There is an Exciting Synergy Going on in South Philly!!

I was fortunate to attend an event that could define how politics is conducted in South/Southwest and Center City Philadelphia over the next few years.  Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and his staff sponsored a grand opening for a neighborhood office today at 1634 Wharton Street in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia.  It was a packed event on a frigid February morning.  It was momentous for a numerous reasons that I will outline in the next few paragraphs.

Neighbors in Action is an advocacy organization that was formed in the mid 1980's.  It was organized to help ease some of the social ills that affected the ills which overwhelmed many of the families that lived in the 19146 zip code.  It was a low income area with a high rate of crime and drug use.  Many of the individuals trying to make a living there were hard working and honest.  The property utilized to address some of the social ills was acquired from the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation for $1.00.  Today, it is the headquarters for the operations of the 36th Ward.  The organization has a tenant living there.  It is a stabilizing force for the neighborhood.  It is also run by Mary H. Bell, my Mother, and Alice Shockley.  They are true soldiers in the fight for community empowerment.

I was impressed by the number and array of people that attended this event.  Charlie Hannah has been a business owner in the Grays Ferry section of Philadelphia for numerous years.  He., his son Kevin and daughter Tennille represented well.  Harold James, the Godfather of South Philadelphia politics, and a man of few words, blazed a fine trail for Kenyatta Johnson to follow.  State Representatives Jordan Harris and Brian Sims also represented at this event.  State Senator Anthony Williams, a potential Mayoral candidate, spoke about the importance of continued advocacy for our constituents.
Rounding out the elected officials were Blondell Reynolds Brown.  Lee Schwartz, the 48th Ward leader spoke for a few minutes.  Brett Mandel, a City Controller candidate, attended, but did not address the crowd.

Former Council President Anna Verna was there.  She is still the leader of the 36th Ward.  I look forward to our Ward meeting on Tuesday and to the upcoming elections for Inspector of Elections and Judge of Elections.  The word 'tradition' was mentioned a number of times today.  For me, this means honoring the work that Councilwoman Verna completed when she performed constituent services here at this office.  It also reflects the new reality of the aspirations of Councilman Johnson in carrying out tasks that he aspires to complete to improve the neighborhoods in the 2nd Councilmanic district.  The thing that impressed me is the lack of egos present in the room today.  All of the elected officials seem to be genuine public servants.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown mentioned that she and Councilman Johnson were exchanging ideas on preparing residents and businesses for jobs at the Philadelphia International Airport.  I hope that all of the politicians present heard this and will address the inequality that still exists in this regard.  In between election cycles, many politicians profess to address these goals.  I want them and any mayoral candidates to realie that campaign promises must be followed up with elected actions.  Legislative strenght can equal the playing field when private industry fails to do so.

It was a team of us that convened to finish up an eventful day.  I am leading a team that is working on completing a neighborhood survey that will gauge residents outlook on the current state of the Point Breeze/Grays Ferry neighborhood.  Thanks Chris Sample, Tiphanie White and Deborah Hopkins for leaving us refreshments to complete the surveys on this cold day.  Thanks also to Raheem Islam, Jr. for providing Southeast Holdings, LLC an opportunity to gauge the feelings of the community.  It was also a few Temple Students who attended the grand opening this morning to find out how residents feel about the growth aspects for this community. As I mentioned in the title to this blog, I love the synergy that is evident as we try to move this neighborhood forward.  We might not have the resources available in Lansdowne or Yeadon, but we are proud and resilient.  I look forward to the expected positive changes that the grand opening will bring about!!

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