Philadelphia has seen a wave of grassroots action in recent months. The tepid 10,000 Men organization held a community action fair this weekend in an effort to cut crime in the city’s most dangerous areas, as The Temple News reported today [“A renewed call for local action,” Brittany Diggs, April 8, 2008]. While men signed up to patrol their neighborhoods, thousands of residents from around the city dressed down and went to work cleaning up the city, as part of Philly Spring Cleanup — the most publicized event of Mayor Michael Nutter’s “Love Where You Live” campaign.
As The Temple News reported, Nutter called for 10,000 volunteers to clean 5,000 city blocks, removing 1 million pounds of trash [“CleanPhilly,” Amanda Snyder, April 8, 2008]. Temple pitched in, too, with numerous clean-up efforts. Temple Student Government and the Office of Student Activities organized cleaning sessions and the College of Education teamed up with the Tanner G. Duckery Elementary School to clean-up North Philadelphia [“CleanPhilly,” Greg Adomaitis, April 8, 2008].
Few events have created such enthusiasm within the city in recent memory as Philly Spring Cleanup. On Saturday, groups could be seen picking up trash all over Philadelphia. Nutter deserves a great deal of credit for his low-level approach and broad organization. His efforts and excitement pulled institutions like Temple into participating and the university should be recognized for getting involved in so many different ways, with so many different organizations.
Philly Spring Cleanup will not decide Nutter’s legacy, but it does illustrate his dedication to the position and offers a refreshing shift from bureaucratic city politics. His solution to the filthy condition of the city is not to hire more sanitation workers, but to encourage residents to clean up after themselves. It’s a simple solution that is, at the very least, an idealistic step in the right direction.
The Temple News mentioned several campus groups that organized large-scale cleanup plans, but the people that made the event really work were the thousands of students and city residents who spent their Saturday cleaning up. From Nutter down to the individual Philadelphians scooping up the trash, everyone deserves a nod for cleaning up Philadelphia’s image.