Category Archives: Environment

Visit Shofuso Japanese House and Garden during our Extended Hours


Philadelphia’s “Park Champion” has a New Leader

by Jasmine Bullock

Jamie Gauthier is the new Director of the
Fairmount Park Conservancy

Since 1998, the Fairmount Park Foundation, now the Fairmount Park Conservancy, has invested millions of dollars in the Philadelphia park system. The organization is a “Park Champion” and has been so effective because of its understanding of the importance of parks to our city’s neighborhoods. The Fairmount Park Conservancy takes pride in increasing public awareness of the park’s role in contributing to the health and vibrancy of neighborhoods in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Today the Park Conservancy works very closely with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to develop and implement projects and programs that support, improve, and enhance Philadelphia’s parks. One of its premier programs is the Oval at the Art Museum that provides not only a play area for children, but also a beer garden and food truck hub for adults over a six week period during the summer. The Conservancy also works closely with community groups and over 115 Friends groups. The Conservancy aids in forming new groups and in sustaining and supporting existing groups dedicated to their neighborhood parks.

As of July 2017, the Fairmount Park Conservancy is under the new leadership of Jamie Gauthier. Gauthier is a native of Philadelphia who began her career at DuPont working in the field of accounting. During that time, she had a desire to do more meaningful work that helped cities and specifically the struggling communities of Philadelphia.

With a growing passion to work intimately with the community, Gauthier embarked on a graduate degree in Urban Studies and Planning from University of Pennsylvania. With a new career focus, Gauthier gave almost ten years of service to the Local Initiative Support Coalition (LISC). LISC is a national non-profit organization that provides capital from private sources to promote and support low income housing projects and community revitalization. Gauthier described LISC as a great place to learn but wished to serve in more of a leadership position.

Gauthier then became the Executive Director of the Sustainable Business network, a “Chamber of Commerce for socially conscious businesses”, as Gauthier describes it. After four years with this group and her recognition of the new potential that the new Philadelphia soda tax would provide, she decided that now was the right time to make a career change.

She made the decision to take the leadership position with the Philadelphia Parks Conservancy in order to take advantage of the Rebuild Initiative that was the direct result of the revenue produced by the soda tax. Rebuild is a $500 million program designed to revitalize neighborhood parks, recreational centers, playgrounds, and libraries across the city.

The funds are acquired from both the soda tax and private donations. Gauthier’s vision is to “connect and partner with the city to see the mission come to pass”.


Reading Terminal Market will provide cooking demos, food share with fresh produce and more,

PHILADELPHIA – The first-ever Parkside Fresh Food Fest will come to life this summer thanks to support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and collaboration between the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (Centennial CDC) and the Viola Street Residents Association (VSRA).  The festival will bring healthy, fresh food to Parkside residents via a food share program and cooking demonstrations from Reading Terminal Market, as well as live entertainment and activities for families.

The series of six events begins Thursday, July 6 and will be held on Viola Street between 41st Street and Belmont Ave in West Philadelphia. The Food Fest continues on select Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. until September 21 (July 6, 20; Aug 10, 24; Sept 14, 21).  The series seeks to use food as the foundation to build community, utilize common public space, and provide Parkside residents with access to fresh food.

“Every community in Philadelphia should have access to fresh, healthy food, and Reading Terminal Market is committed to helping facilitate that,” said Anuj Gupta, General Manager of the Reading Terminal Market. “Using food as an avenue for diverse communities to come together is at the heart of what we do at the Market. We want to thank Knight Foundation for involving us in this project and highlighting the need for community gathering spaces for relationship building in Philadelphia.”

In addition to the Reading Terminal Market cooking demonstrations led by Chef Tess Connors, attendees can participate in organized art activities, bicycle safety workshops from the Indego Bike Share, and a Philadelphia Free Library Book Nook for children. Activities will vary each week and may include live music performances and a movie night.

The idea for The Parkside Fresh Food Fest was born from a community-building program hosted in the neighborhood last summer – the Viola Alley Connector, part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative. Reading Terminal Market used this event to gauge resident interest in a potential subsidized Community Supported Agriculture service for East Parkside. Thus, the food share concept was born.

Each food share includes fresh fruit, vegetables, locally-sourced eggs and/or dairy, and an assortment of other grocery items from two merchants at Reading Terminal: Iovine Brothers Produce and Fair Food Farmstand. Participation in the food share program requires a subscription, which may include either a six-event ($50) or four-event ($35) subscription, but some limited single shares ($10) will be available at each event. Information on each item in the food share package will be included along with a recipe card.

“The Parkside Fresh Food Fest is helping to support the wider goals of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, bringing neighborhood residents and organizations together in one of our city’s great public spaces to promote collaboration and new ideas,” said Patrick Morgan, Knight Foundation program director for Philadelphia. “This project leverages the early actions as part of the Civic Commons and takes them to a new level to improve our civic assets and community connections.”

The Centennial Parkside CDC and VRSA are involved in the local Reimagining the Civic Commons Initiative, a pilot program supported by the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation, which seeks to connect public spaces such as parks, plazas, trails and libraries to bring together people from different backgrounds. The initiative expanded nationally additional partners in 2016. Centennial Commons, located adjacent to Parkside, is one of the five sites included in the initiative.

“I’ve lived in Parkside for 10 years and am in love with the neighborhood and its beautiful people,” said Joyce Smith, Development Coordinator of Viola Street Residents Association. “The general vacancy on our blocks is something the VSRA has been trying to tackle, and I’m thrilled that the Knight Foundation is implementing wonderful programs like the Fresh Food Fest. Some challenges of living in this area are the lack of a commercial district and stores to find healthy food. This is going to be a great resource for our neighbors and I look forward to seeing its impact.”

The Parkside Fresh Food Fest is made possible through funding from Knight Foundation, developed in partnership with The Centennial Parkside CDC, PennPraxis, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and All About Events.

About Reading Terminal Market

One of America’s largest and oldest public markets, the Reading Terminal Market serves as a public trust providing a venue for independent local businesses to showcase the Philadelphia region’s culinary bounty and cultural diversity. Housed since 1892 in a National Historic Landmark building, the Market offers an incredible selection of farm fresh produce, meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, confections, flowers, kitchenware, cookbooks, jewelry and crafts. The Market is managed by a not-for-profit management company as a tenant of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, which has owned the historic Reading Terminal since 1990. In 2014, the American Planning Association named Reading Terminal Market as one of the 10 Great Public Spaces in America.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

About the Viola Street Residents Association

VSRA was founded in 2009 by a group of pro-active residents advocating for positive improvements in the East Parkside neighborhood through beautification, civic engagement and community revitalization enterprises. Through resident driven initiatives the civic seeks to empower the community by helping residents take ownership of community building initiatives. VSRA’s goal is to generate strength by connecting the community to resources and building on local assets.

About the Centennial Parkside CDC

Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (CPCDC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit community development corporation located in the East Parkside neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The organization responds to a long-standing need for a Community Development Corporation in East Parkside that can align resources and leverage partnerships to spur equitable revitalization in the Community. CPCDC was established in 2015 with the intention of promoting an equitable development strategy that sustains an economically and culturally diverse community, improves the health and well-being of residents, strengthens the community’s identity and connectivity to Fairmount Park, and enhances the quality of the physical environment.

Contact: Alex Styer  Bellevue Communications



Fairmount Park Conservancy Breaks Ground on Centennial Commons Project

By Michael Burch


Last month there was a special ceremony held on Parkside Avenue in Fairmount Park. It was the groundbreaking program to formally recognize the start of construction on Phase 1 of the Centennial Commons project. This venture is a major initiative of the Fairmount Park Conservancy.  This project is designed to create a more welcoming public space along Parkside Avenue from 41st and Parkside to Belmont Avenue.

If you are a regular reader of the Parkside Journal, then you may be somewhat familiar with the project for we have often written about its planned start. The new layout designed by Studio Bryan Hanes will include innovative play spaces for kids and young people, seating areas, a rain garden, and better access for Parkside residents to nearby cultural institutions. The groundbreaking took place on April 20th and is considered the physical start of the project. The expected completion time will be the Fall of 2017.

Centennial Commons is part of the national Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, which seeks to counter growing economic and social fragmentation in our cities by revitalizing and connecting parks, libraries, community centers and other public spaces. In 2015, Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Conservancy and local partners embarked on a three-year, $11 million pilot project of Reimagining the Civic Commons, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. The project has since added additional partners and expanded to four other cities. The work that has begun is only Phase 1 of the Centennial Commons project, called “Parkside Neighborhood Edge.” This work will make it easier for pedestrians to cross Parkside Avenue, where they will be able to rest on new bench swings and benches or stroll among new ornamental plantings and trees – including 68 new shade trees and over 42 species of perennials, grasses, and shrubs covering 67,000 square feet.

“Centennial Commons is an outstanding example of what happens when our public agencies work together to bring innovative projects to our Parks and Recreation facilities,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “I want to thank the leadership at Parks and Recreation, Water Department, Streets Department, and Commerce Department for sharing my vision for a cleaner, greener city for all Philadelphia residents. I also want to thank Fairmount Park Conservancy, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and William Penn Foundation for their leadership on the Centennial Commons project.”

After speaking to the larger audience gathered the Mayor found the time to stop and talk to us and answer a few questions. I asked him what his thoughts were on the Parkside community and how this new park will enhance the neighborhood.

“I see Parkside as a jewel that’s in need of a little bit of polishing” said Mayor Kenney. “The Parks and Rec people have done a good job maintaining but they we were in need of an infusion of outside resources. Every neighborhood in our city should have amenities like this, a place where our elderly, can come and relax and where our children can enjoy recreational activities.”

Mayor Kenney continued to elaborate on other related issues such as how funds from project rebuild will help fund Parks, libraries and recreation centers around the city. Many local residents were on hand for this event. This was a big deal in Parkside. Residents are pleased to see the improvements to the park but many are uncertain as to what it means to their futures. Updates to the park system in Parkside is wonderful but just across the street is the Parkside community. A community that has suffered through years of disinvestment. It remains to be seen how this new park will positively affect the people that live here. One resident asked me at the event “what does this mean for me, I don’t use the park and I still don’t have a laundromat around the corner.”

Joyce Smith from Viola Street Residents Association and Centennial Development Corporation had a speaking role at the ceremony and represents the community on many issues.

Joyce Smith knows the improvements are going to make the park more user friendly, but she also hopes this will lead to greater investment in the part of the community where the residents live and not lead to the removal of current residents. Longtime residents Joe Clark and Harmon Thurman also have fond memories of the Park and both are concerned about the community’s future. These longtime residents have been the stewards of this community and the park for many years. Let’s work together to bring about a bright future for Parkside.




INDEGO Bike Share Expands Into East & West Parkside

By Cara Ferrentino & Kiera Smalls

Warmer months are coming and there will soon be a new way to get around Parkside! The City’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems has been working with Parkside community groups to gather resident input about the program and station locations, and has been thrilled by the positive response.

This spring, Indego will be expanding to Parkside Avenue as a new option getting around, for fitness, and for fun. You will be able to pick up a bike in Parkside and ride to any of the other ~100 stations across the city, or return the bike where you started.

A group of bikers ready to take a spin! (Photo Source: IndeGo)
A group of bikers ready to take a spin! (Photo Source: IndeGo)

Indego means:

InShape—A new way to exercise

InBudget—Cheaper than gas at $15 for as many 1-hour rides as you want for 30 days straight

InControl—Buy a pass with cash or credit online

InTime—Available 24/7 and year round, on your schedule

Independent—Indego is made for exploring and connecting with the community

Stay updated by visiting or catching a future issue of the Parkside Journal. Please contact Cara Ferrentino at 215-686-9001 or to discuss Indego’s partnership opportunities and upcoming ‘learn to ride’ class series.

Remember riding a bike is FUN! You have to try it to believe it! It’s not only convenient and cuts down the wait time you spend in traffic or waiting for the bus; biking also promotes healthy living and freedom to travel more efficiently, with the wind in your hair, and a smile on you face. Our Bikes are built to be sturdy, with built in lights, baskets, and bells. Explore, exercise and connect with your park, family and neighbors!

Indego Bike Share is Expanding in Spring 2016

by Cara Ferrentino

The City of Philadelphia is expanding the Indego bike share network in spring 2016 and is developing plans to serve Fairmount Park and nearby neighborhoods, including East Parkside.

What’s Indego? Indego is a network of public bikes that can be rented for short periods of time – your affordable and fun way to get around. Check out a bike at any station, ride to where you want to go, and return the bike to any station. Tired of spending so much money on gas? want to reach your fitness goals while having fun? Bike share is for you!

The City is seeking feedback from residents: do you have suggestions for where Indego should be placed to serve the area? Stations need to 6 feet by 60 feet of clear space (about three car lengths) in a sunny, visible location. To share your ideas, please contact Indego Bike Share Program Co-Manager Cara Ferrentino at or 215-686-9001.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.59.12 PM
Ms. Cousar and Rev. White of Christ Community Baptist Church check out one of the Indego bikes at a recent event.

Bike share was recently a topic of conversation at the November East Parkside Residents Association meeting, and the City will be presenting about the program at additional East Parkside and area community and civic gatherings this winter to answer questions and gather input from residents.

Whether you’re a mother of three, community organizer, student, or senior, Indego make getting around town easier and more affordable. Cash, debit, or credit? Our cash program allows you to get your monthly pass at participating 7-Eleven and Family Dollar Stores and internet access is available through KEYSPOT locations.

Still not sure if bike share is for you? Read this:

  •  Indego bike share is for everyone

Whether you’re a mother of three, community organizer, student, or a senior, Indego makes getting around town easier and more affordable. Cash, debit, or credit? Our cash program allows you to get your monthly pass at participating 7-Eleven and Family Dollar Stores and internet access is available through KEYSPOT locations.

  • Indego is affordable

$15 a month for an unlimited number of 1 hour trips! That’s less than a week’s worth of tokens. As long as you dock your bike within an hour, your next hour is still free. Grab your friends and family and make it a group event!

  • Indego is perfect if you haven’t ridden a bike in 20 + years

Remember the fun you had riding your bike as a kid? That feeling does not have to be a thing of the past. Our Bikes are built to be sturdy, with built in lights, baskets, and bells. Explore, exercise and connect with your park, family and neighbors!

  • Bikes and cars can get along

Bikes and cars can get along as long as everyone is attentive and follows the rules of the road. Nervous about riding a bike again? Start offnear the parks and on trails.

In the spring, Indego will be offering ‘Adult Learn to Ride’ and ‘Urban Riding Basics’ classes to teach you about bike safety and get you comfortable with riding again.

  • Riding a bike is FUN!

You have to try it to believe it! It’s not only convenient and cuts down the wait time you spend in traffic or waiting for the bus; biking also promotes healthy living and freedom to travel more efficiently, with the wind in your hair, and a smile on your face.

To learn more visit

Pope in Philly: City changes Trash Pickup Schedule

As the city prepares to be showcased on the World Stage for the upcoming Papal Visit, Philadelphia’s Streets Department is making an effort to inform residents of the suspension of trash and recycling collections citywide on Friday, September 25 and Monday, September 28.

Residents with Friday and Monday collections must hold their materials until the followi6248051765_3e6d385da8_zng week. Many residents assume collections are cancelled just in Center City. Unfortunately, due to the scale of the event, all city sanitation crews will be deployed to work for both pre and post cleanup efforts.

To accommodate residents that cannot hold their materials, the department is extending the operating hours of the city’s five Sanitation Convenience Centers starting Tuesday, September 22 through Sunday, October 4 from 8am to 8pm. The centers will accept 24 bags per vehicle and an unlimited amount of recycled materials.

The closest center to Parkside is the West Philadelphia Location followed by the Southwest Philadelphia location. Let’s all do our part to ensure that our streets stay clean, during this important event, and for all of us in the days after!

List of Sanitation Convenience Centers:

  • West Philadelphia
    5100 Grays Ave.
    Google Maps
  • Strawberry Mansion
    2601 W. Glenwood Ave.
    Google Maps
  • Southwest Philadelphia
    3033 S. 63rd St., near Passyunk Ave.
    Google Maps
  • Northwest Philadelphia
    300 block Domino Lane, near Umbria St.
    Google Maps
  • Northeast Philadelphia
    State Rd. & Ashburner St.
    Google Maps