As a leader in her north Philadelphia community of Strawberry Mansion, Tonnetta feels privileged to be in a position to represent this historic neighborhood on various projects. Like other neighborhoods in Philadelphia, it has experienced crime, blight and a shortage of resources. However, through the resiliency and tight network of its residents, and the determination of community groups and stakeholders, Strawberry Mansion is experiencing growth and revitalization.
Tonnetta now serves as president of the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to neighborhood preservation and community involvement in residential and commercial development. Her programming has empowered residents to preserve their neighborhood’s history and explore new opportunities for growth.
As an instructor for a Fall 2014 CPI elective class, Tonnetta shared her organization’s efforts and eventual success of getting a local cultural landmark restored—the SEPTA “Bus Barn”, a former trolley depot built in 1905. Threat of demolition mobilized the community to form the CDC with restoration of the Barn as their first project. The process of mobilizing, fundraising, and building relationships to completion took nearly 10 years. Here are some key lessons Tonnetta shared:
Tonnetta acknowledges that it may take longer than you anticipate to get a project done, but if you stick with it and are willing to learn, you’ll be rewarded!
July 1, 2017: Civic Commons: Spreading opportunity to the whole city
July 26, 2016: Home Repairs Help Keep People in Their Homes
May 10, 2016: Strawberry Mansion Defines Its Boundaries
December 16, 2015: Strawberry Mansion's secret lake reborn as a kid paradise
December 2, 2014: Community Group Ensures Developers Listen to Residents
September 29, 2014: Strawberry Mansion: 5 People Making Positive Change
June 18, 2013: Strawberry Mansion community turns vacant lot into garden
January 8, 2013: Strawberry Mansion Unites to Save Two Schools