The Trash Not Taken

Illustration by NARRATOR

Wissahickon's litter problem prompts man to collect it for a year, turning it into a powerful art project

Since moving to Philadelphia from my small Central Pennsylvania hometown in 2000, the single biggest gripe I’ve had with the city is its litter problem. Many anti-litter programs have come and gone—and even exist today—and still, it persists. It was one of the main reasons I moved to considerably cleaner Portland, Oregon, in the fall of 2009.

Before I did, I took one last hike in the Wissahickon, the most scenic 1,800 acres in the Fairmount Park system. I was appalled and disheartened by the graffiti and the litter I saw trailside, in the woods, even around (but not in) the trash cans near trailheads that lead out into the park.

Read More

Friends of the Wissahickon Seeks Trail Ambassador Applicants

Trail ambassador Diane Garvey leads a hike in the WissahickonThe Friends of the Wissahickon is currently seeking applicants for their Trail Ambassadors program. Trail Ambassadors are park volunteers who assist and educate people in the park with anything from directions to safety needs to park history, flora, and fauna. Ambassadors perform their service in the park and participate in ongoing education. They become experts in the Wissahickon and have the opportunity to delve deeply into their particular topics of interest while providing a valuable public service. "Trail Ambassadors is an excellent program in the Wissahickon that helps park visitors in a variety of ways,” says Joan Blaustein, Director of  Urban Forestry and Ecosystem Management for Philadelphia’s Department of  Parks and Recreation. “The volunteers provide a great public service to the community in Northwest Philadelphia."

Trail Ambassadors share their knowledge by interacting with and providing assistance to park users while walking the trails. staffing information tables at FOW volunteer days and events, leading walks in the Wissahickon Valley and conducting surveys of park users and wildlife. FOW is offering a fall training session for this popular volunteer program. The application deadline is Friday, August 16, 2013.

"It is really nice to be part of the stewardship of the Wissahickon,” says Trail Ambassadors Education Manager Sarah West. “It lets me put my values into practice, not just talk, but actually do something. "

Training will be held on Wednesday evenings, 6 to 8 p.m., at The Cedars House from August 28 to October 9. There will also be one Saturday morning First Aid training session on Saturday, October 12, at FOW's office. Applicants accepted into the program are required to pay a $100 registration fee, sign a one-time volunteer release form, and obtain their criminal background check and child-abuse clearance.

Ambassadors must be FOW members or willing to join the organization. The number of open positions is limited. For more information, program requirements, and an application form visit Contact FOW Outreach Manager Sarah Marley with questions at or 215-247-0417 x109.

News: Tree Trim

Fairmount Park cuts down trees to make way for meadow

by Cassie Cummins

Usually when you hear about someone cutting down trees, it’s a bad thing. Not in this case: Fairmount Park’s Houston Meadow Reclamation and Management Plan is using the systematic removal of trees to restore a valued ecosystem, and return breeding birds to a beloved section of the park.
Read More