No time for community meetings? No worries! Here’s EFCC’s June meeting with transcript
One good thing about ZOOM community meetings — they’re easy to document! Instead of our usual Community Council summary, we’re very pleased to provide the entire 90+minutes in video, including the whole searchable transcript with time stamps for easy reference. Follow the links for more information, and also feel free to throw your thoughts & questions down in the COMMENTS section below.
This meeting touches on EFCC’s grants and elections while both are on-hold until in-person meetings can resume. The bulk of the conversation surrounds EFCC’s efforts to continue momentum following the community’s first Black Lives Matter demonstration on Monday June 8th.
For thoughts and commentary, please see our follow up article published 6/19/20.
EFCC Meeting 6-15-20 audio
Mon, 6/15 7:00 – 8:00 PM
Mary Alice Duff, John Gillespie, Ami Hopkins, Joe Leube, Christie Kapothanasis, Bill Epstein, Anna R, Julia Margulies, Corinne O’Connell, Krystal Cunillera, Heather Plataras, Robert Rabinowitz, Lauren Stables, Cynthia Kischinchand, Mary Cunningham
Bill Epstein 02:37
All right. Not a huge agenda. I do want to hear from folks to ask them whether there’s anything that the Community Council should be focusing on. In terms of news, we issued a statement regarding the current state of racial relations and our hope to engage in dialogue. If you haven’t seen the statement, I invite you to go to eastfallscommunity.org where it is prominently posted:
A STATEMENT FROM THE EFCC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered—publicly and calmly and by a sworn officer of the law. As a result, protests and civil unrest erupted worldwide, calling attention to the injustices and racism Black Americans experience and demanding change.
The East Falls Community Council (EFCC) exists as an all-volunteer, community-based group to represent the interests of all East Falls residents and work to improve our neighborhood. Drawing upon the symbolism of the Falls Bridge, our Mission Statement is centered around the idea that the Council is a bridge: a bridge between community members; a bridge between the community and the city; and a bridge between our community’s past, present, and future.
On June 3, 2020, the EFCC Executive Committee came together (virtually) to discuss how we should collectively respond—what are the words that would be appropriate to us as a body and what are the actions that would be appropriate to us as a community. We agreed that our message needed to be simple, concise, and honestly reflect our true feelings; and our actions needed to be feasible and intentional.
Honestly, nothing is simple or concise about the disease of racism that has existed in our nation for four centuries. There is no elegant and heartfelt response that fits such inelegant and heartless actions. We cannot BE the bridge, until we BUILD the bridge.
We recognize that the history of our neighborhood includes acts of prejudice and hate. We recognize that our community conversations have sometimes been divisive and hurtful. We acknowledge that we are broken, and in so doing, we commit ourselves to doing the uncomfortable and inconvenient work of fixing that brokenness.
As Philadelphians, we are all familiar with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It was not then, nor is it 244 years later, a statement of who we are as a nation; it is a promise of who we strive to be as a people.
On behalf of the East Falls Community Council, to our residents and neighbors, we will be a bridge to our city, our elected officials, and our neighboring communities. We accomplish that by building bridges within our community—bridges of trust, respect, and kindness. Our Mission Statement ends with the following: “Together, we must challenge each other to identify what needs to change, and what needs to remain the same. As we work together, we will: listen as much as we talk; treat each other with respect and dignity; and strive to be welcoming to and inclusive of all.” The end of our mission statement is where we begin as a community to have the conversations necessary to living into our shared promise that all people are created equal with unalienable rights…life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our hope is that this letter will open the door to the conversation, inviting our neighbors in to listen, learn and explore, to truly live into our mission statement and begin to build the bridge that brings our community together. Details coming soon about community conversations.
We are postponing the Monday, June 8th EFCC (virtual) General Meeting in light of the planned “East Falls Stands #BLM” event that has been planned for the same time in McMichael Park. The next (virtual) General Meeting of the EFCC will be held on Monday, June 15. A Zoom link will be made available on EFCC Website.
The Executive Committee put this together about two weeks ago, we can half ago. And we invite your comments on it. We read your comments on the statement, and we invite your participation in the dialogue that we hope to have. And we’d like to have it in person. And we’ll see, you know how soon we might be able to do that. And if we can’t do it in person, we’ll do it on zoom, I guess. Or any other means that we have. I recognize that zoom might leave some folks out who aren’t technically able to do it. So we will come up with a means to address that issue. But hopefully we’ll be able to do something in person, several meetings where we can talk about the statement and where we want to go.
One of the action items that the executive committee talked about, which is a pretty easy one, I think, is the need to find a way to get make sure that folks are registered to vote. This is obviously non partisan. Register to vote, making application for Vote By Mail, which can be done now with the new state law. With no with no excuse no reason why. We shouldn’t confuse this with “absentee ballots” because that has a negative connotation. You have to come up with a reason why you’re absent. You don’t need any excuse to apply for a mail-in ballot.
The experience that Philadelphia and surrounding counties had with it in the primary last week. Guess you could be fair to say it’s a mixed experience, but that’s okay. It was the first time that these rules are in effect in Pennsylvania that you could apply for a mail-in ballot. And it succeeded in some ways, wildly in some other ways it fell flat on its face. In Montgomery County, for instance, 4000 people got the wrong ballot, Republicans got the Democratic ballot the Republican ballot. And that wouldn’t be a problem in the general election. Of course, everybody gets the same ballot. But still, it’s not the kind of thing that that created a whole lot of confidence in one’s government function. I did not hear of any — John, did you hear about that kind of thing in Philadelphia like that? I did not hear any. I mean,
John Gillespie 05:48
All right. I didn’t hear anything like that. I can tell you the voting in person at the library was chaotic. Yes, it was totally chaotic and I would hope that they get that straightened out for the General.
Bill Epstein 06:03
Absolutely what John’s going to —
Mary Alice Duff 06:04
May I interrupt? Can I just do some housekeeping. The meeting, the — our zoom meetings are recorded to the cloud, just for, you know, our general note-keeping purpose that I’m not sitting here feverishly taking notes. Right. Um, and when you come into the meeting, be sure that you’re muted. And when you want to speak, make sure to unmute yourself. And I did write in our event today, Bill, that this could be an opportunity to invite dialogue around some brainstorming around what we can do around anti racism activities.
Bill Epstein 06:32
But I was getting to that.
Mary Alice Duff 06:33
Yeah, after we go through all this, we can jump into that, but just an FYI. A lot of people are here for that.
Bill Epstein 06:38
Right. I appreciate that. And then I should say thank you very much for Mary Alice for setting this all up. My own zoom, wouldn’t accommodate anything more than 40 minutes. So
Mary Alice Duff 06:49
I spend the big bucks on the Zoom!
Bill Epstein 06:51
Right. We appreciate your company doing that for us. So as I was saying, getting people registered to vote. What John was talking about there just very quickly, because I don’t think we’ll get to dwell on this. John is talking about the City recognizing that it wouldn’t have enough workers on Election Day because of the virus, and that people might not be willing to come out and vote. Consolidated polling places and got rid of like 77% of the polling places. And so instead of three divisions, or four divisions, voting at the library, something like 11 or 12 divisions voted at the library.
Worse than that, large parts of East Falls were asked to go quite a distance to vote. And I doubt that many people did that. I haven’t seen any numbers. So for instance, in my division here, had I not voted by mail I would have had to go to 29th in Westmoreland, not the end of the world, but I just wonder how many people are willing to do that to vote.
And so that that’s something that we’re going to have that the government’s gonna have to work on to make it easier to vote. We do not live in a city where the government is… I don’t want to be political here. We don’t live in a city where the government is trying to discourage people in voting, fortunately, so they’ll come up with a better way. I’m sure. So, Cynthia, did you have something on that point?
Cynthia Kischinchand 08:28
Now, I’m a little confused. And I mean, I’m very concerned about the whole voting issue. But is there an agenda for tonight’s meeting?
Bill Epstein 08:36
I didn’t print an agenda. I’ll go through that. Thank you. I do have — there are two things that I want to accomplish tonight. I want to I do want to kick off the discussion that Mary Alice referred to about our statement on race relations and what what the Community Council can do about it and I also have just some housekeeping things.
I would like to ask people if they’re interested in helping out with a cleanup of the Michael Park Arboretum, which didn’t get done this year because the city obviously didn’t do the program — there was no way they could with the virus situation. But I’m wondering if there isn’t something we can do safely and get the city’s help in. I dunno if anybody’s walked up Midvale Avenue, but it’s a mess. It’s a real mess. And I’m working on trying to get the City to get the big tree that’s down there laying on the wall out of there. But we need some folks in my opinion to maybe this isn’t of importance to people. So so be it if that’s the case, but I think that we want to talk about some folks together to turn some of the overgrowth out of there that we do every year, and didn’t get done this year. By next year, it’s going to be quite a mess. I think our neighborhood needs to look better. I think the kids at Mifflin deserve better, assuming they’re ever gonna get back to school at some point.
And the other thing I want to just talk about before you put your hand up Cynthia is the fact that we we do not yet have a slate of officers for next year, we haven’t been able to have any in-person meetings. So I want to extend an invitation. If anybody is interested in running for any of the positions at Community Council from the presidency on down, that just for those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the Presidency, the Vice President for Zoning Vice President for Events, Treasurer, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary and the Executive Committee positions at large. Please, you can either let me know personally you can drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. And we will follow up with you. So that that is if anybody else has anything they would like to add to the agenda before we get started. Yeah. Go ahead, Cynthia.
Cynthia Kischinchand 11:07
It’s my understanding that this time of year, you announce the grants.
Bill Epstein 11:12
The grants also, we do have the grants, but I think we need an in person meeting to vote on them. And if we if —
Cynthia Kischinchand 11:20
I’m sorry, I’m confused. You need what?
Bill Epstein 11:23
We need an in person meeting to vote on them. We —
Cynthia Kischinchand 11:27
Ok. Thank you.
Bill Epstein 11:28
We do have a report from from the Grants Committee, which is headed by Mary Jean Cunningham, and she can give us a list of the things (I think she can) the list of the grants that we, the grant applications that we’ve received, but I would like to have an in-person meeting to vote on them.
Cynthia Kischinchand 11:50
That’s fine. Where is this on the agenda? I’m sorry, I’m old. I’m tired. I’m 79. When are you going to get to the point of letting us know where things stand with the Grants Committee?
Bill Epstein 12:04
Mary Jean, you’re here?
Mary Cunningham 12:11
Yeah. Go let me get the information out of my file. I’ll be right back.
Cynthia Kischinchand 12:17
Thank you. I don’t mean to… we’re all so tired.
Bill Epstein 12:21
Okay, fine. Thank you, Cynthia. So it’s a relevant topic. I’m not trying to cut you short at all. While she’s doing that, what do people think about the idea of putting some volunteers together and asking the city to come in and clean up what we pull out of the Mifflin Arboretum. Would, I mean, frankly, it’s a job for younger people. At least the lifting is. But you know, we can organize it.
Joe Leube 12:54
There’s at least one there’s at least one tree, big tree there that needs to come down. It’s marked down, but I don’t know who takes it down.
Bill Epstein 13:02
Well, I yeah, I’m sure.
Joe Leube 13:04
Not us, you know,
Bill Epstein 13:05
No, for sure there are actually, Joe, I think three trees with white x’s on them. And I presume that means that somebody at a higher pay grade than me has decided that those trees need to come down, they’re quite dead. So I’m going to talk with with the City and see if we can find anything out. And then there’s one tree that is down is lying on the wall, right? It’s not a danger to anybody but it’s quite unsightly and I’ve already asked 311 if they could arrange for the City to call it out and chop it up and take it away. Unfortunately, you know what the storm last week I think the City is a little overwhelmed with the numbers. You saw how long it took to get the tree off the car in front of the library, on Warden Drive. Took more than a week to get a poor guy’s car.
Robert Rabinowitz 13:56
Uh, Bill, if you’re going to be talking with the City about trees, there is a tree, almost at the bottom of Midvale Avenue that is big and tall and very dead. And perhaps you need to ask them to pay attention to that tree or
Bill Epstein 14:13
That’s kind of one subject and not — it’s not a City tree, it’s a private tree, Robert, I know exactly the tree you’re talking about, because I’ve gotten hit on the back of the head with a branch —
Robert Rabinowitz 14:23
Did it knock any any sense into you?
Bill Epstein 14:25
Well, you I’ll leave you to decide that! But that tree is on private property, the owners of the tree does not have one half inch of life in it. If you look at it, you don’t want to be a tree expert to know that. And the owner of the property has said that he’s put it out for bid. Mary Jane Fullam and I and Town Watch have been talking about it and we believe that if he doesn’t show some action the next few days — in other words, tell us he has a bid, he’s accepted a bid and signed a deal to get the tree down — that you have to get the City after him because it is dangerous.
Cynthia Kischinchand 15:01
Bill Epstein 15:03
Yes who’s that?
Cynthia Kischinchand 15:05
Cynthia. The school property is under the jurisdiction of the school district. Head of the School Board lives here in East Falls. I think perhaps if you contact her, she could pin down who is responsible for taking down dead trees. I’m very conscious of dead trees. By the way. The Tree Tenders have planted 22 trees around Mifflin, but they’re all fine. Getting back to it as to whose responsibility it is. Which city department? Is it the School District? Or is it Parks and Recreation?
Bill Epstein 15:39
Cynthia Kischinchand 15:40
I could send you an email of who’s in charge of what over at Parks and Receation.
Bill Epstein 15:45
I will follow up with that. I frankly don’t have a whole lot of confidence based on our recent experience. I was saying, I don’t feel I don’t have a lot of confidence based on our recent experience that we’re going to get a response from the president of the school board. But maybe she will, but I will follow up on that. And what I need to know is, and you know, nobody needs to answer this right now because we’re not doing it tomorrow. But at some point in July, or even September, or August, it might be too hot, but whatever.
I want to know if if people see a possibility of some healthy folks — and I consider myself healthy — getting out there and doing a little bit of heavy lifting and trim trimming the the growth off the wall that’s not heavy lifting, actually, but doing some raking and doing the things that we’ve done year after year, they’re in the Arboretum, and it would, it would depend on the City saying, we’ll send the truck so I’ll talk to Josh Cohen and Curtis Jones’s office to find out whether whether we could get a truck to come by that day because there will be no I mean, it’s been canceled already. There is no citywide cleanup your neighborhood day. Now whether they’re going to reschedule something down the road, that’s a possibility also,
Cynthia Kischinchand 17:05
Okay, I’m going to bring up an issue: liability. People doing this would need to sign. Volunt–
Bill Epstein 17:12
Cynthia, we have that under control every every time we do something like this, we have liability.
Cynthia Kischinchand 17:17
Okay. Thank you.
Bill Epstein 17:20
Mary Jean. Do you have any recommendations of the Grant Committee?
Mary Cunningham 17:27
Well, I had the requests that were made. There are four requests for me for grants. The first for Inn Yard Park for $700. The second for Town Watch $950. Three was Friends of Mifflin $300 And the fourth is East Falls Tree Tenders, $800. That’s a total of $2,750 requested..
Bill Epstein 17:53
Okay, well, unless I hear objection, I’m going to secure the chair of the committee. I’m going to assume that that is a recommendation, or do you want to take that back to your committee? Or you don’t really have a full committee at this point? You can’t have it —
Mary Cunningham 18:09
I’m fine with it.
Robert Rabinowitz 18:13
There’s a question, though. And I believe we had talked about seeing whether or not we could find a food distribution organization to whom we might offer either money directly or invite them to to put in for grant. I don’t know if anybody’s done any outreach for that.
Cynthia Kischinchand 18:35
Hasn’t the deadline passed?
Mary Cunningham 18:37
Yes it has. And we advertised on our website and in the newspaper, both. Joe and I actually discussed this and we thought we would make a list of places that need food and put it in the Now so that individuals can contribute.
Bill Epstein 18:53
Well aside from whether we give money, there are other things that we can do to assist with the issue that Robert’s raising. I would welcome everyone’s thoughts if you have any on the question of whether it’s appropriate for the Community Council to use this grant money directly to to make a contribution to another nonprofit, which is what I think you’re suggesting, Robert, right?
Cynthia Kischinchand 19:20
Yes. We need to go by the rules. I’m totally in for East Falls Community Council being generous and and helping but again, if there are rules, we need to follow them. And question: how much total money amount was available for grants?
Bill Epstein 19:39
Well, according to Joe Leube, and I’ll let him speak for himself. We have what we do have a general guideline. Right, Joe about how much we get. Yeah,
Joe Leube 19:47
Yeah, it’s about it’s about what I think that it’s about 20% of of What’s that?
Mary Cunningham 19:54
Ten percent. I thought it was ten.
Joe Leube 19:59
Bill Epstein 19:59
Twenty percent available discretionary —
Joe Leube 20:01
Did I say ten? No, no, it’s 20. It’s 20. Yeah.
Mary Cunningham 20:04
Bill Epstein 20:05
Cynthia Kischinchand 20:06
How much is that?
Joe Leube 20:08
That would that would that that — when I looked at it before it was about $3,000.
Bill Epstein 20:15
Or somewhere in the ballpark?
Joe Leube 20:17
Yeah, we are.
Cynthia Kischinchand 20:18
Definitely couldn’t we make a motion, separate from the grants so that —
Bill Epstein 20:23
We can not do any voting online. No.
Cynthia Kischinchand 20:26
No, no, but I mean, I don’t mean now. But could we have a meeting where we make a motion because I am in favor of giving money for food banks or whatever, to make a motion. You know, I have a proposal, I’ll make a motion. So we do give money for that.
Bill Epstein 20:40
We can make —
Joe Leube 20:40
Lemme t– you’re not gonna, you’re not going to be able to give much money. You know, the money that we have that’s unrestricted is only 15 — a little over $15,000. So you know, you know, you’re going to give a couple hundred dollars. I don’t think that’s going to go very far.
Cynthia Kischinchand 20:56
Robert Rabinowitz 20:58
As a gesture cause the church at which we have the police area meetings is does distribute food is primarily in Germantown. But I think that’s close enough to East Falls that while the money might not be great, the gesture might be really appreciated.
Joe Leube 21:17
What church are you’re talking about Robert…?
Robert Rabinowitz 21:20
The one that we — I forget the name is the one that we go to when we have the police, the police —
Mary Cunningham 21:25
Bill Epstein 21:26
Baptist Church. Yeah.
Joe Leube 21:28
Oh okay. Okay.
Bill Epstein 21:30
The question here in my mind is not where. There are plenty places that could fit the bill. I’ve had the question that I’d like to get some feedback on is, is it appropriate for the East Falls Community Council resources to provide, to be providing that kind of money, any kind of money at all for that purpose? Or —
Robert Rabinowitz 21:54
Why wouldn’t we? What would be your concern?
Joe Leube 21:58
Well, the first concern is, it needs to serve the residents of East Falls. Okay, number one, and so you’d have to find out what organizations are doing that in East Falls.
Mary Cunningham 22:14
Also we’re gonna have —
Corinne O’Connell 22:15
Sorry for interrupting. I’m Corinne. Nice to meet everybody I’m new and I, you know, want to thank and acknowledge the Council for all of your leadership. And you all have been here and I’m the Johnny come lately to this conversation. I loved Mary Cunningham, your comment of like, let’s put it in The Local and encourage residents like here’s a list of food organizations. And/or I work indirectly in the nonprofit space and it might be the sort of thing of just hold on it and wait to the Fall because the food need is not going away. A lot of the agencies are getting gifts right now. But it’s sort of when when the bloom is off the rose, I don’t know what that expression is that they might need more help a couple weeks, couple months from now. So that’s my two cents worth
Bill Epstein 23:02
Okay, I mean, it’s clearly an issue that we can discuss, you know, at another point.
Mary Alice Duff 23:10
Bill, I know we have lots of people on this call specifically because they want to address the statements that —
Bill Epstein 23:17
We’ll get to that right now.
Mary Alice Duff 23:18
Let’s jump into that. And I just want to like tee that up a little bit. So if you want to read the statement, again, it’s on both our Facebook page and our website eastfallscommunity.org —
Bill Epstein 23:29
Mary Alice, let me just make sure we haven’t cut anybody off. I want to be clear that we’re going to continue the conversation on this subject that Robert has raised. It’s definitely not closed.And, and then we’ll be back on the whole grants issue, hopefully soon as we can have an in-person meeting. Okay. Mary Alice.
Mary Alice Duff 23:51
Great! So, we just want we put out that statement, and I think we were very intentional with that and that like we don’t know the answer like, we’re coming to the community with the statement in that we know there’s work to be done to make East Falls a more inclusive place. I mean, just looking at the faces on this call, looks like a bunch of white folks. So meanwhile, our public school is not a bunch of white kids. So I think it’s really important that we get this conversation going. And here’s suggestions like what can we do? What kind of outreach can we do? Can we bring in facilitators? Can we can we take grant money and redistribute it to communities of color, like, what can we do? So I think the purpose of this is an opportunity for like an open dialogue, open conversation, not to rush to solutions, but just getting the conversation going so that we can start to structure things and and the role that EFCC can play in that.
Ami Hopkins 24:46
So this is Ami I wrote a lot in the chat box. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to lose my train of thought because I did come today to have this dialogue. And I will be open and honest Ah, honestly, I’m tired. As a woman of color. My nationality is Indian American, but a woman of color to constantly be fighting for justice. I’m actually exhausted. But it’s important work that needs to continue. So I’m going to give my perspective. First of all, thank you for putting the statement out. I appreciate the quote, we cannot be the bridge until we build the approach. I’m also the, in addition to being a Philadelphia educator for the school district of Philly. I’m also Board Chair of a school called Yes, Philly. And when I put a statement out as the board chair, it came from an honest place. And we have work to do as a community in all these spaces.
So Mary Alice, I like what you said about um, there’s a lot of, I think Corinne you said that to like, acknowledge listening and learning. We all come from different experiences and backgrounds. And so some people might feel — like, me personally, I’m ready for action. But that’s because I’ve been doing this since the day I was born, honestly. But, and like I said, I’m used to having conversations and often being the only person of color in spaces. But I will say, oftentimes, I feel I don’t speak up because I have a fear of being dismissed before I say anything. And that’s part of the work I’m doing in being part of different communities. So that’s like, why my general response was, I’m looking at people <unintelligible> Mifflin, where are they in the conversation and how do we include them.
And the first part is trusted relationships. That’s the only way we can get there. The Germantown East Falls like, there’s been race relations issues forever in this area? Right. So like, I know Mary Alice, Friends of Mifflin has been talking about this. I don’t know where the progress has been. I honestly haven’t had time to be a part of those conversations. But yeah, I know I just had this in staff meeting today. So I’m a little exhausted. But that’s the lens I’m looking at is like, Mifflin, how do our families feel seen, feel heard? And how do we continue this momentum and needs to continue? After the protests are over after the hashtags are over, and we can’t just commit to it and not do anything? After all of that, you know, right now, it’s the way which is good.
I’ve never seen anyone I’ve never seen in the history I’ve been alive. All this momentum. So I want to build on that. And as a community, maybe it is bringing in a facilitator and having townhall discussions, and I know some really good facilitators who have done anti-racism work in schools that I’m happy to connect you to. But maybe that’s a start. It’s like opening it up and I know we can’t really — given COVID — but it could be over something like this, like Mary Alice you even putting this out. It made me feel like, it made me feel like there was a space for for me to voice what kind of community I want to raise my son in. So thank you. Sorry. I know that was a lot of rambling.
Mary Alice Duff 28:35
Thank you, Ami, you don’t have to apologize. Thank you, Ami.
Bill Epstein 28:39
Thank you and welcome to the conversation.
Mary Alice Duff 28:43
Cynthia, you have your hand up.
Cynthia Kischinchand 28:44
Yeah, I just want to know thanks to Alice Rieff who started the East Falls Tree Tenders’ 1st Arbor Day celebration in 96. East falls Community, East Falls Tree Tenders has been reaching out to Mifflin and a part of it. We have gotten 23 or 24 grants from the City, 22 or 23 from East Falls Community Council. So there can be this reaching out. And in this case, so children can learn about nature, but it’s more about nature and the trees, it’s about nature and the people. And with that Arbor Day celebration and this and then I’m going to throw in I’m a volunteer with East Falls Village, so I was going twice a week to the library and then also for Read to Me. Things have started.
I mean, I’ve been through 8 principals, the different teachers and they welcome it, the children welcome it, and I think there has and I’m not saying Oh, wonderful, East Falls Tree Tenders. I don’t mean that but there has been some reaching out going on for two decades. And I think we can build on that and expand on that. But I think there are people who know that this is going up that there is this feeling of, we want Mifflin to be the best school it can be for each and every student. So we’re not starting at Ground Zero. That’s what I’m saying. And I’m sorry, what is the name of the woman who just spoke? I don’t think we’ve met but I’d love to meet her.
Ami Hopkins 30:23
I’ve met you at the Friends of Mifflin meeting, Cynthia. Hi.
Bill Epstein 30:29
No, click on the chat button at the middle of your screen. You’ll see Ami’s name.
Cynthia Kischinchand 30:34
Okay, thank you very much.
Ami Hopkins 30:35
I’m multitasking with the three year old and dinner.
Cynthia Kischinchand 30:40
Is that all?
Mary Alice Duff 30:42
I just want to I just want to point of — Cynthia, I don’t doubt the outreach that groups in East Falls have done. The thing that comes up for me is why aren’t parents sending their kids to Mifflin? Why aren’t white parents in East Falls sending them to Mifflin. That’s what comes up for me. When I moved to East Falls, my entire family’s from Philly and it was they thought I was a horrific parent for sending my white kid to a black school. And I think that is something that we as a community need to contend with and be willing to discuss the resistance to sending white kids who live in East Falls to Mifflin.
Cynthia Kischinchand 31:27
I totally agree.
Mary Alice Duff 31:28
I think the big elephant in the room that isn’t isn’t discussed and I know Cynthia, how much work Tree Tendedrs has done outreach into the kids. I want to see kids in this neighborhood going to Mifflin. Like that — I want to see a truly desegregated neighborhood school. That’s that vision of a community that’s working.
Ami Hopkins 31:50
Honestly, like — my son’s three years old, but when my neighbors who have kids that are old enough to go to Mifflin saw me getting involved in Friends of Mifflin when Aiden was only six months old, that’s when they started considering Mifflin as an option. But because they had no idea that they could be involved, and like, create relationships, so again, it goes back to trusted relationships. That’s like the ground we need to build, honestly. So it’s not like lack of effort and reaching out. I totally get that, Cynthia. I mean, that’s like I was invited to be a part of this conversation, right? Just by looking at the Facebook wall, but it is how do you build those relationships? And that can take a lot of time. So maybe brainstorming what avenues have created those trusted relationships because I honestly don’t know of any. But I believe —
Bill Epstein 32:49
Your question of getting parents too soon to have their children attend Mifflin is a huge one, and it’s multifaceted and it has a whole lot of history. For starters, some people don’t want their kids to go to Mifflin not because of Mifflin, but because of the Philadelphia School District. They think the school district doesn’t have the resources that that they want their kids to have. So that that’s a starting point for some people. Other people, I’m certain race is an issue. Other people have heard so much noise about Mifflin’s history. I mean, I know I remember a community leader saying to me, this was some time ago, a couple years ago, “It’s chaos at Mifflin. I wouldn’t send my kids there. I’m putting my kids in charter school, I would send my kids to Mifflin,” I say —
Heather Plataras 33:40
Bill, can I just interrupt for one second? It’s Heather. I’m with Corinne on her computer, but it’s me. Um, I, you know, I totally appreciate the context of Mifflin and talking about Mifflin because that’s super important. But I also think that it isn’t important to back up and look more broadly at East Falls as a neighborhood, and neighbors within the neighborhood. You know, a lot of people don’t have kids or their kids are grown up, and they should be involved on the same level.
Cross Talk 34:14
(Right Mifflin’s in the Mix And I don’t want to get it’s an abso– deny that)
Bill Epstein 34:17
Mifflin is not the start and the ending point of the discussion.
Heather Plataras 34:20
Correct. That’s what I’m saying.
Bill Epstein 34:21
But it’s an important part because it is a facility in the middle of the neighborhood, centrally located. Education is important. Let me finish now because I was saying something. And I said, who told me about the chaos that she saw five years ago? And I said, “You know, I don’t understand that at all.” I spent as much time in Mifflin as anybody, as the average person, at least, who doesn’t have kids in school, and I’ve never seen any chaos. In Mifflin. I think that’s a very unfair statement. And and this person said to me, “Well, that’s what people downtown say, when I go into city council office,” I said, “Well do you tell them it’s not true?”
Because, you know, maybe it gets a little noisy at dismissal time when the kidss are coming out, but show me a school where that isn’t true. So, you know, we have we have a lot to cope with, in addressing the Mifflin issue. And I think it’s an important one because the community is not whole, unless it has an equitable public school functioning at a high level. And, and we’re a lot further down the road than we were five years ago. And part of that is because we have a great principal there in Leslie Mason, and we have terrific faculty members there that we didn’t have years ago.
And we have more and more people saying, I moved to East Falls and I am going to send my child to Mifflin. I can’t do that, I don’t have any more children, but that is happening. You never you never heard that 10 years ago. So and the Read to Me program that Cynthia referred to, George is doing his terrific effort. You know, that room was a wasted room upstairs there for so many years. And, and the village folks, you know, established a real library there in the room. And so it’s being used. So just terrific. I’ve been a reader there myself.
So I think Mifflin is an important starting point, because it also involves a lot of people who maybe while they don’t live within the confines of East Falls district, what we define as East Falls, they’re our neighbors. And their kids go to Mifflin, and that’s important. So, Mifflin is part of this. Does any– I know a couple people have dominated the conversation. I’d like to open it up. And was there anything else Mary Alice, that you wanted to add before I answered, if there are any other comments about our statement, and how we move forward, and clearly it’s it’s more than just getting people registered to vote and do mail in ballots although that is an important part. And that’s the easy part of it.
Robert Rabinowitz 37:05
Can I go back to Heather’s statement in terms of how to get to rest of the community involved. And one of the questions I have is, how do rentals get advertised? How do people know that there are apartments to rent in East Falls and what are the what kinds of facilities are advertised as available for people? Because then we’re talking not only about a race issue, we’re talking about a class issue too.
Bill Epstein 37:36
Sure. An economic issue. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. Robert housing is an important part of it. The housing is segregated, the school is going to be segregated. So it’s not it’s not just rental properties. It’s how are houses advertised for sale. So that’s something that we could we could form a subcommittee of folks who approach the realtors.
Robert Rabinowitz 38:08
I would be happy to be part of that subcommittee.
Bill Epstein 38:11
Okay. Any other thoughts? Let me just let me just ask if there’s anybody else, Corinne, before we get back to you, I want to give everybody a chance to talk. Okay.
Anna R 38:23
Hi, Bill. It’s Anna, are you asking for general ideas of what we what we could do to make East Falls more inclusive and anti racist? Is that what we’re asking you? Yeah? I mean, I, I just had a couple thoughts, one, you know, so that, you know, when the dust settles and the protests, maybe are over, that this stays at the forefront of our minds, and then we keep with the momentum, just just the thought in terms of, you know, yard signs, just so that is a visual that this is something that’s important in the community, you know, four weeks from now. Six months from now, two years from now, you know the like whether it’s getting yard signs from the Black Lives Matter organization and that money then goes to a fund an organization that is trying to grow that movement because visually you know, I, I’ve seen maybe I don’t know, four signs.
But I think if you’re walking by and even if you’re somebody maybe that is, you know, let’s say quietly racist or under the radar that is not inclusive in East Falls and makes people of color feel uncomfortable. That that the visual that is that is letting people know that this is not going away and that there are more people in support and wanting inclusivity. The other thought I had was in they have like action steps that you can take where they say, you know, search out the police in your community, see if there, there is a rule that they have to wear body cameras that those have to be turned on when they go out on a call. What happens if there’s a lot because I’m thinking one of the threats to black people in East Falls would be an arrest that turns deadly or, you know, an injury that should not, right?
As we’ve seen around the country. So that, you know, those things aren’t placed at the 39th precinct, right? That those would be like actionable steps. And then the other part, the third part that I was thinking of is the education part like books like White Fragility, to change the the prejudice and the the the hidden kind of white privilege in our minds so that we’re more aware of it. So in all our interactions, even when we’re talking to our neighbors, we can come from a place of knowledge and education, such as a book club, such as having a column in your newspaper, Bill, that that states some facts that educates somehow. Those are those are the three ideas that I had.
Bill Epstein 40:58
Thank you. Your idea about books, you know, it could be maybe we could do a one book program in East Falls.
Anna R 41:07
I’m sure that library would be in support of that as well. I’m thinking,
Bill Epstein 41:10
If we ever get a library back, yeah, yeah. No, it’s a good idea.
Mary Alice Duff 41:17
I love the idea of using the paper. I think that’s fabulous. Like every month, you could have a column dedicated to issues of inclusion and race and anti=racism work in East Falls and like make it a point that this conversation like stays top of mind and that’s
Bill Epstein 41:34
Absolutely. Certainly, certainly East Falls Now is that not only available for that, but that’s, in my opinion, that’s what it’s here for. I mean, it’s here for a lot of things, but that’s one of the things that it’s here for.
Anna R 41:49
I think we’ve also have, you know, they talk a lot about, use your dollar to financially support the movements that you feel strongly about. If you if you want to see East Falls more inclusive, you know, and anti racist, like put the money where you want the progress to go. So we could also even do some sort of fundraiser, right? And because that is a very powerful tool to put your money behind movements that have, you know, already started that black people have been working on for years and years and years. But they need the funds in order to be effective and keep going.
John Gillespie 42:31
What kind of program are you talking about to put your money in?
Anna R 42:35
Well, there are many there are organizations that are Philly-based, right? Where they’re trying to change laws such as that, you know, offices get uh you get get the rap sheet of the officer if he’s had any disciplinary measures in the past. You know, I don’t know if you’ve listened to any of the Andrew Cuomo briefings but he talks about a ban on choke holds, he talks about not having the local district attorney prosecute cases of abuse by police officers. And but those those movements that are trying to change the laws, they’re trying to bring awareness that they’re trying to bring change. They need money. You know now we can decide, you know, you can you can introduce, let’s say, three organizations, right? And then isn’t going to decide whether they’re more towards changing laws, whether they’re more towards educating people on how to be anti racist. There’s different directions on that. There’s Philly-based ones and then there’s national ones. Does that answer your question, John or…?
John Gillespie 43:42
Uhhh To some degree, I’m thinking more… Were you at the rally last week? For uh Black Lives Matter?
Anna R 43:53
McMichael park? Yeah.
John Gillespie 43:55
I thought it was very successful, very impressive. I thought the speakers were tremendous. But it was predominantly white — dominantly white. Okay. We are a white community. In order to bring race into the picture, we need that… there need to be more black faces, frankly, in East Falls. Ami Hopkins, I’m not sure what you have in mind. But there needs to be more exposure more in your action with blacks than now are and for that you need blacks.
Ami Hopkins 44:12
Well, but — uh, sorry.
Mary Alice Duff 44:42
It’s not the job. So I want to be clear that it is white folks’ job to make spaces comfortable and inclusive for black folks. It’s not on black folks to move to predominantly white neighborhoods and then all of us who like get on the bandwagon. (unintelligable cross talk) Well, part of that is, there’s some really great suggestions here. Is it bringing in an anti racism and White Fragility facilitator to get the conversations going amongst us? Is it publicizing our support of black local businesses? Who are the black businesses in East Falls? How can we help them? You know, we have to do the work first. So that is a place that black families say “I absolutely want to move to East falls because it looks like I’m gonna be treated like a neighbor and not some token black neighbor.” Nobody wants that.
Ami Hopkins 45:32
I’m just, I’m gonna say something here. Yes, there’s a lot of work. People are approaching this from different lenses. Some people might have just heard the word anti racism. I know personally, I heard it in a professional development with teachers last year last summer and I’ve been like actively trying, working on my journey of anti racism and raising my child to be anti racist. But one thing I’ve seen from my friends, my friends who are people of color, like I said, signs, hashtags, book clubs, these are all great starts. And it also is inclusive to where people are on their journey to be anti racist. And some people have a lot to learn to even be comfortable talking about white privilege, right?
And so reading books by Ibrahim Kendi — and he has books for kids and adults is a great start. And I put a link here of Netflix documentaries, you could watch, books, you could read, organizations you can support, and there’s a lot more from where that comes from. I’m actually adding them to a website I’ve created around resources for educators, but we also have to show some kind of action. So what you said, Anna, of prioritizing this and showing that it is consistent priority is a great first step. So like having conversations Mary Alice and spaces like this is a great first step, but also showing in your actions, right?
So like the 19th. June 19 is Juneteenth. How are we, as East Falls Community Council acknowledging Juneteenth? Black Lives Matter. We’re doing a lot with Black Lives Matter in schools, but how can we, as East falls Community Council? Like I’m just thinking of this video I saw yesterday of City worker who was tearing down Black Lives Matter signs and telling black people who were confronting him to eff off. That is where we are. And that is, that is where we live right now in the city. So like, how can we?
And Mary Alice’s exactly right, it’s a lot of work that people have to do individually. And then we can’t like I said, as a person of color who’s been fighting for injustice trying to fight for a voice in every circle I’m in. People of color are tired. Right? And so it is up to white people to start stepping up and impacting your networks. I’m sorry, I took up a lot of space there, but I have to put my son to bed so I actually have to go. But I’m happy to continue this dialogue. And I appreciate the space for Mary Alice. You know how to get in touch with me. I appreciate you all listening. I’m sorry. I have to run off.
Bill Epstein 48:41
Thank you. We’re gonna have to — Mary Alice, I think one of the possibilities is that we should put together a steering committee to to move this forward. It won’t, it won’t move forward organically. I think we need to have a structure. We have a couple of good ideas here to start with. I’m sure there are more more ideas out there also, but perhaps you and I can talk about a couple people to serve on a committee that that moves us forward and gets the concrete set in the ground.
Mary Alice Duff 49:25
I think we can ask here but before we jump into that, Corinne, I know you have your hands up and I just want to remind folks, if you’re not on video, there’s a raise your hand feature that flags me so that I can actually like click on you because if you don’t have a video, it might be hard to like, get a word in edgewise. So Corinne I saw you had your hand up?
Corinne O’Connell 49:45
Thanks Mary Alice. So I put this in the chat box, but I bring this to the group. Unsolicited feedback. I had two emails people, tracked me down through work. And they said, and they were people of color and what they brought — which I thought was really powerful. One, in that last week, right, acknowledging right out of the, in the opening remarks, right? Of saying, this is a predominantly white neighborhood. And this didn’t happen by chance. And two: this is a neighborhood that says and publicly proclaims. And so the feedback from both — again unsolicited — was a sense of feeling safe and feeling seen.
And so, Mary Alice, thank you. We’ve done that of… I don’t think we can dance around like, we are a white neighborhood. And that happened because of systemic institutionalized racism as it relates to housing and funding. Okay, that’s our starting point. So that’s my one. And the other thought Is there, much like Mifflin: Friends of McMichael, Friends of the Library, there are assets that we have.
And how do we — no pun intended — integrate, right? Some of this work into the already existing assets. So you know, Yes, book club and speaker series and things like that. I don’t know that we have to get too crazy and start with a whole nother set of exercises. How do we bring some energy into the already existing assets in the community? Yeah. So and again, Bill, I want to acknowledge you and the Council for moving quickly that you know, it was a week ago, and here we are, this evening and a lot of momentum.
Mary Alice Duff 51:27
Really, using all of our community assets. We have all of these “Friends of” groups. So how can we make sure that we’re providing them the resources or, you know, pointing them in the right direction, getting everybody on the same page so that each of these groups working with each of their distinct populations are doing the work so that it’s not all on one. We don’t have to, like you said, start from scratch. Crystal, you have your hand up. Hello, there.
Krystal Cunillera 51:58
Yeah, I’m here. So uh… My…. I appreciate everyone that’s spoken so far. I agree. Mary Alice, I’ll just second your words about it being white people’s job to do right now. And so my other thought is that when at the beginning of the meeting, Bill mentioned that there are a lot of EFCC positions opening, which seems like a really great opportunity to get some people in those positions that maybe are doing some of the work. There’s a whole like, other part of East Falls that isn’t involved here. And it’s wonderful. I think I see a lot of friends from Rutabaga on here and that are interested in Mifflin, which is really exciting, but there’s a whole other group of people, young people that aren’t involved yet, and I think this could be a good opportunity to include, you know, those folks and consider…. uh…. I know there used to be scout like scouting committees or to kind of fill those positions. I think maybe there’s some connection here with the changes that need to happen and the leadership for it.
Bill Epstein 53:23
Krystal, as you say that I’m thinking of the homes that I call “up the hillside.” I think that was a — what’s that?
Cynthia Kischinchand 53:34
Bill Epstein 53:34
No, no. The homes behind. That used to be the public housing behind the five storey building, which is a senior citizen building, the mix of subsidized homes and market rate housing that go all the way up the hill, in back of uh back of SCT bank.
Cynthia Kischinchand 53:57
Schuylkill Falls, yes.
Bill Epstein 53:58
Yes Schuylkill Falls, that’s it. We don’t see anybody from from that community at any of our meetings. And I think it’s incumbent on us to to change that. Now that they might not all be black, but but they’re there in East Falls. And, you know, is a matter of fact across the street from there, an entirely different demographic in the townhomes on Kelly drive. That’s another 22 homes with new people there. And I think we need to go after them and get them in, you know, invite them to be involved and give him a reason to be involved.
Cynthia Kischinchand 54:38
Bill, just to let you know, friends of Mifflin with Abbotsford, which is a public housing development, they’ve reached out there and we’ve had to have meetings there. So there has been some outreach from Friends of Mifflin. .
Bill Epstein 54:54
Sure, sure. Well, there’s no question that, you know, Abbotsford has to play a role in this because that’s where the African community is predominantly located. Now again, they’re not strictly within the boundaries that our bylaws set out. But that doesn’t mean anything. They’re they’re our neighbors, they’re they send their kids to the same school that a lot of our people send the kids to school. And and, you know, I as as we’re having this conversation, I think in the history I’ve probably been in East Falls almost as long as anybody that I see here.
And I told the executive committee when we were working on the statement two weeks ago, that I remember when my late wife and I moved in, the public housing was still on the hillside there. When I when I called the hillside. And they were two 22-storey buildings, public housing, that were built in the 19. I’m gonna say 1950s, late 1950s (but double check the exact date) with great fanfare and welcomed very excitedly by East Falls residence because they sold us a place where their older citizens could retire to and live comfortably. It was probably just a matter of two or three years when the elevators and 22 storey buildings broke and pretty much never got fixed. So the the place became not not a very pleasant living environment.
And I remember my wife and I, my late wife and I driving up Calumet Street to get to our house on more on culture Street. And a nice warm summer night like this even warmer and seeing white guys come out of their houses on Calumet Street, or no, yeah, Calumet Street, with baseball bats chasing the kids have a different racial persuasion back into the public housing. Not a very pleasant sight.
Mary Alice Duff 56:46
Right. And that just happened in Fishtown like last week, so Well, yeah.
Bill Epstein 56:50
Krystal Cunillera 56:51
And apparently, some of those on Sunnyside and Conrad last week so…
Bill Epstein 56:59
Let’s talk about that for a second, because that means a lot of information floating around. I think we should pinpoint it so that we all are working the same facts. But let me finish what I was saying first then let’s turn to that because I think it’s important. So there was that kind of thing. And then the neighborhood that in those days, you never saw a sale sign in the neighborhood. You did not see a sale sign. I bought a house, never saw sale sign in front of it. And that was deliberate. And we know why that was done that way. It was not to be more inviting, let’s put it that way. Now, as far as the guys with baseball bats, we know about what happened in Fishtown. The difference in Fishtown — I don’t think anybody was chasing anybody with bats like I remember seeing in 1983. But what what do we know about what happened, didn’t happen in East Falls? Because I’ve heard so many different reports. Were there actually people with baseball bats and what were they trying to do?
Krystal Cunillera 57:56
I don’t know anything specific. A neighbor told me that they were walking and they saw a few guys sitting on the corner with baseball bats.
Bill Epstein 58:03
Sitting on the corner? Okay so that’s what that that is one thing we know that somebody said they some guys, I assume white guys, sitting with baseball bats. Anybody else know anything? Anybody here…..?
Anna R 58:16
I think it’s on East Falls Neighbors or the um what used to be the East Falls Rants if you know that there’s a post discussing it and who they are and that they were basically I guess defending the neighborhood against you know, looting as the as a cover for what they’re actually there for?
Bill Epstein 58:35
Well, I think what we need to do, and I’ll raise this with Mary Jane Fullam and others in Town Watch, Marie is on the call and I know a couple others are, John’s active in Town Watch, um I think we need to check with the police 39 districts and find out what do they know about it, and we need to make it clear to them that that strikes us as an extra crime safety activity that we don’t need, to say the least, in East Falls. And we ought to ask them if they know who these people were, are or were they, in fact, East Falls residents, were they outsiders?
So we’ll try to find out what we can if anybody else has any definitive information to add, please let me know. Because one of the things you want to do in the kind of situation with this is don’t let the rumors get out of control. It’s bad enough that we have rumors but that’s why I asked what I appreciate, Krystal, your, your, your explicitness of your description and that somebody told you they saw a guy sitting with a baseball bat on the steps and, you know. Does anybody disagree with me that that’s not quite acceptable?
Mary Alice Duff 59:49
Of course it’s not acceptable. Christie, you have your hand up, I want to I want to make sure we get to you.
Christie Kapothanasis 59:58
Hi, so this is my first time coming to meetings, and I really appreciate the forums. To have these discussions, I think, it is incredibly important for our community to be talking about this right now, especially given what Krystal is saying. There are a lot of young families in the neighborhood. And a lot of us have been talking about this work in our kind of friend groups or family groups. And I just really want to not lose sight of what Krystal said, which is that there are young people who are already steeped in this work who really could bring a lot to this conversation. And I think finding ways to actively invite those folks into the conversation — kind of like tonight — in other ways, could be a really great way to build some bridges.
I also feel like we need to continue coming back to the fact that this is not black people’s work to do so. I don’t think we can say that we need to have black people from Abbotsford Housing come to us. We need to make this community a more inclusive place that they would want to really participate in. I mean, even on the Facebook group, there was someone who said that they were called the N word because they had their car parked on the street, and they were moving and someone shouted out to them the N word. I mean, that is unacceptable in our community. And even on that Facebook page, there is unchecked racism just rampantly flying around by people who are our neighbors, and it is really difficult to —
Bill Epstein 61:31
On what Facebook page?
Christie Kapothanasis 61:33
On the East Falls Rants page. I think it has another name now but it is, I — There are people definitely speaking up. But I think the fact that those opinions are voiced is… It’s not okay. It’s not okay. A lot of us and I think, I mean, I would wonder if people could take a stance on that as the EFCC? I don’t even know like. Those people shouldn’t be allowed to post those things at all.
Anna R 61:59
It’s the Facebook group is now called Have an East Falls Life, Folks But it used to be the East Falls Rants. And it has 3800 some members.
Bill Epstein 62:08
What do they? What’s it called, now?
Anna R 62:10
Have an East Falls Life, Folks. It used to be the East Falls Rants page, and it’s one one of the Facebook pages has the most members. Three thousand eight hundred. And it’s, you know, it’s very apparent that people just feel comfortable posting racist statements, making commonts — racist comments on somebody else’s posts, and then doing the whole back and forth, back and forth. And I mean, with no, they’re not disguising it. They’re just boldly out there.
Julia Margulies 62:44
Well, I mean, East Falls does have a history of as, as Bill and others have alluded to, it has a long history of not open housing, no for sale signs, very deliberately, trying to make sure that the neighborhood was the way it was. So, I’ve been here for quite a while. So I think maybe you’re seeing some of that history. I mean, I love the idea of, you know, making that not acceptable. But it does still exist in the community. I know that while canvassing, in 2016, in 2015, whenever that last election was, the last major election —
Bill Epstein 63:31
Julia Margulies 63:33
There was an African American man who was canvassing and in East falls, and he, you know, he basically left early because he had been harassed by people in East Falls. So. That’s, that was four years ago. So.
Mary Alice Duff 63:54
That is the big question, Julie. Is what is our role as the East Falls Community Council to make sure that people who think and act that way, are not comfortable or not comfortable, like make racist, afraid. Again, that’s my motto for 2020. <garbled crosstalk> I don’t want to be associated with people who speak like that, act like that, think like that, talk like that. And I certainly don’t want them to be the representatives for the neighborhood that I live in too. So I think that we have to really think about like, how, what is our role? What is the role of EFCC? What is the role of the Community Council?
Is it having an open forum, where we bring in a facilitator, but to Krystal’s point, there’s all these people who don’t know what is going on here. Who don’t know. Who who don’t read the paper who aren’t following us on Facebook? Like how do we get in front of them? Do we take out a Facebook ad targeting the 19129? You know, we throw grand at it and do a heavy, heavy, heavy advertising like, I feel like we just need to approach this in a much more proactive and assertive way. Because the people who need to hear this aren’t going to be the ones in the room. That’s my fear.
Bill Epstein 65:07
Mary Alice Duff 65:09
How do we make sure that happens?
Bill Epstein 65:11
If those people were going to be in the room, this would be really easy. But they’re not going to be in the room. I know it. I think we need to put, as I said earlier, Mary Alice, a committee of people together to get this moving, to start setting up all these different branches of things we want to do, for instance, the former East falls Rant now called Have an East Falls Life, Folks. Maybe a number of us approach the folks who operate that that site and ask them to be more careful about what is posted on the site. They have the ability to do that. And if they if they don’t, we want to find out who does. Somebody does
Anna R 65:58
Maybe Steve Fillmore can speak to that? He’s on the call. He’s one of the admins of East Falls Rants. I don’t know if you can hear us, Steve. I don’t know if you can report on like what, what the strategy is with the with the page and racist comments that are made.
Bill Epstein 66:22
Steve are you still on the call? Are you still on the call? Well, I guess… It says, it says here that he is. But ummmm
Lauren Stables 66:39
I think a great place to start is for everyone on this call to get on that Face page and start reporting and calling out the individuals who are writing these comments. Because it’s not one person. We’re obviously reading these comments. They’re inappropriate and they’re foul. And they represent our neighborhood in a way that I don’t want to be associated with. And so everyone here should join and they should directly report those people and have a one on one conversation about what they’re putting out there.
Bill Epstein 67:16
I agree with you I mean, I — we all every one of us has, you know, lots of things to do in our life. It’s amazing that in economic standstill, we’re all so busy. We are but we still I think have to make time I’ve never seen this, this this this page, Have an East Falls Life, Folks, but I will check it out. And I’ll add my two cents and I think everybody should.
Robert Rabinowitz 67:43
Could you put the link to this Facebook page in the chat so that it’s easy to uhhh
Bill Epstein 67:51
Yeah, it’s already there, Robert. Corinne was kind enough to put it, Have an East Falls Life, Folks, it’s right there, hit the chat button at the bottom of your page.
Robert Rabinowitz 68:01
I did I see I’m looking for where it shows that —
Bill Epstein 68:04
It’s right there. Right. Right in it, right now it’s right in the middle of the page. Have an East Falls Life —
Robert Rabinowitz 68:09
Yes, I see.
Anna R 68:10
Yeah. You can access that site without being a member. Just you know, yeah.
Mary Alice Duff 68:17
So maybe we advertise our, you know, facilitated anti racism training in that group. You know?
Bill Epstein 68:25
It’s a ready-made group!
Mary Alice Duff 68:27
Right. I mean, I mean, we all of us need training. They’re — and I think it’s really important that we remember that racism comes in all forms. There’s overt racism, like some of the stuff that you guys have just talked about calling people the N word, etc. There’s covert racism, which is, you know, everything from microaggressions like asking people where they’re from, if they have an accent, things like that. So just remember, like racism comes in all forms and there are some people who it’s very apparent and then there’s the rest of us where it’s– We’re all participating in one way or another. So I think a great place to advertise could be that group and I can look into running Facebook ads for where we could advertise how we can advertise inviting people to the to a facilitated event that is going to have to happen in like a zoom format because I don’t want this to wait until what January when there’s —
Bill Epstein 69:19
No no no no we’re not, we’re not waiting don’t anybody think we’re waiting for normality to return because <unintellibible>
Cynthia Kischinchand 69:27
Um! One thing that there are a number of churches in East Falls. I know there’s St. Bridgets and I believe here are a few others. And when I think of churches and religious groups, it’s about love. And so I think it’d be great if they could be <garbled cross talk> out to them and see how, what they feel and have them in again, we’re being inclusive and include them and see how they would want to participate. Definitely
Bill Epstein 70:02
Definitely a resource. No question about it, an important resource. Corinne, did you have your hand up?
Corinne O’Connell 70:11
So I just this is another Darryl Ford from Penn charter had said at the end of Monday, you know, he’s certainly motivated as a resident. And one of the follow ups I have with him apparently the pastor at Good Shepherd (on the The Oak Road) had connection, affiliation I’m using these words, but marched with Dr. King. And so one of the things Darryl had suggested is that perhaps Pastor Ike would be willing, right? So again, an asset that we have in the community so Heather and I that’s on our action items to follow up with Pastor Ike and see what we can do there. And then my other, Mary Alice, I love that in the facilitator, I brings it back to Mary Cunningham and the grants. I would encourage just that whomever facilitates that there’s an honorarium that we give to that person. Okay. Yeah.
Mary Alice Duff 71:07
Yeah. This is hard work. And it requires a very skilled person. And they absolutely have to be paid for this. Absolutely.
Anna R 71:16
And I and I wanted to just say two more things on the on the subject one, I was just thinking, we can look to other communities similar, you know, small communities that have done this. I know there’s examples of defunding the police in Camden, and their violence rate and the rate of of you no harm to black people that is that has happened has gone down by defunding police but in terms of changing a community to be more inclusive and anti racist. I’m sure that there are examples around the country of communities have done that, so that we’re not, you know, trying to, I guess, invent the wheel.
And the other thought I had was this question. The beauty of anti racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti racist. Anti racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward. So this this thought going forward, that we’re looking inward, you know, as as much as we are in looking at our community and where we need to grow and where we really need to take action.
Bill Epstein 72:31
Right. So those of you who have a chance to read the New York Times, I usually don’t get to plow through it every week. It piles up and my wife starts bugging me about get rid of the newspapers, but this week, I did have some free time yesterday and today and the front section of the New York Times. It’s quite amazing as a resource. There were two advertisements actually. They’re not they’re not reported they’re paid advertisements. placed by African American business leaders that delve into the subject in depth and I recommend, you know, if you can’t find them, let me know. And I’ll make copies.
One, uhh. Last name is Allen is very prominent African American businessman. He owns TV stations and entertainment venues. And he took out what they call in the newspaper business the “double truck,” the middle two pages back then that’s how comprehensive his statement was. I mean, that doesn’t make a comprehensive in and of itself, but in fact it was comprehensive. And another gentleman took out just a just a single full page. And definitely worth reading. Cause it goes to a lot of what you’re saying and saying tonight.
So ummm I’m going to appoint a committee to take charge of this. I welcome volunteers. Let me know, let me know at my email address or email@example.com because I do believe that this will not happen if we just continue to stand around and talk about it. We have to —
Anna R 74:16
So can I just want to make one mention then Juneteenth is coming up quickly, is there a way that we can you know, out of spontaneity and need for action to bring about some kind of plan of action that we’re going to be doing on that day? I don’t know. Krystal you have some ideas or Mary Alice or anyone else? I’m just thinking that’s coming up quick and we might
Mary Alice Duff 74:38
I think we can definitely do a lot of like, we can use our social media to do one education. A lot of people don’t even know what Juneteenth is. That, we could use it as an opportunity to promote black owned businesses in the neighborhood, and why we should be celebrating Juneteenth so we can use this whole week. We can use this weekend next week, to just push education constantly. around it. There’s also a citywide Juneteenth talk that’s called Jawnteenth event. I love the name! At Malcolm X Park. Um, so we can promote that because that’s, I think, a really great event. Um, but yeah, I can definitely push on social education stuff, why it’s important for black owned businesses.
Robert Rabinowitz 75:20
I’m looking down Have an East Falls Life. There is nothing on there that is in any sense racially antagonistic. It’s a fine…. I’m just scrolling through it. I’m not sure where people are getting the information that is being reported that is a very racist.
Krystal Cunillera 75:41
I think the issue is that there are hundreds of posts a day and um it was….
Anna R 75:47
And almost 4000 members.
Robert Rabinowitz 75:50
I’m scrolling through and it looks fine. Now, I may come up with one but right now and what I’m seeing that there’s nothing there I would take any offense to.
Mary Alice Duff 76:02
But if people if people in our community are telling us that there’s racist stuff happening on this, I think we owe our community members the benefit of the doubt to believe them.
Robert Rabinowitz 76:12
Not arguing that it doesn’t exist. I’m saying I can’t find it.
Mary Alice Duff 76:17
It could be deep in threads, like it could be deep in comment threads.
Robert Rabinowitz 76:21
You know, there has to be something there that lets me go into the comments that makes me say, “Hey, what is this? What is this?” I’m not seeing anything like that.
Anna R 76:33
I mean, recently there was the comments section about someone asserting in all caps ALL LIVES MATTER and then supporting that continuously even though people were explaining what all, what Black Lives Matters means and what why the statement All Lives Matter is in direct opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. Um, but they just, you know, kept on. I mean this was recently.
Robert Rabinowitz 76:34
Here, I’m looking,it says “Confusion #3, who doesn’t know that all people are immigrants in America except the Indians?” That seems to be the tenor of the comments.
Corinne O’Connell 77:13
And, you know, I’m sorry, I’m gonna back up Mary Alice to you’re like, what do we do next? And Bill? What do we do next? and Juneteenth. So I think it’s important kind of as it relates to consistent communication from the Council. Right. So yes, the statement was released, but like just continuing to use that language: bridge building, what have you, like, core values of who we are as a community? And then the second is some of the follow ups coming out of this discussion. Right?
So the next, what I heard is that there’s certainly alignment of that we’re going to work or at least, this is what I heard of identifying a facilitator to have a larger community conversation. Right? So in a, like, here’s an actionable next piece of conversation. People might have a skilled facilitator that they would recommend that could be an ask call to action there. But certainly have like this, you know, we had how many members or you know, community members were here. Here’s, you know, the consensus was that gonna work on a larger bringing a facilitator for a larger conversation, that sort of thing. Just in that momentum of what’s next step, what’s next step?
Bill Epstein 78:34
I’m looking at the Have an East Falls Life, too, and it’s quite lengthy. It would take a long time to go through it. So we’ll do that offline here.
Mary Alice Duff 78:46
Corinne, so to follow up on that. I will definitely post on our socials and we can put an email together about concrete, initial next steps and also just reiterating that it’s not like a one and done we’re not going to have a meeting the people gotta come to like, it’s just not how it’s gonna be. And I can also put out the ask for if there are any community members who want to be more actively involved. And who can come together and like, you know, a steering committee like Bill said, for lack of a better word.
And I so this is… I…. in my day job, do a whole lot of committee work. But I would suggest that it like right now is we need a group of folks to work on a facilitated conversation. I think when people hear like steering committee or committee, you’re like, I’m gonna be on that to the day I die. Right? But like a short, like, what’s the immediate next step? Because given how slammed people are with time you’re like, Oh, I could, I could commit to three calls to help us get ready to hire a facilitator. So short little bites for people.
Bill Epstein 79:52
Okay, any other thoughts? Before I say something to wrap it up? I didn’t get any feedback when my — first of all. Are there any or any other thoughts, anybody that has something to say on the subject that hasn’t said it?
Anna R 80:08
Bill, and what did you think about the idea of having a column or a section, an educational section or discussion section about, you know, terms such as white privilege, anti racism in terms of bringing the awareness and the education of individual residents that are reading your newspaper up? What did you What are your thoughts on on that idea in terms of East Falls Now?
Bill Epstein 80:33
The newspaper is available.
Anna R 80:36
Bill Epstein 80:37
And we will we invite comments, right? That’s all I can say, send us the comments. And if they’re not over the top, we will run them.
Anna R 80:49
So that means like, letters to the editor? Like opinion?
Cross Talk 80:52
<voices talking over each other, unintelligible>
Julia Margulies 80:56
If wants to write a column?
Bill Epstein 80:57
It could be a column, a piece? But we’ll worry about what we call it. If somebody wants to write something send it to me. We’re going to wrap up the July issue in the next five days, but there’ll be an issue every month after that. Advertising willing. So far it has been. All right, well , I’ll be in touch with you, Mary Alice. We’ll, we’ll… Anybody who would like to, in that, please send me an email or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Alice Duff 81:30
Krystal, did you, you have you had your hand up?
Krystal Cunillera 81:32
Yeah, I just — I don’t know. I don’t have a formulated thought on it. But there it seems like there’s opportunity in the East Falls business world to promote this agenda. So I don’t know what that is. But I know that there are spaces opening up. There’s a new children’s <unintelligable> going up on Ridge. There’s a space right beside Rutabaga that’s opening up. And I don’t know. It’s just, I would love to see a variety of businesses.
Bill Epstein 82:07
Mary Alice Duff 82:08
The person who took over my space on Ridge Ave. She’s a friend we did this program together. She’s a black woman, she is creating an event space specifically for women. And so it could be a great opportunity to — Especially given, she took over the space, and then COVID-19 happened and it’s an event space. Right. But wonderful opportunity to — She’s a multi printer, she has many businesses going. A wonderful opportunity to highlight her and her work. And she’s not from the neighborhoods, so be a great opportunity for people to get to know her and our businesses. So you know, another great way we can highlight businesses, get the business community involved. But I think the paper is a good way to do that and being really explicit and intentional about it every month. How diverse is our paper? Are all the columnists white? Are all the stories about white people? Right? So like can we make sure that every month the content we’re putting together is diverse and inclusive. You know.
Anna R 83:08
And also, East Falls Farmers Market has several businesses that are black owned. We could highlight those and you know, they they also take pre orders. If you’re concerned about being too close the East Falls Farmers Market really made sure that they they can sell, let’s say, their baked goods and do it safely, socially distanced. Yeah, you can highlight those.
Julia Margulies 83:32
Yeah, Anna, thanks for bringing that up. I just want to say that the East Falls Farmers Market I think partly because of its location has been the most integrated part of East Falls. I mean, it you know, that that was one of the things that when I was working on it, but I actually took great pleasure in the fact that it you know, that it kind of represented this melding, you know, that, you know, so I agree that it would be a good thing to, to look at.
Bill Epstein 84:02
Getting back to Mary Alice’s comment about the person who took over your place on the former space Ridge Avenue there. Couldn’t we get ahold of her and do something before we go to press here with this?
Mary Alice Duff 84:15
I can I can reach out to her because I think it’d be a great story especially considering.
Bill Epstein 84:21
Today’s Monday. I’d have to have done by next Monday.
Mary Alice Duff 84:25
Yeah, I can I can send her a message.
Anna R 84:28
And also possibly I don’t know if anybody’s in the know in terms of generating a list even if it’s not a final list of black-owned businesses in East Falls so that we have somewhere to put our dollars and to get takeout and to buy products and to support.
Krystal Cunillera 84:45
Yeah, there are a bunch in Sherman Mills, I just don’t know. I have a lady that does physical fitness and she goes into schools and does programs for camps.
Anna R 84:54
Jerk Chicken company as well.
Heather Plataras 84:58
I met the lady in Sherman Mills that does fitness, Krystal, I have her info.
Krystal Cunillera 85:03
Julia Margulies 85:06
Um, there are a couple of gyms in. I don’t know if they’re gonna still be operating but there are a couple of gyms in there and I think the colonic irrigation lady is still there too.
Bill Epstein 85:19
Right? Well, um, alright, so we know what we have to do. If you want to be involved, let us know. Send me an email or send our website an email email@example.com. We will sign you up. I didn’t get any feedback on the idea of a clean up at Mifflin Arboretum. Does that mean I’m the only one interested in doing that?
Anna R 85:45
Say it again. What did you say?
Bill Epstein 85:46
I said I didn’t get any feedback on my idea of doing a clean up at Mifflin School Arboretum. You know what the Arboretum is, Anna?
Krystal Cunillera 85:56
I think everyone’s focused on…
Bill Epstein 85:58
The property on… as you go down Midvale Avenue, all that, if you’re going downhill on the left side, that’s all school district property. That’s the Mifflin School Arboretum. And there is a long-term plan, that’s that people are trying to get off the ground to completely redo the outside of the school. So that it can be used for community events… Somebody’s <unintelligable> mute themselves…??
Anna R 86:28
You’re breaking up, Bill, I don’t know if everybody else is hearing that.
Bill Epstein 86:30
Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of noise in the background, not my background, somebody else’s background. Uh the the the Mifflin School Arborteum is a subject of a fundraising campaign by by the Friends of Mifflin to do a major redo of the entire exterior of Mifflin School, including the Arboretum and it would be space that the community can use that students can use for outdoor nature classes and so forth. In the meantime, it’s a place where every year the community is gathered to clean out, basically, cut, cut the overgrowth down, nothing real fancy. And we didn’t do it this year because the city program didn’t take place. And we didn’t do much of a job last year either for a variety of reasons.
But I think it needs to be done I think can be done safely. We don’t have to wait for for normal to to be turned. We could get out there five or six of us at a time, spread apart, do some trimming and pile the stuff opposite city can pick it up. If we could get two or three crews like that to spend an hour each doing that I think the place would look a lot different. But I want to know if I’m the only person who’s interested in doing that.
Krystal Cunillera 87:18
I think maybe tonight
Bill Epstein 87:49
Krystal Cunillera 87:50
I think maybe tonight you are. We’re all focused on one thing.
Bill Epstein 87:53
Yeah I understand that. But it’s important. It’s important.
Krystal Cunillera 87:57
There is a FOM Garden Club. That group might be a good resource to help.
Bill Epstein 88:07
You mean the community garden people?
Krystal Cunillera 88:09
No, Friends of Mifflin.
Bill Epstein 88:12
Krystal Cunillera 88:14
Bill Epstein 88:15
Krystal Cunillera 88:16
A garden club in there, they might be helpful in getting, um,
Bill Epstein 88:20
Well. Krystal, I think the Friends of Mifflin, I think the Mifflin community, it’s it’s long overdue for them for Mifflin Community to be part of this effort because it’s always just been community people coming in to do it. But —
Krystal Cunillera 88:36
To be honest, I didn’t know about — Friends of Mifflin didn’t, wasn’t connected with the people that were actually hosting the clean-up two years ago. So I think there’s a disconnect. I think you’re right.There is a group right now who is coordinating a lot of this sort of thing. So may be a good…
Bill Epstein 88:56
Okay, I’ll talk to Carla about that then. Okay.
John Gillespie 89:00
Hold on a minute. Hold on, hold on. (speaking into phone)
Bill Epstein 89:04
All right. Anything else that we haven’t covered that folks want to cover?
John Gillespie 89:09
Bill Epstein 89:10
John please. JOHN Gillespie, please mute yourself.
Mary Alice Duff 89:14
I muted him.
Bill Epstein 89:16
Okay. Thank you. Thank you. Is there anything else that we need to cover? The grants will be a continuing discussion only to our lack of ability to meet in person. So will all the officers.
Anna R 89:31
I had one more thing, and it will there be a minute note at this meeting? I know we had lots of ideas, lots of discussion. Is there a way to culminate that all?
Bill Epstein 89:41
We have it recorded that’s a different kind of thing that, that —
Mary Alice Duff 89:44
Yeah so the meeting is recorded, I have a file of the chat and I also have my own personal notes with like action items.
Bill Epstein 89:53
Also Mary Jean Cunningham, who’s our Recording Secretary. Is she still on the line or did we wear her out?.
Mary Cunningham 90:02
I’m here. I’ve also taken notes.
Bill Epstein 90:08
Anna R 90:09
Well, will they be posted on the…?
Bill Epstein 90:12
They, they, The minutes are posted on our website.
Anna R 90:16
Okay, I’m new to this, but I’ve been at one meeting for the playground, but I that’s why I’m checking. Thank you.
Bill Epstein 90:22
Mary Alice, maybe, you can post you know, maybe we could post the recording also.
Mary Alice Duff 90:29
Okay. Yeah, we can post it
Bill Epstein 90:32
That way it would have a home.
Mary Alice Duff 90:34
Yeah. Easy peasy.
Bill Epstein 90:36
You wouldn’t have to worry about saving it
Mary Alice Duff 90:38
It’s saved to the cloud so don’t worry.
Bill Epstein 90:40
Yeah. Okay, great. All right, let’s, let’s let’s do that. Christina is away for another week or so. But she’ll be back. Or you could. If you go to you, if you go to the website, you’ll see a page for Minutes. That’s where it should be posted.
Anna R 90:56
Okay, thank you.
Bill Epstein 90:58
Right. Okay, everybody. Have a good evening. And I appreciate your time tonight very much. And you’ll be hearing more from us, we’re not going to let this issue sit by the roadside by any means. Thanks.
Finally, White people acknowledging that anti-racism and, in particular, anti-Black bias is a cultural sickness that can only be cured by Whites themselves. IMO, the treatment contains only two key ingredients, both proactive: 1.The will; 2.Courage. So, instead of tolerating racism among our friends and family, neighbors and colleagues, let’s make the bigots the outliers. Treat The racists like pariah. Not unlike as we did with smokers and drunk drivers. We all remember when it was cool to smoke and so entertaining to muse about how we didn’t know how we managed to drive home safely after 8 beers? Well, now one wouldn’t even think of asking to light up in another’s home. And with the activism of MADD it soon became not only unamusing to drive drunk–in seemingly no time doing so could cost one their license and a lengthy jail sentence, to boot. The change won’t come all at once to be sure. Many of us are too used to going along to get along. Even when it means abiding something that goes against our own moral code. But there appears to be an opportunity here, a momentum that must not be wasted. It is Whites who created this immoral mess, who legalized it, promoted it, normalized it and singularly benefitted from it. So, do the right thing and begin to dismantle it. You’ve got this!