EKNA seeks artists for lid designs for trashcan initiative in Kensington
By Melissa Komar
While litter can be chalked up as an eyesore, eye-catching trash cans are the new trend, at least in the River Wards.
The East Kensington Neighbors Association is the most recent civic group to roll out a curbside campaign to encourage individuals to throw away trash and beautify the neighborhood at the same time.
EKNA is looking for artists to create designs for its “Kensington Cans” initiative.
Olde Richmond Civic Association debuted its “Can It” campaign, with five trash can lids designed and hand-painted by local artists in December and the Fishtown Neighbors Association, which started the “Feed the Fish” in 2014, kicked off round two of its trash can lid initiative in August.
EKNA was inspired by FNA’s initiative.
“We’ve been having happy hours every now and then and just trying to keep everyone connected,” said Nic Esposito, former EKNA president and current treasurer. “And, we’re also part of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, so we love seeing what other RCOs are doing and we saw those ubiquitous Fishtown fish head trash cans all over the neighborhood and said, ‘Hey, we should do this.’”
The Kensington-based civic starting discussing the idea about a year ago after realizing there was a sizeable amount of funds left over from events, which will be used to purchase the trash cans and reimburse artists.
“We started talking about how we could spend money in a meaningful way in the neighborhood and [the trash can initiative] was a big one that came up for us,” Esposito said.
Andy Ortega, EKNA board member at-large and chair of the community affairs and public safety committee, is spearheading the project.
“There is no deadline as we’d like to establish a large portfolio of artists for businesses to choose from when they create their can and so we can maintain open enrollment,” he said. “We do, however, encourage artists to reach out soon as we’re looking to hit the ground running in early 2018.”
EKNA is in conversations with businesses to serve as locations for the trash cans.
The first business to commit to hosting one of the “Kensington Cans” was the forthcoming Flow State Coffeebar, 2413 Frankford Ave.
Melanie Diamond-Manlusoc, owner of the coffee shop along with Liz Diamond-Manlusoc and Maggie Lee, was excited for another opportunity to keep the neighborhood clean while connecting with more individuals.
The “hybrid of a co-working space and a European café,” which is under construction with an anticipated February opening, got involved with tackling trash in the neighborhood by registering with Not in Philly.
In exchange for “adopting a block,” a sixth-month commitment to go out once a week and clean up trash, the Philadelphia nonprofit gives individuals a trash grabber.
“I was already doing that on the 2400 block of Frankford Avenue for a couple months when the neighborhood association reached out to us to welcome us to the neighborhood, and we went to one of the neighborhood meetings and found out they were doing the trash can initiative,” Diamond-Manlusoc said.
Diamond-Manlusoc was born and raised in Detroit and spent 13 years in Chicago “and in both places I had never seen so much of a trash problem” and pointed out in Philadelphia “there’s no garbage cans to throw anything away. …In any big city I was in, you walk a couple blocks and there’d be a trash can and you kind of take that for granted.”
The owners were aware of the “Feed the Fish” initiative and jumped at the opportunity to participate in a similar one in Kensington.
“If there’s more trash cans, then there’s less for me to pick up every week,” Diamond-Manlusoc joked. “It was just an extension of us wanting to help and be part of the neighborhood. We all live within minutes of walking to the space and we want to be good neighbors.”
Artists interested in designing trash can lids for “Kensington Cans” should email info@EKNA.org.