Garden of Eden: North Philly Gets Green Makeover

I remember the days when I would travel through eastern North Philadelphia—on my bike to Temple University or in my mom's car to grade school—and look around, feeling sad for this devastated area of the city. Run down. Decayed. Abandoned buildings and homes.

That's why I was so happy to come across this article on Philly.com (also the cover story in today's Daily News) about Nilda Ruiz, head of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), and her vision for the area:

Why, she wondered, can't inner-city Puerto Ricans and African-Americans live in harmony in beautiful houses with gardens, just like the suburban families she glimpsed through car windows on trips along Routes 611 and 29 to visit friends?

And Ruiz has accomplished just that.

...spread over more than 10 square blocks between 5th and 9th streets, from York to Jefferson, APM has developed 210 low-income rental units, 136 home-ownership units, a Cousin's Supermarket and a TruMark Financial Credit Union.

APM also has stabilized 100 older neighborhood homes, through the city's Basic Systems Repair program, so that longtime residents are full partners in the community rebirth.

Ruis has helped restored some dignity to this area, and she's doing it the green way. APM's plan includes gardens and pocket parks, and 13 energy-efficient homes are currently under construction on Sheridan Street near Berks. As Ruiz's friend and colleague Rosa Gray told the Daily News, "Greening is the thread that weaves our community together."