Saturday, May 5, 2018

In Search of Toleration

Today's hike was done for the specific purpose to find the Toleration Statue on the Wissahickon Creek. According to this article
"The statue was erected in 1883 and was carved by sculptor Herman Kim. It was bought by landowner John Welsh, a former Commissioner of the Fairmount Park. It was said that the Walsh purchased the statue at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Welsh donated his land to the park prior to his death in 1886."
I had tried twice before (and failed) to find the statue. Today I was determined.

Sara and I set off a little after 8 a.m. along the Orange Trail on the east side of the Wissahickon Creek. It was a good day for a hike. Not too cold or too hot. After the last two days of 90 degrees and very high pollen counts we were grateful for the change.

According to the Friends of the Wissahickon the Orange Trail is "5.64 Miles | Average width 3 feet; Max obstacle height 24 inches | Average Grade: 11% Single track, natural surface (dirt and rock) trail that runs along the east side of the park. Terrain is varied, and sections of the trail are rugged"

Trail Obstacle 5-8-18; A little more than 24 inches high
The Orange Trail doesn't climb as much as the Yellow Trail on the other side of the creek but the trees, roots, rocks and stream crossings make it a great adventure.

The Fingerspan bridge comes just before the Toleration Statue. So I was excited when we found it. The Fingerspan bridge is a site-specific sculpture. And according to this article about it "The interior is half-tunnel, half- terrifying catwalk" In my opinion that is not an exaggeration. Sara can vouch that I did in fact cross it. She event took this photo to prove it.

We continued on toward Toleration. My trail running friends have told me that I likely have hiked right past Toleration and didn't realize it. Turns out they were right. Had we not looked up at just the right time we would have done it again. And there he was hidden high on a rock in the trees.

Toleration is built on a ledge known as Mom Rinker's Rock. According to this article (same one as linked above) Mom Rinker was either a spy or a witch. The spy legend says that she sat on the rock knitting and dropped balls of yarn containing the location of British Troops during the Revolutionary War. Also, according to the article there is a plaque near the rock that tells some of the story. We never saw the plaque which explains why we wondered where Mom RinKer's rock was while we were sitting on it!! 😁 We took a snack break here and then continued on.

We found a path down to Forbidden Drive just short of the end of the Orange Trail and headed back that way. Sara commented that the return trip was not quite as interesting. She's right but I'm really glad we didn't do it the other way.

On this hike we saw lots of chipmunks, lots of geese, some hawks, a turkey vulture, an oriole, three horses with riders and lots of people with dogs and/or children in tow. Oh and a bride and groom.

Next week we'll be on the Delaware Canal towpath between Washington Crossing and New Hope.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fog Horns on the Delaware River

Watching the bald eagle in the tree across the marsh
Today, Sara, Maritza, Kathleen and I walked Heinz Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is promoted as "America's First Urban Refuge established in 1972 for the purpose of preserving, restoring, and developing the natural area known as Tinicum Marsh and promoting environmental education." It's an interesting place smooshed (a very technical word) on land between the Delaware County towns of Folcroft and Norwood and the Philadelphia Airport. It is bordered on one side by I-95 and another side by Route 420. Despite the air and road traffic hum in the background it houses all sorts of nature.

After a cool rainy day yesterday, warmer air came in causing thick fog as the sun rose this morning. Most of it burned off the marsh before our hike began. The fog must have lingered on the Delaware River though as the sound of a fog horn could be heard at regular intervals during the first hour of our tour. I loved the sound. It made me think of new adventures shrouded in mystery. Well until my companions started musing about sailors returning from sea sounding the horn to tell their wives to get dinner ready. Something that none of us would have tolerated. :)

On this hike we saw swans, turtles, egrets, an eagle. deer, more small birds than I could count, dogs and lots and lots of people. Including an older gentleman riding a bike wearing a helmet with a mohawk and singing loudly to the world.

It was a great keep smiling keep moving day.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

It's the Little Things ....

That seemed to be the theme today. We mentioned it several times as we chatted and hiked our way from Valley Forge to Charlestown Elementary School along the Valley Creek Trail and Horse-Shoe Trails.

Sara, Tootsie and I met at the elementary school at 8 am and carpooled in Sara's car back to the Wilson Road parking area off Yellow Springs Road near the covered bridge. We usually start from Knox but the Wilson Road area has restrooms and one of us - :) :) - had a need. Michael messaged Friday evening to say he couldn't make it at 8 but would start from the Elementary School later in the morning and meet us then go back with us.

Unfortunately Sara has been recovering from big time respiratory distress so she was unable to go the whole way this time. I'm glad we had the opportunity to hike together this morning. Sara, I know you'll be out for the distance soon. Feel better, kid. Perki insisted that I take this photo for you.

Tootsie and I wondered how old "Kate" - the creator of this spot - is now. I'm sure she's in college or beyond. When we met up with Michael later he too was glad to hear that the Tin Man was still alive and well. We talked about how we all have so many photos of him that should anything happen we could easily recreate him. And I'm betting we will if it comes to that.

At the top of Mt Miser y (the Tin Man's home) the Horse-Shoe trail meanders through treed areas and developed areas. It seems that every time we go out there more and more houses have popped up. The first time did this section was in December 2012. With Mike K. (not to be confused with today's Michael) and Maryanne. It was for all of us that day in 2012 our first time on a blazed trail. It wasn't until we were finished that we understood how to read the blazes and interpret the direction we should travel. We got lost several times. Not far lost but enough that we had to pull out the map. A map that was already 6 years old by that time so with re-routes it was not entirely accurate.

Note for those that might be hiking with us later this year, I now have the 2018 maps and guidebook. :)

As Tootsie and I came out of the Diamond Rock Preserve and onto street again, I remember that we were getting close to a turn that Mike K, Maryanne and I missed in 2012. Unfortunately, my memory had us making the same turn mistake that we had made in 2012. We didn't get far off track though as we immediately noticed that we weren't able to see any yellow blazes up ahead.

We stopped, turned around and right at the moment Michael popped out of the woods from the direction we should have gone. We were far enough away that I wasn't sure it was him and later he said he wasn't sure it was us either but he waved and we waited and all was good. Tootsie and I would have found our way back on our own but talk about timing, right? Michael turned around then and walked back with us to the elementary school.

It was a gorgeously sunny day. The temperature was a bit chilly at the start but by the time we finished I was quite warm. In fact, had we further to go I would have been uncomfortable in long sleeves.

Keep Smiling Keep Moving

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Can I Bring My Support Peacock on the Airplane?

Ok so now that I have your attention....

There is a difference between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The peacock, whose name is Dexter according to news articles, along with his owner were denied boarding a flight in January 2018. Whether or not the request to bring Dexter and the subsequent denial were appropriate is a question for the ADA and ACAA. For the purposes of this post, let's consider whether a housing provider would be required to allow Dexter to live with his owner. The answer isn't simple. There are many moving parts.

The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make "reasonable accommodations" and "reasonable modifications" for persons with disabilities to enable those persons to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises.

The Act defines a person with a disability to include individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. It also includes individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment and individuals with a record of such an impairment. If you want to get into the details such as defining substantially, or major life activity see HUD's Memorandum on Reasonable Accommodations, question #3.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Seven Days

50 years ago today, April 4th, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. 7 days later, April 11th, Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). 

It is an unfortunate fact of our history that the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. brought about passage of the Fair Housing Act. The video  provides a captivating overview of that one week in April 1968. It was created 5 years ago for the 45th anniversary. I challenge you to watch it and not notice the similarities between then and now. 

Without the Fair Housing portion, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 might have passed much sooner. At the time of its consideration, public sentiment was roughly 150-1 against the inclusion of Fair Housing legislation. The chairman of the House Rules Committee would not allow it to be voted on. Many believe the bill was passed only as an attempt to quell the rioting that followed the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Approximately, one hour after Martin Luther King, Jr. was buried the law was finally voted out of committee.

The video begins with a voice over "Few in our time believed that Fair Housing would, in our time, become the unchallenged law of this land". However, as many know, it has not gone unchallenged. To this day, many resist allowing everyone to make their own choice of where to live. Enforcement of the act was marginal in the first 20 years after its passage. Some say HUD did not make full use of the enforcement provisions provided and others say the Act did not give HUD enough to work with. Finally, in 1988, the Fair Housing Act Amendments provided for testing and enforcement with stiffer penalties. 1988 also brought about the addition of Families with Children and Persons with Disabilities to the 'protected classes'. 

Coming soon: Accommodations for persons with disabilities; what is a disability; how testing works; the effect of criminal background checks on discrimination. 

Follow up to my first post on this subject: Earlier this week, I was in a meeting a local Fair Housing event. The organizing group wanted the Realtor Association to provide them with a speaker for their panel. The group specifically asked that the speaker be "from a protected class". (Insert work appropriate eye roll here). I had to speak up and remind everyone that we are all members of a protected class and what they should be looking for is a diverse panel. One that represents as many different 'classes' as possible. My co-worker, the liaison to the group, offered to go back and ask if they could tell us how we could contribute to the diversity of the panel. 

To be clear, I agree that there is such a thing as white privilege and that many of us, me included, have it easier because of the color of our skin and other protections. However, as a society, we have to move away from the us vs them mentality. There are a lot of imbalances and we need to work hard to correct them. Acknowledging our privilege is a start. But rather than stepping out of the way we should be using our voices to lead the way. 

Keep smiling keep moving