urbanter

Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

Philadelphia Planning Week 7 (Nick)

This week was the end of the Mayor’s Internship Program (not of my internship placement though). It was an amazing journey and a great end to the program. There were about 100 people in attendance from across the different departments to see the 10 presentations. All the work that my group put in to the paper and presentation really paid off, as we were received quite well by the audience and people had some great questions to ask as well. Here is a summary of what we learned and the presentation.

Our project was to do analysis on the economic revitalization process of the Germantown, Broad, and Erie commercial corridor in North Philadelphia. The goals were to assist with the preparation of a festival that the commerce department is heading in the area, to reassess the Mater Plan laid out for the area in 2010, and to give suggestions for future action by the city for the corridor and district in the future. We gave some context to the project by talking about the Lower North District which I had learned a lot about for the public meetings. I talked about the loss of industry in the district and the extreme loss of population between 1960 and today (250,000 people in 1960 to 95,000 in the 2010 census). We also talked about what some of the primary landmarks in the area are which included the SEPTA (transit network of South East PA) subway station and the Temple University Hospital. Then we went on to talk about what progress has been made in the corridor and what problems still exist. We also gave suggestions to the city on how to move forward in addressing the issues. We used a phrase that we learned from the head of the Dept. of Commerce, which was that it is not the the business of the government to create jobs, but to create the environment for job creation (someone stood up and started clapping when we mentioned that). We suggested that the city should fix broken sidewalks and trim trees as they would elsewhere, but their primary role in improving the commercial corridor and surrounding community would be to support the efforts of the newly formed business owners association and to help residents and business owners take more ownership of their neighborhood. 

For more information on the project there is a link to the presentation below. I will also try to figure out how to put in the paper for my final blog post.

http://www.phila.gov/experiencephila/pdfs/GermantownErieCommericalCorridorWP_pres.pdf

I also learned a lot about presenting and presentation making. We used a software called Prezi which I had never used before, but not feel quite comfortable using. It can make professional quality presentations while having an engaging format. The slides above are not how it would be presented, but I thin that people really liked it at the presentation. I also learned about the importance of professional presenting. We stood at a podium and had people in the room who had no clue what we were talking about, and our mission was to bring them up to speed quickly so that we could also go more in depth for the people who we had been working with the entire time. We also had to field questions that were extremely engaging, but answer concisely and with a political mindset. I think that it got me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow.

v My group looking snazzy for presentations in front of the seal of Philadelphia

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v My group standing with Dr. Stanford, out supervisor for the Economic Revitalization project from Commerce

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v Me Presenting for my group

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We got to chat with the Mayor afterwards and he let us ask questions and asked us where we were from and if we were gonna stay in the city, and work in Philadelphia city government. I asked Mayor Nutter about frustrations he had with the job and where he felt restricted by the position. I hope to one day go into Philadelphia city politics, so I was interested in how I could prepare myself, and at what level, does the power to change things get limited by politics. He seemed to like the question, and talk more freely about it than with most of the other questions. He explained that the job is not easy, but that it is rewarding. I also asked him about his initiatives for the city and how they seem to not only be moving the city forward, but fixing the issues that past administrations had kicked down the road. He seemed happy to hear that I noticed that, because that was his plan. He wanted to bring a professionalism and passion to city government and that meant taking on as much of a challenge as possible, and rising to it without excuses. Nobody is perfect, but when it matters, I think Mayor Nutter tries to get as close to perfect as possible and sets the example for the rest of the city.

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This program was a great experience, and I move forward with new confidence in myself, new skills, and an invigorated passion to lead the change I want to see. As I finish up my internship I will miss meeting with other students every Friday to explore government, and I will miss working on the engaging group project which brought together so much learning and experience into one package.

v My fellow City Planning Commission interns through the Mayor’s Internship Program, Nabilla and Andreas

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Next week is my last week working at the Planning Commission, so till next time i leave you with my fellow group members being silly, Nick out.

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