As I navigate another turn in life, one that has led me away from a newsroom and into the college environment, I can honestly say this new job for PennPraxis at University of Pennsylvania has much in common with the daily newspapering I did for 32 years.
I am the managing editor for PlanPhilly.com, a new city planning and urban design web site for Philadelphia and the region that is both up and running and under development. It is an experiment in project journalism being conducted with transparency and at the highest level.
By year’s end, it will be the sole portal citizens can use to find timely news about major projects being planned or that are under way in the city. It will also be a place to learn about, and participate in, the challenges and opportunities that our developing city faces.
The first project that we will undertake with PlanPhilly.com is the plan for the Central Delaware Riverfront that was recently announced by Mayor Street. We invite you to participate in this civic engagement effort to design the public’s waterfront – both in person at a series of public meetings and forums planned for early 2007 and on-line through this website.
I will also be looking for former journalists and aspiring citizen journalists to help with breaking news and enterprise reporting for PlanPhilly. We intend the site to be active, changing and nimble.
As we move forward, PlanPhilly.com will actively engage Philadelphians in dialogue about the future of this great city on issues such as the next mayor’s race and urban development.
We want PlanPhilly to be a tool that educates and connects citizens, developers, business people and politicians alike in a discussion about what a world-class 21st century city should be.
As we move forward, we will be engaging conversation, both in person and through the internet, with groups of ordinary citizens who care about the future of the city.
Eventually, we will move beyond a seven-mile stretch of waterfront and convene forums to conduct a future of the city exercise on what Philadelphia would/could look like if it were the next great world-class city. As a practical exercise we would examine what had to change, who had to make that change happen and what ideas Philadelphia could borrow from other world class cities to get to that next great level.
We would bring people involved in the project together for training and discussions and data from those forums would provide content for the interactive web site, identify folks who could be essayists and help us identify best practices and get at the roots of issues and the possibilities for future solutions. Essentially, this group, drawn from the city and its suburbs, will be the vanguard for a team of citizen journalists we will recruit, train and equip.
I look forward to working with you and for you as we move forward on this project.