In advance of PlanPhilly’s panel discussion about the city’s vacant land strategies on June 12th, Eyes on the Street is collecting and sharing stories from Community Contributors about vacant property. Doris Berris, a resident of the 1500 Block of North 9th Street, shares this piece about her neighborhood's effort to transform several vacant lots along the SEPTA tracks running up North 9th. In 2008 Berris and her neighbors built a community garden to grow vegetables, teach kids about fresh food, and build community along the way. The gardens, grown on lots owned by a combination of city agencies, were razed in 2009 and look as forlorn as before. But what if the city could empower communities with tools to reclaim vacant properties in their midst and transform abandonment into assets?
---------Doris Berris is a member of Temple Presbyterian Church in North Philadelphia, which is part of the Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land.