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Meet the SustainPHL Neighborhood Champion nominees for 2023

Meet the SustainPHL Neighborhood Champion nominees for 2023

This nominee is making a difference on a micro-level (neighborhood engagement, block captain, etc) and his/her/their efforts could be unrecognized.

Philadelphia’s SustainPHL Awards highlights and celebrates these community changemakers. Join us to honor them and announce the recipient at the SustainPHL Awards on October 19th at the Academy of Natural Sciences. 

Jose Ferran

Jose Ferran is a dedicated resident and advocate of Hunting Park, committed to fighting for environmental justice and empowering the community’s youth to become change-makers. He founded Hunting Park Green with a specific focus on addressing environmental challenges in Hunting Park, including heat mitigation. Jose played a vital role in developing the Hunting Park Beat the Heat plan and actively engages with local youth to plant, maintain, and advocate for trees in the area. He has also initiated efforts to transform vacant lots in Hunting Park into clean, healthy, and productive spaces for the community.

Through his engagement, advocacy, and work with Hunting Park Green, Jose not only advances environmental justice in Hunting Park but also mentors and guides young people to become successful, productive, and compassionate adults.

Jose’s dedication and impact in his community have garnered admiration and recognition from others who have witnessed the transformative effect of his work. He has demonstrated a commitment to holistic youth development, providing essential support and programming to young people and their families.

Jose’s innovative approaches, neighborhood-focused initiatives, and ability to mobilize volunteers have made a significant difference in addressing blight and enhancing public spaces in Hunting Park. His work includes art board murals and repainting neighborhood corner store businesses voluntarily.

Given his track record and the positive outcomes of his programs, there is a strong endorsement for recognizing Jose Ferran for his continued success in making a meaningful impact on the community. His work promises to enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and it is encouraged to consider him for this recognition.

Cesar Andreú Iglesias Community Garden & Neighborhood Gardens Trust

The Neighborhood Gardens Trust (NGT) is a Philadelphia-based land trust committed to preserving and fostering community gardens and shared open spaces throughout the city. Their mission is rooted in the vision of an equitable and sustainable city where all neighborhoods have thriving green areas for residents to cultivate food, flowers, and community bonds. NGT collaborates with self-organized gardeners, community organizations, property owners, and the City of Philadelphia to secure ownership or long-term leases for community-managed open spaces, safeguarding a total of 52 such spaces to date. These preserved gardens contribute to cleaner air, reduced pollution, cooler temperatures, and biodiversity enhancement, with NGT actively engaging youth and neighbors in educational efforts. Additionally, NGT is part of a coalition advocating for improved policies to protect open green spaces in the city.

Neighborhood Gardens Trust (NGT) & Caesar Iglesias Garden advocated to save land for gardens and the community. In 1997, the city sold tax liens on 33,000 properties to U.S. Bank, resulting in many properties becoming privatized. In 2021, these sales began to increase, alarming community garden stewards who had transformed blighted lots into green spaces.

Philadelphia City Councilmembers, including Kendra Brooks, initiated efforts to buy back liens on hundreds of community garden lots that were at risk of going to a sheriff’s sale. The Neighborhood Gardens Trust, along with other organizations, identified around 500 at-risk parcels of land, including community gardens and side yards. The city’s one-time investment of $1.1 million allowed it to reacquire these liens, preventing the gardens from being sold at sheriff’s sales.

Josephine Gasiewski Winter

Jo Winter is a dedicated community leader with a relentless drive to engage her neighborhood and drive positive change. One of her recent initiatives, the Carpenter Station Ecolab, demonstrates her commitment to making a difference in the community. In a remarkably short time, she initiated this project in the spring and has already forged partnerships with organizations like SEPTA, Tree Philly, a local middle school, and the National Parks Service. Dr. Winter leads the West Mount Airy Neighborhood Association, where her vision for a community space focused on nature and sustainability is coming to life.

The Carpenter Station Ecolab aims to create a communal area that fosters native plant growth and educates residents about the broader context of nature and sustainability. It has attracted a dedicated group of volunteers who have worked together to clear invasive plants and trash and plant over a dozen fruit-bearing trees.

Jo Winter’s leadership style involves knowing when to step back to allow others to take the lead while remaining readily available when needed. Her vision for the Ecolab has been embraced wholeheartedly by the community, and she draws inspiration from her late father, who shared her passion for bringing neighbors together for the greater good.

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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