Cleaning the Creek

Earlier today I went out with a few other people to help remove an invasive species of vine from a vegetation bed adjoining a creek in Jenkintown, PA known as the Ethel Jordan Park. It was tough working in the midday heat and trying to identify the right plant while getting dirty because I did not dress properly. I was wearing what is basically my best sneakers and they got muddy as I searched through the thick vegetation looking for the troublesome plants. I also reconnected with some familiar faces in what I deem as the local environmental conglomerate. We all managed to collect a large pile of the invasive plant and stock them on a tarp to be collected on Monday.

Ethel Jordan Park was named in 1999 and is the namesake of a Jenkintown crossing guard and community servant. The grounds where we worked was planted on November 6th and 7th of 2015 to help absorb the runoff rainwater heading from the park to the stream. The vine we tried to eliminate is native to Japan and Northern China and was brought to the US in 1870 as an ornamental landscaping plant. Birds and other species eat the fruit and spread the seeds, and the seeds can also be spread by water.

There was one particular conversation I had with a fellow volunteer that stood out to me, however.

Towards the end of the day, an older lady and I started chatting about the health of the creek and what we were doing during that moment. She explained the history of disorder the rain had caused because of ineffective runoff structure and how it enabled the pollution of the creek. She told me about sinkholes which had formed in the past and how the thick vegetation we were working acted as a sort of sponge to aid in the filtration and groundwater preservation process. The roots of the thick brush helped keep soil intact and prevented erosion, as anyone with environmental knowledge would assume. We also unclogged a nearby drain in a rainwater depository (not sure of the proper term) and it flowed into a rock bed for further filtration. I also became familiar with the level of pollution in Philadelphia’s waterways and how things aren’t quite where they should be in terms of environmental protection. Our entire conversation just inspired me to become even more active in helping clean up and maintain a healthy community, not just for me but for all sentient life forms.

It still seems as though environmental protection, or at least the less publicly visible entities, are overlooked and ignored by local townships and Philadelphia city government for obvious reasons. Obviously, there is a lack of resources to help and aid these issues. I would go as far as to say there might be some sort of lack of ethics in concern with environmental health, but I don’t know too much about that. What I can say from the little I’ve seen today is that our local community still has a long way to go in how we care for our natural environment. On the bright side, while I was making my way back home from the DMV I noticed a trash can labeled “litter” on the sidewalk in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia and the walkway it was in front of looked clean enough to eat off of. It was nice to see that there are people who take the time to clean up and care.

Thanks to Ryan for helping me get the information I needed for this post.

-Isaiah Dix


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