Supporting Healthy Environments & Lifestyles
Our first early action project is aimed at answering a call from the community for more safety and less crime. The LISC Community Safety Initiative brings police and residents together and builds long-term partnerships to help improve safety in troubled neighborhoods. In both West Philadelphia and eastern North Philadelphia teams gathered and developed projects using Safe Growth and CPTED training aimed to create a plan for physical and programmatic redevelopment of physical spaces that have fallen victim to persistent crime.
In SCI Eastern North, a park was identified as having a long history of drug related criminal activity and disinvestment due in large part to lack of ownership. Sponsored by LISC, a two month course on SafeGrowth introduced a safety team of PPD officers and community organizations to Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles related to the park and surrounding neighborhood.
Through sustainable community partnerships and the application of SafeGrowth the park has been identified for physical improvement and social programming, providing a safer place for community members to gather and enjoy a healthy and nourishing environment. In addition to LISC and APM, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Norris Square Civic Association, the Semilla Arts Initiative, and South Kensington NAC have all been invaluable team partners in the project.
The SCI Eastern North comprehensive and collaborative approach to crime and safety in Eastern North, Philadelphia is mentioned in this article about LISC's Community Safety Initiative (CSI): Community development that fights crime
Rainbow de Colores Park Revitalization39.986842, -75.141532
On the 2300 block of North 5th Street, the neglected Rainbow de Colores park is receiving some much needed attention. In cooperation with a host of community groups, the City of Philadelphia is planning an extensive overhaul of the troubled park that includes the installation of new fencing, solar-powered lighting, new play equipment including a sprayground for young children and handicap accessible ramps, among other improvements.
“It will be a place that’s clear and bright and secure so that people know this is no longer a place that will be overrun at night by bad elements,” said Justin DiBerardinis, aide to Councilwoman María D. Quiñones-Sánchez.
News of the park’s renovation was shared with community residents at a meeting on the evening of Feb. 17. When DiBerardinis told the crowd that the park would be open to the public by June, attendees seemed stunned.
“When they said that, I was truly ecstatic. I really was. I’m going to bring by great-granddaughter to that park,” Preston said.
Although the city is funding most of the renovations, DiBerardinis made it clear that the onus is on the community to keep the park clean and well-maintained, and more important, to claim the park as its own. That includes everything from locking the park’s gates each night to holding frequent family-friendly events there to make it plain that “this park belongs to the community now, not the drug dealers,” DiBerardinis said.
To that end, community members at the meeting broke into groups to discuss possible activities for the park, hash out who would be responsible for maintaining it and what sort of plants and shrubs should be put in the reclaimed park. There was talk of movie nights, a big celebration to mark the park’s rebirth, and other possibilities.
“If the vital part of this community is there doing something on a weekly basis, then the drug dealers won’t get a chance to take it over,” Preston said. “And to me that is very hopeful.”
Community Garden, Peace Parks, and Workshops
Although there are hundreds of vacant lots in this eastern North community, the Semilla Arts Initiative is setting the trend to beautify the community by opening a garden on one of these lots. Located around the McKinley Elementary School, the garden will have 6 raised beds, a bench, compost bins. A mural will also be painted on the surrounding walls of the garden. Youth Works will be organizing service learning days at the garden, and art workshops will also be held at the garden. These programs are funded with a $5,000 Early Action Grant from LISC.
In addition, the 1500 block of North 6th Street will also have two peace parks, which LISC is funding through a $500 Early Action Grant.