Monday, May 28, 2012

The Other Truth about Englewood...The Stuff You Won't Get in the News!!!

Happy Memorial Day All!!

I am back and ready to share!! In the last couple of months, I have been given the opportunity to provide another TRUTH about Englewood, using various means of communication...As you all know I experience that other TRUTH quite often through the work I do here...But lately others are very interested in hearing and reporting that other TRUTH, which is exactly why I created this blog....My agenda has never changed...I enjoy too many positive, impactful experiences in Englewood, that I can't hold back...Some may even say...This "Mrs. Englewood" is always talking about this damn neighborhood....Yep and they right...I have a HEALTHY obsession with transforming my community for the better....

Photo courtesy of Cyrus Dowlatshahi

I want the other TRUTH about Englewood to become the topic of conversation instead of the Jennifer Hudson trial or the crime that occurs...That is such an one dimensional view of what's happening here..So you may be asking what is this other TRUTH that I speak about...Well, it's the energy of the great people who live here, their spirits, drive, and commitment to live this other TRUTH that I am referring to...

For example on April 21st, I was able to see this other TRUTH from over 100 volunteers who participated in Greater Englewood Unity Day, which was outgrowth of the city's Clean and Green Day.  We started as early as 7:30am then ended the cleaning with a celebration at 2pm. Students from Wentworth, Urban Prep and other Englewood schools were amongst the volunteers who cleaned that day...Greater Englewood Unity Day came out of a January summit hosted by the Adler School of Psychology and Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter, at which Englewood community organizations came together to discuss and examine a solutions-based action plan to strengthen the struggling community’s economic development, improve education opportunities and lower crime. This alliance is in the formation stages and will focus on the beautification of our neighborhood....Check out these photos and the short video about unity day....What a fun-filled day of pride and service in Englewood!!!

Folks can say what they want about my association RAGE but no one can deny our commitment to transform Englewood for the better....With community clean-ups, student clubs and our support for other organizations who are truly trying to make a difference...we will continue to be the CHANGE AGENTS of ENGLEWOOD....Some of these groups we've connected with include the PEACE Center, Imagine Englewood IF, National Block Club University, and many more....Over these last few weeks we have had the opportunity to attend some phenomenal spoken word events, youth forums and even a comedy jam at PEACE Center.....
PEACE Center Comedy Jam - 6455 S. Peoria photo courtesy of Cyrus Dowlatshahi 

Chief of Staff of 6th Ward, Brian Sleet, myself and Jimi Orange Director of Community Prevention Services
at Imagine Englewood If, Youth Forum

PEACE Center Comedy Jam - 6455 S. Peoria
How fun was that??? A comedy show, blocks away from my home....I love it!! Now the reality is, even with so many great groups or organizations out here, we can never reach the demand of offering cultural activities for our youth or the adults for that matter...So to have frequent and multiple events throughout Englewood is what I love and support because this will make the greatest impact....

Myself with a legendary poet and activist at Peace Center, Evelyn Johnson

In RAGE world

We are sad but also excited to wrapped up our student club at DS Wentworth Elementary and let me tell you, this has been such a rewarding experience!! Our student club members experienced so much in such a short amount of time and with our own FUNDING....Our Education/Youth workgroup was able to developed and host the "Fade to Black" History Program for the entire school and their families. We assist the students in creating and performing their own song during the Black History program.

Aquea Wynn of Chicago Commons facilitated a great presentation on bullying and RAGE members conducted a workshop on public speaking and video interviewing techniques.

Over 23 students from DS Wentworth attended Raw Voices, an interactive event at Columbia College where they were able to create audio and video PSAs, some made their own beats, youtube, blog and songs!

You can actually listen to a sample of their songs here:

Our club members were given an opportunity to be leaders and create their own expectations for the club, evaluate their school and community. These students actively participated in Greater Englewood Unity Day where they cleaned and connect with others students and residents in Englewood. Now you can't tell me this isn't progress! See photos above....

Check out the video below of our students learning video interviewing techniques....Gotta love them!

As a side note, I honestly feel all Chicagoans should take a keen interest in transforming ENGLEWOOD especially our mayor, if he can transform Englewood, that would be one of his toughest yet GREATEST contributions to this city....

Be prepare to hear more about how you...yes you can help transform Englewood with the launch of "INVEST IN ENGLEWOOD"...The newly created Greater Englewood CDC will be launching this campaign this summer which will give EVERYONE an opportunity to INVEST IN ENGLEWOOD....This can mean investing your time, sharing your gifts, mentoring a child, volunteering at an organization, or pulling some funds together to revitalize ENGLEWOOD....So I hope you will support this effort and find how you can be a part of this other TRUTH!!

So yes I love telling these stories to all who will listen...I was fortunate enough to be featured as a keynote speaker on May 11th to tell an audience of students, faculty, youth and community groups about RAGE and our accomplisments at the Irwin Steans Center of Depaul University, recently presented to a senior class at Team Englewood, who may be launching the "Englewood Needs an Alderman Office Campaign" soon... I was also featured in the Chicago Citizens newspaper with the title...."I AM ENGLEWOOD", had a fun time filming with the infamous reporter Marc Sims....Who is hardly afraid to speak the truth about the ills in our community...You can check out the footage here:

I think I will stop writing for now....But the ACTION will continue on....We have to see the other TRUTH, another perspective, a different angle of this GREAT neighborhood and I will continue to be a catalyst that will expose this other TRUTH...So as always TAKE ACTION to CREATE the life, community, or block you truly desire!!!

Ay-sha Butler aka Mrs. Englewood~