Community-Designed Parks Are Changing Cities

Many cities have vacant lots and open land that create eyesores in the urban environment. Communities like Philadelphia have slow and complex processes to follow to sell this space.

A professor at Thomas Jefferson University had an idea to make the land more useful: to turn the vacant lots into community-designed parks. Kim Douglas teaches landscape architecture and envisions more green spaces instead of empty areas.

Each project starts with some dirt and a big pile of gravel. Then the community comes together to create something unique.

Community Parks Provide Several Benefits

When cities turn vacant lots into usable space, the transformation works to lower feelings of depression in the neighborhood. Crime levels typically go down.

Douglas takes this idea to the next level, encouraging the residents of a neighborhood to plan, build, and maintain their new parks. It’s a program called “Park in a Truck.” Once the idea is ready to implement, then all of the materials will get dropped off in a vehicle for the volunteers to assemble.

Communities can decide if they want to have play spaces for kids, show off local art and culture, or create a public garden. It could even be a simple green space to rest and relax.

A new park in Mantua near Melon Street cost $24,000 to build on a donated 2,400-square-foot lot. That’s significantly less than what it takes to construct a public space like this. Now plans are in the works to build similar areas in numerous Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Community-designed parks provide neighborhoods with a sense of ownership. It is a small slice of peace in a world that sometimes feels chaotic.



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