Connor Barwin, Mayor Nutter Dedicate Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze

Connor Barwin speaks at the Ralph Brooks Park dedication ceremony. | Photo by HughE Dillon

Connor Barwin speaks at the Ralph Brooks Park dedication ceremony. | Photo by HughE Dillon

Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation‘s first major initiative in Philadelphia was dedicated yesterday afternoon in Point Breeze. The new Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker streets was a collaborative project with urban development non-profit Urban Roots, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Mural Arts and many more. The area now boasts a full-size basketball court, a state-of-the-art playground, a community garden that will produce fresh vegetables for the neighborhood, and a fresh new work from “Love Letters” muralist Steve Powers.

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Ribbon Cutting: Opening Date Set for Ralph Brooks Park

Community members painted wooden arrows made by guild carpenters to line the local garden that surrounds Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze, Philadelphia. (Jessie Fox/Urban Roots)

Community members painted wooden arrows made by guild carpenters to line the local garden that surrounds Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze, Philadelphia. (Jessie Fox/Urban Roots)

A ribbon cutting planned for Monday, August 31 will top off a major revitalization project at Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. The ceremony will officially mark the transformation of a downtrodden playground at 20th and Tasker into a true community hub, complete with new basketball courts, rain and community gardens, freshly painted murals, an inter-generational gaming terrace with seating and a brand new tot lot for active play.

The ceremony takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Jeffrey Tubbs, developer with project partner Urban Roots, summed up his feelings in one word when reached by email: “Perseverance!”

While Monday marks the official opening of the park, Tubbs said there’s another date of note. “We started this project on March 13th, 2012,” he said, referencing the first emails to Jahmall Crandall, a Point Breeze native and project partner with

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Photos: Eagles Training Camp, 8/13 Part II

Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

From the pass rush to a surprising Nick Foles stat to the run game, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

29.6 – The percentage of pass plays last year in which the Eagles’ defense generated pressure. That number ranked first in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. It’s a pretty remarkable stat for a couple different reasons. The Eagles play a two-gap 3-4 in which they focus on stopping the run on early downs. And I don’t think they have a player who would be considered a premiere edge rusher.

Connor Barwin led the team with 14.5 sacks and 21 hurries (coaches’ stats) last year. Those are great numbers, but in many cases, he’s not blowing by (or running over) offensive tackles. He’s savvy and does a great job of anticipating where the quarterback is going to end up. To his credit, Barwin knows how to finish also. Read more »

Connor Barwin’s Benefit Concert Raised $300,000 for Smith Playground Project

Saturday’s sold out benefit concert at Union Transfer raised a total of $300,000 for Connor Barwin’s foundation, Make The World Better Project. The money will help push MTWB’s plans for an “innovative” revitalization project at Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson in South Philadelphia that much closer to reality.

Urban Roots is a partner in the overall vision of park projects with MTWB and founder Jeffrey Tubbs confirmed the concert raised $150,000, an amount that the Eagles Linebacker matched to bring it to $300,000. The inaugural concert benefitted the project at Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker in Point Breeze and raised $185,000 in total. Tubbs previously told Property that he anticipated Saturday’s concert, which featured bands Parquet Courts, Canadian rocker Mac Demarco, The Suffers and Philly’s own Marian Hill, to raise around $200,000–needless to say, it was a success.

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It’s Full Steam Ahead at Two Game-Changing Park Projects in South Philly

Screen shot 2015-06-18 at 12.33.15 AM

The upcoming plans for Smith Playground | via Urban Roots

Connor Barwin has become somewhat of a folk hero here in Philly. When he isn’t making big time plays on the gridiron, he’s spearheading a few game-changing community revitalization projects at two South Philly parks through his foundation, the Make The World Better Project.

Through a partnership with the urban development non-profit Urban Roots Foundation, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and a slew of other local stakeholders, Barwin and crew are in the thick of a major project at Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker in Point Breeze and are about to kick off their efforts at another one, Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson. Jeffrey Tubbs, a Philly-based developer with JDT International and founder of Urban Roots, said that the project took its, ah-hem, roots over two and a half years ago with a meeting with Jahmall Crandall, the founder of (short for I am South Philadelphia). Crandall’s original vision sought to redo the ragged basketball courts at the park. Let’s just say he got his wish and a whole lot more.

Tubbs said the ideas then started to snowball into something bigger. First, enlarge and resurface the court and outfit it with a pair of top notch hoops. Next, freshen up the tot lot with a softer look and brand new play equipment. Then, as Tubbs explained, the project reached a tipping point when the PWD got involved and provided nearly $200,000 to install green infrastructure–namely, a rain garden in the southernmost part of the park–and advanced storm water management systems.

Boom–that’s all, right? It turns out that this is just the beginning.

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Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles practice session.

11:51 a.m. – I have joked before about being the lone passenger on the Marcus Smith bandwagon, but I swear that watching him move in practice, he looks like an NFL player. He’s long, athletic, and effort doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Maybe after being ping-ponged from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, it was the mental part that tripped him up last season. We’ll see if that’s the case once the pads come on.

By the way, speaking of the outside linebacker spot, Vinny Curry is getting some reps there, according to Chip Kelly. We know Curry can get after the passer, and he should have no problem setting the edge in the run game. But the question will be whether he can drop into coverage. Read more »

Kelce On Mathis: ‘They Didn’t Want the Distraction’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

 Jason Kelce said that there was more of an “underlying tone” to the Evan Mathis contract protests this time around, one that apparently clashed with the symphonic harmony emanating from One NovaCare Way.

“Last year there was some under-the-radar talks about it, stuff that was going on in the media, but nothing really concrete and he never really let it take place in front of the team or anything like that so it wasn’t a distraction,” said Kelce. “At this point obviously he would have missed all of OTAs. It was a much bigger deal throughout the season at this point.”

It was no surprise to Kelce, then, that Mathis was cut out of equation. Same for the rest of the Eagles players we talked to.

This week’s minicamp will wrap on Thursday, marking the end of the offseason conditioning program. Mathis was absent all spring. While everything save the minicamp is voluntary, several of his teammates suggested that he was in violation of an unwritten code of conduct. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Would Manuel Make Sense For Eagles?

EJ Manuel / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY

EJ Manuel / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY

Here are some Eagles-related links to check out this weekend.

According to, there’s a chance the Bills might be looking to part ways with quarterback E.J. Manuel this summer. And Chris Wesseling thinks the Eagles could make sense as his potential next landing spot:

If the Bills end up dangling Manuel for a late-round pick in August, keep an eye on the Eagles as a potential trade partner.

After recruiting Manuel at Oregon, Chip Kelly told NFL Network in the lead-up to the 2013 NFL Draft that the former Florida State star was a player he “didn’t get a chance to coach but would like a chance to coach.”

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