Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Still Learning, After All These Years

I had a great education and was fortunate enough to have scholarships to become the first in my family to obtain a Master’s degree. But I made a career choice in 1974 to forego a PhD for experiential learning. I didn’t know that at the time. For me it was a job then not just a student internship. Soon enough, it would become a vocation. This month I had the opportunity to attend the 40th Anniversary Conference of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).  The theme was: “Mobilize Learners. Revolutionize Assessments.” What I learned from the plenary panel “CAEL Through the Decades” was how a movement of committed education professionals have battled over four decades for recognition and resources for adult learning. 

Written by Rooflines

November 26th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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Blue Line remodel, medical marijuana plans take shape

A "traditional" subway canopy can double the CTA's cost.

East Village Association board minutes for Nov. 10, 2014, submitted by Catherine Garypie

Aldermanic debate

Dates are Jan. 29 (1st Ward), Feb, 15 (2nd Ward). Andy Shaw of Better Government Association will host, Wells High auditorium is rented, other associations are on board. Shaw may have format ideas. Wells students can submit questions.

December meeting/holiday party

Neal McKnight will check venues for Monday evening Dec. 8.

Aldermanic speakers at upcoming meetings

Dec. 1: Wilson, Shaw, Hopkins; Jan. 5: Moreno, Pattison; Feb. 2: Pfingsten, Buenrostro.

Polish Triangle

An online survey drew 1,200 responses; the majority want a traditional entrance design for the Blue Line station at Division, keeping the fountain and placing canopies over the subway. The traditional design costs $600,000, twice the price of the "modern" choice. McKnight will propose that we get specifications for the canopy foundation to get art on top of the canopy.

Studio Gang has been invited to get involved. EVA board members will attend the next meeting with the CTA. The next meeting is with local businesses. A number of entities are involved, and it's unclear how much influence EVA will have in the process.

Planning, Preservation & Development

1947 W. Chicago Ave.: Upzoning request is with Chicago Grand Neighbors Association.

Inner Town Pub: McKnight asked for beer garden rendering and petition information.

Demolition permits: Landmarks Illinois issues committee loved the draft proposal to improve historic preservation in the Chicago. Next: Meeting with city Landmarks Commission, then meeting with aldermen, to get a senior sponsor for a vote before the February 2015 election.

New issues

Next meeting speaker: Please send McKnight suggestions.

Filming locations: Everyone wants to film in this neighborhood. Inner Town Pub is rented to cable series "Sirens" and trucks are taking up a ton of parking on Augusta. The Winchester restaurant loses businesses when filming is happening. EVA will send a letter saying the filming has become disruptive and EVA would like to be consulted before future filming. Also trucks on Augusta are violating the boulevard designation and idling ordinance. EVA will send a letter to the film office and try to obtain filming schedule.

Garbage collection: Private pickups come very early (4-5am) for south alley in 2000 block of Division. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno will attend a meeting at SmallBar on the issue. This violate both ordinance and liquor license plans of operation.

Marijuana dispensaries: Legal use will probably move from medicinal to recreational eventually. So should approval process be closer to liquor sales or medical clinics? Most dispensary applicants at this point appear to be club people. Medical marijuana dispensaries pose these issues:

  • Should they be affiliated with medical personnel?
  • should be sited in a commercial-industrial areas only?
  • What are security issues associated w/cash-only businesses?

The law right now is very restrictive. A dispensary requires both special use zoning from the city and an operating license from the state. An article for the newsletter is pending.

Rolando Acosta is new vice president of the West Town Chamber of Commerce.

1815 W. Division St.: Development for the parcel at Division and Honore (east of LaSalle II school) is now back to its original proposal, since Trader Joe's is no longer considering that location.

1850 W. Chicago Ave: Fifield Cos. zoning request has passed for 59 units. The EVA board would like to make it clear to community that Ald. Moreno overruled the community opinion he sought from EVA on this issue. EVA members voted for no zoning change but Moreno is approving the upzone.

Meeting 6:30-7:17pm at West Town Bakery & Cafe. Attending: McKnight, Anselmo, Alcazar-Anselmo, Garypie, Rynkiewicz, Van Dam, Nagel, Tomek, Foote.

Written by Webmaster

November 25th, 2014 at 11:42 pm

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Do Urban Neighborhoods Need Homeowners?

At a conference I attended last week, one of the speakers, a colleague whose judgment and knowledge I respect, offered his take on the future of urban single family neighborhoods. The lower income families who have the credit and can get together the down payment to become homeowners are buying in the suburbs. People working in urban neighborhoods, he said, (more or less in these words), are going to have to “get over homeownership." Putting aside his conclusion for a moment, the underlying facts tend to bear him out. While homeownership has declined all over the country since the end of the housing bubble, it has dropped much faster in urban areas, not only distressed Rustbelt cities, but Sunbelt cities as well. Let’s look at a few numbers.

Written by Rooflines

November 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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Red alert: EVA drafts demolition delay proposal

Preservation Chicago's Erica Ruggiero briefs EVA members at Happy Village.

East Village Association minutes for Nov. 3, 2014, submitted by Catherine Garypie

HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Erica Ruggiero, Preservation Chicago advocacy director

Chicago's demolition delay ordinance relies on properties identified in the 1995 Chicago Historic Resources Survey. The survey's original purpose wasn't to support the ordinance, yet that's how the city identifies properties to preserve. Buildings are identified by color:

  • RED properties possess some architectural feature or historical association that made them potentially significant in the city, state or nation. About 300 properties are categorized as Red.
  • ORANGE properties possess some architectural feature or historical association that made them potentially significant in the community. About 9,600 properties are categorized as Orange.
  • GREEN, YELLOW-GREEN, and YELLOW properties are generally considered either too altered or lacking individual significance to be included in the survey's database.
  • BLUE properties are constructed after 1940 and were generally not included in the database.

The problem is that many non-Red properties in the survey, as well as historically significant properties that did not make it onto the survey, are not being fully evaluated and are being lost.

Significantly, the Illinois Historic Structures Survey, an inventory of places of purely architectural interest completed in the early 1970s, included many Chicago buildings not included in the Chicago survey. For example, 1,100 properties in West Town were identified by the state, but not the city. Those properties are essentially unprotected.

Preservation Chicago has been working with the East Village Association and several other groups to craft a proposal to address gaps in current law causing loss of historic structures in Chicago. This is an effort to address historic preservation issues in the entire city, not just in East Village.

Ideas presented in the proposal:

  1. Increase the demolition delay period in the ordinance from 90 days to 270 days. This allows more time to locate land swaps or financial incentives for preserving the structure.
  2. Apply the delay to all properties 50 years and older, instead of just Orange properties. All other major cities in U.S. use the 50-year standard of the National Park Service (all buildings 50 years or older are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places).
  3. Expand Chicago Department of Buildings' green permit program. The current program offers qualifying new construction projects an expedited permit process and possible reduction of permit fees. The proposal would qualify both new construction and historic preservation or rehab properties.
  4. Restructure the “Adopt-A-Landmark” program. Currently, a developer can adopt a landmark within 2,000 feet of a new development and get financial incentives. The proposal would broaden the program to all historically significant properties in a broader geographic area.
  5. Increase demolition permit fee so homeowners and developers are on an even playing field. The average cost for a demo permit is now $200. Increasing the fee to as much as $50,000 is being discussed. At $50,000 developers may allow individuals to bid on rehabbing and preserving the structure.
  6. Require an Environmental Impact Statement if a development is impacting a historic property. Minnesota is leading the way in this issue, requiring a statement from not just government entities but anyone proposing a project with an impact on historic property. The burden's on the developer to prove the property is "not historically significant".
  7. Offer tax incentives in more Chicago enterprise zones under the Illinois Enterprise Zone Program.

Benefits of these proposals: new revenue streams for city, more systematic approach to preserving existing structure, greener, opportunities for dialogue, stabilize neighborhood, more residential & commercial development. Importantly, these are NOT an unfunded mandate – rather they will assist in preserving City resources.

Next step is create proposal to take to City of Chicago Historic Preservation Division, then to aldermen to bring to the City Council.

Is this going to preserve buildings that really should be torn down? Those demolitions are generally court-ordered. The longer delay would give the city adequate time to look at the building and either work to preserve it or release it for demolition - it allows a pause. The idea is to prevent the situation where a demo permit is issued and then historic preservation efforts begin.

Ronda Locke, 2nd Ward candidate

Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) will speak at a future meeting.

Ronda Locke (1st Ward): Ten years ago my husband and I moved to East Village and had our first child, just after I left a multiyear marketing career. President of LaSalle II Local School Council (fundraising, infrastructure, etc). Commercial Park Advisory Council (free drop-in programs, free programming), former members of EVA Board, active in Chicago Police Peer Jury program, member of five-person working group to determine what to do with the former 13th District building nad land on Wood Street.

Being a former 1st Ward staffer gave me an idea of things the office could or should be doing (one example of effective work in that office: I dropped 1st Ward office phone bill from $1,000 to $300 a month). I look at solving public safety issues a having three components: police, city and community. One example of my work on public safety issues in the 1st Ward: Complaints from residents came into ward office regarding sex workers on North Avenue at 6am. I gathered volunteers & walked North Avenue with flashlights for seven weeks. It has not been much of an issue over the past few years.

I'm open to new solutions, and tenacious. My vision:

  1. Local residents, business and organizations collaborate for growth and develop a master plan for each neighborhood.
  2. All kids go to a quality school w/an elected school board.
  3. School board elected, with parents as 3 of 7 members.
  4. Fully staffed police department.
  5. Spend ward "menu" dollars ($1.3 million) through participatory decision making.

Why is elected school board important? Chicago is the only city in Illinois with an appointed school board.

Rush hour traffic on side street is dangerous. How would you help? Bring traffic lights to intersections that need them. A master plan for the neighborhood should address this.


A zoning variance for a medical marijuana dispensary is proposed at 744 N. Damen. Local residents have pushed back. The business owner seeking a zoning variance appears to have experience operating parking garages. He may have other affiliations.

There will be 13 dispensaries citywide. There is already one approved for Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. Step 1 is zoning approval by the city, Step 2 is an operating license issued by the state. The zoning meeting is Nov. 21; comments can be submitted in person and by mail.

A licensed day care center's across the street from 744 N. Damen, so it appears that a dispensary cannot be sited there under state law.

There's a concern about locations getting a foothold in case state marijuana law is expanded to recreational use. EVA membership should not be asked to review locations that don't qualify under state or city law. These businesses should be directed to proper commercial-industrial locations.

What kind of volume or traffic will occur at dispensaries? No one really knows. In Colorado it's big business, people are still learning the ropes. At least initially Illinois will differ from Colorado, and probably dispensaries won't be too crowded at first.

A lot of building owners on Chicago Avenue and Grand Avenue have been approached as potential dispensary locations. They are generally told that Ald. Proco Joe Moreno supports siting dispensaries in the 1st Ward. Grand Ave from Damen to Western is being downzoned. That area has a lot of vacant property because the use must be industrial.

The alderman’s office should be vetting these businesses. EVA might develop a position statement, or combine with groups in Wicker Park, Bucktown, Ukrainian Village and Chicago-Grand.

Apparently fewer than 6,500 people have applied to receive medicinal marijuana in Illinois so far.

The interior of the dispensaries have to be structured a particular way. Once a license is issued, it's hard to revoke, and the policing burden seems to fall on the community. Moreno should take a position on medicinal marijuana in the 1st Ward rather than send each applicant to the neighborhood associations.

EVA is not against medicinal marijuana; the issue is if and how the community should have a role in siting and zoning. The board will work on an article to provide general information for the membership.


$3,500 going to library from fundraising event.


Beyond the medicinal marijuana article, crime and school statistics are in the works.


Next CAPS meeting's in 2 weeks at 1012 N. Noble.


Ashland Bus Rapid Transit: No response to comments yet. State Street BRT is being pushed first.

Written by Webmaster

November 25th, 2014 at 4:11 am

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Historic, and Green, and Affordable, and at (Some) Scale?

Iberville Offsites—the collective name of the 46 historic homes throughout New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood restored and preserved as low-income affordable housing—received the 2014 National Trust/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation earlier this week. “This project is proof that eliminating blight, providing affordable housing and maintaining the historic fabric of our neighborhoods are not mutually exclusive goals,” said Lata Reddy, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Prudential and president of The Prudential Foundation.

Written by Rooflines

November 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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Ferguson: No One Should Be Surprised

This op-ed originally appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on October 8, 2014. Recent events in Ferguson constitute the logical outcome of forces spelled out in 1968 by the National Advisory Panel on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission. The report warned of a “permanent division of our country into two societies: one, largely Negro and poor, located in the central cities; the other predominantly white and affluent, located in the suburbs and outlying areas.” Cities have not become pockets of black poverty surrounded by prosperous white suburbs. But the reality of uneven development documented in the Kerner report persists in the nation’s metropolitan areas. Central features of that development are persisting racial segregation and surging economic segregation. To understand recent events in Ferguson, and similar tension around the U.S., we need to go beyond an understanding (accurate or inaccurate) of individual or cultural characteristics (e.g., work ethic of minorities, culture of poverty among the urban poor, racial prejudice on the part of police) and examine the institutions that shape continuing uneven metropolitan development.

Written by Rooflines

November 21st, 2014 at 2:10 pm

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A RADical Change for Public Housing?

Earler this month, we published an op-ed from HUD in which the authors declared the Rental Assistance Demonstration project a success, calling for a lifting of the cap on the number of units that could go through the process. The idea behind RAD is to address the massive backlog in capital improvements in public housing by allowing PHAs to turn units into project-based Section 8 units and take on private debt to finance the improvements. When RAD was first proposed, it was known as PETRA, and much of the affordable housing world was in an outcry over what they said was essentially a privatizing of public housing. We devoted much of an issue to it here. RAD, proposed by affordable housing champion Rep. Keith Ellison, fixed many of the specifics that advocates critiqued, building in many more safeguards against things like the possibility of public housing being lost to foreclosure. This new version seems to have muted most of the objections, even though the underlying shift in principle is still there. Since then, RAD has proceeded with little commentary, at least the little that has come to my attention. A panel on RAD at the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Summit was upbeat, but did have some interesting tidbits in it:

Written by Rooflines

November 20th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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Community Organizing: Step One for Neighborhood Change

Dust the surface of any significant neighborhood improvement, from the clean-up of a park, to a new affordable apartment building, to the initiation of a public safety project, and you’ll likely find the fingerprints of a community organizer.

When Carlos Nelson took charge of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp. he didn't know anything about community organizing. He learned fast.

Photos by Gordon Walek

Those projects rarely happen without public approval – or they get stopped before they begin because of disapproval. And community organizers are often the catalysts for resident participation and reaction. But who are these organizers? And what skills are required to do the job? 

The neighborhood groups LISC works with play central roles in organizing efforts, but the discipline of community organizing isn’t formal. There’s no real academic track leading to such a job and few formal training programs within those organizations to groom new organizers. 

LISC Chicago over the last three months has held a series of workshops to discuss the process and purpose of community organizing. The three workshops (the final one was on November 19) were intended to serve as a learning forum for members of LISC’s New Communities Network. 

"Organizing isn't about beating up on people," says Raul Raymundo, executive director of The Resurrection Project in Pilsen. "It's about generating win/win situations."

“The entire Quality-Of-Life planning process that LISC supported was a community organizing process,” said Chris Brown, LISC Chicago’s director for education and engagement. “The work of LISC and its partners only had legitimacy to the extent that local residents are engaged in planning and implementing the work.” 

Contrary to popular stereotypes, organizers are hardly the fire-breathing, torch-and-pitchfork-carrying rabble-rousers one might expect. 

“I’d never heard of community development or organizing,” said Carlos Nelson, executive director of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, about his understanding of the role before taking the reins of GAGDC more than a decade ago. “I was a mechanical engineer.” 

Spark curiosity

More than 100 community representatives attended the three workshops. Nelson told the crowd that his guiding organizing principle is simple: Get people to ask questions. “Why is something the way it is?” he said. “Why is it, for example, that on the South Side of Chicago recycling isn’t something we take to heart? The challenge is getting people to ask questions.” 

Andrea Ortez, of the Southwest Organizing Project in Chicago Lawn, describes organizing as 'the practice of taking power seriously."

Once they do that, he said, they’ll stick around to get the answers. In other words, they’ll be engaged, which is half the battle for enlisting community support for a specific project or action. Nelson exercised that technique early and often in his long, and ultimately successful, struggle to get Metra to open a new station near 79th Street in Auburn Gresham. 

Raul Raymundo, the long-time executive director of The Resurrection Project in Pilsen, agrees. “Organizing isn’t about beating up on people,” he said. “It’s about generating win/win situations. Is there a solution we can come up with that, as we do so, people we’re negotiating with will see it as being in their best interest? You want to create a collective environment where everyone can take credit.” 

Raymundo alluded to the recent demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting of a young black man by a white police officer. “That’s not organizing,” he said. “That’s a reaction to a tragedy. Not until the waters have calmed is there an opportunity to organize. Then you can build something long-term, so the tragedy doesn’t repeat itself.” 

Act professionally

People in positions of power, Raymundo noted, often think of community organizers as actors and antagonists. “But we have to act very professionally,” he said. “We’re not screaming and yelling. We get to the point where we’ve answered all their questions and what’s left? You just do it.” 

Teamwork Englewood's Demond Drummer, center, emphasized the value of one-on-one relationships.

Andrea Ortez, a young organizer at the Southwest Organizing Project in Chicago Lawn, described organizing as the practice of taking power seriously. “As a community organizer,” she said, “you sign up to agitate the way people see the world. How do we move toward the world that we want while acknowledging the world we live in?” 

How, indeed? 

Demond Drummer, a tech organizer who’s been highly effective in engaging neighborhood youth in digital projects, was a student of religion and a South Carolina organizer for the 2008 Obama campaign before joining Teamwork Englewood on Chicago’s South Side. 

“I thought I was signing up to be in ‘The West Wing’ and found myself in ‘House of Cards,’ ” he said, referring to the wildly different portrayals of what it means to be in politics – the world as it should be vs. the world as it is – by the two television series. 

As a community organizer, Drummond says he’s built on that experience. “Our only source of power,” he said, “is legitimacy. If we’re not seen as adding value, we have nothing. One-on-one relationships are crucial.” 

Relationships are key

No one could accuse Drummond of lacking digital awareness. One of his greatest Englewood accomplishments has been the creation of a program that trains local youth to write computer code. And he does emphasize the importance of telling your story on social media. 

Imelda Salazar (standing), a SWOP organizer, said there's no specific formula for organizing, but that without trust among participants all is lost.

But he’s a firm believer in old-fashioned organizing. “Instead of putting stuff on a website,” he said, “you’ll be better off delivering flyers door-to-door.” He says among the most important organizing techniques he’s learned is to secure support from within the community first – they must have skin in game – and that the most powerful relationships are developed in person. Even the techies on Twitter like to talk, too, he says. 

Imelda Salazar, an organizer at SWOP who immigrated to the U.S. 11 years ago, when she was 31, also emphasized the value of one-on-one relationships.

“I had no clue about organizing,” she said, “and there’s no formula for doing it. You have to be authentic and curious about the other person. You have to build trust.” 

But building trust, and knowing who to build trust with, isn’t always obvious. Jackie Samuel, who once aspired to be a Broadway performer but later shifted her theatrical skills to organizing South Chicago blocks for Claretian Associates, says she tries to identify the neighborhood “foot soldiers” – people who display interest in civic life but are not in traditional positions of influence or power. 

Jeff Bartow, left, led the final workshop, which addressed the importance of figuring out who weilds power, and why.

For example, in an effort to stem gun violence in South Chicago, Samuel invited high-risk youth to attend a performance event she had organized with local rap artists. “I knew it was risky,” she said, but by engaging young people who she knew had the respect and trust of their peers, she was able to establish a forum where antagonistic neighborhood factions could talk rather than shoot.

“Organizing," said SWOP’s Jeff Bartow in the Nov. 19 session about power analysis, “is an experiment, in collective voice, in action and evaluation. It’s about putting ourselves in places where we can succeed or fail. Most of us avoid that. If we’re serious about acting, we have to risk. And we’re more likely to succeed if we’re serious about power and pay attention to it.” 

For more information, contact Chris Brown at

Photos from the September 24 workshop....


Photos from the October 22 workshop.....

Written by LISC Chicago

November 19th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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Asian Americans Key in Virginia Senate Race?

When I drafted this post, incumbent Virginia Senator Mark Warner held a narrow margin of victory over challenger Ed Gillespie (Warner has since declared victory, and Gillespie officially conceded). The race was bitterly contested, and the results are notable in that Asian Americans–with growing populations in Northern Virginia–were very likely determinative in Warner’s victory. UC Berkeley political science professor, Taeku Lee, working with the AAPI Civic  Engagement Fund, conducted the Asian American Election Eve Poll, a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, nationally representative survey with targeted samples of Asian Americans in California, Texas, and Virginia. According to Professor Lee’s polling data, in Virginia, Asian Americans strongly favored Warner at over a 2-to-1 ratio (68 percent Warner to 29 percent Gillespie).

Written by Rooflines

November 19th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

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Crash victim calls for separating cyclists and pedestrians on Lakefront Trail

Megan Williams, 27, was jogging on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail while training for her first Chicago Marathon earlier this fall when she was suddenly struck by a bicyclist.

The next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed with her hands restrained, a breathing tube down her throat, a fractured skull and bleeding in her brain.

Thankfully, Megan is feeling better today. And as a result of this terrible experience, she's determined to be part of improving safety on the trail for all users.

“If they could divide the path into separate paths, one for bikes and one for everyone else, that would help,” Megan told the Sun-Times last month.

She said she isn’t sure who to blame – if blame should even be assigned. She just wants to help make sure these crashes don’t keep happening.

This week Megan told her story in an online forum set up by the Chicago Park District, which manages the Lakefront Trail, to solicit feedback from the public on next year’s budget.

The idea is already one of the most popular ideas on the site in less than 24 hours.

You can support her idea by rating and commenting on it in the online forum. Users are required to create a free account and can explore ideas and critical questions about the future of Chicago’s parks.

Active Trans has identified separating bicyclists and pedestrians on the trail as one its advocacy priorities for next year.

In our 2013 People on the Trail Report, published in partnership with Friends of the Parks and the Chicago Area Running Association, it was the number one priority for trail users.

Megan Williams one week after her crash on the Lakefront Trail. 

It's also the top public priority in the ongoing planning process for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive, according to feedback collected at public meetings and online.

We continue to work with all types of trail users to highlight ways to improve the most popular trail in the country. If you’re interested in getting involved in our lakefront trail advocacy efforts, contact Campaign Director Kyle Whitehead at

Rate and comment on Megan’s idea by creating a free account on the Park District’s online forum.

Written by kwhitehead

November 18th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

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