How to find an absentee lot-lord

Even before we moved into our home here in South Philly, we were happily greeted by our block captain, Courtney, with brochures on planting trees, recycling, and more. She told Rob and I about “cafe-ing” which is a South Philly thing where you pull out your camping chairs and sit on the sidewalk with neighbors.

Rob went as ‘Grunge Kurt Vile’ on Halloween, but really was Courtney, Block Captain

Almost every day, she picks up trash and advocates for the neighborhood and people.


The (non-hostile) takeover

A couple months ago Courtney, her partner Matt, and Rob and I decided to “take over” a trash-filled vacant lot down the street, planting flowers, installing fence posts, and removing trash.

Cleaning, planting, fence-building

It’s amazing how many people came by and expressed appreciation and the willingness to pitch in … the lot seemed like a force for community. We just need a nice neutral space to gather, and, as mentioned in the article, show movies. We also made the Pierce Street Pirate Park page to share updates.

Finding the lot-lord

After we put up our sign and pirate email, the land’s owner, Sonny (whom we could not find prior to starting), wrote us, asking us to contact him. Rather than being angry, he thanked us and invited us out for a drink. We all talked about our own backgrounds and the future of the lot.

L-R, Courtney, Matt, Sonny, me, and Rob; Photo by Yong Kim — Please note my The Humane League t-shirt!!


While he will undoubtedly sell it down the road, for now, it’s nice to walk by the Pirate Park every day and see trees, not trash.

Halloween movie night!


Article about the Pirates

A local reporter Ronnie wrote about the story and took some action shots here.
The article can be found here.

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