Citizen How-To Guides

Want to do your part to make Philadelphia a better city this year? We make that process easier with practical how-to guides on everything from organizing a street cleanup to starting a community fridge.

Citizen How-To Guides

Want to do your part to make Philadelphia a better city this year? We make that process easier with practical how-to guides on everything from organizing a street cleanup to starting a community fridge.

We here at The Citizen are in constant search of ways to boost good citizenship in Philadelphia—whether it’s something large and time-consuming like organizing a drive to fight food insecurity and homelessness, or simply picking up something cute and new from a local minority-owned business.

Over the years, we’ve compiled tons of resources to help you be a better citizen—from guides on how to vote to practical steps you can take to support local schools and teachers.

Lately, with the help of local experts, we’ve begun to zero in on specific, high-impact tasks that could make life better for you and the people you call neighbors. Keep reading for how-to guides on some of those things that you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t quite know how—like building a cute little free library to encourage reading in your community. Or organizing a street cleanup to get trash off your streets.

This list is ever-growing, so check back often to see what’s new. Have an idea for another how-to guide we should put together? We’d love to research it for you. Email us at [email protected].


A red little free library in Cianfrani Park in Philadelphia
A little free library in Philadelphia’s Cianfrani Park | Photo by Josh Middleton

Little free libraries are small, often wooden boxes that look similar to bird houses—but larger—and are packed with books. They operate with a “take a book, leave a book” model, and have been popping up in neighborhoods around Philly. As their name implies, the libraries are little (and freaking adorable!) and free for public use. With just a few tools and tips, anyone can make one. Here are some steps to get started.



A Philadelphia Community Fridge stocked with pantry staples for the food insecure in Philadelphia.
Photo courtesy Philadelphia Community Fridge

Chances are, you’ve passed a community fridge while strolling around town. Over the past year, dozens of them have opened in Philly as a practical way to help fight food insecurity in the city. Sometimes known as “freedges,” community fridges are a type of mutual aid project that offer fresh fruit and vegetables, prepared meals and non-perishable items that are free for all and can be accessed through an outdoor refrigerator at any time. So where do you begin if you want to start one of your own? We’ve got all the tips and tricks you’ll need right here.



Rebecca Begans, a newcomer to the neighborhood, heard about Sunflower Philly's trash cleanup on Instagram, and decided to join the group as a volunteer
Volunteers pick up garbage at Sunflower Philly | Photo by Emily Neil

What’s more depressing than being out for a walk on a beautiful day in Philly and seeing garbage at your feet, whipping around in the wind? Litter is a huge problem in our city that requires a major, systemic fix from local government. But if we all rally together, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, it could make a massive difference—and maybe show the knuckleheads in City Hall that this is an issue Philadelphians care about in a big way. Philly sanitation worker Terrill Haigler (aka @YaFavTrashman) shares advice on how to organize a street cleanup in your neighborhood.

RELATED: 10 ways to solve Philadelphia’s garbage problem



Voter registration driver center city
Photo courtesy of Sheyla Street / Philly Youth Vote

Few things are more impactful than stepping into a voter booth to choose the leaders and policies that drive the decision-making in our city—unless of course you can do your part to really boost voter turnout. One way to do that is by hosting a voter registration drive—like the ones you’ve seen outside local supermarkets or near parks. They’re all manned by everyday citizens just like you. Interested? Follow these 12 steps to running a safe, legal and effective voter registration drive.



A person sits on the floor with a calculator and papers spread all over the place trying to do her taxes
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

One its face, this may seem like more of a self-serving task, but just think: More money in your pocket means more green flowing into the local economy. And then we all win, right?! Here we lay out everything you need to know to file your taxes on the cheap.

Header photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

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