Environmental talk: Philadelphia brands itself as the “City of Brotherly Love”. As a resident, do you feel that the slogan accurately represents the city?

Discussion Post 1 (Crime Stats: Population- 55,362 , Violent Crime Rate – 16/115 chance to be a victim of violent crime)

  • Jimmy Marucci, 1621 Oxford Street, North Philadelphia PA

I have been a resident of North Philly for the past 30 years and have raised my entire family in North Philadelphia. What has happened to my community is nothing but appalling. Not only must I deal with the horrific crime and drug usage, but I must also deal with the repercussions of those actions on my community. The opioid epidemic, although disastrous in its right, has many unidentified consequences that I, as a community member, must face. Since last September overall shootings, violent crimes, robberies, and property crimes have all increased! My next-door neighbor recently joined the thousands of Philadelphians who die yearly from drug overdoses! Drug addiction brings overdoses and has led Philadelphia to the 8th worst murder rate, the worst poverty rate, and the 3rd worst unemployment rate of any US city! As the poverty, murder, and unemployment rates continue to hurt our citizens, I must look across my street at one of the 40,000 vacant lots in my city. I have pleaded with community leaders to bring more awareness to these issues, but feel that any action I take will not lead to tangible change. Even as Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, tweets about how “devastated” she is by our city’s violent crime rate, I still plead with all members of the Philadelphia community for their solutions!

“Anti Racism Demonstration” (Photo from: Pexels common images)

Discussion Post 2 (Crime Stats: Population- 81,500 , Violent Crime Rate – 1/115 chance to be a victim of violent crime)

  • John Smith, Spokesperson for the Lancaster Amish Affiliation

Hey, Matt! My name is John Smith, and I am a spokesperson for the Lancaster Amish Affiliation, just eighty miles away from you and your neighborhood. I think Lancaster Amish Affiliation members would be an excellent fit for your community! Your post grabbed my attention as you addressed the apparent root of Philadelphia’s recent spike in crime and poverty: the Opioid epidemic. As the Amish live by a strict religious code of simplicity and faith, the Amish do not use or buy most drugs, both illegal recreational drugs and other over-the-counter medications. The Amish have found a life purpose: humility, family, and community. We do not seek materialistic goods or drug-induced highs, just the continued success of our community. Further, with such importance placed on the Amish community, Amish members in Philadelphia would help bring back the sense of “Brotherly love.” For instance, although our religion allows the use of guns, our community culture has led the Lancaster Amish to a single violent gun crime in the 21st century. Also, I believe the Lancaster Amish could help with the many vacant and abandoned houses plaguing Philadelphia. Currently, forty percent of all US dairy farms are Amish-owned, a surprising statistic when even the more progressive Lancaster Amish still do not use motor-powered tractors! Further, since the 21st century, the Lancaster Amish have opened over 2000 Amish-owned businesses specializing in tourism, manufacturing, and construction. The turn of the century also brought a more inclusive approach to the Amish’s outreach programs. Starting in 2019, an Amish Lancaster-based nonprofit, the Amish Heritage Foundation, began yearly seminars “to remove barriers between the Amish and the rest of society”. We would love to welcome any Philadelphia community leaders to speak at our 2022 event on this topic and would also love for any Philadelphians to attend!

“A Man Using a Horse Drawn Hay Baler” (Photo by: Vladimir Kudinov)

Discussion post 3 (Crime Stats: Population- 12,577 , Violent Crime Rate – 4.6/115 chance to be a victim of violent crime)

  • Donald Smith, 1707 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA.

Oh, I hate that people could even believe that the Amish would help our city. I read just a few years ago that the Amish will never accept technology as their “faith will be lost”, how could they help us? It’s crazy to me that a group of people who exclude themselves from us would even consider moving into our fantastic city. I have lived in Rittenhouse Square my entire life and completely trust our city’s government to fix the many issues that plague our city, not just the drug issue. The city just worked with Penn Medicine to found a new program, HeadsUp, which seeks to “attack the drug problems from a preventive standpoint”! I have a bigger problem with the number of Philadelphians disrespecting our city’s amazing parks. Look at the disgusting Schuylkill River! Look at Fairmount Park, our once-famous park is now covered in trash! The pollution in our city is a real issue that people should discuss. In 2021 we had the 18th worst air quality of all US cities! Even if the opioid epidemic is responsible for the crime and poverty in our city, should we not worry more about the reality of Climate Change? I know the Lancaster Amish still do not use electricity or motor-powered vehicles; they can’t even own a phone! I do not see the Amish asking for help; why should we? We should spend less time finding people to revamp our communities when we can help ourselves. We just have to pull up our bootstraps and get to work!


Discussion Post 4 (Crime Stats: Population- 81,500 , Violent Crime Rate – 1/115 chance to be victim of violent crime)

  • John Smith, Spokesperson for the Lancaster Amish Affiliation

Hey Donald! John again. I just wanted to respond to some of your comments. Although we may pray and practice our religion differently from you, in reality, we are not that different. To start, yes, the Lancaster Amish are geographically isolated from the rest of Philadelphia in Lancaster County. However, our isolation is not so straightforward. In 1717, the Amish were forced to leave France and found sanctuary in Lancaster County to practice their religion peacefully. Since arriving in America, our community has stayed in Lancaster County, cultivating a self-sustaining community that relies on just the people and land around them. So yes, we are isolated from Philadelphia, but it is not a choice; we have not been asked to integrate into Philadelphia! To your point about the environment, the Lancaster Amish do not use gas-powered vehicles or appliances. Further, the Amish religion preaches simplicity in all aspects of life, leading the Amish to a non-materialistic lifestyle. The Amish members who move to Philadelphia would create exponentially less waste and pollution than most current Philadelphians! Unlike popular opinion, the Lancaster Amish Affiliation allows landline phones, motorized washing machines, and indoor plumbing! Finally, your comments about our impossible integration into Philadelphia are slightly misconstrued. I believe Philadelphia and the Lancaster Amish would both benefit if they were to combine forces. Although we do not use formal transportation, Philadelphia uses the 5th least cars per person of all US cities and is the 11th most walkable city in the US. The city is also starting a program, Rebuild Philadelphia, to rebuild the many abandoned and vacant lots around Philadelphia. The Lancaster Amish have become famous for their barn-building techniques: no electric tools, but the full effort of the entire community. Without power tools, the Amish rely on each other, a value that Philadelphia also praises. They do not rely on paying professionals but work with their friends and family to create communal structures. The Amish would not only help rebuild the city, but they would do so not for personal gain, but for the betterment of their community. Finally, due to not using modern transportation, the Amish strictly shop within stores in their community. Without access to the internet, the Amish will not shop on Amazon, but at the local stores within Philadelphia. I hope people take away that the Amish and the city would benefit from a relocation and that the Amish are not that different from any of us. 

This piece was edited by Rafael De Alba as part of Professor Kelley Crawford’s Digital Civic Engagement course at Tulane University. 


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