Dear Community Leaders, Stakeholders and Neighbors,
In 2005, Teamwork Englewood brought together more than 600 stakeholders to create the "Making a Difference" Quality of Life Plan for the Greater Englewood Community.
In this plan, 10 strategies were adopted in order to achieve the community's vision to bring positive change to the neighborhood. Since that time hundreds of projects and initiatives have been carried out resulting in numerous accomplishments.
On April 30th, 2015 we will hold the "Quality of Life Plan Celebration and Achievement Awards" to recognize great contributions made by so many of you, your neighbors and our friends. Join us at 5:30pm sharp at Kennedy King College Friday April 30th, 2015.
Please RVSP to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 3rd, 2015
Download and read by clicking here >>>> The Quality of Life Plan
Download and read summary of the by clicking here>>> The Quality of Life Plan
Recently, a group of people in the south suburban community of Chicago Heights did a walkability assessment of Dixie Highway as it runs through the town.
The group, comprised of the town’s Active Transportation Plan Steering Committee, included people from community’s public works department, the park district, as well as local schools Bloom High School, Prairie State College and the U of I Extension.
Dixie Hwy.’s walking and biking facilities will be looked at closely as part of Active Trans’ Family Friendly Bikeways Campaign. This is because the road is an important route for all types of transportation in the South Suburbs, and will soon connect to the Thorn Creek Trail, which is a portion of the Grand Illinois Trail.
Armed with a walkability checklist, the committee members observed people driving, walking and biking during Bloom High School’s dismissal.
After noticing the short amount of time available for students to cross Dixie Hwy., the representative from the public works department made a phone call to have the signal timing changed for a longer pedestrian crossing signal.
Many students were observed crossing against the walk signals. In response, the representative from Bloom High School arranged for the police officers to visit the high school regularly and hand out educational materials and provide warnings to students who do not follow the signal.
Larger infrastructure fixes were identified, too. In one spot, snow covered a portion of the street that made the crossing distance very long. By making this location part of the sidewalk, attendees agreed it will give people walking a shorter amount of time to be in the street.
Nice work, Chicago Heights in working to create a safer environment for people walking.
On Wednesday Gov. Rauner unveiled a budget proposal that would further damage the Chicago region’s already underfunded transit system, while bolstering the road fund statewide.
The proposed budget would slash nearly one-third of state funding for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) -- almost $130 million -- while adding $120 million to the road fund. These proposed cuts directly affect the budgets of CTA, Metra and Pace, and likely would lead to service cuts and fare increases.
Rauner's proposal to eliminate the state funding for paratransit and the RTA's reduced-fare program would make things even worse. Seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families rely on transit even more than others to access jobs and get around. Moreover, state spending on these efficient programs is small and would do little to solve the state's financial crisis while punishing our most vulnerable residents.
Now is not the time to cut transit funding; we should be looking to increase funding with a capital program and new revenue.
Transit improvements and expansion are long overdue during a time when more Illinoisans of all ages are choosing to ride transit, walk and ride bikes, rather than driving inefficient private vehicles.
Revenue for these investments could be raised in a variety of ways, such a modest increase in the gas tax and indexing it to inflation, or increasing transportation user fees.
We can't afford to attempt to balance our state's budget by decimating our transit systems.
On the day Gov. Rauner delivered his first budget address, more than 12,000 Illinoisans highlighted a way he can save taxpayers money and support efficient regional development: end the Illiana Expressway boondoggle.
Active Trans joined a diverse coalition of advocates and Will County residents in delivering 12,865 petition signatures against the Illiana to the Governor on Wednesday. Our partners included No Illiana 4 US, Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), Sierra Club, Openlands and Illinois PIRG.
After taking office in January, Gov. Rauner put the ill-conceived tollway on hold pending a “careful review of costs and benefits.”
Our members and supporters have spoken out against the project for months, making the case for why the sprawl-inducing project would not be an efficient use of limited taxpayer dollars.
The proposed highway would link Interstate 55 with I-57 and I-65, serving only 8,000 vehicles per day at a cost of over $1 billion.
The state is proposing to build the project as a public-private partnership with the state guaranteeing a private operator's costs, but there are lots of questions and skepticism about the politically motivated project’s actual financial viability.
We believe taxpayer dollars could be better spent on infrastructure priorities that carry far greater benefits, like upgrading rapid transit and commuter rail lines, and critical projects like CTA’s planned Red Line South Extension.
by Michael Lasswell
Inspired by the Landmark Russell Colvin Case
Date: Saturday, March 21, 2015
Location: Grace Episcopal Church
924 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301
Performance: 7:30 PM
Reception: Immediately following the performance
Tickets: $30 General Admission; $25 Senior; $15 Student/Youth (use the link to buy online or call the Festival Theatre box office at 708-445-4440)
In the words of P.T. Barnum: “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.”
Two quintessentially Oak Park organizations, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center and Oak Park Festival Theatre, both founded in the tumultuous and history-making early 1970s, come together at Grace Episcopal Church to present the world premiere of Woodchuck Justice. The play is an irreverent comedy inspired by the historical facts of America’s first death row exoneration, which is granted when the alleged murder victim strolls back into town. The presentation of the script by Michael Lasswell and featuring popular Festival Theatre actors will be a joint benefit for both organizations now in their fifth decades improving the lives of their Oak Park community.
Of the play, the playwright and director Lasswell says, “This is a comedy based on America’s first death row exoneration. All of the events are true. The play is about how little the truth sometimes matters to our view of history. To tell the story, a small town historian recruits six unlikely volunteers to help her re-enact a true-crime drama from 1819 in which the alleged murder victim comes back to life. The players are chosen for their similarity to the real people they portray. They are a minister, a politician, a carnival barker, a newsman, a bartender, and a gossip. None of the actual eyewitnesses from history ever really agreed with each other. Soon the players are all fighting for their own version of the facts. It is intended as a light evening that comments on extremely heavy themes. Beyond the literal docudrama, the play explores the Stockholm Syndrome, as it applies to performers–the way they tend to take on the values and viewpoints of their adopted characters. Despite the moments of genuine sadness, the goal is essentially to lighten up this dark subject in order to look at the absurdity of this event in a way today’s media-saturated audiences can enjoy. It’s a historical satire or a documentary farce of justice. Try not to take this too seriously. It’s only murder.”
This play about a trial, or more importantly, the lives of those around whom the trial swirls, could not be timelier, just like Oak Park Festival Theatre’s summer production of To Kill A Mockingbird. Although the events depicted are those of a Vermont village in the very early days of the 19th century, they echo the events of each morning’s headlines two hundred years on. Racial, gender, and class prejudice, coerced testimony, corrupt officials, and a powerful media are still the stuff with which we must daily contend. History and truth are still fluid and subject to the variations of the victors. What matters is the community, each community of individuals be it 1819 Vermont or 21st century Chicagoland. Both Oak Park Festival Theatre and the Oak Park Regional Housing Center were founded on and have for more than 40 years focused their efforts on providing for the needs of their community and their neighbors who comprise it.
Featured in the timeless, provocative, and illegally funny new work are Festival favorites Belinda Bremner, Tony Dobrowolski*, Jack Hickey*, Mark Richards*, Kevin Theis*, and Barbara Zahora*. They will be joined by Charles Hall as Rev. Lemuel Haynes, probably the first African American ordained by a mainstream Protestant Church in the United States, who is instrumental in America’s very first death row exoneration.
* Member of Actors Equity Association
From a fast-unfolding plan to redevelop the historic Pullman District on the Far South Side to the stunning rehab of a run-down SRO hotel on the North, the 2015 Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards had the city covered.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle moderated at youth panel at the 21st annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards ceremony.
Photos by Eric Young Smith
But most of all, the 21st annual CNDA event on Feb. 17 at the Chicago Hilton & Towers had the bouncing energy and boundless expectations of talented youth.
Or as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle put it: “Street violence may grab the headlines, but a majority of our young people are working hard to become responsible adults.”
Preckwinkle moderated the Forum panel discussion that, this year, featured four young overachievers active in mentoring city kids and running programs from street basketball to expungement of juvenile arrest records.
The four young adults shared insights about the pitfalls and the possibilities of growing up in Chicago, eliciting knowing nods from Preckwinkle, a former high school history teacher and a community development leader.
Members of the youth panel.
“We don’t have a ‘snitching’ problem,” said Berto Aguayo, a 20-year-old from Back-of-the-Yards who quit a street gang, finished high school, and is now student body president of Dominican University. “It’s a lack of trust problem between people in some neighborhoods and the police. We need to overcome that.”
The evening’s main event, as always managed by LISC Chicago, was the honoring of last year’s top achievements – and achievers – in the field of community development. There are five CNDA project categories, along with first-, second- and third-place “Driehaus” awards for excellence in community design, plus two special recognitions for personal achievement.
“Tonight we celebrate what is best and most inspiring in the field of neighborhood development,” explained Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director, in welcoming some 1,400 attendees. “These are the people, places and projects that make neighborhoods the greatest part of this great city.”
The envelope, please
Listed below, in order of presentation, are winners of the 2015 Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, along with thumbnail descriptions and links to further details:
Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives for its Pullman Revitalization Strategy, an effort that began with grassroots outreach and is unfolding now with a retail and industrial park along I-94 … and to the west continued revitalization of the Pullman Historic District – now being designated a National Historic Monument by President Barack Obama.
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project:
Thresholds for its Fred and Pamela Buffett Place, a dramatic conversion of the dreary and vacated Diplomat Hotel at Belmont and Sheffield into a warm, sunlit and nurturing home for 51 clients of the state’s largest provider of mental health services.
Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation for the 1704 N. Humboldt Building, a sprawling yellow-brick courtyard walk-up on a historic boulevard saved from condo conversion in the mid-80s and newly refurbished so as to provide stability and affordability for its 29 limited-income tenant families.
Skilken's Frank Petruziello and QCDC's Bernita Johnson-Gabriel accepting the Outstanding For-profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project award.
Skilken Development Co. and Troy Enterprises for The Shops & Lofts at 47, a testament to 10 years of never-give-up perseverance not only by the Ohio-based developers, but the city and the LISC-affiliated Quad Communities Development Corp. A new Walmart and 96 stylish mixed-income apartments now quicken the pulse of Bronzeville’s still-beating commercial heart.
Albany Park Neighborhood Council for the VOYCE Project, a gathering of high school student leaders from four neighborhoods across the city and an effort that has campaigned for, and is winning , public disclosure and state oversight of all-too-common student suspensions and expulsions.
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design:
First Place – A double winner this year, Landon Bone Baker Architects for Fred and Pamela Buffett Place, a project that began with broad community input, that pulled in creative partners ranging from archi-treasures to the ReBuilding Exchange to the Chicago Botanic Garden, and that turned a dank eyesore into a sun-splashed home for 51 developmentally disabled tenants.
Second Place – Weese Langley Weese Architects Ltd. for Grove Apartments in Oak Park, where their painstaking restoration and extension of a two-story auto showroom designed by famed industrial designer Albert Kahn yielded four-stories of cheery and affordable housing run by the Interfaith Housing Development Corp.
Third Place – Wrap Architecture for Bronzeville Artist Lofts, another rediscovery of buried architectural gold, in this case a 1906 dairy depot’s trussed beam suspension that allowed creation of dramatic open gallery space on the ground floor and 16 work-live studios above … not to mention some needed pizzazz for east 47th Street.
Sarah Ward, founder and executive director of the South Chicago Art Center, where since 2001 hundreds of youngsters come daily for instruction in the visual arts and, more importantly, the safe and constant support of caring adults. Under Sarah’s leadership, moreover, the Center is converting a vacant industrial building into bigger studios … and re-branding as “Skyart.”
Earnest Gates, co-founder and executive director of the Near West Side Community Development Corp., did not set out to create a citywide playbook for neighborhoods coping with mega-developments or the drastic redevelopment of public housing. But he did just that, first by organizing local residents and negotiating a series of neighborhood improvements around the new United Center, then by developing programs to help former CHA high-rise tenants adjust to life in mixed-income townhouses. In his spare time Earnest also became a godfather of youth sports on the Near West Side.
“Virtually everyone here tonight has been doing something – large or small – to advance the cause of neighborhood improvement,“ said Louise Perrin, the State Farm Insurance senior v.p. who chaired the 21st annual CNDA ceremony.
Winners all around
This year’s awardees may be a select bunch, but Louise Perrin, senior vice president of State Farm Insurance and chair of this year’s CNDA, reminded that, in a very real sense, the Hilton‘s International Ballroom was full of winners.
“Virtually everyone here tonight has been doing something – large or small – to advance the cause of neighborhood improvement,“ Perrin said. “You are all winners because you understand that Chicago can't be truly ‘world class’ unless all of our neighborhoods do what it takes for our children to succeed.”
This year’s CNDA was made possible in large measure by State Farm, but also by a host of other civic-minded corporations and philanthropies including: The Polk Bros. Foundation; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; The Chicago Community Trust; PNC Bank: Wintrust Financial; Woods Fund Chicago; The PrivateBank; Peoples Gas; MB Financial; JPMorgan Chase; BMO Harris Bank; Northern Trust; Citizen Commercial Banking; Bank of America; US Bank; Allstate Insurance; and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.
Also supporting CNDA were Urban Partnership Bank; Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, PC; University of Chicago; National Equity Fund; Brinshore Development; The Habitat Company; Pierce Family Foundation; Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago; Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council; Illinois Housing Council; Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives; Accion Chicago; Greater Good Studio; Mercy Housing; Community Investment Corporation; The CARA Program; Teska Associates, Inc.; Illinois Housing Development Authority; Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.; The Chicago Bears; Wight & Company; Chicago Community Loan Fund; The Walsh Group; Wells Fargo; IFF; CohnReznick LLP; Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.; Greater Southwest Development Corporation; Lighten-Gale Group; The Community Builders, Inc.; Southwest Airlines; The Resurrection Project; Linn-Mathes Inc.; First Merit Bank; Camiros; Fifth Third Bank; The National Housing Partnership Foundation; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois; Preservation of Affordable Housing and Central States SER.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a regular keynote speaker at CNDA, had to call in sick with a re-election, campaign-induced case of laryngitis. Deputy Mayor Steven Koch filled-in, hailing LISC Chicago and everyone else involved in community development work.
“The awards have become a source of inspiration,” said Deborah Bennett, jury chair and senior program officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation. “They’re how we celebrate outstanding projects and achievements and honor the role developers play in building healthier neighborhoods throughout Chicago.”
Most commuters, visitors and residents in Chicago’s Loop can quickly identify the biggest transportation challenge: moving east-west across downtown.
Whether you’re walking, biking or riding transit, getting across the Loop is often frustratingly slow and unpredictable, particularly during peak rush hour times.
That’s why the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is installing a new rapid transit corridor this year with dedicated bus lanes on Washington (image below) and Madison, and connections to Ogilvie and Union Stations in the West Loop.
In addition to transit riders, the project also will benefit people walking and riding bikes. Existing bus shelters will be relocated from the sidewalk and replaced with new stations on the corridor, opening up sidewalk space for people walking. People riding bikes will be able to take advantage of new protected bike lanes on Randolph and Washington.
The data shows the vast majority of people are riding transit, walking or biking to get around the Loop. Buses carry nearly half of all travelers in vehicles on Washington and Madison, yet travel as slow as 3mph during rush hour, or walking speed.
With construction beginning this spring and service scheduled to launch later in 2015, we’re stepping up our advocacy efforts to help ensure the project is implemented efficiently with the benefits promised to people riding transit, walking and biking.
We are looking for Loop commuters and residents who use the corridor regularly and can provide feedback on their experience. Activities may include sharing their stories with our members and supporters, speaking with a reporter about transportation in the Loop or signing on to a letter of support.
Images courtesy of the CTA.