In Germantown, a push to transform Philly Clean-Up Day into an ongoing effort

Residents, community leaders and elected officials got their sweep on at Germantown and Chelten avenues to celebrate spring and set some lofty goals for the future on Saturday.

Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, state Rep. Steve Kinsey and members of the G’Town Restoration Community Development Corp. and Germantown United were among those who gathered in the heart of Germantown to do more than commemorate the sixth annual Philly Spring Clean-Up.

They looked toward a future where the clean-up isn’t just a one-day effort here.

“This effort represents a catalyst for Germantown to continue working together to showcase how great we are,” said Cornelia Swinson, director of G’Town Restoration.

More to come

Kinsey told NewsWorks that beyond the various clean-ups that took place on Saturday, he’ll take the spirit of the event into the coming weeks and months by examining and addressing vacant homes and lots across his district.

“It’s one thing to pick up papers and trash,” he observed, “but it’s another thing when you got neighbors talking about abandoned homes and trash inside of those homes.”

In addition to these efforts, beautification efforts in Germantown will return this summer.

According to Marcus von Heppinstall, a member of the Germantown Special Services District, professional cleaning crews will return to the Chelten Avenue corridor in July.

Building unity, protecting history

In Germantown, Saturday was an opportunity for community leaders to note local efforts to enhance not only the aesthetics of the neighborhood but the sense of unity within.

Kinsey hoped for those present to “continue to make history” by remaining committed to working together in a neighborhood featuring numerous historic sites.

“I hope we won’t just come together once a year to clean the neighborhoods,” he said, “but continue to make a difference with one focused vision.”

In the short term, however, Kinsey’s made a succinct analysis about Philly Clean-Up Day to the volunteers before him.

“I look at the folks who gathered here today,” said Kinsey. “We made a difference, y’all.”

Big-picture view

Deputy Streets Commissioner Donald Carlton told the dozens gathered at the heavily traveled (and littered) intersection that the clean-up event itself was more successful than originally anticipated.

“When Mayor Nutter first came to us six years ago with this idea, we had no idea where it would lead to,” he said.

In 2008, a few hundred projects citywide resulted in 1.5 million pounds of trash, which Carlton boasted was a national record for a single clean-up.

To date, more than 5.8 million pounds of trash have been collected. This year, there were more than 550 projects scattered throughout the city.

Following several stops at clean-ups throughout her district, Bass arrived at Germantown and Chelten in high spirits, evidently buoyed by the dedication of volunteers along the way.

“It’s very encouraging,” she said. “Every year, we’re fine tuning our operation.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.