Year End Summary
What a year! Covid was up, Covid was down, Covid is on the rise again. None of us knew what to expect and there was no playbook on how to cope. But CCRA soldiered on to a successful conclusion, all things considered.
Covid curveballs notwithstanding, we got a great deal done this year. We met the challenges of keeping sidewalks clean despite increased trash due to late pickups; we adopted policy initiatives on a greener neighborhood, a cleaner neighborhood and addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in our own activities, the neighborhood and the city beyond. We had our first-ever Zoom annual meeting when Josh Shapiro stimulated us with all that the Attorney General has done and is doing to ensure free and fair elections and address fraud, corruption, and crime wherever he finds it. And we modernized our by-laws and brought us into the 21st century legally and organizationally.
At the same time, CCRA continued to address the burdens that quality-of-life issues place on residents, businesses and tourists. CCRA members should know that our Member Services function remains ready to assist you with any quality-of-life issues that may arise. Just contact Travis Oliver (email@example.com) and he will either resolve it himself or direct you to the person or organization who “should” take care of it. (And good luck with that “should”.)
Aggressive panhandling, street crime, unbearably loud ATV’s and dirt bikes on our sidewalks and streets all contribute to a deterioration of the environment which must remain welcoming and safe. We worked with the Center City Coalition and the Center City District to identify solutions to intractable problems. We maintained a close relationship with the local police to ramp up enforcement and alert them to problem situations as they arise. And we worked to find better solutions for the homeless population which contributes to some, but certainly not all, of these problems.
And we made good progress on our initiatives:
1. Philadelphia Tree Tenders has found a new home in CCRA; the relationship with the Schuylkill River Park Garden was formalized and their funds segregated for their use for the first time ever; green elements were made standard in our Community Benefits Agreements with developers; and new trees and stormwater runoff ideas proliferate;
2. The “Trashforce” researched best practices for disposal in other American and foreign cities and is developing concrete proposals for bringing Philadelphia’s garbage practices into the modern era, if not quite the 21st Century (we have a long way to go!);
3. The DEIJ task force has identified a series of thoughtful and welcome initiatives to increase our own awareness of the great racial and economic disparities present in Philadelphia and to reach out to institutions in our community with whom we can partner to address these disparities;
We continue to create new and enforce existing Community Benefits Agreements (CBA’s) that mediate between the needs of new development and the preservation of the existing heritage of the neighborhood. Copies of the various CBA’s can be found here.
Finally, we elected and installed a new Board and new officers. I am honored to serve as the president. The work is even more challenging than I anticipated when I threw my hat in the ring but the new Board and Executive Committee are great partners who challenge us to move CCRA forward and work equally hard with me to do just that.
Membership is at an all-time high; our political relationships with our elected leadership are solid; our cooperation and interaction with community groups pay repeated dividends, and the publications and social media by which we connect to our members are the best they have ever been (according to the many raves from members and astronomically high open and click rates). Despite having to postpone in-person fundraising all year, the community’s generosity has kept our finances in a solid position.
The challenges in the year ahead to restore Center City West to the vibrant and safe community it was pre-pandemic will be many. Let’s take a well-deserved holiday break, connect safely with family and friends, and prepare ourselves for what we have to do. The energy and enthusiasm of our members and my board colleagues motivate me to try to make 2022 the best year yet, as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary of being the voice of the community.