Doing Things Cecil Street Style

Ms. Vicki looks at a model of the design for Cecil Street Garden. PC:USFWS
Ms. Vicki looks at a model of the design for Cecil Street Garden. PC:USFWS

Written by Carmelita Rosner

For the past eight years, through every hurdle and hassle, the motto at Cecil Street Garden has been “I’m gonna do it anyway.” Only fitting, then, that these words are printed in bold on Victoria Chambliss’ favorite shirt, since she’s been behind every inch of progress at the site. 

It’s been a group effort from the beginning. Ms. Vicki’s neighbors, Ms. Sandra Scott and her husband, were at the forefront of petitioning the city to tear down the long-neglected houses that used to stand on that lot. They fought for the day they could sit on the porch, as she does now, and see the green plants growing and people enjoying the space. 

With the building torn down, neighbors could start dreaming. An open green space holds a lot of potential; to tap into that, Ms. Vicki organized listening sessions with community members so John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), and Audubon could hear their visions for the space. 

TJU students translated those visions into something they could see: a blueprint, and later a model, for their own space in which to relax with each other and with nature. After changes from the city, who leases the land to Empowered CDC, a new design needed to be created. The new design holds true to community members vision for a space of healing and harmony and with a newly signed lease, it’s ready to be built.  

If you’re interested in getting involved at Cecil Street, stay tuned to Empowered CDC on Next Door. 

Carmelita Rosner is the community engagement specialist at John Heinz NWR at Tinicum. 

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