Tag Archives: jewel

Tidings of Good Cheer

23 Dec

In the midst of planning holiday parties, family dinners and tidings of good cheer, the news in Chicago is still filled with death and violence.

Chicago Police are trying to stem the tide through the public relations release that the city recorded its lowest number of homicides in 2013, and programs such as teaching officers “police legitimacy”, a training based on research that suggests that when police treat citizens with respect, police receive more trust and compliance from citizens. No, I didn’t make that one up; I heard it on WBEZ this morning http://tinyurl.com/k2uuut7.

Whether you like him or not, Rev. Al Sharpton has come to town, moving into a temporary apartment in the Austin neighborhood in order to shine a spotlight on the problem. He says that this is part of his effort to call attention to the crisis of violence in cities. Rev. Sharpton has stated that he plans on offering some solutions to gun violence between now and January 20, 2014, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday http://tinyurl.com/le4rud7.

I believe that listening and talking to people is a good way to understand and create change to many situations but as Alderman Beale suggested, no one can come into Chicago for a couple of months and solve problems that we have been living with for years.
029dc141fc18931b9bf621bfd8846d5b_large
That being said, I am asking that you consider supporting a Kickstarter project http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1457784394/we-all-we-got. You don’t have to give more than a dollar but every dollar helps. Chicago photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz has been documenting youth violence in Chicago and other U.S. cities since 2006. The project was titled ‘Too Young To Die”. He has finally decided to publish this work in a book titled We All We Got, which collects his photographs, as well as essays and interviews with the victims, survivors, perpetrators, friends and families affected by youth violence. Ortiz, in an interview with CBS News, said he wanted to transform the perception that it isn’t about “those people” it’s just about people; people who aren’t a statistic, neighborhoods that aren’t just about victims but flesh and blood people; people who like all of us are celebrating the holidays, a time of love and peace and new beginnings.

At P3, we hope that friends and family surround you. We continue to work towards our goal of empowering young people, redeeming neighborhood jewels and creating opportunities for people to engage in real-world successes.

Advertisements

Tagging Austin

19 Apr

There have been several recent articles about a new start-up social media site called the Findery (https://findery.com/). The founder, Caterina Fake, who previously started Flickr, has a new web site where the service relies upon users to annotate the physical world to create augmented-reality content. This form of internet tagging is designed, in Fake’s words, “to tease out local knowledge, hidden secrets, stories and information about the world around you.” According to the Atlantic magazine article (http://tinyurl.com/asd5fzm), Fake wants to make technology real by bringing in human interactions.

While I am always interested in technology, my eye caught this question from the interviewer; “Could more knowledge lead people to shun dangerous or crime-ridden areas?” Fake’s answer intrigued me:

      There was a lot of crime information on Findery for Hunters Point, a poor neighborhood in San Francisco. As a team, we felt an urge to make the place come alive, to say, “This is the community, this is the history of the place, here’s the important stuff that’s going on now.” That can’t happen unless you give people a place to talk. If a newspaper reports on Hunters Point, the “if it bleeds it leads” attitude dominates. The news doesn’t tell you the story of a place as the locals know it.

Then I looked up Chicago on the site. There are only six locations listed which is not surprising, given that the site originators are California-P3_Logo_FINAL-B&W1based. But, consider what would happen if we decided to change the Austin neighborhood from a crime-ridden communitywith nothing but reports of continuing failure and violence to a neighborhood where the hidden gems show up on the map. So I invite you to either send me a location in Austin that you would like me to post or go to Findery yourself. Let’s begin to put Austin on the map for all the best reasons.

And don’t forget to attend the spring concert Dancicals on April 25th at 6 p.m. at Autin H733889_420309491393352_928553474_nigh School located on 231 N. Pine. Show up and applaud the efforts of some of the best teens in Chicago.

Show Up and Be Counted

10 Jan

Happy 2013! Let us hope that the New Year brings fundamental change to the neighborhoods in Chicago, especially those plagued by violence, gangs and gunfire. That change must begin with us as we cannot rely upon law enforcement, politicians, studies or reports to be the change we need.

 Recently, Crain’s posted a map “Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks” created by Chris Persaud (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130108/BLOGS08/130109821/how-rich-is-your-neighborhood#ixzz2HbWl8dWe). Persaud noticed a correlation between the poorer census tracts, many situated in Chicago, and the areas that suffer from high crime rates. The map is not particularly user friendly unless you know your census tract number but the article points out that the median income for the heart of South Austin (census tract 2519) is $18.8 K while the statewide median income is between $48-58K.

I doubt anyone is surprised when reading this. We all know that income, derived from gainful and engaging employment, combined with educational resources, will go a long way to solving the rise in crime rates. But the problem appears to offer the chicken and egg scenario; we can’t get jobs for undereducated people and we can’t get educational resources without having more money, derived from property taxes, allocated to failing schools.  

I propose you allocate what you do have, the will and intention to be the change you wish to see (with thanks to Gandhi), and support the projects the P3 is working on this year. You can support them with money or by volunteering but most of all, you can show-up! When the season starts, show up for an Urban Hardball game and cheer the team on. Attend a Move Me Soul dance recital and get caught up in the energy. Help us empower the young people in the neighborhood through sports, dance and theater while promoting the pride, power and unity of the neighborhood.

In the next few weeks we will be updating the Facebook page with our new logo as well as news about some of the activities we will be promoting this year. Don’t let this be another year of bad news for Austin; instead let’s raise a little hope and a lot of commotion for the jewels of the neighborhood.

P3_Logo_FINAL-B&W1

Move Me Soul Raises the Bar

5 Nov

Departing CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard quoted these dire statistics in his op-ed piece for the Chicago Tribune, “In 2011, fewer than 24 percent of Chicago Public Schools graduates were prepared to attend a four-year college, and only 1 in 7 African-American students tested college-ready.” But don’t despair, because there are people working hard, against those odds, to see that CPS students do succeed. One such hidden jewel is Ayesha Jaco, dance instructor with the Move Me Soul dance troupe, which operates an After School Matters (ASM) program in Austin High School.

As a 14 year old teen, Jaco became involved with Gallery 37, now a part of After School Matters, where she learned to dance. Her passion led her to receive a bachelor degree as well as a master’s of arts management in youth and community development from Columbia College Chicago and later, to found Move Me Soul. Eldrick Hereford recently had an opportunity to interview her during a brief break from her very busy schedule. 

She first became involved with ASM and P3 while working in the Austin High School teaching dance as one of the options for gym class. Her class caught the attention of the school principal and Sharif Walker when they observed her students’ success, not only the program, but in college readiness as well as personal growth. She remembered the positive role models in her own life and worked to be one of those same individuals for her students.

In another role, she serves as the Director of The Lupe Fiasco Foundation, an organization that helps to provide inner city youth with positive youth development programming. She is honing in on best practices, as well as piloting programs and determining how to grow and sustain these efforts. The organization just completed its annual Community Feeding Initiative in partnership with several churches. During the event, the foundation offered vegan and vegetarian meals as well as discount coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables in a number of neighborhoods including Englewood and Austin. They are starting their Annual Coat Drive which will provide coats to families in several shelters.

When asked what she would say if she had Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s ear for 3 minutes, Jaco said she would tell him that Austin has the largest population of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the City. Rather than cutting funds for programs such as Cease Fire, there should be an assessment of the area with key stakeholders coming together at the table to talk about what needs to happen in the community to celebrate its talented young people while building and supporting resources for them.

Eldrick asked Ayesha what she does to stay balanced and focused with her many roles as mother, educator, and community organizer. Jaco admitted that while dance and music play a significant part in helping her clear her head and regroup, working with young people rejuvenates and energizes her.

She believes that the arts play a significant role in not only stemming violence by providing youth with opportunities to channel their emotions and express themselves through everything from journal writing to theater and dance, but also that the arts provide youth with a sense of hope. She was once in the same position as many of her students and she remembers how much being a part of a dance program inspired her to go to college and grad school as well as start Move Me Soul. She is taking that organization to the next level as well by working with her students on technical aspects including the necessary vocabulary and performance skills to allow them to perform on professional stages throughout the world.

Jaco serves as a model for what one person can do if they put something out there and pay it forward. As such, she is one of the jewels of the Austin community.

P3: The Game Changers/ Rising Stars of the Austin Community

15 Aug

One of the many problems about the news is that it can be so negative. Negativity sells papers and gets plenty of views on a website, but does it make a positive impact on our community? I don’t think so. Here at P3, our goal is to focus on the Game Changers and Rising Stars that are having a positive impact on the Austin community, our youth, and our culture. These are the hidden jewels of the Austin community.

I recently had the opportunity to see Move Me Soul, a dance troupe, perform at Austin High School. I can’t give enough praise to Diana Muhammad and Ayesha Jaco for the mentorship and choreography that they provide to over 40 students in the Austin community. Move Me Soul is a movement that is saving lives on the West Side of Chicago through discipline in the form of dance.

Move Me Soul gave an excellent performance of African, Modern and Jazz dance styles. Diana and Ayesha are shining examples of Game Changers in the Austin community and Chicago. They are helping our youth to find another way out of the ‘hood through dance and hard work toward their goals. Please stay tuned; I will be posting my interviews with two of Move Me Soul’s dancers, two Rising Stars from the Austin community, Reggie Jones and Marielle Dickens, later this week.

Eldrick Hereford

Telling Our Own Story

8 Aug

Periodically we will be focusing the blog on one of the hidden jewels in the Austin neighborhood. There are a myriad of individuals, businesses, or even architectural gems, that contribute to the best of Austin but may be overlooked in the salacious headlines and crime statistics.

A brief history of the area might help to illuminate this unique community. According to the Chicago History online encyclopedia (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/93.html), Austin was created by developer Henry Austin in 1865 as a temperance settlement within the Cicero Township. In 1899, it was voted out of the Cicero Township and into Chicago. Originally home to Germans and Scandinavians, Irish and Italian families soon followed until the 1960’s when the population began to shift to predominantly African Americans. Today the neighborhood, having suffered from increased violence during the economic downturn which devastated both the real estate market and businesses within the neighborhood, is once again posed for rebirth and revitalization. Community leaders and business owners, profiled in a recent Crain’s Chicago article, spoke about their hopes and fears for the neighborhood.

Richard Feynman, noted Quantum physicist, looked at problems as or more complex than those of Austin and said “Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.”  If you have a story or know someone or something you would like us to feature, please contact us.