If you were outside of McPherson Square Library in Kensington last night, you would have seen a bustling playground, families heading to a graduation ceremony and Mayor Michael A. Nutter with Managing Director Rich Negrin throwing a football to neighborhood kids.
A few months ago, this area was nicknamed “Needle Park” by Kensington locals. Ridden by drug use and crime, McPherson Square Library was no place for a football catch.
Playing a role in this transformation was PhillyRising’s Citizens Engagement Academy. Held at McPherson Square Library, the academy invited commissioners and deputies from agencies across the city to speak about various functions and city services. Just as important, these officials fielded questions and heard from community members about the challenges they faced.
The graduating class of 21 people (in addition to their supporting family members) filled the library with enthusiasm and excitement for the future. This enthusiasm nearly doubled when Mayor Nutter walked into the room to present the certificates and thank participants for their commitment to the community.
Mayor Nutter had a reason to be proud of the graduating class. Throughout 8-week duration: all 21 participants became Philly311 Neighborhood Liaisons to record and communicate neighborhood concerns; two members became block captains; and a few banded together to establish a town watch group.
In just a few months, McPherson Square was home to an invigorating transformation stemming from the collaborative efforts of city agencies, organizations and officials. The people who should take all of the credit, however, are the community members who have committed themselves to improving their neighborhood; these people are the ones who will keep Philly rising.
Congratulations to the graduating class!