Is the Millennial Political Revolution Beginning in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia Inquirer Architecture Critic Inga Saffron writes of a possible political awakening among Millennials in Philadelphia in response to the old guard's efforts to stifle progressive parking and zoning decisions.

2 minute read

July 8, 2014, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

City Hall Philadelphia

DMZ111 / Flickr

According to Saffron, "paradigm-shifting trends often start with minor events, and the recent awakening of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood's silent millennials might just be the first smoke signals of change. Frustrated by the political elite's car-centric vision, a group of twenty- and thirty-something professionals fielded a slate of 23 candidates in the May primary for the most grassroots of political offices, the Democratic City Committee, in the 30th Ward."

"What makes this an architecture story is that the challenge was precipitated by several zoning cases that highlighted the city's widening generational divide on urbanist issues such as density, parking, bike lanes, and outdoor dining."

"The breaking point came in April after the zoning board rejected what seemed like an inoffensive building proposal for a surface lot at 23d and South, an 18-unit apartment house designed by Plumbob's Howard Steinberg. The proposal revealed a clash of cultures between Graduate Hospital's two main civic groups. While the apartment building received a ringing endorsement from the millennial-dominated South of South Neighborhood Association, it was fiercely opposed by the older, more established South Street West Civic Association, which mostly sticks to the area's western end."

Millennials, of course, have only themselves to blame for their lack of voice in the political process that drives placemaking in Philadelphia. Less than eight percent of millennials turn out to vote, according to Kellan White, 28, a former Graduate Hospital area resident who runs the New Leaders Council and is quoted in the story.

The article also includes a lot more detail about the project in question, as well as other recently contested project proposals and the political climate of the neighborhood.

Saturday, July 5, 2014 in Philadelphia Inquirer

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