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Marquis of Debris: Block magic in Kensington

IF YOU'RE FED up with the filth in Philly, email me at, or find my page on Facebook.

IF YOU'RE FED up with the filth in Philly, email me at, or find my page on Facebook.

The story of neighbors watching their areas gradually dissolve into varying states of disrepair sounds like a broken record to the weathered and worn-down Marquis.

But it's always inspiring to see folks pull together to make their communities more desirable.

It happens all over the city, I'm sure, but a particularly uplifting example is a tidy two-block stretch of Clementine Street, between Kensington Avenue and Jasper Street.

Like most litter-laden residential neighborhoods in Philadelphia, a wire trash basket is nowhere to be found.

Yet it may be one of the best-kept blocks the Marquis has seen in Philadelphia, minus a pesky takeout menu here and there.

Meanwhile, around the corner along Jasper Street, garbage clogs the storm drains, clings to the curbs and a pile of trash sits at the base of a tree like a bunch of rotten Christmas presents.

And Kensington Avenue isn't exactly squeaky clean, either.

So, how does this block stay so tidy when it's sandwiched between two streets struggling to keep a grip on grime?

One neighbor says it all comes down to a sense of ownership and a spirit of cooperation.

Andre Bob, who has lived on Clementine Street near Stouton for three years, says most people on his block own their homes.

"We regularly get out and clean up together," Bob said on the steps outside his front door, adding that he and his neighbors do what they can to show pride in their slice of Kensington.

Aside from beautifying the block, cleanups are a great way for neighbors to get to know each other and build a sense of community, he said.

Fresh from being awarded as a national innovator for waste-reduction and recycling efforts, Phoebe Coles, executive director of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, says there's plenty of work to be done in the new year.

Just in time for neighbors getting rid of old electronics to make way for shiny, new Christmas presents, KPB is helping to coordinate an electronics-recycling drive Jan. 16 at Girard College.

Some neighborhoods already have successful E-waste recycling drives, and although people are making good use of the city's waste-collection sites, Coles said it's important that neighbors across the city know what to do with their unwanted gadgets.

"Depending on the demand after this first one, we're looking at doing it quarterly," she said. "We're trying to touch as many communities are we can via service, via kids, via media."

To get involved in citywide cleanup projects, join the UnLitter Us network by visting