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Friends Fighting Entropy

One of the basic laws of physics is that entropy, or disorderliness, is increasing in the universe. It certainly is true in our beautiful Park. Whether due to natural causes or human intention, occasional "chaos" occurs in Matthias Baldwin Park and is reversed by the Friends group. This includes picking up litter on a regular basis and filling the empty doggie bag dispensers, deeds visible to regular Park users. Here are some other examples of behind-the-scenes entropy reduction. These examples do not include any that might be visually upsetting, but those examples do exist.


The benches in the Park are so inviting!

The Friends group removes painted graffiti and stickers on the benches, trash cans, and lamp posts. We also sand off graffiti carved into the wood on the benches. 

In September 2020, the vandals raised their game and removed the center arms from all 27 benches in the Park. These were recovered and reattached in November 2020 after the benches were scrubbed clean. The Friends bought and used vandal-resistant hardware on the center arms. Cost was $270 for the hardware. The center arms themselves, if not recovered, would cost $220 each.

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Stan and Lou proudly show the reattached arms in November 2020.


Nothing unusual to be seen here. That is because the Friends buried an 18 inch piece of rusted iron rebar that was protruding straight up from the ground in this area.


A broken limb creates a hazard for humans and dogs. 


All clear thanks to the Friends.


Construction crews left a 3 x 4 foot plywood sign on this pole at the northwest corner of the Park. After no response from the construction company or the City, the Friends removed the unsightly plywood. 


Humans sometimes do crazy things. Someone threw this loose stone from the north side of the wall, into the woods over the fence on the south side. The stone was found during a neighborhood clean up day, and mortared back into place. 


Safe and secure.


More stones displaced by human activity.




Friends with mortar restore order.


After: Stump-ectomy in southwest corner.

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In August 2019 a population explosion of rats made the Park less welcoming to humans. One source of the problem was the easy access to food provided by the damaged trash can liners.

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The Friends purchased new trash can liners to replace 19 of the 21 trash can liners in the Park. Prior to doing the replacement, they picked up every speck of trash under the trash cans. 

Here Joan and Bob are at work. As Bob said and demonstrates, this is not smiling type of work. Purchases such as this are one use of dues money. The labor is free.

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Someone with a black marker shows off the new word he or she learned in sociology class, and someone with a dissenting opinion tries to cover it with white paint.

The Friends, using elbow grease and sandpaper, restore the structure for use as a bench instead of a blackboard. The resulting lighter color will blend in within a few weeks.

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In August 2019 the Friends paid $6,000 to replace the dead plants in the landscaped beds. The picture above shows the barren beds. The picture below shows the orderly patterns of the new plantings which will fill in the beds. Likewise, in August 2020 the Friends paid for $3600 worth of new plantings.

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Parents: please don't allow your children to put graffiti on the landscaping stones, even in chalk! The landscaped beds and walls are a work of public art, as the pink granite plaques in the Park proclaim. This art requires no enhancements. This chalk drawing extended along about 15 stones. Other kids, seeing chalk on a stone and a blank canvas, will showcase their creativity on the flat stones as well as the upright stones. Some use small stones to scratch their designs into the rocks. Parents: please! Sidewalks are a better outlet for childhood creativity.

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Graffiti attracts more graffiti. 

Unfortunately, this graffiti is not chalk but paint, and had to be sanded off.

Graffiti is not art, it is vandalism, and calling it "tagging" does not elevate it to an artform. Parents, teach your children respect for other people's property, especially shared public property.

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An egregious act of vandalism: spray-painting one of the vertical plinths in the Park.

The Friends would rather not have to make distinctions about what graffiti is acceptable: does the medium matter (chalk, crayon, fingernail polish, paint, stickers, painted rocks, all of which have been used in the Park); does the message matter (social justice slogans, political statements); or does the creativity of the vandalism matter? The clearest choice is to ask that people not put any message of any medium on the art that is Baldwin Park.

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It would be ideal if people would haul out trash that they bring in, but, if not, the Friends are grateful for use of the trash cans. In May 2020 during the Covid pandemic the Park became especially well used, and the trash cans were overflowing by Friday (no City emptying until Monday). The Friends bagged the overflow. These seven bags and more on the east side of the park were just the overflow by Sunday morning.

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It is the City's responsibility to keep the sidewalks bordering the Park clear of snow. The City does not fulfill this duty. The sidewalks on the bridges on 18th and 19th Street are ice covered after snowstorms, again the City's responsibility.

Here the Friends have cleared the snow in order to be good neighbors and keep the sidewalks safer. Volunteer snow-shovelers always welcome!

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Since the landscaping beds and stone walls are a piece of public art, the Friends ask that you not sit on the walls, The walls are mortar-less, mostly, and the stones are easily loosened. The Friends had a wall detail glue the loose stones down in May 2020. We try to maximize bench seating by scrubbing the bird droppings off the benches.

The City has limited resources. A strong Friends group knows what is going on in the Park and helps develop a larger membership to provide labor and financial capital when needed. We thank all of you who have joined (join here).


Many people doing many small things make a city great. It's a wonderful personal experience to hang out with people trying to make even a little corner of Philadelphia look its best. That's what the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park try to do.

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