What’s Doing Next Door?

Our friends in RAH tell us a busy local intersection’s getting some TLC this Summer!  Plus, changes at the Community Garden on Scotts Lane. 

35th and Allegheny is the bus turn-around for Laurel Hill at Ridge Avenue. Imagine how many tourists encounter this no-frills intersection as their “entre” into East Falls (and RAH, too, for that matter).

Good news! Construction on a modern new bus turn-around begins this July! Mark Green, 38th Ward Leader, says the design will be similar to the one recently completed near 52nd and Jefferson in West Philly, and also the brand spankin’ new one at 23rd and Venango — the ribbon was just cut on that last week. SEPTA is clearly on a tear to provide safer, more generous spaces for embarking/disembarking riders.

According to SEPTA’s website, this 35th & Allegheny  project should be completed by Fall 2015.

In other news, Mark Green and Rose Cooper (RAH Civic Association President) worked with Philadelphia Mural Arts to bring some art to this corner as well! This Summer, work starts on the Hackman Dental Labs property at 35th and Allegheny.

Lead artist Felix St. Fort feels his spiritually uplifting art could be a perfect match for an area known as “Paradise.” While we were unable to track down images of the planned mural for RAH, the artist has painted murals in Philadelphia for over ten years, and his amazing work all over the city speaks for itself.

Among them, the “Fairhill” project is his best known: an impressive transformation of nearly 50 storefronts in a struggling part of Germantown Avenue. The goal was to develop a work of art so big, so bold, so eye-popping that it might kick-start positive change in the area.

St. Fort teamed with the Dutch artist team Haas & Hahn who slam their vibrant art in massive doses all around the globe — before coming to Germantown, the duo spent 18 months in Rio de Janeiro painting an entire run-down public square with rainbows, after turning an old drainage ditch into a fanciful stream with cartoon carp. By so dynamically changing streetscapes, Haas & Hahn hope to nurture revitalization thru neighborhood pride and good old fashioned hope.

Here’s to sprucing up our local streetscapes, with art and modern conveniences! We’re thrilled for our friends in RAH, and delighted to report another happy development with regards to the community garden at Scotts Lane and Ridge Avenue:  A NEW SIGN IS ON THE WAY!

SHARED SPACES — SIGN CHANGE AT  THE COMMUNITY GARDEN (SCOTTS & RIDGE)

There were some rumblings at the last RAH community meeting, about how this plot of land — which had started as a joint effort between East Falls & RAH (it’s in their “About Us”) — was sporting an “East Falls Community Garden” sign.

A lovely sign, at that. But for the folks at the RAH meeting, seemed a bit presumptuous to go ahead and claim the place for one neighborhood like that. Some folks at the meeting were already concerned by rumors that maybe applications from RAH gardeners weren’t given the same priority, and this new sign wasn’t helping.

They had a meeting, the gardeners with representatives from RAH & EFCC, both, and agreed to re-affirm their partnership with a new sign, to be installed soon (the original one was taken down immediately). Donations from Mark Green, Rose Cooper, and Barnaby Wittels will fund the costs. 

Rose is glad the issue has been settled and is encouraged that the communities came together to resolve it. For her, it’s the start of a good working relationship between RAH and East Falls.

Meanwhile, the garden is looking FANTASTIC these days! Lots of great feedback whenever we post photos on social media. We’re looking forward to sharing pics of the community garden’s new sign soon. Meanwhile, best wishes for fruitful harvests for everyone. 

 

 

4 Comments

  • William Webb

    Nice to see the garden get some attention, as it has completely transformed that plot of land and really benefits everyone from the neighborhood gardeners to people just passing through. The name used on the original sign was simply the same one that garden members, some of whom are RAH residents, had already voted to use for the garden itself. No one had intentions of staking claim for one neighborhood or another, and any misunderstandings were easily resolved. As for the rumors about priorities for one application versus another, the only deciding factor is the applicant’s place on the waiting list. Don’t be shy about getting on that list, either. If it gets large enough, perhaps that can push expansion to additional plots.

  • Ben French

    I am part of the organizing committee for the East Falls Community Garden and the recent events that you describe above have been very frustrating for the Garden members.

    This plot of land has a long history of disagreement between the EFCC and RAH, some of which we know about, and a lot of which I’m sure we don’t. Many of us were under the impression that although we initially received joint permission from the EFCC and RAH to build the garden (evidently they have negotiated “joint control” over the site, which is under a long-term lease by EFCC from the owner of Dobson Mills), we were under the auspices (for better or for worse) of the EFCC. As you indicate, we are and have been listed as a subgroup of the EFCC from the beginning, and they have very graciously supported us financially through grants during our first two years (the 2013 and 2014 seasons). That said, we always were under the impression that the EFCC wanted us to become independent of them at some point; we have begun the process to become our own nonprofit, and did not request funding from the EFCC this year. RAH has never supported us financially and has had little-to-no role since the garden began.

    To select a name, we solicited suggestions from Garden members (that include East Falls and RAH residents) and had a democratic vote among members. “East Falls Community Garden” was the overwhelming favorite. We have been known as the “East Falls Community Garden” ever since on the EFCC website, the Fallser, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I don’t know a single Garden member who wants to “claim the place” for the East Falls neighborhood; we just want to garden. Most of the Garden members are residents from East Falls, so that’s simply the community we identify with.

    So, it was with some surprise that as soon as the physical sign went up, Rose immediately demanded that we change it. And seemingly there was no negotiating: we suggested adding a second sign that said “East Falls and RAH gardening together” or something similar but there was no compromise. We were disappointed because Garden members worked very hard to make the sign. What was interesting is that Rose wasn’t aware that this was the Garden’s name until there was a physical sign (evidently she doesn’t read the Fallser).

    I was unable to attend the meeting with Garden members, EFCC, and RAH, but the impression I have is that the EFCC basically dictated what we had to do. So, I’m not sure how “we want you to become independent” jives with “do this.”

    The rumor that RAH residents are at a lower priority for Garden membership is preposterous. We welcome potential gardeners from East Falls and RAH. Our waiting list is growing, and eventually the people on that waiting list might want to organize and start their own garden. We do not plan to expand the garden and build more beds. There is a potential site farther south on Ridge Avenue, solidly in RAH, which RAH resident might wish to pursue.

    At the end of the day, we are all proud of the Garden and enjoy being there. We are grateful to community members (from any community) that appreciate our work. Anyone interested in joining should email eastfallsgarden@gmail.com. Unfortunately, we’ve been caught between two RCOs that appear to not work well together and are used to just telling people what to do.

    Keep up the good work with this site!

    • Carolyn Fillmore

      Wow. Thank you so much for such an insightful response. I will repeat: gardeners are the BEST people. Patient, nurturing, able to work with all kinds of climates.

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