On Friday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., academics and policymakers will gather in Thomas Great Hall to discuss the challenges faced by the older, developed suburbs of Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties and develop a regional agenda for change. The Hepburn Center and Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research are among the co-sponsors of the event.
The conference is the first major effort of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project, which describes itself as a “regional coalition of community leaders from developed suburbs that have joined together to harness their communities’ statewide power by directly engaging citizens to affect policies and practices that will lead to the stabilization and revitalization of their communities.”
In an op-ed piece published in the Philadelphia Daily News, First Suburbs Project Co-Chairs William Montgomery and Jacquelyn Puriefoy-Brinkley list some of the challenges developed suburbs face: “loss of businesses and jobs, decaying infrastructure, a shrinking tax base coupled with rising tax rates, failing schools, social services lagging behind the needs of their citizens, and public and private investment policies that fall short of community needs.”
These challenges are familiar to Philadelphians, they say, but “unlike the city, the first suburbs are often small communities that lack the size, cohesiveness and political representation to respond effectively to these challenges. Until now, what these first suburbs lacked was a coalition that allowed them to speak with one voice.”
Featured speakers are David Rusk, an expert on urban and suburban policy and the author of The Inside/Outside Game; and Professor John A. Powell, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. They will be joined by Delaware Valley planners, officials and academics.
Organizers expect a full house, but Bryn Mawr does have a few complimentary passes to the event. Members of the campus community who are interested in attending should contact Co-Dean Marcia Martin of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at x2606 or at email@example.com.
For a full schedule of events, download this brochure.