Blog NKCDC Civic Engagement Doesn’t End at the Polls

Your vote matters. Your voice matters more.

Tomorrow Philadelphia will vote for the city’s next mayor, along with all 17 city council seats, citywide judicial offices, and a state supreme court seat.  

Our next mayor will draft city budgets and set policy priorities for Philadelphia, and City Council members will make important decisions regarding community development in our neighborhoods. But like all other elections, this one will also have state-wide, regional, and national implications for Kensington. 

In Kensington, decades of disinvestment, institutionalized inequities, and failed political solutions have only exacerbated the challenges that residents are up against – poverty, homelessness, addiction, violence, and poor health to name just a few.

“In campaign season, a place like Kensington suddenly becomes visible and relevant because all candidates are expected to have answers for the issues that have been imposed on our community,” our Executive Director, Dr. Bill Mckinney wrote in Kensington only matters to Philly politicians until Election Day for the Philadelphian Inquirer. “But afterward, scores will be settled, debts will be paid, and in many cases, as plans are made, previous efforts will be erased.”

How do we shift the narrative?

Transformation is possible when communities are empowered to participate and co-create with one another and political leaders. Voting matters, but civic engagement doesn’t stop at the polls.  

At NKCDC, we work to grow community capacity by focusing on the strengths and assets that exist within Kensington and actively create mechanisms for community participation, co-design, implementation, and evaluation. Over the past few years, a growing number of residents, civic groups, and organizations have been joining forces to develop a comprehensive, community-driven, and trauma-informed plan for Kensington because we know that sustained improvements to health and wellbeing happen when communities come together. 

For too long, decisions about Kensington have been made without community input. As Dr. Bill noted in Four Values Form a Base for Equitable Development in Kensington and BeyondPhiladelphia’s next mayor should “put in the work it takes to bring more residents with new voices to the table, so that they can share both their vision and their expertise for what development in their communities should look like.”

As part of an ongoing, flexible, and participatory process, NKCDC and Impact Services have been engaging with pockets of people throughout Kensington to hear their priorities and concerns. Our goal is to continue bolstering resident engagement so that we can advocate to organizations, community stakeholders, city and state agencies, and political leaders (including our next mayor) to co-create solutions with those most impacted by the outcomes in Kensington. For this phase of the process, we would like to collect feedback from as many people as possible in Kensington by November 17th. If you haven’t shared your vision, we want to hear from you!

How can you get involved?

Make a plan to vote tomorrow!

Polls are open on November 7th from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Find your polling place here. Review the Philadelphia Inquirer’s candidate guide here.

Plan Kensington in a pocket!

We are pushing forward a comprehensive, community-driven, and trauma-informed strategy for Kensington that places the community at its center. We published a Toolkit to help pockets of people throughout Kensington have productive conversations about our future. We need as many people as possible who live, work, or play in the community to come together to discuss its future. Take the following steps to join this movement for community-driven development!

1. Schedule a meeting with a pocket of people. We want your feedback by November 17th!

NKCDC and Impact Services will provide food for your meetings with 72 hours’ notice! Reach out to us at or for food.

2. Review the Pockets Toolkit resources before your scheduled meeting.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Kensington Planning Process, The Facilitator Packet will help you understand how we got here and where we’re going, as well as provide tools to help you hold a productive and inclusive meeting.

3. Come prepared! Print out the following materials for your meeting.

Notes on the Pocket Presentation will help a facilitator present the Kensington Planning Process to a pocket of people. The Handouts Packet should be printed for each meeting attendee. It includes open ended questions about past community-defined priorities, questions about our living conditions, and a worksheet to brainstorm new ideas for transforming Kensington.

4. Host your pocket meeting.

Take attendance with the sign-in sheet, go through the Pocket Presentation to introduce the Kensington Planning Process to your group, and discuss the printed Handouts with your pocket. Encourage pocket attendees to fill out the worksheets, be prepared to take your own notes, and collect all completed papers.

5. Share your pocket’s feedback with us!

We are asking for pocket facilitators to return the Handouts to by November 19th. These materials will be combined with many other pockets throughout Kensington to develop a comprehensive, community-driven, and trauma-informed plan that we can present to newly elected politicians.

This is part of an ongoing, flexible, and participatory process. To join the movement and to keep in touch, reach out to us at

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