Community members in Eastwick, Southwest Philadelphia, organize for environmental justice and community control over development in a neighborhood plagued by decades of toxic dumping and forced displacement, and threatened by climate change. Eastwick Action Committee member, Earl Wilson, invites us into the work of the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition, a group of community, environmental, and legal advocates fighting to make Eastwick whole.
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Eastwick in the Middle:
Organizing for Environmental Justice
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The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) brings together community stake holders in planning and advocating for an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future for Eastwick, located in southwest Philadelphia. The Coalition formed in May 2012. EFNC has since launched a campaign to redefine the Eastwick community adjoining the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge as a 21st century model of an ecologically-based, sustainable community.
Long-time Bread and Roses Community Fund honors EFNC with Community Empowerment Award.
EFNC wins commitments from Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for a community-based planning process for a contested parcel of land. Philadelphia Water Department and US Army Corp of Engineers pledge to develop flood mitigation plan for Eastwick.
EFNC and Eastwick Action Committee participate in the People’s Climate March, which drew over 300,000 people to New York City to demonstrate the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for frontline-led solutions for climate justice.
EPA released remediation plan for landfill Superfund Sites.
City Council vows not to go forward with development of the 128-acre parcel, a victory won by EFNC’s organizing and mobilizing that year.
Eastwick Action Committee and Friends of Heinz Refuge came together to form the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC), working with Keystone Conservation Trust, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Sierra Club, Darby Creek Valley Association (DCVA), and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
City planners and developers made plans to develop apartments and expand the Philadelphia International Airport on a 128-acre of flood-prone land adjacent to existing homes and the Heinz Wildlife Refuge.
Philadelphia City Planning Commission recertified Eastwick as “blighted’
Clearview and Folcroft landfills designated Superfund sites by the US Environmental Protection Agency after decades of legal and illegal dumping of municipal, industrial, hospital, and sewage waste.
Category 4 Hurricane Floyd strikes east coast of the United States, flooding Eastwick
Tinicum National Environmental Center established by federal law (later named Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in 1991)
Following massive demolition and displacement, it became clear that developers were unable to complete the planned “redevelopment” of Eastwick. Promises of economic investment were never fulfilled and residents who were promised housing never were able to return.
Eastwick residents organize against redevelopment and displacement, petitioning City Council will 4,500 signatures to reconsider demolition, and sending 20,000 postcards to the City Council President.
Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia used eminent domain powers to declare Eastwick “blighted” and condemn over 2100 acres of property, displacing over 8,600 residents from their homes as part of the largest “urban renewal” plan in the country.
Eastwick known by many names, including “Elmwood,” “Clearview,” and “the Meadows.”
Easwick was one of the only racially integrated neighborhoods in the City of Philadelphia at the time.