Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Day I Married Englewood....

I know what you are thinking....What does she mean she married Englewood??? Is this woman just utterly obsessed with this neighborhood to the point she feels like she is married to it...And who in the hell would want to marry Englewood? Well, my nickname is "Mrs. Englewood", so some sort of nuptials had to take place....Right?  

Well, there are a few instances in my life, that I honestly feel like I entered in a marriage with Englewood, but for the purposes of this post, I will start with me buying my first piece of property on 66th & Union...Yep a Marriage on Union Street? How fitting right? 

Well, because buying a home is sometimes a 30-year commitment, with many ups and downs like most marriages this was definitely a time that nuptials were in order....And to make sure that I celebrated my union in style, my husband and a few friends from the block (67th & May) decided to host the "Welcome to Englewood BBQ" which took place for 6 years right here on Union. This became one of the largest BBQs to happen in Englewood....Each year of this marriage, we celebrated our anniversary in the summer, with over 300 guests from all over Chicago and a few out-of-towners who graced our backyard....We had the performers, DJs, dancing, food, drinks and more! Oh how I miss these events....

Welcome to Englewood BBQ

Welcome to Englewood BBQ - That's my Pops too!

Now fast forward to today....I've been able to use my marketing, hosting, organizing and event planning skills from our BBQs to host Docs & Dialogue (a youth film series) that started in 2010, which is a part of our "So Fresh Saturdays" series RAGE hosted in the parks last year! 

So Fresh Saturdays at Ogden Park

Charles "Cheap Charlie" Hoffman
These events served as a great tool to organize and engage residents, promote peace and encourage creativity from our young people!  We are looking forward to kicking this off again this summer....Ok back to the marriage....As you can see it is important that I take the time to not only express and share the positive things in Englewood, but to also give my readers an idea as to why Englewood is so dear to me, so much so that I use the name Mrs. Englewood...I once heard in the "community" rumor mill that I was not connected to Englewood, that I was basically a "plant" sent here by some outsiders and started RAGE....This is hilarious to me and so far from the truth! First off, my grandfather was one of the first blacks on his block on 67th & Aberdeen and was also a known business owner of a store call Cheap Charlies on 69th & Hermitage....
Cheap Charlies - My Grandfather store in the 80s....
I attended over 3 Catholic elementary schools in Englewood before they were shut down by the archdioceses and walked these Englewood streets from school to my grandparents house during the week....

St. Brendan's School - 67th & Elizabeth

My mom and dad actually met on 63rd & Halsted and my dad's side of the family grew up on 60th & Peoria....Are you seeing the dots connecting now....

So having the name "Mrs. Englewood" is fitting....But let me go further....When I was 17, I moved from my mom's house in New City (Some call this area North Englewood) and came back to 67th & Aberdeen. I met my husband on this same block in 96' and stayed there until our daughter was 2....Then in 2002 we purchase our first home on 66th & Union....I even used the name "Mrs. Englewood" on my Myspace page which everyone knows is over a decade old....
6750 S. Aberdeen - My Grandparents House and my spot!
The Butlers' - 1996 Circa
So there has been numerous times in my life where I felt I married or remarried my neighborhood! As a child going to school; as a young adult living on my own; when I met my husband; when I purchased properties; when I got married; and the moment when I decided to get involved with my community....And just like all marriages, there are times when you want to pull out, give up, and get a divorce when things get hectic....But folks like myself who truly believe in these vows navigate through challenges, overcome barriers, and always find a work around that will strengthen the relationship....That is where I am now....

As a community leader and strategists I am hated by few and loved by so many and that is what keeps me moving with this incredible SUPER energy to see my neighborhood the way I used to see it when I was a child...A place where I knew I couldn't act up in front of my neighbors or they will grab a switch...

My Grandma - Rebecca "Mudear" Lias and me!

I knew the local business owners and employees because they were from the blocks! Everyone was aware of the activists on the ground and they was known and loved by the residents not challenged like we are today! 

This is my destiny, I love being married to Englewood and will continue to share my journey with whomever will listen! Even my naysayers will always be WELCOMED to the table as I need the critiques to help me improve and grow!

Now you know a little of the history of my nickname and why I will be married to Englewood until the day I die!

Until next time, TAKE ACTION to CREATE the life you truly desire!


Mrs. Englewood - The Proud Wife of the Englewood Community!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Yep - R.A.G.E. is Still Here!! Check out the Year in Review!

As the President and Co-Founder of R.A.G.E., it is only right to repost our 2013 Year in Review! Check it out and stay tuned for bigger and better things in 2014!  Happy New Year!!

R.A.G.E Accomplishments for 2013
Civic Engagement
  • We hosted 6 successful village meetings throughout the Englewood community. We also brought in representatives from Whole Foods to address any concerns or questions from Englewood residents regarding the new development.
  • R.A.G.E. successfully hosted 4 Nights Out in the Park events at Lindblom, Ogden, Hamilton and Sherwood Park.  This edu-tainment series highlighted the talent in Englewood and also informed residents about issues that impact our neighborhood.  We are proud to say we were able to keep the spirit of the Back to School Parade alive with our finale at Ogden Park and distributed over 1000 fully packed book bags to students and families of Englewood!
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  • R.A.G.E mobilized community members to survey neighbors in order to collect information from 60 interested parties  who are interest in the Green Healthy Neighborhood Large Lot Program. A program that will allow residents to purchase city-owned lots for $1 on their blocks. This program is set to roll out in 2014. 
  • We organized several residents from the community to participate in the Mycelia Project a photovoice project documenting and speaking about the spaces in Englewood.
  • R.A.G.E. coordinated and led the 2nd Annual Englewood Unity community clean-up day where organizations, residents and youth participated in cleaning the 69th street corridors. Over 100 volunteers spent the day cleaning streets and vacant lots.
  • In collaboration with CivicLab, RAGE  hosted a comprehensive Tax Increment Financing (TIF) workshop examining the Englewood Neighborhood TIF and educating residents on the important of understanding how TIF districts operate in Englewood.
  • R.A.G.E. continue to serve as technical support for the residents of the Englewood Railway Coalition who are residents being displaced and in opposition to the aggressive land grabbing and abuse of eminent domain policy by Norfolk Southern and worked closely with Sustainable Englewood around environmental issues related to the expansion.
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  • R.A.G.E. took our newsletter - Englewood Call to the airwaves! We launched our first call-in weekly CANTV show and delivered relevant and positive news that impact residents in Englewood.
  • R.A.G.E. partnered with the Institute of Design of IIT and created several ways to engage community and capture their stories and perspectives, by way of chalk boards on sidewalks, books in barbershops, laundry mats, etc. We also hosted a Design to Engage Workshop with community residents and leaders.
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Education and Youth Development
  • Partnered with the Acts of Love Tour again and distributed over 1000 books to youth in Englewood as well as identified an Englewood resident to have a full stocked library built!!
  • Assisted the Englewood CAC in the organizing the 2nd Annual Englewood Education Empower Summit held at Team Englewood H.S. With our partnership with IIT Institute of Design we were able to capture  authentic responses from students, educators and parents from Englewood!
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  • Worked closely with the Lupe Fiasco Foundation and facilitated several organizing session for the youth of Project Orange Tree and incorporated this movement in Englewood.
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  • We consistently employed 3 youth interns to inform and engage residents about RAGE and Englewood news.1471916_739466779400370_721608100_n
  • R.A.G.E. was able to get up to 5 youth summer jobs this year in the field of coding, social media and community work.
  • R.A.G.E. President served as a the keynote speaker and members hosted several youth workshops at Northern Illinois University, students were bused in from Chicago and DeKalb, IL. 
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  • R.A.G.E. hosted several youth workshops in the City of Chicago that discussed youth identity, hip hop, violence and more.
  • R.A.G.E. recently partnered with Urban Prep to help the freshman class work on a community driven project that included the re-usage of vacant lots.
  • R.A.G.E. presented several times at Lindblom H.S. about the importance of Englewood history and culture.
Economic Development
  • R.A.G.E. members continue to serve in leadership roles of the Kusanya CafĂ© and the cafe finally opened for business in November 2013.
  • R.A.G.E. continue to highlight and support small businesses like Powell's Barbershop, Culture Connection, Deli King and hosted meetings at these spaces.
  • R.A.G.E. members are leading a newly formed steering committee that will serve as an oversight council for the Whole Foods Development and other development on 63rd & Halsted and beyond.
Earns Whole Foods
  • R.A.G.E. has been at the forefront of the school closings and was the first group to recommend how these schools can be repurpose to village hubs that will spark economic vitality.  This project is still moving forward into 2014.
This is just a snapshot of our accomplishments, we hope to do more in 2014 with your help....Please consider joining our association or simply donating today: