Craig Ablin is a member of Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association and passionate champion for Wissahickon Neighbors Park. Craig met up with us recently at the park, which hugs the hillside of this Northwest Philly neighborhood.
“I moved here six years ago.’ Craig said, “My wife’s from Scotland originally and I’m from Chicago. We were living in New Orleans. We were actually Hurricane Katrina evacuees… the nice thing about New Orleans is it’s a pretty tight community.” Craig saw the potential for Wissahickon Neighbors Park to create a stronger sense of community in his newly-adopted neighborhood.
The park had fallen into neglect and “there were only two user groups,” Craig recalled, “the basketball courts drew kids in their teens and twenties and the play equipment drew families with young children. There was no reason why other people would come in… part of changing the park was to broaden its users.”
Craig began advocating for the park, pushing for renovations and getting everyone to pitch in with the park’s upkeep. Today, the park looks clean and cared-for. But, Craig tells us, it wasn’t until the Collaborative created a pro bono “big-picture” plan for the park that major renovations became a reality.
Now the park is poised to involve everyone: The entrance will be reinvented as the neighborhood’s communal porch—a pleasant place to for some fresh-air sitting, reading, texting, etc. And the already-active basketball and play areas will become even more versatile!