Upper Chichester Heart & Soul supercharged their outreach and civic engagement this summer with two successful community summits. People from all corners of the township gathered to vote on action ideas centered on each of their seven value statements: sense of community, location and accessibility, education, safety, economic opportunity, community resources, and recreation and open spaces.
These values were developed through volunteer-led conversations and story-gathering work with residents, nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, and business leaders. The effort is centered in the PA Community Heart & Soul model which creatively engages residents in planning and decision-making processes as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy.
“We needed to have Heart & Soul at this time in the history of our township,” said Diane Simon, part of the Upper Chichester Heart & Soul leadership team. “We, as residents, are being able to give our input as to what we’d like to see.”
The action items voted most important during this third phase of the program will soon be incorporated into a community action plan, a practical roadmap to making meaningful change in the future.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here for change,” said Joe Neary, 4th Ward Commissioner for Upper Chichester Township.
In addition to the summits, the leadership team implemented a final “7-day blitz” of outreach activities through mass mail, email, and social media campaigns in their effort to give as many people a seat at the table as possible. Once all the feedback is received they will begin the process of data analysis to determine what actions residents find most important.
Fortunately, interest in attending events is picking up steam again after having to move operations online during the height of the pandemic, said Barbara Kelley, Assistant Township Manager.
“We’re excited by the energy and momentum we’re now seeing. Community Heart & Soul is helping us chart a course for a bright and prosperous future that involves everyone.”