Thursday, January 22, 2015

Making change in Mayfair possible

As a longtime resident of the Tacony-Mayfair-Holmesburg area, I grow frustrated daily seeing what's become of previous attempts to bring public landscape into the Mayfair-Frankford Avenue area. What started as well-intentioned, the concrete planters of the Mayfair Community Development Corp., have detracted from, rather than enhance the appearance of the business district. Poor execution in plant selection and not planting and filling them properly has resulted in a disaster that stretches from Harbison Ave to Rhawn St as they've become unsightly, substitute trash bins. Some of the trees have even been cut leaving two-foot stumps.

Out of concern for my community and disgusted by the obvious politics of the neighborhood civic, I submitted my own grant proposal to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for their 2015 Neighborhood Placemaker Grant, part of their Civic Landscapes Initiative to remedy this plaguing neighborhood problem. As part of my proposal, I offer several different ways to engage various factions of the community to increase participation and pride resulting in the initial execution and longer-term sustainability of this project, not mere temporary fixes.

The following is a copy of my grant Letter of Intention.

Neighborhood Placemaker Grants

As part of its Civic Landscapes Initiative, PHS is pleased to offer Neighborhood Placemaker Grants ranging from $7,500 to $25,000 to Philadelphia-based organizations or individuals for beautifying Philadelphia neighborhoods. Between January 7 and 21, we invite applicants from across Philadelphia to share their ideas for making communities more vibrant places to live and work.
 Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 21. Neighborhood Placemaker Grants offer a funding opportunity for impactful projects that answer the question: how can you make your neighborhood uniquely beautiful through horticulture?

1) Who are you? Introduce yourself, provide your contact information, and let us know if you are affiliated with an organization.

Robert Quartucci Jr
34xx Friendship St
Philadelphia, PA 19149
I am a former Philadelphia Flower Show major floral design exhibitor from 1996-2003, as owner of Designs In Bloom. Sat on the PHS Flower Show Advisory Board for a few years in the late 90's into 2K. Two years, City Gardens judge. Consider Bill Schaffer and Kris Kratt, of Schaffer Designs close personal friends and have worked on their exhibit the last several years. I am a long-term, currently-renting, resident of the Tacony-Mayfair-Holmesburg area for over 30 years, while was raised in suburban Hatboro-Horsham. I have been in the active background of civic involvement projects for the last 25. Served on the Pastorial Council of St. Dominic's RC Church in Holmesburg and Chaired the Art & Environment Committee responsible for weekly and seasonal church and altar decorating, and instrumental in the funding, painting and remodelling design decisions for both Main Church and Adoration Chapel thru the mid 90's into early 2K's.

Currently a member of the Mayfair Civic Association, but not assigned or appointed to any committee or leadership post. Have expressed desire to work with them extensively, but my only contact on this is Jim Ortlieb, Chair of the Clean-up Committee. In Sept of 2013, provided him a 30+page plan of possible drought-tolerant, zonally-suitable perennial plants with color specimen photos to choose either in combination, color, or varied incorporating bloom cycle and winter interest. To date no action has taken place. Recently alerted him as to your Placemaker Grant as a funding mechanism  to remedy a highly visible community problem. I am not privy to the inner politics of Mayfair Civic Association, Mayfair Community Development Corp, Mayfair Business Association, TownWatch or the newly-formed Mayfair Clean-up & Beautification Group on facebook or their advancement and endorsement of current office holders or a particular party agenda.

My desire to apply for this grant is to ensure the following project be properly thought-out, funded, supervised and executed, in the spirit of community-service and civic responsibility for the betterment of the entire Mayfair community I choose to call home.

2) What’s your idea?  Tell us about your project.

To use this grant money to give Mayfair a makeover reinvigorating the economic and physical environment of the Mayfair-Frankford Avenue commercial/residential corridor by best utilizing existing resources, services and materials through engaging public lanscape design with long-term community benefits and continued civic involvement.

There currently exists along both sides of this mixed-use corridor, a long stretch of disjointed placements of 50-60 large concrete planters, approx. 3.5' h x 4.5' sq, and occasional curb tree plantings extending from Harbison Avenue to Rhawn St. Most of the planters currently contain a single tree, presently planted far too low, up to 15" below container rim, and often become trash collection eyesores. A portion are dead and many not planted to sustain proper growth. Moving some of these to a more logical and neighborhood-friendly configuration near busstops or pedestrian gathering places would enhance appearance, creating a more-inviting atmosphere conducive to business and civic activity. The original installation, while well-intentioned, was inconsistent in placement and poorly executed resulting in a negative to community appearance, instead of a positive.

Moving planters and proper replanting of the trees will require contracting professional landscape personnel or co-operation of city departments with proper equipment , and thus a necessary budgetary consideration. Filling all the planters with soil, 12 to 16 plants and mulch nearly to the rim should help eliminate use as trashcans. Considering their current condition, soil  and mulch will be a sizeable expense.

Essentially implementing and choosing plant material from my Sept 2013 plan provides a basic guide for the procurement of plant material. How that is procured would determine most of the remaining significant costs. Contract grown? Purchase solely what is available on wholesale/retail market? Delivery? If installation labor is solely volunteer, material storage from delivery to installation becomes a problem. One possible proposal could be to work with Lincoln High School's horticulture department utilizing their greenhouse facility to either grow from seed or root stock as early as possible in the school year some if not all the plant material for initial and subsequent annual installations.  Involving students in this type of project fosters community pride and can help to build on volunteers necessary to maintain a project of this scale if professional maintenance is not a budgetary option. The Department of Corrections facilities on State Rd. in nearby Holmesburg have greenhouse facilities that could be approached to render their services and meaningful contribution to community. While a voluntary "Hort Corps" would be the desired outcome, some initial and limited-continual landscape professional maintenance expenditure is essential.

Trees already planted into the sidewalk need additional attention as well. Hardscape or some type of curb-like barrier is needed to properly remedy these areas as most tree roots are now above sidewalk level. Then the area surrounding these trees would either be filled in with plants or a porous permanent surface. Investing in these areas is necessary to complete the project properly, but is a huge cost variable in execution and longterm cost factor with either alternative.

3) How will it impact your neighborhood? (include important factors such as physical, environmental, social, health, or economic impacts)

This project, done correctly, could impact the neighborhood on many levels. Mayfair seems currently in malaise, terribly in need of a visible makeover that could be a catalyst for significant positive change. Some positive efforts of community organizations have centered on special events and festivals, but previous more lasting projects, like the planters and the Devon Theater, suffered due to a lack of forethought and commitment. It is a neighborhood of changing demographics, ethnically and economically, growing more diverse. Vacant storefronts, both small and large gradually dot more of the area. Some attempts are made at new small business, alongside long established mom-n-pops, assorted type restaurants, bars, bakeries, small specialty shops, hair and nail care venues of all types, medical and professional offices. Funeral homes, service stations, supermarkets, banks and drug superstores and bargain dollar stores are included in the mix of free-standing, row or strip-style commercial buildings. Serving as Mayfair's "center" Cottman & Frankford Aves is a mass transit intersection for much of the northeast. All along the Mayfair section of Frankford Avenue, Septa Rt66 is a major mass transit carrier extending the El to the city line. Some planters could be used with Septa co-operation to beautify its many stops. Keeping this thorofare vibrant with a consistent, well-maintained, attractive public landscape design will create a clean, safe, pedestrian-friendly environment conducive to additional neighboring residential and working commuter consumer foot traffic for struggling businesses.

By reinforcing cooperation with existing business, foster their involvement in upkeep and/or financial support for continued maintenance of planters nearby their establishment. Use business association to stress the importance of maintaining an attractive business environment to attract new business growth and vibrant economic environment. Encourage the careful, additional use of potted plants outside their establishments to create a welcoming appearance contributing to the public landscape for a more alive sidewalk appearance.  Solicit individual or residential block sponsorship of planters for continued care. Acknowledge with tyvek-type hangtag that's affordable to replace, not cheap looking, nor easily stolen and more cost-effective than permanent plaques requiring larger donations. The neighbors taking ownership will hopefully build a stronger sense of community. Involving youth in the process, either through the students at Lincoln growing the plant material and taking pride and ownership of the project or approaching other youth organizations and schools for volunteers. Young people are more likely to respect the neighborhood and pass that respect onto others if they have personal stock in the project, hoping to discourage litter and vandalism using peer reinforcement.

Thorough planning and subsequent execution and timing are all integral for maximum impact, as is building an essential volunteer group to assist in installation and continuing maintenance. Formation of a Frankford Ave "Hort Corps" as a core group working separately, but in co-operation with Mayfair Civic Assn. and Development Corp. Completing large portions of the reorganization of the planters is strong visible reinforcement to bring out more volunteers for subsequent mass plantings to complete entire project in a reasonably timely manner when using a largely volunteer staff. It is essential to create the assurance that something is finally getting done! Utilization of social media to recruit should be easy to accomplish with numerous contact points thru neighborhood groups already existing.

Lincoln students are perennial exhibitors at the Phila.
Flower Show. This is their 2014 exhibit.

Why not utilize their skills to beautify Mayfair
for a great lesson in community service
and civic pride. 
4) How does your project align with the PHS mission to build community through horticulture?

This project, in essence IS the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's mission to build community through horticulture.  First by engaging various groups of the community to execute or volunteer in a large scale public landscape project, it brings together a more diverse group of people to work side by side with a common purpose. Student involvement provides learning opportunities and practical mass volume growing experience in the horticulture industry. Second, bringing public gardening into the Frankford Ave. corridor works to provide a more positive environment in which to live, work, and do business. Seizing this opportunity for experienced guidance, properly-funded and supported use of public space for landscape design in such a highly-visible prominent NE thorofare and iconic location, PHS's contribution would reach an area of the city where you historically have not had a significant presence and receive expansive media recognition.

5) Who have you talked to? How will they help? (include land owners, government representatives, community associations, businesses, etc.)

I have talked to Jim Ortlieb of the Mayfair Civic Assn., and I mentioned his involvement with other Mayfair Community Development Corp and Business Assn. previously, and am acquainted with some members of their respective executive boards. I just yesterday spoke to the head of the newly formed, Mayfair Clean-up & Beautification Group on facebook. Bobby Henon posted this invite on facebook, so I'm sure he would support the grant for this project. As would Councilman-at-large, Ed Neilson, whom I've copied this proposal. St Rep Kevin Boyle has an office on Frankford Ave and would be directly involved. I have spoken to both newly-elected St Rep Mike Driscoll and his primary opponent, Dennis Kilderry, during their primary race as to the importance of improving the deteriorating physical appearance of the area through better use of the existing planters and had their agreement. In my daily activities and association with local business operations I have discussed the issue and found support once properly executed.

6) If you have an idea of costs, let us know. This can be a rough estimate.

Costs to move concrete planters, replant improperly planted trees, remove stumps and dead trees, correct soil and mulch level deficiency, procurement, delivery and installation of 12-16 perennial blooming plants and grasses, numbering 50 - 60 at a rough estimate of $200 per existing planter,
$10,000 - 12,000. Some of this cost could be reduced by using student involvement in growing of plant material however the school will require funds for purchase of seeds and root stock.

There are administrative and support costs to build volunteer support for installation and maintenance. Costs related to promotion for sponsorship for continued funding for maintence of project for sustainability. This could easily add $3,000.

Costs to revitalize the existing curb trees with some type of retaining border and either surrounding with plants or porous hardscape adds significant additional varying costs as to the inconsistency of sidewalk opening sizes and actual number of trees. Even estimating an additional 50 locations at $250 each adds $12,500.

A project of this size could easily utilize the entire $25,000 Grant you are offering, but with costs broken out, and some portions more essential to the project, you can ascertain for yourself, there is much room for flexibility. A grant from PHS of even $18,000 could definitely make significant change in Mayfair.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thanking Spike for the Kickstarter Buzz

For those that may be unfamiliar, Kickstarter is a website, "changing how millions of people around the world connect" creatively. Kickstarter is a "crowd-sourcing" way to fund projects in art, comedy, dance, design, fashion, film & video, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater. If you can dream it...the funding you may receive from a Kickstarter project can help you achieve it. It's a 21st century version of patronage on steroids.

Throughout history, particularly during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, rulers and the aristocracy sponsored the work of musicians, artists, and sculptors. Patronage built the many of the world's great cathedrals and temples. It funded much of the art and sculpture we now consider priceless and masterpieces. History credits the Medici's of Florence as being generous patrons. Michangelo, da Vinci, Shakespeare, Mozart, and Beethoven all benefited from the sponsorship of the wealthy to create their art.

Kickstarter utilizes the vast communication network of the internet and social media to unite artists with those who choose to sponsor their work. These sponsors pledge funding to a particular project. They are only required to fulfill their pledges if the project attains the full amount of funding requested within a set period of time. In return, sponsors receive predetermined premiums or gifts based on the amount of their contribution. These contributions can be as small as $5.00. No longer are benefactors just the rich. The creative community benefits by presenting their ideas to larger numbers of "everyday" people to achieve the financial support necessary to complete their project. Sponsors benefit in knowing they contributed to something greater than themselves and sometimes are provided opportunities they may never have had the ability to experience.

On July 22, 2013, the legendary, award-winning Writer, Director, Producer, and Actor, Spike Lee, presented his request for the funding of his latest "Joint." This has caused an uproar among many in the creative community and beyond. The major gripe concerns why he would make such a request when someone of his means could easily fund this project himself. As of the publishing of this blog, Spike is nearly at 60% of the goal with roughly half the time remaining to achieve it.

The newest hottest Spike Lee joint

I would like to thank Spike Lee for his continued contributions to the world of film and support of the arts. I would contend, as a result of this controversy, more people now know about Kickstarter. There have been numerous stories broadcast, published, and distributed by just about every major and minor news media outlet, from the network news and Variety to LinkedIn and the blogosphere, concerning Spike Lee's request via this "crowd-sourcing" venue. As a result, the "crowd" is now larger and hopefully a greater "source" of funding for all types of projects. Spike's request has increased public awareness of Kickstarter, and in turn, created greater opportunity for both funders and fundees. How many more Google searches has Kickstarter shown up in since his request? Have the number of projects seeking funding increased? Has the number of funders and amount of funding increased? Instead of criticizing Spike Lee, perhaps the indie crowd should be thanking him for his pro-bono celebrity endorsement of Kickstarter.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2013 Philadelphia Flower Show

"JACK" by Schaffer Designs

2013 Best in Show - Floral Design Award


Society of American Florists Award

The notorious legend unfolds.
Last week, I had the pleasure of working with the award-winning husband-wife team, Bill Schaffer and Kris Kratt, and an amazing group of nearly 30 talented volunteer floral designers from around the United States and England on their major exhibit at the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show...JACK.
The show previewed on Friday, March 1st, with the theme "Brilliant", paying tribute to all things British. The Schaffer Designs team, known for presenting creatively imaginative displays, once again, does exactly that with their brilliantly cutting-edge depiction of the Jack the Ripper story.
The Bedroom...scene of the crime.
Not your great-grandmother's Victorian garden, this captivating walk-through exhibit takes spectators on an unexpected journey to the dark underground of the Whitechapel neighborhood of London where this notorious figure in British history reportedly killed and dissected his several prostitute-victims.

Eerily shocking...strikingly beautiful.
Damp and dank becomes delightful.
Following nearly a year of thoughtful research, the actual locations and facts surrounding the murders provide the inspiration for the series of rooms and vignettes where color and texture turn the macabre to magnificent.

So can feel it pulsing.
A wide range of innovative design techniques utilizing the latest in industry design products, (ie. Oasis Floral Products, Accent Decor, and FloraCraft) are combined with beautiful flowers, foliage and succulents to create what Bill Schaffer refers to as, "floral theater." Some of the most unique varieties come from growers as far away as Japan and Hawaii. These growers and wholesalers providing exceptional show-quality product include The Elite Bouquet, Rosaprima, Jet Fresh Flowers, Roseville Farms, Amy's Orchids, Green Point Nursery, Fern Trust, Naniwa Flower Auction Co.Naniwa Flower Auction Co., Ltd., Sunburst Farms, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, and DV Flora.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Protect voting rights...Check your registration now!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marketing, Advertising and PR News - MediaBuzz

Check out my results on this quiz sponsored by Monster thru their MediaBuzz social community for advertising professionals. I enjoy these type of exercises to ensure I remain on top of my game.

Marketing, Advertising and PR News - MediaBuzz

Try it for yourself and see how you score.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Setting the Floral World on Fire

I had the pleasure, this past week, of joining the design team from Schaffer Designs in creating the "Best In Show" Floral Exhibit, PELE: Goddess of Fire for the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show. What a personally rewarding way for me to participate in the show after an eight year hiatus...Thanks to Bill Schaffer and Kristine Kratt for the opportunity to join them and the terrific group of people they assembled. The show runs Sunday, March 4th thru Sunday, March 11th. As an eight-time award-winning major exhibitor from 1996 to 2003 as Designs In Bloom, I think this year's show ranks among the best of them. Described as an interpretation of PELE's tale with spectacular botanical explosions as floral lava flows through a landscape of industrial rock formations, Schaffer's exhibit is definitely not to be missed...we're talking a red hot, brilliant concept, design and execution.

About Me

My photo
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
aRtiQulate media+design is the brainchild of marketing communications and design professional, Robert Quartucci, Jr. Current advertising and communications require articulating your brand and message coherently across several different media platforms. Utilizing my educational background and accumulated expertise as a retail entrepreneur in floral and environmental decorating with over 20 years advertising and multiple-medium design experience, I combine "old school know-how" with "new tech" knowledge to create branding programs that will promote business and produce positive results. This blog hopes to share that expertise with others while at the same time, serve as a means to express my personal thoughts and interests and love of the written and spoken word and the visual arts.