Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NEastphilly.com Article Recognizing the Excellent Work of our Community Groups

This is a follow-up story to our coverage in “District 172: The Politics of Change after State Rep. John Perzel,” a collaborative effort with Philadelphia Neighborhoods funded by J-Lab.

If any assumption was ever made about the Northeast, by any Philadelphian, it would be its position as a younger brother to Center City Philadelphia, not unlike Philadelphia in comparison with New York. However, Mayfair Civic Association President Joe DeFelice said that was an image his neighborhood aimed to defy.

One year ago, after and extreme fundraising effort, DeFelice met with NEast Philly to discuss the renovation and reopening of the Mayfair Memorial Playground. At the time, Mayfair was struggling with the recent political changes caused by the indictment of Pennsylvania House 172nd District’s Rep. John Perzel. The indictment, coupled with a downturned economy, forced the district into a difficult era.

State grants, which were freely given in previous years, dried up. Pennsylvania voted in a Republican governor and a Republican majority who created serious budgetary constraints. In the 172nd District freshman Rep. Kevin Boyle was elected in 2010.

“I think Kevin is trying, but he is a freshman Democrat in a significant minority,” DeFelice said. “Kevin just can’t wield the clout that John [Perzel] once did, so the community has had to get more creative in the way that we do things.”

That was where DeFelice and company defied odds. Mayfair saw community activism unparalleled in many other Northeast neighborhoods. A combined effort from Mayfair community organizations brought about positive changes and strengthened the local voice.

“Rather than relying on the elected officials, the neighbors have decided to rely on themselves,” DeFelice said. “At the time when the article was written last year, we did not have a playground. It took lobbying international corporations, the school district to allow us to build…these are things we would have relied on elected officials for.”

For more click here http://neastphilly.com/2012/06/19/district-172-one-year-later-how-neighborhoods-are-affected-by-new-leadership/