The goal of the plan—which you read about here earlier—is to convert 500 acres of vacant, urban land into green space by 2015. Some of these acres will be converted publicly owned land, but a great many acres will be greened by private institutions.
Nutter told the audience of green professionals and advocates to be proud of their efforts in making Philadelphia a green-thinking city. It was the green movement, he explained, that presented the most organized front during the 2007 mayoral primaries and demanded that the candidates be not just blue democrats, but green ones.
As part of the unveiling, Nutter asked the audience to consider what type of city they wanted to live in. Was it one of tree-lined streets, parks, and safe spaces where neighbors are friendly? Though the answer is obvious, for 700,000 residents in the city the dream of safe, tree-lined streets is largely unrealized.
When PennPraxis took to the streets to begin the research for Green2015, the first question they asked residents was, “what is your park?” For residents in West Philadelphia, the lower Northeast, Oak Lane, south Broad Street, and the industrial north the answer was, “I don’t have a park.” It is the primary goal of Green2015 is to provide safe, green spaces to these residents. To not have such access, Nutter explained, is to perpetuate inequality. But Green2015 is about more than providing places to swing and chase butterflies.
The conversion of vacant lot to green space is also about safety, well-being, and a city-wide revitalization that would lead to increased property values and economic development. Achieving these goals depends not just on investment from the city and private institutions, but on civic engagement. From putting up flower pots to planting community gardens, residents will be expected to take control of their communities.
DiBerardinis explained that members of the community will be recruited for everything from imagining the design of greens paces, to discussing function, to planting trees, and participating in educational programs about how to maintain the spaces and their unique features like orchards and gardens. He believes that when people take on roles of stewards of their public spaces, they develop a sense of community pride.
Perhaps most importantly, Green2015—like Greenworks—encourages residents and city planners to look beyond the first 500 acres and envision the future of the city. It marks this administration’s push to eliminate the myopic view of urban planning that has stunted growth and solidified certain inequalities in favor of a far-sighted and sustainable view that protects resources and enriches neighborhoods well into the future.