CHICAGO, IL -
For more information about our campaign (the Committee on Urban Resource Sustainability & Equity, or COURSE) click here, or contact us at COURSE@GenderJUST.org for updates & important meeting dates.
Below is the content of our letter:
North Halsted Business Alliance
Gender JUST, a grassroots organization whose mission is to address racial and economic issues affecting the LGBTQ community, would like to express our disappointment with the Northalsted Business Alliance’s recent efforts to increase policing and surveillance in Lakeview.
In 2010, Gender JUST leaders and community members worked closely with the Northalsted Business Alliance to address tensions between business owners and youth. Young LGBTQ community members volunteered their time and energy to hold a workshop for business owners in which they shared experiences being profiled and discriminated in Lakeview businesses. We hoped it would be a learning moment for Lakeview business owners, to come to understand their contribution to making Lakeview an unsafe, unwelcoming space.
In light of our efforts, it is bewildering that the Northalsted Business Alliance feels comfortable prioritizing increased private enforcement (an approach whose broad based effectiveness is constantly in question) to the amount of $50,000, yet often a cabaret show is needed to raise residual funds for essential youth programming.
It is the concern of Gender JUST that community resources are not being used effectively. Creating a safer and more inclusive Boystown means valuing the needs, perspectives and leadership of the most vulnerable and displaced in our community, and recognizing them as vital stakeholders in our progress. ‘Taking back’ Boystown from violence, chaos and diminished quality of life is not possible without encouraging the participation and decision-making of LGBTQ youth—and more urgently, youth of color.
In order to address our shared concern for the safety and stability of Lakeview, it is the responsibility of the Northalsted Business Alliance to address its budget priorities and allow an amount of $50,000 to fund services which our community in Lakeview desperately needs: programming and recreational space for youth under 18, shelters and support for homeless Chicagoans, and other resources that contribute to the safety and stability of youth in Lakeview. We are asking that these funds be allocated by a collaborative decision- making body of various institutions and leaders that represent and advocate for LBGTQ youth, youth of color, and homeless inhabitants in Lakeview.
While efforts by the NHBA to address this issue through the Center on Halsted’s Lakeview Safety and Inclusion Coalition have merit, a long overdue conversation must be had concerning the overall distribution of resources in Lakeview. As an entertainment destination, issues of safety in Lakeview are not limited to residents and business owners, but also affect business patrons, local social service clients, and other neighborhood visitors. As business owners, you have the opportunity to foster a robust conversation that looks beyond single-issue politics and addresses the needs of all community members.
We await an invitation by the Northalsted Business Alliance to discuss this proposal in further detail. Please contact our staff organizer, Andrés Gallegos at (312) 869-9825 or COURSE@GenderJUST.org, by the 26th of August to discuss possible meeting times.
We hope to hear from you promptly,