Young Involved Philadelphia honored individuals and organizations last Wednesday at Marathon Grill for their dedication to preserving the strength and vitality of Philadelphia and sought to engage new members, among them Temple students.
YIP is an organization that seeks to engage young Philadelphians in civic affairs. University of Pennsylvania graduates Troy Madres and Andrew Hohns co-founded YIP after graduating in 2000 in an effort to stay active in Philadelphia.
“After I graduated, I wanted to stay involved in activities, but didn’t really have an outlet. I felt that the democratic machine was not an outlet for change in this city, and most other groups were all about hand shaking and socializing,” Madres said.
YIP rallied to get MTV’s The Real World filmed in Philadelphia last year, fought for SEPTA funding, and has held forums since August 2001, among other endeavors. The organization has 200 official, paying members and almost 2,000 people on its e-mail listserv.
Two Temple students signed up with YIP at Wednesday’s membership party. Senior Elizabeth Moore joined YIP to cultivate her interest in city and community development.
“I wanted to get more involved in Philadelphia’s issues. Youth should have a say in what’s going on, and we should be getting our voices heard. Civic action is important,” she said.
Moore is specifically concerned about keeping SEPTA accessible to students.
“We need to keep young people in the city using transit,” she said.
Junior Kevin Musselman, another new YIP member, thought similarly about the mass transit issue and the importance of public involvement in city matters.
“If you want to keep us here, our voices need to be heard,” he said.
Musselman also mentioned one of the perks of YIP for aspiring urban planners.
“This is a great place to make connections, for Temple students especially … to get some ins working with the city,” he said.
Co-founder Troy Madres spoke about why people get involved with YIP.
“Some people join YIP because they want to learn about civic issues, and these forums offer a great venue to learn about these issues. Some people like YIP because they can use it to lobby for certain issues, while many others enjoy the social aspects of YIP: the membership parties, summer barbecues and happy hours, to name a few,” Madres said.
Although YIP is growing, and it serves as an outlet for people to learn about and confront issues facing Philadelphia, Madres thinks the organization can improve.
“I think, over four and some years, that we have credibility on the street. We just need to build more and more capacity by creating a professional staff, and to fundraise more. When we do that, we can really increase our effectiveness, and become a more capable organization in Philadelphia,” he said.
Carla Anderson, who was recognized for pushing urban reform in her Philadelphia Daily News columns, specifically for skateboarders at Love Park, had another suggestion for bringing YIP to the forefront.
“Be a little more aggressive about pay-to-play political culture [in Philadelphia],” she said.
Anderson is not a member of YIP, but said she agrees with the goal of the organization and its stance on most issues.
YIP plans to address issues such as casinos being built in Philadelphia and the proposed smoking ban in city workplaces, bars, and restaurants.
“We would also like to plan an increasing number of forums this year and begin our reading group, which is starting with selected readings from “A Prayer for the City,” by Buzz Bissinger,” Madres said.
Kristin Maranki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.