Since its launch in 2013, the Soak it Up Adoption Program has grown from seven to 16 neighborhood organizations including civic associations, community development corporations, and other non-profit community groups. The program’s growth continues to track the Philadelphia Water Department’s (PWD) efforts to expand the footprint of green infrastructure projects along city streets and in parks and schools.
PEC works as a leader in the program by recruiting new organizations and shepherding them through a mini-grant application process facilitated by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). PEC and PWD then support the Adoption organizations as they monitor and steward their green infrastructure projects such as tree trenches and rain gardens.
PWD developed a new Soak it Up Adoption web page and is instituting new reporting software to make weekly reporting easier for Adoption partners and more amendable to summarize Adoption statistics.
The participating groups also conduct education and outreach events that inform community members about the function and importance of the green infrastructure in keeping Philadelphia rivers and streams clean.
Community education and outreach has included site tours, presentations at community meetings, in-school educational programs, and postings on web sites and in community bulletins. Several organizations provide youth education through direct involvement in site maintenance activities (e.g. Urban Tree Connection Youth, UC Green Corps, and JASTech’s Overbrook Centers Green High School).
Partners have found one of the best forms of education is through word of mouth, responding to their neighbors questions of “what are you doing?” when they are out on the street caring for the green stormwater projects.