Eric Young Smith
CNDA 2013: Getting engaged, healthy and strong
Chicago and its neighborhoods have reached an “inflection point” where problems once considered too difficult to address are being analyzed with an eye toward investments critical to their solution.
So while Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the winning brick-and-mortar projects saluted at the 19th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, he also challenged the audience of community development practitioners and funders to do even more.
Most of all, the mayor urged the 1,500 who came to the Chicago Hilton & Towers on Feb. 13 to reach out to young people “whose optimism an youthfulness have been taken from them.” For the city to succeed, the mayor said, these disaffected teenagers and young adults need to “see themselves as sharing in the success of our global city.”
Emanuel did not specifically address the wave of lethal violence that has shaken neighborhoods on the West and South sides, nor did he elaborate on the painful proposal – released earlier that day – to close more than 120 underutilized schools. But as he spoke of “hard decisions,” of “investing in the right things” and of “bridging the difference” between blunted aspirations in some in the neighborhoods compared to the energy building downtown, the context was broadly appreciated.
Earlier in the evening Susana Vasquez, executive director of LISC Chicago, which hosts the event, also called for “stretching ourselves.”
“What will make us stronger as a city in the months and years ahead is stretching ourselves to build new relationships with people and parts of the city that are not as familiar, and forging new coalitions," said Vasquez. "That's how we are going to break through on some of these toughest issues: by continuing to push ourselves to build trust."
In the same vein, Lori Healey, board chair of LISC Chicago and of this year’s CNDA, called on the community development faithful to “take a closer look at the emerging challenges and opportunities facing Chicago.” Read the full story.
Check out the winners from the past 19 years of the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards. And watch a slideshow from this year's event......
Established in 1995, the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) recognize the essential role that both non-profit and for-profit developers play in building communities in Chicago-area neighborhoods. The Awards recognize outstanding achievement in neighborhood real estate development and community building, especially the achievements of community development corporations (CDCs), other community-based organizations and for-profit developers working to build healthier neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area.