Police Presence, Nosey Neighbors and Being Informed Impact Safety

According to BAPA’s safety survey, a strong and consistent police presence, a commitment to being nosey neighbors and having access to community alerts and crime information are the top three tools needed for a safer community. (See survey results.)

“I think these results show how much confidence our community has in our police force, so much so that we hope Chicago Police Department leadership will dedicate more police manpower to protecting our commercial and residential areas,” BAPA’s Margot Holland.

“The survey provides valuable information for our law enforcement partners,” said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea. ” I look forward to ongoing collaboration with BAPA and the 22nd District.”

The survey was distributed in early December through email blasts and social media, and was completed by nearly 2,000 area residents.

“It was a great response, and respondents overwhelmingly agreed that frequent police patrols throughout the community is the most effective crime-fighting tool,” Holland said.

Being a nosey neighbor and calling 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity was cited as the second most important aspect of crime prevention, and quick access to crime alerts came in third. CAPS meetings received the lowest confidence as a crime prevention tool.

Nearly 80% of the people who completed the survey have lived in the community for more than 10 years, and they provided good perspective on changes in community safety. “Many people noted that neighborhood receives a lot of attention from police when there is an uptick in crime, and that strong police presence is an effective crime deterrent,” Holland said. “People also commented that the neighborhood needs continuous police presence, not just added presence when something happens.”

While the vast number of survey respondents perceive the neighborhood as somewhat safe or very safe, a concerning number of people also indicated that they limit certain activities due to safety concerns.

“We received a lot of comments about where and why people curtail activities, and many people said that concern about their safety increased with the recent spate of crimes and there is more opportunity for crime because there are not enough police on the streets,” Holland said.

Even before the recent armed robberies, BAPA was developing the safety survey. “Those crimes made the survey more timely and the input we received more critical,” Holland said.

Survey respondents selected increased crime prevention tips in BAPA communications, volunteer-driven neighborhood watch, and neighborhood watch Facebook groups.

People interested in seeing the survey results can find it at www.bapa.org. The survey was developed by BAPA staff and board members with the help of 22nd District CAPS leaders, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, and community members.

 

Holiday Giving Guide

The holidays are an especially difficult time for people who are in need of food, shelter, friendship and a helping hand. Neighborhood organizations are reaching out with a variety of collections and programs. Read more to see how you can help. 

Holiday Food Drive. Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food items for the Maple Morgan Park Community Food Pantry can be dropped off weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 1 through 15 at the 19th Ward Office, 10400 S. Western. The Food Pantry is also seeking monetary donations, which can be mailed to Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago IL 60643.  Donations of $15 or more will provide a turkey dinner for local families. Each month, the Food Pantry serves about 1,200 families from the 60643 and 60655 zip codes. When you’re out stocking up for the holidays, consider buying something extra for a neighborhood family in need or writing a check to provide a holiday dinner with all the fixings.

Hops for the Homeless. Horse Thief Hollow, 10426 S. Western, will host Hops for the Homeless raising funds Franciscan Outreach services for Chicago’s homeless, Wed., Dec. 6, 7 to 10 p.m. Admission, $40 (advance) or $45 (door), includes beverages, food, music by These Old Men They Play Records, a silent auction and raffle. Bring in new hats or gloves in exchange for raffle ticket. Order tickets/make a donation www.franoutreach.org/hops.

Children’s Book Drive. Donate used children’s books in good condition through Fri., Dec. 8 at the 19th Ward Office, 10400 S. Western. The book drive is co-sponsored by Ald. Matt O’Shea and Open Books, a non-profit organization that funds literacy programs by selling donated books. Info about Open Books: www.open-books.org. Info about the collection: mattoshea@the19thward.com.

Share the Harvest. Grace Seeds Ministry is a “greenhouse” for the seeds of God’s love, justice and peace that are germinating in us, in our communities and in the world God loves. Morgan Park Presbyterian Church is a partner in Share the Harvest, Grace Seeds Ministry’s food pantry program, which inspires congregations to grow fresh produce in their gardens then donate the harvest to food pantries across Chicago. To participate in growing produce next season, call the church office, 773-779-3355.  To make a tax deductible donation to Grace Seeds Ministry, send cash or check to Grace Seeds Ministry, PO Box 1378, Bedford Park, IL  60499-1378. Info: graceseedsministry.org.

Snowball Party and Collection. 22nd District Police CAPS beat facilitators are collecting funds, gift cards, school materials and personal grooming items for its 2nd annual holiday party to benefit the families of 10 homeless kids who attend elementary schools in our district, Sat., Dec. 9, 1:30 p.m., at the Station, 1900 W. Monterey Ave.  Officers work with local school principals to select families and invite them to the luncheon with police, pastors, principals and community volunteers. On the night before the luncheon, local students transform the room to a winter wonderland at a holiday tree decorating party. Individuals and businesses are welcome to contribute gifts and necessities such as toiletries, household cleaning items, coats, bath items and more. For info on how you can help, call the 22nd District CAPS office, 312-745-0620.

Cheers for Charity. The 9th Annual Cheers for Charity Christmas Party will be held Thurs., Dec. 21. 7 to 10 p.m., Cork and Kerry, 10614 S. Western, raising funds to help local families in need. $40 minimum donation. The needy families are suggested by local charitable organizations, and their identities are kept private. The party raises funds to give the families a chance to enjoy the holiday season.

Help for the Homeless.  Carly Carney of Beverly Yoga Center, 1917 W. 103rd St., 2nd floor, is collecting men’s warm winter coats and blankets for the Lower Wacker Mission for the Homeless. Donations may be dropped off anytime in front of the studio on the second floor. Info: beverlyyogacenter@gmail.com or 773-239-9642.

Angel Babies. Marlene’s Angel Babies Foundation accepts donations of wedding dresses that are deconstructed to become burial attire for babies who are stillborn or have died in infancy.  The foundation operates citywide; the local representative Mikki Carping, 708-906-0327.

The Blue House. The Catholic Youth Ministry Center at Morgan Park High School, 1825 W. Monterey Ave., more commonly known as The Blue House, is the only program of its kind associated with a Chicago Public High School, providing a “home away from home” where there is always someone for students to talk to. Volunteers can help by presenting Career Exploration Workshops, or facilitating interactive educational workshops on topics such as college essays and applications, money management and social media safety. Plumbers, electricians and handymen are always needed to help maintain the old house. Info: Peggy Goddard, 773-881-0193

I Am Who I Am Foundation. Teens and adults with special abilities who package, label and create artwork, and sell I am . . . bath and body products for the I Am Who I Am Foundation, receive a percentage of the sales.  The non-profit organization advocates for people with special needs. I Am . . . products are available at Murray’s Browse and Brew, 3545 W. 99th St., and www.iam-whoiam.com.

Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club. Women who care deeply about being of service are invited to learn more about joining the Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club. The Juniors provide a variety of service and fund raising project throughout the year. On Dec. 8, Club members will provide a luncheon for Department of Veterans’ Affairs Vet Center at 87th and Kedzie.   On Dec. 16, the club is participating in Wreaths Across America, a nationwide initiative to, on the same day at the same time, lay wreaths on at the graves of fallen soldiers in military cemeteries.  They will lay wreaths at Abraham Lincoln Cemetery.  This month the club will visit the Family Rescue Woman’s Shelter on the East side to present Holiday Gift Bags; collecting treats and paperbacks to send overseas to military troops; and organizing the Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence event that will be held ton Mar. 24 to benefit A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park. Info: Cynthia Heywood, cahg927@yahoo.com.

Friends of the Forest Preserves. Friends of the Forest Preserves is the only independent non-profit organization solely focused on the Forest Preserves of Cook County. They are the voice of a diverse community inspiring and organizing people to protect, restore, and expand the forest preserves in Cook County. Through political advocacy, ecological stewardship, and community engagement, they ensure the forest preserves will always be a source of education, enjoyment, and recreation. Locally they are stewards of Dan Ryan Woods, working on invasive species removal and improving the trails. Donations will help fund conservation and outreach programs. Info: fotfp.org/donate or contact Ilana Federman, ilana@fotfp.org or 312-356-9990.

Business Attire Clothing Drive. Donate new and gently used men’s and women’s business clothing through Dec. 15 at the 19th Ward Office, 10400 S. Western, weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: 773-445-8128 or repfranhurley@gmail.com. All items benefit The Find Your Future program which helps young men and women dress for success and land that first job

Restock the Food Pantry Drive. The Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association will host a non-perishable food drive in January to help re-stock the shelves of the Maple/Morgan Park Food Pantry after the holiday season. Collection boxes will be located at various Beverly/Morgan Park businesses and monetary donations will also be accepted. Info: Caroline Connors, 773-779-2530

Know Your Neighbors: Paula Robinson

By Kristin Boza

Paula Robinson is dedicated to progressing the economic development of her community through her work with the Morgan Park Civic League. Community activism is in her blood; Robinson’s grandmother, Annabelle Robinson, was also an active participant in the Morgan Park Civic League, which has been working to improve and enhance Morgan Park since 1937.

Robinson’s community involvement isn’t limited to Morgan Park. She, and the rest of the Civic League, recognizes the impact each south side neighborhood has on one another. Community groups in West Pullman, Beverly, Bronzeville and others all collaborate to stimulate economic development and address housing and transportation issues throughout the south side.

“It’s not so much that we need to develop a lot of things here; we have a lot to offer,” Robinson said. “We focus on highlighting what we have, making connections and giving people reasons to go. Once they get the invitation to come and experience something, then it opens up a whole other level of what you can do and how you engage with people. If people don’t even know what you’ve got, then it’s not so much that we have to get a lot of new things, but we just need to figure out how to engage the community.”

Promoting the Major Taylor Trail is a big push of Robinson’s — not only to get people to use it, but to encourage companies to open businesses along the trail that runs from the Dan Ryan Woods to Whistler Woods. “On the northwest side of the city, we’ve seen the success of the 606 Trail and what it’s done to bring communities and neighborhoods together. The bike trail is a community asset and spurs more development.”

Outdoor recreation is a great way to connect communities, according to Robinson. “It’s beneficial for the whole well-being, wellness and health of a community as a whole,” she said. The Civic League is also looking for ways to partner with local artists to install art along the path. “With the tie-in with art and culture, these trails can not only be about recreation, but provide a cultural benefit to the community as well,” she said.

Besides the Major Taylor Trail, Robinson and the Morgan Park Civic League always aim to determine how to create action and excitement around things that already exist. The annual Roots Festival, a farmer’s market, and economic development along 111th Street are other focuses for the group. Robinson hopes to get a visitor’s center up and running on 111th Street to alert people going to the Pullman National Monument about other things to do in the area — including grabbing a steak sandwich at the famed Home of the Hoagy, 1316 W. 111th St., and enjoying a cup of coffee at the Old Morgan Park Coffee Shop at 111th and Loomis.

“We have a lot of wonderful history for people to see, a beautiful bike trail and other amenities that are interesting to visitors and residents alike,” Robinson said. “Morgan Park is an older community, and we have to identify new housing and new opportunities to attract younger people who will want to keep our community sustainable.”

To find out more or to get involved, visit the Morgan Park Civic League on Facebook.

BAPA History: Planning for a Stronger Community

By Charles Shanabruch

In 1980, the Beverly Area Planning Association’s stated mission was to sustain the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood as a “quality, stable, integrated community.” Sociologists had projected that the area would follow the pattern of resegregation that had been characteristic of the South Side. The challenge to maintain integration was sensed by most of the community’s 40,000 residents.

Fortunately, Pat Stanton’s call to reinvigorate BAPA in 1971 had made a critical difference. Rather than the “a total lack of planning” that often occurs in communities where individual interests take precedent over the common interests, this community was engaged in “total planning” making sure every facet of life was attended to.

From 1980 to 1985, I was executive director of BAPA. It was a daunting assignment and has been the highlight of my professional career. Through the efforts of BAPA’s dedicated and creative board members and staff, committed elected officials, and more than a thousand generous volunteers, we made good on the promise of “total planning.”

At the time, the community’s greatest challenges came from the issues regarding schools, public safety, community building, and unfair housing practices. On each of these interconnected issues BAPA gathered the support of civic associations, churches and local businesses.

Education

The educational excellence of local schools was essential. However, this was threatened as many families with public school students left the community and those families who stayed feared that the Chicago Board of Education’s mandate to desegregate neighborhood schools would lead to busing and the closure of low enrollment schools.

BAPA met the challenge head on. An education committee composed of eight public school parents and led by Barb Vick (for whom the Vick School is named) sought to make each public elementary school attractive and unique so current parents would want to keep their kids enrolled and ne families would choose them.

Numerous meetings with Board of Ed officials, PTAs and parents led to plan proposing that Vanderpoel, Barnard, Clissold and Kellogg become magnet schools and special 7th and 8th grade programs be created at Morgan Park High School. BAPA convinced the Board of Ed that our community could be a city-wide model. With full community support the plan was adopted and the schools thrived.

Public Safety

In the 1980s, when the Chicago Police Department proposed closing several stations, including the 22nd District, BAPA led the fight to keep the station open. Using its civic association networks and block representatives, BAPA flooded the community with petitions. In only four days almost 18,000 signatures were gathered. BAPA delivered the petitions when it testified at a special committee hearing at City Hall. The testimony included BAPA’s promise of more community action. In fact, BAPA had purchased 12,000 yards of CPD-blue plastic ribbon to be tied on every light post in the community until our station was no longer hostage to the “efficiency” plan. Fortunately, the ribbons were never used. (I still have a 100 yard roll in my home office as a reminder of the community’s successful fight for the station.)

Communication

Communication is a critical element in mobilizing community action, but it was just as important in BAPA’s goal of building a sense of “a village in the city.” In Sept. 1980, BAPA replaced its quarterly newsletter with The Villager. Monthly 15,000 copies were distributed free to every residence and hundreds more were dropped at the train stations for commuters to read on their way to work. Its purpose was to keep the community informed, promote engagement, support local businesses and our schools and ensure that BAPA’s perspective was clearly portrayed on issues.

Another very important initiative was the Neighborhood Involvement Program. BAPA identified residents on nearly every block to “NIP” problems in the bud. They were the community’s eyes and ears who called BAPA identifying problems or opportunities to enhance community quality.

Housing

The biggest challenge facing Beverly/Morgan Park was unfair housing practices. Chicago’s history of racial discrimination and segregation threatened BAPA’s mission to sustain a stable integrated community. The real estate market did not provide free and open access to information. Realtors steered blacks to areas where blacks and whites lived and whites to areas that were predominantly white thus creating segregated communities.

BAPA addressed the dual housing market through education and litigation. Numerous block meetings were held to discuss issues of racial change directly and openly with whites and blacks together. BAPA also tried to persuade realtors to obey fair housing laws that had been put in place in the 1960s.

Realtors seeking to accelerate racial change used for sale signs and unsolicited calls to ask people to list their homes for sale as the tools of panic peddling. BAPA supported a ban on for sale signs and also secured signatures on anti-solicitation letters from home owners then served lists of the residents to dozens of real estate offices; when signers were solicited BAPA got the States Attorney to investigate cases and file lawsuits.

Despite these initiatives, racial steering persisted. BAPA realized that until all communities were open those that were integrated would be threatened by the injustice of steering. For this reason, BAPA partnered with the Leadership Council of Metropolitan Open Communities to “test” real estate offices. Matched couples of white and black were trained and then went to real estate offices to see whether each couple received the same real estate listings. When blacks were given only information about integrated neighborhoods and whites were given listings in nearly all white communities, the law was broken.

In Nov. 1983, BAPA filed four law suits in Federal court charging discriminatory real estate practices. BAPA lost the first case brought to trial but the other suits ended in settlements. Most importantly, BAPA’s initiative gave notice to all realtors that racial steering would not be tolerated.

BAPA’s President, Rich Andersen, constantly reminded staff, “Good things do not happen by chance.” Very intentionally, BAPA paid attention to details and the big picture so the community thrived.

Village Viewpoint: Working Together for a Great Community

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Well, I was hopeful that after the contentious presidential election my Facebook newsfeed would go back to focusing on cute pictures of kids and fuzzy animals and that the traditionally cold weather would compel crime to let up, allowing the Chicago Police Department time to regroup and address the growing crime rate on the south and west sides of our City. No such luck.

I, like you, have been especially concerned about incidents that took place in our neighborhood from shots fired on New Year’s Day to hateful graffiti found on residential and church property. These crimes are unacceptable. We at BAPA condemn these acts of violence and hatred that happened in our neighborhood. We are proud to be part of an integrated, family-oriented community, and we believe that we can find a way to come together as a community and curtail this unacceptable behavior.

Over the last several weeks, members of the BAPA staff and Board of Directors, civic leaders, the alderman’s office and the 22nd District Police have been discussing the safety of our community and how, in the current climate in Chicago, Beverly/Morgan Park can remain safe.  WARNING: It requires your participation!

We need you to engage in keeping our community strong and safe by doing these simple things: don’t be a bystander and don’t be afraid to call the police – they are ready and willing to be here on our streets protecting us!

BAPA has been working with you – our community — to preserve and improve the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood for more than 70 years. Our mission is to sustain and enhance our safe, culturally diverse community. We do that with proactive, effective programs that unify residents, institutions and businesses around the common cause of nurturing Chicago’s best neighborhood.

Thank you for all you do to support BAPA and our neighborhood!

All the best,

Margot