Unity, Commitment, Transparency, Collaboration and Action are the values of the Austin Quality of Life Plan.
The entrance to our neighborhood at Chicago Ave and Cicero was the scene for State Rep La Shawn K. Ford’s 4th Annual Stand For Peace Street Dedication.
When I approached Mandela Road around 1030a on a perfect Tuesday morning the neighborhood had completely filled the plaza entrance to Westside Health Authority. Chatting with La Shawn one thing you notice immediately is that representation of black culture is an important topic for him. Although Cook County is home to more blacks than any other county in America, you don’t see many Chicago streets named after people of color.
This annual Mandela Road street dedication was inspired by the unanimous decision of the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 to recognize International Nelson Mandela Day. This year’s celebration was made even more significant by the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King Chieftain statue.
15th District CPD Commander Betts made it a point to address what it means to be an active citizen when expressing his concern toward to police efforts against violence. “ When we find youth with weapons they are never waterlogged or rusty. These firearms are kept in good condition. It means they are being stored in neighborhood homes. If you know illegal weapons are being kept in the home, you must contact authorities to help get these guns off the street!” says Mr. Betts during the rally.
The spirit of the Austin neighborhood was on display as community leaders took time to share their latest initiatives as well call the village to action. The theme over the course of the next two hours was the importance of gaining a collective voice to achieve to success we all wish for Chicago’s largest neighborhood.
10 neighborhood groups partnered to make the event a day to remember. The Good Neighbors Campaign Youth Division Cheerleaders kicked off the day’s activities. Everyone from Westside Health Authority COO, Quiwana Bell to Chicago Department of Planning’s Mark Roschen made an appearance at Mandela Day.
Austin’s newest resident, Jamaica Grill catered the event. Their next location will reside at 5241 W. Chicago Ave. The Retail Thrive Zone Grant Recipient worked with AV72 Chicago’s own Yemisi Dinkins on the grant. In addition to her economic development + finances roles at WHA, Ms Dinkins led efforts for the first SSA (Special Service Area) designation for Austin Village. Yemisi works with Department of Planning to maximize their impact in the SSA.
A beautiful display of what a neighborhood should feel like was in the air at the corner of Chicago Ave and Mandela Road on this day. During a UN speech Mandela once made a proclamation for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s injustices. “ It’s in your hands now. ”
We of course can’t change the world until we first decide to change ourselves, and there is an incredible amount of work ahead of us. One thing is certain, and this multi-race, multi generational gathering was reminder that, we as a village will get more done working collectively as one voice.
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