Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Around Uptown

Artist Fred Burkhart is known for capturing varied subjects through his many years from beatniks, hippies, punks, musicians, gay pride, the leather and bondage scene, the KKK, homeless to his daughter Trinity.  He is a photographer, painting, drawer, spoken word poet, story teller, father and grandfather and much more.

Now residing in Uptown, we are fortunate to have his talent capture this unique neighborhood.

Check out his wealth of art at his website

Friday, September 23, 2011

4 Peace and Unity

Today the spirit of Uptown was raised through a well attended march for peace and unity led by the Uplift Marching Band.  Though it was expressed that this march was not going to end violence but was another step and bring the people together towards peace. The march was sponsored by: RIMS, Kuumba Lynx, JUICE, Unity Base, Cease Fire/ONE, Northside Action for Justice, Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce, local residents and others.

The march began at the corner of Sunnyside and Racine and wound through the area making stops at the corners of Lawrence & Sheridan, Wilson & Sheridan, Clarendon & Sunnyside, and ending at Uplift High School.

 There were  empowering speakers at each stop, from the strong words of  prayer, the heavy words of a mother, and words that conveyed the power of a changed life from criminality to an inspired leader in the example of Malcolm X.  The words the received the most response was the words from a song "Self destruction...we are heading for self destruction"

Lets turn back from self destruction and "unite and fight for what's right, Not negative 'cause the way we live is positive"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Fighting gangs or aiding gentrification?" -Chicago Reader

In today's issue of the Chicago Reader Mick Dumke and Kevin Warwick's cover page article "Criminal Courts?"  they report on the recent removal of basketball hoops from Chicago parks.  One example of this happening was right here in Uptown at Broncho Billy Playlot on Magnolia near Montrose.

Our new Alderman, James Cappleman wrote in  his ward news letter on June 17th, "On advice from the police, in agreement with the Parks Department, the basketball hoops at the Broncho Billy Park located at 4437 N. Magnolia Ave. have been removed."  

There is some controversy around the removal of the hoops with no input from the community or residents  and according to the Reader article it is unclear where the advice came from within the police department

"Lieutenant Stasch, leader of the district's tactical operations unit, said there weren't many problems at Broncho Billy Playlot: ""The calls we get about that park are very minimal." Stasch said he understood some neighbors had been concerned about older kids hanging out there, but "personally, I'm in favor of giving young people something to do."

Alderman Cappleman who is most fond of using the term "evidenced based best practices" had this to say about the hoops, "If you can show me research showing a benefit from basketball in an unsupervised setting where gang recruitment is going on, I'll reconsider." 

No statistical link between basketball rims and crime around Uptown park 

 by Mick Dumke

Friday, September 2, 2011

'Permanent supportive housing' -Lakefront SRO

 Mush of the credit for the "permanent supportive housing model"  that is now embraced by many homeless advocates can be given to Lakefront SRO and their development work right here in Uptown.  As expressed in the Tribune article 'Permanent supportive housing' model touted as alternative to single-room hotels

It was the mid-80's, and between 1980-1983 Chicago had lost 25% of its Single Room Occupancy housing (according to this study) and there was a growing shortage of housing for singles. 

Douglas Dobmeyer (Director of REST Shelter 1982-85, Executive Director of The Center for Street People 1983-85) noticed the number of  guests of the north side shelters that had been previously residents of SROs.  Douglas Dobmeyer with Jean Butzen, and others started Lakefront SRO to preserve SRO housing in Uptown, Edgewater, and Lakeview, where 36% of the city's remaining SROs where located. 

Lakefront SRO Corporation is a leading developer of single room occupancy (SRO) buildings in Chicago and a nationally recognized leader in providing affordable housing solutions and services for low-income persons, including the homeless, elderly, and handicapped - UIC City Design Center

Lakefront SRO after joining with Mercy Housing headquartered in Denver is now Mercy Housing Lakefront.

What makes the difference in the permanent supportive housing model is in addition to the stability provided by permanent housing there are case workers with each building  that help with budgeting, connecting with other social services and medical care.  Also Employment training is provided and residents are empowered to become active members of the community

excerpts from article

"We feel like these services address people holistically," Kuklinski said. "You're a whole person, you're not just a homeless person. You're a person who's a citizen of your community just like anyone else."

Reflecting how dire the demand for housing is, Mercy Housing Lakefront has waiting lists at all its buildings. When a new building opened in Englewood last year, Kuklinski said, more than 1,000 people applied for the 99 available units.

While the approach used by groups like Mercy Housing Lakefront is more helpful to homeless people in the long term, Kuklinski said the loss of single-room occupancy hotels — no matter their condition — will be felt by many struggling to stay off the streets.