On a block in West Philadelphia, a corner lot had sat empty and unused for 20 years. But over a series of weekends last fall, community members used a new kit of parts—part of a new program called “Park in a Truck”—to quickly convert it into a low-cost park. Philadelphia has more than 43,000 vacant lots, many of which are city-owned. In the past, Kim Douglas, a landscape architect at Thomas Jefferson University, had struggled to try to work with these spaces, even though the demand for green spaces in the city is obvious. “We work mainly with under-resourced communities, and we kept hearing from people in these communities that they wanted more parks,” she says.” In some cases, the city promised her use of a lot, but then something fell through. Even when they received permission, building a typical park is also expensive. As Douglas tried to work with students on projects that lasted a semester, that timeline wasn’t necessarily long enough to build community support. “I just thought there had to be a better way,” she says. [Photo: courtesy Thomas Jefferson University] The new Park in a Truck model—which Douglas developed along with Drew Harris, a population […]

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