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NOVEMBER, 2012

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Dear Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Colleagues:

They say that character is what you have when nobody is watching. While millions of Philadelphians were hunkered down over the two days that Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Delaware Valley, our team at Parks and Recreation was out in the storm responding to numerous emergencies as well as making sure that our neighborhood recreation facilities were safe and secure.


As Mayor Nutter reported, over 340 street trees were down throughout the City, with the most damage being done in Northeast Philadelphia. I want to thank Joan Blaustein and the Urban Forestry Group for tackling the tough job of removing these fallen trees head on. Their hard work was critical in helping the City and affected residents return to a sense of normalcy.


We, as a department, were very fortunate to avoid serious damage to recreation facilities and neighborhood parks. As of right now, we have a few recreation facilities without electrical power, as are their surrounding neighborhoods, and we expect that this situation will be resolved in a matter of days. We also face some challenges with toppled trees at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia and the aftermath of significant flooding at Pleasant Hill Park which is located right on the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia but our Operations Division will resolve those issues as well.


It is in situations like this when Civil Servants demonstrate their professionalism and critical value. Our Department Emergency Response Team showed their mettle both under pressure and in extreme weather conditions. Our cleanup efforts continue and I am proud of each and every one of our Parks and Recreation colleagues who rose to the task.


Thank you.

 

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Love Your Park Day Preview

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It’s that time of year again! The Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation are gearing up for Love Your Park: Fall Edition on Saturday, November 17th!

Each fall, park friend groups come together to rake leaves, plant trees and spring bulbs and get their neighborhood parks ready for winter. Last year over four dozen parks and nearly 1,500 volunteers came together to collect 41 tons of leaves-that’s 84,000 pounds of material that was composted rather than dumped in a landfill.

This year we have 54 parks participating in Love Your Park: Fall Edition. Thanks to TreePhilly and PHS, park groups will be planting 82 trees and thousands of daffodil bulbs in parks across the City. We are also excited to have support from the Streets Department this year – they will be loaning two giant leaf vacuums to Parks and Rec for our leaf cleanup efforts.

For more information, a map of participating parks and if you would like volunteer for Love Your Park. Or download a Love Your Park Day flyer

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October Safety Conference

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Thank you to all who participated and helped with our safety events on October 24. With your assistance, the Department and the Parks and Recreation Commission engaged hundreds of City officials, partners, volunteers and citizens in important conversations about quality of life and safety in our parks and recreation centers. We look forward to reviewing your suggestions and implementing the best of them through our newly strengthened collaborations. We will publish a full report on the safety events, as well as the Commission’s research leading up to the forums, before the year’s end.

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Vote for the 2013 Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Calendar Photo Contest

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Submissions are in… (SEARCH: phillyparks-rec) and vote for your favorite picture by Sunday, November 4.

The top 13 photos (1 for the cover!) will be professionally printed in a limited-edition 2013 Calendar and will be available for sale in the Fairmount Park Welcome Center‘s LOVE Park Gift Shop in time for the holidays.


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What’s New in After School Programs

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With a new school year comes another kickoff of our After School Programs, and the instructors--some of whom have been in their part-time positions for more than a decade - have returned to the neighborhood facilities where they are trusted, beloved fixtures. So far in the 2012-2013 academic year there are 79 programs throughout the city (potentially going up to 84), with group sizes ranging from 15 to 65 children.


This fall After School instructors, both veterans and rookies, have introduced some new activities into their programming. First, Environmental Education put together nature bins for the children. Once children complete a certain amount of environmental activities in the bin, they receive a tree-themed certificate of accomplishment (Sapling, Acorn, etc.). Each district has a bin, and they will rotate from center to center at district meetings. In preparation for the new activities, all of the After School staff attended hands-on training, at points digging in the dirt to collect and identify bugs. Mary-Grace Gorman, After School Program Coordinator, praised Environmental Ed for a job well done and looks forward to hearing how children enjoy the activities.


Also new this year was the Scarecrow Festival in Sister Cities Park. After School Programs at 16 recreation centers built scarecrows that are on display in the park now through October 31. The hands-on construction project was coordinated by Joshua Daniel, a PPR intern and Penn State University senior. View pictures of the After School scarecrows.


Both new initiatives were on display October 18 at Lights On Afterschool in Sister Cities Park. In addition to the Scarecrow Festival and an Environmental Education table, the Art Mobile, face painters, a bubble table and a hula hoop station entertained children, including kids from four After School Programs. Another four After School groups, including one that performed, attended the concurrent city-wide Lights On Afterschool celebration in the Municipal Services Building courtyard.

 

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School District/KEYSPOT Partnership

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On October 15 Mayor Michael Nutter joined Philadelphia parents, the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), the Urban Affairs Coalition, and other community partners today to launch GreatPhillySchools.org, a new resource for Philadelphia families to learn about and compare over 400 K-12 schools in the city. GreatPhillySchools.org includes ratings and information about all types of schools, including District, charter, Catholic and private schools. It is now available for free online, and will include a print guide for families by early 2013. A Spanish language version of the site is in development.

The nineteen recreation center KEYSPOTS are among the dozens of partners helping PSP increase awareness of this new resource. KEYSPOTS is happy to introduce a new tool to Philadelphians who use our computers and internet access.

Learn more about GreatPhillySchools.org


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Golf Outing

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On October 5, a spectacular early fall day, 40 golfers participated in the PPR employee golf outing at Juniata Golf Course. All divisions in the department were represented in the outing and other participants included friends from the Water Department, Streets Department, and Capital Program Office.

 

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Campbell Square Park Tree Carving: “Getting To Know the Locals”

By Patty-Pat Kozlowski
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A few years ago Barbara McCabe, Director of the Parks & Rec Stewardship Program, was strolling the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival in the Kensington-South/Fishtown section of the City when she came upon Philadelphia sculptor Roger Wing and his extraordinary wood carvings. Wing, an exhibitor at the annual arts festival, was displaying his art wares and getting raving “ohhs” and “ahhs” from spectators. One of those was McCabe who approached the artist and asked, “Would you be interested in carving a tree?”

Fast-forward about five years later and Wing is 25 feet up in a cherry picker above Port Richmond’s Campbell Square Park, chiseling and sculpting a tree into a simply magnificent work of art. (Just ask the dozen or so spectators he gets daily who meet at the tree to see his progress take shape.) The piece he is carving at Campbell Square is titled, “GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS” and depicts the abundance and diversity of non-human life in the Delaware Valley. The animals Wing is depicting include diving birds, a deer, raccoon, beaver, turtle, frog, squirrel, turkey, heron, eagle, shad and a sturgeon. Wing begins large works with a chainsaw and finishes them by hand, using a mallet and gouges. This project at Campbell Square is the biggest piece he’s ever created. The finished sculpture will get a protective coating.

Wing is doing the work for the Friends of Campbell Square with a grant from The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and hopes to continue to carve trees throughout all the parks in the City.

The Friends of Campbell Square will host an unveiling celebration October 27th beginning at 11:30 a.m.

As well as exhibiting his figurative wood carvings Wing also competes internationally as an ice carver and is an accomplished stone conservator.

View more pictures of the totem pole in progress on Flickr.

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Michael O’Brien Receives Access Achievement Award

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On October 19, Horticulture Center Supervisor Michael O’Brien received an Access Achievement Award given by the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities for the City of Philadelphia at its 16th Annual Access Achievement Awards Breakfast. Mike was one of nine award recipients honored for their outstanding efforts to improve and increase access for persons with disabilities throughout the Delaware Valley.


In her nomination essay, Director of KenCrest EmployNet Rita Mandik, recounted how Mike reached out to express interest in employing students with disabilities as seasonal workers/interns. Of his interest in using this as a pilot program for other departments, Rita said, "His belief in the abilities of these young people and his desire to share this belief with others was just amazing."


Two students with disabilities are interning currently at the Horticulture Center and are “doing extremely well,” according to Rita. "We need more people like [Mike], people who will help to educate the community about this untapped work force and increase employability and access to equal opportunities for people with disabilities.”


Congratulations Mike; this recognition is well deserved!

 

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New Parks and Recreation Commission (PaRC) Members

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On September 19, Mayor Michael Nutter announced the appointment of three new members to the Parks and Recreation Commission:

  • Andrew Denison, a consultant who specializes in pharmaceutical writing and editing, serves on the Executive Committee of the Summer Winter Community Garden and the Fairmount Sports Association Board.

  • Derrick Ford (Council President Clarke’s designee) is a case manager and community liaison for the Behavioral Health Special Initiative Program, a radio talk show host on 900AM – WURD and a TV co-host on CCPTV. He founded and directs the Strawberry Mansion Athletic Association.

  • Matthew Perks is a lawyer in the District Attorney's Office and currently serves on the Friends of Rittenhouse Square Board.
Beginning next month, we will profile one Commission member per newsletter issue.

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Wild Wheels in Cobbs Creek Park

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A group of tweens and teens spent the summer exploring Cobbs Creek Park in the Wild Wheels program. Wild Wheels was created as a combined bike and environmental exploration club. It follows a series of bike clubs offered at Cobbs in a partnership between Parks & Recreation and the Neighborhood Bike Works.

This summer Mustafa Abdul-Rashid and Danielle Radcliffe, both RSI's assigned to Cobbs Creek Recreation Center, worked with Tony Croasdale to combine biking and exploring the natural world of the Park. Tony is an independent environmental educator funded by the Philadelphia Water Department to work with the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center. Ten participants completed the entire program and qualified for a free bike. Classroom lessons on bike safety and maintenance were combined with outdoor exploration and long bike rides each Friday to explore the Park and the neighborhood.

Several Friends groups who work in Cobbs Creek Park would like future participants to do community service in their areas of the Park; PPR plans to continue expanding and improving this program idea in the future.

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Philadelphia Police Mounted Unit Patrols McPherson Square:


Unit History started out in Fairmount Park System!

By Patty-Pat Kozlowski
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During the month of October you heard the clop, clop, clop of horses in McPherson Square Park at F Street and Indiana Avenue as Philly’s Finest patrolled the area on their trusty steeds. In an effort to increase patrols and visibility, the Philadelphia Police Department implemented their mounted unit in an area that needed more police presence. And according to the police atop the horses, “they really like the grass here.”


The Philadelphia Police Mounted Unit actually got its start in the Philadelphia Parks system, and its history can be traced to the Fairmount Park Mounted Guard created in 1867.


In 1889 the Philadelphia Police Mounted Patrol Unit was established, with the Fairmount Park Unit used for parades and crowd control measures. The Fairmount Park Mounted Guard became the Fairmount Park Police in 1966 but maintained the same responsibilities.


In 1972, Mayor Frank Rizzo found it unnecessary for taxpayers to fund two separate police departments and merged the Fairmount Park Police into the Philadelphia Police, creating the Park Division. Once again the mounted unit was used to patrol the streets of Philadelphia. The mounted unit survived to celebrate 100 years in 1989 but was disbanded in 2004 due to budgetary cuts by Mayor John F. Street's administration.


Public outcry and support wasn’t enough to reinstate it for over a decade, but in 2008 Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey confirmed that once the City had a better financial standing, he would work to bring the unit back into patrol. Mounted police were back on the street and in 2011 the City of Philadelphia announced plans to build a new facility for the unit in Fairmount Park.


Maybe the best overview of bringing the mounted patrol back onto the streets of Philadelphia as well as in our Park System would be this quote from a Philadelphia Policeman atop his horse, “Nobody ever asked to pet my motorcycle.”


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Arts & Artists Outdoors

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Arts & Artists Outdoors (A2O) has launched at five recreation centers (Hawthorne Cultural Center, Mander Recreation Center, Max Myers Recreation Center, McVeigh Recreation Center, Piccoli Playground) and will run for fourteen weeks total. A2O brings together artists, youth and the community to encourage a sense of stewardship of their environment through the creation of art. Each artist is paired with a selected recreation center, where he/she leads twice-weekly art workshops for teens (ages 10-14) and community members which offer hands-on art activities that highlight the natural resources of the center's nearby green space.

Learn more about the five artists in residence this Fall

  • Alexandra Spinney
  • Beth Clevenstine
  • Diana Gonzalez
  • Kathryn Sclavi
  • Mary Tasillo

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1st Annual Boxers’ Trail Run A Knockout

By Patty-Pat Kozlowski
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When you think about the great sport rivalries, many opponents come to mind. It’s anybody vs. the Dallas Cowboys, Mets vs. Yankees and in the boxing world, Frazier vs. Ali. When Muhammed Ali wanted to challenge Joe Frazier to a fight, he came to Philadelphia to look for Smokin’ Joe and found him jogging on the paths of the Boxers’ Trail in East Fairmount Park.


The trail is a favorite for fighters to run on because of its uphill and “trail-like” course that travels from hard asphalt paths through wooded inclines and stone trails—a perfect training course for the boxers to get a full body workout.


On Saturday October 2oth, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation joined with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and The Charms of Fairmount Park (the seven mansions throughout the park system) to organize the first ever Boxers’ Trail 5K Fun Run and Walk.


85 participants came out bright and early for the event with proceeds going right back to Mander Playground at 33rd and Diamond Streets. Event-goers also experienced the East Park Family Fun Fair after the race with hands-on history, colonial games, guided nature walks, arts and crafts, story-telling and a boxing skills demo.


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City Employees Art Contest and Exhibit


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It's that time of year again. Art In City Hall issues a call for the next National Arts Program exhibition in City Hall for City of Philadelphia government employees and family members. Enter to win cash prizes and the opportunity to showcase your artwork in City Hall. Represent your office and department!


All registration forms and artwork are due by 4:00 p.m. on November 16th. You can apply online or complete the Registration Form and drop off or send to:


Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
116 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107


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Employee Bike Rental Interest Survey

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The Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities is interested in gauging interest for the addition of rental bicycles to the transportation options available to City of Philadelphia employees.


In addition to departmental vehicles and Zipcar accounts, City employees would be able to use rental bicycles complete with basket and lock for trips to meetings, site visits and other work functions.


How it would work:


  1. Reserve a bicycle by phone or web
  2. Pick up the bicycle at the rental station in John F. Kennedy Plaza, commonly known as "LOVE Park"
  3. Return the bicycle when your trip is finished

Please tell us if you would be interested in this program by filling out the survey here: TAKE SURVEY*


*For those not stationed in close proximity to LOVE Park, please let us know, via the comment section of the survey, if this type of service would be of interest to you and the name of your City office building.


This program would be limited to "for work" trips during normal business hours through the bike rental season (March-October) and would be paid for through departmental travel budgets. The purpose of the program is to provide employees an alternative, healthy means of transportation to and from work-related destinations.


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The Richardson Dilworth Award for Distinguished Public Service


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Mayor Michael A. Nutter has established the Richardson Dilworth Award for Distinguished Public Service in Philadelphia to recognize the contributions of an outstanding public employee whose work performance embodies excellence in public service. Nominate an outstanding Philadelphia employee. The winner will receive a $5000 cash prize. Deadline: November 15, 2012.


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Pulaski Park Groundbreaking

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On October 22nd our own Parks & Rec Commish Mike DiBerardinis was Master of Ceremony at Pulaski Park on the Port Richmond waterfront as he welcomed City, State and Federal officials to ceremoniously break ground for the beginning construction of the Port Richmond Trail. The trail is another part of the link that will connect paths along the Delaware Riverfront in the City of Philadelphia.

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How Do You Parks & Recreate?

By Larken Wright-Kennedy (VISTA from Virginia)
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We’re all familiar with how Philadelphians tend to enjoy their parks and recreation centers. Biking through the Wissahickon, playing ultimate frisbee on Edgely Fields, dressing up as Phred the Panda and dancing around at Mander Rec… you know, the usual. But have we ever considered our canine companions’ perspectives? One day, my sweet old country dog Neemah decided enough was enough - she wanted explore on her own what I’ve been up to and see what Philly Parks and Rec has to offer. What follows is a first-hand account of her 10-day adventure:

‘First I ran down to FDR to see what the hubbub was about. I was sad to discover I was a month too early for the GLOW in the Park event! I was really looking forward to sampling some food cart fare. Luckily I had a wild time chasing all those darn geese, and I even got to sneak into a baseball game - GO PHILLIES! I also managed to catch the Outdoor Movie Night happening at Marconi Plaza, although the amount of people there made it hard to even see the screen.

Then I headed up to McPherson Square to meet all the kiddos Larken played with this summer. What a group of sweetie pies! Playing tag and running through the sprinkler with them was a blast, and the park was looking awesome with the new playground the community and Parks & Rec built with KaBOOM! I also stopped by McVeigh to check out the Arts & Artists Outdoors Program they’ve got going up there – neat stuff!

Finally I decided to head west. I infiltrated the informally known “Dog Bowl” in Clark Park and observed some humans holding cardboard shields and hitting each other with foam swords. By this point I’d had just about enough of people, so I traveled even further and found a lovely, uninhabited oasis right in the middle of West Philly. A doggie friend I met there told me it was called “Cobbs Creek.” I have no idea who Cobbs is, but she sure made a good choice when she created a park that runs the length of that creek. There were barely any people, and I got to frolic in the woods just like I do at home in Virginia!

After 10 days of exploring, I decided to make like Dorothy and head for home. Experiencing Philly’s beautiful parks and fun rec centers was well worth the lack of food, and I’m glad my mom gets to work for such a cool organization! Keep up the good work, humans.’

(True Story: Larken’s dog was lost in Philly for 2 weeks after she got out of the house and “ventured” through West and South West Philly. After a lost dog campaign of emails, Facebook and flyers put up on every telephone pole and bus stop possible, Neemah was found in Yeadon, PA roaming the grounds of Holy Cross Cemetery. The Development Division of Parks & Rec gave Larken a day off and told her to get that doggie back to the green, green grass of Virginia, which she did over Columbus Day Weekend.)

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