Occupiers set down new roots in Kensington
IT WAS a "trash mob," not a flash mob, out at a vacant lot in Kensington yesterday. Volunteers with Occupy Philly and Philly Food Forests came out to a trash-strewn lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to haul away rocks, tree limbs, concrete and used syringes.
IT WAS a "trash mob," not a flash mob, out at a vacant lot in Kensington yesterday.
Volunteers with Occupy Philly and Philly Food Forests came out to a trash-strewn lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to haul away rocks, tree limbs, concrete and used syringes.
They plan to grow a community garden for use by neighbors.
"We found quite a few syringes and bottles," said Meenal Raval, 49, with Occupy Vacant Lots, a group that evolved from Occupy Philly's environmental working group. Holding a rake at the lot, on Willard Street near Jasper, she said that yesterday's cleanup was the fourth for Occupy Vacant Lots since it formed last month.
Bri Barton, 22, of Philly Food Forests, a grass-roots group created more than a year ago to turn vacant lots into organic gardens, said volunteers have been distributing surveys to neighbors to learn what kind of food they'd like.
She stressed that the garden is about eating organic and also having a place where neighbors can get to know each other better.
Irmarie Diaz, 23, who lives in a rowhouse across the street from the vacant lot with her husband and two young sons, loves the idea. "This empty spot here, all it's doing is gathering people from different neighborhoods. They do drugs, I believe even prostitution," she said as she watched about 30 volunteers clean the lot.
The garden "will bring such a positive image to this neighborhood," she said. "It will also be beneficial for the kids."
The volunteers got help from the city in their cleanup efforts. Tricia Shore, a Quaker who has been helping the homeless people from Occupy Philly find shelter, noted that the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services' Community Partnership Program loaned out shovels, rakes and other items for the cleanup.
The privately owned lot had piles of masonry before the cleanup, Shore said, holding one hand up to head level to show how high. It was nicknamed the "hotel" by residents because of the drug use and prostitution, she said.
Paul Klemmer, 53, one of the Occupy Philly people who camped out with the homeless in Port Richmond after being given notice to leave City Hall in late November, now lives with a resident of the Willard Street block and will be helping with the garden.
He showed some of the other volunteers yesterday a 12-sided wooden lantern with colorful computer-printed images, which he made. He said he hopes to make more and sell them.