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I started this blog during the 2015 aldermanic campaign because I wanted to see some positive economic change in the 50th Ward. Such change remains a goal that clearly will have to be accomplished without any help from the current alderman. Healthy, diverse, sustainable business districts aren’t built on sales of phone cards, bottled water, cucumbers, and lottery tickets, and she just doesn’t get it. The neighborhood needs

  • Better businesses, instead of the glut of cell phone, convenience, grocery, and general merchandise stores that are struggling in a market over-saturated with such businesses
  • More diversity in dining options
  • Clothing stores that have wide appeal to a variety of residents
  • Clean streets, clean stores, clean store windows, and attention to details, like attractive window displays

Like other neighborhoods, we need some cultural attractions. West Ridge lacks a central cultural arts center, performing arts space, and an arts district. Yes, there are cultural offerings at Indian Boundary Park, but we are a neighborhood without a single art gallery or theater.

Our commercial districts are plagued by vacant and poorly-maintained storefronts. Very few storeowners or commercial property owners seem to care about maintenance or merchandising, and the overall impression is one of dirt and decay.  The economic downslide won’t end until there’s an alderman committed to working with existing businesses to meet the needs of residents, bringing in new businesses, and creating jobs.

I believe it’s wrong for business and political powers to ignore the needs and interests of residents when decisions are made about commercial development and other issues impacting the community’s general quality of life as well as property values.  I believe that neighborhood residents need to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussions. We are invested in this ward, too.

But this blog is about more than politics. It will highlight the people, places, and neighborhood organizations that make our community such a good place to live despite the political malarkey–the residents, the artists, and the business owners who contribute so much to this neighborhood.

50th Ward Follies will introduce readers to residents who are working for positive change, and spotlight businesses that reflect our diversity and deserve our support. It will also highlight the activities of community organizations working hard to educate and inform residents on various issues in different areas of the ward. Read our Events page for a schedule of important community events, meetings, and cultural activities.

I hope you’ll enjoy your visits and the information you’ll find here. Feel free to leave a comment or two. I have very strong opinions, and I’d like to hear yours, too.

One last thing: Because I believe that “Corruption begins when things are not called by their proper names,” the proper names will always be used here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Home

  1. Hi. Just happened to stumble upon you after googling the new Rohinga Center. The first line of your Home Page is music to my ears: positive economic development! Having grown up in West Rogers Park, I returned almost 4 years ago as a home owner. Sometimes I’m heartbroken by, for ex., Touhy Ave. where as a kid I could walk to find…just about everything. I wish our leadership would see that we too, could have some of the amenities of an Andersonville or Lincoln Square.

    Anyway, I’d love to talk about what else is going on. Is your readership active? Are you?

    Best,
    Sara

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  2. p.s. And other things… Highlighting our incredible diversity! Getting neighbors outside! Cleaning up (as you highlight). Dare I say, “participatory budgeting”?

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  3. What about the new West Ridge Library and senior housing at Pratt and Western? How involved has the larger community been?

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    • The location of the new library was announced October 21, 2016; the first community meeting was held November 23, 2016. There was a large turnout but no answers to questions except “that hasn’t been decided yet” or “that’s still on the table.” Worse, the handouts consisted of four pictures, which community members were cautioned were not representations of what the actual building and apartments would look like. The second community meeting was held March 20, 2017; a good-sized crowd but again no answers. In the four months between community meetings, the alderman did not approach the community for input, nor did she advise the community that a library needs/wants survey was available through the LEARN Coalition. On the Friday before the last community meeting, the alderman produced her own community survey asking residents to choose building and library programming that is important to them. The next day, the Mayor released the building design. It was printed in the Tribune on Sunday, March 19, but residents at the March 20 meeting were told the building may not look like the design and to continue to give input. Another community meeting has been promised but not scheduled. The alderman also announced that she has created an advisory committee, but has not told the community who’s on it or why they were chosen; all members were selected by her. LEARN had nearly 400 responses to its survey; the number of responses to the alderman is unknown at present. Whether the community will have actual input is unknown. It could be that this is all window-dressing and that all the decisions have been made downtown. It’s highly unlikely that the mayor would call the press to tout the designs for the three complexes to be built, which he did, only to give in to community pressure for something else. It’s been nearly six months since the library was announced, yet there’s still no sign in the vacant lot that it will become the new Northtown Library-senior housing complex. I think the community wants input but the alderman seems determined to operate without any transparency, her standard MO. Remember, the building is scheduled to be completed in December 2018, and both the mayor and the alderman are up for re-election six weeks later. We won’t know the details on anything until they can be used as part of a re-election campaign, when we’ll no doubt receive daily bulletins about every nail being driven and every pipe being fitted. This is looking less like a community project and more like a re-election stunt every day.

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