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New Strategies on Drug Sales

There are a few corners in Frankford where you can go and obtain illegal drugs.  This should not be surprising.  Illegal drugs are everywhere, even in those pristine suburbs where many of our former neighbors have fled.  The difference is that in those suburbs the sales are conducted discretely indoors or they drive to Frankford to make their purchase and then flee back to the burbs to ingest.

The drug corners create what would be charitably called a quality of life issue.  In the Economist last week they had an interesting piece on strategies now being followed in some other cities to encourage drug dealers to retire from their careers in order to clean up the drug corners.

POLICE watched seven people sell drugs in Marshall Courts and Seven Oaks, two districts in south-eastern Newport News, in Virginia. They built strong cases against them. They shared that information with prosecutors. But then the police did something unusual: they sent the seven letters inviting them to police headquarters for a talk, promising that if they came they would not be arrested. Three came, and when they did they met not only police and prosecutors, but also family members, people from their communities, pastors from local churches and representatives from social-service agencies. Their neighbours and relatives told them that dealing drugs was hurting their families and communities. The police showed them the information they had gathered, and they offered the seven a choice: deal again, and we will prosecute you. Stop, and these people will help you turn your lives around.  This approach is known as drug-market intervention (DMI).

Does it work?  Too early to say.  What is interesting is that it is something different than what we are seeing in Philadelphia.  What we are seeing is not working.  The police will tell you that.  Mayor Nutter and DA Seth Williams know that.  What we need is something that works.  We are never going to stop people from using drugs just like Prohibition did not stop people from using alcohol.

Anybody with any new ideas, please step up to the plate.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the original link to the Economist story.


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Frankford Friends Construction Kick Off

Frankford Friends School will hold a “Kick-Off” event on Tuesday, September 13, at 1:00 p.m., to celebrate the upcoming construction of our new building! The event will take place outside the school near the building lot, or in the Meetinghouse if it rains.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter will be present at the event. His appearance will be part of the Mayor’s “Smart City, Smart Choice for Jobs” campaign running through this month.

Neighborhood business and community leaders who have generously supported the building project will be honored at the occasion.

The event is free and open to the public. We expect it to last 30 minutes at most. Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions. We hope to see you there!

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Frankford to be Test Area for Philly Rising

From the Mayor’s budget address today:

We’re investing in our communities and they’re stepping up and joining us in a new partnership to move this city forward.

Let me tell you about one of those communities, the Hartranft community in North Philadelphia.

Over the last year – in Hartranft – we have piloted a new approach to providing neighborhood services, reducing crime, and improving the quality of life in our city.

Working with the community we identified the particular problems in their neighborhood and together we implemented solutions.

We demolished 14 dangerous buildings, cleaned and abated 85 vacant lots, removed graffiti from 330 properties, and organized four community clean-ups.

We opened an indoor pool at the Hartranft Community Center, brought in the Police Athletic League, and opened a new community computer lab at Hartranft Elementary School.

It was the folks in the neighborhood – working in partnership with the City and others – who made all of this happen.

We trained community leaders through our new Citizen Engagement Academy to help them access existing City services.

We brought in volunteers through SERVE Philadelphia to provide support for after-school programs and neighborhood beautification.

We coordinated partners such as Temple University, the School District of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society who wanted to help and get involved.

What was the result of all of this work?

Well, thanks to this partnership, from February to December 2010 crime in Hartranft dropped by 16% from the year before.

And – as community leader Diane Bridges put it – we’re turning the hood, back into the neighborhood.

We’re calling it ‘Philly Rising’ and we’ve expanded to three new areas to test the approach in neighborhoods with very different needs:

Haddington in West Philadelphia;

Frankford in North East Philadelphia;

And the Market East section of Center City.

Work is already underway in these communities.

In fact this Saturday I will be attending a Career Boot Camp in West Philly – as part of the Haddington collaborative – where volunteers will be providing job training, resume writing workshops, and interview practice sessions for folks looking for jobs.

Philly Rising is going to become the new model for neighborhood service delivery in the City of Philadelphia and in the budget we’ll invest over half a million dollars to take it citywide.

John Farrell, the Deputy Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia, will be the keynote speaker at the EPIC stakeholders meeting on March 31st.  He will be giving a presentation on the Philly Rising program.  Stay tuned for further developments.

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Coming Up in Frankford

  • Mayor Nutter Walks Frankford Avenue
    When – Sat, June 26, 1:30pm to 2:30pm – 2pm
    Where – 4600 block of Frankford Avenue Business District (map)
    Description4500, 4600, 4700 block on Saturday the 26th from about 12 noon
  • Northwood Academy Charter School Public Meeting
    When – Mon, June 28, 6pm – 7pm
    Where – 4621 Castor Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19124 (map)
    Description – Northwood Academy Charter School proposes to construct a new building on the grounds of the school. There will be a public information meeting on Monday, June 28, 2010, 6:00 PM. Enter through the double red doors on the Adams Avenue side of the building. Please attend – and bring your neighbors!
  • Frankford Civic Association Meeting
    When – Thu, July 8, 7pm – 8pm
    Where – 2nd floor conference room, Aria Health, 4900 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19124 (map)
  • Northeast Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders Group
    When – Thu, July 22, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
    Where – Edmunds School, 1197 Haworth St. Philadelphia, PA 19124 (map)
    Description – The ultimate goal is to create a process that enhances the community’s ability to solve issues surrounding truancy, domestic violence, child safety and substance abuse.