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SW Germantown 'Rising' thanks to program

It's the latest neighborhood to join the city's PhillyRising program.

At the "Grow This Block!" event from Memorial Day 2012, residents gather up plants along West Rockland Street.
At the "Grow This Block!" event from Memorial Day 2012, residents gather up plants along West Rockland Street.Read morePHOTO: W. ROCKLAND STREET PROJECT

ANYONE INTERESTED in learning the true meaning of perseverance should spend some time in southwest Germantown.

After years of attending meetings, making phone calls and lobbying the city, community organizers have succeeded in bringing the neighborhood under the fold of the PhillyRising Collaborative.

The collaborative, an idea from the Managing Director's Office, seeks to combat quality-of-life issues in crime-ridden neighborhoods by working closely with area organizations.

Organizations like the Southwest Central Lower Germantown Civic Association, run by Allison Weiss.

"This is a way to help us to follow through with what we're trying to do, to make it a reality," Weiss said of the neighborhood's addition to PhillyRising. "I don't think it's an answer or an end; I think it's a start to bringing people together, of trying to see what we can do to make the community clean, green and safe."

Southwest Germantown came into the fold of PhillyRising earlier this month under the program's 2.0 initiative, according to Jim Sanders, the program's assistant managing director for the northwest division.

"Now, we're going beyond providing service to most distressed neighborhoods, and looking at neighborhoods with enough social infrastructure so that we won't have to be totally engrossed in day-to-day operations," Sanders said.

"Southwest Germantown is perfect for that - it has plenty of great groups doing great things."

Sanders said the goal is to offer guidance and support to projects that the community groups are developing, and streamlining access to city services and personnel.

"It's an exchange of ideas; we're not approving any plans, just adding to the them, giving organizers things to think about," Sanders said. "They provide the plan, we provide the momentum to carry it to fruition."

For Aine Doley, a block captain on Rockland Street and a neighborhood blogger (at The W Rockland Street Project), that's good to hear.

"This is something we've been working on for a while, and it's safe to say everyone's excited," Doley said.

"The city's support should help us to not continue to decline and really focus on quality-of-life issues."

Doley said she's looking forward to faster turnaround for grabbing essential cleanup equipment, such as trucks from the Streets Department to haul away debris.

She also said that she, Weiss and other community organizers are developing projects ahead of the official kickoff meeting for the area's entrance into PhillyRising, scheduled for Thursday.

"We're hoping everyone gets involved; we need active participation, or else this isn't going to work," she said.

"This is your chance: The lines of communication are now open."