By: Kara Murphy
This past Saturday, March 14th, marked the first of three events organized by Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities aimed at facilitating future vision plans of three locations in North Philadelphia. This most recent event was focused on the vacant lots located at the intersection of 6th and Diamond Streets. Acting as a design charrette, which is a consulting and planning session, this event explored the ways in which the lot can be transformed into a community green space, offering different stormwater management infrastructures that could be implemented as well as other recreational elements for the location.
The event was held at the apartment complex off of Temple University’s main campus, “Paseo Verde”, where representatives from the Center of Sustainable Communities and the partnership organization Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, led an interactive and open discussion with community members on the possible implementation plans for the location. After a short introductory lecture on stormwater management and displaying the different ways to adjust the lot to benefit the surrounding community, the event then transitioned into a workshop where attendees were broken into four groups to develop frameworks for the lots reconstruction.
During the workshop, each group was provided a map of the location with icons that represented different elements that could be implemented in the project plan. Some of these icons include elements spoken about in the introductory lecture such as a rain garden, different community garden options, landscaping options and recreational options such as a playground. Each group was accompanied by a student from either the architecture or community and regional planning department to work alongside community member’s and help layout attendee’s visions for the lot and brainstorm how to go about representing their visions on the map provided. One community member and active participant within one of the workshop groups was a young community member who vocalized some of her planning thoughts once all the maps were presented. The particular map she helped construct included a play area where she and other children in the neighborhood could play and enjoy.
The overall consensus of the workshop highlighted how community members hope for this location to not only offer stormwater management infrastructures but elements that would allow this lot to be transformed into a community gathering spot. Acting as a neighborhood pocket park, it was mutual among community attendees that this lot has strong potential to become a green space where neighbors can gather and enjoy. Each of the four project plans presented offered layouts that would allow this space to a community friendly location for residents to use recreationally. Revealing the strong potential this lot has to be a beneficial and unifying addition to the surrounding community, this event was a successful start to events to come discussing other locations in north Philadelphia on stormwater management.