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‘Invest in Englewood’ campaign launching

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.

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Civic Lab plans ‘design hack’

Civic Lab, a new civic engagement project which aims at developing educational programs on local issues and online tools to encourage community involvement, will hold a “design hack” on Saturday, June 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Read/Write Library, 914 N. California.  Pizza lunch will be provided.

Initiated by long-time activist Tom Tresser, Civic Lab aims at operating a storefront “civic hacker space” to hold classes, conduct research projects, and create online tools for civic engagement.   It’s needed because while big money floods our elections, citizen anger and alienation is growing, Tresser said.

The first planned project is a TIF Report, with citizen journalists investigating the use and abuse of tax increment financing and producing ward reports for print and online distribution.

Also envisioned are classes in civics basics – how to read a property tax bill or a city budget, how to write a letter to the editor or run for office – and collaborations with activists and programmers to develop new tools.

One might be a phone app to allow participants at rallies to sign up for updates on particular issues or from particular groups– potentially a big improvement over hastily scrawled and often illegible sign-in sheets, Tresser said.



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