Category Archives: Education

When A Tree Falls by C. Fox Collins

When you really think about it, “It’s all about the trees, trees are very significant.” These are the words that stayed with me after my meeting with Ms. Lori Hayes, Director of Urban Forestry for the City Of Philadelphia. Lori and her team are an important part of the tree Philly program. TreePhilly is an initiative of Philadelphia Parks and recreation that is dedicated to making Philadelphia the City of Arborly Love.

Lori has been in her position since the beginning of the year. She plans and coordinates tree operationsthroughout the city.

She oversees 8 geographical districts, 3 regional tree crews and the Tree Philly Program. Lori is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in Horticulture.

One of the tasks of the TreePhilly program is to give out yard trees to Philadelphia home owners. This is done twice a year in the Spring and Summer. The program has given out hundreds of trees. Lori and her Tree Crews handle all kinds of emergencies. When a tree falls they try to rectify the situation as soon as possible. The team also does a great deal of tree maintenance around the city to prevent tree failure. Assistance from the public is always helpful.

For immediate tree concerns citizens are encouraged to call 311. But there is also a stewardship unit; that includes 100 friends’ groups. Each spring and fall the city hosts ‘Love Your Park’ day. In her office there are many signs of Lori’s love of nature. One item stands out as she explains it’s significance to me.

It’s a picture taken in Germantown Philadelphia from the 1960’s. In the scene there’s a car that a tree has fallen on. She explains it was her grandfather’s car. And Lori was heartbroken at the time because her family did everything in that car. But she also tells me, that was her first tree job. She remembers a lot about that incident.

She also remembers when she started at Saul Agricultural School, Lori indicates it may be the largest vocational agricultural school in the country. What Lori finds most rewarding about her job is what she calls ‘The After’. After storm debris is removed. After fallen trees are cleaned up. After trash and old cars are dispatched from the parks. And after invasive plants are remove from native environments. ‘The After’ looks real good. Almost everything you want to know about West Parkside she can tell you. Lori managed the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center for many years, and she knows the history of the area. From the damaged caused by hurricane Hazel in the 50’s; the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, to the Virgin Mary visitation experienced by the young girls in the 1950’s. “ Lori Hayes knows it all.

Find Your Path” is the motto of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Lori invests some her time in helping young people, especially children of color to develop a love for nature in the city. The city does sponsor a few groups that do just that. One such group that comes to mind is Tree Keepers. This is a program for somewhat trouble youth who help remove invasive species from the park.

Speaking with Lori was informative. The last thing we discussed was how the Holiday Tree for City Hall was chosen. She explained that this year she submitted 4 choices of trees from Biglersville. The mayor could choose from the four she submitted. Lori spoke of her former mentor, who used to say, Look up. Look down. Look all around. I think we should all remember those words when we journey through our parks in Philadelphia. Happy Holidays to all.

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Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Welcome Parkside Residents for “A Very Philly Christmas”

The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park have a popular longtime tradition of decorating for the holidays and entertaining visitors, and this season, four special days of special programming will be added to showcase what makes Philadelphia a very special place: great music, delicious food, family, and friendly neighbors. “Christmas in Fairmount Park” celebrates its 46th year of delighting visitors with this year’s theme, “A Very Philly Christmas.” Presented by Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, this holiday tradition will feature five of the park’s treasured historic houses – Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion, Lemon Hill Mansion, Historic Strawberry Mansion, and Woodford – each decked out in the season’s finest and offering special events on the weekends of December 2-3 and December 9-10. Information about visiting the houses is at www.holidaysinthepark.com

Parkside residents are encouraged to visit the historic houses for Neighbor’s Day, Saturday, December 9th from 10-4pm when the houses will host performers from the surrounding Fairmount Park neighborhoods-East Falls, Strawberry Mansion, Brewerytown, Fairmount, and Parkside.

Residents of these neighborhoods will receive free admission that day as well as free “in park” transportation via PHLASH’s special service exclusive to the historic houses on December 9th. Residents can find out more information and obtain their free tickets by calling 267-457-4944.

“The holidays are a time for entertaining, and the Historic Houses provide the perfect setting,” says Ed Miller, Historic Houses Coordinator at Fairmount Park Conservancy. “We are thrilled to offer events inspired by our city geared towards music lovers, food lovers, children, and especially, our neighbors. And we would like to send a special invitation to all Parkside residents to join us for this celebration.”

Cedar Grove, a 250-year-old stone farmhouse which served as a summer residence to five generations of a single Philadelphia family, is the historic house located closest to Parkside. Built by wealthy widow Elizabeth Coates Paschall in 1748-50, the house features an unusual two-sided wall of closets and many of the original family furnishings.

Cedar Grove depicts life as it might have been in the early 1800s. . Originally located in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, the house was given to the City of Philadelphia and moved to its present location in West Fairmount Park, stone by stone, in 1927. “The last family member to own Cedar Grove, Lydia Thompson Morris, wanted it to be preserved for the future in Fairmount Park and opened as a museum for the public to imagine the lives of early Philadelphians.”, says Justina Barrett, Site Manager for Historic Houses, Philadelphia Museum of Art. “We are excited to welcome Parkside residents to explore Cedar Grove during this holiday season and beyond.”

Cedar Grove is owned by the City of Philadelphia and administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Promotion and programming for the historic houses are supported through a partnership between the City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and various stewardship groups. Proceeds from the events support the ongoing stewardship, maintenance and promotion of these treasures. For more information on the holiday programming in Fairmount Park, visit holidaysinthepark.com. To learn more about the history of Cedar Grove, visit http://www.philamuseum.org/historichouses

 

Ten Things To Look For In Parkside in 2018

Above is a rendering of What Centennial Village complex will look like.

Story by Manuel Smith

Since our launch in 2013, The Parkside Journal has covered the growing interest and literal rising-up of new construction, new activities, & new interest in our neighborhood. We remember the days when adding a new coat of paint to a home on the block was big news. Now some of these same homes are undergoing major renovations, while new projects are being built on land that was long vacant.  Like our neighbors, we’re celebrating this time of good fortune and progress for our area. Renewed attention from city leaders, realtors, and new neighbors in Parkside has been a long time coming, and we’re happy to see long-time promises of investments and new infrastructure come to light. But also like our neighbors, we’re concerned about how all of the new construction, new infrastructure, and new neighbors will affect us. Will these new projects affect our homes and their value? Will I still be able to afford to live close to my neighbors in the years to come? Will all of these new projects bring new opportunities for my family and friends? Will I still be able to enjoy my quality of life in Parkside?

These questions are legitimate. And to be honest, we don’t have all of the answers. No one does. That gets to the heart of why our Publisher, Michael Burch, launched The Parkside Journal in the first place. It was to ensure that we, as neighbors, are informed about all of the changes that are occurring in our community, and that we’re able to hear first about projects that we’ll want to support in the future. With this in mind, here is a list of nine projects under development, that we are aware of. These are by no means the only projects currently underway, merely the ones we are know about.

A list of nine projects to watch in Parkside for the upcoming year. These projects (and sometimes events), listed in no particular order are ones that promise great change for our neighborhood in the upcoming year. We’ll also give you our take on why they’re important and the reasons we’ll be following their progress closely.

We hope you will save and share this list with your neighbors and friends. And that you’ll help us keep on top of these developments and others by emailing us at parksidejournal@yahoo.com We’ll get through this time of progress and change together, just like Parkside neighbors have always done.

Centennial Village/52nd. & Parkside

The plan: A mixed use development that is completely transforming West Parkside, with nearly 50 new apartments and retail spaces expected to come online in the Spring of 2018. However, it is expected that most of the buildings will be finished by the end of this year. People are booking into the housing units now. They have received over 200 applications for housing, most coming from the Parkside area. There is a long wait list at this time.

The Journal’s Take: We’re excited about this latest remake of West Parkside and glad that the developers are making this inclusive, with affordable apartments being made available.

 

EMSCO New Headquarters/Near 49th and Parkside

The Plan: The minority-owned firm that provides products and services to the scientific community plans construction of a $10 million dollar new headquarters building.

The Journal’s Take: Keeping our neighborhood business-friendly is the way to keep jobs and opportunities for development in our neighborhood. There’s still room for more business development in Parkside. If this project goes well, hopefully others will follow.

 

Centennial Commons/Parkside Edge/Along Parkside Journal

The plan: The Parkside Edge is the first of a two phase project called Centennial Commons. This project is the vision of the Park Conservancy. This is about more than just new swings, seats, and benches in the park. This project is improving community connections to the park through new crosswalks, bike lanes, and other improvements along Parkside to make it easier to access the park. Phase 1 will be completed in the spring of 2018.

The Journal’s Take: Our proximity to Fairmount Park is one of the neighborhoods’ biggest assets. We’re in support of anything that makes access to the park safer, especially for seniors and youth. This development is a game changer for Parkside.

 

Please Touch Museum Outdoor Expansion                                                                                                                                                                                              The plan: PTM recently received a design grant award from the Community Design Collaborative to create plans for a state-of-the-art expansion of the outdoor Please Touch Garden. The new area will include interactive play & programming space designed to engage and delight children in nature and provide opportunities for STEM learning.

The Journal’s Take: Fundraising for this project is scheduled to kick off soon, and we’re encouraged with the community outreach PTM has already done before shovels even hit the ground. They are showing that community input is valuable to their programs.

 

School Reform Commission Dissolved                                          

The Plan: Just before Thanksgiving, the SRC voted to dissolve, with the Mayor and City Council set to elect a locally controlled school board in the coming year.

The Journal’s Take: Parkside is home to at least two large charter schools already. Plus a new school from KIPP is projected to open on Parkside Avenue soon. Will a new school board approve more? Will these educational options change or improve for the students in our neighborhood?

 

Zoo New Main Restaurant/Philadelphia Zoo

The Plan: Officials from the Zoo are promoting a multi million dollar investment program, in which the start would be a new grand restaurant near the Zoo’s entrance that would also host special events and have evening access for the public.

The Journal’s Take: While final design is still underway, the Journal is encouraged by the community engagement on this idea already being led by Zoo Vice President Kenneth Woodson. There’s also the promise of more employment opportunities at the restaurant for neighborhood residents, plus a brand-new destination to take guests out to dinner!

 

Lancaster Avenue Redevelopments/Lancaster Avenue

The Plan: The People’s Emergency Center (PEC), has a long track record of building, maintaining, and supporting affordable housing options in West Philadelphia. Recently the community development arm announced a focus on five neighborhoods, Saunders Park, West Powelton, Belmont, Mantua, and Mill Creek.

The Journal’s Take: We’re excited to see this neighborhood corridor become invigorated with new life. Any additional marketing, planning, and support to keep the corridor alive is good for us all. PEC is off to a great start with http://www.lancasteravephilly.com/ which promotes the avenue as a destination.

 

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden/Lansdowne Drive and Horticultural Drive

The Plan: We believe one of the park’s hidden gems, right in our backyard, has been underrated for a long time. The team there has been working on building a superior calendar of special events along with additional community outreach to make the center more accessible than ever.

The Journal’s Take: This December, Shofuso extended their season to include new weekend hours through December 10. They will also host a Japanese New Year (Oshogatsu) event with fresh greenery, traditional decorations, and a winter kimono display. Complimentary green tea and slippers will be available to guests and free tours will share Japanese holiday traditions. Admission is only $2 for ACCESS Card holders, and free for active duty military members and children under

 

Ucity Square & Schuylkill Yards                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Plan: These two massive projects, at a cost of more than $3 Billion dollars, plan to remake two large portions of West Philadelphia, bringing more office and apartment spaces to the area. Both sites were formally pitched to Amazon by the city as potential location for their HQ2 plan.

The Journal’s Take: If 50,000 new jobs immediately came to this area, you can imagine what that might do to our property values, not to mention traffic and congestion woes. We’ll watch to see what occurs.

 

Former Mutual Life Building Development/46th & Market Street        

The Plan: Like the rest of West Philadelphia, we were disappointed in the Kenney Administration’s cancellation of the $200 million dollar-plus plan to relocate the headquarters of the police department here in favor of a new location in Center City. The promise of new jobs and activity on this long dormant corner will have to wait even longer.

The Journal’s Take: We’re cautiously optimistic here. Kudos to Mayor Kenney to being open about the process for future developments here. At a recent Spruce Hill community meeting, he says that the city is on track with choosing a new developer by April 2018. He also added that local and minority workers will be hired on any construction that will eventually occur there.

 

Centennial Parkside’s Executive Director Chris Spahr, Receives Drexel Fellowship

by Michael Burch

Chris Spahr, the Executive Director of The Parkside Community Development Corporation is in the news again this month after being awarded the Lindley Foundation Fellowship for Urban Innovation. Chris earned the fellowship for having an innovative concept about bringing positive change to East Parkside.

For the past few years he and Mr. Christopher Scott, Parkside CDC Board president, have been developing a plan to foster an energy development district here in East Parkside. The plan involves establishing solar panels in a network or solar farm configuration to generate green energy. These panels would be erected on land not generally in use, or on parking lots in the area. This plan will not greatly change the look of the community or debase the park.

The energy produced in this method would be owned by our Parkside Centennial CDC. The collected electrical energy could be resold to institutional partners like The Please Touch Museum or the Philadelphia Zoo, among others. According to Mr. Spahr both institutions have expressed interest in the plan and they hope to grow interest among other businesses and institutions.

The monies earned from these transactions would build capital for the CDC and allow them to invest in the Parkside community. This could mean money for sidewalk repairs, street light installations, home weatherization programs, etc. Where these funds would be spent would depend on residents. This program could become a national model that started here in Parkside.

The Lindley Fellowship brings with it a 15-thousand-dollar cash endowment and 6 months of technical support to the project. This is a plan with real growth potential and the Parkside Journal will keep you updated on their progress.

 

 

Philadelphia’s “Park Champion” has a New Leader

by Jasmine Bullock

Jamie Gauthier is the new Director of the
Fairmount Park Conservancy

Since 1998, the Fairmount Park Foundation, now the Fairmount Park Conservancy, has invested millions of dollars in the Philadelphia park system. The organization is a “Park Champion” and has been so effective because of its understanding of the importance of parks to our city’s neighborhoods. The Fairmount Park Conservancy takes pride in increasing public awareness of the park’s role in contributing to the health and vibrancy of neighborhoods in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Today the Park Conservancy works very closely with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to develop and implement projects and programs that support, improve, and enhance Philadelphia’s parks. One of its premier programs is the Oval at the Art Museum that provides not only a play area for children, but also a beer garden and food truck hub for adults over a six week period during the summer. The Conservancy also works closely with community groups and over 115 Friends groups. The Conservancy aids in forming new groups and in sustaining and supporting existing groups dedicated to their neighborhood parks.

As of July 2017, the Fairmount Park Conservancy is under the new leadership of Jamie Gauthier. Gauthier is a native of Philadelphia who began her career at DuPont working in the field of accounting. During that time, she had a desire to do more meaningful work that helped cities and specifically the struggling communities of Philadelphia.

With a growing passion to work intimately with the community, Gauthier embarked on a graduate degree in Urban Studies and Planning from University of Pennsylvania. With a new career focus, Gauthier gave almost ten years of service to the Local Initiative Support Coalition (LISC). LISC is a national non-profit organization that provides capital from private sources to promote and support low income housing projects and community revitalization. Gauthier described LISC as a great place to learn but wished to serve in more of a leadership position.

Gauthier then became the Executive Director of the Sustainable Business network, a “Chamber of Commerce for socially conscious businesses”, as Gauthier describes it. After four years with this group and her recognition of the new potential that the new Philadelphia soda tax would provide, she decided that now was the right time to make a career change.

She made the decision to take the leadership position with the Philadelphia Parks Conservancy in order to take advantage of the Rebuild Initiative that was the direct result of the revenue produced by the soda tax. Rebuild is a $500 million program designed to revitalize neighborhood parks, recreational centers, playgrounds, and libraries across the city.

The funds are acquired from both the soda tax and private donations. Gauthier’s vision is to “connect and partner with the city to see the mission come to pass”.

Latest Happenings from The Centennial Parkside CDC

Letitia House is the new home of Centennial Parkside CDC,. For
more information go to http://centennialparkside.org/

by Chris Sphar

This summer has been a busy one for the Centennial Parkside CDC. We have officially opened our office at the Letitia House at 3479 West Girard Avenue and are actively working with residents to plan how we will use the acre of outdoor community space surrounding the office building. Quentin Drew, Tracy Reed, and Johnnie McFadden, our Clean and Green Team, have been hard at work cleaning the streets and vacant lots of East Parkside in an effort to improve the quality of life of local residents.

In addition our summer programming, the Parkside Fresh Food Fest, has proven to be a great success. Close to 20 East Parkside residents have subscribed to receive a bag of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products from the Reading Terminal Market on six occasions over the summer.

In addition to receiving these healthy food shares at an affordable rate, visitors to the Parkside Fresh Food Fest experienced a cooking demonstration from a great local chef, Tess Connors.

Parkside Fresh Food Fest attendees could also access resources on Indego BikeShare, local recycling campaigns, and home health services while children read books donated by the Philadelphia Free Library. If that wasn’t enough, the Parkside Fresh Food Fest had a rocking performance by local musicians, CityLove on August 10 and anticipate a repeat performance at our closing on September 21.

This has been a great summer for the Centennial Parkside CDC and it is only a preview of what is to come as we grow to be an important resource in the East Parkside Community.