By Riley Britt, TTF intern
TTF partnered with the Olney Culture Lab and Dr. Matthew Smalarz of Manor College to record in-person interviews with community members as part of the Tacony Creek Park Stories project, made possible with support from the Joseph Roberts Foundation. Manor College, which sits along the Jenkintown Creek at the headwaters of the TTF watershed, hosts an Oral History repository.
Tacony Creek Park Stories is a two-part effort, collecting and sharing park and neighborhood history and memories, and then working with local artists to bring these stories to life, making the collective story of Tacony Creek Park more accessible to the community.
As part of this project, TTF is proud to share this blog with you based on a 2018 interview with Pamela Miller, a West Philadelphia native.
In this interview, area resident Pamela Miller discusses her love of nature and parks. She fondly remembers her childhood spent in local parks growing up as well as anecdotes throughout her life. She has lived near Tacony Creek Park for the better part of 23 years, but her direct involvement started a few years ago.
Even as a young girl, Pamela was a self-proclaimed park lover and nature lover. Parks were abundant with wildlife as well, Pamela can recall several sightings of deer, geese, beavers, and possums. She can recall a time when she would come to a park in the early morning when it was quiet to pick berries from bushes, mulberries and raspberries specifically.
“I used to get those, take them home, wash them, and eat them. Back then, there was no spraying or anything, so everything was safe”
She first got involved with Tacony Creek Park after seeing flyers for events such as cleanups. She wanted to take part because she has always wanted to help improve and clean parks. Pamela says that she likes being a part of a group during cleanups, enjoying the company of like-minded people from the community. Aside from clean-ups, she enjoys helping plant trees to better the park. She takes part in other events too, such as nature walks and bird walks, drawn to them for her love of birds, nature, and the nostalgic smell of summer flowers and grass. When asked about how the park has changed, she feels that it has improved for the better and is a much safer environment thanks to the Tacony Creek community. Pamela has even received two awards for her continued dedication in improving Tacony Creek Park.
While not as abundant as during her childhood, there are still a wide variety of park animals to be spotted. Pamela recalls seeing four deer and having the chance to observe them quietly for an amazing moment in which there was no fear of one another. Another story features a family of possums that she found on her own property and relocated to the park where they could thrive in a safer environment. Birds are also very special to her, especially in groups of three, which she sees as a sign that everything’s looking up and going to be okay.
In the future, she hopes that more people will participate in park activities. Her faith and her love of nature intersect and she wants to share that love with her grandchildren. When they lived with her, she would take them to the park with her so that they could enjoy nature together.
“God’s not separate from nature because he created it. So when I’m in the park, it’s like a creative spirit out there that I feel from God, so it’s all connected together with the animals, and the flowers, and the trees, and the smell of the trees. I love the smell of nature. So it’s all connected together. You know, I can’t enjoy that without God being a part of it.”
Do you have a story to share?
Whether you’ve been visiting the park for 50 years or just a few months, we’d love to hear from you. We are committed to gathering stories from the wide range of perspectives in our culturally and ethnically diverse park community. Interested in sharing your stories from the park? Contact email@example.com or call 215-744-1853.