⭐💯⭐ The 100th Issue of 5th Square's Weekly Urbanist Newsletter ⭐💯⭐

Weekly Newsletter, Issue 100


Welcome to the 100th edition of 5th Square's newsletter, our first of 2020. In this special edition, we want to take a pause to reflect on some of our accomplishments as a team over the past year and offer a peek at our plans for 2020.

2019 was a banner year for 5th Square. We celebrated our fifth year as an organization and closed out our second City Council election season, where we saw three of the candidates we supported succeed—Helen Gym, Jamie Gauthier, and Kendra Brooks.

Together, we've made great strides toward better mobility, housing, and public space policies in 2019, and laid the groundwork for bigger policy wins in the new Council term.

This was only possible because of how much our base of members, volunteers, donors, and election volunteers grew in 2019:


We're especially proud of the results of our City Council electoral work in 2019. In a highly-competitive election year, we drove the larger political conversation about important issues like improving public transit, putting people first on our streets, and continued progress on housing and pro-urban planning.

Thanks in part to the work of our members and volunteers calling, texting, knocking doors, collecting petition signatures, and donating to candidates, three of our endorsed candidates for City Council won their elections and were sworn in this week.

  • Kendra Brooks
  • Jamie Gauthier
  • Helen Gym


In 2019 we began hosting regular monthly meet-ups on the second Thursday of each month, and welcomed some exciting speakers like:

  • Jamie Gauthier, City-Councilmember for the 3rd District,

  • Alex Baca, Housing Program Organizer for D.C.-based urbanist advocacy organization Greater Greater Washington,

  • State Rep. Donna Bullock of the 195th District,

  • Lily Bernheimer, author of “The Shaping of Us: How Everyday Spaces Structure Our Lives, Behaviour, and Well-Being,”

  • City Councilmember Kendra Brooks and then-candidate Nicolas O'Rourke from the Working Families Party, and Independent candidate Joe Cox,

  • Roy Gothie, Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator at PennDOT, and

  • University of Iowa Professor Greg Shill


5th Square sponsored or supported actions for several under-the-radar causes in 2019, many of which were successful. We helped amplify neighborhood leaders' push to stop a curb cut in the Italian Market at 9th and Washington, and supported Councilman Mark Squilla's overlay bill to keep driveways out of the market in the future, to allow for pedestrian hours. We're continuing to work with neighbors there to pilot pedestrian hours on 9th Street. 

We also ran several repaving season petitions to support installation of better bike and pedestrian infrastructure, like on Delaware Avenue and the Grays Ferry Bridge. From what we've heard, the Grays Ferry action is likely to be successful, and the protections have already been installed on Delaware Ave. We plan to continue discussions about the plans for Lombard Street and 22nd Street with the City. 

We also helped drive turnout to many public meetings for safer streets and good urban infill housing projects in 2019, working with local members and neighborhood tipsters to build support and win votes for good projects in the face of NIMBY opposition.

(Public meeting for 11th St protected bike lane)

We also worked with other organizations to organize our supporters collectively on larger issues like state-level bills allowing speed cameras and parking-protected bike lanes, as well as rallying against threats to the Central Delaware Overlay, the hard-won urban vision for the Delaware waterfront, and a last-ditch effort by Councilmembers Jannie Blackwell and Darrell Clarke to double minimum parking quotas.

We've also been in talks all year as part of an exciting new coalition of organizations coming together in 2020 to organize transit riders in support of better transit service, fairer fares, and upcoming initiatives like SEPTA's bus network redesign and trolley modernization projects. 


In 2020, we look forward to the following:

  • Working with our partners at the Bicycle Coalition to advance crucial bills in the State House and Senate that will make our streets safer, specifically HB 792 – Protected Bike Lanes and Pedestrian Plazas

  • Advancing a progressive transit agenda in partnership with incoming City Council members regarding family-friendly fares, improving bus service and ridership, and finally ending the $1 transfer penalty this Spring

  • Supporting the work of the forthcoming Transit Forward Philly coalition in 2020, working with SEPTA's new GM Leslie Richards, to support pro-ridership and pro-equity and sustainability policy changes at SEPTA

  • Building coalitions around Washington Ave repaving and a lane diet next year, and building and supporting local campaigns around other dangerous corridors 

  • Supporting candidates in PA State House primaries happening in multiple districts where 5th Square has a bigger presence

  • Establishing 5th Square 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 non-profit arms to support education, outreach, and grant fundraising to better advance our mission of advancing safer streets for walking and biking, improving public transportation, and low-car housing

We need your support to make this possible—please consider joining us in the fight for a more livable and sustainable city for all Philadelphians.




Thank you to everyone who attended our year-end Holiday Party and Urbanist Awards ceremony at Radio Kismet on December 18th!

We had a great time celebrating with so many awesome people from our community  

For those who missed it, we published one last shout-out to all the nominees and the winners from the night's awards ceremony.

We want to thank each one of our nominees for their outstanding contributions to Philadelphia’s urbanist movement in 2019!

Neighborhood RCO Champion

  • Runners-Up:
    • Lorraine Gomez (Viola Street Residents Association)
    • Larissa Mogano (Cobbs Creek Neighbors Association)
  •  Winner:
    • Sarah Anton (Passyunk Square Civic Association)


  • Runners-Up:
    • Banca Calabrese, 630-638 Christian Street (Lily Development)
    • Schaeffer School,4701 Germantown Avenue (Philly Office Retail)
  •  Winner:
    • Theatre Exile, 1340 S 13th St (Center City Development) Accepted by Andrew Ross


  • Runners-Up:
    • Jason Laughlin (Inquirer)
    • Inga Saffron (Inquirer)
  •  Winner:
    • Ariella Cohen (PlanPhilly)


  • Runners-Up:
    • The Philadelphia School
    • Bart Blatstein
  •  Winner:
    • Society Hill Civic Association


  • Runners-Up:
    • Corey Bell
    • Aaron Ritz
  •  Winner:
    • Jeannette Brugger


  • Winner:
    • Will Tung


  • Runners-Up:
    • Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman
    • Megan Ryerson
  •  Winner:
    • Jamie Gauthier


Help us grow Philly's urbanist political movement. Become a 5th Square member by signing up for a monthly contribution of $5, $25, or $50, or make a one-time donation.

We're working toward a Philadelphia that lives up to its legacy as the first planned city in America by supporting champions of forward-thinking transportation and land use planning for elected office.

One of the best ways to help us scale this movement is with a recurring monthly contribution. 

Membership comes with:

  • Voting eligibility on our slate of candidate endorsements
  • Access to 5th Square's Slack workspace
  • Access to members-only events and briefings
  • Advance registration opportunities for events


5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee. We're an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and more and better public spaces. You’re receiving this email if you signed up via our website, attended one of our events, or supported one of our advocacy campaigns. Support our advocacy with a recurring monthly contribution of $5.