The Germantown Info Hub tabled recently in front of Gaffney Fabrics on Germantown Avenue. Clarice Thomas and Christopher van Leeuwen, two Germantown residents, along with student journalist Jordan Holycross, set up on the sidewalk with clipboards, audio equipment and candy. They spoke with nine Germantown residents over two hours, asking questions about the people who make their community better and issues they care about.
Residents expressed their concerns about safety, sanitation and housing, among other topics. Damonte Day talked about cleanliness in his neighborhood. “I see a lot of need in Germantown,” he said. “It’s not nonexistent, but it could be better.” Elenora Barnett echoed these sentiments. Two residents, Natalie King and Devon Duncan, spoke on access to housing and questioned what would happen to empty real estate in Germantown. King wished more people who struggle with housing had more knowledge and access to resources. “People want help, some people,” she said. “They don’t know how to go about getting it.”
Some of those interviewed noted someone they personally know as someone who helps shape Germantown for the better. Duncan described her pastor, Reverend Gregory Holston, who is the executive director of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild. King said that Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who represents Germantown, has helped with the community. Day mentioned local photographer Shawn Theodore, and how the artist’s success could inspire others in Germantown. “I think a lot of people would benefit from knowing him because they would feel like they don’t have to be in these bigger settings to make it,” he said. “They could do their own thing and still be appreciated in the community.”
The experience overall was enlightening and promising. The Germantown Info Hub will continue to gather stories from the community in order to build a project that is hyperlocal, beneficial and constructive.