As any school kid in Philly will readily tell you, Philly smells. And is dirty.
We’re not called Filthadelphia for nothing.
But as one of the most pervasive problems in Philadelphia, trash is also seemingly one of the most straightforward to tackle. And this Monday through Thursday, 6abc Action News is doing just that, airing the next in its Building it Better Together series, this one focused on trash: the scope of the problem, what’s being done about it, and how the public—you—can make a difference.
“The whole concept of Building it Better Together is how we as a station can work with the community to highlight issues and to try to come up with solutions,” explains executive producer Maxine Crooks. Back in May, the network focused on transportation; trash, Crooks says, was the obvious next issue of concern. Litter, after all, lowers property values, deters business owners from planting roots, and simply makes communities less pleasant—and in Philly, it’s ubiquitous.
“Filthadelphia is not a new name—it’s been around for decades—but it’s a name we want to shake,” Crooks says. The Streets Department and City officials were cooperative with the station, helping them to paint a clear picture of the dirty state of affairs. Monday’s segment focused on the scope of the problem—did you know that there’s a veritable dam comprised of plastic bottles, right in Cobbs Creek? On Tuesday, reporter Bob Brooks rode along with a sanitation crew. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s coverage will focus on other aspects of the issue.
It’s the hope of the 6abc Action News team that shining a spotlight on the issue can lead to change, from broad policies and practices, to individual and community mindsets. One expert cites the mentality of trash begetting trash; some point to our culture’s throw-away mentality; others address how our city’s Big Belly trash cans actually create new problems, enticing residents to leave personal trash bags piled next to the oversized cans, with the expectation that the city will dispose of them.
Crooks, a lifelong Philadelphian, says the programing even gave her new lenses on the issue. “The coverage has been eye-opening. I was driving down Broad Street and noticing the litter just piled up, thinking it really is dirty! Hopefully I’m not the only one who has that reaction—and from this, hopefully people take a second look and say, wow, what can we do about it?”
In the spirit of jumpstarting action, the team is soliciting suggestions from viewers. They’re requesting people’s six-second solutions, videos with ideas or examples of what’s already being done and working.
The team wants to keep the conversation going, with an eye towards possibly presenting viewer-submitted solutions to the Sanitation Department, or featuring innovative solutions in the future.
“We know what the problem is, so we’re not asking people to tell us that—but do you have a solution?” Crooks asks. “What do you think they can do differently?”Photo: Jessica Rossi via Flickr