PROJECT 03 - Beat the Heat Partnership
We are working together with a collection of Hunting Park residents, community leaders, local non-profits, city government, and (recently) Drexel University to build a heat relief network in the neighborhood. Because of historic redlining and disinvestment, Hunting Park has far fewer trees, far more concrete, higher numbers of black roofs, and a lack of city planning compared to other parts of the city. A recent study found that these realities make it a full 22 F hotter in Hunting Park during summer heat waves than in cooler parts of the city. As climate change progresses, this neighborhood will just get hotter.
Excessive heat is one of the biggest threats of climate change to human health, and so the Beat the Heat collaborative has been working to build a network of cooling centers (in churches, schools, and other local community institutions), as well as get cooling information and resources out to local residents. Drexel worked with our team this summer to identify a block (working with its block captain) and set up 3 street level cooling strategies - shade structures, greenery, and misting stations. Local "citizen scientists" have been hired to take care of the structures and measure the temperature at regular intervals to determine which approach is most effective.
This summer made our work challenging because of COVID-19, but we've built a strong team of neighborhood partners, learned a lot, and are well-poised to establish a very effective network and a broader range of block cooling initiatives in the summer of 2021. Once our strategy is well established in Hunting Park, our goal is to share it with the many other historically disenfranchised urban communities that are experiencing excessive heat in our cities.