CPI Spring 2015 Course: Application period now open

The Citizens Planning Institute has been envisioned by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to be its official education and outreach arm. The focus of the Institute is to educate citizens about the role good planning and implementation play in helping to create communities of lasting value. Through education, we are building a constituency for good planning. Thanks to a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, a Pilot course was developed and delivered in November of 2010. The series of three evening “Citizen Planner” classes provided ‘101’ level introduction on planning issues and principles, land use and zoning, and the development process. The success of the Pilot has resulted in the continued expansion of the CPI course series. Since the Spring of 2011, the full course has included three “elective” classes which change every session and a “course project” requirement. Participants successfully completing the three classes comprising the Core Course, two of the three electives, and the “course project”, earn a Certificate of Completion as a “Citizen Planner” of Philadelphia. At the Jan 20, 2015 “Power of the Plan for ALL!” 2014 course “graduation” and Phila2035 Progress Update, we honored an additional 60 Citizen Planners – bringing the total to 270 graduates representing over 100 different neighborhoods. The CPI has received funding support from the following: the William Penn Foundation, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. For information about supporting or partnering with CPI, contact Director Donna Carney at 215-683-4640; donna.carney@phila.gov.

Spring 2015 Course Summaries

Core Session 1- The BIG Picture- Planning in the City    April 15, 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 afuture vision, and get things done. At a city planning level, you will learn about the Philadelphia City Planning Commission 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 18Strategic 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.  An “action planning” groupexercise will get you started with your course project and learning from your fellow students.
Ash Richards, City Planner, Philadelphia City Planning Commission, [River Wards District Plan Manager]
Unit 2: Neighborhood Planning.  A neighborhood plan emerges from a planning process that both truly engages all stakeholders in the community and reflects a collective vision for the future of that community. Your “Philadelphia Neighborhood Planning Workbook” (provided at this session) outlines a DIY approach to doing a neighborhood plan. Another approach is to employ the services of a professional planning firm. Learn about methods ofcommunity engagement from a nationally recognized local firm and their experiences on therecently completed- “East Kensington Transportation & Community Development Plan” and other plans.
Stacey Chen, AICP, Senior Associate, Interface Studio
Core Session 2- Zoning and Land Use     April 22, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm
Unit 1: Zoning & Citizen Involvement.—Learn about the elements in the code that help preserve neighborhood character and the procedures for input by civic organizations on proposed development.  A small group exercise will help you gain an appreciation for other points of view, an important perspective for neighborhood leaders.  
Kiki Bolender, AIA, LEEP AP, Bolender Architects, Philadelphia; Chair, Design Advocacy Group  

Unit 2: 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. An overview of the zoning code will help you understand what zoning regulates, as well as what it does not. Real projects will be used to demonstrate three methods of zoning “relief”:   variances, special exceptions, and zoning remapping. Gain a better understanding of how to navigate the code from an applicant’s perspective– what the steps are to learn what can be built on a lot and what approvals a project needs.
Natalie Shieh, AICP, LEED-AP, Project Director, 30th Street Station District Plan, Amtrak

Core Session 3- The Development Process – Nuts & Bolts April 29, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm
Unit 1: The Development Process- the Private Side. John will help you sympathize with developers as he outlines the multiple elements of the development process in an easy to understand way. You’ll learn the steps to get projects built and the financial constraints all developers face. The roles of various stakeholders impacting development will be discussed through both small-scale and large-scale case perspectives. Our special guest speaker will provide an overview of the rapidly changing landscape of development in Philadelphia. John Mondlak, Senior Director of Real Estate Development, Commerce Department Special Guest Speaker: Alan Greenberger, FAIA, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Director-
Philadelphia Commerce Department
Unit 2: The Development Process- the Non-Profit View.    NKCDC brings life to abandoned buildings by providing affordable housing to first-time homebuyers and collaborating with city, state, and federal agencies on brownfield redevelopment. The creation of Coral Street Arts House is part of the NKCDC strategy of community-based improvements through the arts. This $7.5 million investment is part neighborhood stabilization catalyst, part economic development, and part affordable housing. The conversion of this former textile mill into quality, affordable live-work artist spaces has had an unanticipated positive impact on the social and cultural fabric of the neighborhood.  
Shanta Schachter, Deputy Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC)  

Elective #1- Climate Change Preparedness     May 6, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm
Unit 1:  What does Climate Change mean for Philadelphia? Discussions of climate change are often focused on long-term, global problems, but these changes will have big consequences here in Philadelphia.  Learn why climate scientists are projecting that Philadelphia will be hotter and wetter in the future and how you can be involved in adapting for these changes.  Preparing yourself, engaging your community, and advocating for policymakers to consider climate in their decisions will help make sure neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia continue to improve, even as the weather changes.
Sarah Wu, Deputy Director for Planning, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
Unit 2:  Getting Prepared… with the Water Department. The Philadelphia Water Department and other city agencies have teamed up to document flooding in the city and the short and long term solutions that can better protect neighborhoods, including green stormwater infrastructure, zoning and building code changes,
sewers and tanks, and climate adaptation. But the city’s greatest challenge is partnering with residents to help them better protect themselves. This presentation is being developed to tell the story to civic groups across the city. Feedback on its messaging, educational storyboard and call to action will be greatly appreciated.
Joanne Dahme, General Manager for Public Affairs, Philadelphia Water Department

Elective #2: The Land Bank & Community Access   May 13, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm
Unit 1: The Philadelphia Land Bank.  Philadelphia became the largest American city to establish a municipal land bank last December. The land bank represents a significant attempt to fix a broken vacant property process- with an end goal of putting thousands of vacant, underused, blighted and delinquent properties to new uses. Now comes the hard work of implementation- developing policies, transferring properties into the Land Bank from various city agencies, and making sure the process includes another way for communities to have a voice in decisions about vacant land. Learn how residents can
work with the Land Bank effectively and how to acquire property. John will include a walk-through of the new website so you can share with your networks.
John M. Carpenter, Jr., Deputy Executive Director, Philadelphia Land Bank

Unit 2: Community Land Access  
Participants will share in an action-oriented introduction to land access. They will learn to determine which landholding agency owns any particular parcel of land; name, plan for, and take specific collective or individual actions in their community towards increased land access and community power by taking their community through a campaign arc (including goal setting; creating a strategy; and identifying smaller steps) around gaining access to and building
community power around a particular piece of land.
Kirtrina M. Baxter, M.A., Garden Justice Initiative, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP)

Elective #3: Equitable Development      May 20, Wed., 6:00-9:00pm
Unit One: Equitable Development Strategies
While some areas of Philadelphia are booming, far too many Philadelphians live in communities plagued with vacant properties, poor housing conditions and a lack of economic opportunities. “Equitable development” is an approach to creating healthy, vibrant communities of opportunity for everyone. In this unit, learn about specific strategies that cities across the country have used to achieve three equitable development goals in changing neighborhoods: 1) Help existing residents and businesses to remain in place and capture the benefits of development and investment; 2)  Reduce the social and economic hardship changing neighborhood conditions may impose on the individuals with the fewest resources to adapt to change; and 3)  Allow the community to
remain economically and socially diverse and stable over the long term.
Karen L. Black, CEO, May 8 Consulting, Inc.
Unit 2: The Collaborative- a Case Study
The most effective way to cope with change is to help create it. Learn about “the Collaborative”, an ongoing LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Sustainable Communities Initiative effort within the West Philadelphia “Promise Zone”, which is convening community partners for positive, resident-led neighborhood transformation. How are neighborhood plans and resident involvement shaping strategies and future development? What are some lessons- learned that can be adapted in other parts of the city?
Donna Griffin, Community Capacity Builder Consultants

Presentations & Pizza Workshop     May 27, Wed. 6:00-9:00pm  
 “Course Projects” Presentations
You present a project that you or your organization is working on–or a “wish” project– to get feedback from the group and to meet the “course project” requirement. (You can also submit your course project in writing instead of giving a presentation. Templates will be available. Examples of previously submitted projects here: http://citizensplanninginstitute.org/materials) We will also have community planners from the Planning Commission available for roundtable discussions. This is a low-stress way to get public speaking practice and have an informal networking opportunity with your classmates!
Depending on how many people want to give presentations, we can include other topics the group is
interested in, such as how to hold successful meetings or how to assess community assets.  
The group will decide!
Attendance is optional and will not be required to attain “Citizen Planner Certificate of Completion”.

Additional Information:
 All sessions include time for Q&A with presenters and most include an interactive fun group exercise at the end of the
session to help you “lock in” what you’ve learned. You’ll receive handouts at each session, as well as a syllabus with reading suggestions prior to each class.  
 We pack a lot into each class, so it’s important that you plan to arrive PRIOR to the 6:00pm start time, to get settled, talk to your classmates and get some dinner! (included in course fees)
 To learn more about the instructors for each class, go the CPI website, “Classroom” page. http://citizensplanninginstitute.org/class  
Networking & Social event:
Wednesday, April 8: 5:30-8pm Location TBD….
(for accepted applicants)

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal