Arcadia Commons is committed to creating healthy public spaces where our community can experience the physical, emotional, and intellectual enrichment provided by green space.
Arcadia Commons was founded in the summer of 2013 by residents of East Kensington whose collective expertise in visual arts, design, architecture, arts education, community organizing, urban planning, sustainable building, and real estate provides Arcadia Commons the ingredients for success. We see our non-profit as the anchor organization that serves the community by providing affordable resources which will revitalize local business and industry and build a healthy local economy. To do this, Arcadia Commons intends to become a new model for partnership success between the City, a neighborhood group, and philanthropy to transform blighted vacant lots into urban agriculture and open space utilizing Philadelphia’s new Land Bank legislation.
Philadelphia has more than 32,000 vacant lots; it is one of the defining problems of our city, and one of its potential advantages, as well. In late 2013, the city passed legislation to create a Land Bank that will dispose of vacant city property, and oversee the disposition of abandoned private property. In the Land Bank Strategic Plan adopted in December 2014, the East Kensington neighborhood was designated a focus area for urban agriculture and open space. To this end, Arcadia Commons is in the process of acquiring sixteen blighted vacant parcels in East Kensington that are in danger of being developed exclusively for expensive housing.
Research shows that urban green spaces not only foster community, but also contribute to the health and wellness of local residents. Arcadia Commons’ designated parcels would be used for community gardening, a farmers market, and a pavilion for neighborhood gatherings, and educational workshops to teach people in the community techniques for growing herbs, flowers, and produce as well as marketable skills (soap-making, spinning yarn). The products derived from local production would be put up for sale at the farmers market or used for personal consumption. Through these methods, Arcadia Commons will serve area residents by providing affordable resources that will revitalize local business and build a healthy local economy.
Community is an essential part of the human experience and we aim to provide space for our neighbors to come together, along with programming that improves lives in many different ways.
What We've Achieved so far
- Secured a green space at Huntingdon and Emerald Streets.
- Secured a green space at Emerald St. between Dauphin and Arizona
- Secured a green space at Kern Street.
- Organized volunteers to build raised bed gardens on the Kern Street lots, decorated with mosaics by the neighborhood children.
- The Stormwater Management project will come to transform the whole space with two rain gardens, and then we’ll complete the design by the Community Design Collaborative.
- Community clean-up events and BBQ's.
- Community fundraisers to keep spaces clean and green.
- At the Huntingdon Emerald property, we have raised money to develop a Firefighters Memorial Park.
- Awarded a grant from the Community Design Collaborative, who completed their design of the park in May 2016
- Volunteers have cleared our sites, built colorful trash bins, park benches, a bocce court, a doggie bag dispenser, and a multi-level platform for seating that the kids use for line-dancing at our community events.