In late February, southwest Germantown residents gathered inside the Southside Church Center to celebrate the neighborhood’s new partnership with the PhillyRising Collaborative, a grassroots-steered program aimed at improving quality-of-life issues in struggling swaths of the city.
Now, it’s time for neighbors to start rolling up their sleeves.
On Thursday night, residents returned to Southside to put a finer point on what problems they’d like to tackle first. They also started forming committees to help connect to solutions.
Neighborhood beautification was, not surprisingly, a hot topic.
For years, trash has been a big problem, but residents also want to address abandoned cars, vacant lots and graffiti.
Discussions about a pair of auto-body shops, both of which have multiple stacks of tires out front, took up a few minutes of Thursday’s meeting.
Bridging residential and commercial
In dealing with problem businesses and homeowners, Assistant Managing Director Jim Sanders told the group that the program — run out of the Managing Director’s Office — aims to inform and educate before things gets punitive, usually in the form of fines.
“I’m not a sheriff,” said Sanders, the liaison between the neighborhood and City. “I’m not deputizing anybody.”
Residents plan to meet with local businesses so that they are aware of the PhillyRising partnership and, hopefully, want to get involved with the efforts that come out of it.
It’s all part of the program’s “holistic” approach towards neighborhood improvement that centers on stringing together “micro-steps.”
“It’s not all going to happen in one day,” said Sanders.
In the coming weeks, residents will send Sanders a list of spots in the neighborhood that need attention. He’ll then see what city department or agency would be best to contact about resolving that issue.
The program is also organizing a walk-through with various city agencies so that residents can point out what Sanders calls “areas of opportunity.”
Following the meeting, attendees appeared optimistic that PhillyRising could make a difference in the area.
“You just keep crawling, putting one foot in front of the other and chip away at it,” said longtime resident Alvena Melton. “Some good is going to come out of this.”
Keeping neighbors focused, said Wayne Avenue hair-salon owner Nache Young, will be the key moving forward.
“You got to stay with it,” said Young, “not just talk about it.”