About 100 volunteers in bright green T-shirts split up into groups Saturday and cleaned main thoroughfares and yards in Englewood, clearing away much of the litter that has long plagued the neighborhood’s streets and lots. The volunteers worked together from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the first ever Greater Englewood Unity Day, part of Chicago’s city-wide Clean and Green Day–and organized by partners including the Adler School Teamwork Englewood, Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E) and Imagine Englewood If (IEi).
Chicago Aldermen Toni Foulkes (15th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Latasha Thomas (17th) came out to support the effort and provide cleaning supplies. Food 4 Less and Subway donated sandwiches and snacks for the volunteers. And throughout the day, as the volunteers collaborated to beautify their neighborhood, more people throughout the community became inspired to step out of their homes and join in the clean-up.
By the end of the day, the neighborhood looked noticably different, said Dr. Tiffany McDowell, program manager and research associate with the Adler School’s Institute on Social Exclusion. She and Dr. Nataka Moore, an Adler School Core Faculty member, were among the day’s volunteers–and are working closely with the recently created Greater Englewood Alliance.
The alliance and Saturday’s Unity Day came out of a January summit hosted by the Adler School and Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter, at which Englewood community organizations came together to discuss and examine a solutions-based action plan to strengthen the struggling community’s economic development, improve education opportunities and lower crime. The alliance of community organizations and constituents meets regularly to review neighborhood improvement opportunities and progress.
For more than a year, the Adler School’s Institute on Social Exclusion has worked with officials, researchers, Englewood community leaders and residents, and public and private officials on Mental Health Impact Assessment (MHIA) work examining how proposed public programs and policy changes will affect the collective mental health and well-being of Englewood residents. The MHIA is only one of a number of projects in which the Adler School has worked with Englewood organizations and leaders for more than six years.
For more information on the MHIA work taking place in Englewood, visit adler.edu/MHIA.