Newsletter: ⌛️Looking back ⏳ and setting our sites on the future! 🎆

Weekly Newsletter, Issue 215

⌛️ A LOOK BACK AT 2022

We hope everyone had a great holiday season with plenty of fun and relaxation. We accomplished so much in our 8th year! We nearly doubled our membership. Lots of us wrote op-eds and made videos. Our meetup game was on point, with notable guests like Chuck Mahron, Dr. Jenny Schuetz, and M. Nolan Gray. We got over 40 mentions in the press, too!

Our wins this year:

  • More 5th Square folks involved at RCOs
  • Traffic calming along Cobbs Creek Parkway
  • Parking protected bike lanes in West and Southwest Philly
  • Installation of safety features on half of Washington Avenue
  • Started the "Safer Washington Ave Fund" for the other half
  • Super Wawa on Delaware Ave getting super defeated
  • Resurrecting the Roosevelt Blvd Subway
  • Getting people to show up at SEPTA meetings
  • Buying Key cards for asylum seekers

And as a bonus, here's some photos from the holiday party...

A big thank you to our award winners (Thomas Fitzgerald, Donna J. Carney, Nikil Saval, Philly Office Retail, Lex Powers, Jon Geeting, Inga Saffron, Camille Boggan) for everything that they have accomplished, and thank you to everyone that helped make our party run smoothly!


We have a whole year ahead of us and so many things to do...

Due to City Council scrutiny, Bus Revolution will be delayed until 2024. This is a good time to make sure that SEPTA can commit to a changed bus network by putting pressure on the city as well as SEPTA. Many of the challenges that riders face are things that the city controls, like creating bus lanes, helping with bus stops, and signal priority. No one in City Council has spoken up about these issues, so it's up to us to make these things a priority.

On SEPTA's end of things, it's worth it to try to get "flex" money from PennDOT, and we want to see some itemized receipts on high-dollar projects. We also want a simpler fare system that's easier on people's wallets and takes advantage of contactless payments that already exist.

We want to see public space used for people, not cars. That parking spot could be a bus lane, or a bike lane, or a streetery. (Bring back streeteries!)

On the housing front, the city needs way more affordable housing. While zoning overlays may seem like the right way to go, a quick perusal of the city zoning code makes it obvious that it's adding more complexity and possibly hampering more multi-family housing or mixed-use developments. Downzoning is already being proposed around Roosevelt Boulevard, which would make it harder to put amenities or housing near a new station.

It's possible for a group like 5th Square to encourage developers in Philly who want to make affordable housing that could replace University City Townhomes, or reuse existing facades for mixed-use, mixed-income housing. We could have a housing market that accommodates everyone instead of pushing people out.

Philly will continue to grow and change. It is a lovable, chaotic, difficult, earnest place that deserves an investment of resources to heal its wounds. There is no one person or group that can "fix" the collective trauma the city has experienced, but it is up to everyone to help facilitate healing. May this year bring us closer to a safer, more beautiful city for all.


The Mayor's Fund with the city Service Design Studio are looking for 12 residents to take part in the "Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit Community Advisory Council". They're looking for organizers or other engaged and interested individuals to guide the city on best practices for engagement.

This is a position with a stipend of up to $6,000 made in three payments. Applications are due by Monday, January 16, 2023, by 5:00 pm EST. Applicants must live in Philadelphia and must be individuals. More details are available via this PDF. Once you've read through the specifics, you can apply online.

Please email [email protected] if you have questions.


You can help us make a walkable, transit-friendly city for everyone with your financial contributions. Become a 5th Square member today!

Annual Subscriber, $60 per yearMonthly Subscriber, $5 per monthOne Year of Membership, Starting at $60


5th Square member Jay Arzu was recently interviewed in Philadelphia Magazine. Arzu spoke to them about his early life as a transit rider and rail geek, what brought him to Philly, and how he got politicians and planners back into Roosevelt Boulevard. It is an interesting look into the initial pushback he received when garnering interest.

"Regional Rail is important. But we should be ambitious. We should be thinking about a bright future for the city of Philadelphia, not one where we’re just coasting. I want Philadelphia to be a great city." (Read more...)


Observed-New Urban Realism by Six Philadelphia-Area Artists

Sunday, January 8 until Thursday, January 26
The Plastic Club 247 South Camac St.

This exhibit by 6 area artists taking an unflinching, honest view on the urban fabric of Philadelphia. The artists are Mick Ricereto, Erik Weedeman, Jake Weiss, Sophie White, Chris Windle, and Nasir Young. These six artists share a drive to document our city as we see it.

Urban Design Committee Annual Planning Meeting

Tuesday, January 10th from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
QU JAPAN BISTRO & BAR, 1635 Market St #103

Join Urban Design Committee to learn about and get involved with our exciting plans for 2023. We have a book club to better understand the broader view of managing the climate crisis on a macro scale as well as grassroots efforts for climate resilience. We also have events related to infrastructure and Chinatown advocacy.

Frank Furness: Seven Ideas about Architecture

Wednesday, January 18th at 10am (via Zoom)

Frank Furness has a well-deserved reputation as a rogue architect; a Civil War cavalry hero who despised conformity and convention, he gave Victorian America some of its most imaginative buildings. With previously unpublished documents and images, this talk suggests that Furness was also a profound thinker about the meaning of architecture. Register here.

Rooted in Research: Greening Cities for Health, Safety, and Well-Being

Friday, January 20th at 12:00 PM (via Zoom)

Hosted by PHS, Penn IUR, and Analytics at Wharton, Rooted in Research will discuss how green interventions can improve communities. The webinar will also highlight how researchers partnered with on-the-ground greening efforts in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods to produce this research. Register here.

Webinar Wednesday: Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure Report Card

Wednesday, February 1 from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (via Zoom)

The four Sections of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in Pennsylvania (Central PA, Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) combine forces and efforts every four years to perform an assessment of current infrastructure conditions throughout the Commonwealth. Criteria such as capacity, condition, funding, future need, operations and maintenance, public safety, and resilience and innovation are evaluated, with a letter grade assigned to each of the fifteen categories. Grades are compared to those provided in the previous Report Card (2018) to show progress or where efforts may have slipped. Deadline to register is January 31.




YIMBY Action / Development Manager

Philadelphia Energy Authority / Workforce Development Coordinator

Delaware Greenways / Trail Project Coordinator

Our Market Project / Project Manager; Social Media Manager

Pennsylvania Voice /

PA House Democratic Campaign Committee /

DVRPC / Senior Contracts Specialist

City of Philadelphia /

5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee.

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