Turtle News – April 2020 Many Ways to Stay Connected

by Alexis Franklin

CoVid-19 Bench


Over the past few weeks, our country, state and city have monitored the Covid-19 pandemic.  This has been an unstable situation where we are learning new things each day. As of Now, the Friends of McMichael Park have planned a number of upcoming events which we sincerely hope can go on.  However, cancellations may occur as this health crisis unfolds.  Please stay connected to our various sites and The Friends of McMichael Park will keep everyone updated. 
          -Love Your Park:  To date, Love Your Park week is still on as planned: May 9th -17th.  Our McMichael Park is registered. How would you like to help? Send me an email and let me know what you can do.  Volunteering is free!  AND AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITY!  Lexy3904@gmail.com
     -Not available May 9-17th? Other days can be added for various projects which we can gladly provide assignments based on your availability. There are many projects on the schedule and the Friends of McMichael Park openly and transparently allow for participation in any and all projects.  Lexy3904@gmail.com
    -Shakespeare Live is planned for June 2020.  This summer, we are please to present a new production company, ShakespeareNJ.  This summer’s performance will be something appropriate and timely; a new production especially for us of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar.” Dates are set for Tuesday June 2nd with a rain date of Thursday, June 4th. (please note this is earlier than prior years so save the date.) This Shakespeare Live performance should run approximately 70 minutes and will be followed by a post-show discussion with the cast!  As we have invited everyone in the past 12 years, open air theatre, free, of course, and we encourage picnics and lawn chairs. This is the most popular of William Shakespeare’s plays  and suitable for the entire family. The Friends of McMichael Park proudly sponsor our 13th summer of free theater in McMichael Park. Thanks to FOMP/Bill Hoffner for his efforts to get this production in McMichael Park. 
     –Parks on Tap will be returning to McMichael Park in August 2020. Parks on Tap is Philadelphia’s traveling beer garden that gives back! With a partnership between Philadelphia Parks & RecreationFairmount Park Conservancy, and FCM Hospitality, Parks on Tap brings a beer garden to various parks throughout the city all summer long. Each location provides fresh food, beers on tap, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages in a festive outdoor environment with comfortable chairs, hammocks, and clean restrooms. Parks on Tap is family-friendly. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Parks on Tap kicked off in 2016 as a way to engage the Philadelphia community and give back to the neighborhood parks. A portion of all proceeds are donated to The Friends of McMichael Park to help restore and maintain our open green space.

Here are Thirteen additional ways to stay connected with McMichael Park and beyond: 

1. We have a BRAND NEW blog called McMichael Park Turtle Friends  – https://mcmichaelparkturtlefriends.com/ – Highlighting our 30 years of volunteering in McMichael Park. #FOMP30

2. Check out all updates on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfMcmichaelPark/Click Here

3.  Or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/friendsofmcmichael/?utm_source=ig_embedClick Here

4. Take a walk: Research shows that spending 20 minutes in nature can reduce stress levels. Enjoy the fresh air in your park! (Please note that Philadelphia Public Playgrounds and basketball courts are closed as of March 25th.) 

5.  Take note of your favorite nearby tree. Download the iNaturalist app and start to identify the plants and wildlife in your community! 

6.  Accepting Proposals!  Philadelphia’s community-based groups embarking on creative projects & activities that are free and open to the public are invited to apply for grants through our Creative Avenues initiative. Deadline is Friday, April10th –  http://creativephl.org/ca/

7. Explore a fun, interactive map for kids on different cool trees around the world.

8. Learn about a project in Jersey City where participants tweet for the trees for the trees have no phones.

9. Learn about the life of a tree alongside the young people in your life.

10. Watch the documentary Symphony of the Soil on Kanopy (a free movie watching service for all Free Library card holders).

11. Read or listen to Ecologist David Haskell tell the story of smells from eleven trees.

12. Watch live streams of the animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Osprey Cam from San Francisco Bay.

13. From the Philadelphia Park Alliance/Alex Doty: Think of your favorite park. What is your favorite thing to do there? Now write it down on our new Parks and Rec Defender shield

When you’ve printed out the shield and added your favorite park and activity (feel free to add some art), please post on social media with the hashtag #PPRDefenders. Be sure to tag Parks Alliance, City Council, your Councilperson, and anyone else you would like to know how much you love your park. You can also send any pictures to photos@philaparks.org or text them to 267-404-3010.

When you share this, you are letting City Council know how important your parks and rec centers are to you and to your community.

Be Safe in McMichael Park Practice Social Distancing aka Social Caring

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Robert Rabinowitz and Donna Boling


Whatever you can do, or dream you can… begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
— Goethe 

Robert Rabinowitz in McMichael Park/northeast corner where he adopted and tends his garden bed.

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?

I made McMichael Park more personally mine by adopting a space on the northeast corner of the park as an area that I would plant and maintain. That was made more personal when the small stone blocks were donated to the park and assembled by the Friends into a circle around the plot. Frankly, now I look at what is becoming somewhat overgrown and, with a shrug containing resentment and personal loss, walk past. I suspect though that, now being an old dog, the new trick of ignoring what needs tending will lose to what has become both a meditation and habit.


What volunteer moment are you most proud of?

The transition from building 12, section B, apartment 2C in New York in 1968 to a single 3 story West Mt Airy home with a fruit bearing apple tree in a spacious backyard, and then to East Falls immediately wedded me to open space and greenery. So, with Gabrielle at 18 months of age and committed to putting most things in her mouth, running wildly until she tripped and fell, and wanting to pet every dog in sight, though only from the rear which made the dogs constantly spin and turn until they tired of what was perceived by them as a new game, we began by following her lead and then transitioning to building fairy houses, learning the names of the dogs, throwing and sometimes catching balls while, unerringly, causing me to run since, no matter how pure her motives, the toss always went to where I wasn’t. As a family we often walked through and sat in the park and never tiring, at least I didn’t, of commenting on the unbelievability of living where we did (do).

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  

We moved to Coulter Street when almost every house had a basketball hoop without the presence of any domiciled teens to use them. McMichael Park had begun to become the tranquil green space that it is today, sorrowfully though not for long, yet was still, kindly put, a rough presence. One problem with the McMichael Street side of the park was that the late night activities left lots of glassine envelopes scattered along the curb in the morning. That changed dramatically when the junior Rendell entered Penn Charter and the circling marked and unmarked police cars did, at a minimum, reduce the curbside trash. 

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?

When, in 1992, when Donna, Gabrielle, and I moved from Indian Queen Lane to Coulter Street, a move of several blocks and an equal number of attitudinal light years regarding the presence of a child of color, an attitude that thankfully has shifted away from secretly scheduling Halloween Trick or Treat Night when only we and our children would come knocking.

In short order, and I don’t recall whether it was under direct threat from Alexis or perhaps a more generous charitable motive that propelled both Donna and me to become, both with small and capital F’s, (f)Friends of McMichael Park. The word “propelled” in the last sentence gives some inclination that the motivation to begin working in and with the park was not totally an internally motivated decision. Once started, however, McMichael Park became a sacred place. To me, it was never a passive green space. The maintenance activity of planting, raking, digging, sawing and concern for the park, made me one of keepers of something between a neighborhood space and an eden; though it is possible to make the expulsion from the latter a metaphor for the snake offering planned changes to a truly an idyllic space, a symbolic apple. And, as an afterthought, whenever a “real” playground was desired, and this did happen on some weekends, we had ample choices. 

What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

I think sometimes of the neighbors and (f)Friends who have moved away or died, of the time with and in the park and smile and of what might possibly have been the last time for throwing Valentine lights over tree branches while hoping that the ladder doesn’t slip out from under me. It has been a wonderful trip.  

Robert (seated 2nd from right) and Donna Boling (standing 4th from right) joining the Friends of McMichael Park on Love Your Park day in May 2014. Photo was for the Fallser newspaper which was celebrating their 20th anniversary. #FOMP30

Our amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Rich Lampert

Rich Lampert – FOMP volunteer for 27 years. Grant Writer. Tree Planter. “Tell me what you need.”

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?

It’s gratifying to see neighbors coming together behind rakes, wheelbarrows, and the like to accomplish some shared tasks that improve our park. 


What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Working with Alexis in a meeting that resulted in funding from our State Senator for a safer electrical box we can use for events in the park. 


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
Making sure I completed grant applications on time, helping to fund events such as Theater in the Park.


How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
I’m going on 27 years as a volunteer. I keep going because I pass by the park almost every day and it’s always satisfying to see that park remains beautiful and well maintained.


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

It’s simple: Show up and pick up whatever tool you’re offered — a pruner, a rake, whatever — and work with your neighbors. Repeat every time there’s a call for volunteers to work in the park, and then it becomes an enjoyable habit. If you like to work, you’ll fit right in. 

Our Amazing Friends of McMichael Park Volunteer: Betty Miller

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax
    Dr. Seuss

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
I volunteer in McMichael Park to do something to enhance our neighborhood and make it a better place for all. By working side by side with other neighbors one gets a sense of teamwork, camaraderie and pride.

What volunteer moment are you are most proud of?

Happy to help where and when ever I can.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
As a senior member I am happy that I am still physically able to plant, cut or simply pick up sticks.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating. 
I have been a volunteer since it’s early days. I volunteer to better our community, make new friends, environmental reasons and basically help to preserve our treasured park.

What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
I would encourage all for……
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not” …….The Lorax  by Dr. Seuss.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The Lorax -Dr. Seuss