Meeting Minutes ~ 2.18.21

Action Ridge General Meeting

February 18, 2021


Review of Recent and Upcoming Items

February 22nd, 7:00–The Sustainability Task Force is asking for support.  Call 847-318-5200 to register for the Council meeting or sign up online at

February 24th, 7:00—The Discussion Group will meet to decide next steps.

We are forming a group to plan ways to advocate for increased Affordable Housing.  Email to join in.

Pat Lofthouse, Julianna Lopez de Philbrook, Kate Kerin, Linda Ritts, Liz Swanson and Nan Parson are meeting next week to talk about possibly incorporating.

Alissa Goldwasser is researching the Criminal Justice Reform Bill (HB3653) and will report to us soon.

Liz and Nan have talked to Ashley Perkins, of The Institute for Nonviolence, about conducting a Nonviolence Workshop.  A tentative date of March 24th has been set.

Lisa Page is negotiating with the library about showing The Long Shadow, followed by a discussion with the writer/producer.

On March 18th, the Park Ridge League of Woman Voters will sponsor a candidate forum.  Action Ridge’s Julianna Lopez de Philbrook will take part.  They are asking for volunteers.  If you’d like to help, email the Park Ridge League.

There was an article in Journal Topics that reviewed the recent Maine South High School video meeting about diversity and inclusion.

Karen Hein mentioned that The League of Woman Voters is holding its annual Issues Briefing on February 22 and February 27. Information and registration are at

Special Guest Gerald Kellman

Sue and Mike McGovern introduced Gerald (Jerry) Kellman. Jerry is an organizer who has been working for social justice in areas including affordable housing, restorative justice, and violence prevention for decades. He co-founded the Gamaliel Foundation and brought Barack Obama to Chicago in 1985. He currently works for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization that advocates for financial institutions to make investments in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Jerry described his journey in social justice work:

Grew up in New Rochelle, NY, which was geographically segregated and, as a result, had segregated neighborhood schools. The fight to integrate the schools was his introduction to organizing.

Much of his work has been rooted in faith-based initiatives.  He worked with churches. More recently he believes that Evangelical churches have turned from social justice to tyranny and that the Catholic church has not engaged where it should.

Fast forward a decade or more…

Recruited by NCRC to address economic racism, namely the difficulty of people of color to get loans. NCRC is the principal organization that holds banks accountable for reinvesting in communities. About to complete the largest agreement to date with PNC Bank– more philanthropy, more lending to communities of color, alternatives to payday lending.

Also working on workforce initiatives for NCRC. SNAP employment and training is a program with bipartisan support that is being underutilized in several states including Pennsylvania and Michigan.


Community groups (churches, unions, etc.) are not as strong as they used to be. The internet has, to a degree, supplanted the information flow that came through these institutions. Organizing has to change as a result.

On transitions: Moments of questioning are uncomfortable, when what you thought you knew shifts. If you sit with it, you can move through to something possibly more worthwhile. Barack Obama’s election began a transition that we are currently moving through.

An organizer’s skill is listening – what people want, need, care about.

Relationships are the key to inspiring and sustaining movements. There is a need to be in a relationship with those we want to help and people who want to help us. It is important to be around people who are different than we are and to hear their point of view.

Define yourself, don’t let others define you.

Addressing Local Issues

Easier to do affordable housing if you have the partnership of your municipality. In most towns, this isn’t possible. The good news is that you can still pursue affordable housing in Park Ridge without the city’s help – the laws are very strong. If there’s the money and zoning to put up a building, the city couldn’t stop it. Could get support from Cook County.

Waukegan had a law that you could only live in a dwelling with immediate family. Jerry’s group sued and eventually the city had to give in.

The economics of affordable housing initiatives don’t work unless you get a subsidy – of land, most likely. If not, then you have to get grants. Park Ridge may not get block grant funds, but Cook County may and could allocate to this initiative. It is also possible to pursue bequests as a source of funding. A four-unit building would require a subsidy of approximately $40K-$50K per unit. Fundraising is key.

Jerry believes that change can happen locally as well as nationally.

What is the real goal behind promoting affordable housing – is it to bring diversity to Park Ridge or give better housing to a lower income community? The approach might be different depending on this answer. It is important to build coalitions outside of Park Ridge.

Banks could also be partners. Corporations have re-assessed racial inequality as something they want to take up. This change came from the Black Lives Matter protests and a response to the danger posed by Donald Trump.

A way to motivate an institution (police, elected body) is to identify who is doing it better and challenge Park Ridge to be a leading community.

How do you assess a community’s needs?

Train how to interview, listen, and assess what has been heard

  1. What is the immediate impact on people’s lives?
  2. How can the goal be defined in a specific way?
  3. Is the goal realizable?

If the goal is to increase diversity in Park Ridge, some of the approaches might be:

  • define diversity broadly and address each front
  • invite people in
  • educate
  • work through existing relationships with sister churches
  • advocate for housing diversity

The next Diversity Discussion Group–February 24th at 7:00.

Next General Action Ridge meeting – March 24th at 7:00.

The topic will likely be a workshop with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago

Meeting concluded at 8:39pm

Respectfully submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson

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