My first three blog posts ever

 A Little About Me – Originally posted – July 12, 2011@5:31PM
My name is chris Condello and I live in wilkinsburg. I am in the process of converting my street into an urban farm. when I first moved onto Whitney avenue it was one of the most blighted streets in wilkinsburg. It all started last spring when my girlfriend and I moved onto the street, we had already cut a large garden in one of the two vacant lots on the street. A local woman had put together an art project painting boards to put on the abandoned houses. I should mention that out of 22 houses on our little dead end street 10 are abandoned. As they were being boarded up we were clearing front yards out and establishing grass and gardens. Now we mow and maintain almost every yard on the street including planting all of the gardens. Now we have a 2 lot urban farm and all of the front yards that we maintain. We even have a backyard pumpkin patch and plans to takeover more. I will post some pictures soon!

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Whitney Avenue Urban Farm – Originally Posted – July 16, 2011@2:03AM
A big part of what goes on on our street involves children from the neighborhood. Before we moved on Whitney avenue the kids were terrors. They managed to chase many people off the street, and contributed to 90% of the litter. I decided to include them in the farm and they would come and go. They would help me when they were bored which is aparently pretty often. This year my 10 year old right hand man has been helping me since march on a regular basis. This is a kid who effectively chased a 50 year old out of his Victorian dream home. He can name just about every plant in the gardens. Anyway in early June we opened the forgotten farm stand at the dead end of our street. I wanted to show the kids that there hard work can pay off monetarily and snuck a few math lessons in. They say ma’am, sir and thank you, now they say thank you all the time. I am so proud of these kids they now have a sense of pride and respect. Litter has gone down to virtually nothing. We give most of what we don’t eat away to neighborhood residents… Some gets sold at the forgotten farm stand and the kids split the money they make between themselves. We are toting with the idea of doing a few farmers markets this year.

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Neighborhood kids and my roll in their lives – Originally posted – July 18, 2011@3:07AM

I am getting really tired of people coming to me and asking why isn’t so and so in school right now…  I want to scream at the top of my lungs that I am not there mom or dad I am just a friend…  I can’t make them go to school and I sure as hell am not going to tell there parents how to do there job…  My job as a neighbor is to inform the parents of whatever it is that there child is doing…  Discipline is on them whether I like there action or not I live with it… It is really not any of my business…  Part of the reason I have any success with the kids is I am now friends with there parents…  Believe me the most powerfull threat you can make with a kid in the hood is you will tell there grandma…

I look at the kids as friends and i don’t feel my roll in their lives should include telling them they need to go to school…  I have to look at the fact that most of these kids don’t want to go to school…  So I see my roll as preparing them for life without school…  I teach them gardening and landscaping as well as construction…  All the things there dads would teach them had they been around…  I think this is important stuff for adolescent boys to learn…  I don’t know what my childhood would of been like without tree houses and forts…

I never went to formal school myself and most of what I know is self taught…  I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and had a great family…  My neighborhood was nice with manicured lawns and gardens…  I just want to bring a little of what I grew up with into an area that otherwise wouldn’t have it…  Instead of playing football in the street the kids play in the front yard of three abandoned houses that a year ago was so overgrown they couldn’t play their…  We mow it every two weeks and now the kids have grass to play in…  I got in alot of trouble growing up…  I mean a ridiculouse amount of trouble…  When I see how mischievious these kids are it is no different than I was when I was a 10 year old boy…  The only difference is I had the woods to go be bad in while these urban kids really only have the street in plain sight…

This whole BLOG thing is new to me and I am not really much of a writer so bare with me…  I am going to try and keep this up if for nothing else than to try to help re-create this in other neighborhoods…  The sense of community that this is creating is absolutely incredible…

http://transitionpgh.org/profiles/blogs/neighborhood-kids-and-my-roll

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