Englewood – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:31:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.12 ‘Invest in Englewood’ campaign launching http://www.newstips.org/2013/05/invest-in-englewood-campaign-launching/ http://www.newstips.org/2013/05/invest-in-englewood-campaign-launching/#comments Fri, 31 May 2013 21:27:24 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7504 Beautification of a gateway lot and a walking tour of historic and architecturally significant sites on Saturday will launch the Invest in Englewood campaign of the new Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, June 1, Englewood residents will install landscaping at the northwest corner of 63rd and Yale, an entryway to the community from the Dan Ryan Expressway.  Neighborhood Housing Services is partnering with GECDC on the project.

At 10 a.m. a guided tour will take off from 63rd and Yale — including a section of old mansions — to “show another dimension of what Greater Engelwood has to offer the city,” said Eric McLoyd, executive director of the group.

Invest in Englewood aims at marshalling community resources — including the efforts of scores of community organizations — to “rebrand, rebuild, and revitalize the community” in a resident-led project, said Sonya Marie Harper, an organizer with Residents Association of Greater Englewood.

GECDC was founded in 2011 after the economic development work group of RAGE realized a community development corporation was needed to addess the “stalled economic development” in Englewood and West Englewood, she said.

The first step is to broaden the perception of the community on the part of residents as well as outsiders, she said.  While most press coverage focuses on violence — and the community has among the highest rates of unemployment, vacant properties, and population loss in the city — there is also a wide range of positive efforts by community residents, including 500 local businesses.

“We have to get the word out that residents are doing great things,” Harper said.

One strategy involves putting more energy behind an existing Green and Healthy Neighborhood plan, which calls for establishing an urban agriculture district and encouraging the growth of food production, processing, distribution and service businesses, along with workforce training.

The group also plans to step up monitoring of four local TIF districts to increase access to financing for local initiatives, Harper said.

A recent presentation on Englewood TIFs by Civic Lab identified only one private project that has been funded by the four TIFs, in addition to small-scale small business grants.

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What about the neighborhoods? http://www.newstips.org/2012/05/what-about-the-neighborhoods/ Wed, 16 May 2012 20:38:10 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6201 The Grassroots Collaborative is offering visiting journalists bus tours of working-class neighborhoods struggling with violence, foreclosures, and clinic closings — and they’re questioning the millions of dollars being spent on entertainment at the NATO summit.

Buses leave from the Hyatt Regency at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 17 and 18, and return by 11 a.m.  Information is at thegrassrootscollaborative.org.

Thursday’s tour will cover Little Village, one of the city’s largest Latino neighborhoods, where community groups are working to address youth violence; and Back of the Yards, where one of six mental health centers recently closed by the city is located.

(The two clinics primarily serving Latino communities were closed, as were four of six South Side clinics, and half the bilingual staff was laid off, all to save $3 million.  Having been repeatedly rebuffed in attempts to hold meetings with city officials – including a City Council hearing blocked by the mayor– the Mental Health Movement is planning to march on Mayor Emanuel’s home on Saturday morning.)

Friday morning’s tour will cover Englewood, a poor African-American community hard hit by foreclosures and violence, and Brighton Park, where low-income Latino residents are developing community schools.

Grassroots Collaborative, a citywide coalition of labor and community organizations, is questioning the priorities of spending millions of dollars to host the NATO summit while the city shuts down clinics and schools, said Eric Tellez.

On another level, he said, NATO spends billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars while poverty and unemployment “devastates communities across the country” and “the global poor fall deeper into poverty.”

Party fund

Last month the coalition called on World Business Chicago, which is raising money to host NATO, to donate comparable sums to establish a Neighborhood Jobs Trust.  In recent statements, the group is focusing on the $14 million being spent on parties for the summit.

“Spending $14 million on food and wine and music just seems evil and sinful when you have kids in this neighborhood who have no place to play, when you have parents keeping their children inside after school because they’re afraid of gun violence,” said Pastor Victor Rodriguez of La Villita Church in Little Village, a leader in Enlace Chicago.

To visiting journalists he says, “I would ask them to ask somebody if it’s fair to spend $14 million on parties when organizations are looking for $600 to buy new equipment so that 120 kids can stay off the streets for a year.”

Emanuel has “cut the head tax for the corporations and then the corporations turn back around in a deal and donate to support NATO coming here,” says Charles Brown, a 43-year resident of Englewood and a leader with Action Now.  “Well the people that are going to profit from NATO coming here…it’s going to be the corporations.

“Will you treat us the way that you’re treating NATO, spend $14 million on us and put forth a program to help the people that are struggling and suffering?  So that we won’t tear down any more homes, so that we’ll start preserving them, so that the banks will start paying their fair share and giving back to the 99 percent that made all of this possible?”

“Our elected officials time and time again take the podium and pound their fists and say it’s about the kids, it’s about the kids,” said Rodriguez.  “I think that about 10 percent of that $14 million would do so much good here in our community.”

 

 
Pastor Victor Rodriguez, Enlace Chicago, Little Village:

Charles Brown, Action Now, Englewood:

Sonovia Petty, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Austin:

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Englewood left out of city’s foreclosure rehab program http://www.newstips.org/2011/06/englewood-left-out-in-citys-in-foreclosure-rehab-program/ Fri, 03 Jun 2011 21:34:56 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=3907 Englewood residents spearheaded by Action Now members will march down Peoria Avenue from 55th to 61st Streets (Saturday, June 4, starting at noon) to protest the city’s failure to allocate funds to rehab foreclosed properties in that community.

Englewood is one of the Chicago communities hardest hit by foreclosures, with hundreds of vacant properties — just about every block has several, said Aileen Kelleher of Action Now.

But only one census tract in Englewood has been included in the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program – and no properties are being rehabbed there, she said.  One building is slated for demolition.

State Senator Mattie Hunter, Alderman Toni Foulkes and Alderman Roderick Sawyer will join residents at a 1 p.m. press conference, calling on the city to spend some of the $58 million remaining in Chicago’s NSP funds in Englewood.

With $166 million in federal funds allocated to Chicago for NSP since 2009, only four renovations have been completed, said Kelleher.

“The city hasn’t been spending the money,” and what it is spending, “it’s not spending it in the right places,” she said.

“We all wish it was moving along faster,” said Rachel Johnston of the Chicago Rehab Network.

She said other municipalities have gotten NSP programs up more quickly by working with existing community development corporations.

CRN has argued that HUD has recently expanded definitions of “foreclosed” and “abandoned” properties eligible for NSP – including properties where owners are 60 days delinquent on their mortgage – and that the rehab funds could now be used on occupied properties to keep families in their homes.

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COFI: A win on recess, and more http://www.newstips.org/2010/12/cofi-a-win-on-recess-and-more/ http://www.newstips.org/2010/12/cofi-a-win-on-recess-and-more/#comments Wed, 08 Dec 2010 17:32:19 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=2433 Parents who’ve been pushing for several years to restore recess in Chicago schools won a victory in Springfield last week when the General Assembly voted to establish a legislative task force on the issue.

Members of POWER-PAC, a citywide organization of black and Latino mothers, have worked in Springfield for four years for Recess For All, coming closest two years ago when the House and Senate passed a bill mandating recess in Illinois schools but failed to agree on final language.

Some 82 percent of Chicago elementary schools do not provide recess for their students, said Tracy Occomy of Community Organizing Family Issues, which provides training and support for POWER-PAC.  Those allowing recess tend to be magnet schools and schools serving higher-income children, she said.

Occomy said that a statewide search failed to identify any other school district beside CPS that doesn’t provide recess.

The push for recess grew out of POWER-PAC’s work to reduce “alarming rates” of suspensions in elementary schools.  They cited research showing children who are allowed to have recess act out less and learn better. In 2005 Newstips reported on a meeting between POWER-PAC and then-school board president Michael Scott, who abruptly walked out when parents started talking about the need for recess.

Since then a growing concern over childhood obesity has added to the concern.

Childhood obesity in Chicago is significantly higher than the national average, according to the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, and higher yet in communities of color, where recess is rarely available.  In Englewood, childhood obesity rates are twice the national average, according to CLOCC.

The new task force will include representatives of parent, health, and restorative justice groups, in addition to legislators, CPS, teachers unions, principals and the PTA.  The goal is to reach consensus on overcoming obstacles to recess and make recommendations for legislation in the next General Assembly, Occomy said.

It’s the latest victory for COFI, which celebrated its 15th anniversary last week.  The group uses traditional community organizing approaches but focuses on mothers in low-income communities of color.   Working with local community groups and social service agencies, COFI trains parent action teams which choose their own issues.

Currently parent action teams are working on a variety of issues in West Town, Humboldt Park, Austin, North Lawndale and Englewood.

On restorative justice, POWER-PAC members founded the Austin Peace Center five years ago to implement restorative justice in two West Side elementary schools.  Working with a citywide coalition, POWER-PAC pushed CPS to drop its zero tolerance policy and recognize restorative justice in its disciplinary code in 2007.  They’re also training parents in restorative justice at Reavis Elementary in Bronzeville. (More here.)

POWER-PAC has also led a citywide push to improve participation in early learning, training mothers in childcare centers to serve as Head Start Ambassadors and forming walking preschool buses in several communities.

The Austin-Wide Parent Network has worked on community health issues – including an exercise program for mothers – and parent teams in Englewood have hosted bike and walk to school rallies and won playlots at two elementary schools in the past two years.

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Community portals: DREAM Act to tap dance http://www.newstips.org/2010/12/community-portals-dream-act-to-tap-dance/ Thu, 02 Dec 2010 19:34:41 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=2412 Terrance Hall has a message for Mark Kirk, the state’s new U.S. Senator:  support the DREAM Act.

“Saying no to a child going to college is just terrible,” he says in a video message to Kirk, who has yet to make public his stance on the bill.  “How would you feel if it was your daughter or your son in the immigrant’s shoes, and you had to vote on whether they could go to college?…

“This is a place where freedom must ring, as Martin Luther King said.  So let’s let freedom ring, and bring this country together as one.”

That’s from a story on Chicago Lawn’s new community portal — one of three new websites launched through the Smart Communities Program administered by LISC/Chicago, an effort to address the digital divide in five low-income communities with improved access to technology, local content about neighborhood news and resources, and help for local businesses.

As part of the Smart Communities initiative, more than 130 community leaders from Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, and Englewood met last year on information technology issues and brainstormed ways to move forward.

This summer dozens of teens from the various communities received digital training and work experience through a digital youth summer jobs program.

Englewood’s new community portal features an overview of good things happening in “Chicago’s most notorious neighborhood.”  And there’s lots of good going on, as the website shows:  an aerobic tap dance program, a resurgence of retail, a jazz festival, a men’s performance group, and the annual Imagine Englewood If day of community involvement.

The community portal for Auburn Gresham has a note about a community health survey, an asset-mapping project for the neighborhood, and a program that offers free computers in exchange for volunteering in a computer recycling effort.

There are also links to local businesses and neighborhood blogs.

The three portals join similar sites in Pilsen and Humboldt Park.

Here’s Terrance:

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Stopping dog fights; adopting kittens http://www.newstips.org/2010/06/stopping-dog-fights-adopting-kittens/ Wed, 09 Jun 2010 19:19:38 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=1925 Martial arts champion (and animal lover) Andre “The Pit Bull” Arlovski will speak to Englewood students tomorrow – and the Humane Society‘s Pit Bull Training Team will give a performance – as  part of a growing campaign against violence and dog fighting.

The presentations take place at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, June 10) at Team Englewood High School, 6201 S. Stewart, according to the Anti-Cruelty Society, which is cosponsoring the event.

The pit bull team gives weekly trainings at sites in Austin and Englewood for dogs and their owners, including individuals and pets who have been involved in dog fighting.  Some graduates become anti-dogfighting advocates who recruit students, give presentations in schools, and break up fights.

The goal is “to completely change the culture of pit bull ownership in this community,” says trainer Jeff Jenkins in a short Humane Society video.  (And in another short video, watch 13-year-old Terrence Murphy, with his dog Elmo, talk about the program.)

The Humane Society estimates that 250,000 dogs die in dog fights each year in the United States.

For more on the pit bull training team, see reports in Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Defender, and Jenkins’ blog on last summer’s training.

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In other ACS news, it’s “kitten season,” with an annual warm-weather increase in kitten litters and in kittens left at the society’s shelter at 157 W. Grand.  Through August 31, people adopting two cats will have the adoption fee for one of them waived.  It’s not limited to a single home – two friends can each adopt and split one fee.

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School closings: Mollison, Prescott, Deneen http://www.newstips.org/2010/02/school-closings-mollison-and-prescott/ Thu, 18 Feb 2010 21:33:52 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=1377 The Mollison Elementary community is celebrating their removal from CPS’s school closing list – but they say their experience demonstrates the need for big changes in the process.  (Mollison’s story was first highlighted here.)

“We want the process to include schools and communities sooner rather than later,” said Mollison teacher Jodi Curl.

“We are grateful we were taken off the list, but this process remains unjust and we can’t help but have concerns for other schools that were not given a fair and just process,” she said.

One school that remains on the list is Prescott Elementary, 1632 W. Wrightwood, and parents and educators there insist that CPS’s designation of the school as underenrolled is based on faulty calculations.

CPS maintains the school is below 40 percent of  a 540-student capacity.  But at the school’s February 3 hearing, Jennifer Moore, a reading coach with the Erikson Institute who works with Prescott teachers, pointed out that CPS had overcounted the number of classrooms in the school, and that several rooms are used as a library, computer lab, art room, and for ESL and special education.

“If Prescott filled all 18 rooms with a maximum number of students allowable in order to reach a capacity of 540 students, the school would run afoul of educational best practices, CPS policy, and legal requirements,” she said.

Prescott supporters say the school is actually at 64 percent capacity and that next year’s enrollment is expected to take it up to 75 percent.

At Deneen Elementary 7240 S. Wabash, clergy and students planned a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. this afternoon to protest a proposed “turnaround” despite rising attendance and reading and math scores which rose by double digits last year.

“I am tired of CPS playing with our children’s lives by treating them like they are a shift change at Cook County Jail,” said Rev. Kenyatta Smith, president of the Baptist Pastors Conference Youth Division.

Smith said the change would disrupt a number of programs in place to improve learning in the school, including a three-year professional development program to help teachers work with underachieving students.

Meanwhile, in a statement celebrating their victory, Mollison supporters called on CPS to “reevaluate the public hearing process,” in which CPS staff talk for unlimited time but school supporters are limited to two minutes each, up to the two-hour time set aside for the hearing.  That meant many were shut out entirely – including most supporters of Wells Prep, which was to have been moved into Mollison.

They also questioned the use of the new “performance policy” ranking system to designate schools for closing when it “has not yet been fully vetted by CPS educactors.”

Rev. Jeff Campbell, LSC cochair at Mollison, 4415 S. King, noted that CPS “is already planning to remove two of our teachers.”

“If CPS wants us to do the job that needs to be done,” he said, “we encourage CPS to provide resources that will support educational opportunities, including a reading and math coach, money to keep our two teachers, and not having to make choices between buying teachers or books or books versus educational software.”

The group applauded their alderman, Pat Dowell of the 3rd Ward, for supporting Mollison, and for introducing a resolution calling for a moratorium on school closings until CPS gets feedback from a task force of the General Assembly that is studying the district’s facility planning. A hearing on that resolution is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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Hearings on school closings http://www.newstips.org/2010/02/hearings-on-school-closings/ Tue, 09 Feb 2010 21:34:37 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=1324 For coverage of community and downtown hearings on Renaissance 2010 school closings, there’s really only Substance — since, as Substance reports, the Trib and Sun Times haven’t reported on hearings where 2,500 people have come out.

The paper posts daily on the web and is now posting video from the hearings on youtube.  Check out Debra Thompson, LSC chair at Paderewski, 2221 S. Lawndale:

One new trend: unlike last year, members of City Council are coming out to oppose closings.  Freddrenna Lyle of the 6th Ward has spoken out against “turnarounds” at Gillespie (9301 S. State) and Deneen (7420 S. Wabash), Pat Dowell of the 3rd against the “consolidation” of Mollison (4415 S. King), and Scott Waguespack of the 32nd  against closing Prescott (1632 W. Wrightwood).

Perhaps most notably, 17th Ward Ald. Latasha Thomas, who chairs the council’s education committee, has opposed the closing of Guggenheim (7141 S. Morgan), not only challenging the convoluted (and sometimes absurd) “performance” ratings used to justify the closings, but questioning the entire school closing strategy:  “When you close a school you penalize the students.  When you close a school you penalize the very people you are working for.”

There have been repeated challenges to the bizarre “performance policy” data (which turns out to be inaccurate in many cases) and repeated charges that schools have been denied resources.

And there is repeated evidence that CPS is flying blind when it comes to facilities planning.  Mollison lost its reading specialist based on a projected decline in enrollment that never actually occurred (the position was not restored); Prescott is being closed for underenrollment even though it’s attracting young families that are now moving into its attendance area; Paderewski lost enrollment after CPS reduced the school’s attendance boundaries.

In several cases, students will face long treks – and pass several nearby schools – in order to keep Ron Huberman’s promise to send them to schools with higher scores.  Latasha Thomas says:  “Seven or eight blocks means some students will drop out.”

Here’s what Debra Thompson says in the video above:  “You expect my kids to walk through drug-infested neighborhoods — for 12 blocks – to get to school?  That’s unreal.”   She asks: “What right do you have…to make decisions for our children and our community?”

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