Wednesday, May 23

The Norris Square Neighborhood Project
is hosting some amazing events for the community this month and next.

 Last night they had their Schmooze and Booze for gardeners, and sustainably-minded professionals and community members to check out one of their amazing gardens, see what the youth program has been creating in their photography display, meet some gardeners and staff.

They host movie nights on the first Thursday of the month, like the upcoming Muppets Movie in June (I missed Back to the Future last week), a Children's Fair this Saturday and their big event, Festival de Bambulae on June 16th, 4-8 pm with a pig roast, bomba dancing, veggie options, art show and more.

Started by neighbor Iris Brown on vacant lots above Norris Square Park, the garden and community space features a house, sheds, community eating, gathering, farming areas and a stage, and African Village for storytelling.  The program has blossomed to include afterschool programming for all ages and uses project-based learning for self-directed studies with students.

 Every inch of the garden has be decorated with paint, sculptures, seating areas, lush plantings and the mature trees offer dappled shade which is perfect for relaxing.  The winding paths and garden rooms make for a kid friendly space for exploring and creating. A kitchen, pig roasting pit and chicken coops show that cooking is an essential part of the garden.

They also participate in a food program with St. Christopher's Hospital where members can pick up a box of fresh produce every month for $10-$15. After Iris's retirement, they elected a new director and their staff, advisory board and board of directors created a Strategic Plan which they passed out to the community at the event. Community engagement, cultural preservation, creativity and collaboration make up some of their core goals. They hope to sustain their vision for the future with creative fund-raising with events like the one last night.

Stop by some of the gardens this weekend.  They have workdays on Saturdays and Thursdays. W. Susquehanna St. on N. Palethorp St., north of Norris Square Park (one of their 7 sites) is a short walk from the Berks Market Frankford El stop.

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