Now Where Were We?

Politics & paranoia on a site for pics & memories? A funny thing happened on I’m From East Falls last month… 

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Well that was interesting.

If you witnessed the “I’m From East Falls” meltdown on Facebook, I can only apologize for my long and cringe-worthy exit. Yes, I know I could’ve taken the hint and left on my own but, to me, that’d be giving in. If a few over-zealous Kool-aid drinkers wanted me gone, I wasn’t leaving meekly. I’d come here to learn, and ooh boy did I get schooled.

When confronted, I had but one goal: get as much information as I could before I was bounced. Managed to keep the admin engaged (enraged?) from 10:20 am to 2:51 pm. I’ve selected choice screen shots here, to add to the fun. Ready?

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Some background: I’m From East Falls is a Facebook group I encountered years ago when I moved here and started researching the area. As the name suggests, the group targets people who grew up locally and enjoy sharing photos and memories of home.

I joined right up for colorful stories about the neighborhood “back when,” and connected with lots of old Fallsers, did interviews, took pics. Even collaborated with members on some nostalgic posts for East Falls Local (which I enjoyed very much).

I started sharing my “Good Morning” pictures in Spring 2015 — folks really seemed to like them! — and then in August 2015, I was thrilled to accept admin status.

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The friction started early this Summer with McMichael: that damn “natural playspace” or whatever we all have to call it cause the word “playground” is too loaded here. No matter — it’s coming! Happy news, for about a thousand current Fallsers who signed Joyce Brady’s petition.

But bad news for many on I’m From East Falls, who aren’t too keen on changes to beloved landmarks from their youth. Including, I soon found out, Coll Marie. When pro-playground petitions and comments started appearing on the page, she seemed exasperated so I reached out privately.

We were cool — but we both knew most of these playground “upstarts” were funneled from my direction. Starting an East Falls Rants page did not help. Soon after, I’m From East Falls posted three different warnings that anyone who is political or argumentative will be asked to leave. This list was for memories, not debates.

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A thread later followed, suggesting all new members should be “vouched for” to ensure safety for all. When a “new” Fallser rebutted with a Simpsons meme, Coll Marie seemed quite reactive. I lost my “admin” status around this point… (The picture I shared on Rants for a nano-second didn’t help.)

Coll Marie also unfriended me — not such a problem because the Make America Great Again-ing in her timeline was kinda bumming me out, anyway (ha). Then, as the election drew closer, Tea Party-ish flavor began permeating I’m From East Falls from the very admins who made the rules to keep it apolitical.

It was only a matter of time. A comment denouncing National anthem protests caught the attention of a liberal(ish) “new” Fallser last month and… BOOM!

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Of course it was fabulous reading but all I could think of is how freaked everyone must be: if the playground controversy had caused such stress, I couldn’t imagine how challenging democracy would go down.

Or maybe I could.

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Wasn’t surprised to see the conversation cut off.  I was disappointed, though. To me, it was a sign that these “real” Fallsers were not fighting fair.

Why post a hot-button topic, if you’re gonna be offended by the debate that ensues? Is it a test of loyalty, to go along? 

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The group I’d joined for new & old neighbors to bond over common history was turning into a clique of conformity and suspicion. The next day, an admin’s post rubbed it in — “That darn dog is back…” and, I dunno, I’d had enough.

I’d never tell anyone how to run their list, or dominate their timeline with my own personal agenda. I will, however, seek out like-minded Facebook friends and engage them on my own pages. Which is how I got kicked off I’m From East Falls: 

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So that’s it, above, my unforgivable words on East Falls Rants.

I was commenting on an unrelated Airbnb rant, and something about Charlie Chaplin’s “Great Dictator” speech resonated. I guess I just needed to vent on some level — I tried to be discreet, and not call anyone out specifically but still… There’s no mistaking my disapproval.

But so what? It’s a RANTS page, for cryin’ out loud. Who would take it seriously?

Dant DAHHHHHHNT! Coll Marie, that’s who.

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If I had a nickel for every time someone’s mad I’ve been “talking about them”…

Well OF COURSE I’m talking about them. I’m talking about me. I’m talking about him and her and what I saw on the street and what I had for lunch… I talk all the time — and so does everyone, “real” Fallsers included. Facebook’s wildly popular Rant pages and neighborhood groups couldn’t be more proof.

So what is Coll Marie really pissed at? Combing through screenshots full of unprompted digs and insinuations, the only actual clear charge against me is that I’m “fake.”

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She’s got a point. I’m kinda snarky (I prefer “cheeky”), even with stuff I’m praising. Sweet on the neighborhood one minute, the next I’m poking fun. I’ve argued for a community playground when I don’t even have kids! I’ve challenged unpaid volunteers, for godsake. Is nothing sacred?

Erhm… no.

I’m a writer, guys, here to observe and try to make some sense out of things as I go along. This blog is literally my attempt — and Steve’s — to document what it’s like to live in East Falls, as we try to participate in the community using the skills that we have.

I think of myself as East Falls’ biographer, although I guess “autobiographer” works, as well, cause I’m a part of the story here, too. Years from now, future Fallsers and gentrification scholars may find East Falls Local verrrrry interesting.

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Especially because we include neighborhood kerfluffles like this one, that are chock-full of sociological information that standard news sources fail to mine.

As are community meetings that dissolve into incivility. And video of people acting out in public. And screenshots of lies, fear, anger, tribalism — even threats — spilled on Rants pages. All this reveals important tensions we really should be calling out & dealing with, if we’re ever to cooperate for positive change.

Cause change is coming, right?

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Over the last two years, East Falls has stopped saying “No” and now serious developers are starting to invest. To me, we’ve a “Perfect Storm” here for dreamers & innovators to create a very special 21st Century neighborhood — but we need to hang onto this area’s big heart and quirky charm, our varied streetscapes and class diversity.

At its best, “I’m From East Falls” helped new Fallsers like me appreciate the values and customs of the folks who grew up here. Sharing neighborhood backstories is oral tradition — a elemental form of human bonding. It’s a GOOD thing, that so many “adoptive” Fallsers are hungry for old pics & mementos! By learning local history, we preserve it.

When Coll Marie bounced me from her group (along with Trinette Giberson, Gina Snyder, Carolyn Sutton, Jess Mellen-Graff, Chris McCabe — as many of “us” as she could identify), she threw a wall up between two complementary camps who really should be engaging for the benefit of the community.

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LET’S BE CLEAR:  No rules were broken on I’m From East Falls (above), but the very idea that some of us might not subscribe 100% to “traditions we uphold to this day” poses a threat? And now — just like that! — we’re out? Hmmm…

What’s up with all the reactivity around here, with every little disagreement?  Whether we’re debating playgrounds, supermarkets, PhillyU, whatever: when comments get real, the same chorus calls for a shut-down due to “negativity.”

No, guys — arguing our positions needs to happen here. It’s the healthy way to come to a consensus, an important part of critical thinking.

Oh wait, I think I see the problem…

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The word “critical” has two definitions, let’s be clear on the distinction, ok?

Many of the “born & bred” Fallsers, I think, no matter how old they get will always love Home like a child loves his Mommy and Daddy, and believes they can do no wrong. To suggest otherwise rocks their sense of security, and offends on a primal level.

Moving here as an adult is more of a choice, and our feelings for this place tend to be more realistic. It’s like the neighborhood’s a partner we decide to settle down with: We love you, East Falls, but we’re not turning a blind eye.

We see potential, and we’ll totally give you a kick in the ass if you need one to get going. Cause we care.

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So what if my experience as a Fallser hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns?

If I wasn’t cool with Coll Marie’s abuse, I wouldn’t have shared it here. That ugliness, to me, is like shitty wallpaper in a beautiful old historic home. Yeah, it’s a bitch to deal with but it’s only superficial. Let’s all take a look at it, and agree it has to go.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Coll Marie’s messages reflect the “real” Fallsers I know — or even what I know of her. I’d love this piece to include a positive resolution, but not if it means I can’t joke & comment freely on my own Facebook pages.

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I do miss sharing my Good Morning photos, and the nice members who’d like & comment daily. I wish Coll Marie would at least consider reinstating members who were only “guilty” by association with me. Especially for their innocent kids, who’ve been cut off from history lessons they were truly enjoying.

Meanwhile, here’s to new adventures, and remembering: no matter how good memories are, they’re never more important than real live people.

PS Apologies if I’ve embarrassed anyone in these screenshots — I will blur your name if you’d like but please understand that social media is fair game for sharing in local commentary, and we don’t have the resources for waivers anyway. (Sorry!) 

FUN FACT: I TAKE AN AVERAGE OF 500 EAST FALLS PHOTOS A DAY! Enjoy a daily “Good Morning” pic via email delivery, or join our Facebook group for shared images. Thanks!

 

3 Comments

  • Geoff Brock

    You love to stir the pot, don’t you? ? I like the IFEF FB group. Colleen and the others have done a service to the community. I also like your snarky writing. May you both live long and prosper. (I must have a personality disorder.)

    • Carolyn Fillmore

      Thank you for your kind words! I agree 100% that a group like IFEF is a wonderful service to the community. Careful, though, your support here might get you bumped! 🙂

  • Donna Davis

    I read the most recent post, “Where are we now”- 2x. I thought it was a great read!- from opposing sides. It’s conflict; an oratorical brawl -that’s all. Images that came to mind whist reading: A roller derby on a 1040 greased oval track; a downhill slalom cluttered with trees; a tennis match with baseballs; a 50 yard swim competition in a plastic kiddie pool, bowling with whiffle balls; serving soup in a sieve; setting fire to a snowwomyn; a Petco dog visit told to “sit!” in the cat section and so forth and so on. Life is a series of conflicts but we adapt and endure. Wishing resolution to both sides. And, Carolyn- again, I thank you and Steve for taking me to Westminster Cemetery-this past summer- so I could lay flowers at my birth mother’s grave. A very gracious gesture by you both. It took me 67 years to “find” her. A woman who was Born, Bred, and Died a “Fallser”. I lived “in vitro” in East Falls for 9.5 months- her first born. Would you ask Colleen and Russ if I qualify as a “Fallser”? I do so love your morning pics, your “snarky” comments, and your edgy, hustle-bustle writings. Carry on and thank you.

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