Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition was thrilled to be honored at the 2015 Tribute to Change celebration on October 1, 2015, receiving a Community Empowerment award from Bread and Roses Community Fund. This year’s “Environmental Justice” theme recognizes individuals and organizations who challenge environmental, economic and racial disparities, and make changes happen.
EFNC was delighted to be recognized for 3 years of work in a community impacted by a host of environmental justice issues – chronic flooding, a national priority superfund site, short dumping, pollution from nearby refineries, the airport and mega highways. It wasn’t so long ago that the Eastwick neighborhood of SW Philadelphia, bordered by the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and home to a tight-knit community, was known as “the meadows.” The 1950’s broght about one of the largest urban renewal plans in the country, which displaced 10,000 people and resulted in the construction of flood-prone homes on former wetlands. In 2012, Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) formed in response to a development proposal put forth by the Korman Company for a high-density buildling project on 35 acres of a 128-acre contiguous parcel of green space adjacent to Heinz Refuge. EFNC mobilized to convene public meetings, rallied attendance to city hearings, met with elected officials and city agencies, and succeeded in halting the project.
EFNC is deeply humbled and inspired by fellow honorees… people like Iris Brown and Tomasita Romero who received the Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award for their tireless dedication in transforming vacant lots in a crime-ridden neighborhood into culturally vibrant community gardens that are now part of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project. “What we did in our community, it was out of necessity,” said Iris.
We are especially proud and grateful for the work of Amy Laura Cahn, recipient of the “Trailblazer Award” – given to an outstanding leader in community organizing who has helped pave the way for others. Amy Laura, a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, has been involved with EFNC since the beginning. She has helped articulate our goals, connect us with appropriate decision-makers, guide next steps, and balance our passions. Amy Laura is an incredible ally, and wonderful friend.
Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition extends our thanks and appreciation to everyone at Bread and Roses Community Fund who planned, organized and directed the 2015 Tribute to Change, as well as event sponsors and attendees who created a wonderfully special evening.
And many thanks to all Eastwick residents, stakeholders, friends and supporters. By working together, we create real change and make a difference in our community!