Heading into January elections, East Falls Forward’s leadership struggles with concerns about community interest, and wonders if there’s still a need for a second RCO here. Members react with support for more meetings, more action. (RECAP with VIDEO and apologetic intro)
We took some flack when we announced EFF’s December meeting earlier this month, and expressed our disappointment that the group had essentially vanished from local radar this Fall, quietly closing their online forum, and leaving membership to speculate among ourselves on PhiladelphiaSpeaks, on barstools — even our Pack Walks, neighbors would talk and wonder what was going on.
As nosy/newsy citizens — bloggers, yet, and also enthusiastic EFF members — we did our best to reach out to EFF’s officers following August’s meeting. We had been excited by the group’s first “official” meeting, and could not have more explicitly offered help with writing, photos, design, social media, you name it. Do we feel let down that none of the plans outlined so optimistically in August even came close to discussion, let alone fruition? You betcha.
But how does it help to point this out?
EFF’s officers are volunteers, after all. They stepped up to these positions when the group needed them, they bravely withstood staggering criticism at EFF’s first public meeting. They spent hours meeting with other community leaders, trying to smooth out ruffled feathers — and then….
OK, so they disappeared. What’s the big deal? They did their best, they’re ready to go now — what’s the harm in letting EFF’s officers glide off into as pretty a sunset as possible? Why do we have to go blabbing all our dirty laundry out there for everyone to see?
Because the point of these recaps is to tell the truth, guys — to document what people say at these meetings, and create a public record of our efforts as a community.
That’s it. We’re just telling EFF’s story, showing all the ups & downs in creating a new RCO, in “real time” as it’s happening, right here — filtered thru the playful part of my brain, sure, but as true as I can make it, still. We even post raw video from meetings, so viewers can see for themselves what I’m reacting to, and form their own opinions.
We’re not trying to be mean, by voicing our frustrations. Well duh we respect that Angela, Juliet, and Silje are our friends and neighbors, first — certainly, we don’t want to hurt anyone personally, nor are we seeking to blame or judge anyone harshly. But we all need to be cool with owning our efforts, and admitting openly when we need help or have lost our drive.
People are busy, stuff gets messy, not everyone is cut out for this kinda thing: it’s totally OK to encounter such complications as an organization finds its footing. It’s part of the process of starting a new organization, in fact! There’s no shame in making an effort, it’s never failing to say, “Oops, that didn’t work, let’s try something else.” No need to freak out at the first sign of criticism.
Please enjoy my personal commentary from last week’s General Meeting of East Falls Forward, offered with love & hope for a stronger, healthier community that’s not afraid to experiment until we find something that clicks.
EAST FALLS FORWARD MEETING RECAP: DECEMBER 17, 2015
Bulogics 3721 Midvale Avenue
Officers in Attendance: Angela Velez (p), Juliet Geldi (vp)
about 8 EFF members
First item of business, Juliet shared the results of the survey EFF circulated earlier this year (and still taking responses, btw). Of the 254 responses, about 60% came from women between 26 – 38 years of age, with a yearly income of 75k+ and at least one child.
Some other insights:
Most dine out several times a week — the first choice for restaurants is Center City, with East Falls coming in a close second (BTW although “Fishtown” wasn’t on the survey officially, it got a lot of write-in votes here).
When asked what type of eating establishment is needed most in East Falls, the top answer was “Cafe/Family Casual” with a lot of write-in votes for a bakery and, interestingly, quite a few requests for Thai.
Food heads the list for retail, too. The top three retail businesses our survey-takers said they’d patronize most in East Falls were:
3. Take-out beer
(are we voting yet? if so: yes, yes, and yes please)
As far as transportation use goes, most respondents use their car “several times a week” yet also many respondents checked they walk several times a week, too (Juliet stressed more analysis is needed to draw conclusions here).
The survey included a question about how people stay informed about community meetings & events. Of course we were pleased as punch to see our blog listed, but also not surprised one bit that The Fallser was up there at the top. Clearly, there’s a need for printed news in East Falls, and we’re excited to be printing monthly in 2016 with a special “Fallsers” spread featuring the popular Police Blotter, an Events Calendar, and news from familiar fixtures like McMichael and Inn Yard parks.
After Juliet’s summary, Felicite asked that the raw, anonymous data be posted online for thought processing, and announced she & her associate Ryan Buchert were working on ways to make the survey more accessible (and also easier for everyone to review results).
MOVING ONTO FUTURE BUSINESS… (re: “Hey, do we really wanna do this?”)
Angela indicated the low meeting turn-out provided a good opportunity to discuss East Falls Forward in general, specifically: “Is there a need for East Falls Forward to continue? And if so, what does that look like?
“That leads to the agenda: nominations, online forum… how’s that working? Is there a need for another voice in the community? I know Bill’s here. So with EFCC with new leadership, how’s the relationship going, is there a need for a second RCO, still? Is there even support for a second RCO? Looking at the numbers, I understand we have the holidays. Is this just reflective of it being December and a busy time for everyone or is it an indication of lack of interest at this point?”
Mike Daigeaun immediately suggested more meetings would help foster the discussions EFF was created to facilitate. And help EFF’s visibility. “If you’re establishing yourself, establish yourself to be relevant. So, having a monthly meeting I think is a better way to go.” While respecting online efforts to organize, Mike D puts a lot of stock, too, in neighbors coming together, face-to-face.
EFCC president Bill Epstein spoke next, suggesting helpfully that EFF had been just a reaction against Community Council in the first place, and the evening’s low attendance could mean EFCC’s new leadership is working:
“The sad fact is, you’re gonna find that people don’t come to meetings like this unless they’re angry or annoyed or scared about something. That’s what we’ve found over the years. People will oppose something that’s being done to them, and that’s when we get crowds out against something. Even this little micro-situation here. You had thirty, forty, fifty people at the first meeting because people were angry or annoyed with the Community Council. Maybe now they’re not so annoyed. I’m not saying they’re happy but not so annoyed? No reason to be here.”
Moving on, Juliet explained that leadership rolled our October meeting into EFCC’s zoning meeting because attending two RCO’s meetings plus a separate zoning meeting “does get quite onerous.” Meetings take time to prepare for, as well, and minutes don’t just write themselves, either. Hours add up, for sure.
On that note — Felicite Moorman took the floor. She’s done her own research, has been attending hours of meetings and talking to other neighbors. Yes, there’s a need for EFF to continue. And yes, Felicite’s throwing her hat in the ring — willing and able to take the reins with a feisty new plan to revitalize our organization:
Call it a three-point attack, if you will. First, she’d like to create a Welcome Committee to reach out specifically to new families, “We’re glad you’re here. You have a home, you have a voice, here it is.” Second, targeted marketing with EFDC to entrepreneurs in businesses that we’d like to see in East Falls (for instance, coffee shop chains, hint-hint).
Third, events & beautification. EFF can promote a music festival or a 5k in conjunction with the Bike Race Block Party, and brand events for families. We could adopt a part of our business corridor and promote clean-up & landscaping efforts. “Let’s let people know we’re here and we care and we’re really doing things. Let’s get that relevancy.”
And zoning conversations, too, are an important part of EFF’s future. “We all have a real passion for how we see East Falls moving forward, literally, in a zoning sense. That’s something I wouldn’t take on if I didn’t know that I could call on you. (ed note: Juliet is an architect and planning professional).
“If I didn’t know we were gonna have people passionate, I wouldn’t bother with this. But everything that everybody has said it to me. We have the support of East Falls Business Association, East Falls Development Corporation, Bill’s here. I’m sure we’re in good stead to make this move. I say let’s go. We can be relevant.”
Felicite wrapped up by echoing Mike D’s earlier sentiments about the importance of face-to-face meetings:
“If nothing else, let’s get together, people who just wanna talk. Just talk! No agenda, social. If we really don’t have an agenda by all means let’s not have one. But let’s get together. Let’s let our kids meet.”
WHO’S IN?! EFF NOMINATIONS/ELECTIONS
East Falls Forward is currently seeking nominations for all three offices (President, Vice President, Secretary) now thru then end of the first week of January.
To nominate yourself, submit your name & contact info to EastFallsForwardRCO@gmail.com along with which office you’d like, plus a “statement of intent” (maximum 250 words) to let other members know how you’re interested in helping. Photos are optional but recommended so if you don’t have a recent one available just email editor@EastFallsLocal.com and we’ll swing by to take one.
To nominate someone else, send the person’s name and contact info to EFF along with what office you’re nominating them for (if they accept, they’ll be asked to submit a statement of intent).
Nominees’ photos & statements will be posted on EFF’s website for online elections through the 16th of January, and then new leadership will be announced at EFF’s January 21st meeting.
Sounds like EFF’s gearing up for an interesting year. Stay tuned for links to nominees and all the exciting election info you can handle. Ha.