Philadelphia Green Leaders Take Their Show on the Road

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Woodland & Yewdall WPhilly 00

A "cleaned and greened" vacant lot at Woodland and Yewdall in West Philly. To date, Philadelphia Green has stabilized more than 7 million square feet of former derelict land. Proceeds of the Philadelphia International Flower Show go to Philadelphia Green.

The expertise, experience and wisdom gained from decades of urban revitalization by Philadelphia Green are applicable to many situations and cities. The leaders of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s urban greening program are now sharing their lessons learned and best practices with communities around the country.

Read about how Cleveland would like to emulate PG’s vacant land program in this article.

In early August, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va., invited Blaine Bonham, PHS executive vice president; Maitreyi Roy, vice president of programs; and Joan Reilly, senior director of Philadelphia Green, to participate in a symposium on community greening.

The Philadelphia Green leaders also were asked to facilitate a discussion with Botanical Garden staff on how to launch a greening program in Richmond, Bonham said.

“We talked about what their issues are, what resources are needed, and what are the next steps for them to take.” The consultation will continue in future visits, he said.

Philadelphia Green is also serving as a consultant to Keep America Beautiful, the national organization that promotes litter prevention, waste reduction and beautification, and its more than 1,000 affiliates and participating groups.

On Aug. 10, the organization’s Cleveland affiliate sent representatives to PHS headquarters to learn about Philadelphia Green’s vacant land management program.

Bob Grossmann, who directs the vacant land program, and Bonham traveled recently to Louisville, Ky., and brought with them a Philadelphia official who led the city’s anti-blight effort and a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist to study the effects of vacant urban land on health and violence.

Bonham also brought information about Philadelphia Green’s model to Buffalo, N.Y., for a program about vacant land management.

On July 30 to 31, Roy accompanied representatives of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to Kansas City to share information on community greening programs.

Philadelphia Green has partnered with John Kromer, senior director of the Fels Institute of Government and the author of “Fixing Broken Cities,” on many of these city initiatives, Roy said.

“We explain how we approach the work of greening, how we partner with other organizations, and how we develop stewardship of the land,” she explained.

Roy and PHS Education Director Pat James will travel to Shreveport, La., on Aug. 19 to 20 to share their expertise at the Keep Louisiana Beautiful state conference.

City officials and non-profit leaders from Pittsburgh will visit PHS on Sept. 21 to 22 to learn about the vacant land program and urban agriculture in Philadelphia.

Reilly will travel to Mexico City at the end of September to discuss the restoration of urban parks.

Philadelphia Green leaders will attend the KAB national conference in Washington, D.C., in December to provide training in park revitalization and urban forestry. A PHS webinar for KAB affiliates will be offered in September on local food production and the City Harvest program, which trains prison inmates to raise vegetable seedlings that help feed families in under-served neighborhoods.

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