Sprouting everywhere like mushrooms – Trash Compactors

Rittenhouse Square Trash Muncher
Rittenhouse Square Trash Muncher

Last July I blogged about a small test the city of Philadelphia was running with 3 solar-powered trash compactors ( Solar-powered Trashcan Test ). Cool idea, I thought, but I did not hear anything else about them. Then over the last three weeks I’ve started seeing them everywhere. Even better — they are now paired up with recycling bins. Clearly, I missed this article on May 1 on Philly.com: Hot idea: Solar-powered trash crushers. There will be 500 of these “Big Bellies”, as they are called, distributed around Center City. 210 will be paired with recycling bins (see picture above).

This is great news for a city that has long been plagued by litter. I’ve come to realize that most (okay, many) Philadelphians will use a waste basket. In truth, the 700 wire baskets with plastic liners that are being replaced were really a  main part of the litter problem. Those baskets were often overflowing, and since they had no tops the wind would often pluck light stuff out of them and spread it down the streets. Sometimes a strong gust would completely lift the liner out of the mesh basket and dump everything out. Yet now, nothing will escape the ‘big bellies’ once they have a hold of it, and compactors offer a lot of advantages for a cash-strapped city hoping to clean up its act:

The compactors require fewer collections, which saves the city on fuel for sanitation vehicles and frees up workers for other tasks, officials said.

They also hold up to 200 gallons of trash, compared with the 55-gallon capacity of a regular wire trash basket.

Because of that capacity they require five weekly collections, compared with the 19 for a regular trash basket. That means only eight workers will be assigned to collect litter baskets, compared with the current 33, said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. (Philly.com)

The presence of the recycle bins in high traffic areas, like Rittenhouse Square, will also serve to remind and encourage folks to do just that — recycle. It is easier to do when it is made so convenient.

Former Mayor (and current PA Governor) Ed Rendell made huge strides in rejuvenating Philadelphia. I moved to the city the year before he was elected and I saw the progress first-hand. Now, current Mayor Michael Nutter seems ready to take it to the next level.

See also:
Philly Brings on the Big Bellies
Philadelphia Begins Rollout…
Solar Trash Compactor Firm BigBelly Raises $3.2 M

What is different about Nutter’s Philadelphia?

Mayor Nutter is clearly setting the tone for civic life in Philadelphia. Having a mayor willing to do that clearly and consistently is a huge plus for citizens. He did so when he admonished Phillies fans to be “joyous” but not to be a “jackass” in their World Series win celebrations. Nevertheless, a small number were but most were not. I work on Broad St. and I was saddened by the destruction of the large planters and the busted windows of a few businesses. Yet, in all honesty, I really thought it would be worse.

One of the most important signs of Nutter setting the tone shows up not just in what he says but also in what he is making happen. Although the short parade began at 12:00 pm, at 4:30 pm the police had not yet opened Broad St. to traffic and the reason was that the Streets Dept. was still cleaning up — with troops of sweepers and with high-powered washers. Philly.com reports that cleaning continued until midnight: After Series celebration, a clean sweep by the city. I’ve lived in Philadelphia 20 years and have attended many Mummer’s parades and I’ve never seen such a serious clean-up effort before. It is great to see that the city under Nutter’s leadership handled this championship celebration so well from start until long after finish.

Link Updates

RiverTyde has been on unofficial hiatus for a while, but I have updated my WordPress account for another year and don’t anticipate shuttering the blog. Sorry for the drought.

Today I found a very interesting blog that I want to follow so I’ve added it, Via Negativa,  to my blogroll. In addition, I have corrected the broken link to Zac Sunderland, the young man sailing alone around the globe. I have a lot of catching up to do with his adventures. I apologize that that link was broken for so long. Under the Gay Links category Large Tony has said goodbye to his blog but has left it up as an archive. I’ll leave that link up for some time yet but will eventually take it off the blogroll.

This has been a wild week here in Philadelphia with the Phillies winning the World Series, the enormous street celebrations (with a small but destructive element), and the gigantic turn out for the parade yesterday. I don’t have photos of that but I’m sure there are plenty to be had out on the web anyway. Next week might be another wild one with the election. Just as millions of people turned out in Philadelphia to participate in the life of the city and its sports team, I hope everyone reading this blog turns out to vote on Tuesday. I’ll not tell anyone how to vote because I find it hard to believe that anyone likely to do so could be truly undecided at this point — but by all means, VOTE.

“Like a giant flash drive”

Inga Saffron, the architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted her review of Philadelphia’s tallest building today — The Comcast Center — Changing Skyline: Comcast’s New Tower a Blank Slate for City. She says that this building is, in fact, the 12th tallest in the country, and I’ve heard that it is the tallest between Chicago and NYC. The Comcast Center is easily seen in Fen Branklin’s photo of my previous post. I think Ms. Saffron gives a balanced review. She is disappointed that more daring was not taken in the building’s design, but I’m not sure more daring in such a prominent edifice would have resulted in a better building for the city. This is not a particularly daring city after all. I’m just pleased that the building is not the even more staid rectangular glass box that I was afraid it would turn out to be. The taper with contrasting mirrored and clear glass segments save it (and us) from that. It is true that the see-through top with the girders visible gives it a vaguely unfinished look during the day but when it is lighted from within at night there is a muted lighthouse/beacon effect that enlivens the skyline without being overpowering. I think what Ms. Saffron is getting at is that this “quicksilver obelisk” which tends toward looking “like a giant flash drive” is not the gem that the quirkier and generally admired Cira Centre has turned out to be. That is not so bad, in my opinion. The positive things that I learned from Ms. Saffron’s review was that the Comcast Center is the tallest ‘green’ building in the country and that the plaza and underground shopping complex deserve a visit. I’m just relieved that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts did not put up a giant version of that horribly gaudy and self-aggrandizing marquee on the Avenue of the Arts that bears his mother’s name — the Suzanne Roberts Theater. I may even grow to like the Comcast Center but I doubt I will ever stop cringing when I walk past the excellent Kimmel Center and am next affronted by that mashup of metal pretending to be billowing fabric, uhgg.