This column describes how BAPA is fulfilling its mission of offering programs, services, and events in the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

Village Viewpoint

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

I love “a fresh start.” Doesn’t everyone? First day of school, first day of a new job, first dates and all the excitement that comes with them.  

It’s been a year of new beginnings for me and it’s been exhilarating. I’m a new empty nester riding the wave of a new job serving my own neighborhood. The possibilities are endless. 

I am surrounded by passion for Beverly/Morgan Park and all its beauty, culture, community spirit and challenges. But I am not alone. The BAPA office bursts at the seams daily with  

Interns, volunteers and dedicated staff who are committed to only the best for our neighborhood. We stand together on the front line watching vigilantly and springing into action to keep the community beautiful, historic, safe and welcoming. We field calls on such a vast array of topics, and have cultivated dozens of expert resources who help make a difference each and every time we call.  

BAPA has your back. 

We move forward programs that support the schools, keep residential property beautiful, preserve our historic character and support the business community. BAPA’s events connect our residents to each other in an era when technology frequently keeps people apart.  

Fall is a time of fresh starts. BAPA is focusing on offering more of what our members and residents are asking for and making it easier to access. Our community calendar, new trades referral portal, and sharper focus on delivering accurate and timely information online, in print and in person are at the top of our list.   

This month I’m asking all of you to join us. Become a BAPA member and be part of the solution. We will face challenges, some we know are on the way, other will surprise us, but we’ll face them together.  

It is because of the support from each and every one of you that BAPA can do this work. If not for you, it would not get done.   

Take me up on this opportunity if you can. All donations of every size make a difference.     

Together we can do so much more. 

Village Viewpoint

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

It’s August and once again, I’m helping my kids move.  This got me thinking.  What makes a place home?  What makes Beverly/Morgan Park feel like home even if you’ve moved away? What do you love about Beverly/Morgan Park?  BAPA wants to know.  It’s BAPA’s job to know.  We challenge ourselves to always be asking, watching, and listening so we are able connect people with the same passions to act collectively.  

BAPA has a history of providing services and responding to problems. That’s an important resource for any community.  But what if instead of providing the answers, we focused on the questions? What are the gifts and assets that make our community so distinctive? Some things we’ve noticed: 

We have residents who are connected 

Recently, the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic brought an outpouring of rain but more remarkably it also brought out and outpouring of support from over 2000 people who came out to the event and over 130 volunteers who helped and over 30 community partners who stood alongside BAPA and the cyclists. How remarkable it was that people were more driven to be together than they were to be dry and comfortable.   

We have history 

We celebrate our community’s history by maintaining the homes and buildings that make it so distinctive, so that we reveal the story about what our community was, how it became what it is today, and in turn can help us and our children understand who we are.   

We have diversity 

The diversity of our community is outstanding. In an age where diversity and race can be a touchy subject, it is comforting to see different cultures on virtually every block and refreshing that not everybody looks the same. 

We give back 

Our neighborhood helps families in times of trouble. We support a large number of non-profits, entrepreneurs and small businesses. We stand behind each other through the ups and downs. 

We care about Art 

Through our support of the Beverly Arts Center, the Vanderpoel Art Museum and the Beverly Area Arts Alliance to the many artists who call Beverly Home we have so much to offer.  Our own Gary and Denise Gardner are the force behind the amazing Charles White Retrospective on display at the Art Institute.   

We have Rainbow Cone 

Seriously, right? 

So tell us, what do YOU love about Beverly Morgan Park?  All answers are important to BAPA.  Join the conversation by emailing me at sflood@bapa.org.  You never know, you might connect for action you never thought possible.   

Village Viewpoint

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

Like any good Chicagoan I am absolutely thrilled when summertime rolls around.  I often find myself wondering if those who live in warm climates ever experience the day after day euphoria we feel when we open our front doors on summer days.      

At BAPA, summer comes with some kind of event to produce almost weekly: Home Tour, Ridge Run and Memorial Day Parade, weekly Family Fun Nights and Tech Tuesdays. Coming up next is the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic.   

While these events keep the BAPA staff on our toes for a few months, they are not possible without the time, energy and commitment of our neighborhood partners. The process is a lot like leading an orchestra for a performance piece with BAPA as the conductor.  The music happens when everybody comes together with their talent and hard work, sitting alongside friends and neighbors, pursuing the common goal of offering sheer enjoyment to all who come out to join us.   

Our local restaurants come out of their kitchens to offer their best in picnic style foods, beverages and treats.  The Alderman’s staff and the police from our 22nd District help in too many ways to count.  The Ridge Run wouldn’t be possible without Chicago Park District’s Ridge Park and the big-hearted hard-working Park District staff.   

We showcase our neighbors who have talent (and there are so many) to entertain us with music, art or children’s activities.  Our local businesses sponsor the events so we can afford to put them on, and join us onsite to meet residents and talk about what they have to offer.   

This year our 16th Beverly Hills Cycling Classic and Bikes and Brews Festival will be possible thanks to St. Barnabas parish joining us as a new festival partner following the closing last year of Beacon Therapeutic School.  The new St. Barnabas location makes the event more exciting than ever, with a challenging new race course and sprawling festival grounds in the St. Barnabas parking lot. I can practically hear the music now!   

And of course, all of you are important partners. 

Neighbors jump in to volunteer for tasks like selling tickets, pouring drinks, serving as course marshals or helping set up tables or tents.   

Watching everyone coming together takes us all to a new height of connection.  Like individual instruments, we can all make music as a solo, but when we’re all working together the result is an experience that transforms the day.  As a team, we create memories, make new friends and accomplish something wonderful. And it’s all in our own backyard.   

I can tell you, from where BAPA stands as conductor, our community orchestra is nothing short of extraordinary.  

Village Viewpoint: 100 Amazing Days

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director

I have just completed my first 100 days as Executive Director of BAPA, and, I have to tell you, I am amazed by what this organization and its community of volunteers accomplishes.  

I can’t begin to count the number of times that people ask me, “What does BAPA do?” BAPA does so much, it’s hard to answer that question when I’m asked. I’m glad to get the question in these early days, even when I’m shopping at County Fair or having dinner at Open Outcry or rushing to make it to a hair appointment at Everything’s Relative, but my preferred response is “how much time do you have?”  

Now that I have 100 days in on the job (or should I call it a mission?), I think the focus of BAPA is the amazing effect our events have on our community – like the recent Home Tour and Ridge Run; our meetings – like our recent On The Table discussion of proactive housing preservation; and the community Clean and Green where groups worked at locations all over the neighborhood to clear away the grubby winter debris and let the promise if spring plantings shine through.  

BAPA’s brings people together for community-buildings, gather groups of experts and “idea” people to take a hard look at small problems that could become big problems and mobilize the people and resources to implement those solutions.  We put important tools into people’s hands, and put them to work on a task that will makes our community stronger today, and maintains the often forgotten priority of how this will affect our future.  

I didn’t have to look hard to see how this community is transformed when BAPA rallies people around an event or a cause. This was another amazing – and heartwarming – 100 days of discovery. You see, BAPA is operated by a very small staff of four dynamic people who understand that BAPA cannot accomplish what it does without the commitment of hundreds of volunteers and even more donors.  

This was my first time as a “BAPA insider” for the Home Tour and Ridge Run. I know “amazing” is the theme of this column, but “amazing” doesn’t come close to capturing the extent of how well planned, managed and presented these events are. Nearly 150 volunteers make the Home Tour happen. Nearly 200 are needed for the Ridge Run. When you see those Love Where You Love t-shirts all over the neighborhood, those people are BAPA volunteers – please say “Thanks.” 

BAPA’s Education Committee has liaisons in every public school to stay aware of school needs and issues, recognize students and staff for their achievement and provide resources.  

BAPA’s Safety Committee is working with important information gathered in our recent safety survey and from the police who supported the community-wide safety meeting held last fall.  

BAPA staff works every day on issues that range from beautification through Openlands grants and Weeding Wednesdays to keeping neighbors informed through The Villager and weekly enews, to partnering with area organizations, officials and City departments to make sure Beverly/Morgan Park gets its fair share of resources and opportunities.  

What does BAPA do? 

BAPA forges the connections that make us neighbors and friends, fights to preserve the uniquely outstanding architecture that defines the character of our community, provides one-on-one assistance when neighbors are having problems as well as “muscle” when bigger problems need to be tackled. 

What Does BAPA do? BAPA brings about the change we want to see..  

Village Viewpoint -May 2018

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director

I held up traffic on Longwood Drive the other day. I was leaning out my passenger window at a stoplight to photograph the waves of purple Scilla that sweeping up the lawns of some of Beverly/Morgan Park’s most beautiful homes. Every spring it’s as if nature reaches out and says, “Look over here!” and our eyes follow the purple train of flowers up to the houses, and suddenly we are aware of the unique splendor that is hard to find any place else.  All this, within the city limits of a world class city.

May brings with it BAPA’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour and memories of the first time I wandered through someone’s home on the tour over 20 years ago.  I felt a bit funny in my role as a voyeur.  I committed as much of the splendid design and decorating as I could to my memory so I could take these ideas home and try them in my own spaces.

This year as I toured potential Home Tour homes I was swept up with gratitude to the homeowners for the impact they make on our community by sharing their personal space for this popular event.  It makes me proud of my choice to settle in a community that sees this kind of hospitality as a priority. It’s yet another reminder of how closely connected we are in Beverly/Morgan Park, of how much we care about our neighbors simply because we live alongside them.

Until I joined the team at BAPA, I didn’t realize how much effort it takes to encourage, protect and preserve the historical beauty of our community. I have always known that BAPA makes housing preservation a priority and that will continue. The results of preservation are everywhere, most eloquently in the homes that young families are updating, taking so much care to keep the details and history that made them – like me – choose this community to call home.

Modern reality has brought home buying online, a major change in the way people make choices of where to call home.  What hasn’t changed is what we see block to block:  a foundation of remarkable homes, a neighborhood with good bones full of residents who are committed to keeping it that way.

 

Village Viewpoint – April 2018

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director

Ahhhhh spring.  Wait, not really.  My bulbs think so, but hey, we’re Chicagoans, and we earn our stripes on these days when the weather can range from blizzard to sunshine.  As I drive through our neighborhood I find myself thankful that at least we’re not staring at a black, crusty, snow-caked corner every time we stop. Yes, it could snow, but even if it does if we are from the Midwest, we move forward anyway.

April will bring us outside for Easter egg hunts and our yards will silently call to us, reminding us to give nature some attention. Spring in Beverly/Morgan Park brings us back together, it’s when we feel our love for the neighborhood the most.  Warmer weather is a great distractor from today’s constant distractions of cell phones, computers and TV screens.  It’s almost like reunion time on the block as we see the neighbors who we’ve not seen for the winter months except when they ducked in and out of their cars or boarded the train.

At BAPA, we get into the spirit of spring and help jump start this neighborhood reunion with our Clean and Green. Families from all over the community join the BAPA staff and volunteers to spruce up the parks, street corners and the green spaces we all want to admire but are sometimes forgotten.

Our young people have their eye on a society that they can be proud of, and recycling and sustainability are certainly bigger parts of their vocabulary than ever before. I am proud to learn BAPA is rolling out more education on how to “go green” through a pilot school program called “Know When to Throw” and a dedicated section on Going Green in each issue of The Villager. I know that in my house my kids beam with pride when I pay closer attention to loving the earth.  I know my neighbors are happier when I love the earth by starting in my own yard.

This spring, as a new member of the BAPA staff, I plan to expand my warm weather reunion to more corners of the neighborhood.  I hope you’ll join me.

Village Viewpoint – March 2018

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director

I fell in love with Beverly/Morgan Park nearly 30 years ago when I started to look for my first home. I was hooked when I first visited with a college friend. As my husband and I explored the Chicagoland area, the people, the culture, the architecture I had found here pulled me in. That was what I saw from the outside! Once we moved in, I quickly learned just how much heart and soul surrounded me.

As a newcomer to the neighborhood, my career in business development (a fancy word for sales) kept me downtown or on a plane most of the week until it was time to start my family. Three children came along and suddenly my appreciation for what Beverly/Morgan Park had to offer grew by leaps and bounds.

I grew up downstate and attended public school in the suburbs, making me a “transplant” with fresh eyes to what surrounded me. Right away, I joined everything I could.  I started volunteering at the kids’ school, church, BAPA, the park district and with charities that I had a passion for.

The community welcomed me with open arms while I learned the tough lesson of where, when and how much I could contribute with only 24 hours in a day to give.

Through this early journey my appreciation grew enormously for just how special the bond is that creates this unique community. Later, when I returned to work in non-profit development (a fancy word for fundraising), I was lucky to land at the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, with a branch home almost in my own backyard. As I dug into the vast networks I needed to tap to get the job done for Mercy Home, I found myself comparing the neighborhoods that make up our city to my own. Once again, I became certain that Beverly/Morgan Park is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets.

As BAPA builds on a successful 70 year record of looking out for the neighbors, businesses and friends that make up Beverly/Morgan Park, I am prepared to bring everything I have to contributing in a meaningful way to meeting the challenges that face our community and sustaining the success that was built long before I moved in and makes this neighborhood so unique.

I am truly grateful for BAPA’s faith in me, and for the opportunity to dig in and contribute to this unique and valuable culture. I simply could not be more excited! It is a tremendous gift to be able work alongside such a talented and dedicated team of staff and volunteers who bring both hard and soft skills to serve all the residents of our community.

Once again, I find myself wishing for more than 24 hours in a day!

Village Viewpoint – January 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Happy New Year from all of us at BAPA! We hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful holiday. This is a time of year when we can reflect on all that has taken place over the last year and make goals for the upcoming year ahead. We had a great year 2017 at the Beverly Area Planning Association and that is because of you — our neighbors and members are more engaged than ever. Your support provides the gift of community, and that is something money can’t buy.  Thank you to all those who attended BAPA events, sent in membership and volunteered in 2017!

During 2017 we were able to expand our programming in schools and safety and our support of local businesses. In 2018 BAPA will continue to build in these areas. The BAPA board has been hard at work organizing committees to support the staff and expanding programming. Coming up in 2018, in addition to our existing services, BAPA will launch Author in the Schools, Tech Tuesdays for seniors and shared office space in the new and improved community room space in our building. We are proud of all that has been accomplished and all that is to come in 2018.

As part of our growth, early in the year I will be completing my three year term as Executive Director and will move into the new position of Director of Programming to launch these new initiatives. I am proud of all the change and positive momentum that our staff and board have been able to accomplish and look forward to a new chapter of climbing even higher.

BAPA is in a very strong position both organizationally and financially, and poised to continue all the good work for many years to come.

All the best,

Margot

Village Viewpoint by Margot Holland, BAPA Executive Director

October 2017

Dear Neighbors,

Our community never disappoints when it comes to supporting one another. That was evident at our first Sip n’ Shop girls night out event highlighting women owned businesses along the 99th and 103rd street business corridors. Over 200 women came out to support our small business community! It was a magical night because the business owners rolled out the red carpet for the community. Thank you to those who came out to participate and to the businesses that stayed open late and provided a unique experience in their shop.

When owners invest in their small business we all win because local economic development is trademark to a healthy community. Shopping local is something our community does because we know how important these retail and service related businesses are to the vitality of Beverly/Morgan Park.  If you missed the Sip n’ Shop, don’t worry! Local business owners are already preparing for their next big event, the Beverly Art Walk on Sat., Oct. 7, coordinated by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance. Artists and performers will be featured in local businesses and many other venues.  A new dimension his year is the unveiling of the City of Chicago’s public art project for the 19th Ward. BAPA was a part of the committee to choose the public art piece. We love to see all this investment in our neighborhood!

BAPA has been busy working with civic associations preparing for the 30+ trees we will along residential parkways plant in November and advocating for the rehabilitation of the Ridge Park Fieldhouse.  BAPA has been very supportive of the newly formed Ridge Park Advisory Council in reaching out to the Chicago Park District and attending their budget hearing to help shine a light on the disrepair of the Ridge Park Fieldhouse.

For 70 years the Beverly Area Planning Association has been bringing the community together to help spur economic development, increase City services and, more than anything, build a strong sense of community. That is made possible thanks to our members.  We are so lucky to have over 1400 members currently supporting BAPA. We have worked hard to define membership beyond community events and have rolled out the BAPA card and opened the business center and community room, and continue to offer trade referrals and other services.  We hope you will join your neighbors in supporting BAPA through membership. Look for the membership envelope inside this issue of The Villager and please join the BAPA family today!

All the best, Margot

 

 

 

Village Viewpoint, September 2017

By Margot Holland

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

What beautiful August weather we have enjoyed! As neighbors come back from vacations and kids start back to school you can feel the energy building in the neighborhood! It has been quite a summer for many of us. So many things going on everywhere, it seems like one of the busiest summers ever in the neighborhood with concerts, softball, summer camps and all kinds of fun for everyone!

As BAPA’s board and staff prepares for fall and winter programming, we continue to reach out to all the neighborhood small business owners, homeowner and civic associations, parishes, Local School Councils and parent organizations, and business association,  we are always humbled by the commitment of neighbors to the health and beauty of our community.

From my perspective, it seems as though we have seen tremendous growth in our commercial districts and we will work to support continued progress. To that end, we have coordinated with local women owned businesses to host a girls’ night out on Sept. 14 to Sip and Shop along the 99th and 103rd Street commercial corridors. It is sure to be lots of fun, so grab your friends and grown up daughters, and come on out to support the local economy!

This fall we continue our work in beautification by partnering with Openlands, a fellow Chicago non-profit, to plant 28 trees in residential parkways. This is always a great day full of camaraderie and accomplishment. If you are interested in volunteering or organizing a tree planting on your block, give us a call at BAPA, 773-233-3100.  However, the true heroes of our beautification efforts are the volunteers who gather every week for “Weeding Wednesday.” These folks, led by BAPA’s own Mary Jo Viero, pick a spot in the neighborhood each week, often a Metra station, and work hard to clean up and weed the area. THANK YOU to this amazing group!

Beginning in October, BAPA will be hosting a six-week Tech Tuesday program geared towards seniors in our Community Room.  The class will be held once a week, and people can explore how to use their phone, access apps, photos and much more. It is free to BAPA members. There will be more information to follow. We look forward to bringing more and more programming to our community and our members.

We are thankful for those who support BAPA’s mission through membership, and encourage anyone interested in becoming a BAPA member to contact us or check out our website at www.bapa.org. We look forward to a great month of September!

All the best, Margot