THINK.urban, Connect the Dots, and Stae awarded Knight Foundation Grant to engage Philadelphia’s South Street neighborhood in reimagining main street with open data

Stephen Larrick
Jun 10 · 3 min read

Our urban main streets face unprecedented economic and social challenges, from the urgent call for racial justice in public space to the recovery of small retail businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

Against this backdrop, THINK.urban, Connect the Dots, and Stae are thrilled to announce today that we have been awarded the Knight Foundation’s Data For Civic Engagement grant for our proposal to take on the challenges faced by main street as part of a new vision plan for the South Street Headhouse District in Philadelphia, PA. Our project “Edit the City!” will engage and enable small business owners and neighborhood residents to provide input on alterations to the public realm and co-create a vision for the future of the street.

To accomplish this goal, the team will facilitate a stakeholder-led process of community data collection, crowdsourced project ideation, and participatory small-scale “edits” to the public realm. Ultimately this process will result in a publicly available open data set of district needs and project ideas to inform the Business Improvement District (BID)’s long-term vision plan for South Street’s recovery and future. And, to demonstrate tangible, community-driven change in the here and now, we will also work with stakeholders to pilot tactical interventions on the districts streets and sidewalks.

As a (self-described) dream-team of experts in the relevant topics of community engagement, urban planning, ethnographic research, open data and civic tech, we are looking forward to working for and with community stakeholders on South Street to develop co-created responses that enable equitable recovery and a resilient vision for one of the country’s preeminent neighborhood main streets.

This post was co-authored by Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman (THINK.urban), Marisa Denker (Connect the Dots), and Stephen Larrick (Stae), who together form the project team for “Edit the City!”

For inquires or to get involved, reach out to us at edityoursouthstreet@gmail.com.

Philadelphia’s premier Punk Rock N Roll shop “Crash Bang Boom”, just a few paces off of South Street shares words of encouragement with residents from their storefront window. (Photo credit: Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman)

About our team

THINK.urban / Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman

Katrina is an urban anthropologist and adjunct professor at Drexel University’s Masters in Urban Strategy program who specializes in researching the public realm and right to the city. Through the use of “spatial ethnographies”, she utilizes principles of user experience research and design to assess the effectiveness of urban form on the human condition, physically and psychologically.

Website: http://thinkurban.org/

Connect the Dots / Marisa Denker

Connect the Dots designs stakeholder engagement for sustainable and equitable impact. We work with public and private sector organizations to develop tailored strategies and expert insights to help build cities, regions, and entities focused on the health and happiness of all citizens. We specialize in the careful engagement of all voices, in a collaborative and thoughtful way, that is critical when forming solutions to the challenges we are facing and to moving forward with confidence and trust.

Website: https://www.connectthedots.ie/

Stae / Stephen Larrick

Stae’s mission is to empower cities and the publics they serve by making civic data — whether from “official” sources or crowdsourced by community — useful to humans. Having practiced as an urban planner and open government advocate for nearly a decade, Stephen currently helps communities advance their open data programs, and supports data management projects in jurisdictions across the country as Stae’s City Success Lead.

Website: https://stae.co/

About the Knight Foundation Data for Civic Engagement Challenge

In an effort to transform how publicly available data is used in communities to engage residents, the John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation has announced $1 million in funding for seven innovative projects across the country that put data to work in support of greater civic engagement.

Read the full Knight Foundation press release here and learn more about each of the 7 awarded projects here.

City as a Service

A community for civic-data wranglers, developers, and…

Stephen Larrick

Written by

People-centered cities/urban tech/open gov. currently: @staehere, formerly: @SunFoundation, @SunlightCities, @CentralFalls_RI. Would love to be your friend.

City as a Service

A community for civic-data wranglers, developers, and innovators: @staehere

Stephen Larrick

Written by

People-centered cities/urban tech/open gov. currently: @staehere, formerly: @SunFoundation, @SunlightCities, @CentralFalls_RI. Would love to be your friend.

City as a Service

A community for civic-data wranglers, developers, and innovators: @staehere

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