Go West Young Man: This Old City Founder Bids Farewell To Philadelphia

Thank you Philadelphia. You never cease to inspire.

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Anyone who has lived through their 20s will tell you it's a decade of intense turbulence and growth. For most of my twenties and some of my thirties, Philadelphia has been my home. But much more than that, this city has shaped me in ways I don't always recognize. Philadelphia is the place that inspired my love for cities and my desire to pursue a masters degree studying them. Philadelphia is the place where my heart first broke and I spent the better part of two years putting it back together. Philadelphia is the place I found my faith in God and the supernatural. Philadelphia is many things to me as I suspect it is to you. A city full of contradiction, inequality, opportunity, renaissance, decay, reform, graft, grace, crassness, refinement, vulgarity and divinity. This city has shown me so many sides of itself and naturally of myself.

2300 miles across a continent is Los Angeles. For now Philadelphia will accompany me there. I'm starting a new life out west.

I'll be bridging a gap between my professional life and my desire to serve the common good. This past Friday I was selected as a FUSE Corps 2015-2016 Fellow to develop and implement short, medium and long-term policy for the City of Los Angeles to better serve the needs of the homeless. I feel honored to serve in this capacity, addressing a topic so vital to the public space, touching so many different agencies of government.

LA is going through a full-scale reinvention through transportation investment, Vision Zero initiatives, public space renovation, and through their bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. There's a great deal of political will, and budgets to back up this reinvention. Nevertheless, I'll miss Philadelphia. In particular, I'll miss the incredible people that I feel honored to have learned from. A decade of intense growth started in January 2005 and draws to a close in a September ten years later. Those ten years led me across several jobs, lots of travel, a relocation to and return from Amsterdam with a masters in hand, and great experiences fighting for political change.

Plans for leadership succession for both This Old City and The 5th Square are in progress. I have no doubt my successors will continue the work I've started. I wish you nothing but the best Philadelphia, but for now I shall "go west, young man, go west and grow up with the country."

Last Updated: Thursday, 24 September 2015 @ 15.56
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geoff's picture Geoff Kees Thompson Founder + Urban Planner Website: thisoldcity.com About the Author:

Other than time away from Philly studying his masters in Urban Planning in the Netherlands, Geoff has lived here since 2005. He founded This Old City to advocate for better public space as a means to economic development, improved public health, lower crime and a more environmentally sustainable future. He currently sits on the Executive Board of SOSNA and is the head volunteer gardener for Saint Mark's Church at 1625 Locust Street.


He is also Chair of The 5th Square PAC, an organization committed to voter education and the funding of progressive urbanist candidates for Philadelphia's future. 


Follow This Old City on Twitter @thisoldcity and Facebook or Geoff individually @geoffkees

Follow The 5th Square on Twitter @5thsq and Facebook