Resident of Strawberry Mansion and community advocate, Odessa Tate, has an eye for turning empty lots into community designed green spaces. Odessa is a member of All in the Family CDC, which her mother, Glenda Tate, founded in 1995. All in the Family collaborates with community members and groups to “improve and enrich the quality of life for residents within North Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion Community.”
One of the projects Odessa is currently working on is called Butterfly Park. The goal behind the project “is to turn a lot in the community into something beautiful.” This new park is being constructed in the space between 25th Street, Sedgley Ave., and West Dauphin St.
Butterfly Park "Before"
Designed by community members, the park will include a bench, a hammock, butterfly lights, and a sign welcoming visitor into the space. The inspiration for Butterfly Park came during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve never had a park that we can enjoy in our immediate area. We have no type of entertainment in our immediate community. Especially with the pandemic, everybody was restricted. There was nowhere to go for access and fresh air. You had to leave the community to enjoy spaces.” Just like a caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis and turns into a butterfly, Odessa is hoping the same will happen for the Butterfly Park.
In the future, Odessa would like to see projects like Butterfly Park all over Strawberry Mansion. Odessa noted that a few learnings from the CPI classes helped inform this project: community collaboration, knowing your audience, and being on the same page with other people in your community. She has been working with community members and CDC’s and RCO’s in her neighborhood to brainstorm more projects that make sense for the community. “We are all one community. We are in different areas of Strawberry Mansion, but we are all the same community, and we are trying to accomplish the same thing.”
Another exciting project in the works for Odessa and the All in the Family team is the Village Event Park. The effort began in the late 90’s when Odessa’s mother, Glenda, ran a garden club in the space. The members built a stage that they used during community events, next to the “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” mural by Mural Arts. Unfortunately, the house with the mural on it was torn down and the stage had to go as a result. Odessa noted that the space began to disintegrate quickly after that. Now, Odessa is ready to work with her family and community members to bring the space back. “We need to gather in a great outdoor space for community members. Make it believable, make it exciting, make it fun…that they see this beautiful space that we have in our community.”
Current view of Village Event Park
Odessa credits Frankford Pause Park as the inspiration for Village Event Park. After a tour of the park, she sought grant funding to create a similar space in Strawberry Mansion. Odessa has applied for and received grants from the Community Design Collaborative and Feet First Philly to help with the planning and preliminary processes of creating the park. A connection the Community Design Collaborative came from a fellow CPI graduate in her cohort, Danielle Currica. She has also received support from her Councilperson, Darrell Clarke, who will fund the implementation of the park. As she awaits the design plans for the park, Odessa has been holding community engagement meetings to spread the word and get feedback from community members. “People are talking and showing their support…when it’s finished, when the park is actually there, I can just imagine the widespread joy.”
Site Plan option for Village Event Park designed by Yemima Arbouet.
Site Plan option for Village Event Park designed by Yemima Arbouet