by Michelle Freeman
Philadelphia is comprised of over 100 neighborhoods, each with its own identity and charm. From a media standpoint, there are many neighborhoods that are left under reported on or even misrepresented however, in any neighborhood you look to, you’ll find engaged residents who desire a safe place to live who are continually working toward improving their communities.
Across neighborhoods throughout the city, parks are being maintained, new businesses are opening, and new development is underway.
In 2011, Flying Kite Media deepened its coverage around neighborhood news and began to explore the possibility of transforming vacant spaces into pop-up community media hubs.
With very limited funds and a desire to connect directly with people across the city helping to move their communities forward, the On the Ground program was born.
The On the Ground program aims to dive deep into changing neighborhoods, uncovering the people, places, and businesses that contribute to its vitality. The Flying Kite team embeds itself in a neighborhood for a period of 90 days, bringing a currently vacant space alive by creating a temporary media hub that hosts meetings, events, art exhibitions, and open office hours.
Since the fall of 2010, Flying Kite Media (www.flyingkitemedia.com) has been engaging with and reporting on growing companies, emerging talent, innovation, development, and community transformation in the Greater Philadelphia region through its weekly online magazine.
The overall outcome of the On the Ground program and a goal of Flying Kite’s are to make stronger connections between Philadelphia neighborhoods while bringing to light the growth and development happening in the city and the people who are responsible for this progress.
When the On the Ground program was initially piloted, Flying Kite worked in Mantua, Frankford, Germantown, and downtown Camden over the course of one year. Once we physically moved onto each neighborhood, we continued to maintain relationships in the previous locations and communities we resided in. This allowed us to continue to provide occasionally cover in Flying Kite and provided us the opportunity to connect neighborhoods to one another.
Flying Kite’s team is thrilled to report that their On the Ground program is up and running once again, as of this summer, and has landed in Parkside. Made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Flying Kite will take its On the Ground program to four of the five neighborhoods that the Fairmount Park Conservancy is initiating their Re-Imagining Civic Commons initiative, which will activate some major public space projects over the course of several years.
The On the Ground program plans to connect with residents, business owners, and community stakeholders in Parkside, Callowhill, Strawberry Mansion, and the Bartram’s Garden area. Flying Kite plans to expose neighborhood assets through its weekly coverage and at its pop-up locations, which will serve as a gathering place and resource for the communities they serve.
The On the Ground program takes a multi-angle approach with the ultimate goal to highlight, connect, and engage. It serves as a conduit and outlet internally for the neighborhood but outwardly as a destination for people citywide to come visit, gather, discuss, and work.
You can visit the Flying Kite team at their current On the Ground location, A Poet Art Gallery, 4032 West Girard Avenue on Mondays and Fridays from 11 am – 6 pm and can also connect with them online at http://www.flyingkitemedia.com.
Michelle Freeman is the Publisher of Flying Kite Media (flyingkitemedia.com) and also owns and operates a marketing and events firm, Witty Gritty (wittygritty.com). Follow On the Ground’s work at #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).