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‘Them That Do’ profiles of West Philly block captains: Gregory Pac Cojulun, 5000 Osage Avenue

Posted on 06 November 2013

West Philly Local is proud to present a series of vignettes of local block captains drawn from Them That Do, a multimedia documentary project and community blog by photographer and videographer Lori Waselchuk. We profiled Waselchuk in 2011 upon the release of her book Grace Before Dying. She lives in West Philadelphia and Them That Do begins with stories close to home. West Philly Local will publish a ten-part series featuring a block captain profile every Wednesday.

Waselchuk is an award-winning photographer and author. She began Them That Do as a 2012 Pew Fellowship for the Arts.

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Thirty years ago Gregory Pac Cojulun walked into his first neighborhood meeting. He walked out a block captain. “I was ambushed,” Cojulun said with smile that hinted that all was forgiven. “I just wanted to see how things were going and they nominated and voted for me.”

Now in his sixties, Pac Cojulun needs a cane to walk, but rarely sits down. He is still the block captain, but his bigger commitment is given to Malcolm X Park.

Cojulun likes to network on behalf of his neighbors. “I’ve met a lot of different people in different agencies. I’ve gotten to the point I can call people up and they recognize me.” He is also the president of the board that maintains Malcolm X Park, which he says can demand 60-70 hours of his time a week.

“Our park was a thug park in the 60’s and 70’s. Nobody wanted to come through it,” said Cojulun. Through a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society nearly twenty years ago, a small group of residents began to clean up and restore the park. Today the park is an active cultural and social center in West Philadelphia. Cojulun says that it has been a slow process to revitalize Malcolm X Park and the board’s ability to plan programming and make improvements depends on donations.

Cojulun’s pride, though, is apparent. During a recent theater event, he walked slowly around the park’s centerpiece, a large round gazebo, checking in on young and giggling high school actors. He proudly watches and greets them as they prepare for a theatrical performance. “We try to make sure everything is done right, and make sure the people are happy,” he said.

4 Comments For This Post

  1. jotrees Says:

    Thank you for celebrating one of our neighbourhood heroes! Greg spends more hours than I can count being present in Malcolm X Park and the neighbourhood, talking to people, linking people up, keeping things safer just by his presence. I am so blessed to know this man.

  2. algernong allen Says:

    Gregorio is really a great guy, who gives so much to the community at large, but in particular Malcolm X Park. I agree with jotrees, he is a remarkable guy and a great spirit. There aren’t enough good things I could say about him.

  3. Iola Harper Says:

    So glad you gave a spotlight to this community hero!

  4. TANENA Says:

    SO HAPPY WE HAVE GOOOOOD MEN IN OUR FAMILY . TANENA

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