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)