Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gardens and Parks

Yesterday I went on a tour of North Philadelphia with other legal interns who are working in the public interest sector. While I have been to North Philly a couple of times for work and once when my Mom and I were looking for Mount Airy, this was a great opportunity to see some of the positive things that are going on in an area that is stereotypically thought of as drug infested and dangerous. While there is obvious poverty in North Philly, there have been quite a few recent efforts to organize the various communities. Some of the most beautiful revitalization projects are the many murals found all over the city and the community gardens, which can be found throughout areas that are often otherwise devoid of greenery.
The highlight of the tour (other than the horses that belong to the so-called "Black Cowboys" of Philadelphia) was a community garden called Groupos Motivos which was started by a group of Puerto Rican immigrants who wanted to take back their neighborhood. This garden is actually several gardens encompassing a few blocks near the corner of 2nd Street and Susquehanna Street in the New Kensington section of the city. We toured the gardens and enjoyed a scrumptious lunch prepared by the women who run the garden: rice and beans, chicken cooked in a tomato, olive and potato sauce, fried plantains, mashed yucca, a gorgeous salad from the garden and cake with strawberries and blueberries. The lunch tasted even more delicious after a full morning of touring!
After lunch we went to Greensgrow Farms, located in the Kensington neighborhood at Cumberland Street and Gaul Street. The idea behind the farm is that produce for the city can be grown in the city. The farms supplies directly to individuals as well as to area restaurants and also brings in farm products from other farmers in the area. I bought some blueberries, a green pepper and a cucumber!
Overall, the tour was very interesting. It was definitely great to meet some of the people who are making a change in their own communities. While there is still a long way to go - particularly in the realm of housing - there are certainly improvements being made all the time. If you haven't been to North Philadelphia - check it out!!

Today I met my cousin Annie, her boyfriend and another friend of theirs who are all currenty clerking for federal judges in Philadelphia. We met up at Washington Square, a Stephen Starr joint that is, not surprisingly, adjacent to the park of the same name. We sat outside on the very trendy deck that has couches and I had an apple mojito and a first rate cheeseburger with avocado salad. It was nice to hear about the clerking experience and to know that all this work I am doing in applying for clerkships will be well worth it.
I am still just enjoying being near such a city! I like walking around even when things are closed, but of course I pick the one day things aren't open to want to buy something. I am going to have to make it a point to do some after work shopping one day soon.