Meeting Minutes ~ April 13, 2022

Action Ridge General Meeting

April 13, 2022

The meeting began at 7:15pm. Participants were in person at the Park Ridge Community Church and virtual via Zoom.

Nan welcomed everyone and read the Land Acknowledgment. She then introduced Tonika Lewis Johnson, creator of the Folded Map Project, and Maria Krysan, Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Feature Presentation: The Folded Map Project (Live!)

Maria Krysan provided background for the project, including the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which made it illegal to discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status.

However, segregation is basically unchanged from then, though it looks somewhat different. Segregation is now baked into policies due to social engineering of segregation.

Three explanations for segregation:

  • Economics (assimilation perspective)
  • Preferences
  • Discrimination (stratification perspective)

Preferences (social factors) would still lead to segregation even if economics and discrimination didn’t exist.

Our media, social networks, and lived experiences are all informed by race. They are the reason we know what we do about whether a place is “good” or “bad”.

  • Media is more than news – movies, TV, advertisements for stores or jobs, list serves.
  • Social networks – living near family/friends, but also knowing where people you know live.
  • Lived experiences – where you live or lived, worked, places you go.

People have a tendency to use one known fact about a place to fill in for lots of things they don’t know about a place.

The Folded Map disrupts these thought systems.

Tonika also spearheaded the Don’t Go… Project. She and Maria interviewed 30 people about going to neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago. Many articulated reasons for not going that were not known or true.

Tonika played a video of a segment related to the Firsthand: Segregation series. Chicagoans who have gone where they weren’t “supposed” to go discussed their experiences.

Tonika presented another project she worked on called Belonging: Power, Place, and (im)possibilities. Inspired by news reports of downtown Chicago business that were banning teens, she interviewed and photographed nine Black and brown youth and asked them about places where they have been profiled.

Reflections of AR members who went to Blue Island

Several Action Ridge members went to visit Blue Island in small groups over the past month. Action Ridge had identified Blue Island as Park Ridge’s map twin at the previous meeting.

Sharon Kemerer

There was a lot of community energy. The people at City Hall were welcoming. She had grown up in the community. Her mother had grown up in Blue Island. She visited the funeral home that had done her family’s funerals.

Chris Parson

Chris spent most of his time in downtown Blue Island. Almost all of the people working in the library were white. Many library patrons looked like they might be homeless. He saw many historic homes in the residential areas. It struck him that a very diverse community had figured out how to be stable.

Kristen Olson

Blue Island reminded her of Des Plaines in the way that it exhibited racial diversity and revitalization of the downtown area. She came in by way of more affluent suburbs, Homewood and Flossmoor. There she saw golf courses and overpasses. By contrast, Blue Island had a junkyard at its edge and she had to wait 10 minutes for a freight train to pass. The library had a big collection of books for job seeking and study guides for the military entrance test.

Nan will collect reflections from all of the AR members who went to Blue Island and will send out the compendium to the group.

Upcoming Events

Blue Island will be hosting a community clean up. There was a discussion about whether it is appropriate for people from Park Ridge to participate. Would it be a useful way to get to know people in Blue Island or could it be perceived as a do-gooder activity that might offend? Tonika thought it would be a good idea to go. Nan will send out more information as it becomes available.

At the May 11 Action Ridge meeting we will work through some of the action-oriented materials from the Firsthand series study guide.

Cynthia Kater discussed two events that respond to recent drops of anti-Semitic flyers in the north and northwest suburbs. The Niles Coalition asked if Action Ridge wanted to be involved.  There will be a rally on April 24 at 5:30pm at Gallery Park in Glenview. Several elected officials are expected to attend. Then, on the afternoon of May 15, there will be a rally in Jonquil Park in Niles.

Tonika Johnson will be recording a live episode of her podcast, Inequity for Sale, on April 28 at Kennedy King College. Her guests will include Marisa Novara, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Housing; Robin Simmons, who led the charge for the Evanston reparations program; and Amber Hendley, a researcher on the paper, “The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago”.

The Smithsonian exhibit, “The Bias Inside Us”, will be at the Evanston Public Library. Nan is organizing a group from Action Ridge to attend.

Meeting adjourned at 9:10pm

Minutes respectfully submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson.

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