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Affordable Housing Advocacy Group Meeting Minutes ~ April 7, 2022

Date: April 7, 2022

Location of meeting:  Via Zoom

Time meeting was called to order: 7:00pm

Attendees:  Kristin Berg, Nan Parson, Melani Kaplan, Jeanne Wells, Kathy Rosling, Karen Banks-Lubicz

Agenda Items:

  1. Kristin spoke with Drew Awsumb regarding the process and timing of the Comp Plan and the main points were as follows:
    1. Much has changed since 2019 when the Plan was started: the pandemic, new commissioners, new aldermen
    1. There will be public meetings ahead of the PZC discussions
    1. There will not be an overall consultant on the Plan, but some sections and some data might be given to a consultant for updating
    1. The city is surveying commissioners and aldermen to see where they should start as some chapters were close to being done.  Drew agrees that much was not resolved in the Housing Chapter and new things have come up, such as the possibility of adding more 3-flats that could affect Land Use.
    1. Drew agrees that officials need educating, as does the public.  He will encourage educational sessions and is in favor of bringing in officials from other suburbs who have gone through updating their housing language in Comp Plans and Housing Plans.
    1. He advised that we wait to make public comments until the topic is discussed in meetings
  • Kristin talked about how the year old Libertyville Comp Plan update has some very specific language on AH and in some cases call it “Attainable Housing”.  That Plan and page references to the language was sent to the group following the meeting:

Libertyville-Comprehensive-Plan—Approved-32321

Here are the pages that mention AH or Attainable Housing:

Pages 112-115

Page 168, 177 and 188-89

  • The LWV of Illinois held their annual Issues Briefing sessions in March and one of them was on “How to Make Your Voices Heard”.  A former state legislator talked about how logic and reasoning did not persuade him.  What won him over were the personal stories.  The group discussed friends, family, and associates personally known to them that are struggling to pay their rent, unable to live in or near Park Ridge, and have to commute long distances to work in Park Ridge, visit family, etc.  We will attempt to gather these stories and either ask people to tell them at a future PZC and/or City Council meeting or agree to have them recorded and submit them in writing or on video.  Local churches, businesses, social service agencies, and restaurants all may have stories to share.
  • The LWVE updated their Housing Statement and distributed it to local officials.  One of their references was the LWVCC “Findings and Recommendations on Affordable Housing and Residential Desegregation”.  They asked the question “What can Cook County Government do to promote affordable rental housing for families with children while reducing segregation?”.  Kristin mentioned this to the LWVPR at their Annual Meeting on 4/9/22. It turns out that the LWVPR AH Statement is also based on this report.  They will add the reference and post the report on their website.  This is a document that could be distributed to Park Ridge officials at the appropriate time in the Comp Plan discussions.
  • Kate worked on an infographic, and it was shared with the group.  Group feedback included:
    • Add the AR email address for people who want more information.
    • Add “single family homes” under the heading “Types of Affordable Housing”
    • Correct a typo in the property value blurb – it should be nearby, not nearlby
    • A second infographic to address the emotions connected with lack of AH, questions such as “How would you pay for your child’s school if you had to spend 50% of your income on rent?”, include faces of people, statistics on income vs rent/mortgage costs in PR
  • Upcoming events/updates:
    • AR Meeting April 13 at 7:00pm at the Community Church and virtual on zoom. Tonika Johnson and Maria Krysan of the Folded Map Project will be meeting with us. Nan is thinking of ways to include people of color who live in PR in Action Ridge events, committees, etc.
    • AR Diversity Discussion Group.  Next meeting is April 27 at 7:00pm on zoom.  The book is 3 Girls from Bronzeville.
    • Earth Day cleanup event in Blue Island on April 23rd.  Contact  Action Ridge for more information.
    • Vacancy for 7th Ward Alderman
    • HODC Open House May 20th, 3-6pm at HODC office building, 5340 Lincoln Avenue, Skokie.  A “save the Date” flyer was emailed out and the detailed invitation will follow.

Time Meeting Adjourned:  8:40pm                                                              

Next Meeting Date:  Thursday, May 12th at 7:00pm via Zoom

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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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General Meeting ~ April 13th

On April 13th, at 7:00, Action Ridge will host an informative meeting to look at the causes and effects of segregation.  We will meet with Tonika Lewis Johnson, who created The Folded Map Project, through which a northside community is matched with a “twin” southside neighborhood. 

As the Folded Map Project Website says, this twinship simply, but effectively, helps everyone “understand how our urban environment is structured and (explains the impact of segregation) on our social networks”. Tonika “wants to challenge everyone to think about how change may be possible and to contribute to a solution”.

Through their work with the Project, Action Ridge members have chosen Blue Island as our “twin city”.  Six groups of two or three have visited Blue Island to get a feel for the community and to compare similarities and differences between Blue Island and Park Ridge.   On the 13th, Tonika and her colleague, Maria Krysan, will guide participants in a discussion about their experience in Blue Island and will help all of the attendees find ways to create a more beloved, inclusive, less segregated city.   

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General Meeting ~ 7pm June 10

Dear Intellectually Curious Folks,  This is your chance to learn what the term “Affordable Housing” really means and how more housing at various price points can benefit Park Ridge.  Our guest speaker, Sue Loellbach, of the “Joining Forces for Affordable Housing Program” will  teach us so much about housing in Park Ridge and nearby suburbs.

For Zoom link, please email:  actionridge2017@gmail.com

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Meeting Minutes & Video ~ 5.13.21

Action Ridge Meeting Agenda

May 13, 2021

Attendance via Zoom

Link to video Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euX11pVe7MY&t=19s

7:00pm – 7:05 There were 33 people on the call at 7:10.  Nan welcomed all of the participants, especially those who haven’t attended regularly.  Then she went over a brief calendar.

  1.  The Diversity Discussion Group will be talking about Evicted on May 26th.
  2. On June 2nd, the Housing Advocacy Group, will plan initiatives regarding Affordable Housing in Park Ridge.
  3. (Addition to the minutes) On June 3rd, the WIP (Work in Progress) Group will continue to explore ways to structure Action Ridge to ensure its longevity.
  4. Our next General Meeting will be on June 10th.  More later about that meeting.

7:03pm – 7:05pm   Current and Upcoming Actions

  1.  The BIO Bill is still pending.  Noreen has asked us to submit a request to our legislators to pass the bill.  Nan has included it in this email.
  2. “The Long Shadow” will be shown in collaboration with the Park Ridge Library, including a discussion group with the producer.
  3. The Public Comment urging the new Council to keep in mind issues of inclusion, respect and equity when forming policies was read into the record at the Council Meeting on May 10th.  139 people signed the comment.

7:05pm – 7:10pm–Introductions of the panelists and an overview of SAFE-T (Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity — Today) Act—Alissa

7:10pm – 7:55pm            Panel discussion about the SAFE-T Act with

Chief Frank Kaminski, Park Ridge Police Department

Peter Hanna, American Civil Liberties Union, Illinois

Sara Knizhnik, Newtown Action Alliance

1. Introduction of Chief Kaminski, who spoke about the positive aspects of the Act.

  1. Decertification to get rid of bad cops is good.
  2. Body cameras are helpful.  The officers like them.
  3. Training is good but it’s hard to do it consistently because of cost and the need to take officers off the street.
  4. Duty to aide is necessary and it’s good that it’s mandated by the law.

2. Peter Hanna of the ACLU

  1. He feels this is a good step forward. The elimination of cash bail is especially important.
  2. He agrees with the Chief’s assessment of the positive aspects of the bill.
  3. He added that implementation is the key.  Just having a law isn’t enough.

3. Sara Knizhnik

  1.  Criminal Justice reform can’t be separated from policing reform and gun violence prevention.
  2. This bill is a wonderful example of what a bill can do to effect systemic change.
  3. It restores balance to the criminal justice system.  It begins to right a long list of wrongs committed against the people and takes into account their needs, which is good for law enforcement and for those in the system; and it will reduce gun violence.  When the people are helped, gun violence goes down.
  •  Alissa asked about the use of body cameras in the school system.  Chief Kaminski stated that the SROS don’t have to use body cameras, despite the requirement in the bill.  He said that an exception can be made.  To protect student privacy, the schools don’t want them.
  • Chief Kaminski was asked whether training will increase because of the bill.  So far, the department is waiting for direction from the Training Board.  He feels that role-playing training is most effective and hopes that will be implemented. Virtual/interactive training might be used, as well.
  • Peter Hanna said that training is very important but isn’t helpful unless there’s enforcement and discipline of officers who don’t comply.  We need accountability and transparency.  The solution is interlocking the law and follow-up.
  • Sara agreed with the previous comments.  She said that training is good but once the officers get on the street, they may do things as they’ve always done them.  The culture needs to change.
  • Alissa asked Peter to talk about how to change police culture.  He said that there’s a need to have a preventative mindset so that certain situations can be avoided.  The police officers who aren’t willing to change need to be called out.  For a very long time, a 1,000 people have been killed by police each year, which is much more than in any other country.  That needs to change.
  • Chief Kaminski said that, in his long career, he’s seen very good cops and rogue cops.  He feels that leadership has to be willing to call out bad apples.  One bad cop can affect the whole force.  The arbitration process was difficult to deal with; but this new law will help Chiefs be able to get rid of bad cops.  There needs to be a mission statement, which everyone knows, understands and abides by.  The Chief needs to lead the way.
  1. The new law makes room for co-responder cooperation.  Alissa asked if the Chief can imagine a day when the police will not always be called—that a Social Worker or community support might be called, instead.  The Chief didn’t really answer this question but said that all of the officers get CIT (Crisis Intervention Training).  Now an officer always goes out with the Social Worker.  He is wondering if the day will come when there are more Social Workers.  He feels satisfied with the CIT and that it has changed the culture.  Now the officers know how to deescalate a situation. 
  1. Jac Charlier
  1. Jac worked on the aspect of the bill that deals with mental health and substance abuse issues.  He’s an expert on the intersection where policing deals with mental health issues. 
  2. Deflection by organizations and mental health professionals  in the community must be used more often.  The bill expands deflection so that states can get funding for their EMS initiatives.  There are 3 ways that deflection is done.

1. Officers have ready access to someone in the department to help those with mental health issues.

2.  Co-responder approaches, such as a police officer and another medical or behavioral health professional respond together.

3.  Community responders—police don’t respond and community leaders, such as churches, mosques, agencies like the Institute for Non-Violence (note-takers’ suggestion) and EMTs or a behavioral health professional respond.

Jac said that we must get “upstream” of police response and deal with the causes of the problems.

  1.  Alissa brought up the issue of “qualified immunity” which tends to allow bad apples to continue on the job.  It makes it hard to prosecute a rogue cop because he/she is protected by immunity. 
  2. Peter Hanna said that we need to be deferential about the difficulty of policing.  A police officer who makes a good faith error should be protected.  But “qualified immunity” should not be used when a police officer has violated a citizen’s constitutional rights.  Now there’s a “Bad Apple Bill” before the state legislature which can also make it easier to get rid of bad cops.   
  3. Chief Kaminski worries that good cops might not be protected when they are trying to do their jobs.  He worries about the profession and hears that good cops are afraid that, when they make a good-faith mistake, they could be prosecuted, jailed or fired.  Senior police are leaving and it’s hard to find new police, he said.  He hopes that a task force can address this concern. 

A team of Chiefs of Police are working on trailer bills to correct some of the weaknesses of the bill.  Police are in favor of police reform; but he feels that there are inconsistencies that need to be clarified.

7:55pm – 8:15pm            Discussion about Law Enforcement and Youth in Park Ridge

  1.  Alissa asked the Chief about the use of Restorative Justice principles in dealing with youth and the SROs at Maine South and Maine East.  The Chief feels that the SRO program is successful.  But he agrees that the program should be evaluated on-going.  He supports the idea of focus groups to make improvement. 

Alissa suggested that evaluation of the program is important, including outcomes.  Ginger Pennington, a City Council Watch Dog, suggested, at the last Council meeting, ways to evaluate outcomes.  The Chief says that the schools need to be onboard with any evaluation plan; but thinks they should be considered.

  • Alissa asked about the way that young people are dealt with in large groups and wondered if they were being “criminalized”.  The Chief said some of the kids aren’t from Park Ridge. He feels that police need to be involved.   Most of the kids are fine.  They do their best not to “criminalize the teens”.
  • Alissa asked if the citizen patrol groups receive implicant bias or culturally competence training.  The chief said that they are just “ordinary citizens” and don’t receive training.  He’s considering providing that training.

8:15pm – 8:30pm            Q&A (questions via chat function)

  1.  Is the police academy training adequate?  The Chief feels that it’s good enough.
  • The Chief is in favor of creating a teen center again.
  • As the law enforcement profession feels more pressure for reform, is there a way to allay the fears of good officers while dealing with the “bad apples”.  The Chief said he tries to allay their fears; but police personnel are still worried about whether they’ll be treated fairly.

The meeting ended on a positive note with Alissa speaking about the importance of the SAFE-T-ACT in bringing about positive change in policing.


8:45pm                             Meeting Ended

Respectfully submitted by Nan Parson.

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Activities of the Action Ridge Discussion Group

Compiled on February 21, 2021

Our decision to initiate a Discussion Group came from our workshops with the Anti-racist Educators–Corrie Wallace, Sarah Dennis, Yvonnie Dubose and Jena Doolas.

We had been helping The Institute for Non-Violence by giving them Christmas presents and working in their Christmas shop.  We wanted to have more interactions with them; but realized,  as we learned more, that, before we engaged further with them and other helping agencies, we needed to be aware of our own racist biases and to study the history of racism.

Here’s a list of all of the things we’ve done to reach our current place of evaluating and planning for the future of the Discussion Group:

  •  April 2019—Corrie Wallace, an anti-racist consultant with numerous area school systems, including in Evanston and here at D207, led us in an interactive workshop to explore racism.
  • Summer 2019—Jena Doolas led a book discussion of What It Means to be White.
  • November 14, 2019—We held a panel Discussion with Sarah Dennis, Yvonnie Dubose, Letesha Dickerson and Jena Doolas to teach us how unconscious bias affects us all.
  • Sarah Dennis led a book discussion of Showing Up for Racial Justice.
  • During the winter we conducted discussions led by Nan.  We read:
    •  So You Want to Talk About Race—Ijeoma Oluo
    • Just Mercy—Bryan Stevenson (Some of us also saw the movie.)
    • Home Going—Yaa Gyasi
    • Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race—Debby Irving
    • How To Be Anti-racist—Ibram Kendi
  •  We saw:
    • “When They See Us”—film
    • “The Hate You Give”—film
    • “The Long Shadow”—film.
    • Shame of Chicago” and “The Color Tax” and “No Place to Live” by Bruce Orenstein
  •  On June 6th we participated in the Prayer/Peace Vigil organized by the Ministerial Association and in a Black Lives Matter rally on June 27th.
  • In November we participated in the library presentation with Ibram Kendi.
  • In December Sarah Dennis and Yvonnie Dubose conducted a Healing Circle with several Discussion members.
  • In January and February, we combined the Discussion Group and the General Meeting by hosting Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Jerry Kellman to discuss “Building the Beloved Community”.
  •  In March, we are planning to once more combine the Discussion Group and the General Meeting with a training with the Institute for Non-violence.

  •  
Featured

Meeting Minutes ~ 2.18.21

Action Ridge General Meeting

February 18, 2021

7:00pm

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

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6782738111268885003

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 actionridge2017@gmail.com 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 lwvil.org.

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.

Observations/Beliefs

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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Upcoming Meeting ~ 2.11.21

Our next speaker in our series on Building the Beloved Community is unable to make it as planned for this General Meeting. Instead, we are encouraging members to tune into a zoom call being held by Dr. Ben Collins, Principal of Maine South, and his staff.  They have been working hard to build a more Beloved Community at Maine South and want to report on their progress and are seeking our support. The changes made at Maine South raise our spirits and give us hope for a more Beloved Community right here in Park Ridge; so please read the note from Dr. Collins below and join him and his team on the 11th, at 6:30.

For a link to the call, please contact actionridge2017@gmail.com.

 From Dr. Collins:

I hope this message finds your family healthy and managing this challenging time well. We are working hard to navigate this year for our students at Maine South and to grow into a better and more caring environment for all students and staff… This
special meeting happening … will address where our school is at with our efforts towards equity, inclusion, diversity and anti-racism. We have a banner that will go up soon which has been designed by our students. We are also deep into staff training and have instituted some direct actions this year because of student listening sessions. All of these efforts will be discussed, including plans for the future. 


For this work to be successful, we need engaged and committed community members to help us in our journey. We need you!

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Transcript of Guest Interview with Bernardine Dohrn (BD) & Bill Ayers (BA) January 27, 2021

NOTE: To request an audio file of this guest interview, please email actionridge2017@gmail.com.

Guest Interview 

Bernardine Dohrn (BD) 

  • Impressed with Action Ridge’s organization and commitment to social justice. 
  • Went to Washington four years ago to protest Hillary Clinton’s policies as presumed winner of the 2016 presidential election. Ended up as counter demonstrators to a Trump rally. 
  • Women’s March the following day – serious, silly, inventive, jubilant. Came back invigorated and inspired to talk with neighbors. Left leaflets on block to invite people to brunch to talk about what to do next. Learned that neighbors they had known for years were active in many different efforts to improve the world. 

Bill Ayers (BA) 

  • Admires Action Ridge’s efforts to build a beloved community. Part of democracy is talking to others and inviting people in to dialogue.  
  • There is the saying “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.” But if all you are is angry, you can’t build the kind of networks and community to move forward.  
  • Cycle of effective activism: 
  • Open your eyes…to what exists in the world beyond your own experience. 
  • Be astonished… by beauty and suffering. 
  • Do something. 
  • Rethink…the actions you took and the circumstances that now exist. 
  • “Open your eyes” is something that has to be done continually, not just once. Don’t be smug and assume you know the path. Knowing comes with a burden. 
  • “Be astonished” means don’t normalize injustice. Don’t take for granted that we see homeless kids; respond to the horror of it. 
  • “Rethink” – begin process again. Believes that they failed in their youth to rethink. 
  • Progressive people get caught up in thinking that politics is about elections. Believes in voting, but we spend too much time looking at sites of power we don’t have access to (government) and ignoring the sites of power we do have access to (religious institutions, universities, community centers.) 
  • Change comes not from hearts on top, but from fire below.  Obama, Roosevelt and Lincoln all changed positions because of pressure bubbling up from grassroots sources. 

AR: How have conditions for social justice change changed in the past several decades? 

BD 

  • Movements have coalesced in Chicago for the past thirty years. Immigration rights, Women’s march, BLM, coalitions that Barbara Ransby put together. Chicago has been a hotbed of activism and thoughtfully intersectional. 

BA 

  • Bill and Bernardine are not nostalgic, but he still holds his membership card from Students for a Democratic Society.  They are of the present. Learn from young people.  
  • R3 is 36 organizations that meet and hammer out common interests. Struggle for black freedom – upsurge is bigger than they have ever seen. 
  • Now is what matters. Looking forward is what matters. Link arms in solidarity – not in service or charity. James Baldwin taught that white people will be freed when Black liberation is realized — freed from privilege. 
  • When Occupy movement happened, it accomplished a lot. Raised the question of the 1%. No one had presented it like that. Movements are places of public education. Creating a public square is necessary. Learning together and making mistakes together. 

BD:  

  • Wouldn’t have imagined the emboldened and out front white supremacist activity three years ago; seeing a new power of neo-facism and white supremacy.  

AR: How do you stay motivated and energized to continue the work of social justice? 

BA 

  • Movements have created changes, like the end of death penalty.  
  • They weren’t active in the movement but were disgusted by celebratory environment around John Wayne Gacy’s impending execution. Went to Statesville prison and found very few people there of like minds. Bill had never felt more marginalized. A few years later, George Ryan cleared death row. BA’s mindset wasn’t winning the issue, it was about preserving our humanity. 

BD:  

  • Larry Marshall wanted to have conference of people who were exonerated from death row. Another Kind of Innocence effort was around juvenile justice. Launched effort to end juvenile death penalty (having committed crime under 18) but didn’t want to redirect efforts to abolish death penalty. Stayed away from states that were on the way to do that. 

BA 

  • Reframed the idea of juvenile life without parole – “Sentenced to die in prison.” 

AR: What is the legacy you hope to leave and value most highly? 

BA 

  • Family – sons, grandchildren, and each other. 
  • After controversy during the Obama campaign, wrote for therapy and published “Public Enemy”, which is really a book about parenting. 

BD 

  • After kids left, they cared for their parents.  

AR: Are there practical tools you use to keep yourself motivated and inspiring youth? 

BA 

  • Youth inspire THEM. 
  • They are personally happy and the world is broken. Necessary to put yourself proximate to the suffering you see.  
  • Their work is challenging the dominant narrative – white superiority and Black inferiority. 
  • Have to stay hopeful, not optimistic, because that implies you know what outcome will be. The day before the revolution, it is unthinkable. Looking back, it is inevitable. 
  • When Jon Burge was convicted of torturing Black men into convictions is sparked a movement for reparations.  BLM took it over the top. City apologized and paid reparations. Amazing accomplishment happened because many movements came together. 

AR: White people are trapped in history we don’t understand. What is the danger of being too passive or too active?  

BD 

  • Reminder that we as white people need to check in with others on a regular basis.  
  • Benefits of white supremacy requires us to use the steps Bill articulated. 
  • There is peril in not getting buy-in from everyone who is a stakeholder to an issue, but is not a reason for inaction.  
  • Going back and evaluating consequences of actions is important. 

BA 

  • The 1619 Project is essential. Trump responded by forming the 1776 commission, report released on MLK day. Has his students read them side by side.  
  • You don’t have to do everything – can you do something? Connect to other somethings. Join with other like-minded people.  

BD 

  • If you are a single issue person, you are vulnerable and weaker.  
  • When two big issues come together you are stronger. Intersectionality – consider how issues are connected. 

BA 

  • Value in reframing the issue 

BD 

  • Corporate interests and military are counter to just society — need to take back everything that makes US a world power to make the country better. Take pentagon budget and put into climate and education. Need to build grass roots power and be wary of corporate power. 

BA 

  • Need to be willing to engage in dialogue 
  • Thinks he is in the majority of the country on the top 10 issues. 
  • Example of speech at the University of Georgia. Hell’s angels took places in the front row to intimidate him. Reframing of issue led to an interesting and substantive conversation.  They went to lunch together to continue the discussion. 

BD 

  • Expect the unexpected. Elimination of cash bail in Illinois – setting agenda for the country. Be ready for opportunities. 

AR: What are the best ways to leverage social media? 

BA 

  • Ask a 10 year old. They are not proficient at using social media 

AR: What advice do you have about how to forward an Affordable Housing agenda after all the actions AR has taken? 

BA 

  • Movement building – research, thinking, engaging others. Rahm Emanual closed schools but proposed cop academy. Young people in Garfield Park asked a different question – what would you do with $95M? Reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Sports, music, theater – conscious efforts to reach out beyond the obvious and comfort zone can make a difference what you are building and where support comes from. 
  • Witness what youth poets are doing in Chicago at Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival – amazing community building fueling movements. 

BA 

  • If Biden is going to champion progressive initiatives it will be due to popular fire from below. Environmental justice advocates got the administration appointments they wanted. Obama was against gay marriage at first;  advocates kept on working and changed the narrative.  

AR: What are resources to teach children about social justice? 

BA 

  • Alison Bechdel published Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel test for whether media is anti-sexist – two woman characters that have names and talk to each other about something other than men. 
  • Black Lives Matter in Schools and An Indigenous Peoples History  of the United States for children 
  • (On engaging with people with different world views) Don’t see having a civil conversation with people who want to overthrow the government. Hells Angels experience – usually a way to reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Humor is also an excellent way to break the ice. 

BA 

  • Lecture is didactic; humor is inclusive. 

BD 

  • Mothers of people on death row were instrumental to overturning death penalty. Humanized the people on death row. 
  • The Feminist on Cellblock Y is a film that humanizes the incarcerated.  

BA 

  • Often accused of being an idealist. He wants to have an ideal that he is looking toward. He is not naïve, wants to learn and see more. 
  • Utopia always moves away as you step towards it. What good is walking toward it? Keeps you walking. Need to love the world enough to keep working to change it. 

Nan thanked Bill and Bernardine and the participants in the discussion. 

She acknowledged Melvin Lars who wrote Just an Ordinary Joe’George and is a host for Civic Dinners.  Sign up on-line for Bridging the Racial Divide. 

Meeting ended at 8:55pm 

Meeting minutes submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson 

Featured

Meeting Minutes ~ 1.27.21

Action Ridge Meeting 

January 27, 2021 

7pm 

Welcome from Liz Swanson and explanation of the plans for the evening 

Ongoing Actions – Nan Parson 

  • Thank you’s to Jackie McNeily, Cynthia Kater, Alissa Goldwasser 
  • Alissa Goldwasser will research and report on law enforcement reaction to the passage of criminal justice reform legislation in Illinois. 
  • Liz Swanson and Nan continue to strategize around having a social justice banner at Maine South, like the other district high schools. 
  • Action Ridge continues to work with NWS4REJ on holding City of Chicago accountable for stipulations of the consent decree. 
  • Noreen Gayford is keeping tabs on gun violence legislation. The BIO bill did not get taken up by the State Senate, but work will continue. 
  • Kristin Berg and Nan continue to forward efforts to create affordable housing with the Planning and Zoning Committee and City Council; partnering with Reclaim the Suburbs 

Upcoming Events – Nan Parson 

  • Next Core Leaders Meeting: February 4 
  • Next General Meeting: February 11 
  • Next Discussion Group: February 24 
  • Mike McGovern is working with Better Arguments Project (building better civic conversations); Action   Ridge could possibly have a training on February 11. 
  • General meeting in March may focus on the election. 

Introductions of Guest Speakers – Valerie Halston and Fran Stott 

Bill Ayers is an educator and activist who has written many books on education, race, and social justice. He blogs on his website (bilayers.org) and produces a podcast called Under the Tree

Bernardine Dohrn is an activist, educator, legal scholar, and children’s  and women’s rights advocate. She was formerly a law professor at Northwestern University where she started the Children and Family Justice Center. 

Guest Interview 

Bernardine Dohrn (BD) 

  • Impressed with Action Ridge’s organization and commitment to social justice. 
  • Went to Washington four years ago to protest Hillary Clinton’s policies as presumed winner of the 2016 presidential election. Ended up as counter demonstrators to a Trump rally. 
  • Women’s March the following day – serious, silly, inventive, jubilant. Came back invigorated and inspired to talk with neighbors. Left leaflets on block to invite people to brunch to talk about what to do next. Learned that neighbors they had known for years were active in many different efforts to improve the world. 

Bill Ayers (BA) 

  • Admires Action Ridge’s efforts to build a beloved community. Part of democracy is talking to others and inviting people in to dialogue.  
  • There is the saying “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.” But if all you are is angry, you can’t build the kind of networks and community to move forward.  
  • Cycle of effective activism: 
  • Open your eyes…to what exists in the world beyond your own experience. 
  • Be astonished… by beauty and suffering. 
  • Do something. 
  • Rethink…the actions you took and the circumstances that now exist. 
  • “Open your eyes” is something that has to be done continually, not just once. Don’t be smug and assume you know the path. Knowing comes with a burden. 
  • “Be astonished” means don’t normalize injustice. Don’t take for granted that we see homeless kids; respond to the horror of it. 
  • “Rethink” – begin process again. Believes that they failed in their youth to rethink. 
  • Progressive people get caught up in thinking that politics is about elections. Believes in voting, but we spend too much time looking at sites of power we don’t have access to (government) and ignoring the sites of power we do have access to (religious institutions, universities, community centers.) 
  • Change comes not from hearts on top, but from fire below.  Obama, Roosevelt and Lincoln all changed positions because of pressure bubbling up from grassroots sources. 

AR: How have conditions for social justice change changed in the past several decades? 

BD 

  • Movements have coalesced in Chicago for the past thirty years. Immigration rights, Women’s march, BLM, coalitions that Barbara Ransby put together. Chicago has been a hotbed of activism and thoughtfully intersectional. 

BA 

  • Bill and Bernardine are not nostalgic, but he still holds his membership card from Students for a Democratic Society.  They are of the present. Learn from young people.  
  • R3 is 36 organizations that meet and hammer out common interests. Struggle for black freedom – upsurge is bigger than they have ever seen. 
  • Now is what matters. Looking forward is what matters. Link arms in solidarity – not in service or charity. James Baldwin taught that white people will be freed when Black liberation is realized — freed from privilege. 
  • When Occupy movement happened, it accomplished a lot. Raised the question of the 1%. No one had presented it like that. Movements are places of public education. Creating a public square is necessary. Learning together and making mistakes together. 

BD:  

  • Wouldn’t have imagined the emboldened and out front white supremacist activity three years ago; seeing a new power of neo-facism and white supremacy.  

AR: How do you stay motivated and energized to continue the work of social justice? 

BA 

  • Movements have created changes, like the end of death penalty.  
  • They weren’t active in the movement but were disgusted by celebratory environment around John Wayne Gacy’s impending execution. Went to Statesville prison and found very few people there of like minds. Bill had never felt more marginalized. A few years later, George Ryan cleared death row. BA’s mindset wasn’t winning the issue, it was about preserving our humanity. 

BD:  

  • Larry Marshall wanted to have conference of people who were exonerated from death row. Another Kind of Innocence effort was around juvenile justice. Launched effort to end juvenile death penalty (having committed crime under 18) but didn’t want to redirect efforts to abolish death penalty. Stayed away from states that were on the way to do that. 

BA 

  • Reframed the idea of juvenile life without parole – “Sentenced to die in prison.” 

AR: What is the legacy you hope to leave and value most highly? 

BA 

  • Family – sons, grandchildren, and each other. 
  • After controversy during the Obama campaign, wrote for therapy and published “Public Enemy”, which is really a book about parenting. 

BD 

  • After kids left, they cared for their parents.  

AR: Are there practical tools you use to keep yourself motivated and inspiring youth? 

BA 

  • Youth inspire THEM. 
  • They are personally happy and the world is broken. Necessary to put yourself proximate to the suffering you see.  
  • Their work is challenging the dominant narrative – white superiority and Black inferiority. 
  • Have to stay hopeful, not optimistic, because that implies you know what outcome will be. The day before the revolution, it is unthinkable. Looking back, it is inevitable. 
  • When Jon Burge was convicted of torturing Black men into convictions is sparked a movement for reparations.  BLM took it over the top. City apologized and paid reparations. Amazing accomplishment happened because many movements came together. 

AR: White people are trapped in history we don’t understand. What is the danger of being too passive or too active?  

BD 

  • Reminder that we as white people need to check in with others on a regular basis.  
  • Benefits of white supremacy requires us to use the steps Bill articulated. 
  • There is peril in not getting buy-in from everyone who is a stakeholder to an issue, but is not a reason for inaction.  
  • Going back and evaluating consequences of actions is important. 

BA 

  • The 1619 Project is essential. Trump responded by forming the 1776 commission, report released on MLK day. Has his students read them side by side.  
  • You don’t have to do everything – can you do something? Connect to other somethings. Join with other like-minded people.  

BD 

  • If you are a single issue person, you are vulnerable and weaker.  
  • When two big issues come together you are stronger. Intersectionality – consider how issues are connected. 

BA 

  • Value in reframing the issue 

BD 

  • Corporate interests and military are counter to just society — need to take back everything that makes US a world power to make the country better. Take pentagon budget and put into climate and education. Need to build grass roots power and be wary of corporate power. 

BA 

  • Need to be willing to engage in dialogue 
  • Thinks he is in the majority of the country on the top 10 issues. 
  • Example of speech at the University of Georgia. Hell’s angels took places in the front row to intimidate him. Reframing of issue led to an interesting and substantive conversation.  They went to lunch together to continue the discussion. 

BD 

  • Expect the unexpected. Elimination of cash bail in Illinois – setting agenda for the country. Be ready for opportunities. 

AR: What are the best ways to leverage social media? 

BA 

  • Ask a 10 year old. They are not proficient at using social media 

AR: What advice do you have about how to forward an Affordable Housing agenda after all the actions AR has taken? 

BA 

  • Movement building – research, thinking, engaging others. Rahm Emanual closed schools but proposed cop academy. Young people in Garfield Park asked a different question – what would you do with $95M? Reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Sports, music, theater – conscious efforts to reach out beyond the obvious and comfort zone can make a difference what you are building and where support comes from. 
  • Witness what youth poets are doing in Chicago at Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival – amazing community building fueling movements. 

BA 

  • If Biden is going to champion progressive initiatives it will be due to popular fire from below. Environmental justice advocates got the administration appointments they wanted. Obama was against gay marriage at first;  advocates kept on working and changed the narrative.  

AR: What are resources to teach children about social justice? 

BA 

  • Alison Bechdel published Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel test for whether media is anti-sexist – two woman characters that have names and talk to each other about something other than men. 
  • Black Lives Matter in Schools and An Indigenous Peoples History  of the United States for children 
  • (On engaging with people with different world views) Don’t see having a civil conversation with people who want to overthrow the government. Hells Angels experience – usually a way to reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Humor is also an excellent way to break the ice. 

BA 

  • Lecture is didactic; humor is inclusive. 

BD 

  • Mothers of people on death row were instrumental to overturning death penalty. Humanized the people on death row. 
  • The Feminist on Cellblock Y is a film that humanizes the incarcerated.  

BA 

  • Often accused of being an idealist. He wants to have an ideal that he is looking toward. He is not naïve, wants to learn and see more. 
  • Utopia always moves away as you step towards it. What good is walking toward it? Keeps you walking. Need to love the world enough to keep working to change it. 

Nan thanked Bill and Bernardine and the participants in the discussion. 

She acknowledged Melvin Lars who wrote Just an Ordinary Joe’George and is a host for Civic Dinners.  Sign up on-line for Bridging the Racial Divide. 

Meeting ended at 8:55pm 

Meeting minutes submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson 

Featured

Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance Passes!

On January 28, 2021, Cook County Commissioners voted unanimously to extend protections to 245,000+ suburban renter households in Cook County! The Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) will:Create safeguards against illegal lockouts and guidance on when a landlord can enter a unit Create procedures for withholding rent until building problems are addressed. Protect against lease terms that waive the basic tenant right to notices. Prevent landlords from charging outrageous late fees for late rent payments. Prohibit excessive security deposits and certain non-refundable “move-in” fees…and more. The RTLO goes into effect June 1; however, the anti-lockout provision takes effect immediately.For thirty years, renters living in Chicago, Evanston, and Mount Prospect have benefited from municipal ordinances defining basic tenant-landlord rights and responsibilities. Now, the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) will protect suburban Cook County renters, as well.Overall, the proposed ordinance clarifies the roles and responsibilities for both renters and landlords—making the rental landscape easier and fairer to navigate for everyone.
Learn more »
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June 2020 Letter to Editor

‘No one is free when others are oppressed.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

We are Action Ridge and our purpose is to promote principles of democracy: inclusion, respect, equity and the health of our planet.  We believe that truth matters. The truth is that racism is wrong, painful and hurts everyone.  The truth is racism exists and denying it and blaming others does nothing to change the truth or the systems that perpetuate policies of injustice. 

In 2016, the divisive, fear mongering, and oppressive tactics seen in the presidential campaign shifted many of our perspectives.  A few of us pledged to work together to affect change.  And so we formed the social activist group, open to all, now known as Action Ridge.  As a group and individually we work to build a Beloved Community in Park Ridge and beyond. 

As mostly white, middle class and middle or upper aged individuals, we acknowledge our lack of understanding of what our sisters and brothers of color face every day.  We do know that for each person brutally treated and killed because of racial bias, the pain grows and radiates outward.  The names George, Ahmaud, Breonna, and many others, are now tragically familiar and each represents a family, a story, a beloved life lost.  We grieve and hurt with our sisters and brothers of color.

Our goal is to continue to respect, include, see & listen to each other.  But, importantly, we act.  Some of our actions include a diversity group learning about racial injustices, working on fair and affordable housing practices in our community, advocating to reduce gun violence and more.  Please join us at actionridge2017@gmail.com to stand with us in action against racial injustice.

Nan Parson and Liz Swanson

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.

Action Ridge Assists Cook County Efforts to Unite Against Antisemitism at Rally April 24, 2022

On April 24th, 2022, over 200 people gathered in the Attea Middle School Cafeteria in Glenview to show their support for neighbors and community members that had received antisemitic literature at their homes. Speakers included Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois State Sen. Laura Fine of Glenview, Illinois State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (9th District) of Evanston and others.

The event, which was launched by Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton (14th District) of Glenview after he received antisemitic literature at his residence on March 3, was also sponsored by Action Ridge and the Niles Coalition. Media coverage included the WLS ABC Chicago evening news, the Chicago Tribune online, and Patch Glenview news.

The Action Ridge Human Rights team was honored to provided assistance with planning, messaging, and running the event, including the development of the county-wide United Against Hate symbol, website and pledge, which was announced at the rally.

The event concluded with the audience participating in taking a Pledge Against Hate, which you can find here: https://www.cook county united against hate.com.

General Meeting ~ May 11, 2022

On May 11th, at 7:00, both in-person and virtually, Action Ridge will present three stories taken from the PBS documentary series, First-Hand.  One of the stories was told by Nan Parson, co-founder of Action Ridge.  In the video she talks about segregation and ways to mitigate it, using Park Ridge as an example of a segregated suburb. 

After viewing the videos of the stories, participants will engage in discussion regarding their experiences with segregation and will explore the effects of it locally and in society at large.

Action Ridge Committee Chairs will also bring attendees up to date about the recent activities of the organization, including participating in a rally to fight against anti-Semitism that took place on April 24th.   Please join us to explore the causes and effects of segregation and to learn more about Action Ridge.  If you aren’t on the Action Ridge mailing list, and wish to attend virtually, request the Zoom link at actionridge2017@gmail.com .

HB2775 passes with 62 yes votes!  

On Thursday, April 7th, HB2775 passed the House Housing Committee with 62 yes votes!  Our efforts do pay off! Below is a statement from the Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing, released that day. (As a reminder, Park Ridge was one of the first suburbs in Cook County to list, in their Fair Housing Ordinance, Source of Income as a protected class.  That and the complete overhaul of our Fair Housing Ordinance was one thing that the Fair Housing Commission accomplished long ago when Kristin and Nan were on the Commission.)

Dear Friends and Colleagues: 

As many of you may know by now, HB2775 passed the House Housing Committee this morning with 14 yes votes by all the Democratic members. What we didn’t expect was for the bill to be called before the full House early this evening. Just a few minutes ago, we witnessed the passing of HB2775 passed with 62 yes votes!  

The Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing would like to thank all community leaders, endorsing organizations, members of the Coalition and their staff, friends, colleagues and all other supporters for your support, commitment and overall amazing work in-person, on the phone, and online to bring an end to source of income discrimination in Illinois.

We are so very proud of all the efforts made on every front. We are also very appreciative of Representative Ford and Senator Villivalam (and their staff) for their steadfast leadership and enduring support for statewide source of income protections. Thank you to all the legislators who showed their commitment to fair housing by co-sponsoring and voting yes on this bill. 

Meeting Mintues & Folded Map Project ~ March 9, 2022

Minutes below. First, Action Ridge is grateful to be included in the Folded Map Project during which we will visit our “twin community,” Blue Island.  If you were unable to take part in our March 9th meeting, where we introduced the project and formulated groups to visit Blue Island, please take a look at the attached minutes and let us know if you’d like to join us.  For more information, visit: https://www.foldedmapproject.com/

We also encourage folks to donate to The Folded Map Project.  It’s important to support their good work, which eases the negative effects of segregation.  You may donate by clicking on the blue letters below:

action kit – Folded Map ProjectGuided by the Folded Map™ project, the Folded Map Action Kit is a packet of items to help you further your understanding of the disparities between Chicago neighborhoods, the structural reasons behind them, and ultimately to make new connections to an area you’ve never been or where you have only a narrow understanding.www.foldedmapproject.com
Donate by clicking the blue “action kit” text above

Our next meeting will be on April 13th.  Tonika Lewis Johnson will be present to lead the discussion.  PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS IMPORTANT, INTERESTING MEETING! 

Meeting Minutes 3.9.22

Meeting began at 7:00pm. Participants were in person at the Park Ridge Community Church and virtual via Zoom.

Nan welcomed everyone and read this Land Acknowledgement.

“Welcome Everyone!

This evening, as we learn about the Folded Map Project, we affirm that our present neighborhoods were once home to many Native Tribes, including the Illinois, Miami, Winnebago, Sauk, Kickapoo and Pottawatomie.

We acknowledge that we have played a role in shaping the histories of local Native Americans by acquiring this land and commit ourselves to developing deeper partnerships that advocate for the progress, dignity, and humanity of Native Americans.

Making this Land Acknowledgement is one small way of supporting Indigenous Peoples and their history in the United States. We honor, with gratitude, the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations.

The land that surrounds us is part of who we are; it reflects our historiesWe need to protect and honor the history and people of these places!”

She then introduced the Folded Map Project. The group watched a short film that described the project.

Feature Presentation: The Folded Map Project

The Folded Map project was conceived by Tonika Johnson, who grew up in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side. Her experiences as a young black woman attending Lane Tech High School made her think about why the South Side neighborhoods looked so different from where she went to school on the North Side, even though they shared the same north/south street names. As an adult, she conceived a project around segregation that would bring people in opposite sides of the city in conversation with one another.

If you were unable to donate to support the Project at the in-person meeting, please open this link to do so.  It’s important that we support the good work that Tonika and her team are doing to change the negative effects of segregation. Please click here.

https://www.foldedmapproject.com/submit

After the movie, Action Ridge members in attendance discussed their impressions of the film and shared their own experiences with living in segregated neighborhoods.

Nan, Chris and Kristin presented their work on finding a “twin community” through The Folded Map Project toolkit which guides individuals who want to take part in the project on their own. A strict map folding pairs Park Ridge with another mostly-white suburb. Instead, Nan suggested Marquette Park and Blue Island as candidates.  (Kristin had done research about Blue Island.) Marquette Park is a good geographic proxy inside the Chicago city limits. Blue Island is also a suburb adjacent to Chicago which was established through brickmaking. The group chose Blue Island.

There was also a suggestion to do a Folded Map project within Park Ridge, given that the north side and south side have different racial and socio-economic profiles. This may be an idea for the future.

Fourteen people elected to take part in the project with Blue Island. Over the next month, small groups will visit Blue Island to get a feel for the city through activities like grocery shopping, eating in restaurants, and touring the area on foot.

Tonika Lewis Johnson will join the April 13th Action Ridge general meeting and lead us in a discussion of our experiences in Blue Island.  We’ll plan next steps so that we can continue to get to know our southside neighbors.

Committee Updates

Policing and Criminal Justice – Alissa Goldwasser and Kristen Olson

Alissa introduced Kristen Olson as the co-chair of the Policing and Criminal Justice committee.

AR became aware at the end of February that the Park Ridge Police Department had requested funding from the City to contract with Lexipol, a company that helps police departments update and disseminate policies and procedures.

February 28. There was community concern about the conservative, risk-mitigation culture of the company and whether it would take PRPD in the wrong direction. Alissa and Kristen did research, discussed the concerns with community members, and had a conversation with Chief Kaminiski. In summary, Alissa and Kristen are comfortable that PRPD will use Lexipol as a tool and will not let it change its willingness to embrace reform. The Policing Committee will make it part of its work to understand any policy changes and make sure they align with progressive policing.

Diversity Discussion Group/Civil Rights – Karen Banks-Lubicz and Cynthia Kater

Karen and Cynthia Kater, who has just joined the Civil Rights Committee, would like to plan a 2022 monthly schedule for book discussions. Please send any ideas for books to read to Karen or Cynthia.  Cynthia will create a calendar for future discussions and Karen will order books from the library so that participants have plenty of time to read the book.

Affordable Housing – Kristin Berg and Nan Parson

Kristin and Nan met with Jim Hanlon, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He wants to move forward with affordable housing in the comprehensive plan and is committed to an open and transparent process. Kathy Rosling and Jeanne Wells drafted a public comment in favor of having diverse options for housing in the comprehensive plan. This will be ready to circulate for signing by individuals and groups when appropriate. AR is collaborating with the League of Women Voters and others to have a critical mass when it is time to re-visit the comprehensive plan.

Voting and Elections – Chris Parson and Pat Lofthouse

Chris: The primary in June is fast-approaching. AR will work with the League of Women Voters to register voters. In May, Chris will send out to AR members opportunities to learn more about the candidates.

Pat: Fun fact – the Academy Awards use Ranked Choice Voting! The redistricting process that is going on now ties into RCV.  Pat expressed hope that RCV will be adopted by more communities and organizations over the next election cycle.

Environmental/Sustainability – Tim Milburn

The sustainability workshop process at the state level is wrapping up. There will be a concrete list of things Park Ridge residents can do once this process is completed. Sierra Club is organizing local government dialogue to move toward action plans.  Tim and Jeanne will keep us informed of next steps toward adopting good environmental policies.

Jeanne Wells

As a follow up to the Discussion Group reading of What the Eyes Dan’t See, Jeanne has been investigating whether Park Ridge water is safe.  She found that Park Ridge homes built before 1986 could have lead pipes. The City is not conducting house-by-house tests but advised contacting Suburban Laboratories. They will test samples for a fee. The City adds phosphate and advises that 15 parts per billion is an acceptable lead level. The City suggests letting the faucet run for 5 minutes in the morning before using water. In 2024, the City will have a map showing where lead pipes are located.  Flint, MI isn’t the only city where lead in the water is a problem.

Gun Violence Prevention – Noreen Gayford and Joan Bludeau Lavelle

Noreen requested that we urge Sen. Laura Murphy and Sen. Robert Martwick to be co-sponsors of HB4729, an awareness campaign about safe gun storage.  So that we can contact their offices, they’ll send out the links in the next Action Ridge blurb.

Membership – Kate Kerin

Kate continues to push to expand and diversify membership. Please invite someone to the next meeting.  We are hoping to attract younger people and people of color, especially.

Meeting adjourned at 9:04pm

Minutes respectfully submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson.

Action Ridge Discussion Group ~ 2022 Calendar

Our Discussion Group is evolving. We hope you’ll join us. What began as a focused effort to educate ourselves on racism and privilege has morphed into a group that discusses books (and sometimes movies) about a wide range of social justice and environmental issues. The calendar below lists our upcoming titles. We meet on the 4th Wednesday of the month, virtually, in person or both, depending on the status of Covid circulation in the community. For more information email actionridge2017@gmail.com.

APRIL 27thThree Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner Trice

Recommended by Joan Bludeau

Written by a former Chicago Tribune columnist and based on the true story of her life growing up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. She talks about her experiences with racism & segregation in Chicago.  Her story is about how three girls navigated these issues to find their paths. While she faced tragedy, her story is filled with hope despite adversity.

MAY 25thWhy Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Recommended by Nan Parson

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America

JUNE 22nd – See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur

Recommended by Barbara Murphy-Sanders and Trudy Ber

An urgent manifesto and a dramatic memoir of awakening, this is the story of revolutionary love. Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

How do we love in a time of rage? How do we fix a broken world while not breaking ourselves? Valarie Kaur – renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer – describes revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger but instead look at others and say: You are part of me I do not yet know. Starting from that place of wonder, the world begins to change: It is a practice that can transform a relationship, a community, a culture, even a nation. 

Kaur takes listeners through her own riveting journey – as a brown girl growing up in California farmland finding her place in the world; as a young adult galvanized by the murders of Sikhs after 9/11; as a law student fighting injustices in American prisons and on Guantánamo Bay; as an activist working with communities recovering from xenophobic attacks; and as a woman trying to heal from her own experiences with police violence and sexual assault. Drawing from the wisdom of sages, scientists, and activists, Kaur reclaims love as an active, public, and revolutionary force that creates new possibilities for ourselves, our communities, and our world. 

See No Stranger helps us imagine new ways of being with each other – and with ourselves – so that together we can begin to build the world we want to see. 

JULY 27th – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Recommended by Sue Fox McGovern

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and an NAACP Image Award • Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Time, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Esquire, Newsday, and Booklist

“Noah’s childhood stories are told with all the hilarity and intellect that characterizes his comedy, while illuminating a dark and brutal period in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten.”—Esquire
 
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

AUGUST 24thThe Overstory: A Novel by Richard Powers 

Recommended by Cynthia Kater

A summer read from a genre that began emerging in the 1970s – Eco-Fiction.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
Winner of the William Dean Howells Medal
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Over One Year on the New York Times Bestseller List
New York Times Notable Book and a Washington PostTimeOprah MagazineNewsweekChicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

The best novel ever written about trees, and really just one of the best novels, period.” ―Ann Patchett

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

SEPTEMBER 28th – Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendal

Recommended by Cynthia Kater

New York Times best seller. “A brutally candid and unobstructed portrait of mainstream white feminism.” (Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist)

Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent White feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?

In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux. An unforgettable debut, Kendall has crafted a ferocious clarion call to all would-be feminists to live out the true mandate of the movement in thought and in deed.

Book Group Requests Input


The Book Discussion group had a great discussion on Feb. 24 about the book by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, “What the Eyes Don’t See”.  The group has decided to take the month of March off to come up with some new titles and try to recruit new readers!  If you have some books that you think would be a good addition to our list or if you would like to be included in the next read, please contact Karen Banks-Lubicz at lubicz@netzero.net