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Elizabeth Waring

Eilzabeth Waring has planted hundreds of trees in West Philadelphia.

Eilzabeth Waring has planted hundreds of trees in West Philadelphia.

Elizabeth Waring – 4000 Powelton Avenue

Elizabeth has been known to hug the trees she’s planted. And, as a volunteer for UC Green, she has planted hundreds of trees.  She is also a member of the UC Green Pruning Club. “That’s my therapy,” she says. “If I had a stressful day, I get to be underneath a tree, talking and relaxing.”

The pruning club meets once a week during the summer months and works to ‘limb up’ trees whose branches obstruct sidewalks and streets. Elizabeth, like many of the members, learned how to prune after joining the club. She took the tree tenders course at Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Now she teaches others.

As a block captain, Elizabeth tries to to keep her neighbors informed on the fast-moving development of the Powelton neighborhood. Many of her neighbors are seniors. “Not everyone uses email on my block,” she says. “So I have to go door to door and hand out flyers when we have meetings.”

I met Elizabeth under a tree last summer! While she worked on branches I invited her to be one of the artists for the Windowishes project. She accepted, even though she was unsure what she was agreeing to. “I had no idea what I was getting into!,” she told me later. Her window creation is an expression of her love for trees. It is on view 24/7 until December 1st, 2015.

You can meet Elizabeth too!

She will be speaking during the Windowishes Walkabout today, October 30th, from 4 – 5:30 pm, on 40th St between Chestnut and Ludlow Streets.

Please come out and see the beautiful displays created for our community by our block captains.

Elizabeth’s Windowish:  I wish there is a rebirth of block culture – people working together for common causes.

Windowishes Walkabout

Walkabout_4x9

Meet the artists who created the Windowishes displays on S. 40th St. You will be inspired!

Friday, October 30th

4pm – 5:30pm

36 – 46 S. 40th Street (Between Chestnut and Ludlow Streets)

Viva Street Art!

Renée McBride-Williams

Renée McBride-Williams outside the WPEB community radio station on S. 52nd Street. Renee remembers 52nd Street in it’s glory days, when it was it was called the Golden Strip. She remembers being drawn to the excitement around famous theaters like the Locust, the Nixon, the State, the Capital, the Belmont, (earlier days: the Rivoli and the Midget Bijou Theater). 
Renee says, “I chased music my whole life. My family wanted me to go to church and get married. I wanted to become a concert violinist.” Renee eventually became an educator, teaching media production for 25 years. She passed her love of music onto her son, Christian McBride, who is a four-time GRAMMY-winning jazz bassist. Today Renee is the co-host of The Shed Kitchen, a public affairs program that focuses on the ‘proud and historic West Philadelphia community,’ on WPEB, a community radio station on 52nd Avenue. For more information: www.wpeb.org

Renée McBride-Williams outside the WPEB community radio station on S. 52nd Street.

Renée McBride-Williams – 5100 Webster St.

I met Renée at the WPEB studio, with it’s windows facing 52nd Street. She remembers 52nd Street in it’s glory days, when it was called the Golden Strip. She remembers being drawn to the excitement around famous theaters like the Locust, the Nixon, the State, the Capital, the Belmont, (earlier days: the Rivoli and the Midget Bijou Theater).

Renée says, “I chased music my whole life. My family wanted me to go to church and get married. I wanted to become a concert violinist.”

Renée eventually became an educator, teaching media production for 25 years in the Philadelphia School District and developed youth programming for the Clef Club. She passed her love of music onto her son, Christian McBride, who is a four-time GRAMMY-winning jazz bassist.

Today Renée is the General Manager of  WPEB and  a co-host of The Shed Kitchen, a public affairs program that focuses on the ‘proud and historic West Philadelphia community.’

Renée is very active with Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN) as the Chair of the Jazz Committee. Each summer, CPN hosts a very popular Friday Night Jazz Series in the park.

Looking out of the radio station’s window, Renée explained why she wants to give back to her community. “I ran away several times in my youth, but I remember I could run to homes that welcomed me. There was always someone who opened their door for me.”

Renée’s window is dedicated to the historic theater district along 52nd St., nicknamed the Golden Strip.

Renée’s window is dedicated to the historic theater district along 52nd St., nicknamed the Golden Strip.

Renée is one of six block leaders who have created a display for the Windowishes Street Exhibition on view through December 1, 2015. Please join the Windowishes creative team this Friday, October 30, for a Windowishes Walkabout from 4:00 pm to 5:30pm.

 

 

Pat Jamison

"WAKE UP!" Pat Jamison calls coaxingly into the microphone, “Rise and shine, Rowan Walkway! The volunteers are on their way!” Jamison walked up and down her street directing her calls upward, towards the second floor bedroom windows.  1600 Roman Walkway is a unique Philadelphia block. Instead of a street, the two rows of homes face a row of garden boxes. William Shaw, an architect, built the block in the 1890’s. He was a member of the Moravian church and wanted to create a snug village for his small community, mixing the Philadelphia row house style with Queen Anne architecture. “The whole block is a garden,” Jamison says. “We call it a diamond in the rough.”

Pat Jamison – 1600 Rowan Walkway

At 8:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning last September, Pat Jamison carried her speakers outside and serenaded her neighbors with the warm tones of Teddy Pendergrass to wake them for the fall clean up. ” It kind of gets the adrenaline going, you know?”  says Jamison, referring to the sexy R&B.

But her neighbors were slow to respond. She went back inside to fetch her bullhorn. Jamison interrupted the music with a siren.

“WAKE UP!” Jamison calls coaxingly into the microphone, “Rise and shine, Rowan Walkway! The volunteers are on their way!” Jamison walked up and down her street directing her calls upward, towards the second floor bedroom windows.

In thirty minutes, volunteers from Villanova University would descend on her small block to help spruce up the street.

1600 Rowan Walkway is a unique block in Nicetown. Instead of a street, the two rows of homes face a line of garden boxes. William Shaw, an architect, built the block in the 1890’s. He was a member of the Moravian church and wanted to create a snug village for his small community, mixing the row house template with Queen Anne architecture.

“The whole block is a garden,” Jamison says. “We call it a diamond in the rough.”

But Jamison saw that the weeds had overtaken the gardens and the paint on the porches and curbs was peeling off. Her diamond was starting to loose its shine. So Jamison contacted Villanova University and they sent 60 young volunteers for the annual Day of Service to help Rowan Walkway residents clean, prune, plant and paint.

“The cooperation starts kinda slow,” Jamison says. “But when they start seeing the results, they start seeing what we have done together.”

The 2015 St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service will take place on September 12th. For more information contact: stvc@villanova.edu

Free Portraits of Junior Block Captains

2015 block captains forum flyerThem That Do (Lori Waselchuk) is a sponsor of the 2015 West/Southwest Philadelphia Block Captains Forum.

I will set up a portrait booth to make portraits of junior block captains. Sorry, senior block captains, this is my effort to encourage young people to attend the event.

I will also introduce upcoming creative projects, like the street exhibition Windowishes, that need creative block captain collaborators.

If you are interested in working with me on future projects that will incorporate video and photographs, please contact me.

 

Windowishes Street Exhibition

40th St. Storefront window displays will be the site for Windowishes exhibition

40th St. Storefront window displays will be the site for Windowishes exhibition

 

Calling creative West Philadelphia block captains!

I am looking for six block captains who would like to work with me to create storefront installations for Windowishes, a street exhibition designed for the seven storefront display windows on the west side of S. 40th Street, between Chestnut and Ludlow Streets in West Philadelphia. Windowishes will coincide with CFEVA’s POST tours, scheduled for Oct. 17 & 18, 2015.

We will create and install a small environment in each of the bay windows based on your personal stories and community archives. The window installations will incorporate images collected and shot for the project – including portraiture, family and archival photographs.  The displays could also include projections and videos, neighborhood objects, furniture, props and craftwork made by the participating block captains.

We will start the planning and creative work in August. We will install during the first week in October. Please contact me (Lori) if you are interested in working on this project.

New Video: Joshua’s Armor

 

I met Joshua Miller at a block party on 54th St. in Philadelphia PA. Joshua was shy – turning me away when I asked to take his photograph and periodically tried to talk with him. But as the sun was setting, Joshua appeared on the street wearing a suit of armor, shimmering spray-paint gold. Children were jumping and dancing around him. He stood tall and smiling, self-assured despite the attention.

Joshua makes the suits of armor out of recycled cans, appliances, wire. His basement studio is filled with helmets, breastplates, cuisses and greaves. Joshua wears them when he walks out into the world to go to work or church, for protection in an unsafe world.

Now he wants to share his armor and his art with others now. Like block captains, Joshua believes he can help keep his community safe. So he is selling his work at very affordable prices! Last week Joshua and I photographed his finished pieces. I’ll post an update when he lists his work for sale.

Urban Creators Start Summer With “Hoodstock”

hoodstockN. 15th St. & Susquehanna Ave.

I highly recommend checking out Hoodstock out tomorrow in North Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Urban Creators are doing incredible work.

There will be food, music and art. The Urban Creators will celebrate the grand opening of their new “Defend Our Future” community garden as well as the 10th Anniversary of Tree House Books. There will be an all-day basketball tournament and a screening of the 16th and Philly documentary about the history and legacy of “one of the greatest playground basketball leagues in history,” according to the trailer.

Isabelle describes the aquaponics process to Dayuna Broggins and Kanirrah Nelson, two visitors to the Urban Creators community farm. Photo by Lori Waselchuk. 2014

Isabelle describes the aquaponics process to Dayuna Broggins and Kanirrah Nelson, two visitors to the Urban Creators community farm. Photo by Lori Waselchuk. 2014

 

Chester Williams

Reverend Chester Williams stands in the parking lot of the closed Bottom Dollar store, which was the only grocery store in the Chew-Belfield neighborhood. Williams has been persistently reaching out to the new owners of the store, Aldi, to try to get them to reopen the store.

Rev. Chester Williams stands in the parking lot of the closed Bottom Dollar store, the only grocery store in his neighborhood. Williams is persistently reaching out to the new owners of the store, Aldi, to try to get them to reopen.

Rev. Chester Williams – 6200 Chew Avenue

Reverend Chester Williams places a green washcloth on his head for protection from the hot sun. He just finished leading a two-hour volunteer cleanup crew on Chew Avenue and is still wearing his orange safety vest. The 68-year-old block captain looks worried as he stands in the parking lot of the shuttered Bottom Dollar Food store on the corner of Chew and E. Washington Lane in Germantown.

Last November, Bottom Dollar Food’s parent company, the Delhaize Group, sold its 66 stores in Pennsylvania to ALDI, Inc, leaving the Chew-Belfield neighborhood without a grocery store. “This is a hardship for the people,” said Williams. “Now they have to travel several miles to buy groceries. Some people just can’t travel. And many can’t afford the prices at the corner stores.”

Williams is campaigning for Aldi to reopen the store. He calls and writes letters to Aldi representatives regularly. He also lobbies his city councilor, Cindy Bass, advocating for a grocery store to reopen in the neighborhood. “I want to keep it fresh in their minds,” says Williams.

According to reports, Aldi will reopen several Philadelphia stores in 2015, but the Chew Avenue store will not be one of them. Williams is also worried about the property becoming derelict and dangerous. When there is litter, he picks it up. When graffiti appears on the building’s walls, he calls the city to clean it.

Williams is a highly visible and industrious community leader. He is the founder of the Chew/Belfield Neighborhood Association and Democratic committee leader for the 59th ward. His face appears on buses and trash bins throughout this city, a featured as a hero in the city’s UnLitterUs campaign.

Williams labors for economic justice in Philadelphia and will keep pushing for essential resources for his community. “I just have to keep praying and keep calling,” he says.

Reverend Chester Williams leads a monthly meeting of block captains from the Chew/Belfield neighborhood in his driveway. Photo by Lori Waselchuk

Rev. Chester Williams leads a monthly meeting of block captains from the Chew/Belfield neighborhood in his driveway.

Sigrid Craig – Mother of Philadelphia Block Captains

Sigrid Craig, the founder of the "Clean-up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up" campaign -- initiated an urban environmental partnership between the City of Philadelphia and its residents. (Photographer and date unknown. The photo is part of the PMBC archive)
Sigrid Craig, the founder of the “Clean-up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up” campaign — initiated an urban environmental partnership between the City of Philadelphia and its residents. (Photographer and date unknown. The photo is part of the PMBC archive)

In honor of Mother’s Day…

In 1938, Sigrid Craig saw a woman throw garbage out of a third-floor window into the yard below. In an interview years later, Craig recalled her response. “I had heard about big cities being filthy, but I said, ‘This isn’t going on here,’ and I started a committee.”

Craig organized the Better Philadelphia Committee, a group of community activists, to visit as many blocks as they could and designate a single person on each block to coordinate cleanups and beautification projects. Craig would help organize house meetings to publicize their campaign, which evolved into the Clean-up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up campaign.

A house meeting in September, 1956 for the "Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up" campaign. The photo is from the PMBC archive. Unfortunately, the name of the block captain, the location and residents are not known.  (Photographer is unknown)

A house meeting in September, 1956 for the “Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up” campaign. The photo is from the PMBC archive. Unfortunately, the name of the block captain, the location and residents are not known. (Photographer is unknown)

Former Mayor Edward Rendell described the official reaction to Craig’s door-to-door crusade in a speech delivered to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Initially, her unstructured and open call for cleanliness was met with disdain. However, Mrs. Craig was able to organize a small group of concerned citizens to champion her cause and join her in urging local government to develop a workable solution.”

Craig, who was also called Mrs. Philadelphia, had a no-nonsense reputation.  “I can get tough when I have to,” her obituary quoted her as saying. “And since I’m not paid, I can be as nasty as I want, but I rarely have to be.”

By the mid-sixties, Philadelphia Streets Department took over Craig’s committee and renamed it the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee. By then, Craig’s committee had registered 3,000 block captains to participate in semi-annual clean-ups.

Street cleaning trucks flush Broad Street with a new type of foaming detergent, as the Department of Streets brought in the City's annual Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up campaign. Shown in photo P701156 are, from left: Leo K. Gallen, Chief of the Department of Street Cleaning; Mayor Bernard Samuel, Mrs. Walter Craig and C.P. Jarden, co-chair of clean-up week. (Photo by Joseph J. Conley, taken May 23, 1950 and published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. )

Street cleaning trucks flush Broad Street with a new type of foaming detergent, as the Department of Streets brought in the City’s annual Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up campaign. Shown in photo P701156 are, from left: Leo K. Gallen, Chief of the Department of Street Cleaning; Mayor Bernard Samuel, Mrs. Walter Craig and C.P. Jarden, co-chair of clean-up week. (Photo by Joseph J. Conley, taken May 23, 1950 and published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. )

Sigrid Craig died in 1988. She was 97 years old.  Dawn Woods, PMBC Administrator, never met her, but strives to carry on Craig’s legacy. Woods believes that clean streets create a higher quality of life for Philadelphians.  Today there are 6,600 registered block captains. Woods says, “I believe that the crime rate and some of the issues that we have in our neighborhoods would be less if we could get everybody to participate in at least cleaning and loving where they live.”