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  • Meet the SustainPHL Nominees: Neighborhood Champion SUSTAINPHL NEIGHBHOOOD CHAMPION NOMINEES 2018 Full view

    Meet the SustainPHL Nominees: Neighborhood Champion

    This nominee is making a difference on a micro level (neighborhood engagement, block captain, etc) and his/her/their efforts could be unrecognized.

    In August, Philadelphia’s SustainPHL Awards will highlight these community changemakers. Join us to celebrate them and announce the recipient at the SustainPHL Awards on August 16 at WHYY!


    • Tommy Joshua Caison
    • Judith Robinson
    • Sandi Vincenti
    • Raymond Gant


    Tommy Joshua Caison Neighborhood Champ

    Tommy Joshua Caison is the Founder and Executive Director of North Philly Peace Park. A Habitat for Humanity Project, the park provides the neighborhood of Sharswood with a green space to relax, learn, and even eat. After a recent relocation, Caison is spearheading efforts to rebuild it to be better than ever.

    With Caison’s help, the park has organized educational community-building events, partnered with schools like Youthbuild and the charter school in Sharswood, and even coordinated an after-school program to teach children about environmental justice.

    Along with education, Caison works to teach residents how to grow nutritious produce, since Peace Park is located in a food desert. Through a collaboration with Haverford College, the park has built an herb spiral and improved its composting system. Caison hopes to include a juice bar in the park’s revamping, as well as a greenhouse.


    Judith Robinson Neighborhood Champ

    Judith Robinson was fed up with the litter and illegal dumping in her North Philadelphia neighborhood. That’s why she founded Susquehanna Clean Up/Pick Up in 2005.

    The grassroots organization was born when Robinson, upon noticing a group of teenagers hanging out near her office, offered them money out of her own pocket to help clean up trash on Susquehanna Avenue. Since then, Robinson has continued to empower youth to be active in the beautification of their neighborhood.

    SCUPU has also grown to focus on the broader issue of environmental justice in the North Philly area, aiming to address and educate resident about topics like recycling, waste management, land use and climate change.

    In its 13 years of operation, Robinson and SCUPU have:

    • Partnered with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful and the city to provide recycling bins for the neighborhood
    • Helped residents use Recyclebank, which offers financial incentives for recycling
    • Provided forums and workshops on the green jobs , solar panels, and stormwater management
    • Partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for the LandCare program, which employs formerly incarcerated and underemployed residents to help clean and green vacant lots in North Philly
    • Secured a mini-grant from the Franklin Institute’s Climate & Urban Systems Partnership to help plant trees in the area and remove existing ones that negatively affect properties
    • Spoken out against construction by nearby Temple University that negatively affects the North Philly community
    • And more!


    Sandi Vincenti Neighborhood Champ

    Photo Credit: Ptah Gabrie / Spirit of the River Wards

    Sandi Vincenti is both a city-dweller and a nature-lover. In 2010, she turned the vacant lot next to her family’s Fishtown house into the Child’s Inspiration Wildlife Discovery Garden.

    A certified PA Master Naturalist and the Playschool Operations Director at By My Side Neighborhood Parenting, Vincenti founded her garden to provide free environmental education to young people in Philly who might otherwise not be exposed to nature.

    The garden features native plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and more for visitors to interact with and observe. It’s been certified as a national wildlife sanctuary by the National Wildlife Federation and a Native Bee-Share site and breeding space.

    In its eight years, Child’s Inspiration has planted three native trees and worked to inspire over 300 children, youth, and families to engage with their natural world.

    Currently the Director of Early Childhood Education at The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Vincenti has partnered with a long list of organizations to create environmental education programs. For example, she worked for the University of Pennsylvania on a SPARK grant project to bring STEM education to underprivileged youth, as well as  with Natural Encounters, Inc. on the inception of the Animal Training Team at the Philadelphia Zoo. 


    Raymond Gant Neighborhood Champ

    Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco / Flying Kite Media

    “Transforming blight into bright”: that’s what Raymond Gant’s does with the Ray of Hope Project, which he founded in October of 2002. Its mission is to organize cleanups to create safer and healthier public spaces across the city.

    In neighborhoods that range from Germantown to Kensington, Ray of Hope picks up litter in alleyways, playgrounds, recreation centers, and schools. By collaborating with block captains, law enforcement, residents, and more, Ray of Hope ensures that the entire community is engaged and on-board.

    The organization is supported entirely by donations and is run by volunteers. In addition to cleanups, Ray of Hope also donates food and clothing to families in need, facilitates home repairs, and provides mentoring and employment to individuals who were formerly incarcerated.

    Join us at SustainPHL on August 16th to find out who will become the 2018 Neighborhood Champion recipient!

    If you love what we do, you can support our mission with a one-time or monthly contribution:

    Brianna Baker

    About Brianna Baker

    Brianna is a senior journalism major Temple University. While studying abroad in Fall 2017, she interned at WHERE Rome magazine, and has also worked for Baltimore STYLE, QWERTY Philly, and student publications like Templar, The Temple News and 14th Street. In addition to writing, she loves re-watching her favorite sitcoms, going to concerts, and doing yoga (when she’s not feeling too lazy).

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