The How We Build Matters Speaker Series event on September 22nd will equip community members to take action towards building a more inclusive community.
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Kennett Square residents are justifiably proud of the unique community they call home, says Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Bo Wright. “But growth pressure creates challenges, and we need to proceed thoughtfully to maintain and strengthen the social cohesion that makes Kennett Square unique and make sure it’s a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.”
The next How We Build Matters Speaker Series event on Thursday, September 22nd, will bring together a diverse panel of young leaders who recently participated in the Kennett Emerging Leadership Fellowship. Elideth Navarro, Mayra Castillo, and Lee Sausen will engage in an honest and thought-provoking conversation about inclusive community and the importance of feeling welcomed into community discussions about life and spaces in the town.
“We see and hear the frustrations in our community, and it’s hard when people don’t have outlets for coming together to give input, listen, and take action,” Wright says. “That’s why we’re excited to showcase some projects that are addressing exactly these kinds of questions and to give community members opportunities to share ideas, ask questions, and get involved in these initiatives. Community engagement is absolutely necessary in order for projects like the Red Clay Trail & Park, the new Kennett Library, and the project that South Broad Partnership is proposing for 600 South Broad Street to succeed.”
An interactive “science fair” showcasing these projects will follow the panel discussion on the 22nd. Attendees can learn more about the Red Clay Trail & Park project and about opportunities to volunteer in addition to having a chance to “build their own Red Clay Park” on game boards that will be provided. “We really want people to give us their input, feedback, and ideas at this early stage of the project,” says Executive Director of the Kennett Trails Alliance Christina Norland. “Our vision is for the creek that runs from Anson B. Nixon Park to Kennett High School—and that connects so many places in between—to be transformed into a beautiful, restored public space for people to walk, rest, gather, play and engage with nature. The multiple goals of this project, from stream restoration to community programming, can only happen through community collaboration at every step.”
When the new Kennett Library & Resource Center opens its doors in May 2023, it will welcome all Kennett area residents to enter a world of discovery, learning, and change. The meeting rooms, auditorium, and the children’s and adult maker spaces will allow the Library to expand programming for children, teens, adults, and seniors. The roles of libraries have evolved over the years, and on September 22nd Library staff will be sharing some of their new and existing programs that help create a more equitable community.
Through focusing on scholarly research, public experiences, and historical memorialization, Voices Underground seeks to foster racial healing through storytelling. The organization facilitates Juneteenth in Pennsylvania in partnership with the PA Tourism Office, has established an African American Cultural Heritage Center at Lincoln University, and is working on a multi-phase collaborative project that will memorialize the nationally significant history of the Underground Railroad in Kennett Square. In partnership with the Mellon Foundation, Voices Underground has also recently launched a scholar-in-residence program and has hired Robert Edwards, a PhD candidate in Historic Preservation at Columbia University whose work focuses on the relationship between architecture and race, as the first scholar-in-residence. (For more on Voices Underground, see this video.)
Another exciting project that attendees will be able to learn more about and give feedback on is South Broad Partnership’s proposal to build a mixed-use community center at 600 South Broad Street. South Broad Partnership, a local team of professionals invested in the community, passionate about its flourishing, and committed to equity, historic preservation, and quality construction and beautiful design, has created a plan that will combine mixed-price-point housing with community greenspace and will accommodate a variety of small businesses, a community grocer, a performing arts space, and more. The goal of this community center is to enrich the town and its residents and to put Kennett Square on the map through this model of sustainable, beautiful, walkable, and equitable development.
“The goal of the evening is to show how these projects really can help our community take steps to create a more equitable community,” says Wright.
“Throughout the Speaker Series events over the past year we’ve had experts from around the country talking about the ‘hardware’ of different elements of the built environment,” Wright says. “With this event on the 22nd, we want to bring these considerations together with the ‘software’—how we make sure that the physical spaces we create are welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all.”
“What do places that bring people together look like? And once we have those spaces, how do we program and activate those spaces so that they allow for equity and inclusion?” Wright asks. “These are important questions to address now, at this pivotal point in our development. In Kennett we have an exciting opportunity to build a kind of model community—a beautiful and sustainable community where every citizen can belong and prosper. We hope everyone who loves Kennett Square will join us and help us take the next steps towards achieving this.”
Kennett Collaborative’s How We Build Matters: Let’s Build an Inclusive Community event will take place at 6:30pm on Thursday, September 22nd, at Kennett Square Presbyterian Church, 211 South Broad Street, Kennett Square. The panel discussion and Q&A will be interpreted live in Spanish and livestreamed. The link to RSVP is here.
Past How We Build Matters Speaker Series events can be viewed here.
The How We Build Matters Speaker Series is a program of the nonprofit Kennett Collaborative, which seeks to make Kennett thrive through intentionally creating programs and events that help Kennett become a more beautiful and welcoming community where all can belong and prosper.