‘Love Your Park’ Event Aims for Community Building Around Green Infrastructure Projects

In this post, Amanda Krakovitz, a recent Penn State grad now working with the Philadelphia Water Dept. through the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and SERVE Philadelphia program, talks about an event she helped plan to build community engagement around Green City, Clean Waters projects in South Philly.

Amanda Krakovitz helps provide information about the Green City, Clean Waters program and upcoming projects.
VISTA Amanda Krakovitz helps provide information about the Green City, Clean Waters program and upcoming projects.

By: Amanda Krakovitz,
SERVE Philadelphia Water Ambassador

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Friends of Mifflin Square are teaming up this year on November 12 for Love Your Park Day, a city-wide volunteer effort dedicated to cleaning up our parks that’s organized by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

PWD and the Friends group are taking the lead on the clean-up of Weinberg Park, located at 6th and Jackson Streets, just a block from Mifflin Square. Volunteers will meet at noon and help pick up trash, paint benches with Mural Arts and learn about upcoming green infrastructure projects in the park. There will be a rain drop building activity for kids and drinks and snacks for everyone.

Weinberg Park is special for PWD because it is a future site for green stormwater infrastructure improvements being made through the Green City, Clean Waters program. New green tools—a tree trench and stormwater bumpout—are being designed for Weinberg to manage stormwater and add landscaped features to the park.

We’re joining in on the Love Your Park fun as a way of connecting with community leaders, organizations and residents in order to join forces and maximize what can be accomplished for the park and surrounding community.
Because Green City, Clean Waters represents a new way of thinking about how we manage stormwater in our neighborhoods, PWD looks for new and creative ways to engage with communities. Community outreach begins as early as two years prior to the start of construction in order to make sure residents are informed and their thoughts can be heard.

In addition to the Weinberg Park event, PWD volunteets will be helping out in Harrowgate, where we recently completed four new rain gardens. You can sign up for that event here.

PWD’s involvement in local events like Love Your Park is just one small example of how we’re finding new ways to interact with residents and community organizations.

This year, PWD is incorporating the vision of AmeriCorps VISTA into Green City, Clean Waters outreach.

The mission of the AmeriCorps VISTA program is to empower communities and people by helping them develop resources and come up with ways to make things better. Working together, VISTA and PWD want to help communities start a dialogue about how they can play a role in shaping local infrastructure improvements and make the most of Green City, Clean Waters investments that can bring benefits like climate change resiliency to their neighborhoods.

An important part of the VISTA program is helping communities to build networks, relationships and skills that will serve the neighborhood long into the future. As a Volunteer in Service to America, I believe empowerment is at the foundation of lasting community development: progress and change happen when community members know they have the ability to make change happen. This involves the community knowing that their voice is heard, that it is powerful, and that it matters.

It’s important that community members see Weinberg Park as their park—and we need their input on how the space is used and what they want to see to make the planned improvements a success.

An event like the November 12 Love Your Park cleanup might just seem like a nice way to take care of a local green space, but gatherings like these can create real opportunities for community development that might not happen otherwise.
While the main goal of outreach is to inform communities about upcoming Green City, Clean Waters projects and encourage support for the program, the work can achieve much more than that. Community outreach efforts work to connect groups that otherwise might not work together.

It builds relationships among those working to make our city better. Outreach can also establish trust between the City and communities, and it helps to empower neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

And, while the Love Your Park talk will focus on Weinberg Park improvements, more than a dozen green projects are also in the works for nearby streets, including 2nd Street, 4th Street, Front Street and Water Street.

We hope that getting residents involved in the Weinberg Park process will help build a community of neighbors interested in providing input on future Green City, Clean Waters improvements.
If you want to get involved, head over to the Love Your Park page and register for the Weinberg Park event.

The Friends of Mifflin Square will be organizing efforts at both Mifflin and Weinberg, and are looking for 30-40 volunteers to help out with projects such as collecting litter and recyclables, raking leaves, bench painting, and cleaning the playground.

Add your name to the list by visiting the Love Your Park page. Hope to see you there!

More: See our flyer below, which includes Laotian, Khmer and Spanish: