Wednesday, December 2, 2009
But some people seem to get aggressive. Like the Asian building owner who told me I was illegal on the side walk and that I asked too many questions. OR the mother at the bus stop that said "they ain't building houses for people like me, they building them for people like you."
But it seems the debate as to what is NOT being done stays confined to the Internet. Philly Speaks is where I found Adam Lang, a North Philadelphia resident who is active in his civic associations.
A member of the board of directors for the Brewerytown/Sharswood Community Civic Association and chairman for the Republican Ward (29th), Lang's knowledgeable posts on the pullout of Westrum Developers in Brewerytown are amidst the posts from NEastPhilly and a member named FleaDog on Philly Speaks. The Westrum pullout is a topic no one I've spoken to in the last month had mentioned.
Maybe they didn't know, or maybe it doesn't matter. The neighborhood associations in the area are open to all but according to Lang there are no members who live in the new condo's.
Residents of the condos had opinions that the area wasn't really a neighborhood. Is that for a lack of community affiliation or is it that the new residents choose not to be a part?
As for Westrum they have neglected to respond for a comment as yet. Their signs still claim the vacant lots but Lang said that they have sold off pieces to other developers and have become unresponsive to the community organizations about their "Phase 2 and Phase 3" projects that in a better economy were to be on the horizon promising town homes and shopping.
Vacant lots have become littered and broken feces are an issue to Internet posters but Lang said that to a lot of people who have lived in this city 20 years, "a ratty fence falling over isn’t news."
The grocery that has long been expected is still in the pipeline and with uncooperative developers it may be nothing more than wishful thinking at best.
Kevin Cook and Marilyn S. D'Angelo
I got my first off campus apartment on Camac Street just north of Susquehanna. The permanent residents and neighbors didn't like us. They thought Temple was trying to push them out of their neighborhood. Neighborhoodscout.com named Broad and Dauphin the 16th worst neighborhood in the country while I was living there--only two blocks from where I was living. A housemate of mine had been robbed at gunpoint, and there were home invasions on the block too. I have since moved out but these were the experiences that I brought with me to MURL.
When I first read some of the historical data on Ludlow, I assumed it was just going to be more of the same from North Philadelphia. By the numbers Ludlow seemed to be another community suffering from urban blight. However, I quickly found out that isn't the case in Ludlow.
The neighborhood was at one point one of the roughest areas in the city. Since then development has really started to turn the place around. Housing projects are breathing new life into blocks that once resembled moon craters. CDCs and grassroots community organizations are making leaps and bounds improvements in the quality of life. In the Old Kennsington section of the neighborhood, there is a thriving multicultural community of homeowners that have been in the neighborhood since the early 1990s when Ludlow was at its worst. The neighborhood is really beginning to come full circle and turn back into what it once was--a working class community.
This week marks the last week of our weekly journeys into Fishtown. A town whose history dates back to the early 1800’s, is home to many schools, businesses, restaurants and “Mom and Pop” shops. Because of its convenient distance to Center City, quite a few of Fishtown’s residents make the short commute to their jobs, by taking the Market-Frankford Subway or the 5 buses and trolleys. From pizza parlors to auto body shops, these business establishments located in the heart of Fishtown, serve to create an environment where its residents have no need to venture outside of its borders, unless to find a supermarket, which is not in the area.
Throughout our journeys in Fishtown, we have met many people; some with friendly faces that loved talking to us and being on camera and others who turned the other direction as soon as the words “film” or “camera” were spoken. Although Fishtown may lack in diversity, it surely does not lack in the amount of interesting people we met or passed by. From a dog whisperer who gave Ayana tips on how to discipline her dog Zuri to a humorous deli shop owner who had an opinion on just about anything related to Philadelphia and Fishtown and Pastor Dorsey, one of the leaders in the Brotherhood Rescue Mission organization, which has had it doors open to Fishtown for over 100 years.
Whether good or bad, Fishtown has definitely left Ayana and I with many memories and stories to share. Most importantly covering our neighborhood of Fishtown, has taught us one of the most valuable lessons all journalists should know: you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zones and talk to people. This is what makes a great journalist.
“Adieu, Adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow”
By: Ninah Bell & Ayana Comrie
Bernardo casually grabs a tattered sheet of old news print from the pile of trash that occupies the corner of his bedroom. The trash isn't his, neither is the room really. It came with the place, an added bonus to the windowless abandoned factory Bernardo calls home. He fiddles with the paper and glances over the words as he describes a beating he took a few weeks ago.
We've met a wide range of people with a wide range of personalities. The one thing they had in common was their willingness to talk. All a journalist ever hopes for is someone who likes to talk. We talked to people from all walks of life; from missionaries, to SEPTA workers, to a police officer who loves to work with kids, to a consignment shop owner, to a homeless man in a wheelchair, they all played a significant part in helping us to learn more about the neighborhood that they call home.
I had my reservations before starting this journey into Kensington and I now know it was caused by ignorance. I based my opinion off of how other media outlets portrayed Kensington and the negative opinions others wrote about in their blogs. Their biased judgments were simply made at face value, they hardly took the time to get to know the people who live here and the places in the neighborhood. Through all the challenges and the triumphs, I'm glad my partner and I got the chance to spend time with the people in Kensington and become familiar with the places. I have a new outlook on Kensington just from the short amount of time I spent there. I can honestly say it was time well spent.
LaToya Allen and Herry Pierre-Louis, Group 1, Kensington
In West Oak Lane in Northwest Philadelphia, OARC has started up a now year old project called Saving Homes, Saving Neighborhoods. Over the past few years, the greatest home foreclosures have taken place in Northwest Philly and South Philly. Saving Homes, Saving Neighborhoods mission is to cover the West Oak Lane residential area, go door to door to each house, and keep the neighborhood informed about foreclosures.
This campaign helps homeowners who may be in financial trouble. Saving Homes, Saving Neighborhoods is able to provide sufficient information about the options they have in order to avoid mortgage foreclosure.
This program is so important right now with all the financial difficulties and lack of understanding about foreclosures. This program is aimed to keep Northwest Philadelphia a livable, thriving community. Other cities have been looking at this program and applying it in their own nieghborhoods because it has been so successful.
Kristen van Genderen & Matt Bell, Group 3, Olney
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Port Richmond Books is owned and operated by by Greg Gillespie, who can help you out with any of your questions and all of your bookworm needs. The store is open most days during normal business hours and also by appointment.
Sure, its no Borders or Barnes and Nobles, but you will not have to wait in line or push through crowds to find what you're looking for. Port Richmond Books is a magical place to get lost on a leisurely afternoon and it will definitely appeal to more than just book lovers.
-Stephanie Hobson and Amy Fuhrmeister, Group 7, Port Richmond
Looking back over the semester as my partner and I covered Nicetown and Tioga, I wanted to reflect on some of the things I've come to understand about the neighborhoods.
Lee Ma Sun has owned Leema Market for one year. Before becoming a small business owner, Sun sold facial products that helped reduce blemishes. After meeting a client in which is now Leema Market, she was able to obtain information about the selling business. When Sun became interested in buying, she first had financial problems to face. She applied for loans which helped her open her business. After buying, she decided to stopped selling facial products and give the store her full attention.
Leema Market normally opens at 6 a.m., but varies depending on time spent at the distribution center. It’s not very busy at Leema Market because of the economy. Sun believes, because of the economy, people are now spending more carefully. She agrees that the economy is struggling. Sometimes she has to pay admittance at the distribution center and can hopefully still afford the produce. If most of her morning is spent buying wholesale, Sun strives to have the market open by 9 a.m.
“I consider myself lucky,” she says. She loves her business and strives to satisfy every customer greeting them with a friendly smile. She is facing problems like most small businesses in Logan but hopes for a better tomorrow. She was very lonely while working until her husband was laid off. However, it has made her work harder to bring in more business.
Kaira Patrick and Chelsea Sexauer
Group 14 Logan/Feltonville
Though not ranked among the top ten most polluted cities in America, Philadelphia still has a lot of cleaning up to do. Especially when it comes to trash. Each section of the city has its respective trash collection days. The problem is however that the streets are still lined with trash and litter that are left there by the citizens. On a daily basis there is, at a minimum, litter on the sidewalks. Some of which cannot be controlled. A large part of the littering problem is people who purposely throw garbage on the sidewalk because they are too lazy to wait and throw it out at the next trash receptacle.
The other major issue is trash bins. The citizen of the city are required to purchase their trash bins directly from the city, otherwise it will not be collected. The problem with this is that, the trash bins are at a high risk of being stolen. So, instead of buying the expensive, city-approved bins, most people simply place their bags of garbage out onto the street sans trash bin. This allows for stray animals to pick at the garbage before it is collected. This perpetuates the problem of adding litter to the streets.
Philadelphia has organized several clean-up initiatives, but few have had a lasting impact on the city. One of the programs that have had an effect on the city and the population is the clean air council. This council was established to reduce waste and encourage recycling within the city. Until more citizens of Philadelphia become more involved and take a proactive approach, the city of brotherly love could become known as one of America’s dirtiest cities.
Marissa Murtaugh and Ryan Ruth
Just as Thanksgiving passes and the holiday season approaches, the time of year has come when people start giving back in high gear. Germantown residents help in various ways to give back to their neighbors who do not have as much to celebrate this holiday. Such generosity is distributed amongst Germantown regardless of race or religion.
Through the month of November, the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, partnered with Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry, gathered enough goods to create over 200 crates of Thanksgiving dinners for less fortunate community families. The meals gathered not only contained the obvious donations of various canned fruit and vegetable products; each family got a turkey or chicken so that they, too, could enjoy a full Thanksgiving supper.
While waiting in the First Presbyterian Church to interview residents about the free flu shots that were distributed through Quality Community Healthcare and Northwest Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders group, there were people of all shapes, sizes and colors lugging massive turkeys into a small room in the back of the church, piled floor to ceiling with a colorful array of crates stuffed with all the Thanksgiving fixings one could imagine. Charity allowed families all across Germantown to feel just a little more fulfilled this Thanksgiving…not just those who received the donations.
Katie Annesley and Raymond Andrews, Group 12, Germantown
GRID Magazine's mission is to inspire the people of
When Salzman joined the NKCDC, the empty lots in
Salzman partnered with the Horticultural Society to help with a greening and cleaning up effort called New Kensington 2000. The idea was to start cleaning up the vacant lots to build stronger community involvement and start improving the look of the neighborhood. This idea has now become a neighborhood effort, and many residents are very thankful for the on-going program. More and more improvements are being made and as time goes on look for Kensington to start taking even greater steps to a more cleaner greener neighborhood.
Carmen Del Mastro & Adrian Fedkiw
Kensington Group 4
The Philadelphia Bike Messenger Association declared their stance on the new bike law proposals from Councilman James Kenney and Frank DiCicco in what they believe to be the rise of an anti-cycling climate here in Philadelphia. The laws would require riders to have their bicycles registered or pay a hefty fine. Other laws forbid any old-styled back that fail to have adequate brakes. The fines can potentially reach up to $1,000.
In response to the recent claims of bike messengers being dangerous, the organization held a rally on the corner of 16th and JFK Boulevard yesterday at 5 p.m. to be heard on the matter.
“This is not a protest,” says Jeff O’ Neil of the Philadelphia Bike Messenger Association. “ A lot of news stations posted this as a protest, we’re just trying to raise awareness on the matter.”
Bikers and messengers gathered to listen to fellow rider, Jorge Brito as he spoke on the edge of Love Park. A recent incident involving fellow courier Rachel Fletcher led the organization to inform people that bikers are not dangerous, in fact, motorist can be potentially more dangerous. Fletcher was struck by a car a on Thanksgiving and is currently in stable condition.
“The police never showed up to the accident.” says O’ Neil. “It was definitely a hit and run, you could see the skid marks next to the blood on the ground.”
John Stish Fa0919 Hunting Park. Group 19