Would you throw out trash if it meant feeding the fish? What if that fish was topping off a trashcan?
That’s the Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) Beautification Committee's hope. They are having fish head lids fabricated for public trashcans and holding a call for artists to decorate each fish head. By making depositing litter a shade more fun maybe the neighborhood will become a tidier place.
“One of the big problems with outside trash cans is the lack of a lid that allows trash to blow out,” said FNA Beautification Chair Kristie Landry over email, noting that litter is a perennial complaint among neighbors. The fish-headed trashcan concept takes the need for a lid one step further and may encourage good behavior by reinforcing Fishtown pride. “We were using the Fun Theory - the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better - as our springboard for ideas.”
“One of our main goals is to ensure that everyone in neighborhood has role in this project - all working together to keep it clean. The FNA is establishing the connections between the businesses, schools, students, artist and neighbors to all participate in what we hope will be another reason to take pride in how we as a community are making this a great neighborhood,” Landry said
Local sculptor Eric Allen is finishing the fish head sculpture that will be reproduced as trashcan lids by Cowpainters. A call for artists to decorate these fish heads went out in February and design applications can be submitted until the end of April. After the selected artists embellish the fish heads, FNA plans to hold a neighborhood unveiling for all to meet the artists and sponsors before the fish heads are dispersed throughout Fishtown.
FNA is working with the Fishtown Area Business Association to identify sponsors, who will be responsible for maintaining the trashcans and emptying them for rubbish collection. (Interested sponsors should check fishtown.org for a pledge form soon). Each can will feature a plaque with the artist, sponsor, and funder names.
The budget for the project, about $15,000, mostly comes from a grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District (funded through the SugarHouse Casino community benefits agreement) as well as the Streets Department, FNA, and residents.
Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.