Notes from the 2017 Winter Quality of Life Meeting

By Janet Finegar — February 21, 2017

We began by making a list of as many problems/sources of trash on the street as possible. [This list, with a lot of more details about all of the below, will be sent to everyone who attended the meeting or expressed an interest in getting information, and will also be posted on Facebook as a document sometime later today. If you’re interested in getting more information, send a message to Lara at trash@nlna.org]

The list of problems inevitably led to some suggestions of small-scale solutions. We quickly reviewed the various actions that the City of Philadelphia and the NLNA are already taking to combat trash on the street and discussed some of the difficulties, limitations, and roadblocks to those efforts.

There was a general agreement to the assertion that our community needs to take local action in addition to what’s already in place to make a real difference. A few ideas were floated as ways that community members can help with a variety of skills:

  • EVERYONE: use the City’s 311 reporting system for problems, and then tell Lara about the report and ticket number so she can track and follow up (trash@nlna.org). 311 can help with all kinds of issues – even things like repeat-offender neighbors putting out trash wrong.
  • ANYONE: join the Quality Of Life committee to keep helping with ongoing issues (especially with city-based issues like getting more/better street trash cans or to build resources/connections within the neighborhood). Let Lara know at trash@nlna.org that you want to be a part!
  • GRAPHICS SKILLS: help create fliers/brochures/signs/education for the community
  • ANYONE: Start hyper-local organizing on your own block – reach out to neighbors to solve problems right there, organize a block cleanup for the citywide clean up day (4/8) or any other day (NLNA has tools/resources), start a Facebook group/listserv for your block, and keep the NLNA in the loop about what you’re doing.
  • DATA SKILLS: Help create a database for Northern Liberties that could record all kinds of block-by-block information (street can locations, problem areas, vacant lots, street trees, parking issues. . . everything)
    1. Once that database exists, many volunteers needed to do data input for their own block
    2. Plus ongoing maintenance of the database once it exists
  • SOCIAL SKILLS: Help develop, plan, and implement a community-wide direct outreach program to reach every door in the community with Quality of Life information, NLNA information, and a small gift.

That’s the very broad outline. I’m about to work on the detailed description of all this, but the main point is that what we need most of all right now is community commitment to enforcing a set of standards that we all live by – effective complaining, if you will.

A lot of questions and a lot of thornier issues remain – many of them centered around what to do when these kinds of friendly outreach don’t work. Those are the conversations going forward and are things for us all to think about. Many many more ideas are welcome!