Sometimes I count the cars on my street that don’t stop at the sign, but roll through. Sometimes I’ll yell at them to slow down, sometimes I simply take note of their license plate and if it’s a repeat offender, call the police. I consider this akin to the broken window theory. The theory states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime.* It’s a stretch, but if I can slow a car and save a kid, I’ll stretch.
Don’t Talk About it, Be About It.
I used to post this as both my Facebook and Twitter comment every first and second Tuesday of the month. These are the dates for The Cardington Stonehurst Civic Association and the monthly informational Weed and Seed meeting. I would provide locations and times for each meeting and also let my neighbors and all inquiring minds know.
Notice how I used the past tense for all of these meetings? It’s because I’m beginning to think that Upper Darby residents JUST DON’T GIVE A DAMN. Trash in the neighborhood, bad behind kids, transient residents, city employees many years past their prime. Every month the same five to ten people show up and spend the next hour kvetching over trash and stuff they can control. I have better things to do with my time and gradually begin to stop showing up. Imagine how pleased I was when I received a flyer about a new civic association that was forming in the area. Action United asked if residents were tired of just talking about the problems (“garbage littering the streets, absentee landlords, and the lack of safe and inexpensive programs for our children, as well as the increase in crime and drug use.”**) and “ready to step up to make a change on our streets.” The meeting agenda was set for residents to discuss how to have a cleaner and safer community, how to get the programs we needed and what actions we are planning on taking to improve our streets.
I was so hyped for this meeting, I actually went two days EARLY so that I could attend and be a part of the solution.
On the correct day, I arrived and there were about 60 people already there with more people pouring into the door. I was immediately offended when I saw that there was Democratic literature on the table. I’m Republican (to be discussed in a later post and yes, I cringe at the antics of the more vocal of my party) so I felt that the meeting was starting on a partisan feel. The community all sat around the tables, greeting neighbors we know, meeting those we didn’t. About five after seven, a man stood and begin to speak. He talked about why we were there, touching on trash, the lack of communication with the township, the drug paraphernalia. Then he said the first thing that annoyed me. “We need to change the complexion of City Council” Excuse me? Was that not polarizing to the whites in the room? I too agree that the city needs to represent the community, but as a LEADER of the group, do you really want to alienate the non blacks?
Next, he said that we have to hold city council accountable for their jobs. I 100 percent agree with that, but his next comment, that we have to hold city council accountable for trash? Excuse me again. City council can and should do a better job of hearing the needs of their constituents. We do elect them on the promise to make a change. But how can they be responsible for trash? Whatever happened to residents taking a broom and cleaning up behind themselves?
Some people complained that they feel shut out from the township and disconnected. This is possible if you don’t have a kid in the school system. Most of the communications come home via a Wednesday communication envelope, and in high school, The Teen no longer receives this. She tells me to tune into the district channel for my information. I don’t. Since I read the paper online I wouldn’t see a notice of most meetings. I do think Upper Darby can do a better job of communicating information. The Good Ole Boys Network does need to be adjusted to THIS century. The people moving into Upper Darby get their news from Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds. Upper Darby DID update their website, but they still need to recognize that people want access to information much quicker than we currently receive it. The residents have a right to know how to be good members of the community. As dude stood to speak about holding the township responsible for giving information, he had none to give. He urged us to attend city council meetings, but didn’t have the date on hand for the next one (September 15). He said we should contact the mayor’s office with problems, but didn’t have a phone number (610-352-4103).
For the low, low price of $10 per month, I can become a member of Action United. As if! I pay taxes, attend home and school and missed the Real Housewives of D.C. to attend this meeting. I refuse to shell out a MONTHLY due to prove I want change.
I approached dude after the meeting because I don’t think politics needs to be a part of a community meeting and I feel that the most qualified person should be elected, not just a token. He cleared up his complexion comment saying he meant that the council should reflect the residents and not be all Republican. I get that. Then he said that we have to know what the street cleaning schedule was so we can move our cars. That’s the part of government he wants to hold accountable. Okay, I can get with THAT, too. But why did this have to be explained after I called you on it? This should have been explained when he was trying to start the revolution.
I plan to attend three more meetings. One to see if we can sustain the numbers and possibly get them to other community activities. Another see if they can really help stop some of the blight. I’m not too confident I’ll remain a part of this group. I looked over their Facebook page and website. They seem to be a straight Philly organization. Readers of this blog KNOW how I feel about Philly Also, I’m tired of fighting for people who don’t care. I’m tired of encouraging my children to do the right thing only to have some urchin berate them.
Fannie Lou Hamer said it best:
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!
Me too, sister. Me too.
* Taken from Wikipedia
** Copied from the flyer that was handed out door to door.