Southeast Section Hosts 2019 Annual Event on Housing
On Thursday, November 14, 2019, the Southeast Section held their yearly event, bringing together about 30 planners from Philadelphia and the region – including private sector, public sector, and students – to network and share ideas. The event was held in the historic MAAS building in the revitalizing Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. The building, originally built in 1859 as the Charles Maas Brewery, later became a trolley car repair shop for the Girard Street trolley line. After falling into disrepair in the late twentieth century, the building was recently revitalized using reclaimed materials and modern technology to serve as an arts and events space. The venue’s varied past and recent revitalization (as well as its cozy size) made it an appropriate setting for discussing the topic of sustainable architecture and housing trends.
Justin Dula, Chair of the Southeast Section, welcomed attendees and announced that this would be his last event as Section Chair before turning the position over to current Vice Chair Alexis Williams in January. Rebecca Ross of the Delaware County Planning Department introduced the speakers and moderated discussion at the end of the presentations. Robert Fleming, architect and Founding Director and Professor of the Sustainable Design Program at Thomas Jefferson University, started with a broad overview of the need for sustainable design and the challenge of convincing the public of its value. In his presentation, Professor Fleming emphasized that he believes sustainability lies at the intersection of People, Profit, Planet, and Place. This is an update to the triple-bottom line concept, suggesting the role that quality design can play in sustainable development. The next speaker was Stephanie Sena, the Founder and Executive Director of Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP) a non-profit homeless shelter operating since 2011, and The Breaking Bread Community, an affordable Housing Initiative, which builds houses, community centers, community gardens, and art installations for people in poverty and their pets. She spoke about her organizations and her most recent project to build “cozy cottages” at affordable prices for formerly homeless individuals. Finally, Brett Madsen spoke on the challenges of permitting innovative housing projects – such as tiny homes – under the current Philadelphia code and permitting process. Brett is a licensed expediter with years of experience in Philadelphia, and his firm, Permit Philly, manages the Philadelphia permit process for clients from the first call to the issuance of the certificate. Speaker presentations are available here and a shared album of event photos can be found here (feel free to add yours if you attended!).
The presentations rounded off with a panel discussion with questions from the audience. While mingling and networking, attendees also enjoyed gourmet snacks and desserts from Seedling and Sage catering. Student architectural works from the Charter High School for Architecture and Design (CHAD) were on display for the viewing (and tactile!) enjoyment of the attendees. It was another successful event to wrap up an exciting year of planning in Southeast PA!
The theme for this year’s Future City Competition – held on Saturday, January 18th – was Clean Water. Teams of middle schoolers from around the Philadelphia region were tasked with designing a city that guaranteed a reliable water source for all citizens. APA PA SE continued our support of the event by providing a judge at the competition, who awarded Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School (Willow Grove, PA) with the APA, PA Chapter, SE Section Award for Planning Excellence.
Students from Queen of Angels demonstrated a clear vision for their city, the reimagined ancient city of Tenochtitlan, and they were able to articulate their process for achieving goals that supported their vision. For their efforts, they were also awarded 3rd place overall. Lionville Middle School claimed 1st place at Future City Philadelphia Competition, and they will represent the region at the finals on February 28th. Downingtown Middle School rounded out the top three with a 2nd place finish. Congratulations to all of the students who participated in this year’s competition!
APAPA-SE participated in the 2nd annual Future City Engineering Fair at SAP America in Newtown Square, PA on Saturday, October 26. This year’s competition theme is Clean Water: Tap Into Tomorrow. Volunteers Addison Larson (Princeton Mathematica) and Bill Deguffroy (McMahon Associates) engaged students in a hands-on activity to demonstrate the benefits of incorporating green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) into roadway design. The activity, which was devised by Bill Deguffroy, showed students how GSI (kitchen sponges) absorbs and filters stormwater by capturing pollutants (breath mints) and forcing water to drain slowly, thereby minimizing flooding and helping maintain a healthy urban environment. The children liked the learning activity, and students, parents, and teachers asked questions about applying this concept to their models, as well as careers in planning! A special thank you to our volunteers!
APAPASE booth at the Future City Engineering Fair. Our volunteers Addison Larson (Princeton Mathematica) and Bill Deguffroy (McMahon Associates) engaged students in a hands-on activity that demonstrated the benefits of GSI and its relation to clean water.
Also, Future City Philadelphia is still looking for mentors for the following middle schools in the Greater Philadelphia region:
- Keith Valley Middle School – Horsham, PA
- Lehighton Area Middle School – Lehighton, PA
- Montgomery County OIC – Norristown, PA
- Penn Wood Middle School – Darby, PA
- St. Alysius Academy – Bryn Mawr, PA
- St. Hilary of Poitiers School – Rydal, PA
- St. Jane Frances de Chantal School – Easton, PA
- St. Katherine of Siena School – Philadelphia, PA
- St. Martin de Porres Catholic School – Philadelphia, PA
- Stewart Middle School – Norristown, PA
- The Anderson School – Eagleville, PA
For more information about your role as a mentor go to: https://futurecity.org/participants/mentors.
For more information on mentoring, please contact: Mike McAtee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday June 6th, the APAPASE Events Committee hosted a Planning Professionals’ (and adjacent professions) happy hour and networking event. A high turnout meant lots of new connections, and plenty of patrons for La Peg’s gorgeous outdoor beer garden. After a little over an hour of socializing, the group headed across Christopher Columbus Boulevard to Race Street Pier. As the sun set over the city, a large yoga class practiced at the end of the pier, and several cyclists took in the busy scene.
The happy hour group settled in on the wooden steps of Race Street Pier and looked toward a bustling Cherry Street Pier, while speakers Chris Puchalsky of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) and Chris Dougherty of the Delaware River Watershed Corporation (DRWC) spoke about their work in transportation and the waterfront, and upcoming projects planned for the city. Chris Puchalsky discussed the city’s efforts to connect many of Philly’s neighborhoods through multiple types of transit in order to move away from the car-centric nature of the streets. He briefly addressed issues of scooter trends that are present around the country, and Philly’s stance based on safety and infrastructure concerns. Chris Dougherty discussed the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s plans for the many properties along the waterfront. DRWC has an aggressive strategy for renovating some large spaces along the Delaware, including Graffiti Pier, and a plan to open it to the public in the next year.
Multi-transit and waterway-connectivity projects are at the forefront of many Philadelphian’s minds as the city continues to support public works projects that connect citizens to their built environment in new and exciting ways.
Thank you to all of those who attended; APAPASE is excited to hold more events like this in the future!
The Southeast Section’s annual event brought together planners in Lansdowne Borough, Delaware County to explore how communities can leverage history and the arts to revitalize communities. The event was held on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 and included a walking tour and panel discussion as well as time for socializing.
On an unseasonably cold and blustery April day, aspiring planners from the Temple Student Planning Organization (TSPO) – in partnership with APA Pennsylvania’s Southeast Section (APA PA SE) – hosted a booth at Temple University’s EarthFest. The purpose of this annual event is to teach students about sustainability concepts and promote environmental awareness. This year, the event honored Dr. Jeffrey Featherstone, founder of the Center for Sustainable Communities and professor in the Department of Planning and Community Development at Temple University.
TSPO volunteers led elementary and middle school students in an exercise designed to foster a discussion about planning and encourage them to think about how land can be sustainably developed. Using an enlarged aerial map of the field in which they were standing, students were asked to guess what the map depicted. With impressive regularity, students correctly identified the location of the aerial. Next, volunteers led a discussion of various types of development, culminating in students suggesting ideas for developing the field by placing sticky notes on the map. Some of the most compelling responses were “homes but cheap” and “a nature preserve,” though “swimming pool” seems to be the perennial favorite. The APA brochure What Planners Do was also available at the booth and used to spark discussions with interested chaperones.
Each year, Temple University’s EarthFest provides an opportunity to engage with students and their families about the work that planners do to improve communities. The participation of TSPO and APA PA SE in this event is a small but meaningful way in which the planning community can promote a greater understanding of the important role planning has in our society.
A warm, sunny, and windy day was the setting for EarthFest 2017 on April 28th at Temple University’s Ambler Campus. EarthFest is an annual event promoting environmental awareness to elementary and middle school students from across the region. This year, the Southeast Section (APA PA SE) partnered with Temple’s Student Planning Organization (TSPO) to host a combined booth focused on sustainability and planning. Our volunteers engaged students in two planning activities – one related to transportation and the other land use – to give them a basic idea of what many planners do on a regular basis. The booth also had informational materials, including an APA brochure explaining “What Planners Do.”
On Thursday, February 23, 2017, APAPASE and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) co-hosted a breakfast event about PennDOT Connects. The event, which took place at the American College of Physicians building in Philadelphia, featured Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie Richards, Brian Hare of PennDOT, and Elizabeth Schoonmaker of DVRPC, presentations are available here. Secretary Richards kicked off the event with a twenty-minute presentation where she explained transportation’s role in connecting communities and supporting economic development. Under the PennDOT Connects initiative, PennDOT will take an earlier and more active role in reaching out to communities to enhance engagement with local communities and improve transportation-project planning, design, and delivery so that transportation investments support a community’s vision and goals.