When Not in Philly Founder Dave Brindley moved to Philadelphia 7 years ago to work for the University of Pennsylvania, he was excited about being close to work, shopping and recreation for himself and his family. What he didn’t like was the litter along his block of Chestnut St. But no mere complainer he; instead he got to work and began the task of cleaning up the litter in front of his and the neighbor’s houses. “We moved to West Philadelphia 7 years ago with a young child and another on the way. Our block had many other children and I hated the hopelessness that trash strewn streets conveyed to them….” So armed with a trash grabber and a plastic bag he improved his surroundings, made his children’s block more pleasant and thought about a way to expand this idea.
The first thing he noted was the right tools make quick work of the task at hand (it’s all about the quality of the grabber). Then he realized he was getting to know his neighbors. When he shared his idea for litter control with others he was encouraged to take it to the next level by piloting the Not in Philly anti-litter initiative in his neighborhood of Walnut Hill. From the outset, the goal was to harness technology to tackle the problem of litter. With help from the Code for Philly project and local tech firm Think Brownstone, the Not in Philly web app notinphilly.org has been launched. The app is based on an interactive map that allows the user to select their own block for cleanup. Once a resident has agreed to take responsibility for litter removal they are supplied with bags and, the already mentioned, quality grabber.
The Not in Philly approach is easy, cost effective, scalable, and sustainable.
- Anyone can sign up and more than one person can claim a block (a shared effort will take less time).
- Clean up can be done on the volunteer’s schedule (the person that claims the work is not bound to an organizational calendar).
- Group efforts can be planned with a fun tie-in (litter crawl to your favorite brew pub, litter clean up/ neighborhood walking tour) and participants will be eligible for rewards donated by local businesses.
- Social media promotion of before and after pictures will inspire litter clean up competition.
This adopt-a–block app may be a first. “No other city has their blocks segmented and selectable. We see that since this website needs minimal staffing, it could easily be copied by other cities,” explains Dave.
With PRC’s 77-year history of fighting litter in Pennsylvania, PRC and Not in Philly have established a great partnership to pilot the project in Walnut Hill and expand it to other parts of the city. PRC is currently working with Dave and the Not in Philly advisory board to secure financial and in-kind sponsors for the project. “PRC is excited to be a champion this innovative effort to fight the age-old problem of litter through new technology,” according to PRC Eastern Regional Director Mario Cimino.
To learn more about Not in Philly and show your support, visit PRC.org or notinphilly.org.