Discussing the idea to “Share Philly™,” BMe Brothers Anton Moore and Isaiah Thomas suggest the Mayor’s Office Establishes a Commission on Parks and Recreations
An award-winning nonprofit leader in Philadelphia is hoping that his conversation last week with a future City Council candidate, who ran before in 2011, will lead to significant changes in how place-making is done in the nation’s fifth largest city.
2013 BMe Leader Anton Moore, 27, sat down with Philly Roots Fellow Isaiah Thomas, 29, to explore strategies on how the city of brotherly love can become more open to active citizens who want to leverage place for impact.
“The problem we have in Philadelphia is that we don’t have a level playing field. It’s all about who you know; old-school cronyism and nepotism at its finest. We need to get away from the idea that you have to be connected to get things done in Philadelphia,” explains Moore, who used his BMe Community Impact Grant to produce Peace Week, a series of youth-led events that promote non-violence and unity.
Growing up in the projects of South Philadelphia, Moore admits as a child unable to afford tickets to high-profile concerts and events, he dreamed of one day being able to produce an experience that would allow youth to meet and interact with their favorite personalities.
While he had the support of State Representative Jordan Harris of the 186th District and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents the 2nd District – which covers parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philadelphia – in an ideal world, with unlimited access to city resources, Moore envisions Peace Week as a citywide initiative, “something that the city embraces,” he adds.
Moore strongly believes that there’s a disconnect between the municipalities and communities, and suggest that a position be created that focuses solely on outreaching to neighborhoods and partnering with their grassroots initiatives to scale their impact with the use of city resources.
“We have recreational centers that just sit in our neighborhoods – they have gyms, auditoriums and basketball courts – but there’s no democracy in the process. Most of the people who run these facilities don’t enforce city rules, instead, they make up their own; it’s their way or the highway.”
Thomas agrees with Moore and proposes the idea of a Mayor’s commission, citing the need for a hands-on approach to parks and recreations.
“Our current Mayor has set a trend of creating commissions to address different issues we are facing as a city. A commission focusing on community organizing with the support of city resources would further support community leaders and the neighbors they service, specifically our children,” says Thomas.
Advocating for his fellow Philadelphians, Moore, a former television producer at BET, states:
“When you have sincere people who really want to make things happen in their communities, city government needs to be there to open the gates and allow them to make an impact, without bias.”
Thomas, who ran his summer basketball camp at the Gambrel Recreational Center in the Frankford section of the city, says by opening up under-utilized centers to black male leaders, the city can pro-actively help change the narrative around black men and boys. If elected to City Council, Thomas pledges he’ll make it a priority to assure community leaders such as Anton are at the table with elected officials and public servants from across the city, collaborating across neighborhoods, programs and events to better engage and impact Philadelphians.
Both men, recognized locally for their community activism, say it’s a dangerous game to play politics with community organizing.
Photo: C. Norris – ©2013/BMe Brothers Isaiah Thomas and Anton Moore discuss ways to make Philadelphia better during an exclusive conversation last Saturday in South Philly