Turtle News – November Issue 2020

by Alexis Franklin

“This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for family, friends, time for rest and play in McMichael Park, the golden tree canopy and — of course — The Turtle.”

Many thanks to The William Penn Charter School students who painted the repaired benches in McMichael Park. Bench repair was recently completed by PP&R. The paint materials were supplied by The Friends of McMichael Park. The students had a great time “being green” on this Friday afternoon in November. Awesome! (photo credits: Tom Rickards)

(photo credits: Regina Maxwell, Beth Gross-Eskin and Alexis Franklin)

Signs of Love Your Park Solo throughout McMichael Park are visible with some seasonal additions of scarecrows, pumpkins and mums. Fall leaves bring such beauty to the scenery with festive oranges and yellows. To rake or not to rake? The old school thinking was to remove every leaf from the lawn. The advice today is that dead leaves, handled well, can help the environment, improve the grass and give you time to enjoy that hot chocolate on an autumn day. Mulching leaves is accomplished by breaking down the leaves in small pieces, usually by mowing them. Tiny particles of mulched leaves improve the lawn. The mulched leaves set around the tree pits, and grass puts nitrogen back in the soil as decomposition takes place. This process works better if mulched several times during the season. Be careful, as a heavy layer of fallen leaves can smother the turf.

Some leaf litter also benefits certain habitat for winter months. Toads and earthworms, some butterflies and moths use leaves as their homes for the winter season. A toad was seen during one of our story hours with Falls of Schuylkill librarian, Ms. Meredith … where there is one, there are many!

The process of mulching leaves in McMichael Park by PP&R was discontinued several years ago. Today, the leaves are bagged and taken to the city’s recycling center for composting. Never mix trash or other recyclable materials with bagged leaves. This contaminates leaves and makes them unfit for recycling purposes. In the spring, the composted mulched leaves are returned to neighborhood parks upon request. The Friends of McMichael Park are grateful to the volunteers who provide this service for McMichael Park. Please be aware the McMichael Park is not a leaf drop off location. For drop-off details and leaf collection schedules visit PhiladelphiaStreets.com/leaves or call 311.

Congratulations to Frank and Mary Kaderabek on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. Their family surprised them with a tree planted in McMichael Park through the Gift for All Seasons Program. A Black Tupelo, “Nyssa Sylvatica” was planted by PP&R’s Jim Moffatt. Thank you. What a lovely addition and enhancement to McMichael Park.

There is still no “caution “signage in the McMichael Park playground construction area at this time. Please avoid this danger area, including the sidewalk along Coulter St. Construction began two months ago. As of this printing the status of the permit for this project is still pending. The photo above is the signage used to manage the playground construction in Gold Star Park (615 Wharton St.).

Caution from PP&R: While more people are spending time outside, PP&R urges citizens to continue to be vigilant and careful, and follow the Green Phase Best Practices for PFN for all activities. 

Park Friends Network (ONLINE) Meeting
Thursday, November 12th
Please mark your calendars and join us for our next Park Friends Network Meeting on Thursday, November 12th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM online via Zoom. We’ll share important updates and information.

Turtle News: September 2020 Back to School in McMichael Park- Signs of Positivity

by Alexis Franklin

The Friends of McMichael Park were unable to offer any of our planned events this year, but as students head back to school, McMichael Park will be activated with an educational twist. It has been a challenging year and no one can put a pin in this pandemic. Now is the time when a new school year begins and students are being asked to adjust to a new normal.

Jefferson University Cleans Up McMichael Park

On August 21st, The Friends of McMichael Park hosted ten incoming Jefferson University students lead by team leader/senior Alaina McIlhenney. The students — all wearing face masks, and armed with bags, gloves and trash grabbers — traversed the park and picked up trash and stockpiled branches at various corners. It was a hot Friday afternoon but for two hours the students enjoyed the open green space as they got to know one another. Fun fact: Several of the students walked over from the Ravenhill campus where they had just moved in. They had a laugh when they heard they were housed in the old classroom of FOMP Coordinator, Alexis Franklin where she attended high school. Thanks to Louise McShane for her organizing efforts mobilizing the new students into the neighborhood.

Middle and High School Students from William Penn Charter Join In

The William Penn Charter School students will return for a new semester the first week in September, and are planning to hold outdoor classrooms in McMichael Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. This will include meditation and yoga classes to be held in the open meadow. On Friday afternoons the group will offer a community service hour, where students will bring rakes and shovels to McMichael Park for regular cleanup. FOMP will supply bags and gloves, while students keep McMichael Park looking good and green. Thanks to Tom Rickards from Penn Charter for partnering with the Friends of McMichael Park.

Don’t Forget the Little Ones

“Music with Gina” will begin early September on Wednesday mornings. Some may remember Gina when she performed with her band at Love Your Park in May/2018. FOMP volunteer Geoff Brock recommends Gina, saying, “She’s such a talented, positive, cheerful performer and has the kids in motion and memorizing the songs.” Something tells us that Geoff is the biggest kid in the class. Gina requested McMichael Park, and saying, “It would be awesome to be more free and have lots and lots of space to keep everyone at least six feet apart on their blankets.” FOMP agrees that McMichael Park is an awesome green space. Music with babies/toddlers and their caregivers. Bring a blanket, instrument, and scarf! Class begins at 10:00 AM every Wednesday.

Web Site: www.musicwithgina.com 

Instagram: @musicwithgina

Facebook: Music with Gina

Signs of Positivity….Appreciate the outdoor signs that were funded by a group of neighbors to honor the Friends of McMichael Park as part of its 30th Year Anniversary.

Stay up to date with the Friends of McMichael Park:

Facebook: FriendsOfMcmichaelPark

Instagram: friendsofmcmichael

From Philadelphia Parks and Recreation – Wednesday, September 9th at 6:00 PM
Dear Park Friends, 

The Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Fairmount Park Conservancy Stewardship Team is excited to invite you to our second online Park Friends Network Meeting on Wednesday, September 9th at 6:00 PM!
To join the meeting, please follow these steps: Click here to register for the meeting. Enter your name (as it will be seen on the screen), and email address. You will then receive a confirmation email with the meeting link. On the day of the meeting just click on that meeting link to join. Note: If you have not used Zoom before, you will be prompted to download their software (or App if you are joining via smartphone). 
The agenda will cover several important topics, including: COVID-19 Update, Love Your Park Fall Service Day, Parks & Rec Operations Update, and PFN Park Field Trips (formerly known as PFN Bus Tour)

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

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