Armed with rakes, shovels and brooms, community members throughout the city were up bright and early on Saturday morning, cleaning up particularly messy areas of their neighborhoods.
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“This is not just about cleaning up in front of your door, but about enriching the entire community. It’s about being an active part of the community, not just looking on from your windows,” said Derrick Elliott, who organized the clean-up on his block, in the Southwest neighborhood in which he grew up. Derrick said a lot has changed since he was a kid living there, noting the number of abandoned homes that surrounds him.
Due to budget cuts that have been chipping away at various city services that used to take care of things such as the collection of curbside leaf piles, bulk trash and tires, many residents have noticed that their blocks and neighborhoods have become increasingly unmanageable.
Kirk Smith also put on his working gloves that morning. “Being a new resident of Philly, it’s good to see the people of the community pulling together. It makes me appreciate that I made the right move,” he said while making his way down the block pulling weeds.
While it was certainly refreshing for community members to come together and do their share to keep their neighborhoods clean and safe, a few questions remained on the minds of the participants from the South to the Northeast:
- Why aren’t our corporate neighbors also pitching in?
- Why aren’t our elected leaders demanding that big banks and corporations ante up so that these services can be restored?
“We’ve been calling the city to come out and help us, but they won’t. Fight for Philly is fighting for me, so I want to help however I can to make things right for my neighbors and me,” said Cherrie Paxton, who was hard at work cleaning her West Philly alley.
During the clean-ups, more than one hundred people signed a letter to their respective City Councilors, calling on them to “hold the corporations that operate in our city accountable to paying their fair share of taxes, like we do … and to restore, provide and continue to provide trash services in our neighborhoods.”