I’ve always been a big fan of snow in cities. The snow makes a city so quiet and peaceful; it’s like the city slows down for an evening, everyone stopping to take a breath to watch the snow fall.
And the almost 2 feet of snow from this weekend showed me another great way that snow changes a city: from complaining about shoveling the sidewalk, to kids (and adults) playing in the snow or going sledding, I got to see the snow bring our neighborhood together.
I first noticed this in December when the last big snow happened. Assembling a make-shift sled from plastic in the basement, we went out to Clark Park, which has a great spot for sledding.
The crowd that was there represented West Philly in all its diversity- young children, teens, 20-something hipsters, and parents of all colors, cultures, and languages all coming together to enjoy the same thing. Whether trading plastic signs to use as sleds or crashing into each other at the bottom of the bowl, everyone in the Park was enjoying the same thing, together. Pictured below, we teamed up with a little girl who gave us a hand pushing our (not-so-great) sled.
Yesterday, while Sarah D and I were shoveling/trying to build a snow-cave, I got to watch white and black children build a snow-fort together, while their fathers chatted about the effects of the snowstorm and helped with building a snowman. The other night, our middle-aged neighbor stood by his car getting excited as little kid talking about how much snow we were going to get, and discussing it with everyone who walked by.
Coming in the middle of lots of discussions about gentrification, about racial and economic inequalities, it was comforting to watch the neighborhood enjoy this event together. Of course those problems are all still there (and I’m sure could even be found in the stories I’m telling), but its nice to get a reminder of what kinds of community are possible.
I guess the question is, then, how can we re-create the bringing-people-together-ness of the snowstorm without the snow to bind us? What other things can bring a whole community together?
Yep, in Philly even the snowmen are Eagles fans.