Tuesday, October 20, 2009

18th Street and Norris Street

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

While searching Philadelphia for areas in desperate need of being cleaned, a side street right off of North Broad Street in North Philadelphia was discovered. The corner of 18th Street and Norris Street looks as if it is part of a Philadelphia landfill instead of a residential area. Just a simple clean-up can transform this contaminated, unsanitary street into a beautiful neighborhood.

The corner of 18th and Norris, while home to many residents, also has many empty patches of land in which people took it upon themselves to treat as a dumpster. There are numerous black garbage bags thrown nonchalantly in the empty plots of land along with random trash. The accumulation of garbage bags had led this area to be inviting for more trash, causing a vicious never-ending cycle resulting in a dump site. Some of this garbage is even poured into backyards diminishing the amount of space certain families have to enjoy. While 18th and Norris is predominantly a residential area, Carver High School is located only two blocks away from this intersection. Such an abundance of litter so close to a high school does not add to a favorable learning environment for the teens who attend.

In another area there is a mound of wood laid on the ground surrounded with trash. Because of the numerous residents who live next door to this field on 18th and Norris, kids may be in danger if left unattended to play in this area. It is ironic that these wooden beams, tools and materials that people usually associate with construction and rebuilding, are in this case acting in a destructive way; they are a potential danger likely filled with rusty nails and littered with more trash and glass bottles located not far from the backyards of homeowners. Perhaps the area could benefit as a whole and promote community service among the children by putting these materials to good use. The wood could potentially be reused and turned into a large portion of the supplies needed for a project. The now useless wood could be used in a father-son tree-house building event or maybe even part of a future playground or garden. This would serve the purpose of cleaning up the area while teaching kids the value of hard work through a fun and beneficial event.

Not only is the collection of trash infringing on the natural beauty of the area but it also poses as a dangerous threat to those who live nearby. The fact that all of this garbage is found on little plots of land is unsanitary for the residents to be exposed to on a daily basis. In addition, eventually the smell of the accumulated garbage will be unbearable to experience. This neglected garbage can lead to airborne illnesses, or an infestation of animals and insects possibly intruding on the daily life of the residents. Aside from the trash, this area is infested with weeds pushing up public sidewalks adding to the terrible list of hazards this area is enduring.

The neighborhood surrounding 18th and Norris would be much more enticing if the garbage is cleaned up. If carried out, this can be an easy task to pursue since the main problem is the overflow of trash that can easily be picked up. The community would also benefit from transferring the dangerous blocks of wood to a place they belong. If this area is cleaned, walking down the street will be much more aesthetically pleasing to the residents and visitors and a more attractive neighborhood will be created. This land can be used for small picnic locations in the summer months for the residents or play areas for the children. If steps are not taken to clean-up the corner of 18th Street and Norris Street, this area can eventually transform into a makeshift Philadelphia landfill, instead of a neighborhood home to many people.

Blog by Kristin Turner

Photos by Greg Stapleton

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fisher Park

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
-Anne Frank

Our next spot of interest is a recreational area, Fisher Park, located in Olney. This dilapidated park in Northern Philadelphia is in desperate need of a clean-up. While the park was probably once a nice place to go to play sports or exercise, it is now reduced to an eyesore and a place to leave waste and trash.

Fisher’s Park was designed and created by Joseph Wharton, and donated to the city of Philadelphia in 1908. It was a “Christmas gift” to the city. The park includes basketball courts, tennis courts, a baseball field, a football field, and a swimming pool. It is apparent, however, that these facilities have not been properly maintained since it was generously given to the city.

Fisher Park is very dirty and unkempt. The park and its surrounding area are covered in litter, which ranges from small paper products to large items such as old tires and garbage bins. The basketball and tennis courts lack nets that are necessary to play and are in general dirty with trash strewn about them. The baseball field is barely recognizable because of the overgrown grass and weeds that have overtaken in infield.

Probably the worst part of Fisher Park is the swimming pool, which seems as though it has not been used it ages. It is extremely dirty and contains lots of trash. There is filthy water that sits stagnant at the bottom of the pool collecting grime. Adding even more to the poor quality of the park is the loud railroad that runs directly behind it. The park and the tracks are separated merely by a flimsy fence. It is certainly an unsafe area for children.

It becomes obvious that Fisher Park is a place unfit for leisure and recreation. It is not only unpleasing to look at, it is a safety hazard. There are various places around the park that have sharp, jagged, and corroded edges that could hurt someone, or even worse, infect them. Much of the sports equipment, for instance the football goalpost, is near collapse, which creates a hazardous situation for players.

The community of Olney would benefit greatly from an initiative to restore Fisher Park. At the very least, a clean-up of the park would reduce the risks and safety concerns that currently exist. If time and money were invested into the cleaning and continued maintenance of this valuable recreational area, it would become an asset to the community instead of an eyesore filled with trash. The Olney area will certainly get greater utility out of a clean, well kept park, as well. A polished park would give children an incentive to participate in recreational activities and could aid in keeping youth off of the streets. Older residents would have a place in their community to use at their leisure and interact with others from the area. Thus, re-establishing Fisher Park as a community hub would serve to strengthen the relationships among inhabitants of the area. Revitalizing Fisher Park is an excellent step for Philadelphians to take in order to improve the overall aesthetic and homelike vibe that the city emanates.

Blog written by Monica Schmidt
Photos by Andrew Gerdes