Project Details

This project funding will support the lighting component of an overarching 52nd Street beautification project, and in specific the purchase of 50 lights for installation on 25 corridor storefronts. The lighting component is part of a larger beautification and revitalization effort on 52nd Street. Working in collaboration with the Workshop School, city government, corridor businesses, the surrounding communities, and other nonprofit organizations, this project will improve corridor attractiveness, safety, and cleanliness.

Akeem Dixon's Biography


Project Update

akeemandtariz pleasecredit samueldolgin gardnerFebruary 2016
Akeem continues to find creative ways to support local businesses and residents along 52nd Street, also know as West Philly's Main Street. Working on behalf of the Enterprise Center, Akeem works to cultivate community partnerships and promote equitable community revitalization in the neighbourhood. As the corridor manager, Dixon works with over 200 businesses and more than 30 street vendors.

In December, Akeem led the Meter Murals project, which invited local artists to paint parking meters along 52nd Street with images and designs inspired by neighbourhood groups. He also hosts monthly Meetings on the Corridor, which regularly attract 30-40 people who want to discuss ideas and opportunities to make 52nd Street a supportive and vibrant environment for local businesses and residents.

Akeem Dixon brings the community into the development conversation
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Finally, a reason to love a parking meter
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A commercial corridor manager brings signs of life to 52nd Street in West Philly
>> more

Safe Growth Report On 52nd Street
>> more

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"Great One"

Prior to boarding my flight to Toronto for the K880 Cities Emerging Champions Conference I stumbled upon a documentary on Canadian hockey star Wayne Gretskey; the player affectionately known as the "Great One". While playing on the Edmonton Oilers, one of the most talented hockey teams ever assembled, Gretsky won five championships in seven years as he played with an unprecedented collection of Hall of Fame players. One of the coolest things about sports are the amazing nicknames that follow the most talented and decorated players. When you're known as the Doctor, MJ, Mr. Clutch, or Mr. October, you become synonymous with your sport; to the extent that grandparents and mothers make children of all ages happy by purchasing popular players' jerseys as holiday or birthday presents. Plus, it's easier to sneak in a game on television when your significant other knows the star player by his name.

Like all community development professionals, I spend my days trying mightily to do great things for my community as I implement innovative projects that help Philadelphia emerge from the middle of the pack. We all envision spurring the local economy in this new global economy along the way. Piece of cake? Right!

With the help of the Knight Foundation, 8 80 Cities was able to bring together a collection of egoless 19-35 year olds who just so happen to have championship level skill sets in place making, business, art, medicine, and community engagement.

Great teams consistently possess two things: (1) a group of players that complete one another and are willing to take criticism from each other and (2) a front office that is patient, engaged, and gives its players the latitude to illustrate the talent that initially made them attractive. Four days of lectures, workshops, group discussions, activities, and meals displayed that a high level of talent had been gathered for sure. It was even more encouraging that 8 80 Cities and the Knight Foundation showed a commitment to answering tough questions, asking even tougher questions, and offering their time even after we checked out of our swanky downtown Toronto hotels.

Gretsky was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Kings. He played in another championship, in a larger media market, popularized hockey in the western portion of the US, and was compensated extremely well. However, as the documentary came to a close Gretsky explained that he never realized just how much practicing daily against other great players who just so happened to be his teammates made him better. Made him great.

Sports are one of the few things in life that combines community organizing (fans), various styles (races and cultures), and equitable development (salary cap). Being a sports fan has made life in the community development field a smidge easier.

One of the greatest sports nickname ever is the "Great One". It even has the "greatest" in its name if you wanted to debate its status.  "Emerging Champion" has a similar ring to it. Now the pressure rests on the inaugural group of K880 Fellows, Knight Foundation Program Managers, and 880 Cities staff to produce. Luckily, for them and the community development field, they happen to form a great team. Game on!

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