Philadelphia, the "City of Brotherly Love," is known for its many silver linings.
On April 22, a group of people came together – from Philadelphia Eagles players to real estate developers – to support one initiative.
Ralph's Italian Restaurant, located at 760 S. 9th St., hosted the HealthBridge Chiropractic Macallan Tasting Event, which was a benefit for Ralph Brooks Park in the Point Breeze neighborhood in South Philadelphia.
"Stop the Violence" reads a large mural on the side of a building adjacent to the park that lists fallen members of the Point Breeze community. This project hopes to change the face of the area both by remembering those they've lost and reuniting again under a common focus.
The names on the mural breathe a history that will never be forgotten among the families in the community, and perhaps has provided them with the strength that has gotten them to where they are today. The remodel of this park at 20th and Tasker Streets will forge a unity that has always existed and go beyond the inner-workings of a basketball court. It is being set around a locality that – despite its troubles in the past – is working to become whole again.
This rehabilitated park will provide volunteer opportunities, routine, safety, and a true sense of home.
Urban Roots, a nonprofit in Philadelphia, has been working on the revitalization of Ralph Brooks Park since 2013 and just celebrated the official groundbreaking on April 21. The project centers itself on the Point Breeze community and calls upon its residents to take ownership of the park and its new beginnings.
"I have really seen this Urban Roots project come to life, and it touched me. I was inspired," said Dr. Matthew Marcus of HealthBridge. "We're just really proud and happy to give back to the community and truly make a difference," says Dr. Matthew Marcus of HealthBridge Chiropractic.
Point Breeze's strong-knit community spirit has caught the attention of Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin. "This is the perfect first project for my foundation in Philadelphia," he said. Though the basketball court at the current Ralph Brooks is full of cracks and years of wear, it is also full of history and stories that locals are well-versed in.
Barwin's foundation, "Make The World Better Project," falls directly in line with what Urban Roots had already started. It took one bike ride for Barwin to start the collaboration, which has now led to a huge amount of dedication and support.
"The plan is to continue to work on a park each year. That has always been the goal. It feels amazing now that construction has started. It has been a long process, but it's going to make a big difference," the Eagles player went on to say.
"It has really been a true community effort and to me that is what's exciting." said Claire Laver of Urban Roots. "None of us have any interest in coming in and telling the community what they want. We just want to help facilitate the community's needs and voice in order to figure out how their public space can be utilized."
With the groundbreaking well under way, Wednesday's event was also a celebration of the previous years of work. But the overarching goal of this project is to bring the existing community together in a stronger way than ever before.
It is time for Point Breeze to put itself back on the map in Philadelphia, where much like other parts of the city, it is growing in a positive way. The park itself will only tell half that story, the other half will come from those that take on the life it supports -- and together those elements will come full circle.
"It has been fascinating for Urban Roots to experience to evolution of this project over the past three years… from a couple of new hoops to a complete community revitalization project," said Jeffrey Tubbs, Urban Roots founder and chairman. "We've attracted the likes of Connor Barwin, NFL Films and ESPN. We have been lucky enough to create an extremely unique partnership that will be a force for positive change in the years to come."
Healthbridge will donate all proceeds from the ticket sales to benefit the work of local, nonprofit organization Urban Roots and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin's "Make The World Better Project." The renovated Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze will be opening this summer.