WBEZ | neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/tags/neighborhood Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Former gang member describes transformation http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/former-gang-member-describes-transformation-110565 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sc_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Carlos Kasper, 26, has already learned more about himself than most people ever do. Kasper grew up in Little Village and was raised by his step-dad and his mom &ndash; who struggled to make ends meet. &ldquo;We grew up in the gang culture,&rdquo; Kasper said in a recent StoryCorps interview. &ldquo;[We would] smoke a lot of weed, listen to a lot of gangster rap, hang out with the guys from the block.&rdquo;</p><p>As a kid he had a lot of pent-up anger and frustration. But his brother and cousins kept him out of the gangs&hellip;for a while, at least.</p><p>There was a period towards the end of high school, when Kasper learned community organizing techniques. But he soon became disillusioned with the non-profit world when he realized their focus was on eradicating gangbangers in Little Village.&nbsp; &ldquo;I took it very personal,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;Because a lot of my family is gangbangers. And I knew them and they weren&rsquo;t these savages or these evil people. They&rsquo;re just regular people who just chose another lifestyle.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Gangbangers are people&rsquo;s sons, people&rsquo;s brothers, people&rsquo;s cousins, people&rsquo;s fathers,&rdquo; he continued.</p><p>&ldquo;These [community organizer] people are acting like they&rsquo;re aliens, murderers, running around wildly.&rdquo;</p><p>Little by little, he transitioned into gang life. He appreciated the sense of brotherhood that he got as a gang member and the looks he&rsquo;d get from people who were intimidated by him.</p><p>Then he got locked up for two months in the county jail. &ldquo;I had all these problems that I didn&rsquo;t let out,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I didn&rsquo;t take care of the root base of my deep personal issues.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m glad I got locked up,&rdquo; Kasper said. &ldquo;There was just so much time to think, so much time for reflection, so much time for meditation, exercise. And when I came out, I came out a whole different person.&rdquo;</p><p>When he got out, he refused to take orders from some gang leaders. He still valued his fellow gang members and their ideals, but he wanted to make a change for himself.</p><p>In order to get out of the gang, he agreed to a &ldquo;violation,&rdquo; which meant that he was beat up from head to toe, for three minutes by his fellow gang members, two at a time, each guy taking five to ten seconds. By the end of it, his bones were aching and he couldn&rsquo;t lift his arms above his shoulders.</p><p>He believes he ended things on good terms with the gang. &ldquo;I feel really strong being able to step in front of them without insulting them and telling them that they were my brothers and I love them, but I can&rsquo;t do these things anymore because my life had changed.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I was real with them. I kept it genuine. And I really loved them and I showed them that.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/former-gang-member-describes-transformation-110565 Why are we still collecting taxes to prevent white flight in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325 <p><p>A controversial decades-old program to prevent white flight in Chicago is flush with cash and still collecting taxes from residents of the Southwest and Northwest sides &ndash; despite racial change and housing shifts.&nbsp;</p><p>The programs&rsquo; origins can be traced to the racial panic that gripped many white ethnic communities after voters elected Harold Washington as the city&rsquo;s first black mayor in 1983. Often that fear played out in the housing market with white bungalow belt families worried that blacks would move in and decrease their property values.</p><p>The money collected in the so-called home equity districts was used as a kind of insurance program &ndash; homeowners could file a cash claim if the value dropped upon selling.</p><p>The three little-known taxing districts are the <a href="http://www.nwhomeequity.org/" target="_blank">Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program</a>, the <a href="http://swghe.org/" target="_blank">Southwest Guaranteed Home Equity Program</a> and the <a href="https://www.swhomeequity.com/" target="_blank">Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program</a>.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#wheredistricts">Where are the home equity districts?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>In the decades since they were created, most neighborhoods have experienced a racial transition on their own; they are no longer white enclaves. And yet the three home equity programs are still there, still collecting money from thousands of homeowners and not doing much else.</p><p>Collectively, these taxing districts sit on millions of dollars and some activists want that to change.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Save our neighborhood</span></p><p>The 1980s may seem a little late for <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/147.html" target="_blank">panic peddling and blockbusting</a> by unscrupulous realtors. After all, white flight had already happened decades earlier once blacks could legally buy homes wherever they wanted.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home%20equity3_140611_nm.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: right;" title="A brochure explaining the home equity program on the Northwest Side. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></p><p>But segregation never really went away.</p><p>&ldquo;You had these bungalows near the stockyards, which to be blunt about it, wasn&rsquo;t exactly desirable real estate. These folks living in those bungalows &ndash; six rooms, a knotty pine basement, one bathroom and was there any racial acceptance? No!&rdquo; said Paul Green, Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University.</p><p>Historically, African Americans weren&rsquo;t a strong presence in the bungalow belt. And Green said longtime residents didn&rsquo;t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.</p><p>&ldquo;They were all basically white ethnic neighborhoods. The reality was is that the good people living there were afraid that they were going to lose the value of their homes, the only place they knew.&rdquo;</p><p>That fear gave birth to the white <a href="http://www.lib.niu.edu/1988/ii880524.html" target="_blank">Save Our Neighborhood/Save Our City coalition</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;You literally had racial change taking place mile by mile going west on 55th, 63rd, 71st. And those people didn&rsquo;t have anyplace to go,&rdquo; Green said. &ldquo;At that time there was very little reintegration after you had segregation. In other words, you look at the South Side of Chicago, you did not have neighborhoods that went from white to black to mixed.&rdquo;</p><p>The coalition pushed for an equity program to protect them from falling property values. Mayor Harold Washington, who understood white ethnic fear, got behind it. City Council considered an ordinance to implement the program. But black aldermen found the notion that whites needed home equity insurance racist. Washington publicly withdrew his support.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#racemap">How the racial makeup of Chicago neighborhoods has changed</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Then in 1988 Southwest Side politician Michael Madigan stepped in. The powerful speaker of the Illinois House helped pass a state law that created three home equity taxing districts &ndash;&nbsp;including two on the southwest side. Another district was created on the northwest side.</p><p>Madigan declined an interview request.</p><p>&ldquo;The premise of the program was I think much more psychological. The psychology was people fear change and when you put into place this institutional mechanism, you create a way of responding to that fear,&rdquo; said Phil Ashton, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who&rsquo;s studied home equity districts.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">How home equity districts work</span></p><p>All homeowners in a designated district pay a small tax, sometimes as little as a dollar and fifty cents a year. That money goes into a fund and homeowners voluntarily enroll in the equity program. If the appraisal is less than the original purchase price when they decide to sell, homeowners receive a cash claim for the difference.</p><p>It&rsquo;s worth noting that Oak Park started a similar program in the late 1970s to manage racial integration. No claims were ever paid out and the program ceased.</p><p>But liberal Oak Park is much different from blue collar Marquette Park, where angry whites jeered at and stoned Martin Luther King in 1966 when he marched for racially open housing laws.</p><p>A horrified 16 year old Jim Capraro witnessed that incident a block away from his home. And he carried it with him as a young man.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember seeing Stokely Carmichael speak in Chicago, a civil rights leader. When he was done speaking, a white kid kind of raised his hand and said &lsquo;what should white kids do to change this?&rsquo; And Stokely said &lsquo;white kids should go back to where they came from and change it there,&rsquo;&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>He returned home to the Southwest Side and led the Greater Southwest Community Development Corporation for decades in Chicago Lawn.</p><p>Capraro served on the board of the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program until 2010. He wasn&rsquo;t active in getting it started but has thought a lot about its effect.</p><p>&ldquo;Does a program like this support racism or thwart racism? Even the people who aren&rsquo;t racist might end up getting hurt because the very act of a large number of people fleeing puts more supply on the housing market than would normally be,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>Whatever the intent, none of the 20-odd neighborhoods in the three home equity districts experienced white flight. Take Chicago Lawn for example. Decades after the ugly backlash against Dr. King, it experienced a smooth racial transition during the 1990s. Today 63rd Street is a bustling strip with mosques, a Harold&rsquo;s fried chicken, and a Belizean restaurant.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home%20equity2_140611_nm.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: left;" title="A boarded up building in Chicago Lawn. Neighborhood activists say fixing vacancies should be a priority of the home equity districts. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />Meanwhile, farther west, union signs hang on the front porches of blondish brick homes. Here, in the Clearing neighborhood, the area is still mostly white.</p><p>Many other neighborhoods in the home equity districts are largely Latino now.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;Why should that money be sitting there?&#39;</span></p><p>At the Northwest Side Housing Center on west Addison Street, Polish signs hang inside the storefront. The office is crowded with people seeking help to keep their homes. The surrounding bungalow communities of Dunning, Portage Park and Irving Park used to house the largest concentration of Polish families in the city. Families like Ernie Luconsik&rsquo;s, a housing volunteer.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons I moved to my area was because it was integrated. I found it fascinating that people got along and didn&rsquo;t look at people as any kind of color,&rdquo; Luconsik said.</p><p>These days there are nearly as many Latinos and Asians living in the neighborhoods.</p><blockquote><p><strong>CHART: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#districtchange">How the racial makeup of the home equity districts has changed</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;As a community-based organization and community residents who are supposed to be benefiting, where is the accountability about the funds and how they are being used?&rdquo; said James Rudyk, executive director of the Northwest Side Housing Center.</p><p>The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program taxes approximately 48,000 homeowners. Fewer than 10 percent of homeowners in the Northwest Side district are enrolled in the program &ndash;&nbsp;even though all of them pay the tax.</p><p>The fund has $9.6 million.</p><p>&ldquo;Why should that money be sitting there? And if it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s not going to produce back, then stop it overall. Because it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s not being a benefit for the people or the community,&rdquo; community organizer Vanessa Valentin said. She said families could use that money for something other than claims: home repairs, small loans to prevent foreclosure.</p><p>Rudyk said they tried to organize around this issue several years ago, but got nowhere.</p><p>&ldquo;They have not returned our calls either or our request for a meeting. We were told why are we here, why are we questioning? This isn&rsquo;t our business,&rdquo; Rudyk said.</p><p>I know the feeling.</p><p>When I tried to talk to somebody from the three equity programs, no one agreed to a recorded interview. One of the programs wouldn&rsquo;t even give me their financials until the state attorney general got involved.</p><p>Judging the success or failure of the equity programs is hard. Did the psychology of having insurance keep white families from fleeing?</p><p>We may never know. While blacks never did buy many homes in the bungalow belt, today the northwest and southwest sides are no longer exclusive white enclaves.</p><p>UIC&rsquo;s Ashton said immigrants helped stabilize changing communities where the taxing districts exist.</p><p>&ldquo;Absent Latino homebuyers, white homeowners would&rsquo;ve struggled to find replacements for themselves when they were trying to move out through course of the 1990s. And they didn&rsquo;t move out because, I don&rsquo;t think, they encountered more minorities moving in,&rdquo; Ashton said. &ldquo;They moved out because they were getting old and their home was their major source of wealth and they wanted to retire or they were passing away and the family wanted to resolve the estate by selling the home.&rdquo;</p><p>Now those same immigrant families are facing a fresh set of challenges related to the housing downturn.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Residents want money invested in neighborhoods</span></p><p>Veronica Villasenor is a counselor for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, which serves a low-income and working class Latino area.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a Hispanic, I&rsquo;m a Latina. I know how my parents think. I know how my parents were victims of getting a mortgage that wasn&rsquo;t sustainable,&rdquo; Villasenor said. &ldquo;Just in general the community is not educated. I think the state should assign money to develop education programs for these families &ndash; financial literacy, for mortgages.</p><p>Where would that money come from? Villasenor has her eye on the $1 million cash reserve in the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the board Capraro used to sit on the board of that program. He said he can count the number of claims that went out. Usually because of an inaccurate appraisal, not because of a drop in home values.</p><p>Realizing the program was flush with cash, Capraro says the board took action.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We appealed to the legislature and actually got permission to do this: we were lending people money at interest rates that were much less expensive than a normal home improvement loan or home equity line of credit,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>It was a popular program until the housing market crashed. Suddenly, a roof repair wasn&rsquo;t as important as hanging on to one&rsquo;s home.</p><p>Separately, the Southwest Guaranteed Home Equity Program has more than $53 thousand dollars in the bank. Last year it collected $185,000 but it hasn&rsquo;t had any recent payouts.</p><p>The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program last paid out a claim more than 15 years ago.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Let them explain to community residents what&rsquo;s being done with these funds and how we can work together it&rsquo;s not work against each other it&rsquo;s work together for the benefit of the community,&rdquo; Valentin said.</p><p>In 2011, the <em><a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/8177235-452/taxpayer-money-set-aside-to-curb-white-flight-helped-some-flee-city.html#.U5XsW1fvn_Y" target="_blank">Chicago Sun-Times</a></em> investigated how families were cashing out of the program due to the housing economic slump, which is not what the taxing districts were designed for.</p><p>Put aside, for a moment, the reason these three taxing districts exist and focus just on the dollars.</p><p>Any community area would envy a pot of money that could potentially be reinvested back in the neighborhood &ndash;&nbsp;no matter what race benefits.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Map: Where are the home equity districts?<a name="wheredistricts"></a></span></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;">(click on the districts for financial info)</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E0+from+1OVxIg4ZMZyPSe4FvVqVzWQasXgkF9WbsSNyMnsF4&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.87606330248448&amp;lng=-87.73913351843261&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E0&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Chart: How the racial makeup of home equity districts has changed<a name="districtchange"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/district%20change%20chart.PNG" style="height: 297px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Hagan)" /></div><p>Chicago&#39;s three home equity districts cover 18 community areas. Those neighborhoods saw major demographic shifts from 1990 to 2010. For example, in Archer Heights White residents made up 90 percent of the population in 1990 but only 21 in 2010, a drop of 69 percentage points. In the same time Latino residents increased from 9 to 76 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Map: How the racial makeup of Chicago has changed<a name="racemap"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/maps.PNG" style="height: 381px; width: 620px;" title="Dot density map showing census numbers. (WBEZ/Chris Hagan)" /></div><blockquote><div>&nbsp;</div></blockquote><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;</em><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 14:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325 In Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, integration is no accident http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-beverly-neighborhood-integration-no-accident-109922 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="375" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wDl-MDSpfrk?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146164257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note:&nbsp;We&rsquo;ll be continuing this conversation at an event at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.beverlyartcenter.org/">Beverly Arts Center</a>&nbsp;on Tuesday, June 17. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/beyond-mic/2014-05/what-makes-beverly-unique-110246">Here are details.</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p>Erin McDuffie is from Ohio. Her husband grew up in Champaign, Ill. A mixed-race household with a toddler, they wanted to buy a house in a stable integrated South Side community. Their search led them to Beverly about three years ago. Beverly still has strong ties to its white ethnic roots, but also has a sizable number of African-Americans. Erin wondered what happened to make this South Side neighborhood different than Roseland or Englewood, which long ago became predominantly black.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/erin snow FOR WEB.jpg" style="height: 137px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="Erin McDuffie, left, asked how Chicago's Beverly neighborhood maintained racial integration. (Photo courtesy Erin McDuffie)" /></p><p>Erin asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How has Beverly managed to maintain racial integration while the majority of other South Side neighborhoods experienced white flight?</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>A little background</strong></p><p>In hyper-segregated Chicago, Beverly is often regarded as a South Side oasis of integration. Unlike integrated Hyde Park or Rogers Park on the North Side, there&rsquo;s<a href="http://www.uchicago.edu/"> no</a> university<a href="http://www.luc.edu/"> to anchor</a> Beverly or play a significant role in real estate.</p><p>The neighborhood is home to arguably the<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/top-notch-beefburgers/Location?oid=1024342"> best cheap burger</a> and fries in the city. Beverly&rsquo;s beauty is visible in its hilly streets and oversized lots, with homes designed by this <a href="http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM73DF_Raymond_W_Evans_Residence_Chicago_IL">legendary architect</a> among others. Mansions snake along Longwood Drive and the neighborhood&rsquo;s interior boasts an array of architectural styles, from Tudor to Italianate to Queen Anne to Spanish Colonial. Buoyed by its commitment to supporting local businesses, there&rsquo;s<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-01-09/classified/chi-beverly-profile_chomes_0109jan09_1_houses-landmark-districts-neighborhoods"> a quaintness</a> to Beverly.</p><p>According to the Woodstock Institute, today the neighborhood is 62 percent white and 34 percent black. But it wasn&rsquo;t always that way.</p><p>For the first half of the 20th century, Chicago&rsquo;s black families were confined to a chain of neighborhoods on the South Side known as the Black Belt &ndash; often in<a href="http://museum.icp.org/museum/exhibitions/bronzeville/bronzeville1.htm"> cramped kitchenettes</a>. But after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case<a href="http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/334/1/case.html"> Shelley v. Kraemer</a> struck down <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1067.html">racially restrictive real estate covenants</a> in 1948, Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhood racial composition changed dramatically.</p><p>With new housing options, blacks moved farther south to neighborhoods with attractive single-family homes such as Chatham, Englewood, Avalon Park and Calumet Heights. White families couldn&rsquo;t pack their bags fast enough, at times even moving during the middle of the night. From 1950 to 1960, Englewood&rsquo;s white population dropped from 89 percent to 31 percent. The story of<a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/11/mapping-60-years-white-flight-brain-drain-and-american-migration/7449/"> White Flight</a> played out similarly in other neighborhoods. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-beverly-neighborhood-integration-no-accident-109922#censusdata2">(see Census chart.)</a></p><p>Beverly, however, was an exception.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/for%20web%20houses.jpg" style="float: right; height: 214px; width: 320px;" title="Single-family houses on a residential Beverly street, 1974. (Photo courtesy UIC Digital Collections)" /></p><p>Black families didn&rsquo;t immediately move to Beverly, which was almost as far south as one could get before leaving the city and included more expensive housing stock. Some of the white Beverly families had already fled places like South Shore and Roseland once blacks starting buying homes there in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1970, Beverly was 99 percent white. Some community leaders and real estate agents warned the neighborhood would devolve into a &ldquo;black ghetto&rdquo; if blacks started moving in. But a band of determined neighborhood planners helped Beverly push past the early opposition.</p><p>My search for an answer to Erin&rsquo;s Curious City question led me to <a href="http://chicagohistory.org/research">Chicago History Museum&rsquo;s Research Center</a> and the<a href="http://www.ridgehistoricalsociety.org/commun_hist02.html"> Ridge Historical Society</a> in Beverly. Combing through documents and original source material, I discovered that the<a href="http://www.bapa.org/content.asp?contentid=25"> Beverly Area Planning Association</a> (BAPA) stepped in to quell white fears, welcome its new black neighbors, battle the real estate industry and craft a new mission statement that celebrated diversity. The nonprofit community organization changed its direction in 1971 from a group concerned with zoning and parking to one working toward stabilized integration. BAPA&rsquo;s service area includes the sister community Morgan Park.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;Integration is inevitable&rdquo;</strong></p><p>That line comes from a flip chart called<a href="http://www.bapa.org/article.asp?articleid=1544"> &ldquo;Beverly Now&rdquo;</a> by future BAPA member L. Patrick Stanton. In 1971, Stanton toured the neighborhood to give presentations about integration. I found the original sheets penned in magic marker when Erin and I visited the Ridge Historical Society. (Stanton still lives in Beverly, as do six of his nine children and three grandchildren.)</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bapa%20pat%20stanton.jpg" style="float: left; width: 190px; height: 400px;" title="Patrick Stanton gave presentations about positive racial integration in Beverly throughout the 1970s. " />During this 1970s period, Beverly was a mostly Irish-Catholic neighborhood. BAPA hired Phillip Dolan, a former city administrator from Columbus, Ohio, as its new executive director. He set up a hotline for rumor control to relay accurate information in the wake of buzz about blacks buying in the neighborhood. BAPA staff members visited certain blocks to encourage people to stay in Beverly.</p><p>Residents also chafed against<a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/147.html"> &ldquo;blockbusting,&rdquo;</a> efforts by real estate agents to trigger the turnover of white-owned homes to blacks. Also known as &ldquo;panic peddling,&rdquo; this practice urged whites to sell before it was &ldquo;too late&rdquo; and &ldquo;the blacks&rdquo; lowered their property values. Agents might hire black subagents to walk or drive through a changing neighborhood to solicit business or behave in such a way to exaggerate white fears. In these scenarios, worried whites would sell their home cheaply and a panic peddler would inflate the price to, in turn, sell the home to a black family.</p><p>At the Chicago History Museum, I unearthed original BAPA newsletters from the 1970s. BAPA implored homeowners to sign &ldquo;letters of agency&rdquo; to prevent unauthorized solicitation from real estate agents. These letters asserted homeowners had no intention to sell. BAPA kept the letters on file and served &ldquo;uncooperative&rdquo; real estate firms with a notice to cease solicitation. Homeowners also refrained from putting for-sale signs in their yard.</p><p>Dolan told the Tribune in 1976: &ldquo;White families in urban areas must realize they can&rsquo;t run away from blacks. And they must realize that middle-class blacks and whites both want the same things &ndash; good schools, good services, low crime rate. At the same time, blacks are realizing that a neighborhood that is all one race increases the process of deterioration.&rdquo;</p><p>Between 1970 and 1980, the black population in Beverly grew from .1 percent to almost 14 percent. My aunt Joyce Bristow, a retired Chicago Public Schools administrator, was among the wave of those first black families.</p><p>She and her husband had been living in Little Italy and wanted to put down roots on the South Side near family. They felt Hyde Park was too congested and the houses in Chatham too old. In 1977, the couple fell in love with a tri-level house in Beverly.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a neighborhood that was always fascinating,&rdquo; Aunt Joyce said. &ldquo;I wanted diversity but that wasn&rsquo;t the main selling point. The house was the main selling point.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m always proud to say I&rsquo;ve lived in Beverly for 35 years. People are always taken aback by that.&rdquo;</p><p>Financially, it has been a good decision; her property value is up 300 percent. But that first year someone threw rocks in the big picture window off of the living room. My aunt said she assumed it was racially motivated.</p><p>&ldquo;We knew people weren&rsquo;t happy about blacks in Beverly. It made me nervous. A lot of times I closed the drapes. It made my parents very nervous.&rdquo;</p><p>Only one other black family resided on the well-manicured block when my aunt moved in. (Today there are at least 10.) Back then, apparently, that made the lone black owner nervous. Aunt Joyce said he filed a complaint against her black real estate agent for selling to another black on the block.<a name="censusdata2"></a></p><hr /><p><i>Chart: Racial makeup of South Side neighborhoods (1950-2013)</i><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am-AbC8HDbXMdGhITU9jTkt1YTNxd1NhN2hPaUV5U2c&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AC56&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"sortColumn":null,"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","showRowNumber":false,"annotations":{"domain":{"style":"line"}},"alternatingRowStyle":true,"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":600,"height":371},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,{"label":"WHITE","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":1},{"label":"BLACK","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":2}]},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p><p><i>Sources: Local Community Fact Book of Chicago, Woodstock Institute</i></p><p><strong>Racial steering</strong></p><p>Presumably, my aunt&rsquo;s neighbor feared so-called &ldquo;racial steering&rdquo; on his block. BAPA publicly worried about re-segregation in Beverly, too. They didn&rsquo;t want real estate agents selling homes consecutively, say three or more, to blacks on any given block.</p><p>Charles Shanabruch, who&rsquo;s white, led BAPA in the 1980s. I met up with him at a downtown Chicago coffee shop. He moved to Beverly in the late 1970s with his wife and two sons.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/historic%20society%20embed%20photo%20FOR%20WEB.png" style="float: right; height: 192px; width: 300px;" title="WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore, right, flips through original documents from the Beverly Area Planning Association with question-asker Erin McDuffie, left, at the Ridge Historical Society. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>&ldquo;It was a diverse community; that was important to us,&rdquo; Shanabruch said. Blacks continued to move to the neighborhood but another real estate force threatened that progress.</p><p>In the mid-1980s, Beverly, and a dozen integrated south and western suburbs conducted a testing program in which black and white couples of comparable incomes posed as potential home buyers to see how real estate agents treated them. BAPA said white testers were discouraged from racially integrated areas and black testers usually were steered away from homes in predominantly white suburbs. My aunt and late uncle &ndash; then a BAPA board member &ndash; were testers.</p><p>BAPA sued four Southwest suburban real estate firms for steering blacks to Beverly only. White clients were told they wouldn&rsquo;t want to live in Beverly because they wouldn&rsquo;t be comfortable in an integrated neighborhood. BAPA lost the first case and settled the other four. Real estate agents went through training, but more importantly, Shanabruch said it put the industry on notice.</p><p>&ldquo;I still have a visceral reaction,&rdquo; Shanabruch said of the first case. &ldquo;The problem was the jury was an all-white jury. Every time a black came up to be considered, the defense did a preempt [to keep blacks off.]&rdquo;</p><p>Realtors struck back. They sued BAPA, accusing the organization of trying to keep suburban brokers from doing business in Beverly and Morgan Park. BAPA prevailed against the lawsuit.</p><p>But some proponents of open housing took umbrage with BAPA. Frank Williams, a realtor, Beverly resident and president of the South Side NAACP branch told <em>The Chicago Tribune</em> in 1985: &ldquo;What is the difference between Cicero, which says we don&rsquo;t want any of you, and a community like Beverly, which says we are going to practice integration maintenance and we will do everything possible not to allow any more than three of you on a block? I don&rsquo;t see a difference.&rdquo;</p><p>Shanabruch, then and now, insisted Beverly did not have a quota system to keep a racial balance. In a <em>Tribune</em> letter to the editor, he wrote: &ldquo;If only blacks are being shown houses in certain areas of our neighborhood or on certain blocks, we watch more carefully, encouraging blacks to look at other parts of the neighborhood and other areas in order to offset any effect that dealers&rsquo; steering might have. Likewise, we encourage whites not to limit their options, but encourage them to consider the aforementioned block.&rdquo;</p><p>During our recent coffee, Shanabruch told me he worried resegregation on a block-by-block level would&rsquo;ve made whites nervous and disrupted the neighborhood. BAPA saw the neighborhood in competition with suburbs like Oak Park and Evanston, communities that put a premium on integration. BAPA placed ads in <em>Chicago</em> magazine and set up booths and home fairs. The pitch? If you like architecture, great schools and leafy canopies, come to Beverly.</p><p><strong>Integrated Schools</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sutherland%20photo%201.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Sutherland Elementary School was part of a desegregation plan in the early 1980s. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />I grew up in Chatham, but my siblings and I rode a yellow school bus to attend Sutherland Elementary in Beverly. In the early 1980s, Chicago Public Schools unveiled a<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1981/04/04/us/chicago-announces-plans-to-desegregate-schools.html"> desegregation plan</a> for students that included busing. My parents loved our black middle-class neighborhood but felt strongly that their three children should receive an integrated education. I didn&rsquo;t realize I was part of a social experiment until much later in college. I just knew that only black kids rode the bus and I couldn&rsquo;t walk home for lunch. Not just because it was too far, but because unlike many of my white classmates&rsquo; mothers, mine worked during the day.</p><p>Overall, I loved Sutherland, loved my teachers and had black and white friends over for sleepovers, and vice versa. But I did experience odd moments of racial consciousness at a young age in Beverly. For a long time I thought only white kids ate white bread and black kids ate wheat bread, based on what I saw at the lunch tables. Imagine my surprise when one day I saw a white classmate unwrap his sandwich with wheat bread. Then there was gym class, which I hated because the teacher was mean to me. A few years ago, I ran into our beloved former principal, who&rsquo;s white, and told him the story. He explained the gym teacher eventually left because she didn&rsquo;t adapt too well to new black kids in the school.</p><p>During this time Beverly leaders like Shanabruch pushed for magnet schools and enhanced programs &ndash; like the one at Sutherland called Options for Knowledge - to keep and attract families. Sometimes white families stayed, but the neighborhood schools remained strong irrespective of racial composition.</p><p>Jennifer Smith, who is white, grew up in Beverly along with her six siblings. They all attended Vanderpoel Magnet for elementary school in the 1980s. One year she was the only white girl in her classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;When I was a kid, I didn&rsquo;t really think about the fact that all of my friends were African American. It was just normal,&rdquo; Smith said. Her parents believed in public education. Smith and her younger sister were best friends with two black sisters on their block.</p><p>The racial tension came from elsewhere.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel in the 1980s, there was a sharp divide between the (white) Catholic school kids and the (white) public school kids. Most of the white people in Beverly sent their kids to Catholic schools,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;We got called a lot of racial epithets like &lsquo;n-word lover.&rsquo; But it didn&rsquo;t shake our world up too much. We would throw stuff back and fight with them.&rdquo;<a name="cpsdata"></a></p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am-AbC8HDbXMdEd1QWFEbVhlZW1xVDRxOW1ibl9jRGc&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AC7&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"series":{"0":{"errorBars":{"errorType":"none"},"color":"#c9daf8"}},"animation":{"duration":500},"theme":"maximized","width":600,"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":null,"minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Racial makeup of public schools in Beverly","height":371,"domainAxis":{"direction":1},"legend":"in","focusTarget":"category","isStacked":true,"tooltip":{}},"state":{},"view":{},"isDefaultVisualization":false,"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script><p><span id="cke_bm_366S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_367S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_368S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_371S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><i>Source: Chicago Public Schools</i><span id="cke_bm_371E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_368E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_367E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_366E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>Back in the early 1990s, then 16-year-old Morgan Park High School student Todd Clayton and a group of black friends would play basketball at Beverly Park on West 102nd Street. One day, he recalled, a group of white boys with bats and chains chased them away screaming &ldquo;Nigger, this is our park.&rdquo; Clayton and his friends ran to a nearby gas station payphone to call the police.</p><p>&ldquo;When the police arrived on the scene, they didn&rsquo;t do anything to the boys that were still in the park. They told us it would be best for us to stay away from the park to avoid trouble,&rdquo; Clayton said.</p><p>Clayton said they ignored the police officers&rsquo; warning and kept coming back to the park &ndash; but with more guys as &ldquo;reinforcement.&rdquo; The white guys didn&rsquo;t bother them again.</p><p>&ldquo;Our main point was we weren&rsquo;t going to be pushed away,&rdquo; Clayton said. &ldquo;We evened the number for a fair fight if it came to that.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Today&rsquo;s Beverly</strong></p><p>The public schools in Beverly today don&rsquo;t necessarily reflect the diversity of the neighborhood. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-beverly-neighborhood-integration-no-accident-109922#cpsdata">(See chart.)</a></p><p>Most chalk it up to the strong Irish-Catholic identity and Catholic schools in the community. <a href="http://morganparkcps.org/special_programs.jsp">Morgan Park High School</a> now has a wall-to-wall International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme that current BAPA executive director Matt Walsh hopes will be a draw to families.</p><p>Walsh said BAPA&rsquo;s annual home tour, <a href="http://www.bapa.org/RIDGERUN/">Ridge Run</a> and other special events are used to lure people to the area. &ldquo;People here want to live in a racially diverse community. We continue to work on it,&rdquo; Walsh said, acknowledging that people don&rsquo;t always socialize as much as he would like. Recently, the <a href="http://www.beverlyartcenter.org/">Beverly Arts Center</a> hired<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/beverly-arts-center-hires-new-executive-director-109725"> Heather Ireland Robinson</a>, in part, to bring in more diverse programming.</p><p>But challenges remain. In late February, a musician wrote in his&nbsp;<a href="http://icestentatious06.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/too-many-black-people-at-mcnallys-says-chicago-police-officer/">blog</a> about an untoward racial incident at McNally&rsquo;s, a bar on 111th and Western &ndash; technically the Morgan Park neighborhood. Many of the bars on Western Avenue between Beverly and Morgan Park have a reputation &ndash; rightly or wrongly &ndash; of not being open to blacks. The blog post spread via social media. &nbsp;</p><p>I called McNally&rsquo;s and was told the bar did not have a statement.</p><p>BAPA swiftly responded with an e-mail blast: &ldquo;Recently, an incident which allegedly occurred at a local establishment generated a whirlwind of passionate conversations on diversity in Beverly Hills/Morgan Park. While BAPA does not have all the details or specific facts involving this incident, it is clear from the exchanges on blogs, emails, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media that diversity, whether it be racial or ethnic, is an important cornerstone of this community. In fact, Beverly Hills/Morgan Park is one of the most integrated neighborhoods in Chicago, and BAPA has a rich history in working to achieve this&hellip;. With so many neighbors reaching out to BAPA and the greater online community to share their commitment to integration, diversity and inclusion, we truly do believe that we have a new &lsquo;shot at greatness.&rsquo; Bring us your concerns and your ideas, get involved in not just the conversation but the connection.&rdquo;</p><p>So, is that connection something Curious City question-asker Erin McDuffie feels living in Beverly today?</p><p>&ldquo;As far as the South Side is concerned, it means something to people &ndash; and to white people in Beverly in particular &ndash; to have integration,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And I think for black families who live here, my hope is that we feel accepted and know that&rsquo;s coming from a genuine place.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-beverly-neighborhood-integration-no-accident-109922 I am [enter neighborhood here]: A city of mistaken identities http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/i-am-enter-neighborhood-here-city-mistaken-identities-106389 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/28263300_7952a34522_z.jpg" title="(Flickr/G. Chris Clark)" /></p><p dir="ltr">We embrace stereotypes of neighborhoods because they sometimes prove to be true. I live near Wicker Park, a neighborhood known for its nightlife and youth culture. Although this identity is not as strong as it once was (gentrification has a way of changing the identity of a neighborhood multiple times), it is still prevalent in the clothing stores, boutiques, high-end coffee shops, and club-like bars that line Milwaukee Avenue. Once we&rsquo;ve seen our stereotypes to be true, we hold on to them. It is easier to rely on what we know than what we don&rsquo;t. Seeing once is believing.</p><p dir="ltr">But we often stereotype these neighborhoods because our identities are tied into these environments. I had a friend and coworker who moved to Logan Square not because he wanted to, but because he felt it was the thing he was supposed to do.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I mean, all of my friends are moving there. Everyone my age, <em>like me</em>, has moved or is moving there,&rdquo; he said while we chatted at a party.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago as a city of neighborhoods can mean a number of different things. This cultural identity can be comforting. People of similar races, ethnicities and classes move to neighborhoods where they can be among their own. We find comfort in the familiar, in what we know and what we&rsquo;ve always known. But our city of neighborhoods often isolates, creating a series of &ldquo;Chicagos,&rdquo; but not one that can represent the city as a whole.</p><p dir="ltr">In a recent blog post, my friend and interfaith scholar and activist Hafsa Arain <a href="http://salaamworld.tumblr.com/post/45591381949/when-people-talk-about-safe-neighborhoods-they" target="_blank">wrote</a> about this same situation. Although she wrote about a town outside of the city, her concerns and observations ring true for inside Chicago as well. She wrote:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">If you don&rsquo;t know how violence works in places you are unfamiliar with, then you have no basis for saying that those places should be kept away from entirely. I worked in Chicago Heights last summer - gang violence and gun violence are on the rise there - but there are also families with children who go to school. There are people getting their groceries, people walking their dogs on the street. When you tell me their lives are nothing but violence, you limit the neighborhood and the people who live there.</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">I recognize this, both the limitations and the realities. People describe the South Side as if it is one monolithic place with one singular identity: dangerous, foreign, a Chicago &ldquo;not our own.&rdquo; Nevermind how far it stretches, the variety of classes, the numerous (and often ignored) racial populations, the beautiful beaches and massive parks. No, people don&rsquo;t know or don&rsquo;t want to know these things. To them, it is just violence, thus limiting the neighborhoods (because there are many and not just one) and the people living in them.</p><p dir="ltr">My experiences living and playing on the West Side of Chicago in the Austin neighborhood as a child feel different than living in Lincoln Park as a college student or in Ukrainian Village as an adult. This is not just about age. These neighborhoods have completely different identities. I have friends who have told me they could never go to the Austin neighborhood because it is filled with crime, but my experiences growing up and my experiences visiting now tell me different things. It is a neighborhood that is not wealthy, but filled with lots of families. There are large homes that take up wide plots of land. There is a lot of crime, but there are also block organizations. There are block parties. If anything, Austin feels like the part of Chicago I don&rsquo;t tend to think about as a 25-year-old woman: the working, settled down, normal, &ldquo;everywhere else&rdquo; Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">Stereotypes, whether negative or benign, are a way of showing how a neighborhood is not &ldquo;me.&rdquo; There is a way of showing who I am and how I live and what I want to be, and living in one neighborhood versus another can signal those things. Likewise, dismissing one neighborhood over another is a way of confirming our &ldquo;nots.&rdquo; I am <em>not</em> drunken. I am <em>not</em>&nbsp;fratty. I am <em>not</em> mainstream. Our very essence is not part of this neighborhood or the people within it. It is not therefore I <em>am</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Stereotyping neighborhoods limits what we know about the city. It allows us to miss out on musical venues, restaurants, architecture, and many of the other things that make Chicago such a culturally-rich city.</p><p dir="ltr">I was (and still am in many ways) an insecure woman worried about what others think of me. Talking to new friends now about where I lived in college, I was often hesitant to say Lincoln Park or Lakeview and rationalized my time there as just a student going to DePaul. &nbsp;<em>Well, those places are not who I am right now</em>, I used to rationalize. I was not identifying myself as someone from those neighborhoods. My time there was only transient. My identity was and is not Lincoln Park. My own personal weaknesses and immaturity acted as a barrier for others to better know other parts of the city and for myself to understand and appreciate where I was and what I had. I loved the abundance and access to a variety of different food options. Uptown was only minutes away. I still crave the convenience, the numerous methods of public transportation, the facade of safety.</p><p dir="ltr">As a college student, I spent long nights dancing and drinking in the back room of <a href="http://www.aliveone.com/" target="_blank">aliveOne</a> where my friend <a href="https://twitter.com/djcastle" target="_blank">Nick</a> spun hip-hop and r&amp;b. The space felt different than everywhere else in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. And when I had friends ask why I didn&rsquo;t want to go to other parts of the city, I simply explained how perfect a night spent listening to Mary J. Blige and sipping cheap drinks can feel. The experience reminds me of similar venues I find throughout my current Ukrainian Village neighborhood. The music might not be as wonderfully selected by a pro, but it is the simplicity of the experience, the familiar faces, and the settling in one spot that feels just as pleasant. Why malign Lincoln Park when I know, like anywhere else in the city, there is good and bad?</p><p dir="ltr">When we stereotype, we limit our scope and participation in what a city actually is. By confining ourselves to the identities of our neighborhoods, we are confining ourselves to these actual physical spaces. The stereotypes and identities then become true. <em>This is what it means to live here</em>. But we are multi-faceted people and likewise, this is a multi-faceted city. To suggest otherwise gives Chicago little credit for its history, its diversity, and what it can become in the future.</p><div><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a> or on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 07:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/i-am-enter-neighborhood-here-city-mistaken-identities-106389 Neighborhoods: I live here, therefore I am http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-01/neighborhoods-i-live-here-therefore-i-am-104761 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4081723478_b984e742cf_z.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Laurie Chipps)" /></p><p>I know this feeling, if only a little bit. Everyday I wake up to see the sun. I am nostalgic for an unremembered past. But the way my mother has gripped my rough, cold hands with her warm, thick fingers made the memories visceral, as if they were my own and not hers. These memories she passed on to me as fables, as rituals, and as a source of heritage.</p><p>I&rsquo;m thinking about the city and segregation. What does it mean to belong? My father&rsquo;s family often regarded my mother and my sisters with suspicion. He was from the South Side; my mother was from the West. They were both born in the South, in Alabama and Mississippi, but neighborhoods and cities have a way of changing you. Chicago in particular changes you. This is said a lot, but Chicago is truly a city of neighborhoods. And it is this configuration of neighborhoods that both welcomes and stifles diversity. You are free to be who you are, so long as you are over <em>there</em>. Lines can and have been drawn both inter- and intra-culturally.</p><p>My parents settled on the West Side, an area &ndash; like the South Side or the North Side &ndash; that is complex and complicating. It was important for my parents that we maintained a connection to family in both parts of the city. The older I was, the more it felt like a desire to maintain a connection to the identities of the West Side or the South Side, these black enclaves in the city. We lived in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, but eventually settled in Oak Park, a suburb of the city that is both wealthy and active. If Chicago is a city that &ldquo;brushes under the rug,&rdquo; Oak Park is a city that tries. Often times, it is the effort more than anything else that defines the relations from neighbor to neighbor.</p><p>Cultural identity is important but it can also be crippling in that what we often define to be &ldquo;ours&rdquo; is not right or healthy or meaningful. I&rsquo;m weary of anyone&rsquo;s idea of what it means to be black or what it means to be a woman or what it means to be young. Experience tells me that the truth is more nuanced and less familiar.</p><p>I currently live in the Ukranian Village neighborhood of Chicago. I can&#39;t say whether or not the people who also live here see very many faces like mine. But after years spent living in Lincoln Park and Lakeview during college, I am used to feeling and looking out of place.&nbsp;</p><p>In late October, I came home from a night out with friends to confront a cab driver who questioned my place of residence. He did not want to know <em>why</em> I lived where I live. He wanted to know how this was possible.</p><p>&quot;You live here,&quot; he asked. I said yes.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;This isn&#39;t a black neighborhood,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;And?&quot; I asked.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s a black girl doing living in this neighborhood?&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t be living over here. You should be living with your people.&rdquo;</p><p>Telling friends of this conversation, they were more upset by the situation than I was. I have been here my entire life. I don&rsquo;t say this to suggest that this is the truest definition of the city. I say this because identity, like the neighborhoods here, is complex.</p><p>What I&rsquo;m talking about is constructed identities, not necessarily our own constructions. I am where I live and where I Iive is who I&rsquo;ll always be. What I&rsquo;m talking about are the narratives that were born long before us and will exist long after us. I want to say, this is who I am as a person. But the world says, this is where you&rsquo;re from and so this is who you are. Stay put.</p><p>Chicago faces the results of years of suppression and disintegration. I&rsquo;ve noticed this source of conversation in many local news outlets and I don&rsquo;t think it is as much a trend so much as it is the tipping point of questions of the future, of what it will mean to be a Chicagoan five or ten or fifteen years from now. Will things be as they are? Like a lot of matters&nbsp;regarding the city, the answers are not cut and dry. For a city like this, I would hope not.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Britt on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-01/neighborhoods-i-live-here-therefore-i-am-104761 Won't you be my neighbor? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/wont-you-be-my-neighbor-99861 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/neighborhoodwatch.jpg" style="width: 613px; height: 613px;" title="(Flickr/chrisinplymouth)" /></div><p>Chicago is oft described as a city of neighborhoods&mdash;which is understandable when you consider that there are more than 200 distinct pockets, each with its own identity, history, quirks and perks. Historically, neighborhoods were largely defined by the people and places that occupied and roamed its streets; by the parish and the pub; by the porches and the familiar faces out front. But as many of our most intimate communities move online, have we lost touch of the people right outside our own doors?</p><p>Growing up in Chicago&#39;s northern suburbs, I knew the names and faces of every family on my block&mdash;where they worked and where they worshipped; which neighbors were nice and which were not so nice; which were nosy and which were no good. Our doors were left unlocked and if, for some strange reason, your own home was shut, you walked over to a neighbor&rsquo;s house to use the phone, kick up your feet and wait for mom or dad to come home to let you inside.</p><p>Nowadays, my door has two locks and a baseball bat by the entryway. I&rsquo;ve lived in my apartment for more than three years but could not tell you the name of any of my neighbors&mdash;that&rsquo;s actually a lie, I know one name: Kerry Wood. But I assure you, if I weren&#39;t a sports fan and if every third person in Wrigleyville didn&#39;t have his name affixed to their back each summer, I would not know his name or flash him a creepy star-stuck grin on the sidewalk.</p><p>Once upon a time, when someone on the sidewalk flashed you a grin, it was considered a friendly gesture&hellip;now, it feels more like a confirmation of crazy. People, it seems, tend to be fearless online but increasingly terrified of face-to-face interactions.</p><p>There&#39;s no denying things have changed. Columbia College history professor <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Humanities_History_and_Social_Sciences/faculty/Dominic_Pacyga.php" target="_blank">Dominic Pacyga</a> has been teaching and writing about Chicago&rsquo;s historic and evolving neighborhoods for more than 30 years. He says he&rsquo;s seen a real shift over time&mdash;part of it is economic, part of it is technological. But a big part of it, he says, is fear.</p><p>&ldquo;People are simply afraid of other people; that&rsquo;s increased over time and neighborhoods have broken down,&rdquo; Pacyga said.</p><p>That said, Pacyga grew up in Chicago&rsquo;s Back of the Yards neighborhood and still lives on the city&rsquo;s South Side&mdash;so there must be some reason, some roots, keeping him in the hood.</p><p>WBEZ blogger Claire Zulkey likes many things about her Edgewater neighborhood. In her most <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-06/my-favorite-neighbor-bar-99851?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClaireZulkey+%28WBEZ+Blogs+|+Claire+Zulkey%27s+An+American+Writer+%28According+to+Wikipedia%29%29" target="_blank">recent post</a>, she writes that she finds it, &ldquo;charmingly real, or realistically nice, or whatever combination you want to come up with to describe &lsquo;urban&rsquo; and &lsquo;neighborly.&rsquo;&rdquo; She also writes that her favorite neighbor is a dive bar called Ollie&rsquo;s.</p><p><em>Afternoon Shift</em> asked Pacyga, Zulkey and Kathy Chaney, managing editor for the <em><a href="http://www.chicagodefender.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Defender</a>, </em>to join the show&mdash;and you&mdash;for a conversation about neighbors.</p><p>So tell us: what kind of relationship do you have with your neighbors? What makes a great neighborhood?</p></p> Wed, 06 Jun 2012 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/wont-you-be-my-neighbor-99861 New series takes a closer look at Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-12/new-series-takes-closer-look-chicagos-auburn-gresham-neighborhood-94821 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-12/auburn gresham healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. But as important as they are to the city’s economy, politics and culture, Chicagoans do not always see them as distinct places. Take Auburn Gresham, a South Side neighborhood centered around 79th Street. The community is rich in character and characters; but Auburn Gresham generally flies under the radar for Chicagoans who do not live there. Journalist Bill Healy set out to change that. All this week, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> will get to know the people who live and work in Auburn Gresham through the photographs and stories Healy collected for the new series, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/auburn-gresham-chicago" target="_blank"><em>Auburn Gresham, Chicago</em></a>. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> sat down for a brief chat with Bill Healy to find out what drew him to Auburn Gresham.</p></p> Mon, 12 Dec 2011 15:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-12/new-series-takes-closer-look-chicagos-auburn-gresham-neighborhood-94821