The Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute (CPI)

This fall, I was admitted to the Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute (CPI). CPI is an 8-week education program led by Philadelphia’s City Planning Commission. Its purpose is to provide community members with new skills around community support and development. I applied for it a couple of times in the past and got in this fall.

It is a great program that every Philadelphian should try to participate in. You will learn about zoning, development, city resources, and you will understand why things don’t always work the way you think they should. Cities are complicated, and Philadelphia is VERY complex.

For my final project, I called upon my recently acquired organization development (OD) from Georgetown. I created a small guide for using the SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) analysis as a community planning guide. It’s called Making our communities SOAR: Using the SOAR Analysis for Community Planning by Josh Ferris.

Many of you likely know about a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, and CPI’s current support documents rely on SWOT. SWOT is a great tool, but I think our city would benefit from SOAR because of its foundation in appreciative inquiry. Philadelphia can be frustrating, but many positive things are happening, and I think communities would benefit by lifting up the positive work and learning from it. SOAR leads from a space considering what’s possible rather than what will get in the way.

The guide was good enough to earn me my certificate, and I hope it will be integrated into future CPI programs.

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