Pop Up Market Place (PUMP) Project

Emerging City Champion and Knight Foundation Fellow – not an accolade I expected to receive only one month out of college. As I shared with my fellow City Champions at the Studio, when I received Ryan’s email notifying me of the award I was about 20 minutes from taking an accounting final. Needless to say, at least a few of the points I missed on that exam can be attributed to that distraction (thanks, Ryan).

All joking aside, the gravity of this opportunity was not lost on me, and immediately I got to work, crafting my project idea and preparing for the Emerging City Champion Studio in Toronto. While at the workshop I had the opportunity to meet several amazing individuals, all of whom shared my passion and pride for the work they were doing and the cities they call home. Despite our varying professions and levels of experience, we were all there for one reason and with one goal in mind: To make our respective cities more livable, healthy, safe, and inclusive for people of every color and creed. For some that meant bolstering voter registration in underserved communities; for others, increasing awareness of public transportation by dressing up buses. Whatever the problem, this group had a solution. For me the problem is vacancy, poverty, and lack of empowerment. My solution: The Pop Up Market Place, otherwise known as PUMP, a small part of a much larger revitalization plan for the Germantown Avenue commercial corridor.

Phase One of this three-part project is community engagement. Back in January we recruited several community residents and stakeholders to create the Eastern North Steering Committee. Over the course of several meetings and one-on-one interviews, we were able to shift our focus toward a project that would accommodate the community’s needs and desires.

Phase Two is creative placemaking. Beginning the day I returned from Toronto we kicked-off our summer event series with a School’s Out Summer Block Party. At its peak, we had as many as 120 kids on-site playing games and enjoying fresh apples and clementines from the APM Food Buying Club. More important than what they were doing is what they weren’t doing, because the alternative to these kinds of events on a hot summer day in North Philadelphia can be detrimental.

Phase Three is business development. In February we began our entrepreneurship trainings, consisting of 15 hours of instruction time and touching on the basics of cash flow, client relations, marketing and so much more. Through these trainings we intend to find a viable business owner to manage one of the businesses on our PUMP site.

By employing principles of tactical urbanism, we will house these start-ups in shipping containers to allow for the business to

operate free of any overhead expenses and the usual concerns of debt-financing for a brick-and-mortar business. It’s been one month now since our gathering in Toronto, and we have now begun consulting with a potential business owner – Andrew, a graduate of our entrepreneurship class – for our bike repair shop. For eight hours a week, every week, I will work with Andrew to get his business off the ground and in full operation by the end of the calendar year.

All this in mind, it’s probably best to get back to work. Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks and months ahead.


This entry was written by Brad Vassallo. Brad was selected among 20 young urbanists to participate in the Emerging City Champions fellowship program. He and his peers each receive $5,000 to implement one project that will enhance civic engagement, public space, and mobility in their city in one year. The program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and coordinated by 8 80 Cities.

Brad wrote this entry shortly after attending the Emerging City Champions Studio, a four-day workshop that takes place in Toronto.

Brad is  the Pop Up Market Place (PUMP) Project Manager for Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM). Despite having only recently graduated from Temple University’s Community Development program, Brad has accumulated some substantial experience along the way.

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