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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    I have spent the past eleven months in neighborhoods in North and South Philadelphia learning about the experience of residents living near closed schools and their hopes and fears for future reuse of the buildings I also have heard from city planners developers nonprofit leaders and policymakers about how they are thinking about these schools in the broader landscape of neighborhood change and metropolitan development What s a school s worth My preliminary findings suggest that the ways people define the value of schools to neighborhoods vary and that these competing definitions can lead to tensions in school closure decision making and the building reuse process First and foremost the functional value of a school is in its role as educational infrastructure the place kids go to learn But I was surprised to find that the role of schools varies across neighborhoods In some neighborhoods schools are key pieces of social infrastructure for parents and students In others they serve a broader neighborhood community as a gathering space resource center or social hub Sometimes the school is the only institution left in a neighborhood that over the years has seen employment centers churches and even public recreation centers close School closures mean a loss of a safe community space leaving many neighborhoods more isolated and depleted of resources The functional value of schools as a community space is closely tied to its symbolic value Schools represent a public commitment to a civic or communal institution closures symbolize disrespect and disinvestment not only in education but also in the public realm that many neighborhoods have experienced for generations The shift in function of the buildings signals and reinforces perceptions and fears of neighborhood change be it disinvestment and isolation in parts of North Philadelphia or increased investment and development pressures with ripple effects of cultural displacement lack of affordability and limited parking in South Philadelphia These trajectories of neighborhood change are related to the monetary value of schools Many numbers are cited to express this value the Office of Property Assessment assessed value the district s asking price and the final sales price None of these numbers come from a simple calculation however and were the subject of public and private debates by city leaders Ultimately the market determined sales prices which were not necessarily well aligned with either the assessed value or asking prices Some have argued they re not even well aligned with the actual value of the land Thus the monetary value of the school is seen as a function of its surrounding neighborhood market conditions Neighborhoods that are stable or are experiencing population growth and increased market demand such as South Philadelphia saw schools purchased quickly Schools in neighborhoods with weak markets deep poverty and high vacancy such as North Philadelphia did not Credit Ariel Bierbaum Broadening our perspective A school s worth to a neighborhood is captured by some combination of all three of these values But without a conversation about which value takes priority planning

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/08/04/more-than-just-dollars-and-cents (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    management cost estimation implementation child development play recreation therapy nature play environmental education public policy public health community advocacy or families who use child care Registration for the design competition opens September 30 2015 and closes November 30 2015 Learn more more about the competition sites and this juried design competition with prizes When you register you ll receive in depth information about your chosen site Here s an introduction to the Play Space design competition sites Select your site and start building your team on Learning Landscapes Free Library of Philadelphia Blanche A Nixon Cobbs Creek Branch Cobbs Creek 5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway The Blanche A Nixon Cobbs Creek Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is one of 25 Carnegie Libraries built in Philadelphia in the early 20th century to open up libraries to communities Located on a green half acre site on Baltimore Avenue the library s name honors a mother community activist and library volunteer who helped teens resist the pressure to join gangs in the 80s The library continues its legacy of community engagement serving over 49 000 residents in 2014 The addition of an innovative outdoor play space has the potential to expand the library s capacity to serve as a safe place for education recreation entertainment technology and community gathering both inside and out Reclaiming Recreation Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Waterloo Recreation Center Norris Square 2501 Waterloo Street The Waterloo Recreation Center a mid block site cobbled together in 1955 from vacant land and the former Waterloo Street has more than once been closed due to drug related crime and vandalism The resilient community has most recently reclaimed their space through a city council and nonprofit led effort which has transformed and successfully re opened the center An adjacent vacant lot could be

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/09/11/play-space-design-competition-sites-announced (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    children to have surveillance baked into their childhood What would it have felt like for me as a kid if my babysitter was 10 feet away while we made mud pies and butt jokes in the back yard What is this control that we have over the children simply by witnessing their every move and how does it affect the potential for their play I was hooked And the hook dug deep right into the gut A short sad history of the city playground Playgrounds emerged in major cities at the turn of the century when industry brought families into the urban space from their rural homesteads Cities needed places for their children to play to keep them occupied during the day but also out of the way of one of the greatest hazards to childhood then and now traffic Slides and climbing structures were tall and exciting Staff known as Parkies distributed loose parts before they were called such balls bats jump ropes etc and brought the items in at the end of the day As we all know over the century city playscapes devolved The Parkies were dropped as was the height and interest of the climbing structures But kids deep down I will argue are still basically the same as they were in those pre industrial rural days They are active they are curious smart and wicked they enjoy challenges of their own creation When given the opportunity and the proper conditions kids will climb hide build dens make up stories maybe practice swearing take risks they will build a world and culture of their own What kinds of spaces can our cities and towns provide to compensate for what their lives have lost independence freedom privacy as the world around them evolved and changed The question stands as importantly now as it did then I found an answer in The Land A mess junk and sometimes sunlight a glamour shot of The Land Re embracing the mess and the junk I had read that The Imagination Playground was informed by something called adventure playgrounds in Europe As I looked deeper I began to hear more about The Land a junk playground in a working class community in North Wales The Land embodies an interesting paradox it both reminded me of the ways I played as a child yet stood in striking contrast to the landscape many kids face today An eight foot privacy fence surrounds its perimeter hammers goopy mud and fire pits take the place of slides and swings And at the heart is a dedication to the idea that children can and should control the content and direction of their own play that they are capable of creating a play environment on their own and should be supported in doing so Despite or because of the mess and the junk the play I witnessed at The Land was familiar it was raw it was true I attempted to capture it in my film The

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/08/07/the-importance-of-playing-with-fire (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    for anyone interested in improving children s chances for adventurous play as is information on risk benefit assessments and an understanding of the difference between risk and hazard You can learn more about the essentials of playwork practice at our introductory workshop in Philadelphia on August 12th The Extraordinary Uses of Scrap At traditional adventure playgrounds materials and tools stay out and offer children a long slow process that they can return to day after day To introduce these ideas to a wider and more international audience we developed the pop up adventure playgrounds bringing as much of the spirit and freedom of a traditional adventure playground into public space These are free public celebrations of child directed play staffed by volunteers and packed with lots of recycled and ordinary materials such as cardboard boxes fabric tape and string Our use of scrap is intentional both because it keeps organizers costs down and because it reminds everyone that you don t need to spend money to have a wonderful time For many there is something immediately familiar and gettable about cardboard boxes Parents will recollect Christmas mornings when their children played with the box longer than its contents or recall their own childhood afternoons spent building forts in the living room yard or abandoned lot These memories are powerful enough but during all community events something extraordinary happens people play together Since the first one in New York City s Central Park 2010 they ve been held in more than a dozen countries around the world and cities including Shanghai Bogota Mexico City and Cairo Each is different and yet in each children and their families are able to quite literally build community through play Forts Dens and Hand Drawn Signs Children usually start with individual box forts or dens

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/08/04/pop-up-adventure-play (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative – blog
    of Design Grants Awarded for 2015 The Community Design Collaborative is proud to announce its newest Design Grants The Collaborative will work with AMY Northwest Middle School on Growing to Greatness a Read All Article Heidi Warren Starfinder Foundation Clad in utilitarian metal and distinctly lacking high quality design Starfinder Foundation s building offers just one exterior clue that it is an organization worth noticing Read All Article Transforming Philadelphia s Schoolyards Next Monday the Community Design Collaborative and Philadelphia Water will be releasing Transforming Philadelphia s Schoolyards a how to guide that presents the stories of Read All Article Inside Philly s New Land Bank The pro bono preliminary design work done by the Collaborative is often linked to the reuse of vacant buildings and land We and the communities we serve share the same goal as Read All Article Dan Meier Engineering a Greener City You cringe there s not an inch of green says civil engineer Dan Meier about some of the schoolyards he s seen as a Collaborative volunteer It s just this big paved Read All Article PA Neighborhood Restoration Act Intern architect and Community Design Collaborative volunteer Lea Oxenhandler spoke at a recent press

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog?page=7 (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    community together and our design work primarily focused on how to transform the lot into a park for the community The community started the day with a green stormwater management workshop by the Philadelphia Water Department followed by a cleanup of the vacant lot Then it was time for face painting a live DJ and a surprise birthday cake for Sister Rose Martin Hope Partnership s executive director Syreeta Martin event director writes The community that we serve has often times struggled to hold on to a sense of hope which was proven when one of our neighbors declared We don t have a name Just call us the Community of Lost Hope Since that very moment we have worked to reveal the Face of Hope to our neighbors through our educational offerings While our 90 graduation rate confirms that we are on the right track to revealing the Face of Hope in the minds of the children and adults that we serve we believe that there is always more that can be done and as always it takes a village With the dedicated help of our friends like Jim Butts and those at Philadelphia LISC PerformRX the Asociación Puertorriqueños

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/07/28/first-hope-community-day (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    in a summer 2016 installment of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society s popular Pop Up Garden Historic Germantown Elephants on the Avenue Race Class and Community in Historic Germantown Using the arts as a catalyst for community dialogue and engagement around race and class in Philadelphia s diverse Germantown neighborhood this multi part project will join artists such as Benjamin Volta and poet Sonia Sanchez and historians from across the US to create public art installations educational programs and community events Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Hank Willis Thomas Philadelphia Block Project Conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas will recreate a city block with a series of 1 1 scale photographs of North Philadelphia s people and buildings installed in the galleries of the PPAC inviting audiences to consider issues related to gentrification and setting the stage for public forums and a crowd sourced neighborhood image archive and exhibition The Village of Arts and Humanities SPACES International Artist Residency Initiative at The Village of Arts and Humanities The Village will host two accomplished West African social practice artists Kwasi Ohene Ayeh and Olanre Tejuoso during residencies in which they will collaborate with north central Philadelphia s families to design and execute a public

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/06/18/express-yourself-new-pew-grants (2016-04-24)
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  • Community Design Collaborative –
    and Frankford four blocks to the north is the location of a neighborhood landmark the Community Women s Education Project CWEP A railway viaduct with a wide empty right of way lies between the two intersections The Collaborative s volunteers worked with Somerset Neighbors for Better Living an active community group within the New Kensington CDC service area on a conceptual plan for the two gateways and the blocks in between Our conceptual plan proposes a shared vibrant vocabulary of street trees and planting beds fed by stormwater sidewalk bump outs and street art at the two intersections Welcome signs and a bold wall and road mural can turn the railway viaduct into a neighborhood connector rather than a barrier A full menu of streetscape improvements between the intersections adds continuity and diverse neighborhood public spaces outdoor seating and a rain garden in front of the food coop a public art installation and sitting area an urban tree training center a community garden and additional play space stormwater infrastructure and plantings at CWEP The conceptual design includes ideas for early action projects and longer term investments in infrastructure It is part of an overall effort to green and improve public

    Original URL path: http://cdesignc.org/blog/2015/06/01/gateways-to-lehigh-somerset (2016-04-24)
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