Betty Jane Turner was a much-respected civil rights and community service veteran, who participated in CPI’s pilot course in 2010. She was one of the key residents consulted in the creation of CPI. Betty’s fundamental passion was to build community through relationships, particularly in her Germantown neighborhood. Betty was honored with the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Paul Philippe Cret Award in 2020, Germantown United CDC’s Pillar of the Community Award in 2016 and served on the Philadelphia Historical Commission from 2021-2021.
We will miss her boundless optimism!
Betty has been able apply what she learned about planning in the CPI course to set clear goals and objectives for community development within the community civic organization she helped form, Germantown Community Connection (GCC). GCC is a 501(c)3 macro civic organization in Germantown, that serves as the local representative for Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia – Germantown and as a Registered Community Organization (RCO) with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Betty has been able to put the information and tools from CPI classes to good use in the following initiatives of GCC and beyond.
Betty worked with developer Ken Weinstein of Philly Office Retail to establish a unique and renowned program that connects novice and less experienced developers with more experienced real estate professionals and provides acquisition and construction loans, not typically offered by area banks, for their projects.
Betty teaches the class on community relations, which is essential for developers to learn how to work with the community to build projects that fit with the community’s vision. CPI furnished Betty with knowledge about the development process to be able talk the talk with developers. For more about Betty’s work with Jumpstart Germantown, read her feature in the Citizens Toolkit.
Ken Weinstein leads a Jumpstart Germantown session
GCC acted as the community organization that agreed to open lines of communication between the community and a major project developer. Betty learned the importance of facilitating community input in the neighborhood planning process. This resulted in a project that included a supermarket, which is what the community wanted and needed. CPI helped Betty understand key planning elements such as identifying needs, organizing a planning team and identifying implementation steps, and holding successful community and ad hoc meetings.
Betty speaks to a huge crowd at a Germantown Community Connection zoning meeting
Nuisance Business Bill
Betty supported her fellow community members to get her Councilwoman to introduce a nuisance business bill, which makes business owners responsible for nuisance activity immediately outside their businesses (in addition to inside them). The bill was signed into law in September 2016 in Germantown and Betty was on hand to celebrate the occasion with Councilwoman Bass and Mayor Kenney.
Left to right: Councilwoman Bass, Mayor Kenney, and Betty Turner at the signing of the nuisance business bill
Pillar of the Community Award
Betty was honored with the Pillar of the Community Award from Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) in 2016. With this award, GUCDC acknowledged Betty’s significant contributions to the betterment of the Germantown community.
Betty poses with her Pillar of the Community Award
Betty is also the representative of a community organization on the Philadelphia Historical Commission. She was initially appointed by then-Mayor Nutter and then reappointed by Mayor Kenney for this role!
Classic Town Germantown
Germantown was designated a Classic Town of Greater Philadelphia by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in 2009 with Germantown Community Connection as the local representative. The goal is to promote Germantown as a great place to live, work, play, connect and invest. As a result of Betty’s participation in CPI, the GCC working team had access to planning knowledge, processes and tools that supported area mapping, permit information, conversation and ideas with appropriate City departments and other professional agencies as well as types of creative funding resources.
Germantown Community Connection, along with 20 other public and private organizations and agencies, entered into a working partnership for the development and implementation of a demonstration and education project with the Tookany/Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership to improve historic Vernon Park in the center of Germantown’s commercial corridor. The primary goals of the project are to
- build a volunteer base for regular stewardship of the park and
- promote communitywide environmental education.
Betty represented Germantown Community Connection when they joined the Tookany/Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF)
Betty credits her participation in CPI with honing her communication skills around planning—the kind of communication that involves listening, cooperation, sharing expertise, building on the positive, seeking solutions and focusing on results. In this project, the GCC has been interacting with City departments such as Parks and Recreation, Water, Streets and the City Planning Commission.
Peoples Editorial Board
Betty was selected as a member of The Daily News’ Peoples Editorial Board- a group of ten citizens who gather to debate hot topics in the City of Philadelphia. In their first debate, the Peoples Editorial Board commentary was to challenge City Council regarding four areas: Redistricting; Drop & Council Reform; Zoning Reform; and Youth Violence. Betty shares what she learned in the CPI about the importance of gathering information about specific neighborhoods and concerns to contribute to the conversation.
Betty speaks on a panel about gentrification
Betty sees networking as a tremendous benefit of CPI participation. In working on neighborhood projects in our own neighborhoods, she contacts other CPI participants in requesting resource information and planning activities that worked in other communities.
Most importantly, we share our honesty, encouragement and good will to continue to be involved and provide leadership for the betterment of our neighborhoods and our city.