Graffiti Written At FDR Meadows

from Twitter

We love art at the Meadows

Solidarity Action Communique

Submission

On the night of November 5th, a small group of Anti-colonial Anarchist settlers in Lenapehoking blockaded a chokepoint of a high frequency railway in Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en resisting drilling in the Wedzin Kwa and all those resisting colonial capitalist development and infrastructure all across Turtle Island and the World!

It was a very simple and easily replicable action using commonly found blockade materials that were near the tracks already.

We hope to inspire many more and frequent railway blockades as an effective action to disrupt colonial and ecocidal infrastructure all across Turtle Island and Globally.

Shut down Canada, Colonialism, and Capitalism everywhere!

Protesters Call Attention to Development and Gentrification in Philadelphia

from Unicorn Riot

 

Philadelphia, PA – A number of groups are rallying and marching on Saturday afternoon around concerns regarding how space and development in the city are controlled, the day’s call is about “democratizing development.” The group is gathering at FDR Park in South Philly.

Follow our livestream here:

[Video]

Organizer flyers included some of the key concerns. According to an event page the attendee groups include “Philly Thrive, Sunrise Movement, VietLead, Save UCTownhomes, Save the Meadows, RECLAIM, PSL, Cobbs Creek EJ”.

One major concern is the redevelopment of a massive Southwest Philly refinery site which was the site of a massive, dangerous fire in 2019. Highly toxic hydrofluoric acid was released, and an explosion launched a section of a tank all the way across the Schulykill River. On October 11 the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released its final report on the disaster including a gripping video animating the sequence of events. Despite the many decades of chemical exposure on nearby neighborhoods, the public has been largely shut out of the redevelopment process (including a recently shelved, long sought community meeting with the development company).

[Video]

Another issue raised by organizers is the rapid redevelopment of FDR Park itself, which they argue put people at risk by felling trees without warning. Unicorn Riot released a closer look at the park site in September.

Another topic raised by organizers is the impending eviction of 70 families on Market Street. UC Townhomes residents have been struggling to reprieves from eviction this year — the Save the Townhomes campaign has pushed for more time and demanded ‘just compensation’ for the sale deal, part of a long history of displacement including eminent domain in the 1960s.

Organizers are also calling attention to Chinatown residents who are “having another stadium forced on them” after “fighting off a casino and a stadium.”

Cover aerial photo by Trev Adams.

Meadows Interviews, Unabridged

from Anathema

Anathema sat down with two people involved in defending the FDR meadows. Below are the complete transcriptions of the interviews with each of them.

First Interview
Anathema: Would you like to introduce yourself?

I am somebody who likes to hang out at the Meadows. I live close by. I have been involved in some land and anti-gentrification struggles in Philly for awhile and now I’m participating with different folks under different names organizing to try to stop the development at the meadows.

Anathema: Can you tell us a little bit about FDR park, the Meadows, and the development taking place there?

Yeah, I don’t know about the original history of this park. I know for long term residents of Philly, FDR park is called the Lakes because of the big bodies of water here. I think FDR park was built around these golf courses, and The Meadows was a golf course for a century. It was repeatedly flooded and decommissioned as a golf course in 2018. Although even when it was a golf course, you hear stories about people who have used this land to make a connection to nature. People have stories about foraging all kinds of stuff from South Philly communities. It’s kind of one of the last wild spaces in the South Philly area.

The development that’s taking place here, it’s titled “The Master Plan for FDR Park.” It is an ongoing city plan to raise the elevation of certain areas of the park and add 12 new sports fields. The plan is also connected to development plans with the Philadelphia Airport, which wants to expand and is destroying 40 acres of wetland. By law, it has to restore a comparable amount of wetland. So funds for the redevelopment of this park are funds from the airport to offset the wetland destruction there. They’re also going to “improve” 35 acres of wetlands here at FDR Park.

Anathema: What have the struggles against the development looked like so far? What’s happening?

I heard about it through these meetings happening in the Spring of 2022. They were organized mostly by this one person but under the banner of The People’s Plan for FDR Park. It brought a bunch of people to the park and made people more aware of the imminent development plans. I’m not a long term resident of Philly, I just started exploring the wild space here during the pandemic. So The People’s Plan for FDR Park were trying to let people know that the city had imminent plans to develop it. But the organization of The People’s Plan for FDR Park was more about convincing the city to change the Master Plan to actually include what people want for the park.

From there, a bunch of people were like, okay, The People’s Plan for FDR Park is not the avenue for struggling against this development. It wasn’t for everybody. It wasn’t decentralized. It was very centralized and hierarchical; not super supportive of people working autonomously. After that initial meeting, there were lots of splinters–people branching out and asking what we want to happen here. Do we want this to stay a meadow? Do we actually want the city’s ecological restoration plans to move through, but not the sports fields? There were a lot of conversations about how we are going to organize. One contingent that I was a part of was trying to map out the ecology here, to figure out what species of trees, bugs, animals have a home here. And to encourage more people to come down and hang out. It is a bit far south, and I know a lot of people who have never been to the Meadows. Wanting to encourage and grow other people’s connection to the space before development happened.

The dates for when the destruction was going to happen were pretty unclear. There were people from the parks saying it’ll happen in 2023, people saying it’ll happen in June 2022. There was a kind of waiting or complacency maybe, because we didn’t know when it would happen. There wasn’t a big offensive push. I think that equipment got staged in late August, and there was push back. People…serviced the machines that arrived *laughs.* I think there were a lot of people doing different things, discussing whether construction people had permits, or thinking of ways to put pressure on the construction company. People trying to put pressure on city officials in ways that had no real effect whatsoever.

At first, when the destruction happened in late August, there wasn’t a clear construction zone. Lots of people were just out and about amongst the destruction, kind of putting themselves at risk in hopes that the construction company would get some kind of retribution for endangering people. That didn’t have much effect. They put up more solid fencing pretty immediately. In the first week of destruction, people were messing with equipment, people may or may not have spiked some trees. That stopped the destruction for a week. The place was swarming with cops and the unusable machinery got replaced.

They did the destruction pretty quickly after that. I feel like they were destroying dozens of acres a day. After a few weeks in which there wasn’t much real material resistance, they had cleared like 70 acres. From what I hear, all they have funding for is this first phase of destruction. As far as I know, now that the first 70 acres are destroyed, there’s gonna be a pause. I’m not sure what the development schedule is, or what their priorities are…it seems with the FIFA bid for the World Cup, creating the soccer field is gonna be a priority. I don’t know if they’re going to do the wetland restoration first. I know that they’re going to move a 4 story soil mound pretty close to the entrance of the Meadows, which they’ll use to try to raise certain areas. As far as the schedule for what’s up next for the developers, I’m not sure.

Anathema: How have the city, the cops, the neighbors responded to the struggle for the Meadows?

The city doubled down on its greenwashing media blasts. The Inquirer and other news outlets are like “The protesters are out of control!” or “Why the city needs the development at FDR Park.” They’re just pushing a narrative that they’re trying to make the space better, of course. Gentrification. They’re trying to make the park welcoming to sports people.

A response from neighbors…I’ve definitely seen people who are used to using the land express heartbreak and dismay that they can’t access the space, that it’s being destroyed.

I think the city has a lot of talking points that seem to be pretty convincing for people, that sports fields are about equity for young people of color in the city. How this project for them is about creating more equity. People seem really confused about that. Trying to represent this wild space that people already use as needing to undergo some kind of city developed equity and inclusion transformation…people seem to be buying it. I haven’t heard any neighbors express excitement. I’ve heard some people be like, “Hopefully it’s worth it.”

What I have heard from neighbors is dismay or anger, and confusion.

The cops…I feel like the police presence was heavy for awhile, and was coming down to interrupt arts and youth programming just to intimidate people using the space. They definitely set up a lot of new fences, and there’s tons of signs saying “A wetland is coming to this space.” They city’s increasing its greenwashing efforts, the space has gotten new fences, there is a heavier police presence here. There was a 24 hour cop station here for awhile, but I don’t know if they’re still here.

Anathema: You kind of touched on this already, but a lot of the land in FDR has already been cleared. Has this changed how people are struggling and what are some of the next steps in light of this clear cutting, leveling, and bringing in dirt?

I think that once the destruction started and it was kind of clear that we were slow on having both an offensive and a defensive strategy. Once we weren’t able to hold ground anymore, a lot of people were like “Oh fuck, we lost.” I guess it’s real to feel disheartened. People have distanced themselves from this struggle.

There’s still around 100 acres of land that hasn’t been touched, that they plan to develop. There’s still a lot worth defending here. Trying to get ahead of what the developer’s plans are makes sense as a strategy. There could be a long lull until they get enough money to move forward. And continuing to make the project financially unviable for them will always benefit us in trying to stop them.

People are still doing programming to keep people connecting to the space and aware that the space hasn’t been destroyed; it’s still open, there’s a lot of life here. With winter coming, hopefully it’s a time to strategize.

Anathema: What would you say to anyone who wants to take part in defending the Meadows?

I would say there’s a lot of ways to do that. There are a lot of people invested in this project for whatever reason–annoying them and making their lives difficult is great. I think a lot of people would probably enjoy that. There’s still a lot of open space here to have parties, bring people out. I think A&P construction and the other subcontractors who stand to gain from this project…it definitely makes sense to try to make their lives more difficult.

If you’re looking for offensive or defensive entry points, there are many.

Anathema: Do you think there’s anything people outside of Philadelphia can do to contribute to this struggle?

I feel like having solidarity, especially in land defense struggles but I’m thinking in particular urban land defense struggles – like the Atlanta forest, or stopping big development projects. Continuing to boost each others’ struggles and bringing attention to them is bugging the people who stand to gain from them. Those people, those companies exist in different cities. It feels really good, fun, and exciting to be learning from each others’ strategies and boosting each other in those efforts.

Anathema: Totally. Is there anywhere people can follow these struggles and keep themselves informed about what’s going on around the Meadows?

Yeah, I think the news source I trust the most at the moment about it is the Save the Meadows. They have a website savethemeadows.com. The instagram account is @savethemeadows.

Anathema: What would you say are some strengths and weaknesses of the struggle to defend the Meadows?

Some strengths are that our opponents in this struggle–the city, parks and rec, the developers, the cops–are really stupid. The people involved in defending the Meadows are more creative and smarter.

There is a difference in resources, obviously. The city has machinery that can facilitate destruction really fast. The city’s monopoly on violence and destruction is an obstacle to work around. But I feel like there are a lot of artists, smart and brave people involved in the struggle. A disadvantage is that this plan created by the city precedes a lot of our knowledge. They had a big head start.

Hopefully we can outlast them. Their resources are going to run out and be dependent on other companies coming in to boost how they move forward with this project. If we can stay creative and continue to engage with this space, then that’ll be a strength.

Anathema: What are some of the biggest tensions involved in people defending the Meadows?

Politically, a lot of people involved are still invested in a centralized decision making around what happens here, whether that’s collaborating with the city or having a centralized organization. Of course you don’t have to participate in that, but a lot of organizers are still thinking in terms of how they can get other people to do things instead of doing the things that they want to do, or encouraging people to do the things they want to do. Maybe that’s an issue with how we imagine projects getting done, or how we imagine working together for a shared goal. There is a desire amongst some of the organizers to continue a top down model, and it’s a lot of work to continually challenge that.

Second Interview

Anathema: Would you like to introduce yourself?2.

I do a lot of autonomous work. That’s why I’m around.

Anathema: Can you tell us a little bit about FDR park, the Meadows, and the development taking place there?

I live in the suburbs and to be honest, I don’t know much about the history and background. From what I do understand, these meadows have been here for awhile and they have been enjoyed by residents and community members for years. It seems like the airport and the city want to develop the nature aspect of FDR Park, commonly referred to as the Meadows, to be somewhat turned into astroturf. To commodify the space in general. Also the airport wants to expand by basically digging into the wetlands and trying to cover that by making a new wetlands.

Anathema: What have the struggles against the development looked like so far? What’s happening?

So far, the things that have been happening that I’ve been witness to, have been bulldozing. So just clearing the area of natural trees and wildlife. Fencing it off from the general public who were once able to freely roam around it. The struggle has been trying to find the exact dates of when bulldozing will happen, and also people have done campaigns like phone zaps, and making banners and posters. There have been some events held around the Meadows such as foraging, tree-mappings to try and identify trees and other species within the Meadows to have a perspective on if there are some species that might be endangered.

Basically trying to find ways to halt the destruction. When that didn’t happen, the struggle has looked like more events in the park, more walkabouts, filming. Trying to spread as much awareness as possible. There has been some apparent sabotage of equipment, so you could also say some insurrectionary developments in there as well.

Anathema: How have the city, the cops, the neighbors responded to the struggle for the Meadows?

For the most part, the Friends of FDR Park have been going around telling people that they were going to make the Meadows into a different type of area, but that they were going to leave a certain amount for people to still use. Trying to talk about it being more nature. Ultimately it’s being discovered that that’s a lie and not what they were really going to do. The community really enjoys this area, so they have responded like “that’s really fucked up.” But there are still people who believe their master plan, if you will. Because of that, they are under a false assumption that the Meadows will be made into something different and better, so they’re all for the project.

The police response was very minimal at the beginning. As tactics escalated, they responded with a lot more surveillance. It went from a little surveillance, to 24 hour surveillance, to bringing in the FBI. They’ve also brought in the counter-terrorist chain. They’re really trying to snuff out any real sense of eco-justice of an insurrectionary nature.

There have been some neighbors that really wanted to have the project, because the city is going to talk about how it’s going to be better to have this happen, and FIFA is coming. They want FIFA and the World Cup to come through. Some people are not so happy with the resistance as well, just based on wanting things to be better for FDR as a whole, apparently.

Anathema: A lot of the land in FDR has already been cleared. Has this changed how people are struggling and what are some of the next steps in light of this clear cutting, leveling, and bringing in dirt?

People have definitely had to go and do things a little more under the radar or while knowing there are multiple FBI and security personnel that are constantly watching and trying to analyze where they’re going. There have been rumors of cameras being placed in the park every so often. That’s been a general concern which has deterred a lot of people from coming back into the park. A lot of equipment is now under heavy surveillance or is just off of the grid, so any type of sabotaging efforts have pretty much come to a standstill.

In light of the clear-cutting, the next steps have really just looked like more events in the park, trying to get awareness out there, collaborating with other projects such as the UC Townhomes struggle. Also trying to appeal to the city to stop future leveling efforts.

Anathema: What would you say to anyone who wants to take part in defending the Meadows?

Environmental defense of any kind is important. All ecosystems are important. All matters of wildlife are relatively equal to all of us, we’re not more than any animal that is out there. Ecological defense is very much needed. Any effort you want to give is very much appreciated. I understand people have different comfort levels and ideas, but if you were looking to start somewhere, definitely come out and take a walk around the area. Talk to the local people. Go on instagram. Come get involved, come through to an event.

Anathema: Do you think there’s anything people outside of Philadelphia can do to contribute to this struggle?

Some people outside of Philadelphia have done banner drops, calls for solidarity, sharing of information as best they can. Some people have also collaborated with the Meadows efforts, such as the Defend the Atlanta Forest people who have come through.

Anathema: Is there anywhere people can follow these struggles and keep themselves informed about what’s going on around the Meadows?

@savethemeadows

Anathema: What would you say are some strengths and weaknesses of the struggle to defend the Meadows?

The struggles for the Meadows really seem to be coming internally in the form of communication, even though there is an instagram and a website. For instance, there was communication of how much is being cleared, but not about how much all at one time. There was speculation of whether there were 100 acres left or less. I would say the struggle of communication is real.

There have definitely been internal struggles. Not everybody is on board with all the tactics that have been used or talked about through this entire movement. There are definitely people trying to control narratives, peace policing, and denouncement of tactics by certain organizers. A struggle is people not getting along or communicating.

The strengths are the diversity of tactics, when it’s celebrated and left to people’s own autonomy. For the people who might want to do, say, spicier tactics, they can leave the people who want to do paperwork or just spreading the word alone. The other side of that coin is when people who want to do spicier things are left alone. Or when they don’t ask a lot of questions about it.

Anathema: What are some of the biggest tensions involved in people defending the Meadows?

The biggest tension thus far is between organizers and people who are more of a free association, so to speak. People peace policing, people trying to fit a certain narrative or only wanting certain tactics. This has been really frustrating for a lot of people. Organizers have definitely talked a lot of shit on each other. The solidarity is not really there.

The tension has also been between some people who value security culture more and are trying to stay more anonymous, and some organizers who are being a little more public, use more public and unencrypted platforms such as discord, or a website where they want people to sign up with their fucking email addresses. To combat that I guess you could use a proton email or whatever, but people don’t always use that as much. Most of the time, people like to either use telegram or signal to try to communicate through more encrypted methods. Organizers in particular have been trying to push things out into a non-encrypted space and that of course leads to a lot of tension between loads of us who are trying to stay as secure as we possibly can.

And also organizers trying to throw shade, really belittling the work because it wasn’t approved by them. Really trying to go after this narrative of “the movement is 95% white and half of these people are not from the community, so their opinions don’t matter. The ways they choose to enter into the struggle don’t matter.” It’s a real fucking shame because it’s going to show there’s not solidarity amongst everybody, and I think it’s going to turn a lot of people off, if it hasn’t already.

Night Owls #2: Summer of Sabotage

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

Download pamphlet: Print – Tabloid [For a Risograph]
Download action poster:  Print – Tabloid [For a Risograph]

This summer also saw attacks proliferate in solidarity with the ongoing campaign to defend the Atlanta Forest. The defense of forests and other places that have so far evaded the reach of urban sprawl is starting to slowly spread elsewhere, with the “Save the Meadows” campaign in Philadelphia and the struggle to defend People’s Park in Berkeley, California. Will this strategy — of finding local ways to defend the forest, which those fighting in Atlanta remind us is everywhere — continue to spread? While it can definitely be simpler to take action in solidarity with a relatively high-profile campaign that has an easily defined objective, what could it look like to spread a combative defense of land, and the relationships we form through meeting there, across a multitude of different places?

Such campaigns often speak to a need to stop environmental destruction as we look ahead to a future of accelerating climate collapse, forgetting that we are already living in the aftermath of an ecological and social apocalypse. Over the past 450 years, colonization has decimated the ecological landscape of this entire continent, robbing and removing people across the globe from their land through a multitude of forced migrations, and the new wave of climate disasters is its logical consequence. This is not to suggest that we should give up the fight against the coming changes, but to put the current climate crisis in a historical context of survivance, specifically that of violently uprooted and colonized peoples as well as of non-human species. [4] Positioning our struggles as either part of or in solidarity with that tradition of survival, rather than thinking of it as a brand-new situation, might further shake the legitimacy of the State and its hold on us all. And maybe one day the struggle to defend the forest will once again be everywhere.

[4] The term “survivance” describes a type of resistance to the United States that is specific to indigenous and other colonized people, one that combines practices of survival and resurgence.

Action Briefs

6/12: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

All of the windows of the Hope pro-life center are smashed out by the Anti Hope Brigade.

6/17: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Anti-Gentrification Action/Another Gay Anarchists attack two construction sites. Paint and glass etch were used against the windows of a luxury apartment construction, and the windows of another were smashed out. “We did this to fight gentrification and to contribute to the new wave of anarchist attack in the US. We also did this to have fun!”

7/6: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Janes Revenge smashes the front windows of a pro-life union that runs two centers and an anti-abortion hotline. “Solidarity with all those attack the state, capital, civilization, and patriarchy.”

8/24: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A stand of pine trees in the meadows of FDR park, which is in the process of getting developed, are marked with signs warning some of them have been “spiked.” The spiked stand of trees is discovered a week later amid a larger clearcut swath.

8/27: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Six pieces of construction equipment are ruined overnight in the meadows of South Philadelphia’s FDR Park, which is slated to be clearcut as part of a “revitalization project.”

9/6: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Four pieces of heavy machinery being used to cut down forest and develop the Cobbs Creek Golf Course are sabotaged. “There doesn’t need to be a bigger campaign going on for us to take matters into our own hands and try to stop some of the destruction that surrounds us.”

 

DEFEND ATL Forest presentation at the Meadows

Submission

SEPTEMBER 28TH 6PM AT THE MEADOWS! Defend Atlanta Forest / Stop Cop City Tour Presentation In the wake of the 2020 George Floyd rebellion, Atlanta-area officials have planned to build the largest police training compound in the country — by bulldozing the largest urban tree canopy in the country! Meanwhile, film-industry executives plan to clear-cut what remains in order to build “the largest soundstage complex on Earth.”

Join us for an in-depth overview and conversation with on-the-ground activists involved in the historic movement to Stop Cop City and Defend The Atlanta Forest.

Accessibility: The picnic grove is a short walk from the parking lot via a paved pathway with some incline/decline. The picnic area is grassy and/or mulched. Picnic tables and restrooms are available; please bring snacks and water. ADA restrooms are available while the clubhouse is open/staffed.

Location: Meadows Picnic Grove at FDR, 1954 Pattison Ave
Enter the Meadows from the 20th street parking lot by walking west through the community gardens and past the clubhouse.

This event will be a part of many for Meadow Fest. A Gathering to stop the destruction of the Meadows. For the full schedule of events go to: http://savethemeadows.com/events

Graffiti on Fairmount Park Conservancy Signs

Submission

A few months ago Fairmount Park Conservancy put up 3 4-sided plastic strucures along the trail parallel to MLK BLVD. The signs advertise the park with a  website, twitter, QR and IG, and feature a list of shows/activities people can get involved with. Prior to this there were no obvious signs along the trail specifying what the space “was”, who it was being maintained by or what it was for.

Early Friday morning we wrote anti-development, anti-colonization and FDR meadows solidarity graffiti on the structures. We also covered up the QR codes and some of the social media handles. Beyond the message in the graffiti we hope the paint ruins the signs.

These signs, the cutting of trees in Cobbs Creek, the development in FDR Park are all forms of domesticating the land and those who move across it. Domestication runs counter to how we want to relate to spaces, ourselves and each other. We want to live wild lives beyond the control of any authority and for that we need wild spaces.

The development and domestication of wild spaces makes them less hospitable to wildlife, plant life, people wandering and living outside and anyone who wants to enjoy a space in autonomous, unorganized and illegal ways.

We dislike the Fairmount Park Conservancy because we’re not interested in conserving spaces, freezing in time spaces that would otherwise grow and change. Despite their name, the conservancy has a clear objective of designating spaces for certain kinds of activities, for certain kinds of people, in a topdown manner. The clearest example of this is their contribution to the destruction of the FDR meadows.

Development and domestication are inseparable from issues of race, colonization, gentrification and class. Check out https://edgeeffects.net/green-gentrification/ for a way these things interact in spaces outside of residential neighborhoods.

Solidarity with the saboteurs at FDR, Cobbs Creek, the Atlanta Forest and everyone trying to widen the cracks!

South Philly FDR Park Meadows Face “Blitzkrieg” of Quick Destruction

from Unicorn Riot

September 6, 2022

South Philadelphia, PA – During the worst days of the COVID pandemic local residents sought refuge and reconnection in an unlikely place – a series of fields, wetlands and woods that swiftly grew into the “South Philly Meadows” in an unplanned, untilled emergence on the grounds of a shuttered and often-flooded golf course on the west side of FDR Park. In recent days, private contractors have destroyed large swaths of the meadows, and Unicorn Riot found indications of intensive herbicide use in large areas of the wetland. Meadows supporters held back tears as they led us through heavily damaged and destroyed wild ecosystems on August 31, voids that once hosted teeming insect, mammal and bird life only hours earlier.

 

A large swath of reeds and other discolored flora in FDR Park has started sagging and curling in recent days, according to Deena Willow, a volunteer caretaker of the meadows area, as seen on August 31, 2022.

This poisoning of entire areas appears intended to assist “clearing and grubbing” of the area as implementation of a “Master Plan” to introduce artificial turf fields and other amenities has begun in earnest. Organizer, Kat Kendon, told Unicorn Riot multiple dogs have needed veterinary treatment with environmental causes deemed likely in some cases.

UPDATE 9/6: Since September 1, we have not received comment on this possible herbicide use from Fairmount Parks Conservancy. Today the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department says that no herbicides or other chemicals have been used in the park during August 2022 – full responses below.

Noise pollution from I-95 has intensified in FDR Park after trees in the southwest corner have been clearcut under the “Master Plan.” The area was not sealed off during the early days of the process, endangering park visitors and their pets as trees fell.

The lopsided nature of the plan has spurred criticism and calls for revision as an issue of GridPhilly explored in June.

An ad-hoc coalition of several groups, under the flag “The People’s Plan for FDR Park,” has pushed local officials to reconsider the plan and preserve more meadows while unlocking often-shuttered sports fields around the city. SaveTheMeadows.com, as well as @savethemeadows and @savethemeadowsfdr on Instagram, are advocating for an alternate park design.


“Spiked” Signs of Autonomous Action

Unicorn Riot also discovered an entire stand of pine trees in the far southwest corner with official Parks and Recreation Department signs warning the trees were discovered to be “spiked” on August 24, a tactic which deters clearcutting by presenting a risk of damage to equipment. None of the groups involved have claimed any affiliation to this tactic or other similar tactics. This spiking seemingly saved the trees from the near-clearcut of old forest all around them, as a crew wrapped up nearby amid dozens of felled trees on the afternoon of August 31.

A stand of pine trees with warnings they have been “Spiked” discovered in FDR Park August 31, 2022, amid a larger clearcut swath.

Messages Call to Preserve Meadows

Messages opposing the bulldozing dot the landscape while opponents say park administrators have been removing their posters from bulletin boards, many made by local children who have grown attached to the meadows.

A “Save the Meadows” message on a bench tucked into an area nicknamed “Narnia” that is believed slated for destruction.

Opponents of the FDR Park plan believe that preserving more of the Meadows as a wild, sometimes submerged wetland, area, is a more resilient adaptation to these impending climate trends, while protecting endangered and threatened wildlife like monarch butterflies and bald eagles. Witnesses spoke of the likely destruction of a bald eagle nest as well as the obliteration of a monarch butterfly refuges in recent days. A disturbing photo of a dismembered small mammal like a mink discovered in the construction area also circulated.

The meadows supporters spoke of a silence that has descended on the area; as we pivoted our camera the microphone ceased to pick up the dense sounds of insect life, amid planes of scraped dirt and piles of crushed turf. Unfortunately, the clearing of a large stretch of giant trees in the south has immediately caused noise pollution from Interstate 95 to spill deep into the park.


Unicorn Riot previously covered Running Down the Walls, a charity event for prisoner support, in FDR Park last year, and protests that moved into the park during the nearby 2016 Democratic National Convention, a heavily policed National Special Security Event.


“Master Plan” Continues to Shift, Fueled by Airport Infrastructure Money & Army Corps Planning

As a city built on a coastal plain, Philadelphia faces intense climate change pressures and new stormwater retention systems along much of Interstate 95 are aimed at containing stormwater surges, similar to those faced by New York in 2014’s Hurricane Sandy.

The Master Plan and its backers, the private Fairmount Park Conservancy, Friends of FDR Park, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department claim to address this future by building more resiliency into the landscape, and reworking its hydrology while also increasing revenue within the park, after a multi-year process that included community input, starting before the COVID pandemic. (In spring 2022, locals were surprised when city-owned Cobbs Creek Golf Course suffered hundreds of tree cuts, and a similar type of criticism and organizing is happening there as well.) The plan itself has changed in recent weeks as a smaller golf course was canceled.

At the confluence of the Schulykill River, Delaware River, and several creeks, the historic FDR Park was shaped out of a tidal wetland. Swaths of the park are still below sea level at high tide, but an aging tide gate in permits the park to drain at low tide as it absorbs untreated stormwater from the city. The park is also surrounded by sports stadiums, a huge swath of surface parking, the Navy Yard, an enormous fossil fuel complex called the Girard Point Refinery, and the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).

A proposal to expand cargo facilities and destroy a section of wetland near Eastwick is part of the rationale for altering the wetlands in FDR Park. Source: Philadelphia International Airport.

PHL aims to use new federal infrastructure funds to expand its cargo terminal, while paving over wetlands on its western side.

To satisfy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a very expensive deal has been struck to deem the sub-sea-level southern section of FDR Park as in part a new wetland, as a supposed “no net loss” offset. (The Corps has blessed the cargo project with a “Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision” (FONSI/ROD)).

Then contractors would dredge it to lower its height, then push the dirt underneath a new hill and the artificial turf fields, while “clearing and grubbing” or entirely destroying large swaths of “the Meadows,” a phase which has now begun with “blitzkreig” speed according to opponents.

On the other side of PHL, Eastwick residents fear that the cargo project will only worsen future flooding in their town.

FEMA designates most of FDR Park as a “100-year flood zone” (teal)

While not all of it is below sea level, virtually the entire FDR Park area lies within a FEMA “100-year flood zone” and routinely floods during rains; stormwater discharges from the city into the park’s waters.

Topographical maps show large swaths of FDR Park are effectively below sea level. Source: TopographicalMap.com

Some opponents suspect that the artificial turf fields are aimed at attracting a FIFA World Cup bid and renting out to affluent suburbanites. Others suspect that real estate owners are pushing the plans to profit from commercialized, non-union concession businesses that would replace the “wild” area.

The Schulykill River flooded into apartment buildings near downtown Philadelphia on 23rd Street on Sept. 2, 2021. Pennsylvania National Guard personnel responded to the disaster in flooding-resistant trucks like this one.

Upstream of FDR Park, about a year ago the Schulykill River flooded throughout central Philadelphia, damaging businesses and apartment buildings. The probability of such events is expected to increase as climate change alters moisture patterns.


Authorities Respond to Habitat & Chemical Use Questions

Unicorn Riot submitted questions to both city and nonprofit leaders regarding the suspected use of chemicals, destruction of habitat used by monarch butterflies, possible destruction of a bald eagle nest, and related issues.

Update 9/6/2022: The Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department responded to several questions we sent, while they said additional documentation could be obtained via the city “Right to Know” process.

“Unfortunately, the premise of many of your questions is based on false accusations from outside groups opposed to any work to restore the former golf course at FDR Park into high quality recreational and natural lands. Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is committed to maintaining safe and healthy natural lands.

“The Philadelphia International Airport and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation are creating a 33 acre native forested coastal wetland on the Southwest corner of FDR Park. Clean fill excavated from the wetland site will create a 9 acre temporary soil hill on the former golf course. In August 2022 contractors prepared the site for construction. No herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals were sprayed on the site by PHL, PPR, or its contractors. 

“[…] No herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals were sprayed on the site by PHL, PPR, or its contractors in August 2022.”

-Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department responses to Unicorn Riot, 9/6/2022

UR: “Were any staff hours in your organization expended on wildlife protection from direct construction? Were the presence of monarch butterfly habitats within the FDR Park area affected by August 2022 construction documented by your organization? Were any staff hours spent to move wildlife like bird nests and mammal nests out of the construction area before construction started?”

Parks & Rec: “No.”

-Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department responses to Unicorn Riot, 9/6/2022

The Friends of FDR Park organization co-president responded:

“The Friends have absolutely no information on the topics in your email.  They are issues that have never come before us in the past or currently on this development. I have forwarded your inquiry to Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Parks and Rec Dept for followup.  Only they have any answers on these subjects. Thank you for writing.”

Barbara A. Capozzi, Esq., Co-President – Friends of FDR Park 

The Parks & Recreation Department has received our inquiry and it will be added here when available. Fairmount Park Conservancy Executive Director, Maura McCarthy, Ph. D., has not responded.

Cobbs Creek Golf Course machines sabotaged

Submission

Early last week we sabotaged four pieces of heavy machinery that are being used to develop the Cobbs Creek golf course. The machines were right next to a main road, so we used some quieter methods, using epoxy to glue their locks and putting sand in their fuel tanks. The Cobbs Creek Foundation and A.M. Logging have already destroyed over 100 acres of forest in the area.

We wanted to contribute to the recent wave of attacks against ecological destruction, gentrification, and colonization across the country, and encourage people to help defend green spaces wherever they live. Shoutout to whoever sabotaged the machines that were about to destroy the meadows at FDR to build whatever it is they’re building there. There doesn’t need to be a bigger campaign going on for us to take matters into our own hands and try to stop some of the destruction that surrounds us.

This Is America #173: Sacramento IWOC; Report on Rent Strike in Oakland; Land Struggles Heat Up

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

Living and Fighting

Housing

In Philadelphia, the struggle to stop the eviction of the UC Townhomes continues. On Monday:

Over 100 protestors interrupted Penn President minutes into her first-ever Convocation speech, bringing the ceremony to an abrupt end. [During a speech on] incoming class’ diversity, a group of protestors — including members of the Class of 2026 — stood up and began chanting “Save UC Townhomes!” and “Stop Penn-trification!” The Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes, a group of residents protesting the sale of 70 units of affordable housing, organized the demonstration in an effort to bring awareness to the local residents who are scheduled to be evicted on Oct. 8.

Land Struggles

In Philadelphia, anger is growing at a new development project that threatens the South Philly Meadows, a former golf course that has been reclaimed by nature. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Philadelphia Police are investigating the vandalism of construction equipment at FDR Park, where crews broke ground this week on a controversial project to create a 33-acre wetland. Police responded to the incident, which involved damage to a Bobcat and digging excavator, Thursday morning. In addition to graffiti and broken wires, police said sugar was poured into a tank. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. The incident comes as some park users are mobilizing to oppose the project…The Philadelphia International Airport is funding the project to offset any wetlands and waterways affected by its air cargo facilities expansion.

Banners went up in solidarity with the fight against Cop City in the Atlanta forest. From Scenes from the Atlanta Forest:

Banners went up in the trees in South Philly’s FDR Meadows, where nearly 200 acres of wetlands and meadows, which serve as habitat for endangered migrating monarch butterflies and many other species of wildlife, are threatened by the city’s plans to bury the earth in astroturf for more sports fields and other capitalist ventures. Public outcry in Philadelphia has already forced the city to compromise on their original plans, but we will accept no compromise in defense of the meadows and monarchs. Solidarity from Philadelphia to Atlanta. We live here.

For more information, check out Save the Meadows.

Upcoming Events

  • September 11th: Running Down the Walls, Philadelphia, PA. More info here.

Construction equipment vandalized in part of FDR Park

from Mainstream Media

It was an act of vandalism and destruction in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park, where a revitalization project is underway.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — It was an act of vandalism and destruction in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park, where a revitalization project is underway.

Police say this happened near the golf course.

A total of six pieces of equipment were ruined sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Crews say wires were also cut and sugar was put in the diesel tanks.

New equipment is now on site so construction crews can resume operations.

Defend the Meadow Graffiti on Bulldozer

from Twitter

Looks like other people think the city’s plan to destroy the meadows is garbage. 🔥🔥🔥

Solidarity from the PHL FDR Meadows

from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

Banners went up in the trees in South Philly’s FDR Meadows, where nearly 200 acres of wetlands and meadows, which serve as habitat for endangered migrating monarch butterflies and many other species of wildlife, are threatened by the city’s plans to bury the earth in astroturf for more sports fields and other capitalist ventures. Public outcry in Philadelphia has already forced the city to compromise on their original plans, but we will accept no compromise in defense of the meadows and monarchs. Solidarity from Philadelphia to Atlanta. We live here.

A banner in a tree reads "PHL to ATL, WE LIVE HERE" with a monarch butterfly in the middle.

A close-up picture of a banner in a tree reads "PHL to ATL, WE LIVE HERE" with a monarch butterfly in the middle.

Call to Action to Defend the Meadows! Stop A.P. Construction!

Submission

“DEFEND THE MEADOWS! A. P. Construction INC. has been given a permit by the City of Philadelphia to Destroy and Gentrify over 100+ Acres of Lenni-Lenape Land at so called “FDR” Park in South Philly.
The Lenni-Lenape name for the unceded area is “Pahsayunk” and “Chingsessing”  Pahsayunk translates to ” A place between the hills.” Chingsessing translates to “A place where there is a Meadow”.
The Proposed $20+ million dollar development would devastate and privatize the unceded Autonomous land with plastic “Astro-Turf” sports fields and over-priced shops.
This would ruin the habitat and life of thousands of sacred animals, trees, mushrooms, plants, and insects such as the endangered Monarch Butterfly!
For all life we must stop this and all Ecocidal development by any means necessary!
Please take Direct Action and contact A. P. Construction Inc. to demand that owners and the management drop the contract and cancel the “1954 Pattison Ave.” development.
A. P. Contruction Inc. – Philadelphia Office –  Phone Number: *67 (215) 922-2323 – Address: Navy Yard Corporate Center, 1 Crescent Drive, Suite 104, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Main Office in New Jersey – Phone Number: *67 (856)227-2030 –  Address: 915 S Black Horse Pike, Blackwood, NJ08012
Send an anonymous email to: Mailbox@APConstruction.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/apconstructioninc
Instagram: @APConstructionInc
Twitter:@APConstruction_

Graffiti in Solidarity with Welaunee Forest Defenders From the Meadows of Lenapehoking (South Philly) for the Week of Action!

Submission

Graffiti in Solidarity with Welaunee Forest Defenders from the Meadows of Lenapehoking ( South Philly ) for the Week of Action that reads “From Welaunee Forest to the Meadows Defend Mother Earth Without Compromise!”

As our Friends and Comrades are fighting against the “Cop City” that is proposed to destroy the Welaunee Forest in Atlanta, We are connected in struggle here in the Lenni-Lenape meadows of so called “FDR” Park in South Philly. Over 100+ Acres of Meadows that that has rewilded is under threat of development by “astro-turf” sports fields and yuppie tourist shops. A large coalition of over 20+ groups and many autonomous people are resisting and will fight to defend the Meadows without compromise. The whole planet is under attack by colonial capitalist developers and the state and we are on the verge of runaway climate change! We need a global eco-revolution for our collective survival before it’s too late! So Destroy capitalism and the state! WHEREVER YOU ARE REVOLT FOR MOTHER EARTH!