“Our intention for this event is for all the civics West of Broad in South Philly to get together and encourage new people to join the orgs,” said Liz Crutchley, the president of West Passyunk Civic Association.
Residents from all across the western half of South Philadelphia are invited to the South Philly West Meet and Greet at Second District Brewing, located on the 1900 block of Bancroft Street, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 24. The purpose of the event is to get local neighbors more involved with their local civic associations and also to allow for each civic association in the region to interact more with their neighboring organizations.
“Our intention for this event is for all the civics West of Broad in South Philly to get together and encourage new people to join the orgs,” said Liz Crutchley, the president of West Passyunk Civic Association. “We’re always struggling to keep up. We’re struggling to communicate with representatives.”
Crutchley said a lot of civic associations’ boards and committees are not filled in the area, which is preventing important work from getting done.
“The more people we have to help us to do that the better because we’re all volunteers,” she said. “We’re struggling to get people involved.”
According to Crutchley, many civic associations in the area have people who are looking to retire from their responsibilities as they have been active for a very long time. Because of the current political climate, she said, some people have become more active in their community in an attempt to make a difference. However, it’s not enough.
“People are wanting to change their city mostly for the better,” Crutchley said. “We want to get those people on our civics and involved.”
Typically, civic meetings are held in the evening so neighborhood residents can attend after work. Often, representatives from city organizations, such as the Philadelphia Water Department or Philadelphia Gas Works, will show up at meetings to give updates on planned construction in the area.
“We often will host guests who will give our community information about what they can do to lower their bills or get access to resources, that kind of thing,” Crutchley added.
Zoning meetings are another crucial aspect of civic associations. At zoning meetings, developers will present their plans to build in front of residents who attend meetings. Residents will then vote on whether they approve of the developers’ plans, and the civic association’s zoning board will then write a letter to the respective city councilperson either recommending or not recommending the project based upon how the residents voted. It’s important to note the vote does not officially allow or deny the project from being built, but may have some sway in the final determination made by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
“In Philly there have been a lot of people who have been historically oppressed — especially in Point Breeze — and you see gentrification and developers building 500,000 houses,” said Crutchley. “We have people who don’t want to run for office, but they want a say in that so they’ll join the zoning committee. Those small things can have huge impact on communities.”
Crutchley said the event will also be an opportunity to get out and meet people from your neighborhood, which is an important part of being a good neighbor.
“It’s important to consider other viewpoints and talk to other people,” she said. “A lot of people may not talk to people who are a different race than them on a daily basis. We have this unique advantage of reaching out to so many different kinds of people. We’re so diverse.”