Meeting Minutes ~ May 11, 2022

Action Ridge General Meeting

May 11, 2022

Meeting commenced at 7:00pm

Nan welcomed everyone and thanked Scott Grau for figuring out an improved video setup.

Viewing of Nan’s segment on Firsthand: Segregation.

Discussion of Nan’s segment from the Firsthand discussion guide

Question prompt: What are the factors that have created segregation in Park Ridge?

Comments from attendees:

Federal actions incentivized white flight and steered investment to white communities. Also, there were discriminatory local policies both codified (covenants) and informal. Park Ridge never felt the need to accommodate people of color since there were “other” places for them to live in the area.

On a previous panel, one black woman who attended said that she would feel uncomfortable living in such a white community and that she couldn’t afford to live in Park Ridge. (This comment was revised to reflect Nan’s recollection of the woman’s comments at that previous panel.)

Making Park Ridge more diverse is a function of making it more affordable to live here.

There are not many people of color represented in the community already. A member remembered that a family of color that was renting here did not feel welcome – example of man being followed home by a Park Ridge police vehicle which sat outside his home for a while.

A member gave an example of a black man in Arlington Heights whose white friends felt he was accepted in community and were surprised that he wouldn’t ride his bike after dark in his own neighborhood.

A member recalled a black woman in Park Ridge feeling uncomfortable walking down the street.

When a member was living in San Francisco, one of her black friends took her and other white women to a bar where they were the only white people – feeling of discomfort.

A member used to do work at a Native American reservation. When they were first there, they and their hosts had to get comfortable with each other. Over time, they got very used to being with each other. The car she was in was speeding one time and got pulled over by the local police force. The officer had heard about them and ended up letting them off the hook.

Nan provided an update on Blue Island, our twin city. Fifteen people have gone to visit Blue Island. On Nan’s third visit, she felt much more comfortable. She has been speaking with Tonika Johnson and Maria Krysan about matching with individuals in Blue Island for deeper relationship-building.

Ann Kapustiak reminded that people of color may not be as interested in engaging in interactions that ultimately disproportionately benefit white people’s agenda. Nan agreed that it was a fine line.

Viewing of Jason Ivy’s segment on Firsthand: Segregation

General observations of Jason’s story:

Follow Jason on Spotify!

The segment illustrated the power of art for people to make connections, possibly a vehicle to make other connections with Blue Island.

Question prompt: Jason says that his school experiences formed his current views. How has your school experience shaped your view of race?

The member went to Maine East, when it was less diverse.

The member went to St. Paul and then her parents wanted her to go to Maine South, because she would know a few people. Her home was on the dividing line between Maine South and Maine East so it would have been feasible and closer for her to go to ME. She currently works for a non-profit that focuses on student equity and outcomes. She was surprised that the school hadn’t had air conditioning a year before.

The member lives in Niles where they could choose ME or MS for their children. Everyone assumed she would send her kids to Maine South. People talked of gang activity at ME. ME was a phenomenal experience for her son, who is white. Now most of his friends are people of color at college. Her daughter is of Guatemalan descent and has also had a great experience.

Nan’s son, Mark, was not happy at first to be going to ME, but ultimately was glad that he went there.

It is a challenge to think about how to cultivate relationships with people of color. Ann Kapustiak suggested that we try to have Jason Ivy play in Park Ridge.

Committee updates

Affordable Housing – Kristin Berg

At the May 2 City Council meeting Drew Awsumb made a presentation about the affordable housing plan and Park Ridge’s need to file a report.

Park Ridge asked the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus to make a presentation to consult with City Council on ways to create an affordable housing plan.

The committee has developed an infographic and petition that will be ready to circulate when the work gets going in earnest. They are looking for testimonials from people who are in need of less costly housing in Park Ridge.

Gun Violence Prevention – Noreen Gayford and Joan Bludeau Lavelle

They are working closely with GPAC – attending calls and publicizing actions. While Action Ridge can’t endorse candidates, we can collect and distribute a list of all candidates’ opinions regarding  gun legislation. (This comment was updated to reflect Action Ridge’s non-partisan status per Nan.)

June 3 – Moms Demand Action Day – wear orange to support sensible gun legislation.

Several bills were on Pritzker’s desk.

Gun Store Transparency Project – will hold sellers accountable.

There have been recent gun-related incidents in Park Ridge. A gun stolen from unlocked car on Stanley Ave and a loaded gun was found in Olympia Park.

Human Rights – Cynthia Kater

United Against Hate rally at Jonquil Terrace Park on May 15 at 3pm. Action Ridge is co-sponsoring with Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton’s office and Niles Coalition. Nan will open the event with comments.

Cynthia has been in contact with student groups at ME, MS, and Niles West representing student affinity groups. An adult speaker from Niles West will address hate directed towards these students at the rally.

Cynthia suggested organizing around issues of reproductive rights given the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Diversity Discussion Group – Karen Banks-Lubicz

The group will discuss “Why are all the Black Kids sitting together in the Cafeteria?”  by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD on May 25 at 7pm via Zoom.  The book is available now at the library upstairs at Reader Services.  The group will also discuss meeting in person for future sessions.

Policing and Criminal Justice – Alissa Goldwasser and Kristen Olson

School Resource Officers – Alissa and Kristen continue to push for more rigorous reporting for the annual SRO evaluation. Their conversations with stakeholders have so far pointed to a program that is yielding positive outcomes for the school communities.

Lexipol – The police department just started working in earnest with Lexipol to update its hundreds of general orders based on current law and practice. Alissa and Kristen hope to get insight into the process in real time, but are prepared to compare new and old language once it is available to the public.

Uptown disturbances – Many of the uptown businesses have restricted young people’s access to their stores following incidents ranging from disrespectful behavior to property destruction. Police are trying to balance public safety without criminalizing young people. They are Increasing patrols, activating citizen watches, and establishing a more visible presence. They are not being heavy-handed when dealing with youth. 

Coffee Series – Action Ridge is piloting a series of monthly informal coffees for anyone who wants to come and have a discussion with leadership of the Park Ridge Police Department. Each month there will be a loose theme, but we expect that other questions and concerns will come up. The first session will take place July 14 at 2pm at Off the Wall at 104 Main Street. It will be an opportunity to meet with Geri Silic, the PD’s social worker and better understand the work she does and how it ties into the larger conversation of mental health and critical incident response.

Voting and Elections – Pat Lofthouse and Chris Parson

Rank-choice voting is gaining popularity. It is on a referendum in Evanston.  Park Ridge is unlikely to be a vanguard of this approach. Laura Murphy introduced in the State.

If you have moved, make sure that you register to vote; it can be done online. Mail-in ballots are currently available and early voting starts June 18. The League of Women Voters and Action Ridge may hold a candidate forum before the November elections.

Membership – Kate Kerin

Kate continues to push to expand and diversify membership. Please invite someone to the next meeting.

Upcoming events

May 12 – Affordable Housing Action Meeting

May 15 – Neighbors United Against Hate

May 25 – Book Discussion Group

May 30 – Memorial Day Parade

June 7 – Loving Together (a program celebrating LGBTQ+ faith affirmations) 7-8pm, First Methodist Church (418 W. Touhy)

Ann Kapustiak is working with the Maine Township high schools to engage interns around qualitative research related to affordable housing. Separately, she gave a presentation for a social studies class at Maine South about her research on segregation in Park Ridge.

Meeting ended at 8:56pm.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson.

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