OK, honestly we thought Philadelphia2035 was going to be kind of corny – an online game where players answer questions about everything from the kind of zoning they want in their neighborhood to what kinds of stores they would support. But it turns out to be interesting, mostly because you can see the way others from the neighborhood are thinking about these issues. The big bonus is that you can help raise money for a local cause.
Basically, it’s an inventive way for planners to get public input – in this case from people living in the University/Southwest planning district – while giving a little something back.
Here’s how it works:
• Click on the link and take a minute or two to make an online profile.
• Proceed to the first “mission.” There are three missions in all and each includes about a dozen questions. The current mission lasts another six days and you can leave and come back to the game and it will remember where you were. So you could do just a couple of questions a day.
• Answer questions and explain your choices (these explanations are what makes the game interesting). Example: Do you wish your neighborhood had more shopping? Which of the following would you like to see added to your neighborhood? (everything from a hardware store to a Target is included).
• When you complete and post your answer you get some virtual coins (more on that later).
• You can also read replies from others playing the game and comment on their replies. Example: “For everyday errands in the neighborhood, it’s difficult to find a post office (or post box!), hardware store supplies, and sometimes even groceries. I would not advocate for big box stores (such as Lowes or Home Depot) in the neighborhood, but more small businesses and selection would be ideal. Smaller specialty grocers would also be a great thing to have more of in the neighborhood.”
For those of you who want a little more room to sound off, there is a “soapbox” area where people are raising questions about public transportation and even public toilets. Example: “I believe they provide a valuable service, but the trolleys along their surface routes cause persistent traffic issues. Isn’t there a better way?” Gulp.
Once you finish you can donate your coins to the cause of your choice. So far the Greening Lea initiative is the runaway leader. Other causes include Neighborhood Bike Works, the Kingsessing Recreation Center and the University City Arts League.