The Things We Ignore
by Jade Schweitzer
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Jade Schweitzer shares a photograph she took in Mt. Airy, and the way it speaks to a larger phenomenon of things forgotten in the city's streets.
While waiting for the 18 bus early one morning in Mt. Airy Philadelphia, I noticed something strange in the street, so I took a picture. At first glance the photo seems to showcase a beautiful sunrise, orange and yellow gleaming through the trees and over rooftops. But, if you look closely you can see debris in the street, a run over, faded, broken Easter basket.
Maybe lost by a child or thrown out and carried into the street by the wind, this once colorful holiday ornament is now broken and forgotten in the street. This picture may seem small, but it speaks to a much larger issue throughout the different areas of Philadelphia. We like to leave trash all over our city, just absentmindedly tossing it out of our lives and onto the pavement.
Obviously, littering is bad and seriously damages our environment but this is a deeper issue. This isn’t just about pollution, or the face of the city but about the city’s life itself. As city folks we are always rushing through our activities and sometimes we lose pieces of ourselves in all the motions of our daily lives. These pieces are piling up in gutters all over the city, taking on a life of their own. The more frightening part of all this is not that things are forgotten or discarded, but that we don’t seem to notice. The clutter seems so unimportant. We walk through a city of trash and forgotten memories without a second glance.