Filter by Planning District
Philly
Joyce Smith

"I organized a community vacant property inventory & submitted the results to L&I."

When Joyce Smith applied for the first Citizens Planning Institute, she sought to “unlock the mystique behind planning and zoning.” Like most activists, she already understood the importance of being informed and knowledgeable about these issues but she was looking for the tools to help her neighborhood association- Viola Street Residents Association (VSRA) in East Parkside- play a more effective role in the development changes taking place in the community. She saw the Citizens Planning Institute as the “golden opportunity.”

  • joyce smith projectreclaim2

In fact, Joyce was able to leverage the information from the courses before she even completed the series:

VSRA had its first zoning experience while CPI 2010 was in session. I referenced the course materials and consulted with a guest speaker about VSRA’s particular zoning issue. CPI participants also shared their experience with me. Armed with this information, I applied theory and techniques to help me prepare VSRA’s testimony. When the zoning applicant learned of our “opposition” they met with us prior to the hearing. We worked out an amicable solution and gained a supporter. The applicant extended VSRA an invitation to tour their facility and we were impressed; we also recognized that their presence would be a plus for our community. This process increased VSRA’s visibility and more importantly gave us our first hands on experience with the zoning process.”

Today, Joyce continues to utilize the information acquired in the courses in her work with her neighborhood association:

  • To create more effective immediate and longer-term strategies, Joyce is using legislative research as one of the tools to create action plans for these goals. For example, her neighborhood association took a bold step and submitted a proposal,“Project Reclaim,” to a community development corporation. “Project Reclaim”is a first step plan that addresses a major source of blight in her community- unoccupied and abandoned property. As a result of their work in collaboration with Licenses & Inspections, some absentee owners/heirs are making repairs and a few have been scheduled for blight court.
  • CPI course series helped Joyce recognize the importance of creating new working relationships with other community activists as well as with political and development networks within the neighborhood and and the city as a whole. “I am networking with a community group in another section of the City who is experiencing a high level of development. They are also dealing with sophisticated zoning issues which is a great learning tool.”
  • They also initiated an introductory meeting with their Councilperson. “At this meeting, we discussed “Project Reclaim” and asked for support and assistance in the implementation of this plan. We also submitted a “PR” package and included information about our mission as well as past and present initiatives. Our goal was to open up communication and establish dialogue with our councilperson; we will continue to build this relationship.

In a recent check-in with Joyce, she noted: “VSRA and I have grown together since my first CPI class. I had no idea how useful the CPI material would remain to be. I still reference the powerpoint handouts and share the “Learn to Plan- Plan to Change” CPI handbook. I am making real connections with the CPI presentations as we chart our path to realize our goal.”

  • joyce smith speaking at gala
Fall 2010 Pilot Program
Neighborhood: east parkside