Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Shakespeare returns to Eckhart Park


Oberon (Nathan M. Hosner) and Titania (Lanise Antoine Shelley) will rule over the mystical woods of Eckhart Park Aug. 16 and 17 in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." (Chuck Osgood photo)

By Nancy A. Cortés

Chicago Shakespeare Theater returns this summer to Eckhart Park for two free performances.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" comes to the park at 1330 W. Chicago Ave. at 6:30pm Aug. 16 and 4pm Aug. 17. Come as you are: Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair .

Shakespeare's popular comedy will be staged in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago. A specially equipped truck rolls into each park, a stage unfolds and a company of professional actors shares the bard of Avon with families and neighbors of all ages.

Director David H. Bell has adapted this Shakespeare favorite into an acrobatic and riotously sprightly staging.

A quartet of mismatched lovers, a gaggle of hapless actors and mischievous sprites cross paths with the king and queen of the fairies, entangled in their own domestic dispute. Audiences will be transported to a wondrous wood brimming with paramours and possibilities where the inexplicable magic of falling in love—and the marvel of waking up from the sweetest of dreams—is discovered.

More information will be available at the East Village Block Party Aug. 3 on the 800 block of Winchester, and EVA's next membership meeting, at 7pm Aug. 4 in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

Written by Webmaster

July 28th, 2014 at 1:38 pm

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We Still Need a Rent Freeze in NYC

Rents have become increasingly unaffordable in New York City. NYC has been in a housing crisis for decades. Defined as under 5 percent vacancy rate, a housing crisis  in NYC triggers an elaborate system of rent regulation. Rent regulation is not a subsidy program, but a system in which rents are regulated and determined by an appointed Rent Guidelines Board. Under rent regulation, tenants receive a guaranteed lease renewal and can compel landlords to provide essential services, such as water, heat, and repairs. Unlike public and subsidized housing, rent regulation costs the city, state, and federal government almost nothing to operate, beyond a small regulatory apparatus. Rent regulation is a virtually no-cost affordable housing strategy that houses millions of low- and moderate-income tenants in nearly a million rental units citywide. Rent regulated housing has by and large disappeared in the rest of the country, and in New York City, where rent regulation remains a critical mainstay of affordable housing, landlords and the real estate industry continually mount attacks on the system, seeking to undermine it in favor of market-rate housing. Tenants & Neighbors is a citywide membership organization of rent regulated tenants. Our members are low-income, moderate-income, seniors, youth, and immigrants, and live in all five boroughs. Though diverse in age, race, class, and ethnicity/nationality, they all tell the same story. They are trying to figure out how they can stay in their homes and communities, as their rent climbs to an ever-increasing proportion of their income. Many of them have seen their neighborhoods change rapidly as New York City has increasingly become a city for the wealthy, leaving them and their neighbors wondering just how much longer they will be able to call their city their home. The attack on rent-regulated housing and New York City’s breakneck gentrification are inextricably linked. 

Written by Rooflines

July 28th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

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Engagement leads to school biking and walking success

This blog post is part of a series chronicling our work with Healthy CPS. Read more about the project here.

An important part of the Healthy CPS Safe Routes to School project is developing school-specific recommendations to increase the number of kids walking and biking to school.

Since parents are among the best people to identify obstacles to walking and biking to school, parent engagement was essential to making this project successful.

Involving students and parents in creating healthier schools is an important part of supporting the CPS Local School Wellness Policy.

At nearly every school, our team held community workshops to gather parent feedback for the school’s Safe Routes Action Plan.

The workshops (pictured above and below) also provided an opportunity to empower parents and community groups with the knowledge, tools and resources to enhance the livability of their neighborhoods.

Over the course of our Healthy CPS project, we engaged more than 200 parents.

Workshops opened with a presentation (in English and/or Spanish) on the various aspects of a Safe Routes to School program. It allowed participants to share what they felt would be the most beneficial strategies to use in the community.

Workshops also included a mapping activity in which participants met in small groups to identify barriers to walking and biking in their neighborhood. All project schools are neighborhood schools, with attendance boundaries no more than two miles of the school, making it possible for students to more easily bike or walk to school.

Our community workshops were often the first time participants had heard of Safe Routes to School. Parents at Cameron Elementary, for example, used the presentation as a chance to brainstorm how encouragement activities could address some of the safety concerns in their neighborhood.

At Monroe School, Active Trans staff met with their LSNA Parent Mentor program, a group that is excited about the possibility of reestablishing a Walking School Bus program that existed in their neighborhood more than a decade ago.

We truly value all the feedback we received during our engagement opportunities and hope they were starting points for continued work with each of our schools.

Written by Genaro

July 25th, 2014 at 9:25 pm

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Writing Truth For Power

When Union United, a recently formed coalition of residents, local business owners, labor unions, and community and faith-based organizations in Somerville, Mass., read a local newspaper commentary about the proposed redevelopment of their neighborhood that didn't share their concerns about displacement, they saw it not as a disappointment, but as an opportunity to get the word out about their efforts to ensure that the community will benefit from the development. The coalition’s published response, co-authored by six of its members, critiqued the article’s suggestion that the large scale of the transit-oriented development and the city’s expressed commitment to values-based, community-oriented redevelopment were sufficient to forestall gentrification.  The 18 coalition members who exchanged e-mails over five days and multiple drafts sought to speak truth to power. At the same time, the collective writing process allowed them to discover more about the truth, empower diverse constituents, and speak as a unified group whose members respect and learn from one another’s differences.  They were writing truth for power.  This worked in several ways:

Written by Rooflines

July 25th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

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Put the “Choice” in “Housing Choice Vouchers”

In June, Alexander Polikoff, lead counsel in the decades-long Gautreaux Chicago Public Housing desegregation litigation, spoke to HUD staff on the FHEO Speaker Series.  Here is an excerpt of his speech that focuses on the specific stumbling blocks getting in the way of vouchers fulfulling their promise of mobility: The first of the two programmatic reasons we haven't used vouchers to get children out of harm's way has been the inertia of adhering to the familiar way of doing voucher business. Every voucher administrator should be required to read, Segregating Shelter: How Housing Policies Shape the Residential Locations of Low Income Minority Families, by Stefanie Deluca, Peter Rosenblatt and Philip Garboden. Segregating Shelter makes clear how cruelly ironic for those families is the middle word in the designation "housing choice vouchers." It explains, plain and simple, why it is that under typical voucher rules so few minority families acquire housing in middle class neighborhoods and so many wind up in high poverty, segregated ones. The explanation is not rocket science.  Instead of being user-friendly, portability is a Rube Goldberg construct that is all but impossible for many families to navigate.  Moreover it burdens PHAs with additional work and expense while providing them no offsetting benefits. Instead of providing incentives to PHAs to foster mobility, HUD's SEMAP assessment policy rewards quick lease-up over good location and rates as high performers PHAs who earn not a single point for helping families move to low poverty, non-segregated neighborhoods.  Instead of FMRs [fair market rents] that facilitate mobility, HUD uses a metro-wide FMR arrangement that makes it more difficult. HUD tolerates search time limits that often lead families to take the first unit they can find, and landlord lists that are heavily weighted with properties in high poverty, segregated neighborhoods. And so on.  One cannot but conclude that HUD is content with a system that not only provides minimal support for families who desire to relocate to non-poor, non-segregated neighborhoods, but one that actually frustrates that desire. The second programmatic reason we haven't used vouchers to get children out of harm's way is that HUD fails to require PHAs to provide effective mobility counseling, post- as well as pre-move: 

Written by Rooflines

July 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

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EVA Monday: Trader Joe’s, festivals, Collaboraction, Congressman Quigley


Collaboaraction Theatre's Sketchbook festival runs till June 15.

Monday's East Village Association meeting will have updates on Trader Joe's, street festivals and other issues, a presentation from Collaboraction Theatre, and possibly a visit from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley. You're invited to attend at 7 pm in Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

Trader Joe's

Developer Smithfield Properties has met with the EVA board and LaSalle II school council about plans for a Trader Joe's grocery at 1815 W. Division St., the former Miller Lumber site.

Both groups reviewed a draft traffic plan from consultant Kenig Lindgren O’Hara Aboona. It would change the direction of two streets, Honore to the south and Marion to the north.

The consultant told EVA that the plan would not improve Division Street traffic, and that Augusta Boulevard would have to be removed from the boulevard system to allow trucks.

The location across Honore from LaSalle II also makes liquor sales against both state law and local ordinance. The developer's pursuing changes in both, because Trader Joe's will not consider a site that does not allow liquor sales.

Meeting with the school council May 19, Smithfield proposed a $10,000 a year contribution over the 10 years, and said it had discussed changes to the school's lunchroom.

Festival planning

EVA and other community groups have drafted guidelines for festival promoters. They include financial details, logistic and police plans, and fundraising signs and proceeds. Well-managed festivals will introduce more people to the neighborhood, make it more vibrant and support community groups.

Festivals are just one issue in which EVA is working together with the Bucktown Community Organization, Chicago Grand Neighbors Association, Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association and Wicker Park Committee.

Library fundraising

EVA's working with the Chicago Public Library Foundation to support West Town branch programs. Fundraising for EVA's 30th anniversary raised $6,000 over two years.

Collaboraction Theatre

Community partnership director Ron Wachholtz will talk about upcoming Collaboraction productions. Its current Sketchbook festival includes 18 premiere performance pieces on social issues,. The curator, playwright Ike Holter, recently was interviewed in RedEye. Performances end June 15 in the troupe's location in the Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Congressman Quigley

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley or one of his 5th Congressional District staff plans to give an update on issues in Congress.

Quigley co-sponsored one of the rare gun-related issues to pass the House, an measure on background checks. On the Appropriations committee, he's offered amendments on housing vouchers and public transportation. Recently he visited Ukraine in a delegation that met with acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

July 24th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

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EVA Monday: What we’re voting on

East Village Association members vote Monday night on two high-profile Chicago Avenue developments. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno often seeks input from community groups on zoning, land use and licensing issues; these votes advise him. (While the City Council's making the decision, nearly always it follows the home alderman's recommendation.)

At 7pm in Happy Village, 1049 N. Wolcott Ave, the meeting starts with a progress report on the Field of Hope ballpark plan for Wells Community Academy High School. A $2.5 million fundraising drive continues with a May 16 fundraiser at the school, 936 N Ashland Ave.

Forbidden Root

President Neal McKnight and Forbidden Root's representatives will summarize the project at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. EVA's discussions with the brewers since January are documented here. EVA's board makes no recommendation on the vote. The proposed motion:

The East Village Association general membership does not oppose the lifting of the tavern moratorium on Chicago Avenue from Wood Street to Ashland Avenue and a Type 1 rezoning of 1742-1750 W. Chicago Ave.; from B1-2 to C1-1 and the issuance of of a tavern license to Forbidden Root/ Robert Finkl subject to an agreed upon Plan of Operation.

Fifield Cos.

EVA's board recommends a vote against the project at 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave. The developer will make a presentation; current and past plans are documented here. The proposed motion:

There are currently pending requests and discussions for the lots located at 1822-1850 West Chicago Avenue to be acquired to expand the adjacent Commercial Club Park. The Fifield Companies have also requested that these lots be upzoned to allow for the construction of additional units beyond the number allowed by current zoning. The Planning, Preservation and Development Committee of the East Village Association and the Board of Directors of the East Village Association have concluded that the Fifield Companies have not demonstrated any hardship or significant community benefit that would justify an upzone allowing additional units on these lots.

Does the East Village Association general membership oppose the rezoning of 1822-1850 West Chicago Avenue from B3-2 to B3-3 to allow for a Planned Development proposed by the Fifileld Companies with a maximum of 59 residential units as presented to East Village Association Board on April 7. 2014.

Voting procedures are spelled out in the EVA bylaws.

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

July 24th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

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LaSalle II fundraiser day at Las Palmas

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

July 24th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

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Forbidden Root: In the brewers’ own words

East Village Association members will vote Monday on whether to support zoning and licensing changes for the Forbidden Root brewery to operate at 1742-50 W. Chicago Ave. Rootmaster Robert Finkel and brewer Robert (BJ) Pichman describe their proposal.

Forbidden Root will be the first botanical brewery in the country, crafting its brew around all natural herbs, roots and spices. It would like to open its headquarters, brewery and tap room in the long vacant former Hub Theater at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. As a “Benefit” corporation, it intends to donate all of its profits from non-consumable merchandise to worthy not-for-profit causes, initially the Green City Market.

Forbidden Root proposes locating its brewery and R&D operations in the rear of the building. The capacity of the on-site brewery will be limited and larger-scale brewing and bottling will occur at a remote location. The front portion of the building will be refurbished to provide an inviting tap room where customers can experience the company’s products. Seating capacity in the tap room would be limited to 150 persons. A small area for the sale of Forbidden Root products also will be located in the front portion of the building. The on-site retail sale of packaged alcohol will be limited to Forbidden Root brand products or products created in collaboration with Forbidden Root.

The production portion of the Forbidden Root proposal requires the rezoning of the property from B1 to C1. Forbidden Root has agreed to pursue such rezoning under a Type 1 rezoning, which keys the rezoning to specific plans and also to specific operations parameters. The on-site sale at retail of alcohol will require lifting the tavern moratorium in effect along Chicago Avenue from Ashland to Wood. The entire area covered by the moratorium is zoned B1. As taverns are not permitted in B1 zoning, lifting the tavern moratorium will not open the door to additional taverns in the area. The package liquor moratorium in effect for the same area is not currently proposed to be modified.

Forbidden Root will bring a unique, responsible and exciting new business to Chicago Avenue. A long-vacant building will be refurbished and returned to productive use. Forbidden Root is pursuing the needed approvals in a fashion that addresses all concerns raised about its proposal. It has agreed to make the conditions and limitations on its operations part of its approvals. As a community and environmentally conscious company, Forbidden Root will be positive addition to the area and revitalization of the long vacant Hub Theatre will further enliven Chicago Avenue.

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

July 24th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

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Wellsapalooza: Wells High School Field of Hope fundraiser

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

July 24th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

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