Community members are the best judge of what investments are needed at their local park, rec center, or library. Rebuild works with neighborhood nonprofits, advisory boards and friends groups, and existing community associations to keep residents engaged and informed about Rebuild projects in their neighborhoods. 

The public gathering limitations of COVID-19 have challenged Rebuild to rethink how to keep residents engaged in the improvements coming to their neighborhood. 

Here are three things to know about how Rebuild is working with communities to plan high impact improvement projects: 

1. Sharing design options

Watching a project come to life is such an exciting part of the design and construction process! At Heitzman Recreation Center in Harrowgate and Glavin Playground in Port Richmond, residents are getting the first look at possible design improvements coming to their community. After spending the last year  meeting residents to discuss their wish lists for site improvements, Rebuild and its partners are now presenting back some potential design options based on resident input. The designs are available to view both online and in person for residents to weigh in on their preferred designs.

2. Telling community stories 

Vare Recreation Center, is a staple of the Grays Ferry community. Over many years and many generations of users, Vare has been home to countless youth sports leagues, afterschool programs, adult fitness activities, community empowerment programs, and more. To help tell and showcase this community story, Rebuild partner Make the World Better launched the Vare Studio, an arts and community project with a pop-up photo lab. The Studio was a way to  collect, preserve and share a living history of Vare. Residents brought in their old photos to be preserved, participated in recorded oral history interviews, and took new photos to add to the collection! When the renovation project is complete, the Vare Studio project will be displayed in a Vare Library. This project was designed by the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Monument Lab in partnership with Vare Recreation Center’s staff and community leadership.

3. New engagement kicking off

In the wake of COVID-19, Rebuild and its partners are finding new ways to keep communities actively engaged. Despite a pause on engagement activities during the Stay at Home Order, Rebuild will host safe, accessible meetings with community members at the following sites this fall.

  • Barrett Playground – Community members will be invited to an outdoor socially-distanced open house in mid-October to weigh in on options for the playground design.
  • Capitolo Playground – A community engagement meeting and survey at the end of September and early October will give residents the opportunity to see how the design is coming along based on their feedback and provide additional comments on the design.
  • FJ Myers Recreation Center – Engagement has started to discuss improvements to the basketball courts, tennis courts and the installation of a new soccer mini pitch! Community members will have the opportunity to see the soccer mini-pitch design in November.
  • Heitzman Recreation Center – Community members were invited to vote on two options for improvements through a late August to early September survey.
  • Russo Park & Playground – Community members will meet at an outdoor, socially distant open house to discuss upcoming improvements at the site in late October.
  • Shepard Recreation Center – The community engagement process for the design will kick-off in late October.
  • Ziehler Playground – Community members at Ziehler Playground had their second public meeting to discuss upcoming improvements in early September.
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