Saturday, October 29, 2016

Yeah it's Personal....The Life of Mrs. Englewood

Greetings All!

When I initially created this blog I used it as a tool to document, capture, highlight and uplift so many great things that happen in the community of which I reside and serve - Englewood.  However, there are times, I used this blog to express my frustrations or even make a public statement….Well this blog entry is more of a personal reflection, a recap of recent activities and somewhat of a public announcement to my readers, supporters, friends, and foes.

I never knew how many people began seeing Englewood from a different lens or even just felt as if they know me personally after reading an entry or two….So if any of my readers are also following me on social media you probably already know it’s been a great year for my family, the community and for me personally….I will start off by saying that my daughter is off at college at Spelman, one of the best historical black colleges in the United States.  And not only is she studying at Spelman, she is a Bonner Scholar meaning her full tuition, room and board is paid for the next four years she attends! 

This scholarship is given to students who have an exemplary track record in community service.  Who would have thought that after dragging her at the tender age of 10 to community meetings, having her volunteer at events, and working closely with me with the Resident Association of Greater Englewood - That this would have paid for 4 years of college and allows her to continue to do service in the community…As my church friends would say…Won’t he do it!! I am still thanking God every day for this 200K blessing and opportunity for my daughter….When I speak to her now, she is much more reflective about her experiences in Englewood and apply many of the principles we taught her to the service work in Atlanta.  I miss her like crazy, but I know she is in fabulous hands at Spelman….Talk about favor!! God is Dope! 

So after, getting my daughter off to college knowing she is financially set, it allowed me to reflect on my next steps professionally. RAGE is soaring and continuing to grow!  Our association completed a six park tour this past summer, continues to work on issues that impact residents and recently started an Englewood Youth Civic Engagement program in partnership with Teamwork Englewood….Below are a few photos of the students! 

Our youth program started back in August with about 12 students from various high schools…Fast forward to today, I have 7 committed students all from Lindblom HS, ironically the same school where my daughter graduated from earlier this year….So in my eyes, I feel like after she left, I inherited seven, smart, dedicated young ladies who have been rocking and rolling on several initiatives and projects in Englewood…So in a sense this was the perfect timing as me and my hubby transitioned to being an “empty nesters”….

As I reflect on all the things our association has accomplished in only 5 years, I knew that RAGE growth was inevitable due to our passion and authenticity to uplift our community....As you know we pride ourselves on being stewards of assets and being able to identify individuals with remarkable talents to contribute to the work in Englewood. Being able to identify ones personal passion and connecting it to resources or people in Englewood, is one of the most rewarding tasks I do as the President of RAGE. The events are cool, changing policy is needed, but my ability to connect purpose with the intention to build Englewood is by far the best feeling in the world!  Now as much I love doing that, the reality is we still need help with our day-to-day operations, future partnerships and other programs we execute...With that being said, I am proud to announce that we are finally in a position to bring on a new staff member (pictured below) on a part-time basis....Now for real, I would have never thought back in 2010 when I co-founded RAGE that we will have a staff person and grow from 13 to over 250 members…I guess it's the same feeling of watching your child grow from a cute little 2nd grader to a worldly scholar of a prestigious school....You can't ever stunt or stop growth! And if you are not growing, you are dying....And RAGE is far from dying! 

Speaking of growth…I often times hear – 
  • Aysha how do you work a full-time job downtown and manage RAGE?
  • Are you the paid Executive Director of RAGE?
  • When are you going to go full-time with this community work and really make an impact?  

Well I am proud to say that after 16 years of working at a real estate association on the Mag Mile, I have made the decision to do what I absolutely love on a full time basis!  My desire has always been to add even more value to the work I do, make an impact and continue to lend my skills and expertise to many of the organizations who are also doing great work here in Englewood.  

I was recently accepted to the Multicultural Leadership Academy, which allows me to truly focus on my own leadership style, build with other leaders and gain knowledge so that I can continue to support rising leaders of Englewood.  

I have only scratched the surface and now I am in a position to ensure there will be collective impact made in Englewood. That way the 1% - who I define as the community activists, leaders, organizations, pastors and residents who actively do work to improve the quality of life can be given the necessary tools to take a deeper dive in comprehensive community development.  If you think there is a shortage of talent in Englewood, then you are sadly mistaken!! I am surrounded by brilliant people with a key interest in the improvement of my community....#ThisIsEnglewood! 

As many of you know, I coined the phrase, TAKE ACTION TO CREATE THE LIFE YOU TRULY DESIRE....Well, I did just that! I created the life I truly desire and even have a new fancy title - "Director of the Englewood Leadership Development Program", I know it's long so bare with me...Of course the program is not completely mapped out yet, but I have secured the resources and time that will allow me to learn, do more research and strengthen existing and future relationships.  This is not to say that I would discontinue my work with RAGE, as I am still serving as the President and working closely with our new staff person to keep our operations afloat....

However, I can now devote all my time to my true passion that includes, real estate, leadership development, arts and activism, building community wealth and continuing to re-brand our community...I know that's a lot, but believe me it is all related to creating a healthy and thriving community! So with that, you may now see more reflective blog posts about this new journey and just catch me simply smiling more due to my newfound freedom and ability to step out on faith and passion....It's risky, but I know when you align yourself with your higher self, the possibilities are endless and I am willing to take the risk! 

As I said before, this post is personal so welcome to the Life of Mrs. Englewood! Until next time, take action to create the life YOU truly desire, as I am a living testimony of that phrase.....Be Peaceful! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Five Years and Still "Growing" Strong...

Happy 2016!

I know there is a lot happening in Chicago as well as in Englewood that I can blog about for hours, however, I am going to use this blog post to share my "President's Message" from R.A.G.E. recently released five year impact report.  Typically, we post a thorough report of our accomplishments, but this year we decided to provide our supporters, members and even our naysayers an in depth look at our impact in Englewood over the years...You can download the full report here.  Below is my President's Message included in the report...

Happy reading and please remember despite the negative news reports there are many things we are proud of and celebrating in Englewood! You just need to open your eyes and recognize it! Until next time...


  As one of the original co-founders and the current President of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, it brings me great pleasure to share our five year impact report with you.  In November of 2010, a dozen residents from Englewood and West Englewood felt it was time that the individuals who live here unite and become the voice of our community, instead of letting others speak on our behalf as it relates to the issues we face.  With our aldermanic wards dividing us along senseless political boundaries, we felt it was important to align our efforts to work collectively regardless of where we lived in Greater Englewood because ultimately all of our issues are the same. 

Once we were organized, one of our first actions was hosting several political forums to address the candidates running for aldermanic offices of Greater Englewood.  These actions were rooted in civic engagement and served as empowerment tools for other residents in the community.  Needless to say, this was a strong message to our elected officials, residents and other groups who felt that Englewood residents did not have an interest or desire to take ownership of the issues facing us.
With a name like R.A.G.E., based in Englewood and speaking the word of empowerment, we have been faced with many challenges on this journey.  Our biggest challenge is the misconception of what others think about the residents of Englewood.  Most feel we are incapable of addressing and solving our own issues.  Therefore, we have had to be clear and sometimes provocative in our messaging in order to shift this narrative.  While others talk negatively about our community, we have consistently shared the greatness that we observe on a daily basis in order to change this negative perception of our community. 
Our work is essential because we understand that before any transformation can take place, we have to shift the mindset of the individuals who live here and share a sense of pride that will spark hope and value for a community that has endured decades of deprivation.  The heartbeat of our work is based in civic empowerment, owning our narrative, and social connectivity.

As we continue our efforts, our membership continues to grow; year after year, Englewood residents are being activated block by block to join forces with others who want to see Englewood rise. Our only fear of growing at such a rapid rate from 13 co-founders to 223 members today is the capacity to keep members engaged and inspired to take action. We hope this impact report will show R.A.G.E. members and Englewood residents how far we’ve come since 2010, and our efforts that are still underway.
Our hope for the future is to continue to tackle the hard issues our community faces, remain focused on why we were founded and to provide residents of Englewood empowerment tools so that they too are inspired to examine issues and take action. There is much work to be done for a real transformation in Englewood, from Economic Development, Education, Public Safety—the list goes on. However, over the last five years we know that our consistent efforts in tackling some of these issues are contributing to this transformation. As the president of this grassroots, resident-led association I am proud to have met so many individuals who share our same sentiments to see Englewood rise.  Each member has contributed to the success of R.A.G.E. by sharing their gifts and talents to address the problems here in Englewood and this is a model that should be replicated throughout Chicago.  Our work is led by passion and driven by a mission to create a community that we are proud to call home.  Our approach can be summed up in this quote from David Allen….Small things done consistently, in strategic places, create major impact.”  Our deep desire to see positive change is what will keep R.A.G.E. moving and growing for years to come.
Asiaha Butler
Co-Founder and President
Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E)