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Stepping up safety and socializing

FNA Step Day Wednesdays initiative encourage residents to get outside and be more aware

Steppin’ out: From l, clockwise: Shannon Wink, Chris Wink, Jack Layton and Tom Callen gather on the Winks front steps to plan for the upcoming Gaul Street block party. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

The first step to get to know your neighbors, while increasing neighborhood safety, is to sit on your steps.
At least that’s the logic behind the Fishtown Neighbors Association’s latest initiative.
FNA Step Day Wednesdays debuted two weeks ago, and despite it raining both times, there is no sight of the initiative going curbside.
Shannon Wink, safety committee chair for FNA, spearheaded the straightforward idea with posts on FNA’s social media sites: Sit on your steps anytime between 6 and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The idea was discussed months ago with East Kensington Neighbors Association, and Wink decided to put it in motion.
“The idea is to get everyone out collectively at the same time, socializing with each other and also keeping an eye on their block at the same time,” she said.
The best part of Step Day Wednesdays is its simplicity, Wink added.
“We’ve had trouble in maintaining support for a town watch,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and time. But this is a way we can do something like that because it relies on each other and doesn’t require a lot formal organization. But you still keep an eye out for yourself and your neighbors.”
While safety and socializing seem to be clear-cut goals, Wink elaborated on the social aspect.
“There’s the idea that because we’re a dense neighbor, we’re very close-knit, but it’s easy to come home from work and you have a lot to do, so it’s partly a reminder to take a minute and sit outside with the neighbors you only get to say ‘hi’ to on a busy day,” she said.
Step Day Wednesdays serves as an informal setting to get to know new neighbors, too.
“The thing we try to encourage through FNA is, ‘There is no old and new, there’s just you are a Fishtowner,’ so there’s the whole ‘stoop’ or ‘step.’ And, lots of people who have lived in the neighborhood for many years have probably been sitting on their step every single night,” Wink said. “So, we wanted to focus on the positive aspect and getting people connected.”
Wink’s block serves as the perfect example.
Wink and her husband Chris, who have lived in the neighborhood for eight years, were planning for the upcoming block party in front of their home on Gaul Street with fellow neighbors and Fishtown natives Tom Callen and Jack Layton.
The number of years each lived in the neighborhood played no part in their ability to plan, nor share a few laughs.
The more residents get out on their steps, the merrier.
Much like a town watch, the concept of “eyes and ears” is the foundation for Step Days.
Making sure a child doesn’t run in the street or keeping an eye on a drug problem on the block are just a couple examples residents “can be more aware of instead of being reactive because you’re already outside,” Wink said.
And while safety is a serious issue, residents are having some fun hanging out on their steps.
FNA encourages residents participating to share photos and has received everything from dogs sitting on steps to people protecting themselves from the rain.

Step Day Wednesdays photos can be emailed to safety@fishtown.org or share them tag FNA on Twitter @fishtown or Instagram @fishtownneighbors.

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