LOLadelphia Responds to ‘Abandoned Philly Public Schools’ Post
(Photo by Austin Hodges)
Last week I posted photos by local photographer/Instagrammer, Austin Hodges. These photos document a few of Philadelphia’s more recently abandoned public high schools. I posted these photos for two reasons: 1) I found them completely awe-inspiring. And 2) I thought they said more than I ever could about the state of the public school system in Philly, namely its purposeful underfunding by elected officials.
I thought these photos would allow people to see this very crucial issue in a new light. And I hoped this would encourage more conversations, and ultimately more activism. More people should be raving mad about public school underfunding. And our elected officials need to be taken to task for their poor leadership on this most basic fundamental resource of a free and democratic society. Especially a society that sees itself as innovative, and wants to remain that way.
Unfortunately, it seems the post hit at least one fellow Philadelphian the wrong way: LOLadelphia, who wrote a few posts on his blog criticizing me for posting the photos. This week, I reached out to LOLadelphia and asked him to summarize his criticism for me to post here. Below are his thoughts:
“I don’t like the idea of recently-closed schools becoming a playground for people who simply want an adventure. If you do urban exploration and this commentary offends you, my apologies. You have to understand the situation. If these schools start becoming hot spots for that type of thing, the School District of Philadelphia (who still owns the buildings by the way) won’t be able to sell them to a charter school or a developer who might do something with the building. When people take pictures from the roof of the Divine Lorraine, are they thinking about how when Father Divine took over the Lorraine Hotel, he turned it into a place where people could purchase cheap meals, and turned the top floor banquet hall into a church, or are they thinking about how they can take a bad-ass picture? When people take pictures of the basketball court at the old Spring Garden School, do they even know that that school relocated to right around the corner? Probably not. These buildings just become a place for people who want an adventure to hang out, and I guess I’m fine with that because nothing’s being done with these buildings anyway. I think schools, however, especially ones that closed less than a year ago, are different.
If people really care about these closed schools, they should talk to people in the community; graduates of the institution both recent and decades ago. We should all be on the same page attending the same rallies (which I don’t post on here for reasons pertaining to my privacy) trying to give our city’s children a voice. I don’t think going on an urban exploration adventure and implicitly encouraging other like-minded individuals to do the same makes the kind of statement that they think it is. Think about the kids. Think about the community. Don’t think about making a recently closed school into another Divine Lorraine. I know I’ll catch some shit for this post, so please know that I respect Streets Dept as a fellow blogger, I just disagree with him on this. If you’re into urban exploration, more power to you. Just remember, I had School Police called on me for taking pictures of the OUTSIDE of a recently closed school, and the sale of these buildings is crucial to the School District of Philadelphia’s “master plan” to resolve their budget woes. If you really “care” about these buildings, you will leave them alone and let the school district do what they intend to do with them.”
Check out more from LOLadelphia on their RIP Philly Schools page HERE.
Special thanks to LOLadelphia for sharing their thoughts on this topic. I’m always happy to hear people’s differing points of view, and I’ve got great respect for the work and passion LOLadelphia puts in their blog. We may disagree a bit on this topic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk through our opinions with reason and respect, as I think we have here. Thanks LOLadelphia!