September 16, 2020
Due to the pandemic, more and more folks have begun to flock to outdoor green spaces for recreation. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also impacted how these parks are being managed. Parks in Philadelphia saw the cancelation of hundreds of volunteer events. Additionally, park maintenance was slashed due to budget cuts. With an increase in park usage came an increase in litter and fewer people to clean it up.
To address this problem, Love Your Park, a collaboration between Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and Philadelphia's Park Friends Network developed a solo cleanup program to replace the collaboration’s usual group volunteer events. This initiative offers Philadelphians a safe outdoor activity that simultaneously provides the city with critical park maintenance, thus creating clean and positive spaces for all.
Volunteers are encouraged to clean up their local parks alone or with other members of their household. Love Your Park’s Solo Cleanup Program provides Philly residents with clean-up kits that include gloves, trash bags, cleanup instructions, safety and social distancing tips, and a Fairmount Park Conservancy bandanna. Additionally, the organization encourages volunteers to track the amount of litter they remove from the parks.
To date, Love Your Park has engaged more than 500 volunteers and distributed more than 400 cleanup kits. They’ve also raised over $2,000 in donations to support the program and recruited new members to their organization. This has resulted in over 500 hours of service.
“Many of us feel a bit helpless right now, and many of us are seeking a way to find peace and community during a truly difficult time,” says Walker. “This program is giving people something positive and tangible to do, and encouraging people to explore our parks.”
Walker is the volunteer and environmental program manager at Fairmount Park Conservancy. She is developing the Conservancy’s first volunteer leadership and environmental education programs and also organizes Love Your Park. Lindsey has a Master of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and her favorite park in Philly is FDR Park.
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