Friday, December 28, 2012

Englewood on the Rise for 2013!!!

This year has been another year to celebrate and I must say Englewood has been at the forefront of many accomplishments in 2012.  As you can see from this blog, the Englewood Portal, and other outlets that are reporting great news, many fantastic things are happening in our neighborhood and I am proud that I was part of many of these successes!  

For starters, there seems to be a heighten energy filled with positivity that has been sweeping throughout Englewood...The crime is decreasing, we have our very own Rhode Scholar, our schools are improving, and there are really some cool projects in motion! 

Link to article about the Rhode Scholar from Englewood:

The Invest in Englewood Campaign being managed by the Greater Englewood CDC is in full effect and after a series of community meetings we are implementing a few action items focused on rebranding Englewood...

Now you all know that I am very excited to see the campaign get off the ground, because I want residents recognize the true value, history and beauty that lies within both Englewood and West Englewood.  One of the first steps of the campaign was creating our very own logo for Englewood.  Although there are a few Englewood logos flying around, we felt it was important to have the youth of Englewood create the logo for their own community. 

The contest allowed students of Englewood from grades 7th-12th who live or go to school in the Englewood neighborhood to submit entries. We are working to create signage, banners, yard signs, t-shirts, etc. and hope to have a symbol/logo that represent the pride, hope, and opportunities in the community.  We received over 20 entries and will announced the winners in January.  See the photo for a few of the entries:

It has been amazing to see the entries that were submitted, our youth is bursting with creativity and we as adults need to find more ways to hone in on these skills...Then used these artistic expressions to beautify our community!  This will not be the last time R.A.G.E. or the Greater Englewood CDC sponsored an art-based contest or activity...This was so much fun!

In other news....I am sure you are all aware of all the mess happening with our schools...We have a new CEO, yet again at CPS and there has been so much talk about school closings and consolidations...Side note, I wonder if we can use the same utilization guidelines to close some of the churches in Englewood...Many of these institutions are only open on Sundays and these are spaces that are completely "under-utilized"....I know this would not sit well with our fellow clergymen but it's just a thought....

Anyway back to the schools, of course any school actions raises a red flag for Englewood, as we have soooooo many schools that are considered "under-utilized"....Actually its over 60% of our schools, which makes me think Englewood may not even have any schools by 2017, if we look at CPS's track record of closings...

However, even with all the turmoil within the district, Englewood is still rising and working towards transforming our schools for the better...

Latesha Dickerson and I at the 1st Annual Englewood Empowerment Summit

The Englewood CAC which has been led by Latesha Dickerson and I, recently hosted a "lock down" educational retreat with educators, concerned citizens, parents and even students...We outlined the goals we as the community can work on implementing and hopefully the district will eventually support them...In this work, I am always turned off by the politics and egos that surfaced when we speak about the education of our future leaders....If we all want the students to succeed why is it so much adult drama that hinders this process...Anyway, I won't spend much energy complaining about the "adultism" garbage that goes on with education issues, because I think as community folks we are really becoming concerned about the state of Education, which is a great thing!

To view some of Englewood's school data or even the presentation we used at the lock down link here: 

R.A.G.E. Did It Again In 2012!!

I am always so proud to see another great year from R.A.G.E., as you know it has only been 2 years that R.A.G.E. has existed and we continue to make an impact in our neighborhood on a consistent basis...Here are only a few highlights from the year!

    Englewood Votes Campaign
    Englewood Votes in Action!

    R.A.G.E is an active partner with the “Englewood Votes” campaign where we hosted a deputy registrar training with over 20 residents who were trained to be Deputy Registrars. We participated in several voting registrations drives that register at least 100 new voters and actively made residents aware of their voting rights.

Englewood Votes Campaign
Englewood Votes in Action!

Wcoordinated and led two community clean-up days where organizations, residents and youth participated in Greater Englewood Unity/Clean Up Day and clean the 69th street corridors. Over 100 volunteers spent the day cleaning streets and vacant lots. R.A.G.E. also distributed school supplies during the fall clean-up event.
 RAGE Members Sonya Harper and Teresa Gonzalez at Greater Englewood Clean Up Day

R.A.G.E. serves 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 Railroad.

We created our first publication titled “The Englewood Call”, which is a newsletter that highlights the history and positive news from Englewood. We were proud to developed a student club at Wentworth Elementary with a focus on leadership and civic engagement in Englewood for 6th-8th grade students. We also introduced the Green Healthy Neighborhood Land Use Plan to the students at Urban Prep Englewood Campus who in turn presented recommendations for land use in Englewood.
RAGE at Urban Prep

We had a great time partnering with the Acts of Love Tour and distributed over 500 books to youth in Englewood.
RAGE Member Sonya Harper Passing Out Books to Young People

We recently partnered with several organizations like the Lupe Fiasco Foundation, IMAN, True Star Media, Black Youth Project, Ladies of Virtue, and the National Block Club University to form the Chicago Peace Movement to address violence and the negative perception of black youth in the media and Hip Hop. 

The Chicago Peace Movement launched several listening tours in Englewood and Austin High Schools where we discussed how to change the image Chicago has as being Chi-Raq.  A few weeks ago we assisted Senator Mattie Hunter with the planning and execution of a youth driven solution based town hall meeting that address these issues.
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R.A.G.E. met with the leaders of the Greater Englewood Business Group to form an alliance between residents and business owners. We submitted detailed recommendations to CMAP and the City of Chicago regarding the Green Healthy Land Use Plan that outlined focus areas around housing, retail, culture, food, green infrastructure and transportation. 

Several R.A.G.E. members continue to serve in leadership roles of the Kusanya Café and partnered with See Potential to install large documentary photos on the windows of the café. Kusanya Café is set to open in the Spring/Summer of 2013.

See Potential @Kusanya Cafe Installation Party
See Potential @Kusanya Cafe Installation Party

See Potential @Kusanya Cafe Installation Party
See Potential @Kusanya Cafe Installation Party
As you see its been a great year in Englewood and 2013 will only be better....I will continue my work and try to report as much possible so you can hear the positive news that is happening around the community....Stay tuned for more innovative projects and some more fun events happening in the neighborhood...Englewood is definitely on an upward path to GREATNESS and I will continue to TAKE ACTION to CREATE the community I truly desire~

Have a prosperous New Year!!!


        Sunday, October 14, 2012

        A Good Day in Englewood!!!

        I wanted to title this blog after a horrible story that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday, September 23rd.  

        An Example of a Good Day In Englewood!
        The title read "Ride-Along: No Murders, One Shooting Makes It A ‘Good Day' In Englewood" and was accompanied with a horrific picture of a victim of domestic violence....(See snapshot below) Really Sun-Times?  Is that the best photo you can find for a Good Day in Englewood??? As we are working diligently to rebrand Englewood, highlight positive stories in order to promote pride, we get a horrible article like this plastered on the front page...There has been tons of Good Days in Englewood that didn't have one reporter onsite to capture it....


        For instance the 3rd Annual Englewood Arts Festival hosted by the Englewood Community Cultural Planning Council took place at Hamilton Park on September 22nd where so many young hopefuls had the opportunity to experience peace, art, music, dance, and much more right in the heart of Englewood....This is what I consider a Good Day in Englewood!!

        3rd Annual Englewood Arts Festival
        Another Good Day in Englewood - Englewood Votes!
        6th Ward Ald. Sawyer with myself Aysha Butler at Englewood Votes Event
        There is an exciting new Englewood Votes! campaign which is a non partisan effort to educate the community and change the perception that the Englewood community does not vote and thereby does not count. Several organizations are working collectively to lead a political awareness campaign that seeks to register up to 5,000 new voters from Greater Englewood. Outside of registering individuals we want to stress the importance of voting in every single election, as well as the need for more community involvement from neighbors and former residents by volunteering their time, skills and resources to the neighborhood. 

        Englewood Votes recently hosted a voter's registration drive in collaboration with the 6th Ward Democratic Organization and Ald./Committeeman Roderick Sawyer. The event took place at WBEZ and was quite the success!! Over 50 people were registered and the Englewood Votes street team were determined to get these folks off the blocks, barber shops, and local taverns to get them registered!! What a fun day for RAGE and all the other organizations involved.  Check out a few pics from what I consider is another example of a Good Day in Englewood!!




        Will Helping Hands of Englewood Really Help Englewood??
        Ok moving on to a few more other things happening around Englewood...Let's start with Helping Hands of Englewood. So the mayor's office along with a few pastors and social service agencies in the community have a new strategy to combat violence...This effort is being led by Bishop Dukes of Liberation Christian Center and about 3 other faith based institutions in Englewood...

        Bishop Dukes Photo Courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times
        I attended a few meetings and can I be honest?? I am not sure where this "train" is headed...I know the goals are to stabilize the community and target the folks who are stirring up trouble but I am unable to grasp any concrete plans, timeline, objectives or measurements.  I definitely want the members of R.A.G.E. to keep a close watch on this initiative in order to truly hold our faith based institutions, social service agencies and especially our mayor accountable.  Then there is another cook county/City of Chicago collaboration coined as C.A.R.E., (Community Anti-Violence & Restoration Effort) who is hosting "town hall" meetings in various communities to again address the violence....I am sure you may have heard about these forums happening around town lately...Again, another effort that stakeholders need to be engaged in to see if these county & city efforts will truly have an impact if there is a true collaboration with community...We shall see...
        Mayor Rahm Emanuel Photo Courtesy of Tonika Johnson

        Rahm Moving to Englewood? Yeah Right!!
        Speaking of the city & our mayor Rahm, there was a recent article in the reader where it was proposed that Rahm moving to Englewood...Now, we all know that will not happen in any of our lifetimes but what I thought was interesting was Rahm's statement about Englewood residents, which read "I lifted myself up from affluence to greater affluence, so I think Englewood residents can lift themselves up." This statement is such a slap in the face to Englewood residents because we all know many of the folks in our neighborhoods are not living affluently, actually they are living quite the opposite. 

        I wish Rahm would move to Englewood, so he could get a reality check and see firsthand how the city's resources are truly allocated to the point that they become scarce on the southside once you travel pass 35th Street...I work on Michigan Ave. so I see an abundance of resources on the Mag Mile....Then I travel to my home and its like a deserted island...It really doesn't make sense.  Now the purpose of this article was really to shed light on the segregation in Chicago, but what is really segregated is the amount of effort and resources that are allocated to certain neighborhoods...We are definitely in the "colored" folks zone being in Englewood and I dare the mayor to live here for a day...Now I don't know if I would consider that a Good Day in Englewood or not...So let's move on because I don't want to speak on this topic any longer! The mere idea of this satire is pretty disgusting...

        Englewood Says No to Norfolk Southern!
        You heard me talk about it before but yes Norfolk Southern railroad is still a pain here in Englewood. Norfolk Southern recently proposed to the city to buy 104 city owned vacant lots and has been quietly purchasing land in Englewood the past 3 years. Their actions were never disclosed to the community until September 2011...Norfolk Southern aggressive tactics to grab this land for cheap is a slap in the face to the residents of Englewood! RAGE and the Englewood Railway Coalition are at the forefront of this land grab and will keep you posted. There are some other groups working towards a community benefit agreement with this billion dollar company but I wouldn't hold my breathe on waiting for Norfolk to contribute anything back to Englewood after they confiscate over 84 acres of our land...If it does happen, that would be another example of a GOOD DAY IN ENGLEWOOD...But until then we say NO to Norfolk and any other outside group taking advantage of our neighborhood for their own private interest and benefit....Keep a close watch of these developments...This is far from over...

        Public Notice from Norfolk Southern to purchase 110 city owned lots
        Even with the challenges we face here, there are still many great examples of Good Days in Englewood and the it does not depend on if someone was shot or killed in the neighborhood as the Sun-Times pointed out...Its much more than that....It's the visit to the one of the top performing high schools in the city to talk about how students are working to give back to Englewood, its the RAGE village meetings where stakeholders of all walks of life are able to discuss community issues and solutions, its the Greater Englewood Garden Association potlucks and tours, its the health fairs, the plays, the film festivals and so much more...

        Check out this video from the residents of 66th & Sangamon....

        R.A.G.E. at Lindblom - A Good Day in Englewood

        For example the Greater Englewood CDC alongside RAGE is working around the clock on REBRANDING strategies for Englewood and even recently was in a contest to not only make residents aware of our efforts but also our neighboring communities that are often blindsided by the negative reports about Englewood.

        Click the link to learn more about our idea that was submitted:

        The deadline for folks to vote was Oct. 11th and we ended up being in 7th place. However, the fact that we remain in the top ten ranking out of 100 ideas that were submitted was a victory within itself! Sounds like another Good Day in Englewood to me!!

        We are still working on developing signage, billboards, tours, and proudly wearing our "I AM ENGLEWOOD" wristbands! So regardless of what is reported please know that there is a strong movement to change this perception and we are very excited to celebrate more Good Days in Englewood! If you want to learn more about the community wide campaign of Invest In Englewood where we hope to REBRAND. REBUILD. REVITALIZE Englewood link here for details and get involved!

        Here are a few more events that will be GREAT examples of Good Days in Englewood:

        • Rebranding Englewood Meeting hosted by the Greater Englewood CDC on Oct. 13th
        • The Year End Celebration of the Englewood Neighborhood Recovery Initiative Event Oct. 19th
        • The Englewood Film Festival scheduled for Oct. 25th-Oct.28th -- Check out this promo video featuring fellow R.A.G.E. member Rashanah Baldwin

        • Make a Difference Day hosted by Imagine Englewood If on Saturday, Oct. 27th
        You can always find many of these positive stories and events posted on the Englewood Portal! Check them out today and also post your positive stories and events from Englewood!

        Students of Wentworth Elementary participating in Clean Up Day

        As I close this entry out, I just want to say to all my readers to keep watch of real Good Days in Englewood and don't believe that only horrible things happen in my neighborhood...This is so untrue...

        If you follow this blog, check the RAGE website, or the Englewood Portal you will be amazed of all the Good that happens here...We just have to do our own reporting which R.A.G.E. and others are committed to do....(Side note check out our first issue of the The Englewood Call a publication produced by R.A.G.E.)

        R.A.G.E. Members at Kusanya Cafe on Clean Up Day
        So if you love Englewood the way me and so many others love Englewood...Start to TAKE ACTION to CREATE the neighborhood you truly desire because it would take the work of residents, business owners and other key stakeholders to truly transform our community...


        Until next time, stay PEACEFUL!!


        Friday, August 31, 2012


        Greetings All!

        Please don't mistake my hiatus from my blog as a sign that there is nothing GREAT to report in Englewood...There is so mnay GREAT things happening, that I am tempted to enlist a team of bloggers to help me share some of the wonderful and remarkable news...Although you may have heard all the negative reports from the media...I am here to tell you that this summer has been filled with so many opportunities for growth and transformation....I don't even know where to start....

        Well, since its the end of August and many of the schools in Englewood are on the track E schedule, I supposed I can start with Education...As you know, I serve as the co-chair of the Englewood Community Action Council which are advocates for educational improvement throughout Greater Englewood. Even in the summer, we've been busy meeting and brainstorming the best way to implement our Educational Strategic Plan...Yep, despite all the drama happening with CTU and CPS, we are still hard at work to assure that this plan serves as a blueprint for better educational options in the neighborhood...

        Looking at the data for our schools we need all hands on deck to promote high quality education for our future leaders...Although I am proud my daughter is attending one of the best selective enrollment school in the city, I am also saddened that Lindblom is the only school in Greater Englewood that is categorized as a "Level 1", which means performing very well...

        We as a community of parents and educators have to do better job for our young people...We can't keep allowing them to enter these institutions to waste their talents and time...Even as I write this, there are news report indicating a strike from the teachers is set to start September 10th...So as you can see this educational saga continues...One way you can be more involved in these types of dialogues is to join the Englewood CAC meetings that take place every 1st Thursday of the month at Robeson H.S. located at 6845 S. Normal Blvd. at 6pm....We have to stop complaining and actually share our gifts to help our young people succeed....Isn't that the ultimate goal??

        Miles Davis Academy - West Englewood

        Speaking of supporting and loving young people...I had the honor to meet a bright, ambitious young man by the name of William Hall who is the co-founder of Acts of Love...He launched the Love Young People tour in partnership with RAGE a few weeks ago..This was such a joyous occasion where over 20 volunteers talked to the adults on the block and asked would they make a pledge to love young people, then we gave them books to pass along as well as put these books in the hands of these hopeful students! 

        We distributed over 500 books on the blocks of Peoria, Sangamon and Green and these young people were amazed and oh so excited to add these to their libraries!  Even through the rain, RAGE members and other volunteers went door-to-door to make sure every home was touched by these Acts of Love!!  Now this is true dedication! Check out the photos and link for more info about this campaign.

        RAGE members with William Hall founder of Acts of Love

        RAGE member, Sonya Harper excited to show young people love!
        Young people picking out the books they want!
        I am also proud to announce the launch of R.A.G.E. bi-monthly publication, "The Englewood Call"....This publication is written by residents for residents...Check out our first issue...It's the Back to School edition and one featured story discussed the long history of the Englewood Back to School Parade and why it was cancelled in 2012...Very interesting read...If you would to contribute a story please email RAGE at 
        Englewood Back to School Parade in the 70's

        Another GREAT milestone was the launch of the Invest in Englewood campaign managed by the Greater Englewood CDC, whom hosted a fundraiser August 3rd at Sikia Restaurant on the KKC campus. The event sparked such grat hope and aspirations for the future of what Englewood can become...We all left that event feeling proud to wear our wristbands that stated....I AM ENGLEWOOD!!

        Check out the photos below from the event:

        Board Member John Gholar and Ald. Cochran of the 20th Ward

        Board Member Corrinn Cobb

        Board Members, Cherice Price, Asiaha (Aysha) Butler and Board President Eric B. McLoyd

        RAGE Members enjoying the evening....

        The mission of the Greater Englewood CDC is to REBRAND, REBUILD, REVITALIZE Englewood and I must say after this event we are definitely on our way...There is a follow-up meeting to discuss techniques on how we can start with the REBRANDING of Englewood collectively. The meeting will be held Saturday, September 8th at US Bank located at 815 W. 63rd St, 4th Fl. All stakeholders of Englewood are invited to be a part of this important dialogue...I can't wait to get going on this community wide effort! I am so tired of the media coverage and my reasoning for writng a blog was to offer another truth, show a different perspective...but to work with others who also want to help REBRAND Englewood is even more powerful!! We were also fortunate enough to appear on the Dr. Carol Adams show on WVON, to talk more about the efforts of RAGE and the Greater Englewood CDC...

        I long for the day that the whole community stand proud together and proclaim...I AM ENGLEWOOD!!! For more info about this exciting campaign link here:

        So as you can see summertime in Englewood has been the home to a number of peaceful back to school events, neighborhood clean-ups, more collaborative projects amongst organizations that are truly focused on transforming the community for the better.   I believe a true renaissance is slowly approaching and my association RAGE along with the efforts of other organizations like Imagine Englewood IF, Safety Network, Growing Homes, Teamwork Englewood, the Greater Englewood CDC and a host of others, we will be right at the forefront of these dramatic CHANGES...

        As you can see there is lot happening and I am trying my best to keep up with all this stuff...But as I said before, I wanted to be a part of an Englewood enterprise/empire that primary focus is transforming Englewood for the better...So I am excited, hopeful and diving as deep as I can to see many of these positive initiatives come to life...As I always say...We have to TAKE ACTION to CREATE the BLOCK, NEIGHBORHOOD, AND LIFE we truly desire!!

        Until next your mind that CHANGE is already here...we just have to step back and recognize it!

        Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

        Ay-Sha Butler~