Six years ago, Dave Brindley made the move to West Philly. Like many other young families in the area, Dave had one young child, with a second on the way.

While Dave tried to be optimistic about his new neighborhood, it was far from perfect. Dave’s block left some things to be desired.

“Our block had many other children and I hated the hopelessness that trash strewn streets conveyed to them.”

Dave Gets to Work

Dave knew that his block wasn’t the only one with a litter problem. He also knew that he had to start small to enact big change. So he set out to do just that - one man, one block at a time.

“For the last few years, I have gone out once or twice a week and picked up whatever litter accumulated on our block. With a quality grabber, it took only 15 minutes or so”

If just a half hour a week and a trash grabber could keep his block tidy and more hopeful for the neighborhood, Dave was sure others would want to join in as well. If only it were that simple.

“Existing programs [like adopt-a-block] require a lot of central staffing to coordinate schedules and [distribution of cleaning] supplies. From my own experience, I saw that all that is needed is a grabber and a few minutes.

Litter is an issue [both] new and long time Philadelphians hate and often feel powerless over, but I did not think that needed to be the case.”

Taking it to the Community

After attending a community meeting where litter was mentioned as a top concern, Dave started to think through a rough plan of how a centralized, web-based ‘adopt a block’ program might work. Dave wanted clickable maps, centralized organization and a clean and easy to navigate user experience.

“I mentioned it to Jon Geeting of Plan Philly, who introduced me to Michelle Feldman of Keep Philadelphia, who then introduced me to Tim Wisniewski, who invited me to Code for Philly.

#notinphilly and #citychurchphilly cleaning up on MLKday

A photo posted by Not in Philly (@notinphilly) on

Dave’s First Hack Night

Dave went to his first Tuesday evening Hack Night to toss some ideas around, and wound up meeting fellow CfP rookie, Yury Korzun. The two hit it off and got to work networking and collaborating with other CfP Brigade members.

“I was grateful for the help, since I am unable to even change my wifi password,” says Dave, “[but we met and connected with people] at CfP who designed the logo, front end, and login.”

The Project Comes Together

“We called the project “Not in Philly” because we want citizens to feel ownership of this issue and we have a bit of edge to us, at least I do,” Dave writes via email.

To sign up, all users need to do is visit From there, they click on their neighborhood and block to register to volunteer.

In return for a 6 month commitment of going out to clean a block once a week, Not in Philly will provide citizens with both resources and incentives.

The resources will be trash bags and grabber tools, and the incentives will come through members taking a picture of their clean, inviting block, using #notinphilly on Instagram.

The group plans to then raffle off a weekly gift card from a local business to users who submitted content.

Simple Ideas with Huge Results and Next Steps

“The result is, what we believe to be the first map enabled adopt-a-block site in the country. No other city has their blocks segmented and selectable. We see that since this website needs minimal staffing, it could easily be copied by other cities.”

As the various pieces fell into place, and the site started coming together, Dave was worried about the next big leap for Not in Philly - launching as an official non-profit. It was then that he connected with CfP Brigade member and Executive Director, Dawn McDougall.

“Dawn shared about a concept I had not heard of called fiscal sponsorship, where initiatives can come in under existing non-profits. Dawn and Yuriy suggested options in Philadelphia that could help us grow. CfP has also provided our project with hosting as our site had exceeded free hosting limits.”

Not in Philly collaborates with local dev team, Think Brownstone in late 2015
Not in Philly collaborates with local dev team, Think Brownstone in late 2015

It Takes a Village

With that out of the way, Not in Philly was then able to present the site to local web designer firm, Think Brownstone, to solicit ideas and labor to improve UX.

“We look forward to collaborating with new and old friends from CfP, helping us fix bugs and improve our front end for our users, you the citizens of Philadelphia”

On the January 26th, Not in Philly will be presenting the site to community members in Walnut Hill, with the hope of launching in the Spring.

We Want To Feature Your Project Next!

Does you CfP project have a compelling story? Are you making a difference for people living in Philadelphia? Tell us about it! We want to help tell your story and get the word out! Email Abe with details and your project may be featured in an upcoming blog post!