Volunteers Team Up to Green Up Philly’s New Rail Park
On the morning of Friday, October 13, we gathered over 100 dedicated volunteers under cloudy skies at Philadelphia’s 13th and Noble Streets to leave our footprint in the city. Wearing green shirts, hard hats, work boots and a work ethic that was ready for anything, we teamed up to green up over 25,000 square feet of abandoned Reading Railroad tracks to support the creation of Center City Philadelphia’s new Rail Park.
This event marked the second year of our five-year commitment to double our footprint in five U.S. cities by 2020 -- just not in the way you might expect. In each city, we aim to create or restore urban green spaces that match or exceed the combined retail footprint of our local stores in that city. We launched our commitment last year and transformed a vacant lot in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx into a community garden. This year we decided to pull on our boots for the great city of Philadelphia.
The Rail Park project is transforming a quarter mile of elevated tracks into a centrally located public green space with walkways, planted beds, seating areas, canopy trees, and swings for all to enjoy. We teamed up with the Center City District Foundation, which oversees the fundraising and construction for the Rail Park, and representatives from Journeys, Kicks USA, and Friends of the Rail Park to bring Landscape Architect and Urban Designer Bryan Hanes’ vision to life. One volunteer saw the activity through the window of her upper floor apartment a few blocks away and, eager to be a part of the action, walked over to lend her time and energy to the effort.
Together we spread over 65 yards of topsoil, planted over 800 plants, removed contaminated soil, cleaned the street debris, compiled over 100 feet of construction fencing to protect soil piles and other landscaping materials, and moved over 800 pavers to locations on the site where they were needed. To top it off, a team of volunteers planted a paper birch on site (which happens to be the state tree of New Hampshire, home to Timberland’s global headquarters) to represent our global tree planting work that has planted over 9.2 million trees since 2001.
Our urban greening effort won’t stop here. In 2018, we will travel to another city to create more public green space and be part of transforming another community in need. We’re currently on the hunt for our 2018 project, but our sights are set on Seattle or Chicago. Through our urban greening work, we aim to bring the green of the outdoors to the cities where we live, work, and explore. Be on the lookout, your community could be next!