September is a good month to get acquainted with some of your neighbors.
Members of many of the neighborhood organizations the Northeast Times covers are resuming their regularly monthly meetings after suspending sessions in July and August.
It might be a good time to drop by to make some local contacts or learn what civic groups do. What they do really shouldn’t be a mystery, but just about everyone who has attended any civic organizations’ monthly sessions has heard someone say something like, “I’ve lived here for years and never knew this group existed.”
Civic organizations exist all over the Northeast — from Frankford to Somerton, from Lawncrest to Parkwood. Not every neighborhood has such a group and not all groups meet monthly, or even regularly, but many do have monthly sessions, and their members make a lot of contributions.
First, they’re important parts of the city’s zoning process. Property owners who want to legally bend Philadelphia zoning regulations have to seek variances from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and that panel wants to know what a neighborhood thinks about the owners’ proposal. Owners must ask local civic associations to back them, so they appear before those groups to seek support. They don’t always get it, but the zoners don’t always agree with a community’s opposition.
Second, civic association meetings are good places to meet public officials or their representatives. It’s not unheard of for a City Council member or a state legislator to visit civic group meetings, and not just during campaign seasons. And officeholders or their aides attend these meetings to find out what concerns their constituents.
Third, community organizations serve as rallying grounds for neighborhood events, and sometimes for protests.
“Civic associations keep neighborhoods strong and vibrant,” state Rep. Brendan Boyle told members of the Frankford Civic Association on Sept. 5.
Some of the many upcoming Northeast civic meetings this month are:
— Mayfair Civic Association, 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, Mayfair Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent St.
— Take Back Your Neighborhood, 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, Max Myers Playground.
— Lawncrest Community Association, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, St. William’s Social Hall, Robbins Avenue and Argyle Street.
— Millbrook Civic Association, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 24, Calvary Athletic Association, 4330 Deerpath Lane.
— Greater Bustleton Civic League, 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union on Red Lion Road.
— Parkwood Civic Association, 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, St. Anselm’s Church Hall, 12670 Dunksferry Road.
The Northeast Times regularly reports on these and other organizations like the Frankford Civic Association, the Frankford Neighborhood Advisory Committee, the Northwood Civic Association, the Somerton Civic Association and the Normandy Civic Association to name just a few. Check the paper’s calendar for upcoming meetings in your neighborhood. ••