The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) is currently working with cities and towns across the state to put people first in community development and planning processes through Community Heart & Soul®. The program’s innovative approach uses the tools of the humanities to creatively engage residents in planning and decision-making processes as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy.
The Upper Chichester Community
Situated in southeastern Pennsylvania is the quiet suburban community of Upper Chichester Township. Its diverse population of 16,954 residents enjoy short commutes to Philadelphia and Wilmington as well as close proximity to the amenities offered by the greater Philadelphia region. Small businesses dot the main roads, offering options for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Upper Chichester has a long history that goes back to the Lenni-Lenape and later to William Penn and the Quakers. Many historic buildings still exist in the town’s 6.7 square miles, creating a sense of architectural character and charm that reveal its distinctive neighborhoods and farming community roots. Each year, residents from across the township gather together to show their “Chi Pride” at the annual Community Day which includes a parade, a car show, food vendors and games. This family-friendly town bustles year round with sports, events and activities for people of all ages.
Upper Chichester is working to develop its commercial corridors and, with feedback from residents, the community is interested in further establishing an identity and sense of place.
In response to interest in the future direction of the township, the Upper Chichester Board of Commissioners passed a resolution providing funds and staffing to develop neighborhood plans to create a Comprehensive Plan informed by Orton's Community Heart & Soul® program. This humanities-based community development approach, supported by PHC, puts the stories and experiences of all residents, including those that are often marginalized, at the forefront. The Community Heart & Soul® team at Upper Chichester is now looking to engage residents, strengthen community networks and develop a truly shared vision for the future of the township -- one that everyone in the township can take “Chi Pride” in.
Long Term Goals
- Develop neighborhood plans to create an Upper Chichester Township Comprehensive Plan using input from all sectors of the community
- Create a more robust tax base by attracting new businesses
- Improve transportation options and complete streets plan for businesses and residents
- Develop intergenerational recreational programs
- Implement beautification projects
- Create an economic and community organization to help sustain the heart and soul mission of accomplishing community goals through partnerships
- Engage residents, businesses and other stakeholders in order to create a priority list of issues to be addressed
- Create a list of all stakeholders and township wide projects that help residents
- Bring underrepresented groups into the conversation of community and economic development
- Use community feedback to identify assets and opportunities for improvement
- Keep the community informed and educated about project
- Develop a bottom-up shared vision of community development
- Create lasting connections and dialogue between community stakeholders
- Develop a communication and media avenue to “spread the word” to all sectors
Chichester School District
Upper Chichester Township
Delaware County Planning Department
Chichester Business Association
Upper Chichester Library
Upper Chichester Planning Commission
Chichester Historical Society
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
State Representative Steve Barrar
State Senator Thomas Killion
Additional information is available at the Upper Chichester Heart & Soul web site.
- Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Communities
- Community Heart & Soul (Orton Family Foundation)
- Upper Chichester Heart & Soul volunteers gather for intensive storytelling training
- PHC partners with PCA to co-sponsor arts and culture projects in four Pennsylvania communities
- From Stories to Community Action
- Uncommon strategic partnership advances applied humanities work in PA
- Pennsylvania Humanities Council And Partners Bring $130,000 In Funding, Training And Technical Support To Upper Chichester and Cameron County
- Heart & Soul Hero Award: Frank Sill
- “People are starting to talk”: Upper Chichester feeling empowered by Heart & Soul
- "It's about love" - Upper Chichester Heart & Soul volunteers talk Upper Chi Pride [Video]
- "Empowering people" - Rev. William Irons on Upper Chichester Heart & Soul [Video]