Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Englewood Manifesto Volume 1.0

I have tried to keep my composure and optimism  as I sit back and observe many of the ills that impact comprehensive community/locality development here in Englewood.  As my blog readers know, I've been volunteering in Englewood and blogging about all the GREAT things happening for the last 4 years. Believe me, it's been a rewarding, comical, learning, and sometimes draining experience.  Giving so much of yourself for the betterment of the neighborhood in which you live in can easily take a toll on someone.  It takes a toll on the folks who are actually are paid to do this work, let alone folks like me who have a day job and do this work because of my deep rooted passion to see a positive change.

My reasoning for doing this work can be viewed by some as a selfish mission....Yes, I am selfish because I want to create a space within the boundaries of my neighborhood that would be peaceful, vibrant, with a booming economy, high quality schools, police who care and neighbors who know each other on and off of their blocks....If that is a selfish mission, by all means I'll take that critique with a smile....

I wanted to create a neighborhood like this because my daughter is now 15 and I long for her to STAY in a neighborhood as an adult.  However, the problem with TRUE change in Englewood, does not stem from the poverty, crime or failing schools....It stems from a lack of true collaborative efforts that is driven by a spirit of hope, innovation, and collective action for change....The individuals and organizations that have some power or influence refuse to implement a comprehensive plan for the neighborhood...

I can't say that Englewood doesn't have a plan, because plenty of them exist....The question is who are these plans really for?  And who is driving a real plan to achieve sustainable results that supports the basic needs for a quality neighborhood? Jobs, good schools, safety, healthy food options, etc. I cannot say with utterly confidence that all of our elected officials, faith based institutions, businesses, or even us stakeholders are taking on that task....It's a pretty big one and as much as I adore the work of R.A.G.E. our capacity is limited.  Therefore, a real CALL TO ACTION for collaborative strategies is essential....When will the EGOS that kill progress be put aside? When will the community take a STAND to ensure the resources dumped in Englewood is allocated properly?  When will the residents, organizations and businesses get on the same page to transform Englewood to be the GREAT neighborhood it was destined to be? 

As you know there is plenty of GOOD things happening in Englewood, but it is a scattered approach which makes it hard to measure the impact of these efforts.  Through organizing, planning, networking, aligning resources and assets, I still struggle with the mindset of so many of our so called leaders....I would prefer to call these folks brokers not leaders...They broker deals that are NOT in the best interest of our community and find a way that ultimately benefits them personally...The classic approach that is strangling the efforts of revitalization. 

Their church will get a kick back, their 501c3 will get a few pennies, a designated TIF district will be granted, or they'll take get some undeserving meaninglessness recognition....It's sad to see how our people have completely lost the concept of collective planning and action....No one is taking an asset based approach to help redesign the landscape of Englewood.

Everyone is begging or marching for a hand out, instead of creating our own opportunities...How are you "helping" anyone and your hands are only open to receive? We should be creating our jobs that we need so bad, we should be managing our schools that we are begging to keep open, if we need a trauma center, what resources can we as a community pull together to fulfill that need?  We should be holding ALL institutions, non-profit orgs., elected officials, businesses, and residents accountable for the current state of our community....This is our mess that we need to clean up...

This year, I will be shifting my focus to strengthen community power from the bottom up....R.A.G.E. has done an outstanding job in engaging residents on the issues that impact the community and built social capital through this process. Now its time to take things up a notch with some legislative and policy action, a bigger focus on accountability, being more vocal about the entities that are standing in the way of progress....I want this Englewood Manifesto to serve as a tool to bring awareness, expose the deals being brokered, and most importantly spark some conversations around sustainable development with an emphasis on land, property, and institutional ownership for the community.  

There is no need to beg when we can demand and act accordingly.  If we want an alderman office, we need to create that space; if we want more jobs, we need to tap into to our industrial resources; if we need funding, we need to demand that the monies from our TIF districts are used for what they are design to do...

We are on the brink of a true transformation not only in Englewood but the city as a whole...The energy and emotions people expressed after the fatal shooting of Hadiya Pendleton has activated our young people and even the folks who wouldn't normally care....We just need to start weeding out the "grieve hustlers", "poverty pimps", "grant chasers", "faith scammers", or whatever name we want to call these infiltrators in our community...They are only deal brokers with an agenda to keep things as-is, stagnant....  

Either way, its time for the BS to be out in the open so they can move out of the way of PROGESS....Stay tuned for volume 2.0....This will be a continuous examination of the problem which is quite different from my solution based approach....However, if we do not truly explore the real problem of race, class, poverty, egos, economic deprivation, etc., we will never be able to achieve the real solutions we need to make our community or any other black community viable....

So are you ready to take the journey with me? I hope so....


  1. Linked you

  2. Hi. Your blog is inspiring to me. I recently put in a offer to buy a home in West Englewood. I am not a rich devrloper. I am an African American woman with kids. I'm from Texas, but I believe that we have to help ourselves and envision, then create the change we want.
    L. Campbell
    Houston, Texas

    1. Ms.Campbell,give Auburn Gresham a look. My single female neighbor bought her home for 20k.

  3. Hi Asiaha,

    I wanted to send an invitation to you, your readers, and the community to a healthy barbeque at the Eat to Live Community Garden.

    Sat June 22
    3pm - dusk [approx 6pm]
    70th Place & Princeton next to Yale Elementary School.

    Theme of the day is first day of a summer of peace, health, and learning -- food theme is healthy BBQ and salads.
    We'll work in the Garden and install an info kiosk and sign that the fraternity, Omega Psi Pha and their Friendship Foundation, has made.