Anton Moore, 29, aspires to be the peacekeeper in Point Breeze and beyond by organizing events and other outreach via his nonprofit organization Unity in the Community.
What exactly do you do?
My organization is Unity in the Community. So we put together a yearlong initiative to stop the violence but also promote peace and bring the community together. We put together events to show the community that you don’t have to rely on government to survive in society. You can be self-sufficient. We do our annual Peace Week celebration, which is like our big event every year. It’s a week of events that promote peace, but also to show people that they can have a good time without being violent.
We cater to the younger demographics – so you’re looking at between 10 and 34, or 40 years old. If you look at society right now in our community, you have a lot of people that are living in poverty. But you also have a lot of violence in our community. In order to actually address it, you’ve got to target that demographic that’s actually involved in what’s going on.
Do you have an official mission statement?
Yeah, I’m about to change it. Over time, you continue to evolve and get a better understanding of what the community needs. So our initial mission statement is that Unity in the Community is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to changing the lives of others in South Philadelphia.
When you talk to the community, you can have one agenda that you might want to focus on, but when you live in the community like South Philadelphia, you hear the different issues and different things that people are going through and actually experience it, you have to go in that direction, as much as you might have an agenda laid out.
What specifically here in Point Breeze has been going on lately?
We have to build race relations. That’s the first and foremost. You have to build race relations and communication. We have some people moving in to the neighborhood and some of the older residents feel threatened that they’re being pushed out. There needs to be a common ground, where we have people who are not politically motivated or that’s not racially motivated and say, “Hey look, how can we sit down all together as one and just coexist in the neighborhood?” It’s not about race. I believe it’s about our community being diverse and us living in a community together.
Do you have any ideas on how to accomplish that?
I believe the more we bring people together and have a good time – because you know, music, food and fun is always the option. But the more we do that, the more we have a better understanding of what everyone is a part of and what they do.
Do you collaborate with other neighborhood organizations?
Collaboration is key. We’re better together. That’s unity. I collaborate with any organization that’s willing to sit down and be genuine about helping the people.
What have you noticed about Point Breeze changing with the new construction and new residents?
It’s changing fast. All I ask is that if it’s going to change, be up front with people. If you’re going to build those houses, talk to the community. Let them know what’s going on. A lot of the older residents feel slighted because they don’t know what’s going on. It’s like somebody moving a truck into your house and saying, “I’m parking it right here and it’s going to be here.” Give them a chance to voice their opinion.
– Text and photos by Madeline Presland and Morgan Falconer