Newsletter: Q&A w/ ⭐Vanessa McGrath⭐ Endorsed State Rep Candidate for 175th | 🛣️ Our FOMO for Open Streets During COVID | 🚘💥🚗 Spiking Road Fatalities

Weekly Newsletter, Issue 112

Primary elections are now on June 2nd due to COVID-19 -- request your mail-in ballot today!


Many of our members got ours in the mail last week!

If you haven't requested one yet, you still have a few weeks left!


Join us for a Zoom lunchtime Q&A with our endorsed State House Candidate for the 175th District, Vanessa McGrath.

TODAY at Noon

We’ll be hosting more candidate video chats with state legislative candidates throughout the rest of the primary before June 2nd to keep our community informed about the stakes for transportation, housing, and more in this election. 

RSVP to receive meeting login info.



5th Square is pleased to announce our 2020 endorsements for PA State House!

These candidates best represent our mission to make Philadelphia a more sustainable, accessible, transit-friendly city for everyone.

📸 Read more about why we chose these candidates in our Press Release.

🗒️ Read candidates' responses to our 2020 state legislative questionnaire and get vital election information at our 2020 Election Center.

🙋 Interested in helping us work (from home) on getting these folks into office? Sign up as a volunteer and check the 'Organizing and Elections' Box!



Help the City inform their next Vision Zero Action Plan!

Philadelphia oTIS' Vision Zero Safety Map is an interactive tool where Philadelphians can report where road safety improvements are needed.

Vision Zero Safety Map: Report transportation hazards and dangerous traffic behaviors in our community



Tuesday, May 12th, Noon - 1 PM
⭐ 5th Sq | Q&A with PA-175 House Candidate Vanessa McGrath ⭐

Join us for a Zoom lunchtime Q&A with our endorsed State House Candidate for the 175th District, Vanessa McGrath. Read her response to our questionnaire and hear her discuss topics surrounding urbanism, planning, mobility and land use. RSVP to receive meeting login info.

Thursday, May 14th, 6 - 7:30 PM
⭐ 5th Sq | May Monthly Meet-Up - Join Your RCO Event ⭐

At our first Join Your RCO event, we’ll be introducing 5th Square members and interested community to Philadelphia’s Registered Community Organization system. We will hear from neighborhood leaders like Matt Ruben, Andy Toy, and more, as well as guest moderator Inga Saffron, about how local neighborhood leaders have made progress on urbanist goals through volunteer leadership, and how you can too.

Thursday, May 14th, 3:00 PM
TFP | Coalition Wide Virtual Meeting on SEPTA's Fare Restructuring Plan

Join Transit Forward Philadelphia for a coalition wide virtual meeting to discuss SEPTA’s upcoming virtual Operating Budget Public Hearings and Recommendations and Goals for their Fare Restructuring Plan. Join TFP for a virtual conversation as we detail why SEPTA needs to revise their fare plan and why we need support from organizations and riders like you to strengthen the case for a more equitable fare structure.

Friday, May 15th, 12:00 PM
DRWC | South Wetland Park: A 3D Walk Through of What Could Be!

Set along Piers 70 through 64, this new park in South Philadelphia reimagines a critical natural habitat along the riverbank while offering more human access to the tidal wetlands. Join the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) and its designers at OLIN as they digitally “walk through” what could be for this unique space.

Friday, May 15th, 2:00 PM
DVRPC | Adapting Streets for Safe Outdoor Social Distancing

Hosted by Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Many towns and cities are adapting streets to offer more safe space for walking and biking during social distancing. Some places have removed street parking to increase available space for walking, and others have closed entire streets to vehicle traffic. Learn about these adaptations and get ideas to try in your community, now and in the future.

Wednesday, May 20th, 11:30 AM & 5:00 PM
SEPTA FY2021 Capital Budget Hearings

Join us as we advocate for better allocation of Capital funds at SEPTA's FY2021 Capital Budget Hearings. Due to the Covid-19, these hearings will be held online. 5th Square is seeking volunteers who can make public comment at these hearings! Let us know if you can help by submitting your RSVP, and we will reach out with talking points.



Here at 5th Square, we are experiencing some major FOMO (fear of missing out).

It has been a full month since our letter to the City demanding car-free streets to encourage responsible outdoor activity. Since then, we've seen cities across the world and towns in our own backyard open streets for people.

Why hasn't Philadelphia?

The more we learn about this virus, the more we see that socially-distanced open-air activities are safe, and Vitamin D plays an important role in COVID mortality rates.

Getty Images

With less traffic to slow cars, reckless driving has become pervasive. Last week, we saw three crash fatalities over two days. Adding onto this, for the first three months of 2020, Philly saw a surge in pedestrian deaths.

Source: CBS Philly

The models for the post-pandemic 'Carpocalypse' are bleak, with many commuters wary of getting back on transit, commute times could rise dramatically as our streets become clogged with cars. 


Now is the time to ensure this future doesn't come true.  We need to take steps to ensure the viability of transit and that alternatives like walking and biking are properly incentivized. 

Philly must adapt to the way we are living now: provide more space for people by shifting them away from the few cars on the road. Not just for recreation, but also facilities for active transportation.

(Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Philly must also improve its curb management practices by:

Image by Ted Eytan licensed under Creative Commons.   

Compared to cities that are undergoing innovative, inexpensive, and progressive transformation to suit the times, Philadelphia appears poised to revert back to its old ways -- rolling back its progress and shrugging its shoulders.

As a result, work towards achieving Vision Zero may be in jeopardy with impending cuts to the Streets Department and Managing Director's Office. Street sweeping is thrown under the bus and our Parks & Rec budget is being gutted.

We hope these measures are only temporary and we see these services restored sooner than later.  Until then, 5th Square is here to advocate for safer streets, clean public space, and livable neighborhoods both during the pandemic and after.


SEPTA is also facing an unprecedented financial challenge -- made worse with plunging toll revenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, reports Pat Madej of the Inquirer.

Help 5th Square advocate for smart usage of SEPTA's remaining funds in their upcoming Capital Budget, Operating Budget, and Fare Tariff hearings. Let's make sure our beloved and vital transit system remains viable and positioned for smart growth once this pandemic passes.



DRWC | Philly Waterfront Parks Survey

As the Philadelphia Waterfront continues to grow, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) wants to better understand the visitor experience and what you would like to do and see at one of the region’s most iconic destinations – from music and festivals to new parks and development projects. Your input is critical as DRWC continues to improve our public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

DSVGA | Covid-19 Smart Growth Survey

The Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance (DSVGA) needs your help to discern what impact Covid-19 will have on land use patterns and Smart Growth in the Philadelphia region.

They want you to look beyond the immediate public health emergency and think about our lives post pandemic, after an effective vaccine is widely deployed.


The Philadelphia Inquirer | SEPTA faces an unprecedented financial challenge. A plunge in Pa. Turnpike traffic may make it tougher.




Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia | We Analyzed Philadelphia’s COVID-Impacted Budget

The Philadelphia Inquirer | Philly may delay hiring of traffic enforcement officers until next year

CityMetric | It's not too late to prevent a driving apocalypse



The Philadelphia Inquirer |  Advocates, officials try to prevent Philly’s coming wave of coronavirus evictions

WHYY | Opinion: Philadelphia’s recovery from COVID-19 must put housing first

Delawareonline | Judge rules Delaware property tax system unconstitutional; major changes to residents' bills could follow



Right now, The Neighborhood Gardens Trust’s Save Essential Philly Gardens campaign is happening, and we're hoping you’ll make a contribution to support this critical work if you’re able.

Now more than ever, community gardens are essential. The healthy fruit and vegetables grown at community gardens across the city supplement household budgets and thousands of pounds of produce are donated as emergency food supplies.

NGT needs your support to ensure that community gardens can stay open, safe and overflowing with fresh produce in the coming months. Donate to the Save Essential Philly Gardens campaign today to ensure they don’t fall short of this important goal. 



Contract opportunity! Philadelphia Streets Department has announced a contract opportunity for on-call planning, design, and engineering services. Responses are due June 15, 2020. Look for opportunity #21200226140222 on eContracts Philly:

Populus Street Manager helps city departments of transportation identify and communicate new street policies, including street closures due to emergencies, construction and special events. Populus invites cities and public agencies to apply to the Open Streets Initiative by May 15, 2020. A select number cities will be selected by June 2020 to partner with Populus to design and implement new street policies.

Harris CDO is proud to support unpaid summer internships in the non-profit and government sectors.

Community organizations providing support to our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unprecedented strain on their resources with COVID-19. The PHL COVID-19 Fund will rapidly and equitably deploy solutions and resources to help our nonprofit community navigate near-and longer-term challenges from COVID-19 and ensure that critical resources remain available for those in our community who need it most.

The Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education (PEFSEE) aims to ensure that Philadelphia’s early learning sector can weather the COVID-19 crisis. PEFSEE will provide grant funds to minimize the loss of capacity and expertise in the sector so that children and families continue to have access to high quality early learning opportunities once this crisis has passed.Tiered grant awards of up to $20,000 will be made available to provide immediate relief to eligible organizations with operations located in the city of Philadelphia.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories, and numerous tribes are working directly with FEMA under President Trump’s March 13, 2020, nationwide emergency declaration for COVID-19. Under this emergency declaration, and subsequent major disaster declarations, certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations are eligible to apply for funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance program. This fact sheet provides guidance for determining the eligibility of PNP applicants and work performed in accordance with the COVID-19 emergency and major disaster declarations.

DVRPC's Competitive Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) seeks to fund transportation projects that will improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion in the DVRPC Region. CMAQ eligible projects will demonstrably reduce air pollution emissions and help the DVRPC region meet the federal health based air quality standards. (Due 5/29)



Pennsylvania Democratic Committee | Field Organizer, Field Director

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia | Consumer Finance Institute - Senior Research Assistant/Research AnalystSocial Media and Engagement Associate

City of Philadelphia | The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) | Citizens Planning Institute Program Manager

Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) | Contract Program Manager, Navy Yard Workforce Development Initiatives

Share Food Program | Temporary: COVID Response Team Member (warehouse assistants & truck drivers)

City of Philadelphia | Office of Reentry Partnerships | Director for the Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) initiative

Resolve Philadelphia | Executive Assistant (Part Time)

Dot Connector Studio | Operations Associate

Azavea | Software Engineer

Center City District | Corporate Partnership Coordinator, Manager of Retail Attraction, Part-Time Staff, Marketing Coordinator

The William Penn Foundation | Program Officer - Creative Communities

Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation | Project Coordinator

Community Design Collaborative | Executive Director 

JEVS Human Services | Careerlink at Suburban Station | Youth Navigator

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia | Communications Manager

The Pew Charitable Trusts | Senior Officer, Pew Fund in Philadelphia

TRA | Project Analyst

South Kensington Community Partners | Greening Programs Coordinator


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.