Everybody notices traffic and parking on Ridge, but cleaner sidewalks often slip under the radar. We caught up with the man who’s cleaning up our business district, one block at a time.
Who’s that man in the yellow vest? You may have noticed Shawn Henry, in good weather and bad, sweeping sidewalks and street edges along the business district (including Ridge, Midvale, Scotts Lane, and Conrad Street) about three times a week.
Shawn was hired by the East Falls Development Corporation in May 2016 as part of a business improvement project, which is funded by local businesses and property owners.
Now that he’s familiar with the Falls, we asked Shawn a few questions to get his take on the job and our neighborhood.
How does East Falls compare to your current neighborhood? To the one you grew up in?
East Falls is very friendly —a lot like University City where I live now. When I am out working, everyone wants to know you and speak with you. I also get a lot of compliments—people saying I’m doing a good job. Where I grew up, people would just walk past you without saying a word.
Least favorite part of cleaning?
My least favorite part is the traffic. On windy days, when the bus comes past, I have to start all over.
Favorite time of day? Favorite area of East Falls?
Summer evenings on Midvale are the best. The stores and restaurants are more crowded and people are having fun eating outside.
Any secrets or tips for working outdoors when it’s cold?
Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Dress as warmly as you can.
Do you listen to music while you work? Any favorite songs or artists?
I don’t really have favorites—just as long as there’s something upbeat in my ear.
Gina Snyder, of the EFDC, is glad Shawn’s on the job. “He’s a great worker. Very thorough and meticulous.” She’s also happy that businesses came together to fund Shawn’s efforts. “We need as much collaboration as possible to keep our neighborhood moving forward. There are a lot of improvements coming to our area but keeping our streets clean is at the top of the list.”
It’s easy to see why—studies show that clean streets reduce littering and increase quality of life. Shawn’s happy to help that cause, one block at a time.