by Candace Herbert, Development Coordinator
Philosopher, entrepreneur, and writer, Matsona Dhliwayo once said “Spring is proof that there is beauty in new beginnings.” On Sunday, May 21st Dhliwayo’s quote proved to be true as there were many beautiful things to appreciate and take in. This marked the date of our annual friend-raising event, our Spring Renewal Celebration.
It was an opportunity to gather and reconnect with friends, to celebrate literacy and urban greening, and to shine a light on the profound theme of community. This event also marked the new beginning of us deepening our connection with Taller Puertorriqueño, the cultural heart of Latinx Philadelphia, as we held our event within its beautiful and inviting Corazon Cultural Center. In doing so, we honored not only the importance and impact of reading and gardening, but also the power of uplifting the arts and the cultures of BIPOC communities.
In the spirit of this theme, we also strengthened ties with local businesses and organizations based in different areas of North Philadelphia by highlighting them through sponsorships and our Community Engagement Table. To see the Corazón Cultural Center theater full of happy and passionate supporters, lined with a lovely rainbow of plants, and draped in the iconography of Fairhill’s advocacy and collaboration, truly showed the beauty and power of neighbors united.
Our Keynote speaker – community organizer, museum advocate, and professor – Monica Montgomery drove home the point of communal unity as she shared with the audience a recent memory that stuck with her. While she was in Center City, she saw an upbeat woman wearing a Historic Fair Hill shirt, joyously bouncing down the street. Monica beamed as she said: “And that my friends made me smile, and solidified in my mind the magic and the pride of place in Historic Fair Hill Burial ground – a site of intentional partnership, defying the odds and showcasing what an engaged community can do together, invested and involved with the locals, the volunteers, the gathering, the greening, the good vibes.”
Following Monica’s stirring call to action and neighborhood stewardship, current Board Chair, Sally Harrison and Central Philadelphia Meeting member, Stephanie Judson, honored Baird Brown and Mary Anne Hunter. Baird and Mary Anne were the organizations first two presidents and were pivotal in Historic Fair Hill’s journey of activism and teamwork from the very beginning. Sally described both Baird and Mary Anne as “among the founding ‘parents’ of Historic Fair Hill”.
Both Baird and Mary Anne started as members of the volunteer group who, motivated by Fairhill neighbors, began to clean up the burial ground and return to the community a beautiful green gathering space that now adults, children, and families enjoy and steward. For years, Mary Anne and Baird, dedicated themselves to Historic Fair Hill and are still committed, working alongside residents of Fairhill as mindful collaborators.
The magic and pride of Fairhill is owed to the supportive and engaged neighbors and friends of Fairhill. This 300-year old legacy of beautiful and new beginnings in partnership, activism, literacy and greening continues due to your good work. Thank you all for being the spiritual successors of the activists buried at the grounds.