Community Progress Blog

Problem to Purpose: Placemaking Brings Community Healing for Residents Impacted by Substance Abuse

Written by on April 14, 2020

Photo Credit: Hinge Collective

Today’s opioid epidemic has become “the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. On average, 10 Pennsylvanians lose their lives to a substance abuse disorder each day.

Hinge Collective principals, Alexa Bosse and Ari Miller, are working to find new ways to fight Philadelphia’s challenge through a creative placemaking solution that began as a student project.

“What began as a graduate-level design studio at The University of Pennsylvania…has become a flagship effort in understanding the role of community-engaged design in working with communities affected by the national opioid epidemic.”

That’s how Bosse described Urban Action, an initiative that connects community organizations with graduate students from the University of Philadelphia, in hopes of giving residents an opportunity to play a larger role in designing the spaces they call home.

Hinge worked with residents of the Kensington Neighborhood, including its homeless population, on reimagining a vacant lot into a “healing space.” The site in mind had been well-known in the community since, according to Hinge, it had been dubbed as “the location of the largest opioid market in the city; some say even the entire East Coast.” Through outreach, meetings, and a community visioning board, Hinge has already taken some steps toward improving the lot, and even used the memories, dreams, and hopes shared for the community on the visioning board to install a “Wish Gallery” at the site.

Bosse says future goals include hosting a small community build event.

Need Ideas for a Community Creative Placemaking Project?

Download the “Trends in Creative Placemaking on Problem Properties: 2019 National Survey Findings” for data and real case studies of communities, like Oakland, where residents are solving community challenges while fighting vacancy.

For more inspiration and innovation’s in creative placemaking, follow Community Progress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

For more information on the Hinge Collective, please be sure to visit their website.

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