By: Ade Fuqua
In the Fall of 2012, I partnered with local leaders Jahmall Crandal of I.A.M.S.P., Jeffery Tubbs of Urban Roots, the Office of Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and the Office of State Representative Jordan Harris to develop a plan for the revitalization of the Ralph Brooks Tot Lot on 20th & Tasker. The “Tot Lot” is a highly used play area with a mural that pays respect to over 100 young people that have fallen as a result of violent crime in Point Breeze. This play area has a huge significance to community members and is in very poor condition. The first project to kick off the revitalization efforts occurred on the Martin Luther King Day of Service 2013. There were over 75 volunteers from the community as well and several volunteers from the Managing Director’s Office including Deputy Mayor/Managing Director Richard Negrin. During that day, local artists and volunteers cleared vacant lots adjacent to the playground and did a creative art project to give the Tot Lot new life. There was also a very special donation from the Mural Arts Guild Program of 13 new benches installed that day. Following MLK Day, there was a creative art project where PhillyRising partnered with the young people of BuildOn in Furness High School. This project dubbed “The Bench Project” was a paint day event where the young people put colorful and expressive art work on all of the newly installed benches.
A new design has been created for the Tot Lot; now fundraising has become the focus for the proposed million dollar revitalization project. Thanks to generous donations from Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the Philadelphia Water Department, Urban Roots, Sneaker Villa, Ritter & Plante Engineers and ACE Mentor the project has already raised over $230k to date. During a recent community meeting, residents expressed enthusiasm and thanks to the many people involved in the project. The father of Ralph Brooks (the parks namesake who was shot nearby 20 years ago) was emotional at a recent community meeting and expressed gratitude for the team’s commitment. As the project continues, the PhillyRising team looks forward to engaging new partners with good ideas and community residents to participate in upcoming events at the Tot Lot.
Ade Fuqua is PhillyRising’s South Division Coordinator. Ade.firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for PhillyRising updates every Friday.