Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Carla and Ron Bednar

Carla and Ron just celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary at home in East Falls….they have been a valuable asset to McMichael Park over the years. Cheers!
“Service is the rent we pay for living.” – Marian Wright Edelman



What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
Volunteering is FUN!  We enjoy meeting up with old friends and new neighbors to rake, plant, prune, and keep McMichael Park the jewel of East Falls, that it is.   

What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
We are proud to see the spirit of community, as folks of all ages and backgrounds come together in service of our beautiful park.  Personally, we love taking care of the holly and feel a sense of accomplishment in its yearly cleaning, pruning, and tending to. 


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?
The biggest challenge as park volunteers has been to keep up the pace and intensity of activity as we become older.  It’s great to see students, young professionals, and families get involved!
 

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

We haven’t kept track of our volunteer time; perhaps it’s been a decade, or two, or three.  We love the sense of community spirit that volunteering brings – we get back much more than we give!


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

To friends and volunteers in East Falls and beyond – it takes a village to keep McMichael Park beautiful.  Thanks to all who do!

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

Turtle News – March 2020 “Where’s the Batter?”


“Where’s the Batter?” 

by Alexis Franklin / Coordinator Friends of McMichael Park (1990-2020)

As The Friends of McMichael Park celebrate 30  years of volunteering, we look ahead to additional volunteer participation in our neighborhood during the 2020 calendar year and beyond.

Maintaining the Park has been a labor of love for The FOMP community members, and our efforts over 30 years at rehabilitating and maintaining a pristine green park in Philadelphia have obviously brought McMichael Park to the attention of all levels of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the greater City of Philadelphia. 

Commissioner Kathryn Ott-Lovell and Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr. are now completely committed to building a playground in the park, an endeavor that would never have been initiated had McMichael Park not been elevated to the status and outstanding condition it has achieved. All solely and diligently thanks to The FOMP group. 

McMichael Park exists because of the volunteer commitments of the members in The FOMP group.  It has been restored to its original design and has become a respite from city strife and the core and epicenter of neighborhood activities. Noticeably absent from volunteer activities are those individuals who support a playground. The FOMP has always and regularly promoted open meetings, service days, theater, children’s events and clean-up activities. Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to participate. 

The volunteer events hosted by The FOMP are open to all, and are always prominently advertised as such. The FOMP has made multiple attempts to include playground supporters in volunteer events, but the loose assemblage of individuals have not participated, or moved away.  Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has been unable to provide a local point of contact for this group. 

This is very disconcerting.

It not only speaks volumes to the commitment level of these neighbors, but also because Commissioner Ott Lovell in her presentation at a recent neighborhood East Falls Community Council meeting in January stated: “You must be committed 100 percent. So ‘batter up’ and participate.”

Where is the batter?

As much as The FOMP has sought to include playground supporters in volunteer activities, this group has consistently and repeatedly failed to show up to help.  “Where is the batter?” is an oxymoron for this group.

They are not even in the ballpark.

The FOMP has hosted between five to seven volunteer events on an annual basis. These include the popular Lovelights — the annual fundraiser now in its 21st year. An event that sees The FOMP group light the Anniversary Tree in a spectacular array of red lights for Valentine’s Day. There are multiple park cleanups, bench paintings, summer story readings for children, the annual Shakespeare in the Park theater performance, pet adoptions, and summer movie nights.   

These events take time, talent, energy and money. 

The FOMP estimates that in its 30 year history it has invested the equivalent of $1.5 million USD in time, talent and energy; volunteer work in lieu of compensation, like kind contributions of sweat and creativity. In addition, The FOMP members have donated thousands of dollars consistently and without reservation to the upkeep of the park. 

The FOMP has a 30-year history of not only “stepping up to the plate,” but “knocking it out of the park” with our volunteer events, every time at bat. The Commissioner was not referring to the existing Friends of McMichael Park!

The East Falls Community Council measures support for the  playground by the clapping of hands at their meetings. This is not a popularity contest. Who from that group is stepping up to the plate?  Who is in the dugout?

The FOMP group, most recently stepped up to the plate again for the upcoming Lovelights celebration on February 14, 2020 (Valentine’s Day) and they are planning Love Your Park Activities  for May/June 2020.

Again, we look forward to your participation and invite you to get in the game. 

Visit the Friends of McMichael Park page on Facebook to keep track all upcoming events in McMichael Park: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfMcmichaelPark/

As part of our Thirty year celebration: please connect with our page highlighting our individuals with reflections from our humble beginnings. #FOMP30  https://mcmichaelparkturtlefriends.com/
Save the Date! Love Your Park Week
May 9 – 17, 2020
Love Light/2020 Volunteers raised $1200.00 with generous donations from our community.(l-r) Peter Logan, Christina Kistler, Robert Robinowitz, Alexis Franklin, Beth Gross-Eskin and John-david Franklin
Love Your Park starts planing now!
Mark your calendars as events are starting in McMichael Park during this year’s Love Your Park Week! Need some inspiration? Check out past events here that were held in McMichael Park and other parks.  Stay tune for more information to follow in the coming month. 

Registration for Park Friends will open on March 2nd.

Please join in for the next PFN meeting on March 11th from 5:30-7:30pm at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, 100 N. Horticultural Dr (click here for map). As always, up to three members of your Friends Group are invited to attend! If interested in attending…Contact Alexis Franklin: Lexy3904@gmail.com

We will be serving dinner at 5:30 and start the meeting promptly at 6:00, covering several important topics, including:Love Your Park Week | May 9 – 17!PFN Registration 2020 RecapPreview of new Love Your Park WebsitePark Friends Activity Report raffle*We will provide a free shuttle to the Horticulture Center, leaving from 1515 Arch Street at 5:15pm and returning to the same location afterwards.
WHEN 

Wednesday, March 11th
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

WHERE
Fairmount Park Horticulture Center
100 N. Horticultural Dr 
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Geoff Brock

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
Sense of community.  Interacting with my neighbors. Seeing results as the condition and beauty of the park continued to improve.
What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Keeping Alexis from murdering Mike DiBerardinis, then Recreation Commissioner, even though he deserved it.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?
Aside from getting older, none.  But we do need more young folks to receive the torch.  Those that come out now are an encouragement.
How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
Since the 1980s.  This is our community.  While the City has responsibility for it, we know that for many reasons, the City will not provide satisfactory services for maintaining this space.  The photos I took in 1984 convincingly make this point.  Nothing is sustainable without on-going commitment of creativity, materials and labor.  This is what we, together, bring to this park.  I occasionally look at the old photos and get encouraged by the current condition of the park.  There’s still more to do, though.
What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
First, go into the park often and enjoy it. Communicate with each other about what you see.  This could be something positive you wish to share or a sprig of poison ivy that needs to be pulled out.  Get on the social media sites for the park.  Back when the park was somewhat of an unmaintained hell hole, people tended not to go in there. Consequently, it attracted dumping, sketchy characters (including a murder), etc.  With community members regularly in the park, it tends to discourage abuse.  And while you’re there, feel free to pick up a few fallen branches and place them by a trash can.  

McMichael Park – 1984. Grass was sky high. The bushes around the War Memorial required the FOMP volunteers to prune and maintain annually. Eventually they were removed.

Geoff continues to volunteer in McMichael Park.  Photo from Spring/2019 Love Your Park Service Day.
McMichael Park – 1984. Trash cans were overflowing which attracted rodents. The FOMP pruned all trees twenty feet from the base for safety reasons. Park usage increased as the Friends continued to maintain.

Celebrating 30 Years of Amazing FOMP Volunteers

February – 2020

Tom Williams (left) and Keith Schively were the original volunteers of Friends of McMichael Park

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park? 
Getting to know our neighbors from all parts of East Falls and making the Park appear cared for then and continuing for many years.

What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Getting started by Tom and Keith painting benches by themselves and overcoming feeling like a dweeb.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
 
Forcing ourselves to work with and be polite with some administrative persons we did not like and coming to realize that our ideas were not always the best.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
     
From the beginning of the FOMP Group (1990) until 2000 when we moved to Bala Cynwyd.  It has been our observation that a more cared for public place will attract more responsible people to use it.  Both of us were also discouraged – – perhaps taken aback that the judges, lawyers and city employed professionals living in East Falls did not see or comprehend what was happening to their park. We did not want to live across the street from a derelict city property so I/we worked to change it with Alexis. Eventually some of the categories we mentioned did come round.  It is so easy to criticize people who live in run down, trash strewn areas and there we were, more educated, and social professional standing and WE were letting that happen to our Philadelphia neighborhood.  Someone had to get the ball rolling and it fell to us to do that.  A lot of thanks should go to Herb Henze and the late Sallie Maser for their help


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?     
Don’t feel self conscious about your interest to improve your neighborhood.  If you build it eventually they will com to help.  Be tenacious.  People will stop looking at you like you are strange and eventually join you.