Friday, March 30, 2012

Property of Englewood - Only the Strong Survives!

Now don't think I forgot about my precious blog and the folks who actually read it....There are so many initiatives, efforts, collaborations, projects, etc., happening in my beloved neighborhood, I don't know if I am going or coming sometimes...February and March has been filled with great things to report, but when you are in the thick of the action, its hard to stop and write it all up...I may have to start doing a few videos to report quickly about the good things happening in Englewood.....

As I shared in my previous post, there is such a focus on Englewood and just some great momentum around transforming the community to truly make it a Greater Englewood...Ok where do I want to start???

These past few weeks have been occupied with powerful energy, great people, idea exchanges, productive conversations filled with laughter and it’s all wrapped around HOPE & TRANSFORMATION!! Being able to think out the box to explore all these possibilities is invigorating! Since its been a while, since my last post, let me categorize all the progress that is being made...

On the Education Front
Latesha Dickerson and myself at the
Englewood Parent Empowerment Summit in January
Even with all the changes happening at CPS, the Englewood Community Action Council is still in tact and mobilizing resources and people  to help steer with the Educational Strategic Plan into ACTION...Which you all know is where I get super excited...I love the action part! We have hosted over 20 parent workshops all throughout Englewood and recently hosted a beautiful breakfast meeting catered by the students of Harper Culinary program! Oh yes Harper has a full kitchen and cafe with young chefs holding it down!! What a great experience spearheaded by my fearless co-leader Tesha Dickerson...We are oh so ready to implement many of the goals set forth in this plan so stay tuned to more great news happening this year! Here is a video where I am talking more about the work of the Englewood CAC on Ald. Pat Dowell show...

R.A.G.E News!
R.A.G.E. is moving and shaking as always and learning we are a FORCE to be reckoned with....We've been busy connecting with new residents, recruiting more members, building relationships with various elected officials, at the forefront of the Green Healthy Neighborhood Project and much more!

Photo Courtesy of LISC

R.A.G.E. Student Club Performing at
Wentworth Elementary Fade the Black History Program in February

One our youngest student club member
R.A.G.E. Student Club Members
One of our successes this year was the launch of our student club at Wentworth Elementary....This has been a great experience connecting and partnering with this school...Our goal with these students is to produce junior R.A.G.E. members who will exemplify leadership, team-building and strong character skills. These students are witty, creative and just a joy to work with...and yes R.A.G.E. makes this happens with our own resources...We even had the opportunity to plan and host Wentworth's "Fade to Black History" program which featured a Revolutionary fashion show, spoken word, and a dynamic performance from the student club, see photo above!! I am loving every bit of this experience and can't wait until Track E vacation is over so we can start back with more fun-filled activities!!

Englewood was also fortunate to have the street where Wentworth is located (69th & Sangamon) named after the comedian and Englewood native, Bernie Mac...What a proud day to be Englewoodian....If that's even a word...LOL!
Photo courtesy of Ernest Sanders GAGDC
from the Englewood Portal

Greater Englewood CDC
Another success which was an outgrowth from R.A.G.E. Economic Development Work group is the newly created Greater Englewood CDC....This CDC will be the catalyst for economic development...I know what you are thinking...Another organization?? Yes and I am proud to be one of the founding members...Through this process I am learning and understanding so much more about community development, land use, housing, economic strategies, workforce development, etc...Now things are really starting to cook! Stay tuned for more!!

In other Englewood News
There seems to a be a lot of talk of collaboration, alliances, coalitions or just a more strategic attempt in general to connect with one another with the goal to transform Englewood for the better...Which is a good thing, I just hope its not driven by funders or other hidden agendas...Many of these initiatives are focused on the elements of violence  and safety in the neighborhood...Now, don't get me wrong, I hear the stories and know that violence is definitely a hot topic in the news these days...It's sensationalized, sparks fear and will always spark an RE-ACTION from people...Folks are just getting fed up and frankly tired of trying to do this work alone in silos...This includes the Mayor's Office, Social Agencies, Churches, police, schools, residents, etc...

Then to couple that with the national news of Trayvon Martin and a recent shooting of an Rekia Boyd...Folks are on edge and have R.A.G.E. for real!! But honestly, the revolution I am seeing is more of a virtual revolution...Social Media sites are the main platforms for expression, photos, campaigns, petitions, etc...Now, its not that I do not have an opinion about these unfortunate events, but I just can't be consumed in it...The injustices will make me angry and a sense of hopelessness will soon follow...So I choose to focus on the things that EMPOWER me, CHALLENGES me to be better and ENLIGHTENS me...These things keep my spirits high, soul smiling and motivated to reach new heights!  We must be careful of the things we let consume our hearts and minds!

So to conclude, I will like to share a few upcoming Englewood events happening in the next few days...

Green Healthy Neighborhood Recap Session - Saturday, March 31st - 9am-12pm
University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration 969 E. 60th St.
This meeting will be in collaboration with the 3rd Annual Woodlawn Summit, where CMAP will host a break out session on the current status of the GHN Plan.

Englewood Town Hall Meeting - Saturday, March 31st - 11am-2pm
Imagine Englewood If - 730 W. 69th St.
Youth, community leaders, pastors, state and local officials, as well as residents are urged to create an Action Plan to combat neighborhood violence.

Englewood Community Action Council - Thursday, April 5th - 6pm-8pm
Location: TBD
Open to all Englewood Parents, Community Leaders, Educators or Students who is concerned about the education & schools in the community. Email contact Brenda Bell at 773-553-1538 or

You can also check out R.A.G.E. calendar for upcoming events here:
I thinks that's all I have for now, hope you enjoyed reading the post! Until next time, stay encouraged because we must continue to BUILD then BUILD AGAIN in order to TAKE ACTION to CREATE the life we truly desire.....