Community Involvement : 2019
Phase II of the Roosevelt High School greenhouse clean-up took place on Thursday, August 8. Committed parents, neighbors, teachers, and staff have been working tirelessly to transform this space. Check out these before and after pictures!
33RD Ward Youth Council
On Wednesday, July 24, I hosted the 33rd Ward Youth Council at 2nd Story for ‘Ripple,’ an art-making event facilitated by the Council that was centered around the effects of gun violence on our communities. When 2nd Story opened its doors in Albany Park in November 2016, we envisioned building a space that was centered around community, art, and story. As someone who has lost loved ones to gun violence, I know how essential it is to hold space with one another. This event invited guests to share their stories and paint pebbles in honor of their loved ones. These pebbles will then be included in a larger art piece that will be displayed in the 33rd Ward Alderman’s office. I was honored to support them and thankful that they gave me the chance to participate in such a powerful event. “For Tony.”
The Kedzie Center
On Wednesday, July 11, my colleague Amanda Delheimer and I were honored by The Kedzie Center with the Outstanding Community Partner Award. I believe that the key to building strong communities is to build strong partnerships across many sectors. The Kedzie Center, a mental health facility serving the North River area, may seem like an unlikely partner to 2nd Story. However, together we are committed to making lasting change in our community.
On Saturday, June 29, I joined the West River Park Neighbors in another one of our summer annual clean-ups. These clean-ups are one important way that neighbors can connect with one another and improve their community. Plus, with the forecast calling for heavy rain, it was an important day to clear out some sewer drains.
A thriving community creates meaningful intersections and partnerships among its different sectors. One of the reasons that I love the Spring Spirits and the 2018 Spirits Week events, which are hosted by the Friends of Roosevelt High School, is that they support education while supporting economic development. This May, we raised over $400 for the Friends of Roosevelt High School through this unique event.
It was a beautiful week filled with so much art. On Sunday, May 19, I attended the annual, and not-to-be-missed, Ravenswood Manor Garage Sale and walked away with some great art. Then it was onto Roosevelt High School on Wednesday, May 22, for the mural dedication of new graffiti art on the campus. The next day, I chaperoned a field trip to the Elmhurst Art Museum with Roosevelt High School art students, and later that day, I attended the annual play at Albany Park Multicultural Academy. Part of loving a community is showing up for a community.
As part of her transition, Mayor Lori Lightfoot assembled a team of over 400 Chicago leaders who sat on 10 different committees. It was a privilege to join and serve on the Arts and Culture Transition Committee. On Friday, May 17, I was able to hear presentations from the other nine committees. It was a bright day for the city of Chicago, but there is a lot of work to be done.
May 2019 Lawrence Hall
Since June 2018, I have been working with Lawrence Hall’s Francisco Campus on several partnership initiatives. Through 2nd Story, I developed an after-school program for their residential students. Once a week every week, students come to 2nd Story to develop their own original fiction and non-fiction stories. These stories are then turned into audio recordings with original sound design. 2nd Story has also created programming for their South Shore campus as well. On Wednesday, May 15, we were honored at Lawrence Hall's Board of Trustee's Annual Meeting.
On the Table
On Tuesday, May 14, I participated in an On the Table event hosted at The Kedzie Center. This event was facilitated by The Kedzie Center and 2nd Story, and I was honored to be part of the months long planning it took to prepare for this event. Conversations for Change: What Does Racial Equity Look Like in Our Community is a new endeavor that seeks to affect meaningful impact and bring together thought leaders and stakeholders in our community. Representatives from throughout the North River area were in attendance for a morning of dialogue and action.
April 2019 WRPN
On Saturday, April 27, the West River Park Neighbors had initially organized its first neighborhood clean-up and BBQ of the season. However, due to poor weather, the event had to be moved indoors. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to strengthen community bonds, we did our first-ever “Thank You” gathering. Eight neighbors got together to write three dozen cards to community leaders, principals, and teachers to thank them for making a difference in the 33rd Ward.
On Monday, April 22, I celebrated Earth Day by attending a Cocktails and Conversation event hosted by All A-Board Alliance. The event featured a panel discussion with representatives from the Friends of the Chicago River, H20 for Life, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Sierra Club, and Wristponsible.
Chicago is home to two incredible body of waters, and most of Albany Park borders the Chicago River. It was inspiring to hear Commissioner Debra Shore share her path to service and I agree with her sentiments, “When we seek to restore our nature, we also restore our minds and spirits.” We need to continue to foster relationships with the river system, invest in job opportunities in the water sector, and turn water problems into water solutions.
April 2019 NRC Education Committee
On Tuesday, April 9, I was honored to present the priorities of the Education Committee for the 2019 calendar year. This was a particularly exciting moment, as we shared our new mission statement:
The NRC Commission Education Committee exists to support and strengthen the network of school's on Chicago's northwest side.
We do this by:
executing marketing and branding campaigns that change the narrative about our schools
building relationships between schools and local arts organizations
championing and lifting the student voice in our community
RHS JROTC Military Ball
On the evening of Friday, April 5, I attended my first-ever JROTC Military Ball. It was a great honor to have been invited by a member of Roosevelt High School’s JRTOC to attend this annual event. I found myself amazed, yet again, by the integrity and dedication exemplified by the students at Roosevelt High School.
April 2019 FRHS
On Friday, April 5, I joined members of the Friends of Roosevelt High School to execute our first-ever Roosevelt High School Clean & Green. We have been working closely with teachers and students to revitalize Roosevelt’s greenhouse as a space for both learning and recreation!
April 2019 NRC Education Committee
Always eager to champion the incredible work being accomplished by the NRC Education Committee, I created another Education Newsletter in April 2019. Click on the images below to view larger.
March 2019 Hope for THE Day
On Saturday, March 30, I participated in a four-hour suicide prevention training, hosted by Hope For The Day, to better equip myself to be a resource for the students and peers that I work with. Through my work with 2nd Story, I currently facilitate an after-school program for students from Lawrence Hall, an acute care treatment facility.
‘I Choose’ Campaign
Building off of the success of the ‘Five Fast Facts’ campaign, and through my work with the North River Commission Education committee, the ‘I Choose’ campaign officially debuted. This social media campaign highlights why teachers, parents, and students choose to support and attend neighborhood schools. On Tuesday, March 19, we began this campaign by highlighting Palmer Elementary.
March 2019 NRC Education Committee
On Thursday, March 14, the NRC Education Committee hosted a networking event for local teachers, community leaders, and arts providers at the American Indian Center Gallery. This event, which is part of a larger series of events hosted by the NRC Education Committee, seeks to build partnerships between schools and arts partners located in the North River communities. Fostering these types of partnerships is essential to a community’s ecosystem.
cpd Community Conversation
On Monday, March 11, I attended the first-ever World Cafe Community Conversation presented by the Chicago Police Department. Hosted at Roosevelt High School, participation in these types of events is critical if we want to change the way policing takes place in our community. If you want to make a difference, you have to take a seat at the table. I advocated for creative engagement strategies that reflect our community and opportunities for officer to thoughtfully engage with neighbors beyond policing.
Friends of the Chicago River
On, Saturday, March 2, I was delighted to volunteer at the 2019 Chicago River Student Congress hosted at Von Steuben Metro Science Center. This event is largely described as a “conference for kids” to celebrate the Chicago River. Students gather to share knowledge, lead workshops, and learn from professionals and governmental agencies. It was truly inspiring to see how engaged students were about the present and future conditions of the Chicago River.
On February 7, I attended the 33rd Ward Aldermanic Forum at Bateman Elementary. One of the candidates spoke about the need for our schools to be community centers.
I found this surprising because:
Roosevelt High School is a food spot in the summer months, providing lunch options for folks who otherwise wouldn't eat.
There are Friends Of groups coming together to support public schools across the ward, like Friends of Hibbard Elementary School, Friends of Roosevelt High School, Bateman Boosters, and Committed to Cleveland.
Businesses like Lena Rose Natural Beauty and Nighthawk Chicago rally behind any and all school causes and initiatives.
We have the 33rd Ward Youth Council (I am proudly with some of the members in the photo below), a diverse group of young people from schools across the ward, civically engaged in community-wide conversations.
Our schools are community centers with far-reaching community support. Of course we can always do more, but this work is already happening. You just have to show up.
Feb 2019 Green Space Meeting
As a member of the LSC at Albany Park Multicultural Academy, I attended a community meeting on February 6 about transforming the campus Albany Park Multicultural Academy, William G. Hibbard Elementary and Edison Regional Gifted Center into a beautiful green space. Investments like this not only improve the student experience at these three great schools, but it is a great investment in the community.
Want to learn more about this project? Check out Block Club Chicago’s article covering the proposal!
On February 5, I attended the North River Commission Chicago Communities Mayoral Forum and represented both 2nd Story and the Friends of Roosevelt High School during the candidate reception. While many of the candidate spoke about increasing career options and technical training for high school students, at Roosevelt High School we are already doing this work.
Jan 2019 AP Chamber of Commerce
On January 31, I was delighted to brave the cold and venture out to Twisted Hippo for the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce meeting. These events, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, are incredible opportunities to build the bonds among nonprofit leaders and small business owners across Albany Park.
JAN 2019 NRC Education Committee
On January 17, the North River Commission Education Committee hosted a Friends of Meet and Greet at Nighthawk Chicago. In attendance were representatives from six Friends of Groups and three neighborhood organizations. I am especially proud of events like these because they feed multiple birds with few seeds: they promote economic development by supporting a local business and they foster meaningful relationships among education advocates across the 33rd, 35th, and 39th Wards.