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  • Philly’s Cleaning Up its Blocks & Vacant Lots! Manton-Street-Garden Full view

    Philly’s Cleaning Up its Blocks & Vacant Lots!

    Philly’s cleaning up!  Both the ‘city blocks’ & ‘vacant lots’ are both being judged HARD in Philly this week by two Philly-based organizations.
    Manton Street Garden - Winner of Philadelphia's Best Lots ContestThe Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) is in the middle of judging 17 city blocks to wrap up the 2012 “cleaning season” in Philadelphia. The 2012 Clean Block Contest selected finalists from over 6,600 organized blocks which had cleanups throughout the year. Fun stats for this year’s beautification efforts include:

    • 9320 blocks cleaned
    • 70,526 volunteers
    • 63,937 bags collected
    • 1.4 million pounds of debris
    Philadelphia Clean Block Contest
    2012 Clean Block Contest

    On a smaller scale, the other contest judged spaces lot by lot. The Take Back Vacant Land Campaign announced winners on 4th & Manton Street and 2416 Mascher Street of this summer’s best vacant lots. The goal was to take back vacant, blighted land in exchange for productive uses to benefit our communities. It’s a fun spin to highlight the blight issues of Philly and encourage neighbors to collaborate on beautiful efforts instead.

    Pearl Brown, winner of 7th district, started her beautiful garden in the 1970s. The professionally landscaped Norris Square area now spans 3 lots and filled with flowers, bushes, seating areas & plots to grow food.

    The Manton Street Garden (1st district winner) brought old & new community members together weekly for 5 months to transform the lot. But, the hard work paid off:

    “In a very short amount of time, it became clear that this was more than just an effort to increase neighborhood safety and beautification – it was the perfect vehicle to unify and activate our diverse community,” said Mark Berman, President of the Friends of Manton Street Park & Community Garden.

    Take Back Vacant Lands campaign

     Photos: Take Back Vacant Lots Facebook page

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

    Your thoughts . . .

    • This looks like such an awesome project! I am in a group called UnLitter Temple, which is a group very similar to Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee, but on a much smaller scale (targeting specifically Temple University and the surrounding neighborhood).

      We started UnLitter Temple because we found that while the campus itself has crews that help keep it clean, the streets surrounding campus do not have that luxury and this is where most students live. Without garbage cans at every corner, people get impatient holding their trash when walking from place to place and sadly dispose of it on our sidewalks. Through research, we have found that people are more prone to litter when there is already litter on the ground. With UnLitter Temple, we hope that we will at the very least be able to stop the secondary litterers from littering.

      During this past semester, we held two “block cleanups” on October 14th and November 4th, each spanning 10 blocks. About 50 people came out to these two cleanups combined. We teamed up with the Philadelphia Streets Department who provided us with gloves, bags, and recycle bins for our cleanups. By the end of each cleanup, the streets were litter free in hopes of setting a good example and making people think twice about throwing their trash on the ground.

      If you ever need any more volunteers for your street cleanups and garden planting, we would love to help. We are connected to a web of Temple students that are have an interest in cleaning up Philadelphia that we have met through our own cleanups. Keep up the good work!