Category Archives: News in Context

Wynnefield Apartment Residents to Be Evicted

Residents of Wynnefield’s Penn Wynn House have been served with a mass eviction notice. Tenants have been given until the end of May to leave the apartment complex, their homes. This move comes as owners of the complex prepare to begin a major renovation project that will displace hundreds of residents. With the continued growth of development in Philadelphia these types of stories are no longer rare, but no less painful to the neighborhood residents they effect. Penn Wynn House has some 240 apartments and many of the residents there are senior citizens, retired veterans, people with limited mobility or on fixed incomes. For many of them finding new lodgings is a challenge made doubly hard when trying to do this in little over a month’s time. After interviewing some of the residents it’s clear that this all began when new owners purchased the building in December 2016.

According to resident Willie Mobley “soon after that the letters started being stuck on apartment doors” eviction letters. The tenants have had little communication with the new owners, and many don’t see a way forward.

In early May, some of the residents partnered with the Philadelphia
Tenants Union, to hold a demonstration outside the Penn Wynn
house. PTU is a tenant-led organization dedicated to winning safe,
decent, and affordable housing for renters in Philadelphia. The
demonstration held outside the Penn Wynn House was planned to
bring awareness to their plight. The Tenants Union is asking the new
owners to give the tenants an extension of three months and to return security deposits in full. Residents could use this money as they seek new housing in the area. Members of the press were there along with many onlookers. Councilman Curtis Jones was on hand to
speak to the crowds and he stated that he would introduce legislation concerning unfair eviction practices during city council session in May. The Parkside Journal will continue to follow this story, look for updates on our website at:  http://www.parksidepournal@wordpress.com

Update: Councilman Curtis did Introduced a bill, in late May, that would require landlords in gentrifying neighborhoods to give residents at least six months’ notice before eviction can take place.

Urban Adventures In America’s National Parks

Bikers enjoy a fall day at Philadelphia’s Valley Green in Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the nation.Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia™
Bikers enjoy a fall day at Philadelphia’s Valley Green in Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the nation. Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia™

Each year over a million people visit the

Wissahickon Valley in Beautiful Fairmount Park.

The Valley has over 50 miles of trails that offers

runners, hikers, and mountain bikers the opportunity

to explore Fairmount Park’s rich forests, woodland

and creeks. However, many of us urban dwellers

rarely visit places like Forbidden Drive, Devil’s Pool,

Andorra Meadows or Climbers Rock. Some of us just

don’t get out there. Keep reading and you will

discover David McCullough’s efforts to change his

community’s mindset regarding the outdoors.

In just about every way, I feel better when I can get

outside. It’s hard to find the time, though. I’m a

father, husband, graduate student, and professional

science educator. Like a lot of us, I’m really busy.

But when I get out into nature, I feel better physically

and emotionally. I get exercise and push myself to

get stronger. I have time to think. I can smell fresh

air and see new things. I can reflect. I can meet new

people. I feel more alive. And anything helps – from

walking the dog to blowing bubbles in the yard with

my kids.

For me, nothing beats hiking in the woods. It’s a

perfect combination of being grounded and

transported at the same time. A nice hike makes me

feel connected with nature and all of us in it, but I

also feel like like I’ve gone to some other world.

Maybe that says something about how wrapped up

we are in our daily lives that just walking through

trees and listening to the sounds of nature can seem

like you’re on another planet. There’s no feeling quite

like it.

Part of Philadelphia’s 4,400-acre Fairmount Park, Valley Green is located along the Wissahickon Creek. Visitors to the park often partake in hiking, fishing and biking activities.Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia™
Part of Philadelphia’s 4,400-acre Fairmount Park, Valley Green is located along the Wissahickon Creek. Visitors to the park often partake in hiking, fishing and biking activities. Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia™

This year, I wanted to do more than just be better

personally – I wanted to join with and help others

experience the same thing. Fortunately, I was chosen

to serve as a Philadelphian leader for Outdoor Afro, a

non-profit organization spreading around the country

with a simple, but powerful, mission: to celebrate and

inspire African American connections to nature. I get

the honor of being the leader for bringing that

mission to Philadelphia.

So how exactly do we celebrate and inspire black

people’s connections with nature? By getting outside

and sharing knowledge about the world around us,

including our special connections to nature. Of

course, this celebration isn’t to exclude anyone–we

just want to bring out stories that are all too often

forgotten, about how Black people have and continue

to be essential to our planet’s health and well being.

At the same time, we’re working to improve our own

health and well being.

A child enjoys the outdoor pleasures of Kelly Drive, one of the gateways to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the United States.Credit: Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia™
A child enjoys the outdoor pleasures of Kelly Drive, one of the gateways to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the United States. Credit: Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia™

In fact, our personal health and the health of our world are

deeply connected. Natural places aren’t intrinsically mysterious

and scary – they belong to us. They nourish us and help us feel

strong. But they also need us. When each of us is interested and

invested in nature, we make choices that benefit our natural world

and each other. We start to make small changes in what we eat

and how we get around, and think more about big choices like

how public money should be used to support parks and green

spaces. Our voice – the voice of Black folk – is important, and

needs to heard. Believe it or not, we can start speaking just by

getting outside.

This, of course, is all a bunch of great ideas. Let’s get down to the

nitty gritty of how a hike with Outdoor Afro – or even on your

own – can make your life and world a richer, happier place.

Exercise – We all know we need exercise. Hiking

just happens to be my favorite kind. There are small

hills and declines that give you a bit more activity

than you might find on a simple walk. And even the

most well kept trails have tree roots and rocks that

you have to step over and navigate, all giving your

body a little more stuff to do. All of this while being

distracted by serene surroundings and great

conversations.

Of course, hiking is just one of many outdoor

activities. Outdoor Afro gatherings can include

activities like biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing,

and even sailing! The sky is the limit…so far.

Healing time – This one is hard to explain until

you’ve experienced it. But trust me – the outdoors

has healing powers. As your body moves and your

mind relaxes, you find yourself reflecting and

thinking about your life, and yourself, in new ways.

You release tension and embrace the calm sights and

sounds of nature. Make no mistake, a good hike does

the spirit good, too.

Fellowship – While Outdoor Afro is new here in

Philadelphia, the program has been going strong for

five years and most participants come for the

fellowship. Outdoor Afro draws in people from all

walks of life through a common interest in getting

outside and enjoying nature. It’s an amazing way to

meet new friends, hear new stories, and get new

perspectives.

There’s a special kind of togetherness that comes

from enjoying healing exercise and beautiful

surroundings with good people.

Rollerblading enthusiasts enjoy the smooth and flat 8.4 mile path that winds from the Philadelphia Museum of Art along Kelly Drive and West River DriveCredit: Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia™
Rollerblading enthusiasts enjoy the smooth and flat 8.4 mile path that winds from the Philadelphia Museum of Art along Kelly Drive and West River Drive.Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia™

 

Learning – One of my favorite things about

Outdoor Afro is the emphasis on sharing

knowledge. We talk about the plants, animals,

rocks, and waterways that make up the environment

for each of our hikes. Also, it’s important that we

talk about the history of these regions, and in

particular, the history of black people. We have

been so important to this country, but our

contributions are too often overlooked. Outdoor

Afro wants to bring those stories back to forefront,

and make them part of our common knowledge.

While my job as leader is to find and share

information, we know all of you have deep

knowledge, too. Outdoor Afro is a great place to

share your own expertise about nature, history,

Philadelphia, or even stories about your own family.

We all know so much. Come share your knowledge

with Outdoor Afro!

Members of Outdoor Afro in Yosemite National Park Photo courtesy of Outdoor Afro
Members of Outdoor Afro in Yosemite National Park Photo courtesy of Outdoor Afro

If you want to join Outdoor Afro-Philadelphia on

the trails and wherever our journeys take us, you

can find us at http://www.meetup.com/Outdoor-

Afro-Philadelphia and on Facebook by searching

for Outdoor Afro-Philadelphia. All of our

scheduling is online, so log on in and join us in

feeling better, one hike at a time!

Homeschool: A Complicated Issue

The following article is a editorial

comment on one aspect of a larger issue

(education) that has generated widespread

debate and comment within our

community. This subject is of particular

concern and interest to the writer, C. Fox

Collins.

How a society educates its children has

always been of paramount importance.

There was a time in America where many

children were homeschooled. Many

families lived far away from any type of

school setting. Therefore, out of

practical necessity, much education took

place in the home. Reading, writing, and

arithmetic formed the core of the basic set

of skills or knowledge that was

considered necessary or sufficient for an

educated person to function or survive in

a primarily agrarian society.
Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.53.49 PM

For a society to function well, it needs the

majority of its population to be well

educated. In order to do this in today’s

highly diverse and urban centered society,

our school systems have created large

bureaucracies. In order for a large

bureaucracy to be effective, key societal

groups need to “buy in” to it: parents,

educators, administrators, politicians,

taxpayers, etc. For a long time in our

country this system has functioned

reasonable well.

Recently, however, we’ve begun to see a

significant new trend or challenge to the

traditional school system. More and more

children are being homeschooled. Current

statistics show at least 2 million

homeschoolers in the U.S. Many Black

families are beginning to explore this

option. What are the benefits &

disadvantages of this?

Phillip Daniel brainstorms with homeschoolers about mechanical engineering project ideas on a farm outside of St. Louis, MO
Phillip Daniel brainstorms with homeschoolers about mechanical engineering project ideas on a farm outside of St. Louis, MO

Parents seem to choose the

homeschooling option for a variety of

reasons. There is evidence to suggest that

parents, who have a strong belief system,

use homeschooling as a way to ensure

their beliefs remain a strong presence in

their children’s lives.

While most school systems try to

maintain a secular environment, no such

requirement is necessary if children are

taught at home. A parent can be as

religious or as non-religious as he or she

chooses in a private home. There is also

the perceived added benefit of developing

a stronger bond between parent(s) and

child than the one that would normally

exist when relying on others to teach your

child outside of the home. For some

parents, this is very significant or

important.

There is also an increased need or desire

among some parents to “protect” their

children. In today’s society, children may

seem to be less safe than in earlier times.

Parents who homeschool often feel that

they will have more direct control over

their children’s safety. And yet, this same

perceived benefit may contain some

pitfalls. Many children judge what

obstacles they can overcome based on the

obstacles they encounter everyday.

Removing a child from a traditional

school setting could eliminate many of

the obstacles or challenges they might

otherwise learn from.

It has been said “you cannot discover new

oceans unless you have the courage to

lose sight of the shore”. Some parents

can be overprotective. A sheltered child

may become a child unsure of himself or

herself, afraid to explore new challenges.

While a parent can protect his or her child

in the short run, sooner or later that child

will have to learn to protect himself or

herself.

It is a significant step to remove children

from the mainstream educational system.

Parents need to be aware of all the

implications that such a decision entails.

First and foremost, educating your child

at home does not mean you will be

completely free of oversight by the

government. Therefore, a parent needs to

be well prepared for such an

undertaking

PLEASE BE SURE TO LOOK FOR

MORE FOLLOW UP ARTICLES ON

THIS SUBJECT IN SUBSEQUENT

ISSUES OF THE JOURNAL.

Strong Parkside Support For Its “Please Touch Neighbor”

by Juanita Alexander

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The @SixersDreamTeam greets season ticket holders at the Please Touch Museum (courtesy: Philadelphia 76ers)

Many of our readers probably know that the Please Touch Museum has had its share of difficulties since moving to the Parkside area in 2008. For a number of reasons, in September The Please Touch Museum filed for chapter 11. During this time the museum remains open and continues its good work of educating children through play. A ground swell of support for the Please Touch Museum has spread throughout the Parkside community amid reports of these financial challenges facing the highly regarded institution.

We at the Parkside Journal are certain that the Please Touch Museum will survive its financial struggles and emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. Please Touch has become an important part of the Parkside community. They offer many programs that directly help Parkside and the neighboringcommunities. Many of these programs are housed within their Community Learning Department. To most of us this means outreach programs. In these programs the museum goes beyond the walls of the building and out into the community. Some of the programs they offer are Youth and Family Programs. These programs seek to empower parents and caregivers and help to mentor youth as they grow into adults. The museum’s ACES program is one of these stellar programs and was featured in the Parkside Journal’s Summer 2015 edition. The School Readiness program is designed to support children and families who are transitioning into kindergarten. These are just a few of the many programs that West Philadelphia residents benefit from in having The Please Touch Museum as a neighbor.

Whatever the final outcome of all of the current negotiations, etc., the Parkside community stands firmly behind its Please Touch neighbor. The Parkside Journal urges all of its readers to support all future endeavors of the museum. This paper strongly feels that the current Please Touch Museum situation should be a “wake up” call for our community; Parkside can no longer take the cultural institutions in its midst for granted. This paper hopes that the varied Parkside community organizations will make a concerted effort to help support and sustain ALL of its valued cultural institutional neighbors.

Major Petition Drive Underway

A view of 5000 Parkside Avenue
A view of 5000 Parkside Avenue

by Juanita Alexander

Just before the deadline for the printing of the Parkside Journal, this paper was informed by reliable sources that a petition drive is currently underway in the Parkside area (and possibly in other neighboring communities). The focus of the petition drive is the METADONE Clinic (Formally known as Parkside Recovery in West Philadelphia) located at 5000 Parkside Avenue. This facility has been a fixture in our community form many years.

According to the copy of the petition obtained by the Journal, the ultimate goal of the petitioners is to have the clinic moved to another location outside of the Parkside Community and its adjacent neighborhoods. The petition expresses concern about the affect of the clinic on neighborhood safety and the physical and cultural environmental of the Parkside community. The petition also allages that the clinic is a hindrance to business development and economic growth in Parkside.

In accordance with the Journal’s belief in fair and objective news reporting, efforts were made to obtain comments from both the clinic and the local police. Repeated attempts were made to contact the Clinic by phone and get a response or statement concerning this issue from the executive Director of Addition Services or other clinic spokesperson.

The Journal did not receive any response to calls or voice messages. (If the Journal receives any response or statement from the clinic after the printing of this issue, every effort will be made to post it on our website). Despite time constraints, the Journal was able to briefly contact a community relations representative from the 19th police District. She said that she could not recall any specific recent incidents involving the the metadone clinic. She did state, however, that there have been a significant number of complaints from the community about loitering by some of the patrons of the clinic after they receive their medicine.

It was her opinion that more needed to be done to (by the operators of the clinic) to encourage clients to leave the area around the clinic in a more timely fashion after the completion of their medical treatments.

The editors of the Journal are encouraging all Parkside residents to become more informed about this important issue. Journal readers are invited to visit our website at http://www..parksidejournal.wordpress.com for updates and/or comments about this fast moving story. The next issue of the Journal will have a follow up report on this important community issue.