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

Village Viewpoint

On the snowy Monday of Dec. 16, the BAPA staff started the day with this wonderful email from neighborhood resident Barbara Gyarmathy:  

I just want to let you know how awesome I think BAPA is. When I was traveling south down Western on Saturday during your Cookie Crawl, I was treated to the sight of so many people walking down the street in groups of ladies and in family units with the kids, all clutching their golden tins to collect their treats at local businesses. It looked like a wholesome picture from the cover of an old Saturday Evening Post magazine.  It made me so proud of the neighborhood I live in and of BAPA. It struck me that BAPA is like the string of the necklace that holds the pearls together: One without the other would not have the same value. I would imagine there are many more people like me who appreciate beyond measure what you do. 

Wow!  

Barbara’s note came as our staff was tying up BAPA’s last event of 2019 and thrilled with another chance to bring together neighborhood residents and businesses (check out the Cookie Crawl photo gallery at Beverly Area Planning Association on Facebook!). We work hard on behalf of the neighborhood, and it’s really nice to get such a heartfelt affirmation from a neighbor.   

As we look forward to 2020, BAPA’s staff, leaders and volunteers are more committed than ever to serving our neighbors with meaningful, effective programs and events that make all of us proud of Beverly/Morgan ParkWe’ll be expanding our communications, popping up our special events, and building on the recent work we’ve done refocusing our committees on education, housing and economic development. We’ll be enriching programs that welcome new neighbors, promote local businesses, and connect area residents to important resources. It looks like it’s going to be a great new year!  

BAPA’s motto – and our job — is Love Where You LiveThank you to all of our neighbors who support our work as members, donors, volunteers and – like Barbara – cheerleaders.  

 

Sad News 

At the end of 2019, our community lost a great friend with the passing of Lorraine Stanton.  Lorraine and Pat Stanton created a legacy of community activism that now spans three generations. In her 60 years as a Beverly/Morgan Park neighbor, Lorraine fostered a stronger community by helping to found and sustain the Beverly Arts Center and the Catholic Youth Ministry Center, and in helping to shape BAPA and the welcoming neighborhood we have today. Lorraine received lifetime achievement awards from BAPA and the Beverly Arts Center, but those recognitions are small thanks for the huge contributions she has made to our community. The staff and leaders at BAPA will miss our friend, Lorraine.   

 

Shop for a Gift to Our Community 

By Grace Kuikman 

I’ve been shopping at small neighborhood businesses all my life. When I was a kid, on Saturdays I’d tag along when my dad made the rounds to the butcher shop, the bakery and the grocery store. We bought our clothes and shoes on 95th Street, we went to restaurants on Western AvenueWhen I asked to go out to the malls to shop the answer was always the same: Only if you can’t buy what you need in the neighborhood. 

The names of the stores have changed, but the benefits of shopping where I live remain the same: Local businesses shape not just the local economy but the culture of our community 

According to a recent study, about $65 out of every $100 spent at a local small business stays in the community. Those dollars help to restock the shelves, pay wages and taxes, improve business properties and support other local businesses. Strong commercial areas strengthen their residential counterparts, helping to keep home values up.  

When local entrepreneurs see a gap they try to fill it. They are creative, industrious, collaborative and open to new ideas Their one-of-a-kind businesses not only serve shoppers, they help to define the unique nature of the Beverly/Morgan Park communityBusinesses partner with organizations to sponsor our community’s signature events like BAPA’s Ridge Run, Home Tour and Bikes & Brews Festival, and the Beverly Area Arts Alliance’s Beverly Art Walk.   

Local businesses are more inclined to buy locally sourced merchandise and materials, and to employ neighbors. They donate to neighborhood fundraisers, sports teams and community organizations.  

Most of the owners of local businesses are our neighbors. They recognize us when we drop in at their shops, offices and restaurants. We feel comfortable asking them about their products and services, and trust that they will stand behind what they sell. If a local business doesn’t have what I’m looking for, it’s not unusual for the owner to check into whether they can get it for me. That’s the definition of customer service.  

Success breeds success. When local businesses thrive, they contribute to the growth of commercial districts by attracting new businesses. There is no better advertisement for an investor than the busy shop next door.  

It’s in our hands – literally – to support our local businesses.  

Don’t go to the internet first when it’s time to shop. Those businesses are not investing in our community, creating first jobs for teens or adding to the neighborhood spirit.  Yes, it’s convenient to have a box dropped off on your front porch, but it adds nothing to the holiday spirit.  

Take my dad’s advice: When you need something, check to see whether someone in the neighborhood sells it. Beverly/Morgan Park covers a lot of territory, and it’s not uncommon for the people who live on one end of the neighborhood to forget about what’s available on the opposite end. I’m confident most people will be pleasantly surprised to discover how much they can buy that’s close to home.   

Think outside the box. What do local businesses have that may suit the people you’re buying for better than the “routine” stuff that’s been going under the tree or gifted for other occasions? You may find yourself very inspired on a visit to a boutique, flower shop, bookstore, restaurant, salon or other local business 

 

 

  

 

Village Viewpoint – November 2019  

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Beverly/Morgan Park.  Each passing day that I have the privilege of working for this community, I grow more and more in awe of our neighborhood and neighbors. I have developed an appetite for understanding how we got where we are today, what we’ve done right, and how we can do more of it.  

History provides us a valuable lens for organizational and individual reflection. The passing of the federal Fair Housing Act in 1968 changed the trajectory of Beverly/Morgan Park’s history.  

Starting on page 1 of this issue of The Villager we are sharing “How to Integrate a Neighborhood in three (not so easy) steps,” aarticle about that time of our history written by neighborhood resident and BAPA Board member Scott Smith and published in Belt Magazine. The essay details how our neighborhood navigated racial change in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the phrase “white flight” became an infamous part of Chicago’s vocabulary 

Smith interviewed three longtime residents who played pivotal roles in how racial integration transformed our community – each of these neighbors sees this time through personal lens of experienceThis topic comes up frequently when the history of BAPA is discussed, and It’s not at all surprising that the story is often as unique as the person telling it. To engage in the re-telling of this important part of our history is to reveal our own lens. It feels risky. But, for me, choosing not to tell the story is the wrong choice.  

I know I am not alone in this belief.  

Today, I see conversations about diversity, integration, acceptance of all people actively sought out in our community.  These dialogues are organized through groups like Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative, Unity in Diversity, You Are My Neighbor forumsand the new Beverly Arts Center’s Diversity Committeeto name a fewThese conversations provide new lenses for consideration.  Reading Smith’s article, we can look at facts, actions and words that were captured in our community’s history 50 years ago and hear from three people who were involved about how it felt at the time to take a step into something that was new – and often volatile — territory.   

Like all of us, I can only speak from my own personal lens. This article provides a way to acknowledge BAPA’s role in reflecting Beverly/Morgan Park as it was in the 1970s and the organizations intention to do what was right at the time.  That lens, for me, provides an even sharper focus on what we’re doing right in our community today.   

Village Viewpoint

The Welcome Wagon 
By: Susan Flood

As I write this column, the BAPA staff is busy getting ready to welcome new neighbors to Beverly Hills/Morgan Park at our first New Neighbor Meet and Greet.  The concept of the “Welcome Wagon” is not new.  It was founded in 1928 in Tennessee by a man named Thomas Briggs who saw the power of marketing to people who recently moved into an area and how it connected newcomers to a community where they could build meaningful relationships.  

Our neighborhood was well underway to becoming the tight knit community it is today well before the 1920sand our beautiful historic homes tell that story.  

When I joined BAPA’s hard working team I started probing our residents about how they feel about living here. It’s no surprise that almost all who I encounter are in love with our neighborhood.  Still I saw an opportunity to extend that warm welcome feeling to newcomers, whether they grew up here and just bought their first home for their own family, or whether they landed here as new homeowners.   

BAPA staff members put our heads together with local leaders and residents of all ages and backgrounds,  and came to the conclusion that the welcome efforts need to be personal.  That just a gift bag or a letter, no matter how useful, well written, or jam packed with resources is not the key to feeling a part of our special closeknit village in the city.  Connection is being called by your name, being recognized by neighbors at the coffee shop; it’s a smile because you met over a beer on Saturday or are church on Sunday.   

I’m a transplant myself, and if not for my neighbors’ efforts to be personal, I don’t know how my journey would have turned out.  Introductions, advice on where to find schools, stay healthy, find organized activities and fun for my family.  It’s simple when you think about it.  It’s what we learned in kindergarten: The power of a smile, sharing and caring about the people around us. People who visit feel it when they’re here, and that’s what makes them want to stay.    

 

Village Viewpoint – September 2019 

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

 

This is my favorite Villager of the year because it’s all about YOU. BAPA is you. Your story is our story. Your concerns are our concerns. Your reasons to love where you live are our reasons to love where we live. 

Our most important job at BAPA is listening. Listening to the people who oversee our schools, nurture our churches and charities, operate our institutions, run our businesses and walk our beats. Listening to our members and listening to every voice in our community.  

Listening is the oxygen of community action. Whether it’s a phone call from a neighbor in need, a resident who stands up at a meeting to share a concern, a new neighbor who stops by to find out more about the neighborhood or an old friend who takes time to pass along an important observation, BAPA breathes in the information and the inflection, then works to be a catalyst and a connector.  

Every fall when we start asking BAPA members why they make their annual gift a priority, we’re energized by the answers.  

Knowing that BAPA has been working for decades to ensure that our community stays stable, safe and diverse is important to us.  

BAPA is the glue that holds all of us together by our mutual interest in . . . our neighborhood. 

The community growing and diversifying . . .  We see neighbors supporting one another and creating even stronger bonds.  

BAPA is constantly promoting local businesses through their social media, The Villager and their events.   

BAPA works hard to maintain and strengthen [community] spirit through activities and programs designed to expand the quality of life we all enjoy.  

Being a business member opens up avenues for networking and advertising in my own community.  

BAPA makes it easy to love where you live.  

A community organization is only as powerful as the connection among the people it serves. In Beverly/Morgan Park, there’s a powerful connection, and that’s what makes Beverly/Morgan Park unlike any other neighborhood in Chicago.     

Although the BAPA office is staffed by only a few employees, it is driven by a community of people who volunteer for events and programs, call on us to share ideas and concerns, join us in celebrating this amazing community, and stand with us to make sure life in our little area of the world is rooted in what is good for families and friendships and that it stays that way 

 

 

Village Viewpoint August 2019: Refrigerator Magnet Wisdom

 

By Susan Flood 
BAPA Executive Director  

I know what you’re thinking when you read the title to this Village Viewpoint — my refrigerator won’t hold magnets anymore, But I implore you to stay with me on this. Truly, in my life, I can credit refrigerator magnet sayings for spurring me onward, to both success and failure.  Recently I threw out “Leap and the net will appear” magnet; it caused of some real mistakes!   

Today, I want to ask the Beverly/Morgan Park community to ask yourselves whether you follow the advice on one of my favorite magnets. It is credited to William James: “Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does 

If you are like me, this directive is challenging, and it can make you feel vulnerable and possibly uncomfortable.  It is natural to want to be brave, noble, even bold, but it doesn’t call for that extreme. I wonder how adoption of this idea would bring about change in our city, our neighborhood, our blocksour own backyards. Is it possible that when we challenge ourselves to think this way about our daily encounters in our community that we can contribute to an even better place to call home? 

What if we thank the business that uses materials that are recyclable and provides ways to easily recycle them?  What if we put together a flyer for a block party and drop it in everyone’s mailbox on the block?  What if we manage a smile or hello to a stranger at our home train stationin the grocery store line or for a new family on the sidewalk when we drop our kids off at school?  I find that merely friendly eye contact can change the way I am feeling in an instantIts not a radical or dramatic, but there is no doubt that the ripple effect can lead to so much more than the simple act.  

The best part is the refrigerator magnet advice works for everyone.  If you are someone who feels welcome in Beverly/Morgan Park, you can cause a ripple in how welcome others feel.  If you wish you felt more welcome during your daily routine in our neighborhood and you try this by someone else feel more welcome You are bound to be someone whose example inspires others and, often, that inspires you!   

All of us feel vulnerable when we put ourselves out there and try to make a difference, but if we all did, imagine the power of this great community.   

 

Recipe for a Happy Summer

 

The science of happiness has come a long way.  Of course, the recipe for happiness varies from person to person, but scientists will state that they have data on what makes most of us miserable.  Growing up, all of us, young and old, have adopted a “school’s out” mindset.  A break in routine brings along with it a more carefree outlook.  Here, in the Village in the City, all around us are the ingredients we need for a summer of happiness. 

1 part sunlight. When your body absorbs UV light, it produces more of the happiness hormone serotonin, and that pumps your mood. Exposure to sunlight also shuts down production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which leaves you feely sleepy and sluggish. So get out in it!   

1 part nature. Science has determined that nature has a therepeutic effect.  Take a bike ride down a tree lined street, or through a forest preserve or beside a body of water.   Nature produces a serene feeling that lingers. We can get a nature fix by spending a day gardening in our own yards or a public somewhere nearby that needs some attention.  

1 part sweat. Physical exertion to the point of sweating actually produces pain reducing, blissful endorphin hormones.  Even short periods of sweating can add up to brighter outlooks on life. 

1 part party. We are social creatures, and the evidence on the power of connecting is strong.  Gathering socially at barbecues, parties, walks, or al fresco dining at a local restaurant offers the chance to meet friend and strangers and to be part of something bigger than ourselves.   

Directions:  Put these all together by organizing an event like your block party or porch party, or volunteer at an already organized event.  Jump in and help for an hour or two, or a day or make a long range plan to show up where you are needed every week.  The possibilities are enless with so many activities put on by BAPA, Beverly Arts Center,  Moms of Beverly, 19th Ward, Beverly Area Arts Alliance, Get local Beverly, local churches, schoolsorganizations like garden clubs, or even at a CAPS meeting  Want help connecting to a place to volunteer?  Call us at 773-233-3100 or email us at bapa@bapa.org and BAPA help you find an important ingredient in your recipe for happiness.    

 We’re lucky to have so many unique aspects of Beverly/Morgan Park.  We only have to walk out our front doors to find it.  BAPA sees it every day.  Just ask us! 

 

Village Viewpoint

By Maureen Gainer Reilly 
BAPA Board President 

It’s easy to love Beverly/Morgan Park at this time of year when spring works it’s magic and reminds us why we don’t pack up and move to California.  The neighborhood is incredibly beautiful when all the trees, flowering bushes and gardens highlight our historic homes.   

But what really gets me this time of year is the sheer number of residents who share their time, talent and treasure with the neighborhood.  

Each spring BAPA brings us the Clean & Green, the Home Tour and the Ridge Run and Memorial Day Parade (thankfully we have new, hip coffeeshops to caffeinate the small but mighty BAPA staff). The number of people needed to pull of these events is staggering. I don’t know of another Chicago neighborhood that can boast hundreds and hundreds of volunteers pulling together to beautify, build community and hang with their neighbors on the scale of Beverly/Morgan Park.   

We can measure the actual number of volunteers who help out, but want can’t be quantified is the effect these events have on the strength of our community.   

Anyone who did the Clean and Green can tell you the weather was horrible with a cruel Chicago mix of rain, wind and snow.  But that didn’t stop over 100 volunteers and civic associations from working on our parks, train stations and schools.  I met a woman who worked with a large crew at the 103rd street Metra station who told me she feels great each morning on the platform headed downtown knowing she helped make it a beautiful space. 

How do you measure that feeling?  

While standing in a living room volunteering for the Home Tour, I asked a woman from the North Side why she came down to the tour with her daughter.  Her response, “I’ve never been here but people from Beverly are so into Beverly I had to see it for myself!” 

 How do you measure that our “love where you live” sentiment is known all over the city 

And we’ll never know the exact number of runners who have bought a house here after weaving through our packed, cheering streets on Ridge Run day.   

We are lucky.  No other neighborhood in Chicago has similar, 70-year-old, grass roots neighborhood organization like BAPA.  I am so grateful BAPA is here providing a framework for residents, civic groups, businesses and institutions to connect, celebrate and strengthen our neighborhood.  I hope you’ll join me and the countless BAPA volunteers and BAPA members who make Beverly/Morgan Park so strong.  See you at the next event!  

Village Viewpoint

By Susan Flood

When I was starting my career out just of college I jumped into the blooming desktop technology industry.  Desktop PCs and Macs were in their infancy, and the industry workers, previously thought of as loners and extremists, were suddenly regarded as the young visionaries of capitalism.  

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with Adobe Systems founder John Warnock when I worked on Adobe’s new technology team. As salesmen who aggressively sought profit, we didn’t understand why our company didn’t just commit to one tech platform – and back then PCs seemed to own the market.  John said, “There will always be Macs, people will always want a choice.  He was right.   

In our community, people have so much choice.   

We have choice in what kind of house we live in:  Victorian, Queen Anne, Chicago bungalow, Tudor, Italianate, English Country, Georgian, MediterraneanPrairie School or other styles.  The homes built by titans seeking abundant space, interesting scenery and proximity to Chicago’s city center provided a map on which we now build our modern hopes, dreams and legacies.    

We have choice in schools.  Within Beverly/Morgan Park are some of the highest ranked CPS schools in the city and unusually strong private schools, both with too many success stories to count.    

We have choice in places to shop, play, enjoy culture and music, and dine.  

It’s true to live in Beverly/Morgan Park is to embrace choice. 

We choose to live here among wonderful neighbors and friends from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, with impressive educational, cultural, artistic and career pedigrees.  We value the differences that are offered as a truly tremendous asset to imbue in our future generations.  Why not equip our kids with the knowledge of what’s truly out there to discover and how interesting it is to discover it alongside someone who may bring a different perspective to it?   

In May, BAPA works hard to draw attention to the gifts of choice our neighborhood bestows on its residents. BAPA’s biggest events — the Home Tour and Ridge Run and Memorial Day parade — evoke a sense of a well-connected small town, rich in history and full of old friends.  As we emerge from the long Chicago winter to participate in these events we see new and familiar faces and witness in both their passion for our surroundings.   

They say the indicators of what makes a place a great place to live are safety, access to good paying jobs, availability of highquality parks and recreation, availability of high-quality arts, culture and nightlife.  We are well placed for checking all those boxes.  But the real currency comes in the daytoday living in our community.  It sneaks up to us unannounced when we’re cheering on a runner at the Ridge Run or noticing the crowded sidewalks outside schools in the fall and churches on a summer day.  We’re surrounded by people we may not yet know, but we can be sure they too are here for the choice. 

 

 

Village Viewpoint 2019: So Much More Than Numbers  

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

I was talking with a local business owner recently and I asked, “How do we get more people to open businesses here alongside you?” He quickly shared his take on this problem: “It’s demographics.” 

 Demographics are the numbers that describe the number, financial profile and average age of area residents. These numbers are compiled by drawing a radius from a center point of Beverly/Morgan Park and counting population density, average income and other characteristics of the people within that radius. They are the numbers used by marketers and developers when deciding where their investments can be most profitable.   

 Personally, I’ve never been fond of these broad-stroke labels because they miss out on so much of what’s best about the people they are trying to find out about.  Statistics and demographics are tools used to predict behavior.  I don’t see that these particular tools provide an accurate picture of the quality of life here in the Village in the City, not today, not ever.   Demographics don’t reflect the dynamic lifestyle built by generations of engaged citizens here; they don’t appreciate that we are people, not just numbers populating blocks.  

 Numbers don’t show the families that draw generations back to our community.  They don’t know the feel of a heartfelt handshake between old friends. They don’t show how we celebrate and mourn with our neighbors, helping each other through the many changes in our lives.   

 Outsiders look at the data and they get an incomplete picture of what they would be investing in if they stopped to look deeper than the lining of their pockets.  

 Last month, another kind of outsider came to our neighborhood and posted stickers promoting an organization devoted to hating people.  Outsiders hoping to take advantage of people who might be looking for financial help by selling their house fill up mailboxes with postcards and slap up billboards on street corners.  These kinds of manipulative tools are not unique to our community — all major cities deal with this reality.   

The outsiders don’t get that we are so much more than numbers here, we’re neighbors.  But we know and we ignore them and we keep telling our story, the real story. There is no place better to call home than Beverly/Morgan Park.