Category Archives: Gardening and Greening

Lots of Possibility: Grassroots vacant lot project with Mural Arts Program underway in Germantown

One of the biggest issues facing W Rockland Street has been managing the block’s new public spaces. In 2014, Aine and I submitted a proposal to the City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program aimed at improving conditions within the vacant lot on the corner of W Rockland Street and Greene Street. We are excited to announce it was approved! The project is now underway and will be completed during the summer months of 2015.

Lot at the corner of W Rockland Street & Greene Street

Lot at the corner of W Rockland Street & Greene Street

The proposed project aims to activate and beautify the vacant lot. The highly visible location makes it possible to further the connection between neighboring blocks around W Rockland and bolster what we’re building here. Improvements will include light landscaping and features that help to break-up the space, making it easier to maintain and inviting use; the installation of a community message board; new plantings and flowers; and a mural on the facade of the last house of W Rockland Street. The mural, visible from Greene Street, will face the open space. The project may also include other interventions developed during the community engagement process.

We hope to make our grassroots neighborhood revitalization efforts more sustainable by turning this vacant space into a safe place for residents.

The project is designed to be temporary but durable and accomadate long-term temporary use, in this period between blight and possible redevelopment.

It will also be accessible and costs will be kept low, so that the ideas put in place here can be easily replicated by anyone elsewhere – from your average D-I-Y citizen to grassroots community groups like ours.

Zoom around this Google Map of the space and get a lay of the land. 4819 Greene is owned by the City of Philadelphia; 4817 Greene is privately owned by the tax delinquent and missing-in-action Church of God by Faith; and 4815 Greene is owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Special shoutout to the lady crossing the street in the satellite image!


Michelle Oosterbaan, a contemporary artist working with the Mural Arts Program, will paint the mural. Oosterbaan is currently working on the color pallet and mural concept, after meeting with residents and talking about the ideas and things they would like the mural to evoke. Her abstract mural at Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology (PCAT) in West Oak Lane is what first caught our eye.

The mural will add beauty and brightness to Southwest Germantown and link the houses on W Rockland and Greene. The side-wall of the house where the mural will be painted was previously blocked by the abandoned properties that once stood on Greene Street, and now has a new audience.

Kevon flies a paper airplane in October 2013 in front of 74 W Rockland St, where the mural will be installed.

Kevon flies a paper airplane in October 2013 in front of 74 W Rockland St, where the mural will be installed.

Michelle Oosterbaan’s “Pulse” at Philadelphia Center for Art and Technology, a collaboration with the Mural Arts Program.


Many people think maintaining vacant land is really the city’s responsibility, and that might be true. But shouldn’t it be easier for residents who want to care for and reimagine these spaces? With this project, we think we can make it easier.

It seems kind of bonkers that the solution for community-managed vacant land tends to go from keeping lots litter free and the grass mowed, to community gardens and urban farms, with little in-between. A fence around a vacant lot is sometimes not enough. And let’s face it, community gardens are hard – we know this because we built one in another vacant lot at the top of our block. We want to uncover more creative in-between uses for vacant lots that can be done on the cheap. 

At the same time, there are many residents living in Philly neighborhoods, like ours, that lack resources and organizational capacity to take on this kind of project from scratch. We think they just need a how-to. 

Every part of this project will be documented and shared online here at for anyone to adapt or copy what we’ve tried, without having to reinvent the wheel. We’ll post tips for getting neighborhood participation, detailed instructions for how to create anything we build for the lot, clever fundraising tactics, and more.


Interestingly, this wide open space is a relatively new addition to our neighborhood fabric, thanks to the demolition of two abandoned rowhouses that towered over the community, some say for over 20 years.

It wasn’t until June 2011 that the footprints of the looming three-story houses (4815 Greene and 4817 Greene St) joined the adjacent overgrown lot (4819 Greene), already a popular illegal dump site.

The story of how that happened is not exactly typical.

Over Memorial Day Weekend in 2011, Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter paid a surprise visit to the block to see the Grow This Block! garden project – a day on which over 30 households on W Rockland St planted fruit, veggie, herb, and flower gardens in their front yards. The Mayor had read an article by Inga Saffron about the planting project in The Philadelphia Inquirer and showed up with the newspaper in-hand. It was then that he toured the block and saw the condition of the abandoned properties.

Wildness. Google Maps image of the space in 2008.

Wildness. Google Maps image of the space in 2008.

L&I had already declared the buildings imminently dangerous, after a re-inspection requested by the community. But within days of the Mayor’s visit, the demolition was scheduled.

“When neighbors are trying to make something happen, we, the city, have to meet them halfway,” Mayor Nutter told the Inquirer.

What happened next is perhaps more typical.

After the houses were demolished (yay!) the lot was left unprotected without a fence, and the ground remained a sandy pit with bits and pieces of rock and concrete from the houses (doh!). Soon cars and trucks began parking in the lot and illegal dumping returned. Navigating what to do next was challenging.

By 2013, it was clear we had to find an alternative use for the vacant lot and work to turn the space into something that neighbors could enjoy. We began with simple beautification projects. We also hosted community events in the lot, including yard sales and a kids Halloween party.

The bottom of the block began to look and feel differently. It began to look like a space people cared about.

The question now is how to make more people care about this vacant lot (and others around the city), which is a big part of what this project is all about.


Taking action
2009 – 2011
In 2009, residents on W Rockland St began organizing cleanups of the lot and the abandoned properties, working to maintain the area and put an end to illegal dumping.  Philly Spring Cleanup, April 4, 2009.

In 2009, residents on W Rockland St began organizing cleanups of the abandoned properties, working to maintain the space and put an end to illegal dumping. Philly Spring Cleanup, April 4, 2009.

4819 Greene St after W Rockland St Project’s Philly Spring Cleanup 2009 project in which the lot was cleaned.

4819 Greene St after W Rockland St Project’s Philly Spring Cleanup 2009 project in which the lot was cleaned.

4819, 4817, 4815 Greene St after W Rockland St Project’s Philly Spring Cleanup 2009 project in which the lot was cleaned and graffiti was removed from the front of the houses.

4819, 4817, 4815 Greene St after W Rockland St Project’s Philly Spring Cleanup 2009 project in which the lot was cleaned and graffiti was removed from the front of the houses.

Demolition of 4817 and 4815 Greene St in June 2011, funded by the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), managed by the Redevelopment Authority.

Demolition of 4817 and 4815 Greene St in June 2011, funded by the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), managed by the Redevelopment Authority.

W Rockland St's very own sand lot. The condition  of the lot after the demolition of the houses in June 2011.

W Rockland St’s very own sand lot. The condition of the lot after the demolition of the houses in June 2011.

Germantown Beach. Kids play in the sand lot in September 2011.

Germantown Beach. Kids play in the sand lot in September 2011.

An evolving space
2012 – 2015


If you’re interested in helping make this project happen and supporting The W Rockland Street Project, there are lots of opportunities to get involved.

Our first community meeting was held on Monday, June 22 at the steps of the DePaul Catholic School. Join us at the next one (date TBD) and contact us if you have immediate questions.

We will be working to increase communication and engagement with residents of the 4800 block of Greene St, who face the vacant lot, the flanking 100 blocks of Logan St and Wyneva St, the 4800 block of Germantown Ave, and other surrounding blocks.

Sign-up for our email list! Keep up with The W Rockland Street Project! We’ll send very occasional emails with stories from the block, along with updates about our vacant lot project with Mural Arts Program.

Full disclosure: Emaleigh Doley is currently working on the Mural Arts Program’s citywide public art exhibition Open Source (coming October 2015) as a programming consultant. The idea and development of this project however predates that engagement. 


Everything is December 8th! Germantown’s focus on revitalization continues

big-news-clipart-200x243December 8th marks an important day in the history of Germantown. No, there’s no historic battle. But what is on the calendar for this Monday is a slew of events concerning development and other neighborhood revitalization efforts coming to Germantown in the near future.

What’s on the agenda? The Emerald Isle, also known as Vernon Park, is in the early stages of a park redesign. The Women’s Community Revitalization Project has proposed 35 new affordable town homes on vacant woodsy land on Wister Street in East Germantown. We have a new school coming to the 140-year-old St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at Wayne Avenue and Harvey Street, originally designed by architects Frank Furness and George Wattson Hewitt. St. Peter’s is fast transforming itself into the Waldorf School of Philadelphia’s new campus. Also on the education front, the Germantown Community Charter School Coalition will present their plan for the reuse of Germantown High School before the School Reform Commission, complete with a busload of supportive Germantowners in tow. And much more.

Yes, December 8th, 2014 is a very important day for Germantown. Pick a meeting or presentation and go!
Photo by Jill Saull via Flying Kite

Photo by Germantown resident Jill Saull via Flying Kite

1. Germantown Community Charter School 

Time: 10:30 AM – 2 PM (bus trip); 11:45 PM (hearing begins promptly, GCCS is scheduled first)
Location: School District Of Philadelphia, 440 N Broad St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130


The Charter School Application is in the approval stage. (Phase 1) We are scheduled for a (15) minute public hearing presentation to an audience before the SRC (School Reform Commission). We need ALL ALUMNI, FAMILY, FRIENDS, COMMUNITY AND SUPPORTERS AT THIS MEETING. RIDE the BUS on US: The bus leaves at 10:30 from the former Germantown High School at Germantown and High Sts. YOU MUST RSVP at TO CONFIRM A SEAT ON THE BUS YOUR NAME MUST BE ON THE LIST. You can also meet us there. Be part of the Sea of Green in support of the Germantown Community Charter School. Equally important they are accepting public testimony beginning at 3pm. We need as many people as possible and representatives of our partner organizations to give their words of support. To sign up to speak you need to call: 215-400-4010.

Read more: District will hear Germantown Community Charter School Coalition’s pitch on Monday | NewsWorksWHYY 2014

2. Friends of Vernon Parkvp

Time: 6 – 7:30 PM
Location: Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19144


Dear Friends and Neighbors of Vernon Park, Come join us and see the latest design for the Master Plan for Vernon Park from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society design team. This is an exciting time and some parts of the plan are already underway. Please come promptly so we can have a good block of time for the presentation and questions. If you haven’t been to our meetings before, please note you need to use the back entrance to the Center in the Park from the parking lot off Rittenhouse Street and ring the bell at the door.


3. RCO Meeting to discuss proposed Nicole Hines Townhomes development at 417 E Wister Street by Women’s Community Revitalization Project

Time: 6 PM
Location: Wayne Junction Campus, 4809 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia PA 19144
Hosted by: Joint Registered Community Organization meeting hosted by Wakefield 49ers Community Development and Improvement Association RCO

via Women’s Community Revitalization Project

Rendering of Nicole Hines Townhouse development courtesy of Women's Community Revitalization Project

Rendering of Nicole Hines Townhomes courtesy of Women’s Community Revitalization Project

Zoning Notice

Re: 417 E Wister Street (417, 423, 431, 443, 445 E Wister St and 5120 Rufe St)

Dear Registered Community Organization or Property Owner:

The Zoning Board of Adjustments has continued this hearing. You are hereby notified of the following PUBLIC HEARING to be held by the City of Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment on the issue described below:

Public Hearing Date: December 17, 2014

Public Hearing Time: 2 PM

Location: 1515 Arch St, 18th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Property Description: The property is vacant land located on the block bounded by Wister, Rufe, and Collom Streets, less than one block away from the Wister Station along the SEPTA Regional Rail Line. The address is 417 E. Wister (along with 423, 431, 443, 445 E. Wister St. and 5120 Rufe St.). The nearest cross street is Wister and Rufe. The property is located in a RSA-2 zoning district.

Project Description: The purpose of the application is to build 35 homes, thirty five parking spaces and one community space. This project will also relocate lot lines from 6 existing lots to create one lot. To complete this development we are
seeking the following variances:

  • To build 35 residences on one lot in a zone that allows 1 residence per lot
  • To build a community space for residents of the development
  • To have both the community space and the homes in the same district
  • To build 13 separate structures where no more than one is allowed

Read more and view additional photos and renderings: Women’s Community Revitalization Project planning to build 35 affordable houses in East Germantown

Contacts: Email if you would like a copy of the zoning application.
Wakefield 49ers – Rosalind McKelvey, 215-275-6853,

Waldorf-School4. The Waldorf School of Philadelphia Town Hall Meeting

Time: 7 PM
Location: 7500 Germantown Ave (School Auditorium, 3rd floor, Eagles II), Philadelphia PA 19119


Join The Waldorf School of Philadelphia Leadership Team and members of the Board of Trustees for a community-wide Town Hall meeting. We will provide a preliminary overview of our relocation plans and offer an opportunity to ask questions and share concerns. Members of the current Waldorf community and the wider Germantown community are all invited. Bring friends, neighbors, grandparents, prospective families – all are welcome! If you cannot attend but have a question you can forward your questions to Kerry Hoffman at


  • Overview of project, history of how and why we are moving.
  • Campus buildings and geographic layout of classrooms
  • Transportation and parking
  • Security
  • Potential Community Outreach
  • Timeline highlights: move, weekend celebration, graduation, summer camp
  • Fundraising
  • Tour dates and next town hall
  • Q and A

Read more: Former church in Germantown to house school | The Philadelphia Inquirer 2013.07.18

penn-knox5. Penn Knox Neighborhood Association Monthly Meeting

Time: 7 – 9 PM
Location: Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, 143 W Coulter Street, Philadelphia PA 19144

via PKNA Chair Julie Baranauskas

Agenda: Updates on the conservancy effort of 5328 Wayne Avenue (David Gilfillan); progress report on the Growbot sculpture at the Penn Street community garden (Birdie Busch) and the Penn Knox Community Information Board at Maplewood Mall; safety report from the working committee; annual pot luck and fundraising auction.

Save the date: January 12, 2015 next PKNA monthly meeting on the 2nd Monday of the month.


6. City Council Hearing on Trees: Resolution No. 140668 

Time: 12 PM
Location: Room 402, City Hall, Philadelphia

via Office of 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass

In September, we introduced a resolution calling for a hearing regarding the current state of park and street trees and their continued maintenance. The hearing has been rescheduled for Monday December 8, 2014 at 12 PM.

Tree Germantown is a big supporter of this bill! Learn more about it and support this effort.

Read more: Download a PDF of the Trees Hearing Resolution


Are you on Facebook?

The Changing Germantown Facebook group was created in response to a noticeable uptick in development activity in the Northwest and few public forums for residents to freely discuss and access such information. This group offers a space for focused conversation on such issues. Members are invited to freely post photos, articles, comments and opinions related to urban planning and design, community development, and zoning issues in and around Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. The group offers a broad view of current development activity at play in the neighborhood and insight into what neighborhood stakeholders are thinking.


Lower Germantown Streetscape Project Set for June 21

On Saturday, June 21 over two dozen planters and tree pits will be planted with vibrant annuals and perennials on a two-block stretch of Germantown Avenue between Penn Street and Bringhurst Street. The zone was selected by Tree Germantown and the W Rockland Street Project as a corridor greening pilot experiment.

Despite lacking a formal business association, this lesser-known Germantown business district is full of life with the addition of two new businesses, Sandalwood Yoga Studio and the soul food restaurant Tasties.

There are also three building renovations underway including new construction for Around The Clock Home Health Care just before Penn Street, developer Ken Weinstein’s renovation of the 6-story building at 5301 Germantown Avenue, and Stan Smith’s renovation of 5320 Germantown Avenue. Tracy McNeil, owner of the yoga studio at 5310 Germantown Avenue, recently completed a historic renovation of the property which includes the storefront studio on the street-level and apartments on the upper floors (read about the renovation at

Google Maps capture of Germantown Avenue from Penn Street looking towards Bringhurst Street.

Google Maps capture of Germantown Avenue from Penn Street looking towards Bringhurst Street.


Aine Doley (that’s me!) and Penn Knox resident Amy Steinbugler went door-to-door to pitch the planting project and discuss the benefits of bringing greenery to Germantown Avenue. Many businesses were eager to join the effort, but some took convincing.

Those who declined to participate raised concerns about the plantings being able to survive the urban environment and the shoppers who frequent businesses along the corridor. Will the planters be stolen? Will passersby put trash in the planters? One business owner believed that people would urinate in the planters and sit on them while waiting for the 23 bus.

The participating businesses and organizations willing to give greenery a chance in the neighborhood include:

  • Sandalwood Yoga Studio at 5310 Germantown Ave
  • The One Less Foundation at 5275 Germantown Ave inside the historic Clarkson-Watson House (circa 1740)
  • Grumblethorpe at 5267 Germantown Ave, John Wister’s historic summer home built in 1744
  • Bargain Thrift at 5245 Germantown Ave
  • Around The Clock Home Health Care at 5226 Germantown Ave (current location)
  • Tasties at 5241 Germantown Ave
  • Kbello Kolors Hair Salon (tentative) at 5237 Germantown Ave
  • 5301 Germantown Ave (building currently being renovated by Ken Weinstein / Philly Office Retail)
  • 5320 Germantown Ave (building currently being renovated Stan Smith / Philly Office Retail)

Each participating business is contributing $25 per planter and has agreed to care for and water the new plants in front of their business. This project was made possible through generous donations from our community partners, who have helped to subsidize the costs of materials: Historic Germantown, Germantown United CDC, G’Town Restoration CDC, and the City of Philadelphia’s PhillyRising initiative, which selected Germantown as a Philly Rising 2.0 neighborhood in early February.

As Germantown continues to grow, Tree Germantown and the W Rockland Street Project will continue to push for greening and tree planting in our neighborhood.

Volunteers needed

Volunteering during the planting day is a great way to meet neighbors and get to know local business owners. Join us on Saturday, June 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Email to sign-up and visit for additional volunteer information.


Thanks again to our sponsors!

historic germantown phillyrising-logo GUCDC-logo gtownrestoration

Friend of the TTF Watershed: Aine wins an award!

Woot! My sister Aine is being honored for her environmental work in Philadelphia from the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership. TTF will host its third annual Watershed Milestones Award Ceremony on Wednesday, May 21 at the Juanita Golf Club. The event will honor individuals and organizations who have made a difference in the TTF watershed.

Here’s what TFF has to say about Aine:

TTF would like to acknowledge Aine Doley for her outstanding volunteer work, particularly her leadership of Tree Germantown, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Tree Tenders® group in TTF’s former home neighborhood. TTF supports Tree Tenders across our watershed, because trees are key to stormwater management and neighborhood health.

Aine not only established the West Rockland Street Project (along with her sister Emaleigh), but she makes sure that her community participates in citywide efforts from the Philly Spring Clean Up to Tree Philly. She also effectively promotes community programs, challenges, and successes through social media, which is so important. We are proud to honor Aine for the ways that she demonstrates her commitment to community and watershed improvement.

Now if you’re wondering what a watershed is… That’s a good question! A watershed is all of the land that drains into a specific body of water.

The purple area on the map below shows the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford watershed. Any water that falls on the purple area of the map will eventually run into the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek. Crazy, right?

The watershed includes neighborhoods in North, Northeast, and Northwest Philadelphia (including Germantown!) and Abington, Cheltenham, Jenkintown, Rockledge, and Springfield in Montgomery County.

Germantown actually sits on top of not one but two watersheds, TTF and the Wissahickon Valley Watershed.

TTF_map_1Explore this map and more at Tickets to the May 21 event, which raises critical dollars to support outreach, education and restoration efforts, can be purchased online. We hear that Mayor Nutter and Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug are scheduled to make an appearance, but we’re most excited to see longtime Twitter bud Julie Slavet, TTF’s Executive Director! Follow @TTFWatershed and @julieslavet on Twitter!

Crowdfunding to save the W Rockland Street Community Garden. We need you!

The W Rockland St Project in Philadelphia has launched a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to remove a sick tree from the community garden that’s threatening the 2014 growing season and neighborhood gathering space.


click the image to make an online donation:

In 2012 the residents of W Rockland Street in Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood took over the trashstrewn vacant lot and built an award-winning community garden and gathering space from scratch. In just two years, members have produced hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs. Sadly, this urban oasis is under threat. There is a sick and diseased tree falling into the garden and the vacant house nextdoor, making it unsafe for neighbors to use the space and halting plans for the 2014 growing season. If the tree does not come down, this vibrant but low-income block will have to close its home-grown community space to the many children and adults who benefit from this little slice of green in the city.

You can help save the summer! Support our fundraising effort to cover the high cost of tree removal and watch a neighborhood blossom. Give any amount you choose.


click to give:

Growing community

The garden is home to 13 raised garden beds (lucky number!), a melon and climbing vine patch, a compost bin, a floral garden, and jungle gym for kids. Non-gardeners also use the peaceful green space to host gatherings, activities for the block’s many children, and other events. As the garden has flourished, the tree’s health deteriorated. Huge branches entwined with Poison Ivy now reach down to the ground, covering some of the garden beds. It cannot be saved.

Today, this dying tree stands in the way of a community on the rise. Neighbors have already organized a work-day on Saturday, May 24 to install new picnic tables for the summer and equip the garden with rain barrells, a small shed and new fence. But, the tree must come down first!

The community’s answer to blight

Located at 15 W Rockland Street, the garden sits next to a vacant house, recently sealed by the City’s office of Licenses and Inspections. Two vacant spaces side by side can crush a block. Fedup with the conditions, neighbors decided to take a DIY approach. The garden was built on April 16, 2012 during the 4th annual Philly Spring Cleanup and its been growing and evolving ever since. By activating the abandoned spaces, the community lessens the effects of blight created by vacancy, turning a double negative into a positive. The transformed space has made the neighborhood safer and improved quality of life for nearby residents. Help us keep it that way!

If you’re not convinced yet, listen to Mrs. Ada Pullett talk about her love of planting and 40+ years living on W Rockland Street in this cool soundslide created by Temple University journalism students Shanise Redmon and Monet Tucker.

About The W Rockland Street Project

The W Rockland Street Project is a citizen-driven effort to revitalize one Philadelphia city block through community organizing and small-scale urban interventions. With a do-it-yourself spirit and low-cost high-impact approach, the grassroots initiative builds community and creates change you can see. The project is spearheaded by Aine Doley and Emaleigh Doley, sisters and longtime block residents. Discover

Street cred

  • Inga Saffron, Pulitzer Prize-winning Architecture critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer: “The methods the Doleys employ are worth watching — and imitating all over Philadelphia… Cities just don’t plan like they used to. That leaves tactical urbanism as one of the few tools for making change.” Read: Germantown sisters use tactical urbanism to bolster their block.
  • 40+ year block resident Minnie Plez: “It makes the neighborhood look much better, and I think it’ll make everybody act a little better too.” Watch: Germantown neighbors plant new life.
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society city-wide garden contest judges: “The garden has a colorfully inviting entrance and neatly laid out raised beds inside with a space set aside for socializing. It is clearly meeting its mission of creating community through horticulture. Impressive that this community has come together to build a garden on an abandoned lot. A credit to the garden creators!” In 2012, the garden was awarded Second Prize in PHS’ annual contest in the Community Garden Combination category for first-year community gardens with both vegetables and flowers.
  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter: “When neighbors are trying to make something happen, we, the city, have to meet them halfway.” Read: Sisters persuade Nutter to move up demolition of derelict houses.

Mrs. Ada Pullett in W Rockland St’s community garden

donateGot questions? Contact us.

Momentum in Germantown: 30 projects planned for annual Philly Spring Cleanup

In its seventh year, it’s time for the City of Philadelphia and the Streets Department to drop mega-trash stats to show and prove just how much we can all clean up during the Philly Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 5. Just how big are the numbers? 1,014,540 pounds of trash collected, 4,030 tires removed and 23,341 pounds of recycling was collected during the 2013 clean up.

In Germantown there will be a huge presence felt all over the neighborhood with 30 official projects registered! Can you feel it? It’s momentum. Keep up the sweep up!

The W Rockland Street Project has two projects planned for the big day – Emaleigh will be working with W Rockland Street Neighbors on a block cleanup and Aine will be leading a cleanup with the Southwest Germantown Business District at Freedom Square (5101 Germantown Avenue).

Sign up to volunteer for a Germantown (or any other neighborhood!) project by clicking here!

Momentum \mō-ˈmen-təm, mə-\ 
the strength or force that something has when it is moving.
the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes.


Volunteer for one of many project sites in Germantown

Sign up in advance … or just show up to lend a hand!


1. Lingelbach Elementary School
6340 Wayne Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

2. Hood Clean Up
4901 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19144

3. SoLo/GCA-WAM Philly Spring Clean Up 2014
Municipal parking lot
4919-25 Wayne Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19144

4. Friends of Happy Hollow Playground and Community Garden
4800 Wayne Ave (upper level Pulaski Ave and W. Logan St.)
Philadelphia, PA 19144

5. Friends of Loudon
4650 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19144

6. Neighborhood and Park Cleanup (DIA Clean Up)
Wayne & Johnson Sts.
Philadelphia, PA 19144

7. Germantown Town Hall Cleanup
Germantown City Hall
Germantown and Haines St
Philadelphia PA, PA 19119

8. 6100 Block Germantown Avenue
Cleanup Historic 1770 Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse
6121 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

9. Rockand Street Neighbors
15 W Rockland Street
Philadelphia, PA 19144

6200 W. Chew Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19138

Read more

Blooming Sidewalks: Greening the Urban Street

The sidewalk planter in front of our house!

The sidewalk planter in front of our house!

You may have noticed West Rockland Street has a lot of flower planters lining the sidewalk. You’d almost think you were walking along Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill business district 🙂 So how did it happen?

Last year, a few households planted pots and set them out. Initially there was some fear that the planters would be stolen, broken or wrecked by kids. But, that didn’t happen.

This spring, Aine included sidewalk planters as a packaged item in the annual Grow This Block! planting day and a few more households joined the beautification effort. The idea really started to catch on as participation grew. Other residents admired the work of their neighbors and by mid-summer, more households joined the sidewalk planter club.

There are now over a fifteen planters lining the block, including five pots along the perimeter of the vacant lot at the corner of West Rockland and Greene Streets. To make the planters durable, residents weighted the pots down with heavy rocks and planted a variety of heat loving annuals. Three households also planted empty tree pits with full sidewalk gardens. Amazingly green!

Looking up West Rockland Street.

Looking up West Rockland Street.

Flower planters and sidewalk gardens are a motivating tool against blight and help brighten up the neighborhood. By setting beautiful examples and making it easy for people to get involved, we were able to get high participation. Aine purchased supplies in bulk and made a package deal (see the flyer below). For just $20, residents could purchase a planter with potting soil, plants, and rocks for the bottom. Residents then planted their own pots, which inspired people be creative and take ownership of their hard work.

Our planter packages were offered at a discount thanks to donations and support from a 2013 Philadelphia Activities Grant, awarded to the block by Councilwoman Cindy Bass. You can also reduce costs by buying in bulk, growing plants from seed and keeping an eye out for sales. If the sidewalk planter project can work on a little block in Southwest Germantown, then it can work anywhere. Get a few neighbors growing and create demand.


JuJu biking by Aine's planter.

JuJu biking by Aine’s planter. Photo by Ann Doley.

Aine and Jamir tending our flower pot.

Aine and Jamir tending our flower pot.

2013.07.19_Rockland Street Planters Flyer

Download a PDF of the flyer.

Cobblestones rescued from Germantown Avenue construction

Cobblestones rescued from Germantown Avenue construction.

A new sidewalk garden grows. In the fall, a new street tree will be planted in its place.

A new sidewalk garden grows. In the fall, a new street tree will be planted in its place.

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