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writing for godot

Earth Day 1970, Today & Centuries Ago

Written by Richard Kane   
Thursday, 18 April 2013 13:11
Earth Day 1970 in Philadelphia was in Fairmount Park. The world’s largest city owned park. It was a real inspiration however inspiration near that very spot occurred much earlier. It is not an accident that Philadelphia is so Green friendly,

The Quakers were and still are what is now called having green values. Of course the Shakers avoided waste as well but didn’t idolize technological solutions. Philadelphia was founded as "Penn’s Green Country Town". William Penn who brought the first Quakers from England would recognize Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, crowded with summer visitors like when he planned it to be, but be surprised that the paths in the park were (he would see it as stone since he never saw cement) not clay. He would be expecting that kids would be splashing around Swann Fountain which he would think was an elaborate version of the original gravity fed ones and be surprised only that Logan Circle was no longer square and that adults were not washing their clothes besides the bathers. Philly was proudly the first city, with clean water, following a yellow fever outbreak (in wooden pipes, gravity fed); now the Delaware River Watershed is tentatively still fracking free. Look at Philly’s wide streets from Spring Garden to Washington Ave. and realize they were that wide before the automobile.

If Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, saw Broad Street (no accident the longest straight street in the world) in a pouring rainy Sunday without cars, he’d miss the center street greenery which one can still observe at the later built Ben Franklin Parkway near the Art Museum. He’d, of course, be shocked when he looked up Broad Street to what was Center Square Park to see that his statue was at the top of city hall. Parts of what is called the Green Revolution is more than 300 years old. Considering yesterday’s technology Philly was a far more of a Green Achievement than Columbia, MD where one can walk, bike, and some work without crossing a street.

This April 22, 2013 Earth Day, the theme locally for the Green Party and Protect our Waters, is save the Delaware River Basin from fracking A few years ago plastic bottles to heat baby formula was ironically seen as a safer than glass. It will be years before we know how dangerous fracking really is. Only small patches of this river valley are accessible to fracking. Perhaps less new energy than the energy used to truck bottled water around, or to manufacture plastic bottles for every school drinking fountain in the entire Delaware River system. At the Norristown Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be an Earth Day protest a block north of the High Speed Line (3 to 5 pm),
Some attending will be members of the original tribes of North America, I hope in their original tribal dress. The video clip of the exciting 1970 Philly Earth Day celebration at the following link,

At almost the same spot there was another exciting celebration almost 390 years ago, which can be seen as the painting of "Penn’s Treaty with the Indians". Back then it was claimed that William Penn was bamboozled into buying the same parcel of land several times. But Penn learned the native American dialects and knew that the tribes had overlapping hunting rights. 70 years later the peace still held as Quakers and Mennonites raised money to give to the Lenape Indians for land stolen from them,

Philly was build to be very fire-resistant meaning downtown was never burned down to be rebuild, with the car in mind, preserving Philly’s award winning transit system. The harmony of buses flowing into Frankford Terminal and 69th Street with the parking further away inspired me to suggest adding a rain overhang at where one leaves the El to get on the bus at the Frankford Terminal. What about a rain overhang at 30th Street where the buses come off the expressway? or reopening the pedestrian tunnel between 30th street Septa stop and AMTRAK?

Pardon the distraction on improving public transit; but without it this article becomes a rage against the modern world. What about a #47 bus stop in the Gallery Mall and a detour to the edge of the Trailways bus Station, with a rain overhang? Parking for downtown at the Whitman Plaza, off Columbus Blvd where Home Depot, A C Moore and Walmark are, and a nonstop express bus, to supplement the #47, extra SEPTA expense paid in part by the merchants? Overhangs and benches at Whitman Plaza, and a 50ft wide overhang across the parking lot to A C Moore? Some might shop AC Moore, and the Gallery shops downtown as part of the same shopping experience. If many who work between 5th to 15th St downtown parked their car at Whitman Plaza, it would be great for lessening transit crowding and would stimulate buying in Philadelphia rather than the suburbs as well.

Today in downtown Philadelphia spring is in the air as Philly shows off its tourist charm and fine restaurants nurtured by foot traffic not being overwhelmed by the automobile. Sidewalk cafes add potted greenery to the many green trees. The various urban garden programs, plus planting vacant lots, (the most aggressive planting vacant lots crusade anywhere in the world) street greenery, park square greenery, plus all the semiprivate and private greenery. Bartram's Gardens and PECO’s rooftop charge $10 for tours (or free if you have a friend with a City Pass). A friend, a member of the Flower Show Horticultural Society got me $5 tickets to the rooftop, a day earlier than the opening date was posted. So when ticket reservations are sold out, check later for new tour dates. Stepping on the roof lawn is like stepping on a mattress. Almost next to the roof top garden on Market Street at the edge of the bridge is the handicapped accessible ramp to the park path beside the Schuylkill River. The other way 19th and Market is the Philly Stock Market indoor first floor garden that a guard kicked me out of and the beautiful private garden at 21th and Chestnut with a gate in front.

The importance of and trying to figure out how to carefully mix praise and criticism is involved in writing this article. We must find things to praise as we condemn what is wrong.

There is something precious in Philadelphia, our country, and our world that we need to struggle to preserve and improve upon. In my elderly years I feel really lucky to browse around with my walker and get a ride or even the Norristown High Speed line, on Earth Day to stop Philly water from containing fracking chemicals a little while longer.

By Richard Kane your social media marketing partner
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