The whole city is on edge with this summer’s violence around Chicago. It is good that we are at least confronting this anti-social behavior – and calling for actions to be taken. Of course, the police are the front line for responding to violent incidents. But it is up to all of us to look for ways to change the environments in or neighborhoods for the better. Slowly but sure, our daily actions will help root out the behaviors that lead to violence.
In West Humboldt Park, we have been having daily problems with larger groups of people loitering in front of our Adult Education Training Center (ETC) on Chicago Avenue. Why are they there? Some are up to no good and others are just hanging out with friends. Without saying a word to us, these groups of people on the sidewalk discourage others from attending Chicago Commons, increasing the worries about violence breaking out. This creates a negative cycle where the more motivated neighbors stay inside and cede the streets to the idle.
After much dialogue with the Police Department, nearby businesses and organizations, Chicago Commons decided to launch a campaign to engage the groups loitering near us.
Rather than simply pushing our neighbors down to the next block, we want to introduce them to the services and programs that could help them identify the talents they could contribute to our community. To that end, we will join with Neighborhood Housing Services, West Humboldt Park Development Council, Salvation Army and Fresh Moves to conduct weekly activities in front of the ETC. Activities will include: outreach tables on the sidewalk, daily clean-up in front of our business, Friday sale of fresh vegetables by Fresh Moves, voter registration, Salvation Army mobile nutrition unit, mobile Library, and other activities through August and September.
We hope others will join us in this direct outreach. Together, we can “Make it Happen.”