Beth Miller, Community Design Collaborative
1216 Arch Street, 1st floor, 215-587-9290, cdesignc.org
The philosophy of Miller’s nonprofit design group is in some ways quite radical: Design matters in every neighborhood. It matters not just that an underserved neighborhood in Ogontz has a grocery store, but also what it looks like, how it fits into the landscape, how its structure serves the community. Using volunteer architects, planners and designers, the CDC evaluates up to 40 proposed projects a year in mostly needy communities, offering about $500,000 annually in pro bono services. Some projects are big, like helping to refashion a housing development in Allegheny West; others are as simple as helping a community group evaluate bids for a small project. “If you include the community in the planning up front,” Miller says, “you’re more likely to have better environments.”
Best known for: Helping to transform the West Philadelphia neighborhood around Cedar Park from a crime-ridden disaster to a community gem.
What she’s doing this year: Organizing three different events: hosting Bryan Bell, founder of Design Corps, a nonprofit working to better communities through good design, who will talk about his new book Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism; organizing a lunchtime forum on moving grocery stores into overlooked neighborhoods; hosting a forum on creating sustainable landscapes for Philly public schools. “Infill Philadelphia,” October 17th, noon to 2 p.m. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street. Bryan Bell, October 20th, 6 to 8 p.m. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street. “Greening of Greenfield,” October 21st, 6 to 8 p.m. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street.