Philly ‘crowd-funds’ its first municipal project

    Kids in North Philadelphia will learn about gardening, composting and the eye-popping deliciousness of freshly harvested food this summer at the Rivera Recreation Center at Fifth Street and Allegheny Avenue. 

    Even though the program will be run by the city government, a chunk of it is being paid for by people other than taxpayers.

    Here’s how it worked: Starting last year, the city proposed a few projects on the website Anyone could chip in to fund projects they liked.

    Patrick Morgan, a top official in the parks and recreation department, said the summer program was the first one that raised the $2,100 it needed. The money will go toward building a garden.

    “The money that was crowd-funded or crowd-sourced will buy the materials that’s really going to kind of bring this garden to life. So that’s fruit trees. That’s perennials. That’s strawberries,” Morgan said. “Once the garden’s built, we’re going to be working with youth ages 6 to 12, and they’re going to be growing plants in these raised beds.”

    Jose Borges, a high-school junior, boxes at the rec center five days a week. He’s excited about the summer program for a simple reason. The rec center, he said, is a safe haven for many kids.

    “More kids will be there,” he said. “The city, like … I don’t want to put it in a bad way, but a lot of bad things been happening. And I believe that the kids need to be safe.”

    What’s really fascinating, said co-founder Jordan Raynor, is that 50 percent of the project’s donations came from outside Philly.

    “We had a significant amount of donations coming in from all over the country,” he said. “From Boston to New York to Florida to the West Coast.”

    Raynor said community members can also suggest their own municipal projects through an online petition.

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