Celebrating Woodlawn for 10 years

“How many times does it take to walk by an empty lot and not see the trash?” asks Jahmal Cole, founder and Chief Executive Officer of My Block, My Hood, My City, during his presentation to the 10th Annual Woodlawn Summit. “It’s not regular to see someone buried in a Louis Vuitton casket, a fake Louis Vuitton casket; it’s not regular. I am a product of my own expectations. Democracy starts on the block.”

Staff Writer

The annual Woodlawn Community Summit and South East Chicago Commission (SECC) brought together residents, business owners, and community stakeholders to celebrate its 10th year of service on Saturday, March 16 at U. of C.’s School of Social Service Administration building.

In 2009 resident volunteers organized the summit to highlight efforts by community members and business owners to improve Woodlawn. As the summit grows, it continues to develop and nurture initiatives like the Woodlawn Chamber of Commerce, youth and neighborhood engagement programs.

“Ten years ago, the University hosted the first Woodlawn Summit in a single, small classroom on our campus. In every year since attendance has grown exponentially with more than 500 attendees expected to [come] today,” said Derek Douglas, U. of C.’s Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs. “The phenomenal growth over the years speaks to the power of engagement and Woodlawn’s strong sense of community.”

The morning kicked off with keynote speaker Jahmal Cole, founder and CEO of My Block, My Hood, My City. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Gov. J.B. Pritzker sent letters to congratulate the summit for reaching its 10-year anniversary.

Afterward, community members were invited to attend open forum sessions based on Economic Development, Housing, Youth Engagement, Sustainability, and Safety. Throughout the day residents could visit a resource fair and meet 5th and 20th ward aldermanic candidates.

During the Candidate Meet and Greet, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) was present to speak to constituents. However, 5th ward challenger William Calloway did not attend despite having earlier committed to doing so. Both aldermanic candidates for the 20th ward, Jeanette Taylor and Nicole Johnson, were there to greet voters.

At the end of the summit, residents were invited to take a bus tour of Woodlawn, Washington Park, South Shore, and Bronzeville.