Opinion: Support Citizen-Led Public Space Projects

A public space advocate outlines how Philadelphia’s city leaders could support the parklets, plazas, and other public space conversions that proliferated during the pandemic.

1 minute read

September 26, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

In an opinion piece on WHYY, Ariel Ben-Amos argues that Philadelphia should make it easier for residents to improve their local streets through interventions that reclaim public space and contribute to more vibrant, active communities.

Now is the time to reduce technical burdens and invest in programs and projects that empower communities, rather than slow down their ability to control their streets and make them safer, or a more attractive place to be.

Yet in the rush back toward ‘normalcy,’ Ben-Amos argues, the city is forgetting some valuable lessons from the pandemic. “When we citizens improve and steward their streets and create public space using parklets, pedestrian plazas, and benches, we calm traffic, make it easier for young and old to get around, and reduce environmental stress.”

 With local elections coming up, Ben-Amos urges readers to support candidates who will invest in community efforts to improve public space and give citizens the tools to design and maintain public space projects. “Public space isn’t missing in communities because people don’t want to use them everywhere, it’s missing in marginalized communities because it’s harder to do the work there, with less funding and less civic infrastructure.” According to Ben-Ramos, “Philadelphians need a vision that includes a more democratic and more equitable approach to our collective front stoops.”

Thursday, September 22, 2022 in WHYY

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