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!!!