The Accidental Activist
I've never been a big placard waving, "what do we want/when do we want it" screaming, on the bus to Washington type. My activism has generally echoed the Eve Arden's suggestion in Grease, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter."
I vote, even in midterm elections. I support causes by promoting and donating, and event attendance. But working full time, with a side hustle and a home to keep, has generally limited my involvement.
But nothing boils my potato like inequity and unfairness.
And sadly there's lots of it around, especially when it comes to making choices that directly impact others without consultation or consent.
I'm not just talking about Roe v. Wade.
I'm talking about rents, suddenly tripled, rendering the places people have called home, often for years , suddenly out of their price range.
Or lots and side plots that neighbors have cleaned up and turned into small gardens, that not only beautify areas, but provide succor; salve traumatized psyches and fresh food to their neighbors; only to find they are up for sheriff sales to the highest bidder, (usually developers).
Or, my biggest fight, when a former golf course in FDR Park, naturally rewilds, and instead of seeing it as an opportunity to promote an urban meadow for eco-tourism , is seen as an obstacle to the city's approved "master plan": a plan that claims to offer both an urban edge and an ecological core, when in reality it intends to try and ameliorate flooding by create a plethora of sports fields on raised land, some clad in AstroTurf, that will cost more than grass, lasts only about a decade, during which time it contaminates the players and the soil beneath, only to cause disposal problems once it's completed its life cycle.
So here I am. Forty years after Joe Strummer reminded me that I had the right to free speech, I am going to be "dumb enough to actually try it". I'm supporting community gardens, and land sovereignty, fighting food insecurity and trying to save a meadow at FDR park.
Because there's a point when you have to have to speak up, speak out, and demand accountability. When you have to point out that US Minted green won't save you when the green fields and pollinators who need them, are gone.
Those of us standing up and trying to #savethemeadowfdr know it's a David and Goliath battle.
They have money and spin. They will tell you we're all green liberals, who hate sports and want everything to stay as it is and flood, and decay. But as a Chelsea F.C. supporting pragmatist, who is very forward thinking, that's not true.
But that doesn’t fit their narrative.
They tell you that they're creating a park that serves everyone, but it doesn't. If they really wanted to serve more people, FCP and Parks and Rec could use the money from FIFA's legacy program to intersperse the soccer pitches among communities across the city, where outlets for youth are limited. Instead they are purposely placing twelve in one place, for the sole purpose of tournament play. They also tell you that the legacy will be sports fields that can be used by the locals. But when will that happen if priority access goes to organized teams for 20 weeks per year?
And don’t even get me started on the ecology. On a good day I can find 30+ plants I recognize and use for food and medicine; mugwort and blackberries to dock and Groundsel Bush. The ground is just recovering and enjoying just being, without the chemical additives required to maintain the perfect golfing green.
Of course their new plan graciously claims to give us 10 acres of meadow, but it’s currently 150 acres. What happens to the birds, groundhogs, squirrels, the bees and the turtles?
There’s no doubt that the park does need attention. There are some flooding issues, and we’ve always complained about the lack of bathrooms. (although I personally could live very happily with a few we’ll stationed composting toilets). But much of this new design that’s supposedly shepherding the park into the next century isn’t necessary and only seen as desirable by those who stand to profit.
Unlike politicians, I've never asked anyone to blindly believe me or trust me, so please view the master plan www.myphillypark.org. and compare that to information from articles in www.gridphilly.com and the links below on concerns over artificial turf and the lack of green spaces in urban areas. I want to inform as many people as possible about how messed up this is, because once you understand what we stand to lose, I'm hoping you'll join us.
I especially hope to encourage late comers or those who may never have realized there is a meadow over the hill on the other side of the Swedish Museum. Come out with me on a foraging tour and see the vital food and medicine we will lose by the destruction of the meadow.
The city and Fairmount Park Conservancy are counting on everyone believing their glossy video and the hype on how fabulous this will be.
According to their master plan they claim to have surveyed 1200+ people and talked to 3,000 people in the community. Even if that’s true, that’s only 11% of the 37,983 total population they report as living within a 30 minute walk to the park. That means a majority of residents in the catchment area did not have their voices heard or needs represented.
They want us to remain silent and siloed so they can portray us as a just a few disgruntled resistors as apposed to a resistance movement.
If there's one thing Covid reminded us, you can have a master plan, but Mother Nature will have the final word . And if the city continues to rapidly push their commercialized development ahead of a thoughtful ecologically sustainable plan, we may all repent at leisure.
As a woman of a certain age, who is often ignored and underestimated, I’m Madre Naruraleza‘s biggest fan, supporter, devote!
Do you know what happens when you mess with Mother Nature and her acolytes?
Fuck around and find out.
Articles on what the space means to community
Equality and Green Space
Articles on Health & Green spaces