Piecing Together the Fragments: An Ethnography of Leadership for Social Change in North Central Philadelphia 2004-2005

The Village of Arts and Humanities has initiated a collaborative community planning process entitled Shared Prosperity in North Philadelphia. This initiative engages neighborhood residents, business owners, community groups, and other organizations in revitalizing North Central Philadelphia by recognizing and strengthening the communities existing assets and leadership. The Shared Prosperity model radically refigures the expert/client relationship. Professional planners drawn from the University placed their students in the position of having to learn from members of a steering committee drawn from the neighborhood. This ethnography explores the ways in which the resident-driven steering committee built community around the work of mentoring student planners and volunteers, reclaiming and beautifying neighborhood spaces, utilizing volunteers to survey the community, retrieving memories of community elders, and reinhabiting the public space of the streets. In this model, economic revitalization grows out of the revitalized life of the community, which leverages recognition and support from the larger polities of metropolis and state.