June 2017 Newsletter Message from the President
As we reach the mid point of 2017 it is time to reflect on the gains and losses we have experienced during this year of change.
Garden Court is at the epicenter of one of the most quickly developing areas in the city, West Philadelphia. As in the early 1900’s our area has become a place people are migrating to due to the ease of access to work in the city, transportation which can commute you to all areas of the region in a short amount of time and a fairly green and friendly location with friendly people.
Garden Court, and it’s board, has been tirelessly working to ensure our area stays as vibrant and resident friendly as it has been for decades. Since 1955 when Ben Barkan created the Garden Court Community Association to serve our community, we at GCCA have been working on many levels to maintain and improve our neighborhood. We have been called the “most exclusive location in West Philadelphia” by the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1920 and have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984. The organization itself has attracted some incredible new members into our Communication, Education, Membership, Zoning, and Business Committees which has made us even more impactful with our efforts to represent the community.
At a national level we started the year with a new administration and with it great contention and polarization including a change in civility among citizens and their differences. We have locally had scandal strike among our elected officials, including the DA office, eroding some of the trust citizens have for the elected leaders we place into office. We have had the tragic shooting of a resident Phillippe Holland and less than responsible action by the officers involved. But along with that has been great gains in a desire of the community to get involved, understanding they need to present their voice. After the officers involved in the Holland shooting were placed back on the streets, without any discussion with the residents, the community organized to immediately place demands on those in charge at the police force that this independent action would not be tolerated in our neighborhood. The response was quick with the officers immediately transferred to other locations in the city.
So as in all change, lessons are learned. When there is struggle, or obstacles faced, people are more resilient and powerful than they think they are. They find they do matter in the scheme of things. So with this idea the Zoning Committees of Garden Court have met and negotiated on a regular basis with the developers of the proposed 50th and Spruce apartments to ensure the needs and desires of the community are met. The Business and Economic Development Committee have worked with the 48th and Spruce business community to help strengthen it and create an asset and resource to residents. The Education Committee have worked with The Lea School to provide tutoring to struggling readers, books to build the libraries of 1st Graders, and maintained Reading Nooks in the area Barbershops, Beauty Parlors, and Laundromat. The Membership Committee have been recruiting some dynamic and dedicated people to help take the organization forward into the future. We have partnered with Walnut Hill Community Association on a Flea Market at The Lea School, which we plan on being an annual event, showing the strengthening of collaboration among Community Associations.
So at the mid year level the future is promising for Garden Court. The West Lofts development has started showing samples and looks to be a great addition to the community. Support for placing bike lanes on Chestnut Street has gone through committee at city council and will increase safety for all our residents, walking, cyclists and drivers alike.
The one addition that’s missing is you. Those of you who have not yet joined the association or participated in a committee or served on the board. With the success we have had thus far imagine what your energy could do to strengthen an already vibrant team. So we welcome you to “grow with us” in making Garden Court “the most exclusive, and inclusive, area in West Philadelphia”.