Tactical Doing: Public Workshop

Public Workshop, Philadelphia, design/build, community design, workshop, landscape, parks

An Interview with Alex Gilliam, founder of Public Workshop, a Philadelphia-based community design organization.

Written by: Gilad Meron

Photos: Public Workshop

“I’ve always been interested in the idea of making things from nothing. When I was a kid I’d always grab my Lego box and try to make something totally imaginary, like a whole city or something else awesome. So when I found out about this I was like, wait... I’m actually building a whole park? And not just a park, but a whole mini-world filled with beaches and cities and forests! I’m getting to do something real; it’s such an awesome feeling.” This is how 16 year old Alexa Eddy described her experience with Tiny WPA, the flagship program of Public Workshop, a Philadelphia-based organization that works with local community partners to create programs that engage youth in civic design projects.

Launched in early 2012, Tiny WPA is a program that aims to redesign and rebuild Philadelphia’s public spaces and micro-infrastructure through improvements initiated by local youth. These design/build projects not only help transform neighborhoods, they also help train the next generation of civic leaders. Each Tiny WPA project functions as a mini boot-camp of sorts for young adults like Alexa who are passionate and hungry to have a positive impact on their neighborhoods and cities. By teaching them how to design and build “micro-infrastructure” like the playground Alexa described above (pictured on the right) Tiny WPA projects are putting young adults at the forefront of stimulating civic engagement in their communities.

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