Articles by Patrick J. Morgan

  • Article

    Philadelphia: Creating authentic connections through place

    November 6, 2017 by Patrick J. Morgan

    Philadelphia: Creating authentic connections through place

    Photo by Fairmount Park on Twitter.

    Saturday, Knight Foundation announced $3.28 million in new support to Fairmount Conservancy to support a citywide civic engagement strategy that will allow residents to shape activities in Philadelphia’s public spaces.

    It’s an essential time for communities to invest in places and spaces that bring us together. A neighborhood public library, park or recreation center are often the places where strangers come together, where we learn about each other, and where neighbors and local decision-makers meet to create a better community. Recent research by the Center for Active Design validates that public spaces can help to facilitate community connection, trust and involvement.

  • Article

    How Reimagining the Civic Commons is unlocking the potential of public space in Philadelphia

    March 17, 2016 by Patrick J. Morgan

    How Reimagining the Civic Commons is unlocking the potential of public space in Philadelphia

    Photo: Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. Courtesy VisitPhilly.com

    Recently, Lonely Planet named Philadelphia the best place to visit in the United States in 2016. Last year, it was recognized as the country's first and only World Heritage City, and The New York Times named the city as one of the top places to visit, due mostly to public space projects such as the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk and Dilworth Park. Philadelphia is being recognized as a thriving global city. 

    Given this strength, it is no surprise that Philadelphia is the pilot city for Reimagining the Civic Commons, an initiative funded last year by Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. This month we celebrate the one-year anniversary of that announcement.

    Reimagining the Civic Commons is a new approach for enhancing Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers and libraries. To support five model projects, Knight invested $5.4 million through the Fairmount Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that exists to champion Philadelphia’s park system, to support five model projects, each in a transitioning neighborhood on the periphery of Center City. William Penn provided another another $6 million towards the initiative, in addition to more than $20 million already invested in the projects from other sources. Philadelphia intends to be the first comprehensive demonstration of how a connected set of civic assets – a civic commons – can yield increased prosperity for cities and neighborhoods. 

    The projects include a riverfront bike and pedestrian trail, a renovated public library and park space, an elevated park, an outdoor youth education center, and a new vision for West Fairmount Park. A mix of local and national nonprofits, business improvement districts and city agencies are leading the projects on the ground.

  • Article

    A nonpartisan guide to how Philadelphia is engaging the community during the Democratic National Convention

    July 15, 2016 by Patrick J. Morgan

    A nonpartisan guide to how Philadelphia is engaging the community during the Democratic National Convention
    Above:  Artists paint the "14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words" mural for Broad Street on vinyl in a Philadelphia warehouse. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. From July 25 - 28, Philadelphia will host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Philadelphia has hosted political conventions before, most recently the Republican National Convention in 2000. We have a proud legacy of hosting significant events, starting with the First Continental Congress establishing the city as the birthplace of American democracy. Just last year, Philadelphia hosted the World Meeting of Families featuring a two-day visit from Pope Francis.  Hosting events such as the Democratic National Convention provides an opportunity to create a stronger culture of civic engagement and showcase Philadelphia as a thriving global city. We are proud to partner with local groups and nonprofits to leverage the convention to showcase local talent, improve public spaces, promote local art and culture, and encourage civic engagement by supporting the following events and activities: National Constitution Center’s Headed to the White House Exhibit: The National Constitution Center has updated and enhanced its “Headed to the White House” exhibit to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. The family-friendly exhibits explain how the electoral process works, and the museum will also host political trivia contests, panel discussions and more. This exhibit runs January through Election Day in November, but during the convention the center and the exhibit will be a featured attraction of PoliticalFest, a nonpartisan citywide festival.  Committee of Seventy’s Voices of Voting Performance will educate the public and local students on the importance of voting and civic engagement through the production of an interactive nonpartisan civic engagement performance, “Voices of Voting.” “Voices of Voting” is a short play which will use the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as its starting point and source material. Following each performance, the Committee of Seventy, a local nonpartisan good government nonprofit, will lead a “talkback” session that engages the audience to renew people’s commitment to civic engagement and participation. “Voices of Voting” will run during the convention in partnership with the Urban League of Philadelphia, Urban Affairs Coalition, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Philadelphia Youth Network.