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Spring 2019 Course Description

All classes include time for Q&A with presenters and an interactive group exercise at the end of the session. Download PDF of course description.  (Spring 2019 course application is open ONLY to previous applicants!)

Completing CPI makes you see the city, your neighborhood and your potential a little differently. Being around like-minded people gives you the drive to make a difference.

Core Session 1- Introduction to City Planning                              April 10, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

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 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. 

Laura Spina, Director, Community Planning Division, Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Unit 2: Destination Frankford

In her time as Executive Director of the Frankford CDC, Kim worked with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to develop “Destination Frankford”, a project stimulated by the district planning process. It led to the transformation of a vacant lot into the Frankford Pause Park and the redevelopment of the Daral Building into a community hub. Under Kim’s leadership, the Frankford CDC has become a valuable advocate for the businesses and citizens of Frankford.

Kim received the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations’ 2016 Rising Star award for her work in Frankford.

Kimberly Washington, Esq., Executive Director, Frankford Community Development Corporation

Required readingIntroduction to Planning in Philadelphia handout sent prior to the first class. 

Core Session 2- Zoning                                                                     April 17, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

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” from the zoning code:  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, CPI Director, PCPC
Andy Meloney, Senior Planner for Implementation, PCPC

Unit 2: Citizen Involvement. 
The Mantua Civic Association was formed to advocate for quality of life issues for residents and preserve the identity and history of Mantua. Mantua residents worked with Councilwoman Blackwell to rezone the area to keep long-time residents in the community and slow gentrification. Learn how the community also used its voice to keep large-scale development projects from negatively impacting Mantua.

De’Wayne Drummond, President, Mantua Civic Association

Core Session 3- Development                                                           April 24, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

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 square feet 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.  
HACE has invested over $100 million to improve the quality of life for residents of the Fairhill and St Hugh Neighborhoods. HACE’s two-prong community development approach was developed with a focus on using the commercial corridor with its unique Latino cultural character as an anchor to rebuild the surrounding core neighborhoods. The second component of their model targets programs and resources to the residential area, adjacent to the commercial corridor, to increase homeownership rates, provide affordable rental housing, preserve existing housing stock, build wealth through savings and homeownership, and develop partnerships with other entities to provide services to our low-income community.  

Learn about how they incorporate Crime Prevention through Environmental Design and Safe Growth Strategies to address crime, increase civic engagement and attract investments. Their work in the creation of a trail along part of the Conrail viaduct in Fairhill is helping to connect this community Casa Indiana Senior Housing and green improvements along North American Street.

Maria Gonzalez, President, HACE CDC (Community Development Corporation)

The Centennial Parkside CDC is taking the first steps to frame a development strategy which supports its goals of preserving housing and reducing vacancy. Learn how they are cultivating partnerships, collecting data, and prioritizing property acquisitions to be proactive!

Joyce Smith, Trustee, Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation, Citizen Planner

  • 2018 spring cpi class masked background



Special Topic class topics change each semester. If you are selected to participate in the course, you must take at least 2 of the 3 electives to earn your Certificate. 
Special Topic #1- Designing Places for Everyone                                May 1, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

Unit 1: Participatory Design
Good design bridges the gap between community vision and getting it built. A collaborative approach to design includes listening to what future users want, need and are concerned about. The public can only learn so much from a plan or a map presented at a community meeting. A conversation with the community of users contributes substantially to the long-term success of any public space. The language of design can help find common ground instead of being a barrier to participation.
Learn how to look more critically at public spaces—are they welcoming for everyone?

Sara Schuh, RLA, ASLA, Principal, SALT Design Studio

Unit 2: Rebuild and Resident Engagement

Rebuild is a historic investment in Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers, and libraries. These spaces, which have suffered from lack of maintenance and investment, provide critical services and benefits for Philadelphia residents, even in spite of the physical conditions of the facilities. David Gould, Rebuild’s Deputy Director for Community Engagement, and Kira Strong, Rebuild’s Deputy Director for Design and Construction, will discuss how Rebuild plans to include resident voices in decisions about what improvements are made to the facilities that Rebuild will be revitalizing.

Kira Strong, Deputy Director of Design and Construction, Rebuild Philadelphia
David Gould, Deputy Director, Community Engagement & Communications, Rebuild Philadelphia 

The Community Design Collaborative recognizes that historic sacred places support social cohesion, civic engagement and neighborhood equity. Their recent design competition- Sacred Places/Civic Spaces- selected the Philadelphia Masjid as one of three historic religious sites for a collaborative design process between volunteer designers and the community. The next stage will be raising funds and getting the project built.

Aazim Muhammad, President & CEO, Sister Clara Muhammad Community Development Corp. 

Special Topic #2: Reducing Litter                                                          May 8, Wed.6:00-9:00pm

Unit 1: Zero Waste and Litter
Philadelphia's Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet has been hard at work developing the tools, resources and policies to coordinate anti-litter and waste reduction across multiple city departments and community/business stakeholders. Please read the Cabinet's 2018 Progress Report to learn about everything that the Cabinet has accomplished in the past year. In this presentation for the Citizen's Planning Institute, Zero Waste and Litter Director Nic Esposito will cover how community leaders can get involved in the following ways to prevent litter and waste in their communities:

  • Reporting and preventing illegal dumping 
  • Getting more trash cans 
  • Hosting a Zero Waste Event 
  • Becoming a Philacycle Captain to spread the word on Zero Waste or a Block Captain to clean and green
  • Using the litter index to measure your success

North10 Philadelphia is committed to improving the overall quality of life in the Hunting Park and East Tioga communities of North Philadelphia. Learn about a new project designed to train and incentivize volunteers to get involved with street cleaning and trash disposal. The aim of the project is to show how community involvement in efforts organized and led by local non-profit organizations or businesses can be an effective method for keeping neighborhoods cleaner and healthier.

Nic Esposito, Director, Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet,
Josh Klaris, Executive Director, North10 Philadelphia and the Lenfest Center

Unit 2: Keep Philadelphia Beautiful
Keep Philadelphia Beautiful works to keep our neighborhoods clean and green through community service opportunities, education and working hand-in-hand with neighborhood-based organizations throughout Philly. KPB supports community cleanups, works with the School District on education programming and brings together local stakeholders to spread knowledge and take coordinated action.

Kelly Offner, Executive Director, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful


Special Topic #3: Coalitions - Working with other organizations       May 15, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm

There is power in numbers! A coalition is a group of different organizations working together to achieve a goal. Coalitions bring together groups with different strengths and types of people. The combination of all the organizations’ resources and people power in a coalition is greater than those of each individual organization. Working with other organizations also means there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen! Differences of opinion and conflict are inevitable, but they can be turned into a strength if handled properly.

Unit 1: When and how to form a coalition
Last September, the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities (PCAC) brought together over 60 organizations to get City Council and the Mayor to put $71 million toward affordable housing options over the next five years. And they’re not done yet! Learn from PCAC about when it makes sense to form a coalition, how to build one, the conflicts that can happen, and what coalitions can achieve.

Christi Clark, Organizing Director, Women’s Community Revitalization Project
Eboni Taggart, Community Organizer, Women’s Community Revitalization Project

The Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization of civic associations, creating a united voice to advocate around issues that affect Philadelphia residents’ quality of life. The Crosstown Coalition is working on a number of issues including these: providing input on Philadelphia's Housing Action Plan, exploring how the Zoning Board of Appeals weighs RCO input on zoning variances, and exploring ways to provide insurance protections to all RCOs. 

Brandy Bones, Vice President and Treasurer of Bella Vista Neighbors Association, member of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition and Citizen Planner. 

Unit 2: How to address conflict between organizations
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) is the nation’s oldest municipal agency dedicated to enforcing civil rights and anti-discrimination laws and peacemaking in the city.  Oftentimes, PCHR is called into neighborhoods to help address tensions before they escalate into violence.  In this unit, you will learn fundamental conflict management skills that PCHR staff use, like how to use listening to reduce tensions, which you can use in your organizations and in coalitions.

Randy Duque, Deputy Director, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations


Presentations & Pizza Workshop                                  
May 24, Wednesday, 6:00-9:00pm

Final Presentations
You give a 5-minute presentation on a project that you or your organization is working on--or a “wish” project-- to get feedback from your fellow CPI participants and professional city planners. This meets the final paper or presentation requirement. 

This is a low-stress way to get public speaking practice and have an networking opportunity with your classmates and professional city planners! Attendance is optional

  • 2017 spring happyhour 2
CPI Happy Hour!  April 3, 5:30-7:30pm 
(Location to be determined)

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 Citizen Planners meet each other and re-connect with old friends. It's a great way to be able to recognize friendly faces when you show up to the first class.

Find out when to apply

Become a Citizen Planner

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