Two community organizations are taking to the streets on the West Side on Saturday in order to promote community-building and to spread positivity, the organizations’ representatives say.
The Austin Block Club Association is encouraging residents to line Adams Street with fire pits and grills on Oct. 24, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Tina Augustus, 58, said she founded the Austin Block Club Association last year in order to unify the block clubs in the area that includes her own — the Austin Adams Block Club.
“We consist of six block clubs within the Austin community and our west boundary is Austin, the east is Parkside, the north is Madison and the south is Adams,” sh said.
“This is one of our end-of-year activities that we’re hosting, so we’re looking to have community engagement, share resources with our neighbors, share PPE and talk about the participatory budget in the 29th Ward,” Augustus said.
She said residents will get free kits to create their own S’mores over the fire pits. They’ll also get free food, she added.
Augustus said that she hopes to secure official tax-exempt nonprofit status for the Block Club Association in the coming months. She said the prevalence of block clubs in the area has been a proven crime deterrent
“There are strength in numbers, so a lot of havoc on our block doesn’t happen,” she said. “And you have more support from your neighbors. That’s another reason I wanted to build this Block Club Association. It gives others who aren’t able to speak a voice.”
For the West Side natives who founded the organization Ladies in Flats, that need to be heard on issues affecting their hometowns prompted them to start the Ladies in Flats initiative.
“The Ladies in Flats was created to help tackle the high crime in our community by organizing events that promote spreading love,” stated Austin native Cheetara Walwyn, the group’s founder. “This is our first event and we are excited. We want to remind residents in the community that they are loved and that their lives have value.”
Tybet Ohikuare, Walwyn’s sister and a member of Ladies in Flats, said that the group’s formation arose from the March on Washington that was held on Aug. 28, in order to commemorate the historic 1963 March on Washington.
“Cheetara and one of our other sisters, along with a couple of our cousins, went to Washington they did and we’ve been on this whole activism vibe since then,” Ohikuare said. “That inspired them to bring something like that back to the community we grew up in.”
On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Ladies in Flats will hold a march of their own that will start on the 1500 block of Luna Avenue. They’ll end the march at Laramie and Division, where they’ll hold a rally.
“We are not a huge national organization; just a small group of women from the West Side of Chicago who want to see change in our community and doing what we can to be part of the solution,” Walwyn said.