Andrew Rowlas Challenging Silverstein for Alderman

Andrew Rowlas, a community activist and former educator, has announced his candidacy for alderman of the 50th Ward, challenging two-term incumbent Debra Silverstein.

Rowlas is campaigning on a progressive platform of economic development centered around small businesses, improved educational opportunities for neighborhood students, and civic engagement by neighborhood residents.

His goals are in sharp contrast to Silverstein’s eight years of inertia. The ward still waits for the economic development plan she promised in 2011. Her lack of transparency and refusal to engage with her constituents are near legendary, even for Chicago. She is one of the Mayor’s most dependable stooges, a reliable member of the rubber-stamp brigade in the City Council.

Rowlas has served as president of the West Ridge Community Organization, is a leading member of LEARN–the coalition of community members and organizations that led the charge for a new library– and has worked extensively to foster communication and cooperation between and with all ethnic and religious communities across the ward. He was instrumental in the formation of the Warren Park Advisory Council, which gives local residents a voice in Park activities.

It’s worth noting that, after nearly 8 years in office, Silverstein had never shown any interest in connecting the north side’s largest park with its nearby residents. Rowlas saw the need to do so and rallied other activists to make it happen. Just imagine the great things that could happen in the 50th with a proactive alderman!

Rowlas spent 38 years as a teacher, counselor, and principal. He would be a strong voice for increased quality educational opportunities both in the ward and across Chicago.

Support the Rowlas campaign by volunteering or donating via the campaign Web site, rowlasforward50.com.

Silverstein will not be able to run a Rose Garden campaign this year. I look forward to the coming debates. And so should you.

 

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Economic Development Community Meeting at Northtown Library

Every year the Chicago Community Trust invites City residents to participate in discussions of topics of public interest and public policy. The program, known as “Open Table,”  organizes these citywide discuussions neighborhood by neighborhood.

This year, the West Ridge Community Organization and the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce are co – sponsoring the OpenTable program that will take place on Thursday, May 10th, at the Northtown Library, 6435 North California, from 6 to 8 p.m.  The selected topic is economic planning and development in West Ridge.

Discussions will begin with a presentation by Abraham Lentner, city planning instructor att the University of Illinois at Chicago. After his presentation, the audience will break into small discussion groups to share ideas about potential eonomic dvelopment improvements for our neighborhood. The audience will then reconvene to share each group’s ideas, concerns, and recommendations.

The event is free. If you have any questions please contact the West Ridge Community Organization or the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

Help WRCO Save the Old Library

The current Northtown Library will close in Fall of next year as its contents are transferred to the new facility at Pratt & Western. The alderman stated at the most recent community meeting that the old library building belongs to the City.

Concerned residents have been asking about saving this building for community use. Although not of major architectural significance, it is a fine example of mid-century modern design and is still in solid shape. It could be repurposed to serve the community as an arts, community, or senior center. It’s important that the West Ridge community have a say in the fate of this facility.

Therefore, the West Ridge Community Organization (WRCO) has decided to launch a petition drive to save the old library building. More than that, it will soon release a community survey seeking input from residents on the best uses for the building. Petitions will be available soon, and in the meantime you can contact WRCO directly through its Web site. The group is currently conducting a membership drive, and has launched an impressive series of community improvement initiatives in addition to the save-the-library activity.

Be part of the change that’s sweeping over West Ridge!

Residents Discuss “Chicago Is Not Broke”

Last night Editor Tom Tresser and Contributing Author Jonathan Peck addressed the questions raised by their book “Chicago Is Not Broke: Funding the City We Deserve.” An engaged and enthusiastic crowd of about 30 residents heard Tom summarize the book’s approach to identifying the City’s financial problems and offer the authors’ solutions.

Tom Tresser, Editor of “Chicago Is Not Broke,” addresses audience at Northtown Library.

The book is divided into three sections: “Money That is Stolen from Us,” which deals with the costs of corruption, toxic bank deals, and police abuse settlements; “Money That is Hidden from Us,” otherwise known as TIFs; and finally “Money That We Are Not Collecting,” including taxes on financial transactions made by bankers and traders, such as CBOE, as well as discussions of a progressive income tax and a public bank for Chicago.

 

Jonathan Peck helps audience members imagine the city of their dreams.

 

Jonathan Peck, community organizer, then engaged the audience by asking that it imagine the city as we would like it to be. The audience offered a wealth of dreams, such as great public education, affordable housing, and citizen participation in decision-making. He then offered suggestions on organizing around such topics, working together to build coalitions of family and friends, adding neighbors and other community members, until a good idea becomes a movement.

Peck calls this “jammin’,” the term that describes musicians getting together, with each playing his own tune while creating music together.

John Kane, WRCO Chair.

That’s what’s happening at the West Ridge Community Organization (WRCO), the successor to the West Rogers Park Community Organization (WRRCO), founded in 2005.

 

Its focus has expanded to include creation of a park advisory council for Warren Park, and it is working with other organizations and individuals to influence economic development on Western Avenue in addition to its many other activities. It continues to play a leading role in the LEARN Coalition and helped organize the petition drive that resulted in the new library in West Ridge. WRCO is also about to launch a membership drive and a new Web site.

WRCO co-sponsored last night’s book forum with People of West Ridge (POWR), which focuses on community research and organizing for progressive change in West Ridge.

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A strong community-focused organization like WRCO can make positive change a reality in our neighborhood. Activist democracy—residents engaged in the decisions that affect their daily lives—can become a way of life if enough of us are willing to work together to develop and implement workable solutions to neighborhood problems.

 

Peck discussed the African concept “Ubuntu,” which translates as “I am because you are.”  Archbishop Tutu of South Africa has been quoted as explaining it this way:
“We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘a person is a person through other people.’ It is not ‘I think therefore I am.’ It says rather: ‘I am human because I belong. I participate,
I share.’”

Works for me.

 

 

 

 

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