All classes include time for Q&A with presenters and an interactive group exercise at the end of the session to help you “lock in” what you’ve learned. You’ll receive handouts at each session, as well as a syllabus with reading suggestions prior to each class. We pack a lot into each class, so it’s important that you plan to arrive PRIOR to the 6:00pm start time, to get settled, talk to your classmates and get some dinner! (included in course fees)
Core sessions are required as well as at least 2 of the 3 electives. Pizza and Presentations Workshop session is optional.
"I didn't realize how many resources were available and how many questions could be answered with a little research. Every night after class I've felt so excited and empowered and ready to share!"--Fall 2014 participant
Unit 1: What is Planning? Everyone is a planner- in the sense that we all prepare for the future. Learn the tools and principles city planners use to assess current conditions, chart a future vision, and get things done. At a city planning level, you will learn about the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) and its staff, the role it plays, and how other city agencies work with it. You will get an overview of the citywide comprehensive vision- Philadelphia 2035 (adopted in 2011) and how citizens are involved in developing the 18 Strategic District Plans- the second phase of the plan. Learn how planning influences decision-making in the city, as recommendations in the District Plans are being implemented.
You’ll also get an introduction to neighborhood plans, “Shaping Our Future- The Walnut Hill Neighborhood Plan 2016” and the “Tioga Goals & Strategies Report” by two people directly involved in getting them done. An “action planning” group exercise will give you a head-start on thinking about your Course Project, required to earn your Certificate as a Citizen Planner.
Ian Hegarty, City Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Upper North and Upper NW District Plan Manager
Dan Levin, Special Projects Manager, The Enterprise Center CDC
Verna Tyner, Chief of Staff, Councilman Greenlee, Tioga United, and CPI grad
Required reading: “Introduction to Planning in Philadelphia”- handout to be sent prior to the first class.
Unit 1: The Zoning Code. Understand the reasons why zoning has evolved as an important tool of planning. Zoning regulates land uses and the type, size, and height of buildings. Real projects will be used to demonstrate three methods of zoning “relief”: variances, special exceptions, and zoning remapping. Gain a better understanding of how to navigate the code and what the steps are to learn what can be built on a lot and what approvals a project needs. Learn the limitations of zoning, as well as the elements in the zoning code that help preserve neighborhood character.
Donna J. Carney, Director, CPI
Andy Meloney, Staff Planner, Implementation Team, PCPC
Unit 2: Zoning and Citizen Involvement. The “new” zoning code (adopted in 2012) includes standards for citizen participation in the development process, including “RCOs”- Registered Community Organizations. Learn how a recent CPI grad rallied her neighbors and worked with her community civic group to influence development in her community.
Judy Walterson, member of West Powelton/Saunders Park RCO, Spring 2016 CPI grad
Mason Austin, Staff Planner, RCO Administrator, PCPC
Unit 1: The Development Process- the Private Side.
Learn from an experienced, mission driven private developer who has renovated and restored more than 250 vacant, deteriorated commercial and residential units in the Philadelphia region during the past 28 years and currently owns and manages more than 700,000 sf of space. You’ll learn the steps to get projects done and the financial constraints and other road blocks all developers face. The roles of various stakeholders impacting development will be discussed, in addition to tips on how to work with community developers to get the desired results for your community.
Ken Weinstein, President of Philly Office Retail, LLC, entrepreneur & real estate developer
Unit 2: The Development Process- the Non-Profit View.
The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) has invested over $60 million to improve the quality of life for all the residents of Lower Lancaster Avenue neighborhoods: Belmont, Mantua, Mill Creek, Saunders Park, and West Powelton. Through its Community Development Corporation, PEC is beautifying open spaces and developing eco-friendly mixed-use housing opportunities. Learn about their new affordable housing project at 4050 Haverford Avenue- a creative hub specifically designed for low-income artists, an essential part of the Lower Lancaster area identity, replacing a large vacant lot in West Powelton with a new 3-story building with 20 living units.
Kira Strong, Vice President of Community & Economic Development, People’s Emergency Center
Elective class topics change each semester. If you are selected to participate in the Fall Course, you must select a minimum of 2 of the 3 electives to earn the Certificate of Completion.
Community engagement is not just about informing people, it is about empowering neighbors to lead their own initiatives for improved neighborhood quality of life. Initiatives that start with resident engagement, followed by resident-led planning and resident-involved implementation pave the way for long-term collaboration, investment, and renewal.
Take the Mantua Greenway as an example. Residents came up with the idea and formed a resident group to make sure the project was moving forward and the final design would reflect the community’s interests. The partners engaged a diverse array of residents and community-based organizations, blending individual hopes and concerns into shared priorities and action. They also rolled up their sleeves to pick up trash, mow the grass, and beautify the future site of the Greenway. When the Greenway is complete, residents will use it, help maintain it and protect it because it will have been theirs from the beginning. Read more.
Join this elective to share and strengthen your knowledge of the best ways to engage your community to get things done. Hear concrete examples of effective community engagement from experienced community organizers. Learn simple but powerful tools, and use an action template to design a strategy to engage the community in your CPI project.
This interactive workshop will use problem-based learning and popular education methods to draw on the diverse knowledge and experience of people in the room. This means facilitators will ask participants to share their experience and roll up their sleeves to learn-by-doing. Participants will come away with a plan of action for their CPI project, as well as tools and templates that can be revisited for future initiatives.
David Ferris, Assistant Program Officer, Philadelphia LISC
Kevin Brown, People’s Emergency Center’s NAC (Neighborhood Advisory Committee) Coordinator
Lorraine Gomez, MVM’s NAC Coordinator
Naida Montes, APM’s NAC Coordinator
Unit 1: The Field of Historic Preservation. What, exactly, is a “historic” building? Is it an architectural landmark? A site of memory? A recognizable neighborhood feature? The answer, inevitably, will vary. This session will provide an overview of agencies and organizations working in the historic preservation field in Philadelphia, and will demystify their goals and obligations. You will further be introduced to tools and policies at the federal, state, and local level, each of which is designed to help you and fellow residents better recognize and protect the historic properties throughout your neighborhood.
Patrick Grossi, Director of Advocacy, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
Andrew Fearon, founder and E.D. Kensington Olde Richmond Heritage
Unit 2: Tackling Preservation from a Grassroots Perspective. Hear from two passionate advocates as they unpack real life examples of what makes grassroots preservation successful, including but not limited to: identification, outreach, nominations, and design. Learn key components that will empower you to take action in your own neighborhood and overcome standard roadblocks to protect your built environment.
Dana Fedeli, Director of Advocacy, Kensington Olde Richmond Heritage/Neighborhood Preservation Alliance
Quentin Stoltzfus, Director of Strategic Planning, Kensington Olde Richmond Heritage/Neighborhood Preservation Alliance
According to the Coalition Against Hunger, one in four Philadelphians go hungry every day. Although there is enough food and potential garden space in Philadelphia, thousands of people struggle to feed their families; impacting the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of our entire city. In response to this, there are many organizations that are battling hunger through organizing, advocacy, and educational programming. From farmers’ markets to food pantries to Sunday suppers, the movement towards food security has been growing in Philadelphia and has made food access for all a more attainable vision. But how do we build on the important work of food assistance programs and pantries, and further develop communities’ self-determination for growing and maintaining their own food?
Participants will be able to understand their positioning in their local food system and how to organize and elevate resources for growing and finding affordable and healthy food in the city.
Ashley Richards, Community Planner, North District, Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Unit 1: Urban Agriculture. Food security means having reliable and easy access to affordable, nutritious food. Beyond providing fresh produce and healthy food to residents, urban gardens and farms are beautiful community assets that offer safe spaces for recreation, physical activity, and community building. Learn how to support a community garden in your neighborhood.
Nancy Kohn, Director of Garden Programs, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Unit 2: Food Buying Alternatives & Supermarket Advocacy. Are there other ways to get grocery store items without shopping at a supermarket? Yes! Learn about two Philadelphia-based models from SHARE Food Program and the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM). SHARE’s community-driven alternative to buying food at a grocery store allows residents to purchase grocery packages for 40% below retail price in exchange for community service hours. APM’s innovative bulk food buying club improves food access by bringing fruits and vegetables into communities at lower prices by utilizing the public Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM).
How do you get a supermarket in your neighborhood? Learn about the rules of thumb of supermarket attraction, and how organizations can advocate to get supermarkets in their communities.
Steveanna Wynn, Executive Director, SHARE Food Program
Bridget Palombo, Food Buying Club Coordinator, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM)
Dawn Summerville, Director for Commercial Investment, Commerce Department
Final Projects Presentations
You present a project that you or your organization is working on--or a “wish” project-- to get feedback from the group and to meet the “final project” requirement. (You can also submit your course project in writing instead of giving a presentation).
We will also have community planners from the Planning Commission available for roundtable discussions. This is a low-stress way to get public speaking practice and have an informal networking opportunity with your classmates!
Depending on how many people want to give presentations, we can include other topics the group is interested in, such as how to hold successful meetings or how to assess community assets. The group will decide!
Attendance is optional and will not be required to attain “Citizen Planner Certificate of Completion”.
The Wednesday night prior to the first class of each new semester is a social networking happy hour where participants in the upcoming semester as well as past graduates and come out and meet each other as well as connect with old friends. It's a great way to come to the first class as a new participant and recognize friendly faces.