(Image credit: Steve Weinik)

Posted by Ellen

The entire 3800 block of Melon Street, in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philly, got a new coat of paint last summer, thanks to the city's Mural Arts Program and a couple of dozen kids in the neighborhood who apparently are not-so-distant relatives of Tom Sawyer.

A new mural isn't going to transform a block, much less a neighborhood. A new coat of paint, even all at once on every house on the block, is unlikely to catalyze dramatic transformation. By all accounts, this was a block and neighborhood that needed a whole lot more than fresh paint. This particular paint job was part of a complex mural-arts project intended to focus attention on the problem of youth homelessness, but that problem, along with Mantua's many other social and economic afflictions, is still very much with us.

Even so, people in fancy neighborhoods aren't the only ones who deserve pleasant surroundings, handsome streetscapes. Melon Street may still be Melon Street, but there's no way this paint job made life there any worse.