• Small group discussion at the June 21st Innovation Fund workshop

     Photo credit Darcy Anders
  • Participant observation at Bartram's Garden

  • Survey question about planned activities at Bartram's Garden

Reimagining the Civic Commons

Data Collection + Innovation Fund

Reimagining the Civic Commons: Innovation Fund Project Report 

PennPraxis worked with the Fairmount Park Conservancy (FPC) on two projects in conjunction with the Philadelphia pilot of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, funded by the Knight Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and JPB Foundation.  The initiative united partners from five key civic assets in Philadelphia—Bartram’s Mile, Discovery Center, The Viaduct Rail Park, Lovett Library and Park, and Centennial Commons—that were undergoing phased redesigns beginning in the summer of 2016.  The program brought the partners together to create a process by which each of these distinct sites could be made stronger when envisioned as a system, with programming and experiences shared across sites and engaged with adjacent neighborhoods. 

As one of two projects associated with this initiative, PennPraxis assisted in the design and implementation of data collection and baseline monitoring to document the impacts of the initial phases of implementation. PennPraxis deployed a team to collect this information using site observation, intercept surveys, and user counts to create bases of data to measure future impacts.  A report was created for each of the four sites monitored, so that the information could be used by site managers for decision-making and communicating with the community.

For its second project as part of this initiative, PennPraxis worked with community partners to develop projects under the Initiative’s Innovation Fund, which resulted in several collaborative early-action implementation projects that highlighted sites, and accomplished the goals of uniting communities ahead of construction completion.  Projects included pop-up events, programs, and installations to activate individual sites and share programing across the city, in order to foster improved use and appreciation of Philadelphia’s citywide park assets.  PennPraxis convened an introductory workshop to bring partners together around the common goal, worked with individual sites to develop and implement projects over several months, and shared results of projects with partners at the conclusion of the 18-month project.


Julie Donofrio, Managing Director
Michael Fichman, Researcher, Lecturer
Kaitlyn Levesque, Research Associate