A Eulogy and a Call to Action.

by Marilyn Wood, Director, Regional Initiatives and Statewide Campaigns

Jonathan Schmidt was the founder of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project. This group is a coalition of civic, municipal and faith leaders who have joined common cause across municipal and county boundaries to save their communities.

It is over a week since Jonathan, a blazing star, died at age 36 after an 18 month struggle with cancer.

With a law degree from Yale and a public policy degree from Princeton, Jon could have dominated the existing paradigm for how policy work gets done. But in the political gridlock of Southeast PA, he had the courage to try something different. Jonathon’s organizing mentor, Paul Scully, eulogized him by saying “He was an organizer who not only displayed razor sharp skills and exceptional abilities, but he was an organizer with a vision, a political analysis and a strategy that was as innovative as it was revolutionary.”

Dave Eckert and Marlon Millner, two pastors from the First Suburbs, memorialized him at a First Suburbs event on the 27th of February with this quote from Cornell West: “Justice is what love does in public.“ The work he did for justice was formed by love for our beautiful, historic communities which face diminishing economic investment, racial and economic segregation, declining infrastructure, concentrated levels of poverty, and struggling school districts.

The First Suburbs lead organizer, Angela Clinton, remembers Jonathan stating in the margin of a document; “I stick to Yoda's admonition on stating intentions, 'No! There is no try. There is do and not do.'" We learned through experience that his approach happens to be the best way to move past what seems undoable and make things happen.

 Let's continue to have the courage and vision to create new ways to work for strong, inclusive, sustainable communities as we celebrate Jon, who left behind a big job to do and a promise of justice, love and doing the impossible.

Please follow the link to Jonathan Schmidt's obituary in the Philadelphia Daily News here.