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Remember: Save Our Parks: The Call to Action

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Save Our Parks: The Call to Action

I have spent the last few days detailing, and describing at length the extent to which environmental issues exist in our parks and in the Lehigh Parkway in particular.  The issues are clear.  It is the solutions that remain murky, and today I will be focusing on those.
DSCN0980The pictures accompanying this post were taken at the time of the Vernal Equinox on South Mountain and in Canal Park. I have chosen to include these pictures because despite the environmental negligence in our parks, there is still an extraordinary amount of beauty that remains.  It is that beauty that needs to be preserved and expanded in the immediate future.
I have received a lot of comments regarding the monetary issues that environmental remediation would bring to the pockets of folks living in the city of Allentown.  This is a legitimate and serious concern, but it is my belief that with community outreach and a little outside of the box thinking, some projects can happen at no cost to the taxpayer and can set the ball rolling.
First, an outreach to existing community organizations like the Allentown Garden Club should begin.  These folks can tackle numerous small scale projects, like rain gardens around storm drains.  I am sure small amounts of plant donations can be secured from local nurseries (native, appropriate plants by the way).  I would like to see Friends of the Parks really spearhead that sort of activity.

Second, it is time for the city of Allentown to reach out to the science departments at Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest College.  I know for a fact, considering that I am an Environmental Science major at Muhlenberg College, that students are itching to be able to make a difference.  The parks can use that difference.  These students can do the sort of environmental survey work that would typically cost the city a lot of money, for free.  I will be attempting to spearhead some efforts along these lines in the near future.
Getting organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, local boy scout and girl scout troops and The West and East Side youth centers involved in these kinds of projects can reconnect an entire new generation of Allentonians, to the parks, the history of the parks and of the city and most importantly, establish a real bond with nature.
Using only these examples, it becomes crystal clear how easy it is to get the ball rolling as soon as people are willing to push it.  I’m pushing it folks and I will continue to do so until such a time when there are no environmental issues left in our open spaces.
The Mayor, Greg Weitzel and City Council have the opportunity to get the ball rolling as well and if they show the leadership skills to begin the real work of building a better future, change can be achieved. The city needs to be behind every potential project 100%.
Let’s do it. Let’s get involved.  Let us rebuild the community spirit of the city of Allentown and in doing so, revitalize the park system and begin to set right the last three decades of environmental wrongs that are currently begging for help.

I’m on it.  I’ll be on it.  Get on it with me.

“Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen” – John Muir

Save the Parks.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, PLEASE comment!

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Blogger Katie Bee said...

First: Yes. This.

Second: I was bored in my environmental sociology class today so in between looking up heritage pumpkin seed prices and how much Plymouth Rock hatchlings cost (pure curiosity), I started looking up the various seed organizations my community garden uses to score free seeds. Incidentally, the program is at but I was disappointed not to find any packages of local seeds.

Edge of the Woods nursery up in Clausville could certainly help point us in the right direction, if not donate cuttings and maybe some seeds that are past their sell date.

Currently, I've got 155 seedlings going in recycled egg cartons and cans and such on my windowsill - as does almost everyone else in my community garden group.

My idea to contribute would be get several packets of appropriate seeds and cuttings donated and use your school's environmental group (or interested students) and other volunteers to raise the seedlings, then have a planting day/barbecue in the park.

The Penn State master gardener program does a good job of community outreach (to maintain one's Master Gardner title, one must commit quite a gardening-related volunteer work) and I am certain that they would be happy to advise rain gardens and the like.

Now, I am coming from the community gardening perspective, but definitely let SUN*LV (Sustainable Urban Networks of the Lehigh Valley) know what you're up to and get on their .ning network - everyone on the site is very helpful and willing to donate supplies and advice.

I am interested in this and will continue to look for seeds and such.

Thirdly, what up with the SEIU? You already blew the cover if this is going to be some masterful guerilla effort.

March 23, 2010 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I posted this an hour before Katie's comment. Which means that an involved, 20 year old, is chomping at the bit to help out.

If this city can get behind me, and behind all of us who want to see real change come to fruition, imagine what can happen folks.

Thanks Katie.

(The SEIU can be worried about when things get off the ground)

March 23, 2010 at 1:15 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew you write;
"The city needs to be behind every potential project 100%."
I know from your recent posts you are referring to remedial projects concerning the park environment, and not the city's so called improvement projects, such as cedar park plan or trail network plan, HOWEVER, I think you must make that clear each time you post, because,
1. your words will be taken out of context
2. many readers come to blog, read a post, but have not read the preceding posts on your blog, and will also will misunderstand the term "project"

March 23, 2010 at 4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

friends of the parks just sent out flyers for a flowerbed program you must be on the same page. in my past experience the local garden centers are unable to donate plants. the big box stores will donate the plants but you don't get that same quality of native plant selection.

March 23, 2010 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Large nurseries would donate plants - even smaller ones have donated for some of my projects. However, they're more inclined to donate annuals and then only after they can't really sell them. Not much good.

March 23, 2010 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting letter to the Editor today concerning Cap and Tax.

Read it.

The writer, Jim Sorensen, is a former big-time executive retired from Air Products.

March 23, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The city needs to be behind every potential project 100%"

Enjoy your asphalt, son.

March 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:53,


I thought that Andrew made it quite clear in this post that the "projects" he is referring to are the ones intended for environmental repair not the ones intended for paving the park trails. Next time, try reading the entire post and not just the parts you can take out of context to serve as a means to your own end. I swear, sometimes, reading the comments left here is like smashing my head against a wall...or worse.

Now, as a young person who has spent my fair share of time in Allentowns parks and has seen first hand the issues Andrew is speaking about, I can say that I would be willing to volunteer as much time as I could in any way needed in order to help the situation in any capacity.

March 23, 2010 at 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless Andrew, Katie and the other young people who log-in here. Volunteer effort are nice and great and all. As are donations from business......but that is the very tippy top of a huge political and economic and professional commitment, it really is almost hopelessly over optimistic and naive. I mean, we are talking BIG projects here kids.

March 23, 2010 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 3:25, please take your condescension elsewhere. These "kids" are bright, passionate young adults with enthusiasm and ideas. MANY more ideas than the whiners and complainers who sit around and write angry, hateful, bitter blogs/emails whatever and DO NOTHING.

Katie, Andrew, don't worry, there are people who are interested in doing - sadly, they aren't as vocal as those who are interested in trashing ideas rather than creating their own. Uphill battle, hell yeah. Impossible? Absolutely not. I'll take naivete over stick in the mud nostalgia any day.

The idea that a project is "too big" for 'kids' makes me want to scream. That is a recipe for sitting on your ass and bemoaning all the poor choices other people are making.

March 23, 2010 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Anon 3:25 has a point. I have a lot of reservations about throwing myself into a project only to see it fail and get heartbroke over it, but what else can I do? I certainly wouldn't be content to sit back and say "well, that's just how it is, no use trying to change it." I figure if a four year old with cancer can sell lemonade and spark one of the most recognizable and popular charities (ever eaten Alex's Lemonade Ice at Rita's?), I figure a 20 year old with some spare time can throw her hat into the ring, too.

I want to do this and I figure it's worth trying. Even if a little good can come of it, it would be worth it. And, unlike some old fogey naysayers, I've got a whole lotta years left to fine tune a project like this and really make it float.

What I would like to know is where all this "that'll never work" negativity is coming from. What did they try their hardest at and fail? And do they really think they're going to make a difference, make the world a better place for their kids and their grandkids if they just cross their arms and sit this round out?


March 23, 2010 at 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting anything serious done takes concentrated commitment by a lot of people---not a oneday twoday popin and popout procedure.
Dedication and Time; attention and work.
And there is besides ordinary inertia(usually)unseen antagonists to overcome.
This is why there is scepticism, and the reactive branding of scepticism (irritating-to-young-folk) as a defeatist tone of "negativity". Forgive us our experience, we have outlived our youth; and we'll forgive you your unorganized innocence.

No sense in not trying to do the worthwhile project: "Energy is Eternal Delight". Go for it. See what can actually be done. That would be a worthwhile experience.


March 23, 2010 at 9:44 PM  

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