Jason West decided to beautify his grandmother’s three-story row home by planting flowers and encompassing them with a rustic garden fence. He thought his kind act would rid his block of blight. Instead, it incited anger and disdain within the 20-year resident of the 5100 block of North Broad Street.
“We had brand new gates, we come out here, and the crack heads stole them. They even stole the flower pots,” West said.
“They need to knock everything down, tear everything up and rebuild it all over again,” said West, who would support the city should it choose to renew Logan’s run-down areas by adding new housing developments and resources.
West’s remedy to resolving blight in Logan is in response to the lack of vibrancy in an area where community interests and desires for improving environmental issues are often overlooked because of the lack of community stewardship.
“It ain’t no hope here,” said West, who sometimes has to force trespassers out of his backyard at 2 a.m.
In Logan, the efforts of improving environmental conditions have been impeded by poor quality of life conditions–signs that have discouraged West from becoming active in initiatives that promote environmental protection, education and advocacy.
[Community development corporations] don’t care. They ain’t gonna do nothing,” West said.
Open space scarcity is among the environmental inequities that have impeded the creation of park and recreation facility improvements in Logan.
Harris Steinberg, executive director of Penn Praxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania, said civic engagement and outreach must take place in order for environmental injustice to be reformed.
“The mayor has said he’d like Philadelphia to be the greenest city in the country, but how do you actually do that on a block by block level is a challenge, particularly in areas like Logan, which are underserved, predominately lower-income residents,” Steinberg said. “There’s definitely inequity in environmental justice case that can be made to really create a development that can serve as a model for other parts of the city.”
One of the issues identified by Penn Praxis as contributing to the lack of community gardens and urban agriculture in residential areas is the access to open space.
“Through an investment in transportation infrastructure and greater park infrastructure, create this kind of linkage so neighborhoods like Logan, which are really isolated from mass transit and open space, can access to a much wider network,” Steinberg said.
Market demands and pressures facing Logan’s progress toward achieving environmental sustainability include aging homes, families unable to afford housing improvements and the lost in population in the past 10 years.
View a video about how Logan residents are trying to make their community more livable.