Tuesday, October 2, 2012


1100 Block of Wilton Street Moving On Up
grant larry palmer block captain

Through the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee

The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee is a community based initiative designed to encourage and support residents in gaining control of their immediate environment. This is implemented through a series of city wide agencies such as The Office of Sustainability which explores food, energy and greening initiatives. The Office of Neighborhood Services through their Community Life Improvement Program CLIP addresses graffiti, abandoned buildings, lots and overall sanitation issues and finally ,The Office of Community Services which provides Philadelphia residents with Omni –gender and age,family ,education and employment services. Last week Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee PMBC hosted its annual clean block contest. The contest is held after a seasonal city wide cleaning schedule. The Program is designed around short term projects that require a neighborhood leader or Block Captain and participating residents or Block Association. The 1100 block of Wilton Street in South West Philadelphia is a participant this year. Grant Larry Palmer like most residents on this street is a home owner and a second generation resident. “As block captain” he expresses proudly, “I intend to take full advantage of the resources the City of Philadelphia has made available to us.” “I would like to restore the block to its original state where all of the houses have the Corinthian style columns and lamp post that light the street.” ”I was raised on this block and this was my mother’s house.” Larry explained as he passed out supplies of push brooms, paint and paint brushes to his neighbors.” “Its Judgment day and the sensation of community pride are infectious.  School is out thus, the children ride their bikes up and down the side walk with anticipation of a special surprise.  Elderly women hustle and bustle to arrange tables and table cloths with tin foil pans toppled over with southern based comfort foods like fried fish, chicken, kale and collards, string beans, sweet potatoes, cole slaw, upside down cake and sweet potato pie. Judges look on beaming and impressed with the strong sense of unity that is exhibited among the block residents.  Wanda Jones an administrator for The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee explains, “The block is judged on several different aspects. “Community involvement, the history of the block, block unity, cleanliness and beautification projects.” “Resident community involvement and awareness is key components to the success of block beautiful contestants.” Wanda Jones reiterates. The bouncer has arrived, an antiquated Philadelphia trolley is parked at the end of the street and soul music is playing. The judges of this contest detail a cross demographic of civic leaders from former block captains, elected officials, church leaders and even other city agency administrators. Essentially individuals who have made an impact through demonstrating strong leadership and organizational skills are qualified to judge in this contest. Tara E. Smith a community support specialist under the Town Watch integrated service divisions and also functioning as one of the judges for the contest states” I have a lot of respect for block captains and their ability to enroll the community, taking into consideration everyone’s busy schedule it really is an accomplishment for blocks to enter the block beautiful contest.” Also as an liaison for the South West division of Town Watch the competition is an excellent promotional There is a great since of accomplishment amongst the residents this afternoon. The Block Beautiful contest can be considered a stepping stone, grooming neighborhoods to explore and secure other neighborhood development projects like planting trees, home weatherization,healthy food initiatives and implementing a community business improvement district. City wide initiatives and support systems partnered with concerned organized residents is the recipe for sustainable communities.  karimu abena hamilton

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