Manayunk: Friends of the Canal

Sarah Levin, 23, walks through a snow covered trail after a recent snowstorm.
Sarah Levin, 23, walks by the ice covered canal.

When a local non-profit organization offers to host events dedicated to educating its citizens about environmental responsibility, it is rarely rejected. Since 1996, Friends of the Manayunk Canal has been operating as a source of protection for Fairmount Park’s Towpath, Venice Island and the Manayunk Canal.

How do they remain relevant in the community? By staying active.

“We do so by hosting and organizing a wide spectrum of local activities,” said Nicole Lick, president of Friends of the Manayunk Canal. “The activities are meant to connect the public to the history, environment and culture that exists right in their own backyard.”

Like any natural environment threatened by surrounding human development, the three areas under the organization’s protection require a community educated and serious about conservation efforts.

According to the organization’s website, it aims to protect the indigenous wetlands, wildlife, water quality, as well as industrial archeology unique to the area, and the most effective way to do so is through community participation.

“Our events have included everything from historic and environmental walking tours, rain barrel contests, energy saving workshops as well as storm water labeling and cleaning events,” Lick said.

Lick has noticed a rise in participation from the community since 2007, starting off with a few dozen attendees at particular events to over 500 participants during events in 2010.

Although the harsh winter season puts many of the events on hold, Lick anticipates a fruitful spring.  “2011 will see a repeat of our favorite annual events, including our Love Your Park Clean Up as well a few new events,” Lick said. “We are certainly open to ideas from anyone who wants to help.”

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