Keep up with all things Germantown! We post resources and opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs, news about community-driven planning efforts and the equitable development of Germantown, and relevant programs and events for residents.
Germantown is in the news! Germantown United CDC staff pick your must-reads of the month, with a focus on business, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization news.
The third annual Germantown Second Saturday Festival, presented by Historic Germantown and Germantown United CDC, will be held at Market Square Park on Saturday, May 13, 2017. We will be seeking performers, vendors and community organizations to table at the event.
Philadelphia is home to strong musical traditions like Jazz, Gospel, DooWop, R&B, Rock and Hiphop. Our greatest strength has been the unexpected and wonderful blending and swirling of these traditions into new and fascinating musical creations. One place where this magic happens is Germantown. This community in the Northwestern region of Philadelphia was and continues to be a neighborhood rich in culture, history and diverstity. Many renowned Philadelphia musicians, writers, visual artists, media makers and dancers grew up, or made their homes in Germantown.
In the Spring of 2016, Philadelphia Jazz Project began a collaboration with Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) and a group of talented Germantown musicians. The task: To record and produce a compelling CD, as a fundraiser for GUCDC. The goal: To celebrate the historical cultural strength and diversity of Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown community. The culminating album – entitled “For the Love of Germantown” – is a compilation of nine great Jazz, Blues and Soul performances of new and classic songs. Featured album artists include: Jim Dragoni, Bethlehem & Sad Patrick, Karen Smith, DM Hotep (David Middleton), Kunu Bi with Papa Ed Stokes & Tom Lowery, Mélange Jazz Collective with Bert Harris, Tony Williams & Dave Posmontier, Rob Henderson, and John Blake & Steve Giordano Duo.
‘Tis the season to shop small and buy local! Make a donation of $15 to Germantown United CDC to receive your very own copy. “For the Love of Germantown!” is another great way for you to support Germantown’s burgeoning arts scene, and Germantown United CDC’s creative and community driven approach to economic development.
The album, produced by Philadelphia Jazz Project’s Homer Jackson, was released on October 30, 2016 and celebrated with a live jam session and album release party at Germantown’s Rittenhouse Soundworks.
Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.
Get up, get out and #ShopSmall on November 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s a special holiday created so communities can show love for small businesses like ours. And it wouldn’t be a celebration without customers like you visiting Germantown businesses! Celebrate Small Business Saturday with us!
Every year Germantown United CDC commissions longtime Germantown business Karen Singer Tileworks Inc. to design a commemorative tile featuring an iconic G’town building. So far, we’ve created tiles of Town Hall and the YWCA. This year we’re asking YOU to help us pick.
The buildings we’re considering include the historic Loudoun Mansion at 4650 Germantown Ave, Germantown High School at 40 High St, and Vernon House (Black Writer’s Museum) at 4800 Germantown Avenue in Vernon Park. Vote on which building you’d like to see made into a tile this year! One lucky voter will win a decorative tile. Vote online here.
This holiday season, Karen Singer Tilesworks will celebrate 25 years in business in Germantown with a celebratory party and seasonal sale on Friday, November 25th from 4 – 8 p.m. at the tile studio, located at 90 E Church Lane, Philadelphia, Pa. 19144. ‘Tis the season to shop small and buy local! Read on to learn more about Karen’s contributions to the Germantown community and support this independent business.
Celebrate with KST, 25 years of story telling through art tiles, murals, and donor walls. 25 years of helping non-profits create a visual representation of their mission, 25 years of giving back to the community of Germantown and Greater Northwest.
Karen has her studio and home in Germantown for 25 years and is going strong. She is not only of this Germantown community but she is fully engaged in it. As a former Pa Arts in Education Resident Karen has conducted workshops engaging students in the art making process and installed tiled murals in Houston Elementary, Kelly Elementary among others and done the same at Project Learn and Henry School pro bono as part of her ethic of giving back to the community.
She is part of the fundraising committee at Germantown United CDC creating an annual tile representing an aspect of Germantown history, as a fundraising incentive for those who donate a certain amount thereby helping sustain the good works of GUCDC.
Please join us November 25th from 4 – 8 p.m.
Karen Singer Tileworks
90 E Church Lane
Philadelphia, Pa. 19144
Germantown, Philadelphia, PA – This is Germantown Heart & Soul, a project of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) and Just Act, will host a series of community gatherings throughout Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood this winter beginning on November 19, 2016. The Germantown community is invited to participate in a unique interactive group storytelling experience. Unlike traditional civic meetings and town halls, the events – called Story Circles – use theater as a planning tool and center on capturing the wishes, needs, and ideas of residents as they share personal stories of meaningful experiences in Germantown and what they view as essential for growth of the neighborhood’s vibrant but struggling shopping district. A calendar of events is included below, with additional dates to be announced.
Story Circles will be facilitated by a multigenerational “Storytelling Engagement Team” comprised of Germantown residents, with support from the Just Act Ensemble. The collected stories will guide Germantown United CDC’s future work and plans for successful, community-responsive business corridor revitalization and contribute to efforts underway to make the central business district a people-centered main street destination for the Germantown community and visitors from outside the immediate neighborhood.
“This is Germantown Heart & Soul aims to create a shared sense of belonging that ultimately improves local decision-making and strengthens social, cultural, and economic vibrancy,” said Emaleigh Doley, Commercial Corridor Manager at Germantown United CDC. “Germantown is one of the city’s largest neighborhoods, with a population of 44,000. It’s important to recognize that the immediate needs of residents living in the Chew and Belfield area of East Germantown might differ from those in West Germantown’s Penn-Knox section, for example. That doesn’t mean the Eastside and the Westside have nothing in common. We also all share the business district.”
A core goal of the project is to connect both the formal and informal networks contributing to community improvement efforts and operating at the micro level – from block captains to Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) and neighborhood civics with limited boundaries.
“These story sharing events build upon an interest and commitment in helping communities adapt and implement positive changes based upon the vision and experiences of all community members and create new opportunities for residents and community stakeholders to meet in-person,” said Lisa Jo Epstein, Executive Director of Just Act.
This is Germantown Heart & Soul made its public debut in the spring of 2016 through a series of successful pop-up story booths held along the business district at a variety of spaces, from the bustling intersection of Germantown and Chelten Avenues to the annual Juneteenth Celebration, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, organized by the Johnson House Historic Site. The Story Engagement Team was formed in the summer and fall of 2016 and has been meeting regularly to train for and plan the upcoming Story Circles events. The Germantown Life Enrichment Center, a community-oriented recreational and educational facility in the heart of Germantown at 5722 Greene Street, generously donated meeting space for the team and is one of several This is Germantown Heart & Soul sponsoring organizations.
With the addition of the more intimate Story Circles series, This is Germantown Heart & Soul will:
The collected data will also become the highlight of “Community Cataloguing Data Jams” – events in January 2017 where participants will listen to transcripts of stories from their neighbors to collectively identify and catalogue shared visions for what the community values.
The current calendar of events is included below. Additional dates will be added. All Germantown residents and community stakeholders are invited. Events are open to the public. Food and refreshments will be provided, along with live music and good cheer. Attend one or attend them all. For an up-to-date program calendar visit facebook.com/thisisgermantownheartandsoul. Contact Germantown United CDC at 215-856-4303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, November 19 from 4 – 6 p.m.
Location: Providence Baptist Church, 87 E. Haines Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Sponsoring Community Organization: Providence Baptist Church
Monday, December 5 from 7 – 9 p.m.
Location: Awbury Arboreteum, 1 Awbury Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19138
Sponsoring Community Organization: Awbury Arboretum Neighbors, Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club, and Awbury Arboreteum
Tuesday, December 13 from 7 – 9 p.m.
Location: Germantown Mennonite Church, 21 W Washington Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Sponsoring Community Organization: Pastorius Community Garden, Men Who Care of Germantown, Germantown Mennonite Church, and Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust
Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is a community-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of the business district in the Germantown neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development. Vibrant commercial corridors or “Main Streets” contribute to strong neighborhoods. They provide a place to work, shop, and meet your neighbors. Through our Targeted Corridor Management Program contract with the city’s Commerce Department, Germantown United CDC provides assistance to businesses, brings planning and resources to the corridor, oversees activities to make the corridor clean and safe, and works to attract new businesses to the area. We are actively working to bolster and reinforce the vibrancy of the business district to meet the needs of the surrounding community and attract visitors from outside the immediate neighborhood. Germantown United CDC is also exploring opportunities to strengthen and diversify the mix of commercial uses in the business district, the potential to reuse vacant or underutilized properties, business and job attraction strategies, and available sources of funding to support recommended revitalization strategies.
Just Act is a distinctive hybrid of artistic and community engagement committed to social justice. Our Ensemble of artist-educators facilitate unique theatre-based programs with non-actors that activate and nurture meaningful dialogue, reflection, healing and action around complex, often divisive social issues. Just Act is committed to building and fortifying inclusive, restorative civic engagement through partnerships across sectors and differences. Informed by Theatre of the Oppressed and other art and activist strategies, our work is a creative catalyst for community activism and personal change. In all we undertake, Just Act renews and deepens the capacity of social change seekers and makers to stand up for justice on personal, inter-group and systemic levels with compassion and renewed courage. In these times of anxiety, bustle and disconnection, Just Act offers refreshing, participatory “refuel zones” to creatively pause and attend to tension and fractured relations – particularly around race, culture, and socio-economic disparities – to reweave connections and grow empathy, understanding and action plans.
Commercial Corridor Manager, Germantown United CDC
Lisa Jo Epstein
Executive Director, Just Act
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Germantown United CDC and Philly Jazz Project are proud to announce the release of a brand new musical album featuring a lineup of superb local acts generously displaying their talents, “For the Love of Germantown!” On Sunday, October 30, 2016 from 4 PM – 6 PM join us at Rittenhouse Soundworks (219 W Rittenhouse St) to hear the artists perform a live show, enjoy an open bar and good cheer, and take home your own copy of this never-before-heard compilation of music inspired by Germantown. The product of two years of planning and effort by the Philadelphia Jazz Project and producer, Homer Jackson, “For the Love of Germantown!” is another great way for you to support Germantown’s burgeoning arts scene, and Germantown United’s creative and community driven approach to economic development.
Featured artists on the album include: Bethlehem & Sad Patrick, DM Hotep (David Middleton), Jim Dragoni, John Blake & Steve Giordano Duo, Karen Smith, Kunu Bi, Melange Jazz Collective, Rob Henderson, Tony Williams & Dave Posmontier, and many others.
And there’s more: attendees will witness the unveiling of Germantown’s new online business directory, and have the honor of being the first contributors as we kick off our 2016 grassroots growth campaign aiming to raise $40,000 to ensure our ongoing work in 2017! All proceeds raised from this event will be added to our fund.
The Germantown community has an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a 0.65-acre parcel of land at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue, formerly the site of the Old Tennis Court Farm, and reactivate this once-thriving community garden.
With the goal of raising the full purchase price for the land and related costs by late October 2016, the gardeners of the Old Tennis Court Farm and the Friends of Cloverly Park are working with Natural Lands Trust to purchase the property, protect it in perpetuity through a conservation easement, and return it to productive community green space.
The Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project is a partnership of the Old Tennis Court Farm gardeners and the Friends of Cloverly Park. Germantown United CDC is serving as fiscal sponsor.
Make a tax-deductible donation toward the purchase of the Old Tennis Court Farmsite online via GUCDC’s website or by mail with a downloadable donation form.
Visit friendsofcloverlypark.org for fundraising updates and additional information about the project.
In 2009, members of the Germantown Monthly Meeting and other community members founded a community garden on the site of the former tennis courts of Germantown Friends School in the 5400 block of Wissahickon Avenue, adjacent to Cloverly Park. In 2015 the garden was closed so that GFS could sell the property.
The Old Tennis Court Farm made a significant contribution to its surrounding community:
With a goal of acquiring and preserving the property at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue and returning it to productive community greenspace, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project is a collective effort of the Old Tennis Court Farm gardeners, the Friends of Cloverly Park, and Natural Lands Trust. Neighborhood Gardens Trust is providing technical assistance and Germantown United CDC is serving as fiscal sponsor.
Purchase of the 0.65-acre site by Natural Lands Trust would preserve the site in perpetuity and allow for eventual transfer to an entity such as the City of Philadelphia (as part of Cloverly Park) or Neighborhood Gardens Trust.
Once returned to operation, the Old Tennis Court Farm would:
To date, the effort has received widespread encouragement and support, including that of members of Philadelphia’s City Council, the Senate and House of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Agriculture of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation, the City Commissioner and City Planning Commission, Germantown United CDC, multiple community organizations, and neighborhood associations.
Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) has retained Real Estate Strategies, Inc. (RES) to conduct a market study and develop a revitalization strategy for the Chelten Avenue commercial corridor in Germantown. GUCDC is actively working to bolster and reinforce the vibrancy of Chelten Avenue to meet the needs of the surrounding community, attract visitors from outside the immediate neighborhood, and provide employment opportunities for neighborhood residents. Building on these efforts, the purpose and objectives of this study are to explore opportunities to strengthen and diversify the mix of commercial uses in the corridor, the potential to reuse vacant or underutilized properties, business and job attraction strategies, and available sources of funding to support recommended revitalization strategies.
RES provides advisory services in real estate and economic development and has extensive experience in preparing market analyses and developing revitalization strategies for commercial corridors and neighborhoods in Philadelphia and throughout the greater mid-Atlantic region. Additionally, RES principals have over 25 years of experience working on development plans and initiatives in the Germantown neighborhood. Careful market research underpins all RES engagements, with the understanding that the best business attraction and economic development strategies begin with a realistic understanding of market dynamics.
The mission of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of the business corridors in the Germantown neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development. Learn more at www.germantownunitedcdc.org.