1. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  2. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  3. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  4. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  5. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  6. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  7. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  8. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  9. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  10. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  11. THE NATURE GAP
  12. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  13. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  14. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  15. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  16. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  17. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  18. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  19. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  20. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  21. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  22. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  23. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  24. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  25. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  26. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  27. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  28. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  29. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  30. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  31. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  32. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  33. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  34. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  35. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  36. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  37. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  38. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  39. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  40. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  41. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  42. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  43. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  44. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  45. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  46. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  47. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  48. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  49. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  50. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  51. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  52. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  53. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  54. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  55. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  56. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  57. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  58. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  59. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  60. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  61. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  62. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  63. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  64. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  65. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  66. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  67. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  68. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  69. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  70. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  71. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  72. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  73. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  74. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  75. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  76. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  77. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  78. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  79. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  80. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  81. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  82. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  83. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  84. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  85. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  86. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  87. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  88. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  89. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  90. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  91. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  92. Are You Going to Drink That?
  93. The Origins of ecoWURD
  94. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  95. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  96. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  97. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Saturday, October 31, 2020
  1. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  2. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  3. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  4. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  5. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  6. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  7. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  8. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  9. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  10. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  11. THE NATURE GAP
  12. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  13. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  14. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  15. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  16. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  17. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  18. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  19. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  20. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  21. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  22. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  23. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  24. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  25. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  26. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  27. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  28. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  29. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  30. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  31. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  32. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  33. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  34. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  35. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  36. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  37. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  38. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  39. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  40. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  41. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  42. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  43. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  44. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  45. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  46. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  47. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  48. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  49. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  50. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  51. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  52. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  53. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  54. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  55. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  56. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  57. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  58. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  59. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  60. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  61. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  62. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  63. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  64. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  65. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  66. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  67. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  68. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  69. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  70. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  71. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  72. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  73. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  74. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  75. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  76. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  77. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  78. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  79. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  80. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  81. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  82. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  83. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  84. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  85. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  86. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  87. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  88. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  89. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  90. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  91. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  92. Are You Going to Drink That?
  93. The Origins of ecoWURD
  94. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  95. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  96. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  97. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

… and The Toll On Its Most Vulnerable Residents

During a 2018 BET Awards’ performance of his single “Stay Woke” in Los Angeles, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill’s goal was to transform the stage into South Philly.  

What stood out was the trash. Beyond the eerily accurate depiction of urban living was the very visible images of trash strewn about. Outsiders were exposed to a vision of what many Philadelphians have experienced throughout their entire lives: the City of Brotherly Love’s definitive trash problem.

Filthadelphia — an unflattering nickname the city has grown to deal with (you can even buy a t-shirt with Philthy on the front). Some longtime natives and transplants admit to ecoWURD that while the streets and parks aren’t as wrecked as in times past, there is quite a long way to go. Certainly, in the relatively tony areas of Society Hill or Rittenhouse Square, there is little evidence of Philly’s filthy legacy as bustling eateries and bars cater to patrons who can afford five-dollar lattes and a night out on the town. But where the city’s poor dwell, specifically predominantly Black neighborhoods, there’s a very different reality.

A trip up North Broad Street is like a virtual tour of one of Philly’s most pressing and visible environmental hazards – trash, and lots of it.  For Philly natives, this issue has persisted for decades. So just what is the cost of tackling one of the city’s top environmental issues? And is it enough?

In Mayor Jim Kenney’s FY 2019 budget, $143 million of the proposed $4.6 billion budget will be allotted for the departments of streets and sanitation. In comparison, the police department gets $709 million, the prison department $256 million, public health/behavioral health $171 million, and parks and recreation will see $66 million.

What you won’t see in the proposed budget is what exactly that $143 million does, or how much is dedicated to trash elimination, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Through its information-rich Philadelphia Streets website, the city touts that over 6,000 blocks were cleaned by the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC). In existence for over 70 years and claiming 90,000 volunteers working on 9,000 clean-up events yearly, PMBC acts as a division of Philadelphia Streets. This kind of manpower is supposed to aid the “Block Captains” who lead beautification efforts by way of Philadelphia Streets. Yet, it’s clear from the prevalence of trash throughout Philadelphia, these efforts have not materialized in certain areas where the residential palette skews towards darker hues.

JUST TAKE A STROLL THROUGH THE TRASH

A visit to a local Brewerytown coffee shop sparks conversation with its owner, a West Philly native who would only identify himself to ecoWURD as “Mo.”

Mo loves talking about the city’s rustic charm. But, even he can’t deny it. Once you look past the slowly-gentrifying Brewerytown with all the classic Philly urban fixtures – narrow streets, aging stores and tough-looking block boys manning corners – the trash element dominates.

“Not even a decade ago,” Mo tells ecoWURD, “the area felt like a war zone.” Today, rapid change is afoot. An anonymous patron inside the coffee shop who overheard Mo, interjected gruffly that “this city doesn’t care about the trash or the damn environment, they just want those White boys’ money and an excuse to jack up the rent!”


SO: WHO GETS THE PHILLY SPIT-SHINE?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1hzW73czRs&w=560&h=315]

A 2016 YouTube video uploaded by Lenny King is offered without a caption. But it features what we can safely assume is King speaking off camera as he aims his smartphone on a trash crew servicing the alleyway of his home. To King, the workers showed little orderly effort and tossed about his neighborhoods’ trash receptacles like the garbage they’re supposed to contain.

King is overheard saying “they don’t do this in White neighborhoods, why they do their own people like that?” — implying that the workers were Black. The voice is weary with frustration. Imagine the weekly reminder that your neighborhood’s cleanliness is not a city priority, a city where you pay taxes and expect a level of service your dollars presumably supplement in some way? Imagine further if you’re a person who feels part of this neglect is due to the fact that you’re Black?

City trash workers haven’t shown much care for years: YouTube user Josh uploaded a surveillance camera video from 2013 that shows a worker not even putting minimal effort to pull a bag out the can and just tosses the whole thing into the back of a garbage truck. Without context and more information, it’s difficult to assess whether the can may have been damaged.  But city trash workers seem to have robbed a homeowner’s opportunity to contribute less to the trash pile up.

THE CITY’S SMELLY NUMBERS GAME

Perhaps this is just a game of numbers.

The Streets Department says it hauls 1.5 million tons of residential and commercial waste per year, carefully noting that there is a severe environmental impact by way of the towering landfills. The department also takes pains to mention that the amount of waste could be curbed by way of methods that it lays out via its CLEAN PHL initiative and other related recycling and reuse practices. CLEAN PHL’s tagline — “A Litter-Free City Starts With You” — feels like an uncomfortable challenge and not an invitation to change. It puts the onus strictly on individual residents.

In its most recent Philadelphia Resident Survey Report from 2016-2017, the city mailed out survey questions to an address-based sample of 4,500 households across the city. Only 15 percent were returned due to issues such as vacant homes and other concerns. In the surveys that were returned, the city was proud to mention that 66 percent of respondents approve of trash collection efforts but were still dissatisfied with the Streets Department overall.

Of that number, Whites were replying at twice the rate of Black/African Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders. Given the small sample of responses collected and the mere fact you can stumble into illegal dumping grounds all over North and Southwest Philly, it implies that  available data don’t reflect the real-life concerns of underserved communities.

THE SHORT-DUMPING PLAGUE

Nic Esposito, the city’s Zero Waste and Litter Director, sounds frustrated. As he talks with ecoWURD, he explains that even though city officials recognize the enormity of Philly’s trash problem, the challenges are enormous. “We’re working as quickly as possible, but the city can’t perform block-to-block miracles,” says Eposito.

“Illegal dumping has to stop. It’s more than just a quality of life issue, it’s a criminal issue,” said Esposito, his tone rising. “When we talk to more affluent people in the city, they’re not even sure what short-dumping is. But it is a danger to children. It’s despicable.”


City Hall realizes that Kensington, Strawberry Mansion and other regions are suffering from not only residents’ lax attitude toward waste management, but the rampant plague of so-called “short dumping.” Nearly a quarter of all field requests from Philly’s 311 line are for responses to illegal dumps and vacant lot clean-ups – and most of those are heavily concentrated in the North and Southwest areas of the city, according to analysis reported by WHYY’s PlanPhilly.

When asked if he thought the city’s information-rich website is the right delivery tool for missions like Zero Waste 2035 – and an effective way to level the information-gathering playing field between the city’s have and have nots – Esposito said that “CLEAN PHL was designed as a means to simplify the city’s pathways of information.”


Instead, it must follow protocols in place while collecting the data needed to one day do just that when all services are realigned. Esposito pointed to the newly announced Neighborhood Litter Plan: Southwest Philadelphia and efforts such as the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee Block Captain Network, which is largely organized by Black residents.  

But, for now, city officials seem better prepared to point out data than illustrating a clear path to cleaner neighborhoods, particularly those where Black residents are concentrated.

MORE THAN PHILLY PRIDE

CLEAN PHL has a lot of information tools offering all sorts of data on trash: like its litter index and a carefully outlined plan to bring down the city’s trash problem by 2035. What begs examination is how these programs are mapped out and delivered to communities of color that are suffering higher instances of lax trash collection and litter.

Enter Ogbonna Hagins, a passionate environmentalist who, for the past decade, has attempted to highlight city trash issues. In some ways, Hagins is a one-man recycling crew who has managed to make a business out of digging in trash to remove items that can be refurbished, reused, and, more than often, resold.

“For about 15 years, North Philly has been so bad with the trash that a clothing brand embraced it under the ‘North Philthy” brand and I’m sure it had spinoffs,” Hagins complains. “That right there is a part of it.”


The trash is more than a mere eyesore for Hagins. He views Philadelphia’s trash issue as a responsibility of its Black community  and their approach to the environment and materialism. In short, Hagins believes it’s an unfortunate consequence of residents’ misdirected consumerism mentality and that it has to change before the filth goes away.

Hagins’ observations of the city’s impoverished districts and neighborhoods are well-documented with profiles in the Philadelphia Tribune and coverage of his work by Fox 29. Hagins isn’t some grizzled relic of the free-love sixties injecting a new-age version of hippy sensibilities to the masses. What sets off the environmentalist in action is wastefulness, recklessness, and blatant disregard. He believes mindset is a big issue: Black Philly isn’t seeing its environment as a priority. Many residents are too saddled with poverty to do so, struggling to find jobs and opportunity to leave the very thing that surrounds them daily.


“North Philly is just dirty, man. And I think part of it is that people are accepting and comfortable with the trash,” Hagins explains. “And the city, I think, has done the same stepping over the trash just like the people are.”

Hagins pivoted into talking about the illegal dumping, particularly under bridgeways, saying the practice has been in effect for the past three to four decades. What Hagins strongly believes is that Philly knows that it’s an issue, as backed by Esposito’s assessment, but that City Council leaders are as complicit in Philly’s filth as are the offending parties who dump and litter.

“Every religion just about has some form of the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ and many of the elected officials profess to be of a certain religion. But term after the term, these people are continually elected back into office and nothing changes,” adds Hagins.

“These individuals don’t promote the needs of their constituency, they’re largely Afro-American, and yet they run the affairs of the poorest Black city in the country,” Hagins continues “It’s going to take leadership applying better practices, use what existing city services to better effect, and the city departments that specifically work on this issue need to do more, but all out in the open.”

For example, the Streets Department only sends out trash crews once per week, aggravating the lives of families who live in multi-tier homes or residences. In Hagins’ view, that makes the block, already struggling with litter, even dirtier. So, could something like Zero Waste 2035 work? “If the city starts in North Philly and works its way to other neighborhoods, maybe it has a chance.”


To Hagins and others, cleaning Philly must be a coordinated effort between city leadership and its residents. It can’t just be about legislation or lifestyle. It means holding elected officials accountable for creating safe, clean streets for all communities — not just the affluent ones —  while encouraging strategies that every resident, particularly in more distressed areas of the city, can embrace,implement, and ultimately replicate across all neighborhoods.