Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Colleges and Neighborhoods

One of the great success stories in Philly has been the work of the University of Pennsylvania in revitalizing its West Philly neighborhood. I was fortunate enough to have been there to see the changes firsthand, as Penn began to engage its surroundings and to utilize its wealth and power. It's not just restaurants and stores that have come, but also a Penn-funded elementary school and a committment to help employees buy houses in the neighborhood. Crime has gone down, tensions between the school and the neighborhood have lessened, and West Philly has become an even greater, more diverse, more energized place to live and hang out.

Along those lines, it is great to see the creation of the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Redevelopment (PHENND), a name only academics would think up. All of the major universities and colleges of the area have come together to develop plans to better the communities that they reside in. It is a long overdue idea, one that will help tear down the ivory tower image of schools. I, for one, cannot wait to see what sorts of projects and ideas come about from this consortium, and look for this to be an impetus and source for all of us thinking about Philly. Oh, and consortium is a dope word, for the record.

Temple University seems to be taking the lessons of Penn, as they have begun major investments into their North Philly neighborhood. Construction has begun all over campus, $400 million worth in the next five years. Likewise, news that the Tenple University Hospital headquarters would be moving into a two abandoned former factories in the Hunting Park section of North Philly should excite everyone. This is a major committment, and best of all, it will bring new life to two amazing old buildings that have been dark for too long.

Thanks to Philadelphia: America's Hometown for these items, as his blog is one of the best going. He has every issue and important news story about our city on lock. Check him out, but please don't forget about my inferior blog.

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