From Potlucks to Tai Chi: Fitler Square's Commitment to Community and Connection
By Stacia Friedman
City life can be anonymous. Residents of Fitler Square are intent on being the exception.
Echoing this community spirit, Lindsay Bingaman, serving as the president of Friends of Schuylkill River Park, conducted a needs assessment several years ago that uncovered a significant desire among residents for increased social interaction. “I have a passion for building community and bringing people together,” said Bingaman. “Data shows us that isolation is a public health issue.”
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This inspired Bingaman to create Building Friends in Fitler (BFF) in the summer of 2022.
A joint committee of several civic groups in the neighborhood, including the Friends of Schuylkill River Park, the purpose of BFF is to help build friendships and generate greater cohesion.
Judging from the January 21 Potluck & Open Mic Night at Trinity Church, it is a success. Almost one hundred people attended, socializing over homemade food and music. “We look forward to more potlucks in February and March,” said Bingaman.
(To get notified about future potlocks and BFF events, sign up for the Friends of Schuylkill River Park newsletter here.)
The potlock and open mic night is but one of an entire calendar of activities organized by BFF to introduce neighbors to one another and build community.
Ongoing & Upcoming Events
If you’re feeling crafty, stop by the Tuesday afternoon Knitting Circle at Trinity Church. “Our diverse group encompasses individuals from various walks of life,” says organizer Linsey Will, who runs the event under the guidance of the Philadelphia Guild of Hand Weavers. “[We have] an airline flight attendant, nursing professionals, and those with flexible work schedules.” Will plays a dual role as a board member of BFFS and the Chair of the Grounds Committee for FFSP.
The Rittenhouse Readers Book Club, which was created in September 2023 and already boasts over 400 members on Facebook, is not your ordinary book club. Specific books are not assigned and fans of all genres are welcome. Meetings are an hour of individual reading time with 30 minutes to mingle and meet your neighbors before and after. Sign-up on Facebook to find out about upcoming meetings.
At Markward Recreation Center, the ancient Chinese martial art of Tai Chi offers a pathway to mental and physical well-being. Welcoming all skill levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners, the center hosts Tai Chi sessions every Tuesday evening.
For those who love getting an active start to their day, the Walking Group offers an invigorating opportunity every Friday at 9 a.m. Meeting at the corner of 25th & Spruce, this group embarks on a refreshing one-hour stroll along the scenic River Trail. The walk culminates with a stop at Rowhome Coffee, located at 25th & Pine, where participants can enjoy a warm beverage and friendly conversation.
Bring the kids to Bingo, Lego League or the Esports Club at Markward Recreation Center. Esports is for 5-12 year-olds who enjoy playing Nintendo Switch games in a fun social setting, Wednesdays, 6-7:30pm.
When the weather warms up, there will be the annual Easter Egg Hunt in Fitler Square Park, a Party-in-the-Park the first week in June, a kids clothing swap, a Park Clean Up, and the return of the weekly Farmer’s Market.
Gemina Gianino, former president of Friends of Fitler Square Park and current Event Coordinator, is looking forward to the annual Fitler Fun Event on Saturday, May 4th. “Last year, the event attracted over one hundred residents to a celebration of live music and food. We also will be scheduling monthly concerts in Fitler Square during the summer.”
For more information visit:
Building Friends in Fitler (BFF): firstname.lastname@example.org