by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
A few weeks ago, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden hosted Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness as part of our 25th anniversary celebration hosted by the Robins Foundation. Here is the first of several podcasts from that event from the Philadelphia Green panel, including:
Blaine Bonham, Jr. Executive Vice President, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society
Joan Reilly, Senior Director, Philadelphia Green Program
Maitreyi Roy, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society Vice President for Programs
Here’s some background info on our speakers, in case you’d like to learn more about them while you listen!
Title: “The Power of Greening: PHS’s Philadelphia Green Story”
Description: Philadelphia Green, a program of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), is the most comprehensive urban greening undertaking in the nation. Since 1974, Philadelphia Green has supported the development and on-going care of community gardens, neighborhood parks and high-profile public green spaces throughout Philadelphia. The essence of the program’s success is collaboration. Partnerships with neighborhood residents, community organizations and city agencies have enabled Philadelphia Green to use greening as a community-building tool, educating and empowering people to make the city a more attractive and livable place through horticulture. This session will illustrate the impact of greening on the urban environment. In particular, it will show how thoughtful public-private partnerships with government and community can result in sustainable landscapes and revitalized communities. It will also highlight Philadelphia Green’s civic engagement and capacity-building strategies, underscoring the important role community residents and civic organizations play in restoring neighborhood parks and creating community
Background: J. Blaine Bonham Jr., executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), founded its urban greening program, Philadelphia Green, in 1974. Under Bonham’s direction, Philadelphia Green moved from a small, grassroots initiative to the forefront of urban greening and now serves as a model for cities throughout the country. In addition, Bonham oversees PHS’s education, publications, membership, and development departments, with a total budget of more than $12 million. In 2003, Bonham helped Philadelphia Green create the Green City Strategy, a land management program that enabled the City of Philadelphia to convert eight million square feet of once derelict land to attractive and productive green space. Among his other accomplishments, Bonham was also a founding member of the Neighborhood Gardens Association/A Philadelphia Land Trust, an organization that assists communities in making gardens a permanent part of the neighborhood fabric. He currently chairs the board of the Greenspace Alliance, a regional organization that advocates for the preservation of open space and natural resources as critical regional assets. Bonham holds a bachelor of science degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University and an associate of science degree in horticulture from Temple University. He completed a Loeb Fellowship in advanced environmental studies at Harvard University in 1991.
Joan Reilly, PHS Senior Director, oversees Philadelphia Green, leading the work of building community and improving quality of life in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and downtown public spaces through horticulture. Joan’s specialty is an innovative approach to cross-sector partnerships. Her first endeavor, the award-winning Parks Revitalization Project, engaged representatives from PHS,
government, and the community in an effort to take back neighborhood parks from decades of neglect and abuse and transform them into treasured assets that gather and serve the larger community.
Reilly also developed the new City Harvest Program, another unique public/private partnership, this time building on work PHS has done for three decades creating and supporting community gardens. The new program links community gardens, food cupboards and inmates at the Philadelphia Prison to give low-income families access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Reilly holds a masters degree in education and has more than thirty years experience in community organizing, organizational development and training.
Maitreyi Roy, a landscape architect, serves as Vice President for Programs at PHS and, among other duties, oversees its Philadelphia Green program. In 2007 she was selected as an Eisenhower Fellow to travel to urban centers in Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and Ireland to study best practices in urban open space policies, planning standards and landscape design. As part of her fellowship, she examined sustainable development strategies and successful open space revitalization models in older cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Berlin, Lyon, Munich and Frankfurt. The focus of her fellowship was on understanding redevelopment and transformation strategies; understanding policies, ordinances and practices to develop and maintain sustainable open space systems, best practices in stormwater management and urban reforestation; and the nature of public/private and non-profit partnerships that have emerged to support open space infrastructure in its design, planning, implementation and stewardship. Roy also served on the staff of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department from 1988 to 1993, where she helped plan and implement a citywide capital investment initiative that focused on revitalizing and restoring neighborhood parks across the city. Throughout her career, Roy has been instrumental in the creation and preservation of green space and in the field of community-based design. Starting as an architect in India, her interest in open space issues took her to the School of Design at Harvard University where she graduated with a Masters in Landscape Architecture in 1988.