Great Footing for East Falls Forward


**UPDATE 12-11-15**

East Falls Fumbled?  For all the panic East Falls Forward created in local organizations, this fledging RCO’s first year didn’t forge very  far at all. 

Sigh. We had high hopes for East Falls Forward, including this list of 10 of our favorite things we were looking forward to, with a new RCO in town, organized just this past June.

So when the officers announced they’d be taking a Summer vacation after just one public meeting, we tried to be optimistic despite the suspicion that perhaps more motivated leaders might’ve prioritized another meeting or at least a social event where members could keep connected, and continue sharing goals and ideas.

And then this August, we wanted to believe the organization was moving forward when the officers announced a shift from our grassroots online efforts to a slicker, more professionally-branded website designed by one of EFF’s talented members. A great idea that never happened, and unfortunately EFF’s online presence suffered in limbo.

I’d say the sinking feeling didn’t set in, though, until this Fall when EFDC’s Gina Snyder sent out an email to EFF’s membership urging leadership to represent at a very important zoning meeting, and the response came back they were waiting for EFCC’s permission to attend jointly first.

The whole point of a Registered Community Organization is to address zoning matters. Just because one RCO’s running the meeting doesn’t mean they are the only ones who get to address the room.  We were gobsmacked. These were the same officers who once declared it was time to “go nuclear” on the calcified ideology choking East Falls’ development.

Well if this is their idea of “nuclear,” I think their reactor is broken.

Finally, in October (and again in November) we reached out to EFF vice president Juliet Geldi via email to ask how we could help get the word out for EFF’s scheduled December meeting.  She wrote back:   “I am not sure at this point whether there is really anyone to take on the mantle for EFF … I feel like we also haven’t developed it enough to the point where there is much to hand off, other than the RCO designation.”

Wasn’t till December 10th, then, that EFF officers announced a meeting for new elections — giving EFF members just one week to make room in their Holiday schedules for such an important meeting.

Even one of EFF’s most motivated members, Morgan Bound, cancelled the East Falls Forum he created, because “it’s clearly not being used” and other platforms like NextDoor and PhiladelphiaSpeaks were more active (and free).

What Happens Next?   This Thursday, East Falls Forward reboots with new elections and hopefully renewed vigor into 2016. Rumor has it Felicite Moorman and/or Ryan Buchert may be stepping in to put their mad CEO’ing skills to use for our community.

Whatever goes down this week, big changes are brewing for East Falls Forward. Make sure you come out to BuLogics on Thursday night at 6:30 to watch and participate in exciting new neighborhood developments. See you there!

**UPDATE 12-11-15**  

at BuLogics at 3721 Midvale Ave.
DECEMBER 17th, 2015 6:30 PM

The members & officers of East Falls Forward are planning our next meeting for the (regularly scheduled) third Thursday of the month — Thursday, December 17. Location and time will be the same — 6:30 pm at Bulogics’ office.

The agenda will focus on elections process and nominations for those elections will be opened. As stated originally, Angela, Silje, and Juliette will be stepping down and look forward to seeing a new chair, vice-chair, and secretary come forward to lead the charge for East Falls Forward in 2016.

Please spread the word!

— Felicite Moorman

August 22, 2015:

New community organization hits the ground running — our enthusiastic recap, plus video snips: Ten Things To Like From the Last EFF Meeting.

Heading into this recap, we have to thank Ryan Buchert for so expertly working his boom mic to capture perfect sound for the entire meeting. And now I must apologize to everyone for not using it in my clips below buuuuut the entire meeting’s audio can be reviewed FREE here. And here.

If I have time I hope to edit Ryan’s sound into my clips but then again, this was a pretty mellow meeting  — mostly announcements and clarifications about agenda items. The meeting’s official minutes will be posted online soon but meanwhile lemme run through my impressions after reviewing our video footage.


#10.  How short it was!  It’s no secret that we hate meetings — this one was mercifully brief, just one hour. But wow it was a full hour. Felicite Moorman‘s mad moderating skills kept things moving but also circled around to recap main points to keep everyone on the same page.

#9. Big fan of the space we meet in, with its tall ceilings, colorful scheme, and funky furniture. And that giant skylight! How can this place not generate positive energy?

#8. Laughter — more than once, the meeting broke out in pleasant, organic chuckles. People seemed relaxed, with lots of nodding & smiling along. The tone reminded me of some of the RAH meeting we’ve attended, among neighbors who clearly were comfortable with each other.

#7. Speaking of RAH, the meeting touched on what we consider a pretty serious issue: distrust between Ridge-Allegheny-Hunting Park’s RCO and pretty much all of East Falls, sigh — and how this affects the boundaries EFF chooses to draw. We heartily applaud audience member James Joseph’s common-sense solution to poll the residents & businesses in the area to see what they want. Well… yeah. That would put the issue to rest, wouldn’t it? Bam! Solved! (seems to be some confusion, however, about where the area of “shared responsibility” is, exactly)

#6. The DIY sensibility running through the audience, from James’s polling idea to president Angela’s informal Ridge clean-up plans (above), to Tree Tender Andrea’s thoughts on organizing tree maintenance with clean-ups — people seemed eager to do stuff themselves. We agree with Angela that it’s important for East Falls to look inviting and appealing to new business and residents, and applaud how she’s willing to put her weed-whacker where her mouth is, er, so to speak.

#5. Speaking of DIY:  the East Falls Forward forum! Really love the idea of “working groups” as just online forums where people can toss ideas around, share links and photos, and catch up on neighborhood process in open, informal, and inclusive conversations. Everyone’s so busy these days, really makes sense to allow people to discuss important issues in their own time.

#4. Totally unrelated to EFF but big hand to Ryan’s comically giant microphone!! The audience reaction when he swung it out was precious…

#3.  We were psyched by the news that East Falls Forward will be part of a coordinated effort between EFDC & EFCC to create a list of preferred developers (!) to reach out to. The idea is to remind builders & investors that we’re here, and our community is eager to work together to bring more opportunity to this area.

#2. Loved how educational this meeting was!  News to us:  East Falls’ community only has a short time to weigh in on new zoning going down in Northwest Philly’s new plan. Big Question: Do we want to keep storefronts on our business corridors, or do we prefer a streetscape of condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings? Really appreciate how long-time resident (and zoning whiz) Carolyn Sutton explains the issue in the clip above. The good news is, we have thru late October to talk things out and possibly vote.

#1. Favorite take-away so far? People really want to engage! After the meeting, audience members milled around for a long time — and then a lot of us continued on to Murphy’s to recap others who hadn’t been able to make the meeting. So many people enjoyed the evening, that Felicite & Ryan will be hosting a half-hour of social time before and after the next meeting, to give us all a chance to get to know each other even better.

As creators of many companies, these guys know a thing or two about getting people to work together. Take a look around their offices, you’ll see hammocks, ping-pong, a kegerator, and board games out the wazoo. Ask them what the deal is, and they’ll stress that teamwork begins with bonding, and feeling safe enough with each other to share our bravest & most innovative ideas. How cool that such a important challenge can be met with beer & chit-chat!

Let’s not get too comfortable, though. We happen to know Ryan and Felicite also advocate throwing people of opposite temperaments together on difficult projects so they’ll compete with each other to everyone’s benefit. Social strategists or evil geniuses? Either way, we try to stay on their good side…

Join East Falls Forward



    at BuLogics at 3721 Midvale Ave.
    DECEMBER 17th, 2015 6:30 PM

    We are planning our next meeting for the (regularly scheduled) third Thursday of the month — Thursday, December 17. Location and time will be the same — 6:30 pm at Bulogics’ office.

    The agenda will focus on elections process and nominations for those elections will be opened. As stated originally, Angela, Silje, and Juliette will be stepping down and look forward to seeing a new chair, vice-chair, and secretary come forward to lead the charge for East Falls Forward in 2016.

    Please spread the word!

    • Yes, thank you. It was discontinued some months ago due to inactivity. Hopefully the new officers for EFF will be able to reestablish it.

  2. East Falls Fumbled is one way of putting it. I would say the online emphasis and lack of monthly meetings of duration created a sense of disengagement. Hopefully, a reboot won’t have the emphasis on non-physicality and a feeling of being rushed. Meetings should be roughly organized regarding time but not locked into not being able to go over especially when the goal is meetings every other month.

    One thing I would like to think has happened is that the EFCC has stepped up to be more transparent about zoning meetings and engaging overall. The recent Open House at the Taproom was very pleasant and the type of things our community organizations should be doing.

    • I’d hate to think an online focus would inherently lead to disengagement, and instead my take is that lack of engagement by EFF’s officers/webmasters is a more likely culprit.

      We like to think the fact that neighbors went ahead and formed EFF in the first place sent a strong message to EFCC, reflected in their recent outreach efforts. Did you go to the Open House, though? We did. No one welcomed us. No drink or food specials. No party tray. No signage directing us upstairs to the “party” where we found three tables of people who did *not* want to engage or even say hello. For a mixer, that’s a fail in my book. If you’re gonna invite people to a social event, you should at least have someone there to be the designated “social” person, otherwise it’s just a dark room with senior citizens getting table service.

      • Actually, I did attend the Open House. I stayed for a little more than an hour. Got there at 7 and was welcomed by Bill Epstein, met Todd Baylson and spoke with Larry Benjamin too.

        While some of it could have been handled better, it is the first time that the EFCC has done something like this. I do think it could be improved and important for us to give that feedback.

        As for the EFF culprit, I will agree that the leadership’s lack of engagement is a factor as well. After all, they did not lead the last official meeting.

        • Funny how we had such vastly different experiences! See, that is still a fail for a mixer, if some guests were welcomed warmly and others were actively ignored. I wanna give them props for trying, sure, but on the other hand: no signs? No food? No host? No drink specials? No time posted in most of the announcements? Hope they’re getting this feedback, looking forward to more effort in 2016.

          Not sure what you mean by leadership not leading the last meeting — are you referring to the use of a moderator?

          • Interesting… See, for me, a moderator is a tool for leadership that helps facilitate fair, productive discourse (other tools would be surveys, charettes, etc). I am glad EFF’s leadership was willing to go to such effort to run a “clean” meeting — especially after all the nastiness of the first one.

  3. This article is disgustingly negative and unproductive–after a bullying commentary like this, why would anyone ever want to get involved in a committee lest they receive criticism from people who did nothing themselves to help? I know for a fact that this committee faced multiple obstacles from long-time residents of this neighborhood who are resistant to change. The author of this article should be ashamed of the negative light she cast on volunteer members who really probably did try their best.

    • Disgusting? Really? Thank you for your opinion but I strongly disagree that sharing criticism is “bullying” especially in the context of my 100 word update to a 2,000+ word article that was overwhelmingly positive & hopeful.

      As members & supporters who’ve volunteered A LOT of time, effort, resources into East Falls Forward, we feel quite invested ourselves. We know first-hand the multiple obstacles this organization faced just getting off the ground. No one is blaming anyone.

      We are expressing frustration. What did we say that was so “bullying,” please? Is it the Jackie Chan graphic? Are we not allowed to express disapproval when our leadership lets us down?

      Politics are messy, especially local-level where things quickly get personal & neighbors hesitate to point out problems because “people are volunteering their time.” I get it, but on the other hand failing to realistically address problems out of some weird “respect” for someone’s efforts creates an unhelpful tolerance for sub-standard organizational process.

      We love EFF. We love Juliet and Angela and Silje and applaud their bravery and effort getting this organization off the ground. But this Fall, things really did come apart. I am not ashamed to report this, nor should EFF’s officers be ashamed to admit it. They did their best, but withdrawing without explanation left membership confused & disappointed. Oh well. Good news is, we’re all picking up the pieces and moving forward.

      Why would anyone ever want to get involved, if there’s a chance they might be mildly ribbed on a local blog? Lemme flip that around:

      Why would anyone trying to do a good job not want honest feedback?

      Sorry you feel disgusted by my comments, I hope my upcoming recap of Thursday’s meeting will help underscore my intentions are to build, not break EFF.

      • Of course you may respond to any situation in the manner you please–it isn’t necessarily what you said but the tone, which, of course, you know how it was intended to be read as you seem like a very capable writer who has a good command of voice. The problem with a “committee” is that it is made up of PEOPLE. So when you say a “committee” fails you are inherently saying the “people” failed (which, of course, you think)–and this is where I think your commentary falls short: It really doesn’t seem as though you genuinely considered the feelings of the people on the committee. I realize that isn’t your job and this was a political commentary, but I think it would be helpful for you think consider if the people who were involved might find your comments painful; I would. And this is why I would categorize the nature of your commentary as bullying: you are in a position of power, as the writer with an audience, to shape the perception of the people on the committee and you used it to belittle them (I can hear your inner voice saying, “no I didn’t belittle them!”)–maybe not intentionally, but people would read your words and think, “Wow, if we had only had BETTER PEOPLE.” Of course, you didn’t do this explicitly (well, a little), but implicitly you did–the nuance of which allows you now to say, “I did not.” Yeah, you did.

        • Thank you for this really thoughtful response that I have been mulling over for days. Sounds to me that you’re saying that while nothing I wrote was explicitly bullying, simply expressing my frustrations invites readers to wish for better leadership. And that’s bullying because these are people with feelings, and also because as a blogger with an audience I have power over them.

          Ummm… hmmm.

          You know that power I wield here to reach people in our community directly through written words? YOU HAVE IT TOO! You and I are talking this out right here, for all to see. You could attend meetings and write your own commentary, and we’d totally post it! Or you could create your own blog and post it there.

          A blaring irony for me in all of this is that EFF was created to be transparent in the first place! The whole idea was to post every scrap of info we got online for people to review & discuss, if they wanted, and to create a permanent online record we could refer back to so we weren’t having the same conversations over and over, and returning to the same patterns. But we hardly got any info to share online. From what I could tell, the officers preferred to meet other organizations privately, and failed to find time to update members on topics and outcomes.

          I can only speculate public meetings are more difficult to plan & require minutes etc… but still. We have a right to feel disappointed, and expressing our honest impressions is an act of humanity, not war. Probably stings, for EFF’s officers to hear some folks feel they let ’em down. But members are talking — we hear from them on Pack Walks, in bars, out on our walks thru the neighborhood.

          What do you think would happen, if EFF officers addressed members directly in a leadership fashion: “Sorry, guys but we felt overwhelmed & unable to really get any traction, we did our best. Happy 2016!” ??

          Cause I think that’s what we need here, more owning up and less defensiveness. Let’s start right here — gimme all ya got! Here’s a link to my meeting recap from December, the first part inspired by our conversation here in this comments section. Thanks again for hashing this out with me, hope we can chat in person sometime:

    • Thanks for your compassionate comment, Manda. It is appreciated.

      While I will be the first to admit I was not able to carry out my duties as an officer as well as I had hoped, being publicly eviscerated does tend to get under one’s skin. As you note, it’s no small wonder there are few courageous enough to step forward as leaders. I stepped forward (no pun intended) as an officer for EFF with much trepidation. I did it because I thought there was a need in the neighborhood to publicly voice the pro-urban attitude that I discovered I shared with many residents of East Falls — both newcomers and longer-term residents. I did it because I thought it would be a better use of energy to try and do something pro-active rather than to talk my husband’s ear off every night about how disappointed I was that there wasn’t a coffee shop open past 3pm, a high-quality grocery store I could walk to, or an ice cream shop I could take my son to for a summer evening treat.

      The truth is — running a community group takes a lot of work, as I’m sure any of the EFCC officers can speak to — and starting one takes even more. With a full-time job, a toddler son at home, a husband working and teaching as well, and some health concerns of my own — come this fall, I found I couldn’t juggle all the balls. I had to let one ball drop. Unfortunately, East Falls Forward was the ball I decided to drop. I hope there are people out there who can understand my priorities.

      I also hope there are others out there with the time and the thick skin to advocate for a pro-urban East Falls who can take up the reins of EFF.

      • Eviscerated? Ugh.

        I’m sorry you feel “eviscerated” — by me?? Here?

        If so, I would please like to know, what exactly in my comments ripped your guts out? The Jackie Chan image? The fact that I used the word “fumbled” to describe EFF’s first shot at living up to the promises they made?

        I am honestly asking! How else was I supposed to portray what happened when EFF suddenly lost our leaders? This blog does not “eviscerate” but strives to tell the truth, no?

        Best part of all this: hopefully finding folks to pick up the ball you guys helped us score — which is, may I underscore again — an awesome thing you did for us all!!!! Big love for Angela, Juliet & Silje starting up a much-needed voice in East Falls. Thank you so much, I hope you’ll continue to come to meetings and chime in when you can. I miss your input and impressions.

  4. Juliet,

    I’m sorry to hear about the health problems. I hope everything is ok!

    I would love to step up and “take the reins”, but I’m not even a tenth as knowledgeable as you are when it comes to navigating Philly’s overly complex zoning issues. There’s also a tendency of mine to drink too much and say wildly inappropriate things that piss people off. Maybe some day I’ll learn to moderate my tone and learn the nuts and bolts of zoning well enough to at least participate at some level above that of a bystander.

    I have a lot of confidence in Felicite, but she can’t do this all alone. I hope some qualified people step up to help.

    On another related subject, I’m still not convinced that EFCC are the monsters they’ve been made out to be, but it certainly does look like its most vocal members spend a majority of their time and effort blocking and stalling what most of us consider to be progress. Worse yet, much of it appears to be reflexive, for no apparent reason other than to assert themselves as gatekeepers. I’m a bit baffled as to why some of us don’t just join and become the vocal majority of EFCC, which would effectively be the same thing as having EFF without all the hassle of starting from scratch.

    In any event, as they say…. “Thank you for your service!”

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