Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Cabrini-Green - Broken Promises

This story about Cabrini-Green was published today by the Better Government Association (BGA).  It tells of the re-development of the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago and the broken promises that government leaders made to residents who lived there before the development began.  Click here to read.

4/20/2022 update: Alejandra Cancino, the author of the BGA report spoke at the 4/19 ChiHackNight event. The video will be found here in a week or two. 

I came to the Cabrini-Green area in 1973 to be a retail advertising copywriter with the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters, bordering  Cabrini-Green's West border.

I joined the company sponsored tutoring program that fall and was matched with a 4th grade boy named Leo Hall. A year later I became part of the volunteer leadership team, and in 1975 I became the program's volunteer director. I led this program until 1992 then formed a new version, called Cabrini Connections, which I led from 1993 to 2011.  

The map of Cabrini-Green, shown at the right, was part of a story I wrote in 2010 about the re-development of the area.   I talked about the promises that were being made and the prospect of them not being kept.

Below I show the front page of the Chicago SunTimes, from October 1992, following the shooting of a 7-year old boy in Cabrini Green.  The headline reads "7-year old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".

I've kept a copy of this story for the past 32 years as a reminder of the commitment I and others need to make to kids born or living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other parts of the country.

I've used it in many blog articles, such as this from 2008,  encouraging others to get involved. 

Today's BGA story reminds me to repeat this call to involvement.

As we formed Cabrini Connections to help a small group of teens, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help a city full of kids living in high poverty areas. I've used maps since 1993 to emphasize the need for investment in every high poverty area, not just the Cabrini-Green area.

Thus, the broken promises that affect kids and families who once lived in Cabrini Green, are broken promises affecting thousands of people.

Look at the photo of me standing in front of a map, with a microphone in my hand.   Then look at this article with a map in the background. 

If you read my blog articles or some of the printed newsletters from the 1990s, you'll see a constant invitation for others to take a lead, sharing the same call to involvement, using their own media, talent and visibility.

As we head toward Christmas, remember how Jesus recruited 12 disciples and told them to go forth and multiply.   I've been trying to have the same influence for many, many years.  

Today's story is just another reminder that we've a long way to go. 

I'm not the only one working to help kids and families in poverty areas, not the only one calling for others to be involved.  But I'm one of the few using a map of Chicago and calling on people to support tutor/mentor and youth development programs in every high poverty area, not just the program I led in one small part of Chicago.

We need more leaders using maps like this, to draw people they know to places where those people can help. 

Use my articles as a template. Then create your own.

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