Many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods already have strong community leaders who are interested in knowing more about all the resources available to help them build sustainable and resilient communities. The Citizens Planning Institute (CPI), a seven-week training program founded in 2010, aims to help provide Philadelphia community leaders with the resources they need to achieve local change.

Wilma Mack is one of those leaders. We featured Wilma in the Greenworks Review for her dedication to building a sustainable and healthy community. She heads the 5500 Thompson Street Town Watch and Vicinity, which aims to keep the Carroll Park Neighborhood safe by keeping it clean.

The area my team focuses on is from 52nd Street to 63rd Street and from Girard Avenue to Lansdowne Avenue. I’m a friendly fusser, always getting things cleaned up and fixed. My mama taught me, “Don’t complain if you’re not going to be part of the solution.” I realized that some of the children in the neighborhood didn’t understand that fact, so I had to educate and show them. These were men, younger than me. I challenged them always about cleaning out front and the alleys, shoveling the snow for the elderly and ladies because it’s the right thing to do.

The CPI class was simply awesome. I learned about planning for the seasons, resources that we’re about to implement such as CLIP and 311, and getting the youth excited and involved. I’m now Vice-President of the RCO [registered community organization, the designated neighborhood group for planning and zoning issues] in our area with another CPI graduate because I understand zoning and the issues that come with it. Every concerned citizen should take the CPI class and any other class offered to improve their neighborhood. Get the 311 app and if you see something, say something.

Are you interested in being part of the Citizens Planning Institute? Visit or call 215-683-4648 to learn more about CPI, see course offerings and more stories from past participants. The application period ends March 21st!