Another Point Breeze power shift

After ten years in at the helm of Point Breeze’s Diversified Community Services (DCS), Cheryl Weiss has left her post as executive director. Otis Bullock Jr. has taken her place, joining DCS from the Mayor’s Office of Community Services.

South Philly Review published an exit interview with Weiss about her time working at Diversified Community Services, including the fate of the community visioning process EOTS reported on earlier this year. Recall that Under Weiss, DCS had hired KSK Architects Planners Historians to lead a community visioning process geared at finding points of inclusion and commonality amid the feuding factions in Point Breeze. Weiss also wanted DCS to become host for Point Breeze’s contentious zoning meetings – with hopes of diffusing tension and laying the foundation for a more functional public-input process – as a Registered Community Organization.

From the South Philly Review article: “Another big issue facing Point Breeze now is the gentrification and revitalization that’s happening around the periphery of the neighborhood. We launched the early stages of a community visioning process. The purpose here is to bring disparate elements, segments of the community — young people, African-American, white, professional, non [-professional], retirees, longtime residents, newcomers — to a table and say, ‘OK, how do we make this work for all of us?’ Gentrification at the same time is inclusive of people in the neighborhood for a long time and the newcomers. We need a common agenda,” she said

Leaving these new issues in good hands, Weiss hopes she also leaves a positive legacy at Diversified. In departing, she sees bright things on the horizon.

“I hope the new leadership at DCS proceeds with the community vision plan. It’s more than just a program, it’s a community-organizing effort to bring people together,” Weiss said. “What are some things we can be doing together — all of us, some of us — to see that move forward and get to that end point. That would be something.” Back in June we heard that a community visioning meeting was postponed in light of Weiss’s pending departure. KSK’s Paul Vernon confirmed over email that the visioning process is “currently on hold until we meet with the new Executive Director. From our contacts with board members, the process should continue after the new ED gets a chance to settle in.”

To start the visioning process KSK and DCS had worked together to encourage participation in an online community survey, developed by KSK. Of the survey process, Vernon said DCS did strong outreach and “when respondents locations are mapped, we found an even distribution throughout the study area, suggesting a diverse response pool, whch was a primary goal in order to ensure we had a broad range of responses.”

For their part, KSK is looking forward to starting back up again.


Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal