Action Ridge General Meeting
January 12, 2022
Meeting began at 7:00pm. All participants were virtual.
Nan Parson acknowledged Action Ridge’s fifth anniversary this year and how much the group has accomplished. Currently, AR has more than 400 people on its email list and weekly emails are regularly opened by approximately 150.
Reflections on 5th Anniversary
Joan Bludeau Lavelle, Kate Kerin, Jeanne Wells, Liz Swanson, and Noreen Gayford shared what they appreciate about Action Ridge, most notably a group of like-minded progressive thinkers in a city that is not known for embracing progressive ideas. They referenced the 2016 election and Sandy Hook as moments of sadness and frustration that made organizing around ideas of democracy and equity paramount.
Review of New Action Ridge Structure
Nan explained that AR needed to become more structured to ensure continuity. Out of the work of the “WIP” group last year, AR has created bylaws that outline the operating activities of the group, including positions and committees. AR previously decided not to incorporate after extensive research and discussion.
The slate of officers and committee heads nominated in October 2021 were voted on for the 2022 operating year by the people in attendance. They are:
Chair – Nan Parson
Vice Chair – Liz Swanson
Secretary – Alissa Goldwasser
Communication Coordinator – Nan Parson
Communication Team – Liz Swanson, Cynthia Kater, Linda Ritts, and Ann Kapustiak
Membership Chair – Kate Kerin
2021 Review and 2022 Outlook by Committee
Affordable Housing – Kristin Berg
Last year’s focus was on the Park Ridge Comprehensive Plan. It was a tumultuous year at City Hall. Kristin read the public comment that Nan wrote and 129 others signed following the installation of the 2021 City Council, urging the city leaders to consider equity and support affordable housing when crafting City policies.
The comprehensive plan is expected to be taken up in March. AR will be there and make sure the process is transparent and that AR’s position is heard. Ultimately, AR strives to have a plan with diversity of housing and housing prices.
Civil Rights – Karen Banks-Lubicz
The book discussion group has read several important books, followed by engaging conversations. The group is partnering with other agencies for movie screenings (The Long Shadow at the Park Ridge library) and book discussions (Garbage Wars with Collective Resource.)
Policing and Criminal Justice – Alissa Goldwasser
In 2021, the committee focused on data gathering and establishing a channel for dialogue with the Park Ridge Police Department. AR successfully advocated for implicit bias training for volunteer citizen groups affiliated with the police and made a public comment on the inadequacy of the current School Resource Officer (SRO) evaluation. In 2022, AR will narrow the recommendations for improvements to the evaluation and try to get them implemented for the 2021-2022 school year report.
Environmental/Sustainability – Tim Milburn
Tim drove efforts in City Council last year related to the Sustainability Commission before agreeing to lead the Environmental/Sustainability Committee for AR. The focus for 2022 will be on education and outreach. Aspects of the Greenest Region Compact and the Climate Action Plan will be central to this work. Tim will present at AR’s next general meeting on February 15 at 6:30pm.
Gun Violence Prevention – Noreen Gayford and Joan Bludeau Lavelle
AR worked for passage of the BIO bill. It was passed in the spring, expanding background checks to all gun sales, allocating $9M in mental health for affected communities, establishing a stolen gun database, and requiring all state police to monitor a database for prohibited buyers. AR also got D64 to back a resolution to not allow armed staff in the schools. Moving into 2022, AR will be working to pass the amended School Safety Drill Act (HB2400) and Ethan’s Law.
Voting and Elections – Chris Parson
AR registered more than 300 voters at the three Park Ridge high schools. In 2022, AR will continue its voter registration efforts and advocate for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Membership – Kate Kerin
Kate is collecting areas of interest surveys from new and existing members. She also plans to solicit feedback from members about their satisfaction with AR’s work.
The book group discussed The Day the World Stops Shopping in collaboration with Go Green Park Ridge and the library.
Alissa and Amy Bartucci attended the monthly Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group meeting for parents/community members at Maine South. Principal Ben Collins updated the group on the most recent actions the school is taking to create an atmosphere where all students are heard, respected, and given opportunities to thrive. Difficult take-aways from student identity group listening sessions were presented to the teaching staff. Leadership provided training centered on a framework for teachers to address insensitivity and hate head-on when they take place in the building. Teachers are expected to name the behavior and its harm, express Maine South’s intolerance of the behavior, and follow up with a report to school administrators.
The Action Ridge Food Drive benefitting The Love Fridge project continues through January 15. Drop Love Fridge donations at 422 Lake Ave, 530 N Ashland, or 410 S Fairview. For more information go to thelovefridge.com.
Ann Kapustiak is in conversations with the Maine South Social Studies department to do a presentation to teachers about her research on housing discrimination in Park Ridge.
The AR February general meeting will be on the 15th at 6:30pm via Zoom, unless Covid conditions improve enough to allow a hybrid meeting. Tim Milburn will present on “Clean Energy” in collaboration with Go Green Park Ridge and Green Drinks.
For the March general meeting, AR may have an opportunity to view Any Given Day with director Margaret Byrne about mental health issues. AR will need to raise money to host the event.
A documentary which includes Nan Parson, part of the First Hand documentary series is set to air in late February. As part of the launch on February 22, Nan will join a panel of other community change agents featured in the film.
Meeting adjourned at 8:18pm
Minutes respectfully submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson.