How Clean and Greener Streets Empower Communities and Give Hope

#EsperanzaNews, Featured

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

—Margaret Mead

The City of Philadelphia has a progressive sustainability goal of Zero Waste by 2035. Even with that goal set, the city has many obstacles to overcome when it comes to clean streets that only with the community’s aid the city can overcome.

According to the BillyPenn, Philadelphia held the title of “National Cleanest Town” for nearly 12 years (1947-1959). Now, many called it “Philthadelphia”.

The problem? Philadelphia is the only major city in the United States without a street sweeping program.

At Esperanza, a big part of what we do is focused on neighborhood revitalization projects that beautify the streets, make the neighborhood safer, and increase prosperity for all.

Gabriella Páez, Education and Community Development Coordinator at Esperanza, leads many programs which purpose is to work towards neighborhood revitalization.

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Esperanza Housing and Economic Development (EHED) department, of which Páez is part of, have held the Tree Tenders program with the objective of accelerating the process of increasing tree canopy throughout Philadelphia.

EHED also leads street cleaning programs which bring together community members to clean the streets of Hunting Park.

“Coming together as a community to clean up our streets is extremely important to the health, the safety and the pride of our neighborhoods. While many may expect this to be the responsibility of City officials, the power to change, improve, and maintain our communities is in our hands,” said Paez.

Street cleanups are a big step towards neighborhood revitalization and community empowerment, these are a few reasons why:

1)  Improved environment: Street trash can end up on the ocean and other bodies of water, which contaminates our environment.
2) Improved public safety: Clean streets provide for pedestrians and drivers safer and healthier access that prevent collisions and other accidents.
3) Keeps sewers and drains clean: Trash in the streets can be washed away to street gutters clogging storm drains and preventing water from flowing to its destination.
4) Tourist surge: With clean streets, tourists tend to come back and even residents hang out more in public places.
5) Increased property value: Clean streets translate into a clean community that attracts potential buyers and responsible homeowners.
6) Fewer insects and pests: When you clear away debris, you confine rodents and insects to the landfill and discourage them from roaming the streets.
Sources: Clean Street LA and USA Services FL.

Going further, not only can the neighborhood feel and look better through tree planting and street cleaning, but it can also be safer.

According to The Philadelphia Citizen, studies show that cleaner and greener neighborhoods lead to lower violence rates.

“The map of deadliest or most dangerous neighborhoods in Philly is nearly identical to the piling up of trash and other factors disintegrating quality of life.”, stated the news outlet.

(Look below for a map comparison)

It is only with your help that we can improve our community and transform Philadelphia into a city filled with cleaner and safer communities.