Last evening, 30 Northeast residents crowded into a classroom in the Max Myers Rec Center with one mission: to get their neighborhood back.
“Take Back Your Neighborhood” is a grassroots organization started by Jared Solomon, a former resident of the Northeast. The main goal of the organization is to get back the neighborhood local residents once loved.
“I’ve realized this isn’t our grandma’s Northeast anymore. We’re developing, we’re diverse,“ Solomon said. “When I made the transition and moved into Center City, my mom was going to be by herself. She’s a single mom and I wanted to really provide a network that could band neighbors together and make the Northeast work again.”
The organization not only works to bring neighbors together, but also to tackle issues including illicit drug activity, trash on the sidewalks, noise violations, landlord and rent issues and vacant properties. These issues, which were printed on the organization’s bright green flyers and posted throughout Northeast nearby neighborhoods, caught the eye of Noelle Monk.
“The flyer had many of the same concerns that I had as a new neighbor,” she said.
Monk moved to the Northeast from New York almost a year ago and was very fond of the way the organization handled the issues.
“They were really concerned about what our concerns were, you know, and they had answers, which really impressed me as well.”
While the organization has grown from four members at its first meeting a little more than a year ago, Take Back Your Neighborhood would like to expand even more and reach out to the entire Northeast — beyond the neighborhoods nearest to Max Myers. The group plans to hold a “Celebrate the Northeast” community day on August 28 to generate more publicity for its mission. Monk is heading the project.
“When people see and they hear, people come. If they know there’s free food, people show up, they want to eat. And while they’re here, we’ll give them some information,” she said.
From forming neighborhood cleanups to dealing with nuisance issues, Solomon is working to gain the support of Northeast neighbors to revitalize the neighborhood he grew up in.
“The goal is for Northeast Philly to stand up again,” he said. “The project that is really going to move us forward is trying to make this community center [Max Myers Rec. Center] a place where people can call home.”
Longtime resident Mimi Magner said she believes this organization is the ticket to reviving Northeast Philadelphia.
“I’ve been here 29 years, so I’ve seen a lot of changes in the area,” she said. “One of the reasons I came out to this is that I don’t like some of the changes. I’d like to see us really take back our neighborhood.”
Take Back Your Neighborhood meets the third Monday of every month at the Max Myers Rec Center. The next neighborhood cleanup will be held on Sunday June 26. For more information contact Jared Solomon at jaredgsolomon AT gmail.com.
Gina Benigno and Danny Donnelly are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.