After sifting through more than 200 phrases such as “the little hilly Philly” and “country charm in the city,” Paul Selbst finally found what he was looking for. He found a slogan that defined his Philadelphia neighborhood; it was a phrase that would put Roxborough back on the map.
At an announcement ceremony on Tuesday night, The Roxborough Development Corporation unveiled the new phrase to the public: “Roxborough: family, community and nature since 1690.”
Selbst, the award committee chair for the Roxborough Development Corporation, began collecting submissions from the community last year. The RDC set out to find a phrase that embodies the community and could eventually be used to develop a better branding technique and help to draw in business from outside the neighborhood.
“Other communities like Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill and Germantown get a lot of publicity,” said Selbst. “You seldom hear anything about Roxborough.”
He added, “And yet it’s a wonderful place. It’s rich in history, beauty of parks, churches, schools and it’s a stable, generally low-crime community.”
Staying true to the identity of the neighborhood
Entries from two local women, Jennie Tis and Marge Walsh, were combined to create the winning phrase for Roxborough. Walsh’s submission was: “Roxborough: traditional, family, community.” Tis came up with “where nature, shopping, dining and community unite.” Between these two, the committee came up with the final phrase.
Tis, said she feels the phrase embodies her experience in the neighborhood.
“I think because it was everything I loved about the area,” she said. “I think the community is caring and old-fashioned.”
After moving to the neighborhood in 2001 after she graduated from Villanova, Tis set out to start a life with her husband, Kevin.
Tis and Kevin, who have two young children, just bought their “forever home” in Roxborough. Tis said her slogan has everything to do with why she wanted to raise her family in the neighborhood.
“We do story time at the library, tot time at the Presbyterian Church, mom’s groups, Gorgas Park and shopping on the Ridge in strollers,” she said. “I love it here.”
Since Tis has lived in the neighborhood, she’s moved several members of her family into the community—her mother and sister-in-law live in Roxborough and her sister lives in nearby East Falls.
Tis, who is from Northeast Philadelphia, said she wanted to settle down in the city. Her husband was wary, since he was used to suburban life in Harrisburg. But Roxborough, she said, eventually won him over.
“It’s a good testament to Roxborough that he felt comfortable enough to buy a house we’d stay in forever,” said Tis.
Tis said she is happy to help the RDC’s efforts with her slogan and supports further development and branding in the neighborhood.
“I think if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward,” Tis said.
Placing Roxborough on a map
RDC executive director Bernard Guet said the phrase is needed to give outsiders a good feel about what Roxborough is about. Guet said, in his experience, Philadelphians from other communities can’t even place Roxborough on a map.
“It’s important that Roxborough is known not only in Roxborough but outside Roxbourough,” he said. “[Outsiders] know it’s a neighborhood in Philadelphia, but they cannot place it.”
Guet said other neighborhoods, like Manayunk, have done a better job with branding to promote their community. And the RDC hopes the slogan will make Roxborough better known to outsiders.
“[Roxborough residents] know. They’re living it,” said Guet. “They’ve been living it.”
Tis added, “I think it will help define Roxborough to people who have never been here.”
The phrase will be used for print promotion and has already been used in advertising for schools, Guet said.
Sylvia Myers, Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society vice president, said she feels the selected slogan represents Roxborough well, even though her submission didn’t win.
“The slogan covers the history of Roxborough,” she said. “I’m happy about it.”
Editor’s note: A previous caption identified Christopher McGill as being from St. Edmonds Federal Bank. It has been corrected to note that he is with East River Bank. Also, a previous version of the story stated that there was one winner. There were actually two winners, Jennie Tis and Marge M. Walsh. This has been reflected in the story.