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Holding Out for a hero in the garden of good & evil

I'm not a negative person. I try and find the positive in every encounter, but when you deal with city government, well let's say that is, at the very least, challenging.

I've also not been a conspiratorialist nor one that sees corruption and coverup at every turn, but that is becoming increasingly difficult.

Councilmen who go to community events claiming "I grew up here" and they know what you want, only to ignore those people once Super PACs make hefty donations for recommendations or votes on their plans. And while that is mutually beneficial to them, for us, not so much.

I've also seen the divide that should exist between the executive branch (politicians) and the judicial branch (judges) close. Judges who should recuse themselves because they have spouses/partners directly involved in support of one of the legal parties remain on the case. I mean, I know Philly is a small town masquerading as a big city, but this isn't a backwater hamlet. Surely not everyone's in bed with everyone else.....or are they?

When I began trying to save the meadows, I was naive enough to believe that even if the city didn't want to actively do something positive and ecologically sound for the city, they would at least preserve something that was already benefitting the area. A place of wonder and solace, where hikers, birders, dogwalkers, or just those seeking time away from the urban grind could find peace and relaxation in nature. But that was never going to happen because they had an agenda.

And under many guises, they touted the "master plan" being necessary. It was vital for water remediation, balancing water activity and nature to create a park that is functional, flexible and resilient. It will create much needed safe recreational space so black and brown youth in underserved communities will have a safe place to play.

And then we were gaslighted. They couldn't beleive how we could be against this, after all, they were creating a wetland and we would have "more" space to walk .

But it’s not about giving to the community. It’s about getting for themselves. It's about creating monetizable recreation. It's money made from leases to Parks on Tap and Tinseltown, and profiting from a warehouse of recreational sports fields they will lease to the highest bidder, locking locals out, in much the same way they reserve access to the Ritchie Ashburn stadium which occupies the east side of the park.

The sad thing was that other options were available, but it appears Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation don't want the truth to get in the way of the story they're peddling.

So we fought, and a bunch of us sued, and were ruled against , we're still exploring options for the next stages. And that’s hard because we're just ordinary people with a Go Fund Me , fighting a multimillion dollar political machine, and the councilman of the district Kenyatta Johnson, also President of City Council is pushing this, along with Mayor Parker.

And some of the tactics used are so blatantly wrong; like going against the city's own regulations about the removal of heritage trees, only to be granted a zoning board exception, because FPC claimed they simply had to remove the trees, as not to impact their design and desired location for the playing fields.

So instead of living beings that filter air, slow the filtration of water into our sewers, and exchange our carbon dioxide waste for fresh oxygen, we'll have fields swathed in artificial turf, sluicing microplastics into our water system, increased traffic coming into the area and the pollution of stadium style lighting to illuminate fields that will inevitably be too hot for daytime play, as the removal of carbon sequestering and cooling trees, increases the existing heat island effect, already felt more acutely in south and southwest Philadelphia.

So while we've lost the battle, the 48 heritage trees we tried to save have been decimated with some additional 300 trees felled and chipped, I mourn, I continue to speak and I wait. I will continue to fight for the land and the people that need her.

And even as friends relatives, and even my husband suggest I reallocate my efforts to something else, saying “it’s a done deal”, I still believe!

Im a sucker for the underdog, and in all the best stories, the hero may be down, but in the end, good vanquishes evil.

I’m holding out for a hero.

1 Comment

It’s so grounding to read your words. Thank you for sharing in full. I’m with you - good will always vanquish evil.

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