FIRST VALUE SESSION COVERAGE
A big turnout for first values session in Kensington, Monday Dec. 11 … full story
Sitting in on Northern Liberties values discussion … full story
How Fishtown and Port Richmond reached consensus … full story
see the slideshow of photos above and see video from the forum, voices from the public realm and video from Fox 29
We also want your feedback about the values that came out of Monday night’s session.
Two months ago, Mayor Street called for the formation of a diverse advisory group and charged it with the task of overseeing the creation of a master plan for the Central Delaware Riverfront.
The mandate called for that vision to be embraced by the people of Philadelphia through a civic process that balances the public good, a working river, access to the waterfront, open space, and quality urban development.
Monday evening, that civic engagement began in earnest as more than 200 neighbors, businesspeople, developers, professionals, laborers, and public officials came together in cavernous St. Anne’s Social Hall in Kensington to kick off the first of a series of public forums and share what they value most for their neighborhoods and the Central Delaware River waterfront. see photos
The facilitators for this open and transparent process, PennPraxis, of Penn’s School of Design; Harris Sokoloff, an expert in civic engagement with the Penn Graduate School of Education; and the Philadelphia Planning Commission, see the public meetings as a way to capture and use the voice of the people to help lay the foundation for creating a lasting vision for that waterfront.
At last night’s “value sessions,” citizens gathered and talked very candidly about what’s important to them about the waterfront. They discussed, argued about and shared their ideas about how neighborhoods and the city should value and intersect with the riverfront. A contingent of longshoremen made it clear that they were concerned that a new riverfront plan might not protect their jobs. The confluence of I-95 and the waterfront communities was a front-and-center subject, slots were on many minds, as was traffic and parking, historic preservation, green technology. Oh, and did we mention casinos?
“A lot of people make a family sustaining wage because of the Delaware River. It is a working river. Certainly we can co-exist but we haven’t seen mention of us from anything that has come out of here,” said James Dugan, secretary/treasurer of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1242. “We need land to keep a competitive port. We can’t lose facilities.”
According to Sokoloff, the concern the longshoremen voiced about jobs talks directly to the engagement process. “It’s a quality of life concern and this process is meant to find a way to get those values out,” he said. “By participating in the process they can advance what is important for them.”
The main “values” or takeaways from Monday night’s discourse were as diverse as Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.
1. Safety – children can play outside, you can walk in the neighborhood
2. Family values – small businesses that thrive, places to worship, locally owned businesses.
3. Easy access – you can walk or bike or bus to it.
4. Diversity – ethnic, lifestyle, multi-generational, economic, diversity of uses, architecture.
5. Open space and green space – public spaces, playing spaces.
6. History – existing neighborhoods, old buildings, old architecture. Historic identities.
7. Jobs – river related and ports related jobs. Jobs for youth.
8. Green technology – work with the environment.
9. The plan – looking for something that protects the values already mentioned.
10. Recreation – using water and land where they meet. Recreation for families.
11. Affordable housing – for seniors.
“Deliberation requires a thoughtful consideration of different views on an issue. It involves weighing the pros and cons of each view, working through different perspectives, and seeing where people agree and disagree,” Sokoloff said in describing the purpose of the forum this evening.
“Those areas of agreement – what some call common ground – become the basis for common action. The fact that people from different special-interest groups deliberate in public to create common ground enables them to work more constructively with each other to decide what trade-offs they are willing to make and to resolve areas of tension. This builds a stronger sense of the “public” in a community.”
Philadelphia council member Frank DiCicco, one of the driving forces behind the waterfront project, made it clear prior to last night’s meeting that a citizen-driven project was essential to setting the record straight once and for all on the future of the riverfront.
Monday night’s forum was marked by participation from many points of view and different geographies, which made for richer deliberations and allowed more points of view to be heard. It also appeared to build stronger trust among groups as people learned they share many basic ideas, even if they disagree on the specifics of implementation.
The issues were framed in a way that they were clearly connected to the concerns and interests of the community as a whole.
In choosing among alternatives, it became clear to the participants that they will have to make some difficult choices. But tonight’s process also showed that those choices are also connected because they are based on related values and in making difficult choices, the participants found they shared more common ground than they had expected.
Sokoloff, who set the tone for the evening, made it clear to the entire group that a neutral moderator and a clear set of ground rules are essential to productive deliberation. Listening well was a major goal.
He said the moderators would guide the deliberations, making sure that all participants have an opportunity to share their ideas and that no one or two people dominate the forum.
Deliberation was facilitated by the moderators calling for the participants to weigh the pros and cons of each choice or scenario. The moderators kept the conversation focused on the choices and made sure that all the choices are analyzed.
The evening’s exercise concluded with a group presentation that characterized certain goals and led to a sharper understanding of the common ground, or shared direction for action, that emerged through the deliberations; a clear statement of the tensions the group found in the choices discussed; and a sense of the trade-offs the participants were willing to make related to the forum issue.
“I think this is a fantastic display of civil will,” said Penn Praxis Director Harris Steinberg. “An example of civic support for what will ultimately be a wide and lasting vision for the Central Delaware.”
The three citizen engagement session scheduled for this week grew out of walks, talks and meetings concerning the fate of the riverfront.
In the last two months following the mayor’s call, there has been the formation of a 45-person Central Delaware Waterfront Advisory Group; three riverfront walk-and-talk sessions; City Council briefings; a Delaware Avenue tour at rush hour with New York City’s preeminent traffic consultant; a full-day tour of New York City waterfront renewal sites; and ongoing meetings with citizens and businesses that have a stake in the Delaware River’s future.
“Citizens’ values are at the heart of civic engagement,” reiterated PennPraxis director Steinberg. “In order to truly create a citizen-driven civic vision for the Central Delaware, the values, hopes and dreams of Philadelphians must serve as the bedrock upon which all future plans are made.”
WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK
Praxis is also looking for feedback on the value sessions.
On the website you will find a link that shows you top values came out of Monday’s forums … CLICK HERE
Your answers will be posted instantly.
Using the values produced in each session, the questions are:
1.) Give us examples of these values in your neighborhood?
2.) What could you do to strengthen them?
3.) What gets in the way of them?
You will be asked to identify yourself but we would not publish email addresses.
TWO MORE FORUMS THIS WEEK
Please remember, there are two more value sessions this week:
Wednesday: 6:15 to 9 p.m., George Washington Elementary School, Fifth and Federal Streets. Registration and light refreshments start at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: 6:15 to 9 p.m., Independence Seaport Museum, Penn’s Landing. Registration and light refreshments start at 5:30 p.m.
The forums are open to the free and open to the public. RSVP at www.planphilly.com/registration or by fax to 215-573-9600. Include your name, address, neighborhood, phone number and e-mail address.
These values forums will be followed in late January with expert presentations by professionals from around the country who will share their waterfront design and planning experience in areas like landscape design, transportation infrastructure, housing and development, and the reuse of industrial sites. In early February, citizens will come together to marry citizen values with expert knowledge to develop common-ground planning principles for the design of the Central Delaware.