Category Archives: Neighborhood History

Our Dreams, Our Future Dinner Recap Who was there? What happened? What did we learn? Next Steps.

by Nora Elmarzouky

On February 25, 2019, the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation hosted the Our Dreams, Our Future East Parkside Community Dinner at the Greenhouse of the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. This was part of a community engagement effort, designed and led by in site collaborative, to bring
residents together with experts across Philadelphia to design community development projects using the lens of the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line takes into consideration people and planet together when considering profit and addressing concerns in the community.

Over 120 people attended starting with visiting the community fair to learn about and get involved with 10+ organizations and initiatives happening in East Parkside including Viola Street Garden, Revival Center, PHL WeWalk, East Parkside Residents Association, Mt. Vernon CDC, Tree Tenders, Trash Academy and more.
Attendees were asked to add their personal stories to a map and a timeline and also asked to respond to 16 different topics of interest/concern identified in the neighborhood each with four questions. The topics included: arts and culture, youth programming, education, trash/beautify, dumping, community land trust/zoning,
vacant land / abandoned buildings, affordable housing/homeownership, farmers market, community gardens, energy/solar, green jobs/workforce development, inclusive economic development / commercial corridor, unity, health, and safety and security. Carmelita Catering supplied a beautiful three-course buffet, not without both a chocolate and caramel fountain.

Guests experts from across Philadelphia joined community residents including, but not limited to representatives from the Reinvestment Fund, Drexel University, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Solarize Philly, the Free Library, AARP, and City
Council candidate Jamie Gauthier.

The evening began with welcoming remarks from Executive Director, Chris Spahr and Board Treasurer, Ronald Coleman, followed by a song from Makeda McFarlane. Gabriella Paez, the Education and Community Development Coordinator at Esperanza gave the keynote about how they have integrated sustainability principles with community education to collectively build Huntington Park.

The community project design portion began with a debut of My Future, My City short film shot by students in the summer WorkReady program and put together by Josh Graupera of Bonfire Media.

Using the responses from the 16 different topics, attendees designed 10 projects. The 16 topics generated a total of 41 resources to learn from and 110 ideas. Youth programming and trash/litter were the topics most responded to.

The project ideas revolved around youth opportunities including arts, culture, and education of various types; neighborhood integration and multigenerational cooperation; health and neighborhood cleanliness and general atmosphere; and land
use and homeownership. Using an app called slido, the remaining participants shared their project ideas and voted on a financial literacy program for youth. This program is currently being developed with $2000 of seed funding from the Philadelphia
Foundation and the CDC – incorporating cooperative economic models and green economy principles – to implement in 2019 for youth in East Parkside. That night another organization pledged their financial backing as well.

According to some accounts, “It was an evening like no other. We have never done anything like this as a community.” Another person shared they had met their cousin they hadn’t seen in years. Most importantly, it brought people together to share a
meal, learn, and build together the community everyone wants feels included in. This information gathered can be used to inform programming and development in the East Parkside neighborhood that the CDC can use when developers are asking – what does
the community need? The data can also be used by community members to take on projects, programs, or new entrepreneurial ideas. Our Dreams, Our Future can be an annual event that both celebrating and reflecting on the past year and also planning for
the coming year.

All data collected during the dinner will be available on the Centennial Parkside CDC website soon. Photos from the evening are available on the Centennial Facebook page and Sulex Move Facebook page. Sign up to CDC mailing list and follow them on
Facebook to stay tuned to community events happening in the neighborhood.


It’s not just Coffee, it’s Starbucks in Parkside by Jasmine Bullock

On the heels of becoming a Blue-Ribbon award winner for a small
CDC by the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, Parkside Association President Lucinda Hudson is happy that the Parkside neighborhood will also soon be home to a Starbucks. Hudson described the coming of
Starbucks as “a long time coming.” She originally wanted to see the named brand coffee retailer at the corner of 52nd and Parkside sharing a lot with the long-awaited Centennial Village but was talked out of pursuing the venture because of the urban setting.

Now after the 2018 Center City incident at Starbucks, the company has instituted a new dedication to diversity specifically aimed at increasing its presence in urban settings. This spearheaded the decision to have a community store in Parkside. The new location will be in Park West Town Center adjacent to the Ashley Stewart
clothing store.

With a grand smile, Mrs. Hudson described the addition to the community as a “PLUS!” This location will serve as an “economic shot” to the area. Starbucks’ goal for community stores is to bring people together helping to provide education and employment opportunities and making a difference in peoples’ lives. It is Mrs.
Hudson’s hope that this store will support and teach individuals how to be managers. This site will also help to make current individuals who are unemployed gain employability with the hopes of obtaining higher paying jobs.

With the prospect of 10 positions being earmarked for individuals in the community, Hudson and the Parkside Association hopes that some of the job training that takes place will be dedicated to ex-offenders, using the model of the Parkside Shop Rite.

Concerns about traffic flow have been raised with the addition of new retail in coming to the neighborhood but, the Parkside Association and other stakeholders are on the job.

They are currently in talks with SEPTA and the streets department discussing traffic flow, bus routes, and the opening of new streets to divert traffic in other directions. While Starbucks is one of the more expensive coffee shops, the community feels that people will make this new location a success because of the quality of the product. This location will also be a place when residents can congregate to conduct meetings and socialize.

One of Mrs. Hudson’s mottos is “speak truth to power.” Over a decade ago, she had the vision to have a Starbucks in the community. Now, with the help of several organizations and groups, the Parkside neighborhood will have a coffee shop to buy quality products, aid in job training, and serve as a hub for positive social interactions.

A BLOCKBUSTER ARTS IN THE PARK EVENT West Park Arts Fest / FREE / Rain or Shine / 1:00pm – 6:00pm

By Niesha Kennedy

The 12th Annual West Park Arts Fest presented by West Park Cultural Center, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Mural Arts Philadelphia will feature more than two dozen performances on two
stages. On June 8th West Fairmount Park on South Concourse Drive will come alive with everything from funk, jazz, R&B, modern dance, hip hop, Zumba, line dancing, art-making, live superheroes,
book giveaways, an art/craft marketplace, to food vendors and so much more.

With a Call to Action, Spiral Q. puppets, and the award-winning West Powelton Drum Squad will start in the community and proceed along Parkside Avenue to South Concourse Drive near 42nd and Parkside where the official start of the West Park
Arts Fest will begin at 1:00 pm. During the event, attendees can participate in the Spiral Q puppet workshop and join a mini procession through the festival. The event will engage the young and the seasoned in dance, art making, and other activities, including our popular narrated historical trolley tours through the Centennial District at 1 pm and 2 pm.

The Music Stage will feature Philadelphia’s first ‘FunkFest at the West Park Arts Fest’ showcasing an impressive lineup of bands from Philly’s growing Funk scene, and headlined by none other than
Philadelphia’s own “Breakwater”.

“Breakwater is excited to be headlining the first annual FunkFest. Come Splashdown with us as we lay down the funk at [West Park Arts Fest!]” – Steve Green, Breakwater Band Member. “Funk is an
important part of the sound of Philadelphia that deserves to be celebrated.”

FunkFest will include a dynamic range of funkinspired music from Jazz-Funk and Fusion, to Rock and Soul. This years’ lineup includes PhunkyMan, Expansion Project, My Funky Brethren, Terretta
Storm, The Original Groove Circus, Paulette Branson & Mixed People, and Badd Kitti. Badd Kitti (aka Dianne Brieze Thompson) is also the funkfest curator and host. Performances begin at 1 pm and
continue to 6 pm ending with an hour of Breakwater. A large crowd is expected, so come early and bring your lawn chairs.

We are pleased to announce that Park West Town Center has joined this year as one of the Arts Fest sponsors and thrilled they are bringing the very popular pony rides. Jim Burnett of WPFSI will
announce the WesGold Fellows scholarship recipients. From the music stage. Sponsors also include ARTPLACE, BlackRock, Haverford Square Properties, UPS, Brown’s Parkside ShopRite,
Rockland Capital, Zakian, Zerflin, and support from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

Attendees of all ages will enjoy culturally diverse performances by some of the area’s most talented dancers, musicians, and vocalists. Activities for children and adults alike include the Black Sci-Fi
Comic Book Corner, roaming live Black Super Heroes and Tree House Books will have their book giveaway. Stop by the Global Philadelphia Heritage Booth and share your story in the Heritage
Storytelling Seat, then color World Heritage postcards to mail to friends and families.

Participate in Japanese fan making and origami, and children will enjoy playing with various robotic toys that teach the principles of basic robotics from The Franklin Institute.

Performances on the dance stage include Swing Two, Sound Stage Performing Arts students, Penn Chinese Dance Club, Three Aksha sponsored by The Mann Center, dancer Julian Darden sponsored by the African American Museum of Philadelphia, Little Big Sister Band, and more. The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center will lead an interactive social dance and line dance activity, and Crystal Evans will lead attendees in Zumba. As seen in local
and national media, our West Park Cultural Center danceLogic girls will perform their own choreography.

The festival’s mission is to bring communities together in the park, promote greater awareness of the area’s history and heritage while celebrating the arts and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. The
festival is made possible in significant part to the participation of many arts, cultural, and community partners including The Franklin Institute, Mann Center, Please Touch Museum, The Philadelphia
Zoo, Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, and many others.

Festival Hours: Saturday, June 8th, 2019 from
1:00pm to 6:00 pm
Rain or Shine

For more information about the West Park Arts Fest
visit or call
(215) 473-7810.

Follow West Park Arts Fest on:



WHAT:          Rebuilding Together Philadelphia Block Build

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia will repair 12 vulnerable, owner-occupied homes with 300 volunteers over two full days. Media are invited to the welcome celebration for a short tour of repairs and an opportunity to meet homeowners, which will begin on the street in front of one of the homes.

Who: Stefanie F. Seldin, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia President and CEO

Jannie Blackwell, Philadelphia Councilwoman

Dwight Evans, United States Congressman

WHEN: Friday, April 5, 2019 – 12 pm

WHERE: 4052  Cambridge St, Philadelphia, Parkside Neighborhood

DETAILS:  Homeowner Sandra Jenkins, age 71, is one resident who will see repairs to her home. Jenkins has lived in her home for 49 years; it is where she and her late husband Tyrone raised three sons. She loves her home and family-like community, but over the years, the house has experienced wear and tear. The Rebuilding Together Philadelphia Block Build volunteers will ensure her home will meet health and safety standards so Jenkins can continue to enjoy her home and age in place safely. Volunteers will add additional handrails, and existing handrails will be reinforced on the stairways. The old, uneven and dusty carpet in the front bedroom and living room will be replaced with vinyl flooring. A new clothes dryer vent that reaches the exterior will also be installed. Jenkins says, “I look forward to witnessing the togetherness that the Block Build will bring.”

Volunteers from the Wharton MBA Program, PennDesign, Drexel University, Campus Apartments, Driscoll Construction, Resource Real Estate, Well Fargo, and others are coming together to repair 12 homes in Parkside. These volunteers will complete a variety of projects including installing grab bars for elderly homeowners, installing solar-powered exterior lights, drywall and plaster repairs, and interior painting to benefit homeowners and make the homes on the block a healthier and safer place to call home.

 RTP organizes three Block Builds per calendar year, including two in West Philadelphia and another in Kensington, renovating multiple houses over a two-day period. For the first time, RTP is expanding its services into Parkside. RTP is the only organization in Philadelphia that uses a Block Build approach for an immediate impact on the health and safety of eligible homeowners and their families. This strategy utilizes between 100 and 200 volunteers, neighbors, and homeowners per day to repair clustered homes in a targeted neighborhood over two days. At each Block Build, RTP assigns different teams for different tasks. One group, called the “energy efficiency team,” goes house to house to install insulation and change furnace filters, in addition to other energy saving applications. With this energy efficiency team, feedback from homeowners showed that RTP’s repairs reduced homeowners’ utility bills and increased comfort, especially in winter. The positive health impact of improving the built environment through housing improvements is particularly evident when renovations focus on energy efficiency. To support these efforts, RTP contractors also replace windows when necessary. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing drafts in a home can result in energy savings that range between 5 and 30 percent per year.

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is a local, independent affiliate of a national network focused on preserving affordable homeownership and revitalizing neighborhoods using volunteer resources. Through its repair projects, RTP and its 36,000 volunteers have helped 1,611 low-income homeowners since our founding thirty-one years ago. or 215-965-0777 for more information. #BlockBuild

Contact Cari Feiler Bender, Relief Communications, LLC (Press Information Only)




Parkside Resident on Teaching Mission In Myanmar











For the last six months, one of the jewels of Parkside has been teaching in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Mrs. Allison Hatchett Stringfield was born and raised on North 42nd Street.  She attended Leidy Elementary, Beeber Middle School and Overbrook High School. She is a graduate of Cheyney University. Mrs. Stringfield taught in the Philadelphia School System for over twenty years in a number of capacities. She is a Language Arts Specialist and has provided education to many of the young people who still reside in Parkside.

Mrs. Stringfield is on a two-year teaching assignment at the International School of Myanmar. The official name of Myanmar is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma. It is a sovereign state located in Southeast Asia and shares borders with Bangladesh. Along with her husband, Robert Stringfield, a retired fire fighter, Mrs. Stringfield is enjoying this experience. She did not have to learn Burmese as the students in this school speak English and are preparing to come to the United States to attend college.

Mr. and Mrs. Stringfield hope that their experience will inspire others to reach beyond our borders for opportunities to broaden their horizons.

Smith Memorial Playground’s Black History Month Exhibit Celebrates 120-Year History of Racially Integrated Play

In celebration of Black History Month, families are invited to Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse at 3500 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19121 on Saturday, February 23 from 10am-12pm for “120 Years of Integrated Play” presented by Ballard Spahr LLP, a free exhibition of historic photographs and artifacts that highlight Smith’s commitment to the African American community and integrated play spaces since 1899. Visitors will also enjoy special craft activities and a story collection room where families can share their memories of playing at Smith.

Even during the Jim Crow Era of segregation in public schools and facilities, Smith remained a racially integrated play space and operated additional locations that served large African American and immigrant populations. Smith has been an important part of many Philadelphia families’ lives for generations and continues to serve a diverse population, welcoming children from every zip code in Philadelphia and beyond for free family visits as well as a wide range of on-site programming, events, and community programs.

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse is a non-profit organization located in Philadelphia’s East Fairmount Park. Founded in 1899, Smith welcomes visitors from more than 500 zip code areas including every zip code in Philadelphia. The mission of Smith is to provide and promote opportunities for unstructured free play for children and it contributes to the development of healthy children, strong families, and safe communities by: 1) maintaining a proud tradition of free family admission; 2) partnering with community-based organizations to reach a diverse audience; and 3) advocating for the importance of play. For more information about Smith please visit 

Contact: Zoe Lowry

215.765.4325 x101 (O)
610.609.1590 (M)


2019 SUBARU CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA Saturday, April 6 through Sunday, April 14, 2019

Presented by The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, PA (January 29, 2019) — The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival returns to Philadelphia in April to mark the start of spring. Presented by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP), the annual festival begins on Saturday, April 6, 2019 and ends on Sunday, April 14, 2019. It will feature family friendly events highlighting Japanese culture throughout the region. Attendees will experience traditional performances, music, and arts, learn how to make sushi and matcha tea from experts, and take part in the colorful contemporary cultures of cosplay and anime.

Sakura Sunday marks the exciting conclusion of the festival and transforms Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Center into the region’s largest Japanese cultural experience. This day-long outdoor event on Sunday, April 14, 2019 is a celebration of all things Japanese. It features a Sake Garden presented by Parks on Tap, Japanese food, live music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, crafts, the Little Akiba anime & cosplay area, access to Shofuso, Fairmount Park’s Japanese house and garden, and activities for all ages. For more information, visit

Festival events begin on Saturday, April 6, 2019 with extended hours at Shofuso. The 17th century style house and garden will be open until 7:00 p.m. daily during the Festival, granting visitors plenty of opportunities to tour the house, visit the garden, and view the world class collection of koi. Attendees can also enjoy a drink at the Sake Garden, a pop-up beer and sake cocktail garden presented by Parks On Tap located just outside Shofuso’s walls on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 and from Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14.

In University City, the University of Pennsylvania will present a free public screening of Hirozaku Koreeda’s 2011 film I Wish on Wednesday, April 10. Internationally acclaimed taiko artist Kaoru Watanabe will bring a “musical dialogue” performance to the festival on Friday, April 12 at the International House Philadelphia. Sushi making classes led by Madame Saito, Philadelphia’s Queen of Sushi, will be held throughout the week at Tokio HeadHouse, culminating in an amateur sushi making contest on Thursday, April 11.  For seasoned athletes and casual walkers and runners alike, the Cherry Blossom 10K/5K returns to Fairmount Park on Saturday, April 13 with courses that offer great views of Shofuso, Memorial Hall, and MLK Drive. A complete listing of events is available online at or call 267-237-3550 for more information.

The Cherry Blossom Festival takes its name and central inspiration from the fleeting beauty of the sakura, the Japanese name for cherry blossoms. The first blossoming cherry trees in Fairmount Park were planted in 1926 as a gift to the City of Philadelphia from Japan. Cherry blossoms are gorgeous pink and white flowers, a must-see natural wonder calling everyone outdoors to welcome spring, and an annual inspiration to artists and photographers. The events of the Festival celebrate Philadelphia’s rich cultural connections with the art, music, food, natural beauty, and industry of Japan.

The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia is a project of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) with support from Subaru of America, Inc as its title sponsor. JASGP inspires mutual curiosity, understanding, and respect between Japan and Philadelphia, and the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival builds on this mission by fostering the Japanese tradition of blossom-viewing and planting and maintaining cherry trees. JASGP has planted more than 1,000 cherry trees, supplementing the 1,600 flowering trees presented by the Japanese government as a gesture of friendship in 1926. Digital photos and additional information on cherry tree viewing, cherry blossom traditions in Japan, and the work of the JASGP are available at Follow @phillysakura on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.