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Enough Already! How Do We Protect Wild Spaces?


Urban planning at the South Philly Meadows

As a child I grew up on a small farm in a rural area outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Open land surrounded us, but little by little the developers came. Over the years I watched my treasured wild spaces turn into residential communities. As the bulldozers tore into the trees and opened the red earth, I began sneaking out at night and tearing out the surveyor's stakes.


This did not go over well at home, as my father was a civil engineer who supervised road projects, and stakes were a big deal. In the end the only thing I accomplished was getting myself into hot water, and my father was old-school, so it wasn't a good place to be. Eventually I left home and didn't have to look at it anymore.


When I moved to the Philadelphia area more than twenty years ago, I consoled myself that at least it was so built up that I wouldn't have to witness such destruction again, but I was wrong. It seems there is no avoiding this repeating pattern—too many of us possess the drive to carve up uncultivated spaces for human consumption.


Groundhog escaping earth movers.

This past spring as I rode the commuter train into the city, I could not believe it when I looked out of the window one day to see that the management of the Cobbs Creek Golf Course had laid waste to their trees—giant evergreens, sycamores, oaks. Apparently razing 100s of mature trees was part of their "restoration" plan. Community members protested, but it was too late. We could only grieve.


And then before I could catch my breath, the pattern repeated this past summer in an fallow golf course in South Philadelphia's Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. (It seems that aging golf courses are the new frontier for urban earth movers.) Area residents knew this was coming; they protested at public meetings to no avail. Now, despite having witnessed this too many times, I have no advice. I don't know how to fix it, and I don't know how to talk to people who don't see the need to protect untamed landscapes.


The only positive I have found is that some, like Philadelphia artist, Kate Kern Mundie, work to make sure we do not forget what was lost. Please read the link below which tells the story of how her art became a protest. Some selections of these works are on exhibit at the F.A.N. Gallery in Old City Philadelphia.



Kate Kern Mundie—Artist and her "Rest" collection of paintings remembering the South Philly Meadows

Have you had the experience of losing a wild space? Please share.

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The Edgemont Country Club, on West Chester Pike near Ridley Creek State Park, and near the border of Chester and Delaware counties, closed on March 26th of 2016 due to bankruptcy. The plan was to sell it and turn it into residential housing. I was speaking at a luncheon that year, and one of the guests told me that it would be a long time before anyone would be able to live on the grounds, due to the chemicals used on the grasses and the pesticides to kill the bugs. They would remain in the soil for years. I did a little digging, and also found another factoid; golf courses were built so people could escape from congested cities, trav…


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dkane0819
dkane0819
Oct 16, 2022
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I'm rooting for the bugs and the burrowers! ;)

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Guest
Oct 15, 2022

I grew up in Baltimore city. My mother grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, but she spent summers at her grandparents house in Henderson NC which is still a pretty small town, where she was basically a free range child. Her grandparent's house is gone (I think there is a school there now) but it is still a pretty small town. My dad grew up in a ghost silver mining town and he was definitely unsupervised most of the time. The town has not grown much. For whatever reason, Bob likes to live out in the country where he would prefer not to see other homes. Where we lived in RI we could see only one other house. We…


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Guest
Oct 18, 2022
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The RI house is way out by the CT border. There's nothing out there - a PO, a fire station, a library, a church, a lumber yard, and an elementary school. There was a gas station but it's gone now, and there is a general store. To get anything beyond a few canned goods or something from the deli is a 20 minute drive into town. It's on a state highway, but when we were there, there was maybe one car an hour. We lived at 5115 Flat River Rd, Coventry, RI 02827. https://www.google.com/maps/place/5115+Flat+River+Rd,+Coventry,+RI+02827/@41.6930744,-71.7154507,2357m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x89e5ccd30f55968d:0x460c9c56e76655c2!8m2!3d41.6930706!4d-71.7066616?hl=en

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Guest
Oct 14, 2022

There are many open spaces that are being gobbled up in Delaware. Now, a few of them were industrial sites. One was the old GM plant now Amazon warehouse.

Another is a old Steel Mill complex that was tourn down. Part of it is going to be a transportation complex that is next to SEPTA/AMTRAK Northeast Corridor. On the other side of the highway is this BIG open space. It would be nice to make it into a park. But it is going to be offices.

Farmland south of the canal is being swallowed up for houses.

Fortunately, the surround states are preserving land and open soace

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dkane0819
dkane0819
Oct 16, 2022
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Oh, at first I read that as Delaware was preserving open spaces. I guess humans are humans.

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