It’s been a fast ride for Slow Roll Chicago, one of the newest bicycling groups in the city. After a few successful events, the group's final ride in 2014 is planned for this weekend.
The ride, called "Mending Broken Fences," is in partnership with the Chicago Police Department's 11th District office, and its aim fits Slow Roll's goal of improving communities and reducing violence by way of riding bikes.
"We ride to utilize the activity of bicycling as a tool to strengthen neighborhoods, connect neighbors and transform communities," the Slow Roll newsletter stated. "This bicycle ride is an important step towards improving the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the community. It will be a tremendous effort in creating a relationship between the community and CPD that is built on trust and familiarity, where there is an active collaborative effort focused on making our neighborhoods safer and more liveable."
The ride will begin at noon this Saturday, Nov. 15 at the 11th District CAPS Office, 3151 W. Harrison St., in Chicago. A meet-and-greet with refreshments will precede the ride at 11 a.m., and there will be a pizza party and youth recognition event following the ride.
The route will take riders from the West Side to the Museum Campus and Northerly Island, then back to the 11th District office.
Slow Roll Chicago is a community-based organization uses bicycling to connect a diverse group of people and improve communities through local bike rides and related programs.
Group members say the goals of the ride are to celebrate history and community and to encourage people to be active and explore their communities.
Slow Roll continues to grow, and Chicago chapter co-founders Olatunji Oboi Reed and Jamal Julien recently spoke with Streetsblog about their mission. Read the full Q&A here. In a recent DNA Info interview with Reed, he said, "We want to use bicycles as a mechanism to improve our communities."
In the cycling community, a ghost bike is a roadside memorial for people who were hit and killed while riding bikes.
Serving as a somber reminder of the bicyclists we've lost, the ghost bike movement has gained lots of traction and helped raise awareness. Now, it's the namesake of a play that will be performed at Whitney Young Magnet High School this month.
Written by Chicago playwright Laura Jacqmin, "Ghost Bike" follows the story of two young people in love, and what happens after one is hit by a car and killed while riding his bike, according to Jacqmin's website:
Ora and Eddie fell in love with Chicago on their bikes. But when Eddie is hit by a car and killed, Ora refuses to let him go. Instead, she rides beneath our city to bring him back, facing off against underworld gods and ghosts – some interested in helping her, some determined to get in her way. The more difficult her journey becomes, the more Ora must question what it is she’s journeying towards. Chicago culture skitches off of Greek, African, and Chinese mythology, sparking a spirited mash-up of underworld and after-life as seen from the seats of fixies, BMX’s and ten-speeds.
"Ghost Bike" has been produced only a few times, with its professional world premiere at Buzz22 in Chicago earlier this year. The Young Company, Whitney Young's extracurricular drama program, is excited to be sharing this story with the community.
Tickets are $8 for all ages and available at the doors of The Young Company, 1431 W. Jackson Blvd. in Chicago. Performances are at 7 p.m. Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 21-22, and at 5 p.m. Nov. 20.
Photo courtesy of Laura Jacqmin features an earlier production of the play.
Are they symptoms of our “two Chicagos” problem… or promising keys to a solution?
Martin Nesbitt, chair of the Barack Obama Foundation, said the original solicitation of bids for the Obama Presidential Library required neighborhood involvement. The Foundation has several Chicago sites on its “short list” – on the South Side near the University of Chicago and on the West Side near the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Photos by Gordon Walek
Chicago always has big projects on tap, and it seems there are more than ever now. Can thoughtful planning ensure that both the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Barack Obama Presidential Library will rise solidly in the latter category? And are there lessons for community engagement in big plans currently being floated for several other neighborhoods on the Far South Side?
They are the timely questions for a necessary civic conversation, and they were explored at a recent panel discussion, “Make Big Plans,” sponsored by LISC Chicago.
“Big projects such as these offer creativity and hope,” said Susana Vasquez in welcoming about 70 real estate executives, funders and community development leaders to the October 23 event, held at the University Club of Chicago. “But we also believe they can be leveraged to benefit the city and, importantly, our hardest-hit neighborhoods.”
“Ultimately it’s all about engagement,” said Kurt Summers, Jr., the recently appointed acting city treasurer, regarding the importance of involving neighborhoods before proceeding with major projects.
One essential way to do that, said LISC Chicago’s executive director, is by engaging neighborhood residents early-on in the planning process, not unlike the way LISC involves local stakeholders in planning the future of their own neighborhoods. Vasquez is co-chairing the recently formed Friends of Lucas Museum group.
And in fact, panelists representing the Lucas Museum and Obama Library were quick to point out their site search committees have had neighborhoods in mind.
“His library will be a place where he can bring the world, where the local community will benefit from his international influence,” said Martin Nesbitt, chair of the Barack Obama Foundation. The Foundation has several Chicago sites on its “short list” – on the South Side near the University of Chicago and on the West Side near the University of Illinois-Chicago (another is near Columbia University in New York City). The Foundation’s original solicitation of bids, Nesbitt said, required neighborhood involvement.
But it was Kurt Summers, Jr., who co-chairs Friends of Lucas Museum with Vasquez, who came closest to identifying what is likely the key to winning community support.
For years, Claretian Associates' Jackie Samuel has been engaging South Chicago residents on everything from crime and safety issues, to arts, to large scale development such as the impending Lakeside project on the site of the old U.S. Steel plant. Bottom line: "It's difficult."
“Ultimately it’s all about engagement,” said Summers, former chief-of-staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and recently appointed acting city treasurer by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “If the community is engaged, if the community feels invested, if the community feels ownership … the more of that that happens on the front end, the less [that opposition] will hold things up on the back.”
“If you have commitment to community in a real way, frankly, you’ve got nothing to worry about,” said Summers of his committee’s search for the Lucas Museum, which is now planned for the space that currently is a parking lot between Soldier Field and McCormick Place.
As director of LISC’s New Communities effort with Claretian Associates in South Chicago, panelist Jackie Samuel explained how grassroots folk get engaged in big projects. She’s been helping negotiate with McCaffery Interests on plans for converting the old South Works steel mill site into a billion dollar mixed-use mega-development.
David Doig, of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, discussed efforts to have the federal government designate the landmark Pullman District as a National Historic Park.
“It’s difficult,” Samuel said. “when you’re working with a community that’s low-income, with people trying to figure out how they’re going to put food on the table and a roof over their head. How are you going to get this population engaged?”
Guided by a grassroots and LISC-supported quality-of-life plan heavy on local arts projects, she explained, Claretians helped organize “pollution-to-solution” tours of the neighborhood, helped build a bicycle racing track and helped convert the old South Works credit union into a marketing center for new development.
Another South Side project, the effort to have the federal government designate the landmark Pullman District as a National Historic Park, was outlined by audience member David Doig. He is head of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a community development organization that works South and West sides.
“This is very much a community-planned effort,” Doig told the gathering, “with dozens of community meetings, culminating a month ago with one where we had over 500 people. And there’s a website.”
When realized, Doig predicted, the park would draw 300,000 annual visitors and generate $40 million in economic output.
“The strength of Chicago,” said Rich Sciortino, a member of LISC Chicago's boad of advisors, “is directly tied to the health of its neighborhoods, but many are struggling and need help.” At right is Bruce Martin of JPMorgan Chase.
After a Q&A session with the audience, LISC Advisory Board Chair Lori Healey introduced Rich Sciortino, founding co-CEO of Brinshore Development. He explained how LISC helps neighborhoods by connecting them to the resources they need to take advantage of opportunities that surround them.
“The strength of Chicago,” he said, “is directly tied to the health of its neighborhoods, but many are struggling and need help.”
Referring to LISC’s capital Campaign for Neighborhoods, Sciortino urged the attendees to “support Chicago by supporting its neighborhoods through the organization and platform that is LISC.”
After the event, Robert Mathes, president of Linn-Mathes Construction, perhaps spoke for many by acknowledging that, when it comes to linking big projects with struggling neighborhoods, “the intent is there, and that’s three-quarters of it.”
“There are a million ways to do it, hiring locally for instance,” Mathes concluded. “It’s a matter of follow-through.”
Calling all trail riders!
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) is holding its 2015 budget hearing on November 18, and we need enthusiastic trail users to make the case for more safe, convenient and accessible trails.
FPDCC is gearing up for the North Branch Trail Southern Extension, which will extend the popular trail from Devon & Caldwell to Foster & Kostner. While support for this project is high, there has been some criticism from local residents who are pushing for a less safe on-street route.
This meeting is a chance for the cycling community to further demonstrate our support for the project and explain why the project is essential for the neighborhood and the greater region.
Here are some important facts to keep in mind about bike trails:
- Off-street paths encourage more people to ride bikes, which results in cleaner air and an overall healthier environment.
- In areas where trails have been built, crime has decreased or remained the same, according the Rails to Trails Conservancy
- Cycling is a healthy and fun activity. It improves levels of well-being, self-confidence, and tolerance to stress.
- Lastly, investment in trails can lead to higher property values. For example, a house located within a one-half mile of the Monon Bike Trail in Indianapolis is worth on average 11 percent more than an identical house farther from the trail, according to People for Bikes and the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
These future trail improvements are necessary in keeping Chicagoland one of the most bike friendly places in the country. Come out and show your support for safe trails!
What: FPDCC 2015 Budget Hearing
Where: County Board Room (118 N. Clark, Room 567)
When: 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18
Register Here. See you there!
This blog post was written by Sydney Prusak, Active Trans' advocacy intern.
East Village Association board minutes for Aug. 11, 2014, submitted by Catherine Garypie
Property purchases, architect discussions, permit applications: All happen very fast ... faster than neighborhood associations can keep up.
Steven Vance, a programmer and Streetsblog Chicago blogger, developed a database of construction activity at licensedchicagocontractors.com. Vance gave a presentation with Daniel Ronan, program coordinator at the National Public Housing Museum, and Ryan Lakes, an architect at Solomon Cordwell Buenz.
The database includes building violations and permits. The idea is to give more power to residents. The site's adding Special Service Area boundaries, and may track Tax Increment Financing dollars spent.
EVA boundaries have been added to the database. A subscription service provides weekly e-mails and allows tracking of an individual company (developer, owner, expediter, etc.)
Update: The site is now chicagocityscape.com. Discussion at this meeting led to a new feature: When you click on a place like the East Village page, you'll see a small link under the heading that says, "List all addresses and historic resources." This shows every address in the boundary, based on Cook County property tax billing information, and whether or not it's orange or red rated.
Chicago's updating its building database. The hope is that city will place application in the data portal as soon as it is accepted, not only when the application is approved.
When a developer submits an application, they come in with a new company, usually named after the address of the development. That makes it difficult to track what developers are doing. It may be possible to track by tax ID.
City databases have triggers: A liquor application will trigger a notification to police, alderman, etc. Maybe that notification system can get onto the site.
The database can be filtered in different ways, such as cost or type. Lists can be printed, exported in Excel format or put on your clipboard.
Possible future feature: a teardown finder. "Recent Teardown Permits" could list a demolition permit and new construction permit issued for the same address within 180 days of each other. Multiple building violations also signal a probable teardown. Multiple police reports sometimes are indications.
Also, if floor area ratio on structure is low relative to the zoning, particularly R4 in East Village, it is likely a teardown risk. Search results could explain the risk: "Given this data, it is 60% likely that this building will be demolished in the next 2 years." This may be a complicated algorithm.
The database needs help from EVA: Zoning Board of Appeals & Planning Commission need to make agendas more accessible. Can EVA request this? More transparency is needed.
Ideas for database:
- Not sure whether a comment section be helpful. Vance may consider allowing a neighborhood association to provide additional info. Comments and notes would need to be screened. Maybe a discussion forum? Maybe search for "Demolition averted" or "upzoning denied."
- Encourage city discussion of design and development.
- Maybe making a tracking system for decision makers (like, compare aldermen, for example). Also tracking contributions to the decisionmakers from developers would be helpful (alderman).
- Maybe track electronic billboards.
- Maybe track mass property purchases by one party.
EVA would like to track what was missed in the historic building survey.PROPOSAL TO CHANGE LOCATIONS OF SEVERAL STREET FESTS
May move Renegade Craft Fair and also Fashion Fest & New Orleans Fest. Neal McKnight is concerned and will follow up.POLISH TRIANGLE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
Rehab Polish Triangle station: McKnight is working with Scott Rappe. Waiting to hear what CTA has planned.NEXT BOARD MEETING
EVA will co-sponsor 1st and 2nd Ward debates with many different neighborhood associations (CGNA, UVNA, etc). 2 debates for each ward in mid-November and January 2015.ST. BONIFACE
St. Boniface is in danger of demolition. Alderman's not returning calls, developer's not returning calls, city's not returning calls. McKnight will talk to Rappe.NEW SIGN ON CHCIAGO AVENUE
A "changing image sign" is coming to 2000 W. Chicago, above Red Apple.LIBRARY FUNDRAISER SEPT. 25, 6-9pm.
Literary Charades (teams will guess book titles) with competing teams of 4 people. We have some really good prizes already for the winners.
Food will be provided. Cash bar. Ticket to attend. Ticket price break for charade team members. Ticket prices to be set soon by fundraiser committee.STATUS OF PEABODY ELEMENTARY SALE
EVA will follow up.Meeting starts 6:42pm, adjourns 7:45pm at West Town Bakery & Diner, 1916 W. Chicago Ave. Attending: McKnight, Alcazar, Garypie, Anselmo, M. Van Dam, M. Isaacson, A. Hauser (dnaInfo reporter).