Arts-Based Community Economic Development
Art and economy have been linked at The Village since Lily Yeh leveraged workforce development dollars to build our most beloved art parks, providing jobs and training to neighbors. The parks and programs we created showed a city, a nation, and the world that creativity and love could alchemize vacancy — the impact of sustained disinvestment — into shared neighborhood culture and assets.
Since our founding over 30 years ago, The Village has consistently pushed the cutting edge of “arts-based community development” concepts and practices, and found new ways to foster opportunities within our neighborhood through art.
Today, The Village is a flagship institution in our neighborhood and functions as a defacto CDC. Under the leadership of Community Economic Development Director Marangeli Mejía-Rabell, our Community Economic Development program expands our commitment to equity by supporting local businesses, entrepreneurs, and community members through art-led and community-focused economic development.
Our three key areas of service are Corridor Management, Corridor Cleaning, Business Services and Workforce Development, and Physical Development.
The Village of Arts and Humanities is located at the base of the Germantown Lehigh Commercial Corridor, known commonly in the neighborhood as “The Ave.” Since 2014, we’ve served as official Corridor Manager under the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department.
We are a convener, facilitator, and active supporter for businesses and partners along the Ave.
Our Community Economic Development staff walks the Ave every week to spend face-to-face time with business owners. We help them navigate legal and community challenges, as well as how to grow or diversify their business.
We also operate our own shop on the Ave, the Village Storefront (home to the People’s Paper Co-op). This gives us first-hand experience with the many opportunities and challenges on the Ave.
Our intensive engagement with the Avenue ignited in 2012 during the Philly Painting Project. Our staff managed relationships between visiting artist Haas & Hahn, neighborhood artists, and business owners during this massive undertaking. The project built the bridge to our current stewardship of the Ave.
Our goals are to foster a vibrant commercial corridor that meets our local shopping needs, and draws visitors to the area to support local merchants. We also ensure that investments of time, energy, technical assistance, and resources are successful in achieving much needed change.
Corridor Cleaning Program
Our corridor cleaning program seeks to make the Avenue a clean and safe commercial corridor.
Under the leadership of Corridor Cleaning Manager Roosevelt Davis, our work fosters an environment that strengthens morale, fosters mutual respect among residents and merchants, and supports a renewed public image for Germantown and Lehigh.
Mr. Davis works not only to keep the Ave spotless, but also communicate information and policies to business owners, and to help them solve problems.
We partner with programs such as the Philadelphia Streets Department SWEEP Program, the Philadelphia More Beautiful Recycling Program, and 311 to offer trainings to merchants to support leveraging resources and reporting as needed.
Business Services and Workforce Development
Through strategic partnerships, CED aims to create new jobs for residents and young people in the community — and not just any jobs, but employment that builds skills and relationships, and encourages stewardship by residents.
We’re proud to announce that last year, Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations awarded The Villages its Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Community Development in recognition of our People’s Paper Co-op program and its work at the intersection of arts, community development and social justice.
A partnership with the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy offered one-on-one business consulting with top thinkers, lenders, and creators around the city to local entrepreneurs.
Our Community Small Business Incubator on Alder street offers studio space and internet access to 3 community businesses.
Community Economic Development Director Marangeli Mejía-Rabell offers personalized resource connection and consulting to aspiring entrepreneurs, connecting them with programs around the city.
We also offer direct services and help with barriers to employment. This includes WIRES (Walk In ReEntry Services) in partnership with the Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) team, serving community residents weekly with pop-up services including case management interventions and referrals.
Here are a few of the programs with which we collaborate:
- Commerce Business Programs
- Business Security Camera Program
- InStore Program
- Kiva Zip
- Corzo Center for the Creative Economy
- Philly 311
Our day-to-day work on the Corridor provides invaluable insight into a unique set of challenges and needs that must be evaluated in order to embark on real estate improvement and development along and adjacent to the Avenue.
We apply this insight as a partner with agencies, nonprofits and equitable developers seeking to activate spaces on the Ave.
Serving as part of City of Philadelphia’s Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) is a key part of our commitment to support Equitable Development Practices and support residents and stakeholders of our service area to provide input regarding zoning decisions in their neighborhood. This work is coordinated through a process of direct notification and public meetings to discuss proposed projects.
CPTED & SafeGrowth
By collaborating with residents, merchants and stakeholders to create clean and safe pathways through SafeGrowth and CPTED techniques, The Village is looking to impact revitalization in the target area by decreasing drug related activity, creating an opportunity for site programming, creating an opportunity for creative placemaking for a cultural/experimental hub on the corridor, convening businesses owners, students, and residents around a concern that they feel the PPD neglects because of the district split (3 of them in the immediate area), support building trust between The Village, stakeholders and the community, and ultimately attracting investment through this newly created stability. Ultimately, this process will build trust in a historically neglected area, and be guided by those who want to make a change in their community.
Roosevelt Davis Flyers for Open Mic
Roosevelt Davis, Corridor Cleaning Manager, staples flyers near the corner of Huntingdon and N. 8th St.. The flyers publicize the Village of the Arts and Humanities open mic.
Corridor Business Owners Meeting
Milk, Neighborhood Artist at Philly Painting Project
Philly Painting Project, Germantown Ave