community leaders through our new Citizen Engagement Academy to help them access existing City services.

We brought in volunteers through SERVE Philadelphia to provide support for after-school programs and neighborhood beautification.

We coordinated partners such as Temple University, the School District of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society who wanted to help and get involved.

What was the result of all of this work?

Well, thanks to this partnership, from February to December 2010 crime in Hartranft dropped by 16% from the year before.

And – as community leader Diane Bridges put it – we’re turning the hood, back into the neighborhood.

We’re calling it ‘Philly Rising’ and we’ve expanded to three new areas to test the approach in neighborhoods with very different needs:

Haddington in West Philadelphia;

Frankford in North East Philadelphia;

And the Market East section of Center City.

Work is already underway in these communities.

In fact this Saturday I will be attending a Career Boot Camp in West Philly – as part of the Haddington collaborative – where volunteers will be providing job training, resume writing workshops, and interview practice sessions for folks looking for jobs.

Philly Rising is going to become the new model for neighborhood service delivery in the City of Philadelphia and in the budget we’ll invest over half a million dollars to take it citywide.

John Farrell, the Deputy Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia, will be the keynote speaker at the EPIC stakeholders meeting on March 31st.  He will be giving a presentation on the Philly Rising program.  Stay tuned for further developments.