All posts by prentice34

PEC: Revitalizing West Philadelphia One Neighborhood at a Time by Jasmine Bullock


Trish Downey

The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) has been dedicated to serving the homeless population in the city of Philadelphia for 45 years. The organization began as a small, weekend, student service ministry in 1972. Volunteers came together with a donated budget of $12,000 to house families and couples. By the 1980’s, daily services and a full – time staff were available to families in need. In the 1990’s, PEC was able to provide not only emergency shelter for families, but also added transitional and permanent housing to their catalog of services and assistance. Expansion continued in the early 2000’s with the addition of youth programs as well as computer labs and technology courses.

In 1992, the People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC) was established. The CDC uses a holistic approach to community development in order to provide quality programs to the Lower Lancaster neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include Belmont, Mantua, Mill Creek, Saunders Park, West Powelton, and most recently Parkside. The approach to aid the CDC uses builds on the assets of the community while simultaneously responding to residents needs by collaborating and creating connections to resources and partnerships.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the PECCDC. Some of the successes of the CDC, described by the Manager of External Communications Trish Downey, include 11 annual Jazz Festivals that are free to the public, 50 new business on the corridor since 2002 which has decreased the commercial vacancy rate from 35% to 23%, and an increase in high school graduation rates from 52% to 74%.

Much of the success of PEC and the PECCDC is due to the abundance of programs they offer to families and individuals that seek to increase their human capital in the community. The majority of the programs offered are free to not only the residents of PEC but also to all residents of the city.

Some of the most popular programs include the arts and culture programs whose most popular event is the Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival, fitness programs that include nutrition classes as well as health fairs and a weekly food cupboard and digital literacy programs that include both youth and adult classes.

The Center for Employment and Training is also extensive. The program provides income support, financial counseling and employment training and placement in the neighborhoods PEC supports. The career readiness training includes courses in self-esteem, ServSafe certifications, customer service and sales, and computer literacy with a concentration in Microsoft Office. Upon the completion of career training, PEC ensures their participants continue to get support.

They are not only offered coaching sessions to aid in job searches but also continue to have sessions 18 months after finding employment to offer continued mentoring and advising to help participants keep the jobs they undoubtedly earned. Downey expressed that one of the most rewarding programs offered is the Community Connector program. Individuals participating in this program do street outreach. They travel to street fairs, health festivals and other events to share the resource and programs PEC has to offer.

PEC is able to maintain and continue to expand their programming because of the invaluable partnerships they establish with corporations, educational institutions, foundations and similar organizations. They are also connected to all the CDC organizations in the city of Philadelphia.  By maintaining these relationships, PEC is able to not only provide programming to various communities, they are able to aid various groups in their efforts to strengthen communities.

One special partnership PEC has is with Parkside’s West Park Cultural Center (WPCC). WPCC host’s GED classes at a PEC site. Downey described the class sessions as unique and specifically designed for the students. Program director Dr. Patricia Powell designed the class to function as a study group, focusing on areas students need the most help in. This allows those preparing for the exam to remain invested because they feel they are getting the help they need in a meaningful and personal method.

As PEC continues to grow, Downey has high hopes for the organization. It is her hope that as programming continues, the organization builds a new generation of advocates. They are fostering this growth by providing individuals with numerous volunteer and internship opportunities. PEC will also continue to be the human services giant that is strategic in their program offerings. They look to support those in immediate need, and continue to serve as many communities as possible, catering to not only homeless adults but also provide programming and awareness about homeless youth in the city of Philadelphia. Ultimately, Downey hopes that PEC will continue to be an agency that encourages citizens to live, and recreate in their home neighborhoods because of the great things that take place organically.



When A Tree Falls by C. Fox Collins

When you really think about it, “It’s all about the trees, trees are very significant.” These are the words that stayed with me after my meeting with Ms. Lori Hayes, Director of Urban Forestry for the City Of Philadelphia. Lori and her team are an important part of the tree Philly program. TreePhilly is an initiative of Philadelphia Parks and recreation that is dedicated to making Philadelphia the City of Arborly Love.

Lori has been in her position since the beginning of the year. She plans and coordinates tree operationsthroughout the city.

She oversees 8 geographical districts, 3 regional tree crews and the Tree Philly Program. Lori is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in Horticulture.

One of the tasks of the TreePhilly program is to give out yard trees to Philadelphia home owners. This is done twice a year in the Spring and Summer. The program has given out hundreds of trees. Lori and her Tree Crews handle all kinds of emergencies. When a tree falls they try to rectify the situation as soon as possible. The team also does a great deal of tree maintenance around the city to prevent tree failure. Assistance from the public is always helpful.

For immediate tree concerns citizens are encouraged to call 311. But there is also a stewardship unit; that includes 100 friends’ groups. Each spring and fall the city hosts ‘Love Your Park’ day. In her office there are many signs of Lori’s love of nature. One item stands out as she explains it’s significance to me.

It’s a picture taken in Germantown Philadelphia from the 1960’s. In the scene there’s a car that a tree has fallen on. She explains it was her grandfather’s car. And Lori was heartbroken at the time because her family did everything in that car. But she also tells me, that was her first tree job. She remembers a lot about that incident.

She also remembers when she started at Saul Agricultural School, Lori indicates it may be the largest vocational agricultural school in the country. What Lori finds most rewarding about her job is what she calls ‘The After’. After storm debris is removed. After fallen trees are cleaned up. After trash and old cars are dispatched from the parks. And after invasive plants are remove from native environments. ‘The After’ looks real good. Almost everything you want to know about West Parkside she can tell you. Lori managed the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center for many years, and she knows the history of the area. From the damaged caused by hurricane Hazel in the 50’s; the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, to the Virgin Mary visitation experienced by the young girls in the 1950’s. “ Lori Hayes knows it all.

Find Your Path” is the motto of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Lori invests some her time in helping young people, especially children of color to develop a love for nature in the city. The city does sponsor a few groups that do just that. One such group that comes to mind is Tree Keepers. This is a program for somewhat trouble youth who help remove invasive species from the park.

Speaking with Lori was informative. The last thing we discussed was how the Holiday Tree for City Hall was chosen. She explained that this year she submitted 4 choices of trees from Biglersville. The mayor could choose from the four she submitted. Lori spoke of her former mentor, who used to say, Look up. Look down. Look all around. I think we should all remember those words when we journey through our parks in Philadelphia. Happy Holidays to all.

Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Welcome Parkside Residents for “A Very Philly Christmas”

The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park have a popular longtime tradition of decorating for the holidays and entertaining visitors, and this season, four special days of special programming will be added to showcase what makes Philadelphia a very special place: great music, delicious food, family, and friendly neighbors. “Christmas in Fairmount Park” celebrates its 46th year of delighting visitors with this year’s theme, “A Very Philly Christmas.” Presented by Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, this holiday tradition will feature five of the park’s treasured historic houses – Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion, Lemon Hill Mansion, Historic Strawberry Mansion, and Woodford – each decked out in the season’s finest and offering special events on the weekends of December 2-3 and December 9-10. Information about visiting the houses is at

Parkside residents are encouraged to visit the historic houses for Neighbor’s Day, Saturday, December 9th from 10-4pm when the houses will host performers from the surrounding Fairmount Park neighborhoods-East Falls, Strawberry Mansion, Brewerytown, Fairmount, and Parkside.

Residents of these neighborhoods will receive free admission that day as well as free “in park” transportation via PHLASH’s special service exclusive to the historic houses on December 9th. Residents can find out more information and obtain their free tickets by calling 267-457-4944.

“The holidays are a time for entertaining, and the Historic Houses provide the perfect setting,” says Ed Miller, Historic Houses Coordinator at Fairmount Park Conservancy. “We are thrilled to offer events inspired by our city geared towards music lovers, food lovers, children, and especially, our neighbors. And we would like to send a special invitation to all Parkside residents to join us for this celebration.”

Cedar Grove, a 250-year-old stone farmhouse which served as a summer residence to five generations of a single Philadelphia family, is the historic house located closest to Parkside. Built by wealthy widow Elizabeth Coates Paschall in 1748-50, the house features an unusual two-sided wall of closets and many of the original family furnishings.

Cedar Grove depicts life as it might have been in the early 1800s. . Originally located in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, the house was given to the City of Philadelphia and moved to its present location in West Fairmount Park, stone by stone, in 1927. “The last family member to own Cedar Grove, Lydia Thompson Morris, wanted it to be preserved for the future in Fairmount Park and opened as a museum for the public to imagine the lives of early Philadelphians.”, says Justina Barrett, Site Manager for Historic Houses, Philadelphia Museum of Art. “We are excited to welcome Parkside residents to explore Cedar Grove during this holiday season and beyond.”

Cedar Grove is owned by the City of Philadelphia and administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Promotion and programming for the historic houses are supported through a partnership between the City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and various stewardship groups. Proceeds from the events support the ongoing stewardship, maintenance and promotion of these treasures. For more information on the holiday programming in Fairmount Park, visit To learn more about the history of Cedar Grove, visit


Ten Things To Look For In Parkside in 2018

Above is a rendering of What Centennial Village complex will look like.

Story by Manuel Smith

Since our launch in 2013, The Parkside Journal has covered the growing interest and literal rising-up of new construction, new activities, & new interest in our neighborhood. We remember the days when adding a new coat of paint to a home on the block was big news. Now some of these same homes are undergoing major renovations, while new projects are being built on land that was long vacant.  Like our neighbors, we’re celebrating this time of good fortune and progress for our area. Renewed attention from city leaders, realtors, and new neighbors in Parkside has been a long time coming, and we’re happy to see long-time promises of investments and new infrastructure come to light. But also like our neighbors, we’re concerned about how all of the new construction, new infrastructure, and new neighbors will affect us. Will these new projects affect our homes and their value? Will I still be able to afford to live close to my neighbors in the years to come? Will all of these new projects bring new opportunities for my family and friends? Will I still be able to enjoy my quality of life in Parkside?

These questions are legitimate. And to be honest, we don’t have all of the answers. No one does. That gets to the heart of why our Publisher, Michael Burch, launched The Parkside Journal in the first place. It was to ensure that we, as neighbors, are informed about all of the changes that are occurring in our community, and that we’re able to hear first about projects that we’ll want to support in the future. With this in mind, here is a list of nine projects under development, that we are aware of. These are by no means the only projects currently underway, merely the ones we are know about.

A list of nine projects to watch in Parkside for the upcoming year. These projects (and sometimes events), listed in no particular order are ones that promise great change for our neighborhood in the upcoming year. We’ll also give you our take on why they’re important and the reasons we’ll be following their progress closely.

We hope you will save and share this list with your neighbors and friends. And that you’ll help us keep on top of these developments and others by emailing us at We’ll get through this time of progress and change together, just like Parkside neighbors have always done.

Centennial Village/52nd. & Parkside

The plan: A mixed use development that is completely transforming West Parkside, with nearly 50 new apartments and retail spaces expected to come online in the Spring of 2018. However, it is expected that most of the buildings will be finished by the end of this year. People are booking into the housing units now. They have received over 200 applications for housing, most coming from the Parkside area. There is a long wait list at this time.

The Journal’s Take: We’re excited about this latest remake of West Parkside and glad that the developers are making this inclusive, with affordable apartments being made available.


EMSCO New Headquarters/Near 49th and Parkside

The Plan: The minority-owned firm that provides products and services to the scientific community plans construction of a $10 million dollar new headquarters building.

The Journal’s Take: Keeping our neighborhood business-friendly is the way to keep jobs and opportunities for development in our neighborhood. There’s still room for more business development in Parkside. If this project goes well, hopefully others will follow.


Centennial Commons/Parkside Edge/Along Parkside Journal

The plan: The Parkside Edge is the first of a two phase project called Centennial Commons. This project is the vision of the Park Conservancy. This is about more than just new swings, seats, and benches in the park. This project is improving community connections to the park through new crosswalks, bike lanes, and other improvements along Parkside to make it easier to access the park. Phase 1 will be completed in the spring of 2018.

The Journal’s Take: Our proximity to Fairmount Park is one of the neighborhoods’ biggest assets. We’re in support of anything that makes access to the park safer, especially for seniors and youth. This development is a game changer for Parkside.


Please Touch Museum Outdoor Expansion                                                                                                                                                                                              The plan: PTM recently received a design grant award from the Community Design Collaborative to create plans for a state-of-the-art expansion of the outdoor Please Touch Garden. The new area will include interactive play & programming space designed to engage and delight children in nature and provide opportunities for STEM learning.

The Journal’s Take: Fundraising for this project is scheduled to kick off soon, and we’re encouraged with the community outreach PTM has already done before shovels even hit the ground. They are showing that community input is valuable to their programs.


School Reform Commission Dissolved                                          

The Plan: Just before Thanksgiving, the SRC voted to dissolve, with the Mayor and City Council set to elect a locally controlled school board in the coming year.

The Journal’s Take: Parkside is home to at least two large charter schools already. Plus a new school from KIPP is projected to open on Parkside Avenue soon. Will a new school board approve more? Will these educational options change or improve for the students in our neighborhood?


Zoo New Main Restaurant/Philadelphia Zoo

The Plan: Officials from the Zoo are promoting a multi million dollar investment program, in which the start would be a new grand restaurant near the Zoo’s entrance that would also host special events and have evening access for the public.

The Journal’s Take: While final design is still underway, the Journal is encouraged by the community engagement on this idea already being led by Zoo Vice President Kenneth Woodson. There’s also the promise of more employment opportunities at the restaurant for neighborhood residents, plus a brand-new destination to take guests out to dinner!


Lancaster Avenue Redevelopments/Lancaster Avenue

The Plan: The People’s Emergency Center (PEC), has a long track record of building, maintaining, and supporting affordable housing options in West Philadelphia. Recently the community development arm announced a focus on five neighborhoods, Saunders Park, West Powelton, Belmont, Mantua, and Mill Creek.

The Journal’s Take: We’re excited to see this neighborhood corridor become invigorated with new life. Any additional marketing, planning, and support to keep the corridor alive is good for us all. PEC is off to a great start with which promotes the avenue as a destination.


Shofuso Japanese House and Garden/Lansdowne Drive and Horticultural Drive

The Plan: We believe one of the park’s hidden gems, right in our backyard, has been underrated for a long time. The team there has been working on building a superior calendar of special events along with additional community outreach to make the center more accessible than ever.

The Journal’s Take: This December, Shofuso extended their season to include new weekend hours through December 10. They will also host a Japanese New Year (Oshogatsu) event with fresh greenery, traditional decorations, and a winter kimono display. Complimentary green tea and slippers will be available to guests and free tours will share Japanese holiday traditions. Admission is only $2 for ACCESS Card holders, and free for active duty military members and children under


Ucity Square & Schuylkill Yards                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Plan: These two massive projects, at a cost of more than $3 Billion dollars, plan to remake two large portions of West Philadelphia, bringing more office and apartment spaces to the area. Both sites were formally pitched to Amazon by the city as potential location for their HQ2 plan.

The Journal’s Take: If 50,000 new jobs immediately came to this area, you can imagine what that might do to our property values, not to mention traffic and congestion woes. We’ll watch to see what occurs.


Former Mutual Life Building Development/46th & Market Street        

The Plan: Like the rest of West Philadelphia, we were disappointed in the Kenney Administration’s cancellation of the $200 million dollar-plus plan to relocate the headquarters of the police department here in favor of a new location in Center City. The promise of new jobs and activity on this long dormant corner will have to wait even longer.

The Journal’s Take: We’re cautiously optimistic here. Kudos to Mayor Kenney to being open about the process for future developments here. At a recent Spruce Hill community meeting, he says that the city is on track with choosing a new developer by April 2018. He also added that local and minority workers will be hired on any construction that will eventually occur there.


Update on Parkside Avenue Repaving Project

There has been a change in the schedule for full implementation of the Parkside Avenue Corridor Safety Project. 

The milling and pavement operation on Parkside from Girard Avenue – 52nd Street is well underway and the roadway will be restriped by PennDOT crews in early November. There will be a delay on the installation of the parking protected bicycle lane as we enter the winter. The striping will be completed in two phases: Phase 1 in November by PennDOT and Phase 2 in 2018 by the City. Phase 1 retains curbside parking on the both sides of Parkside Avenue and Phase 2 will install a parking protected bicycle lane on the north side of Parkside Avenue.

What you will see in November as part of Phase 1 will be slightly different than what was discussed in the previous blog post and stakeholder meeting. The parking will be at the curb on the northern part of Parkside and a two-way bicycle lane will be between the north parking lane and the westbound motor vehicle lane. This will be done in temporary paint to allow the City to come back in 2018 for Phase 2 and install the parking protected bicycle lane configuration.

Many pedestrian improvements will be completed in Phase 1 of the project, including improved pedestrian crossings at Belmont Avenue and as part of the Parkside Edge project at 41st Street, Marlton Avenue, and 42nd Street. 

The City will reach out with a final project schedule for the completion of the striping project in 2018. In addition, the Parkside Journal will report on this change for the information of the wider community.  With any questions, please reach out to Jeannette Brugger, the Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator for the City at




Parkside Avenue Repaving to begin The Week of October 23rd. 2017

Improvements Coming to Parkside Avenue

On 10/13, PennDOT announced in a press release (LINK that Parkside Avenue will be resurfaced this fall between Girard Avenue – 52nd Street. Parkside Avenue in those limits is a state road, which is why the paving is being done by PennDOT.

Resurfacing means that PennDOT crews will mill, or remove, the existing pavement and repave with new asphalt to provide a smooth roadway surface. Work will begin the week of October 23rd and continue for several weeks.

After the repaving is complete, the lines on the road will be restriped. You will notice that the lines will look different that before the repaving and will include pedestrian, motor vehicle, and bicycle safety measures.

Parkside Avenue is identified as part of the Philadelphia High Injury Network, which means that Parkside Avenue is a corridor with a high rate of traffic deaths and severe injuries. The City identified the High Injury Network as part of the Vision Zero Action Plan, which identified goals and actions towards decreasing traffic violence in Philadelphia.

The City focuses particularly on High Injury Network corridors for opportunities to change the design of the roadway to respond to a pattern of past crashes and prevent serious crashes in the future. You can find out more about the High Injury Network and Vision Zero at the Vision Zero Philly website: (LINK:

The new striping on Parkside Avenue will be completed by mid-November. The street will be reorganized to accommodate new safety measures for all users. There will have the same amount of travel lanes for cars, one in each direction, with a center turn lane. There will be new painted pedestrian refuge areas so that people who walk will have a shorter distance to travel across Parkside Avenue. There will be new bus stop areas for westbound busses in the parking lane to enable extra space to discharge passengers with mobility issues.

Finally, the north parking lane adjacent to West Fairmount Park will be offset from the curb to add a parking protected bicycle lane on the north curb. There are existing painted bicycle lanes on Parkside Avenue today. The new striping plan will move those bike lanes to the northern curb.

A parking protected bicycle lane exists in two places already in Philadelphia: Ryan Avenue and Chestnut Street. The bicycle lane is located between the curb and the parking lane to organize the vehicle space together with the travel lanes and increase the distance of people who walk and bicycle from moving cars.

If you have any questions or comments about the new street organization, please contact Jeannette Brugger, the City’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator at or 686-5521.






Contact: Naja Killebrew, Media Culture Marketing & PR, 215-518-6558

Outward Bound Supporters Rappel 29 Stories for a Great Cause 

Building Adventure Fundraiser Raises Money to Fund Education Programs for more than 60 Philadelphia Public and Charter Schools

Where:  Brandywine Realty Trust’s Commerce Square  (2001 Market Street, Phila. Pa. 19103)

When:  October 20th, 2017

Time:  8:00am – 5:00pm

Philadelphia, PA. – For  the sixth year, supporters will raise money for Outward Bound’s annual fundraising event- Building Adventure. This year the event takes place in Center City at one of the most iconic skyscrapers in Philadelphia, Brandywine Realty Trust’s Commerce Square. Participants will rappel 29 stories down to literally “go over the edge” for Outward Bound, reflecting their mission to change lives through challenge and discovery.

All are invited to attend the event and cheer on the sponsors and supporters who will challenge themselves AND help Outward Bound meet the Challenge of educating Philadelphia’s future leaders.

For more information log on to OR

About Philadelphia Outward Bound School

Philadelphia Outward Bound School (POBS) is a non-profit educational organization with a mission to change lives through challenge and discovery. POBS single day (insight) and multi-day expedition courses and programs engage students from across the region in challenging activities that develop and enhance leadership and personal life skills.  Outward Bound works with students – both youth and adult – in small groups led by skilled and trained instructors in unfamiliar and often remote natural settings. Outward Bound’s world renowned experiential education programs allow students to discover personal character and leadership skills and develop a commitment to service to others. Outward Bound’s vision is to inspire a new generation of leaders who have a strong understanding of themselves and their importance to their community.