By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ed Schwartz, a former Philadelphia city councilman who pioneered the use of the Internet for neighborhood activism, has died.
Schwartz served one term on City Council, from 1984 until 1988. But he is remembered as well for his work promoting neighborhood activism.
In 1973 he founded the Institute for the Study of Civil Values, and that group helped create a citywide Philadelphia Council of Neighborhood Organizations.
Among those mourning Schwartz’s death is councilman-at-large Bill Greenlee, who was a Council staffer during Schwartz’s tenure there.
“Ed was a real community activist. He came up from the grassroots, and was very active before he came to Council in the Germantown community, and for consumer rights and people’s rights generally,” Greenlee said.
Other comments came from Eighth District councilwoman Cindy Bass:
“The councilman was someone who lived in my district, was a neighbor of mine, was very very helpful to me and my race, and will surely be missed as a progressive voice in Philadelphia. Philadelphia has really lost a champion, particularly for the progressive and liberal community and the Northwest. He’ll be missed.”
And Council president Darrell Clarke:
“I remember Ed before his was a councilperson. His strength and ability to pull together communities was quite significant. Ed, being a councilperson-at-large, was able to touch bases with all of the communities across the city. He was really good at that.”
Schwartz later served as head of the Office of Housing and Community Development, and chaired the 2003 Tax Reform Commission.
He also was considered a trailblazer in the use of the Internet to organize community groups. In the 1990s Schwartz established a web portal for groups nationwide called “Neighborhoods Online.”
And, in 1996, he wrote a book called NetActivism: How Citizens Use the Internet.
Ed Schwartz had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year. He was 69. Funeral arrangements were pending.