The Preservation Alliance For Greater Philadelphia Hosts Citywide Conference Dedicated to Weaving the Neighborhood Fabric Back Together

By Hayley Hanafee, for GPA -- Philadelphia is known for its vibrant neighborhoods and diverse communities interlaced throughout the city. On October 12, community leaders and historic preservation advocates gathered for a citywide conference dedicated to “Weaving the Neighborhood Fabric Back Together.”

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia -- known as the region’s public steward for the preservation and management of historic resources --- welcomed guests to a series of educational sessions on revitalizing and sustaining healthy communities.

The keynote speaker was Donovan Rypkema, Principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington D.C.-based real estate and economic development consulting firm. He is also the author of several publications including Community Initiated Development, The Economics of Rehabilitation, andthe Downtown Real Estate Development Series, among others.

Throughout his discussion of “Why Historic Neighborhoods Make Great Cities,” Rypkema stressed the value of establishing interconnected historical neighborhoods. In his eyes, cities with a strong historic character distinguish one city from another. It is the “differentiation that creates economic premium” and thus, brands a city on a national and international scale. Several benefits of investing in cultural heritage include livability, job creation, and local economic development. In addition, strong heritage fosters a sense of place for both residents and visitors.  

Following the lecture and opening remarks, attendees had the opportunity to select from a variety of informational sessions led by a team of panelists to encourage discussion on the most pertinent issues facing Philadelphia communities. One session entitled, “Getting on the Digital Radar Screen,” represented by writers and electronic journalists on behalf of Hidden City Daily, Naked Philly, and Plan Philly engaged participants in the importance of electronic communication in this increasingly digital age. They offered tips on how to stay in the loop of electronic journalists, as well as best practices of how to share what is happening in your community.  

The underlying theme of the conference emphasized cultural and social responsibility through collaboration. A city of neighborhoods can provide the fibers to thread together a cohesive sense of Philadelphia’s unique identity.