Celebrate near completion of the Big Green Block by volunteering this weekend

Over the past four years, Sustainable 19125 has scored a series of eco-forward victories for the Kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond communities. Founded in 2009 by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), Sustainable 19125 is a coalition of residents, businesses, and institutional partners with the collective goal to create a more sustainable, safe and friendly neighborhood.

When NKCDC held a kick-off party for the group in January 2009, they discovered two things: one, that community members and local businesses were passionate about greening their neighborhood, and two, that vacant land could be an asset, not an eyesore. The result was the Big Green Block, a $44 million project with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Philadelphia Water Department to create a green infrastructure master plan for 20 acres between Frankford Avenue and Front, Norris and Palmer Streets. The blocks include the new LEED Platinum certified Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School (the first public school in the U.S. to have this certification).

Since the project’s launch two years ago, the 20 acres have become a model for sustainable design, boasting a stormwater management system that collects 90 percent of rainwater runoff. Based on community members’ input, the Big Green Block also features a dog park, playground and recreation areas. The Big Green Block is seen as setting a “precedent ... for what can result when a community drives design,” says Diana Jih, community relations specialist at NKCDC.

An official ribbon cutting for the Big Green Block will be held later this spring, but in the meantime, you can help put the finishing touches on the block this Saturday, April 20 at a volunteer day. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m. the NKCDC, along with Palmer Doggie Depot, Fishtown Athletic Club and the Fishtown Neighbors Association’s beatification committee, will be putting in native plants and spreading mulch in the dog park.

Gloves, tools and light refreshments will be provided. Rain date Sunday April 21, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Please RSVP by Friday, April 19. For more information, contact Diana Jih at djih@nkcdc.org or 215-427-0350 x104.