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Season 1, Episode 1: Getting Everyone Onboard with Equitable Transit in Chicago

Podcast

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Cover image: Getting Everyone Onboard with Equitable Transit in Chicago

Host: Justice Gatson Local Audio Producer: Joey Lieberman, Raquel Venado

Host: Justice Gatson

Local Audio Producer: Joey Lieberman, Raquel Venado

Season 1, Episode 1: In this episode, local audio producer Joey Lieberman visits the Washington Heights and Logan Square neighborhoods with two community leaders who work on equitable transit-oriented development. We learn how Elevated Chicago and their partners are working together to create walkable and equitable communities in the face of displacement from gentrification. In the second segment, Kendra Freeman, a vice-president with the Metropolitan Planning Council, hosts Juan Sebastián Arias, Deputy Director of Policy Mayor’s Office, and Ghian Foreman, president, and CEO of the Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative. They discuss a new model of transit-oriented development that keeps communities intact and helps them thrive. This episode is hosted by Justice Gatson, a Kansas City based organizer, who organizes intersectional movements that uplift the voices of the most marginalized groups.

This podcast acts as a final grant report for Convergence Partnership’s 2020 COVID response grants. The Convergence Partnership is a collaborative of local statewide and national funders to advance racial justice and health equity. The Convergence Partnership podcast series introduces you to people and organizations who are building social, political, and economic power.

Justice Gatson: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Convergence Partnership podcast today, our partner foundations and grantees will share their stories on how they are working to improve community health and promote racial justice. The Convergence Partnership is a collaborative of local statewide and national funders working to transform policy, practices and systems to advance racial justice and health equity.

Justice Gatson: This podcast introduces you to people and organizations who are building social, political and economic power to advance racial justice and health equity. The series acts as a final report for our most recent grantee cohort.

Justice Gatson: As I started to realize that there were less Latinos or less Spanish speakers in the neighborhood that made me start asking questions. It made me wonder why is the neighborhood changing?

Justice Gatson: It is [00:01:00] not just the problem of those neighborhoods. It’s Chicago’s problem. The challenges of our communities were not created overnight and they’re not going to be changed overnight. We always look from a perspective of what we don’t have rather than an asset based perspective on what we do have.

Justice Gatson: From the Gulf Coast, to Chicago, to the San Joaquin Valley, to Buffalo and places in between, we are learning how our network is amplifying community power, transforming narratives, and building funder capacity to create a just an inclusive society where all people ,especially those most impacted by structural racism are empowered to shape the policies and systems that impact their lives are healthy and can thrive. I’m your host Justice Gatson today we’re meeting with Elevated Chicago [00:02:00] grantee of the Chicago Community Trust. To start off, we’ll hear from a local audio producer to learn more about the critical work Elevated Chicago is doing to create Equitable Transit Oriented Development in their city.

Joey Lieberman: I’m Joey Lieberman reporting from Chicago, Illinois. Chicago is among the most racially segregated cities in the country. And people of color are at a higher risk of displacement from their communities. The issue and solutions are complex, but Elevated Chicago and their coalition of neighborhood and citywide organizations have been working in and across communities to change the systems that have historically held back communities of color from progress, opportunities, and development.

Joey Lieberman: They do this by working to create Equitable Transit Oriented Development or eTOD. [00:03:00] It’s an approach to urban development that maximizes the density of housing, businesses and amenities within the half mile radius of a transit stop to create walkable communities and reduce reliance on automobile. Among Elevated its numerous community partners are Washington Heights, Endeleo Institute and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Representatives of these organizations, Melvin Thompson and Isabelle Cabrera gave me a walking tour of their respective neighborhoods to show me the work they’re doing and explain why this work is so valuable.

Joey Lieberman: I met Melvin at the Carter G Woodson regional library at 95th and Halstead where the work of his Institute really began.

Melvin Thompson: My name is Melvin Thompson. I’m the executive director of the Endeleo Institute. Endeleo is a Swahili word. That means progress, growth and development. Our mission is to revitalize not only Washington Heights, but the 95th street corridor in general, but to do it in a health conscious [00:04:00] way.

Joey Lieberman: Melvin tells me what eTOD means to him.

Melvin Thompson: Equitable Transit Oriented Development is an experience where every person feels a sense of ownership in their community anchored by access to excellent transportation that will make sure the equitable part of eTOD rings true. Right, and it’s different from equal. All of us don’t need exactly the same things, but we need those things in different doses, different levels. And so it’s contoured to everyone’s needs

Joey Lieberman: To better understand what this means for Washington Heights. Melvin took me to the 95th street L station. The massive redeveloped station sits over the highway and 95th street and buzzes with vehicle and foot traffic in every direction.

Joey Lieberman: As you’ll hear, it was very noisy and the heavy [00:05:00] traffic also creates some danger when crossing the street to get there.

Melvin Thompson: We got people that have special needs people with young children, we have such a high amount of elderly people in the community. They’re going to have to rethink this to making this more user-friendly. It just isn’t.

Joey Lieberman: Another focus of Melvin’s in regards to the station is the lack of nearby retails. We went inside the station and stood on the bridge over 95th street, where there’s a panoramic view of the corridor here. Melvin imagines the possibilities for growth in his community, where he sees unlimited potential.

Melvin Thompson: This has a lot less retail than I would’ve liked those vacant parcels over there that we’re looking at right now, out of the window, they could be those spaces. You know, there are ways to do this and we just need to explore them.

Joey Lieberman: Melvin exudes, passion, energy, and commitment for his community, but he needs the city to meet him in the middle.[00:06:00]

Melvin Thompson: It’s an easy lift for the city and for CTA and for these entities that have the infrastructure that we need to execute the revitalization of our communities.

Joey Lieberman: Still there are hurdles to getting this work, done

Melvin Thompson: The breaking of the various and systemic racist structures that we have to navigate. That’s the heavy lift. That’s why I have to keep my foot on the gas because if I take my foot off and say, we’ll worry about that at a later date, that later date may never come

Joey Lieberman: On the opposite side of the city in Logan Square, Isabel Cabrera has been facing a different set of issues in her community. Mass gentrification has led to the displacement of Latin X community members. Developers have moved in and taken over local real estate for the purpose of building luxury apartments. What was once a diverse family [00:07:00] oriented community, is now a hub for a younger and whiter demographic.

Joey Lieberman: And Isabelle has observed this change firsthand.

Isabel Cabrera: My name is Isabel Cabrera I am a board member with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. And we used to see a lot of Latin families. We stop feeling like we don’t fit here anymore.

Joey Lieberman: Isabel and I walked all around Logan Square. One of the first things she showed me is the enormous mural by the entrance to the Logan Square blue line station and its surrounding park.She directed me towards a quote on the mural.

Isabel Cabrera: And they said, quiero un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos which means I want a world where we all fit in there pretty much. And this is what Logan Square provides to everybody to bring your ideas and actually work with those ideas and make these neighborhoods more diverse.

Joey Lieberman: We proceeded to walk across the street towards the large development and construction at Kedzie and Emmett street, right by the other entrance to the blue line station.. She beamed with pride. As she told me [00:08:00] about this development, which she helped facilitate, it’s eventually going to be an affordable housing project.

Isabel Cabrera: Back 100 families in our neighborhood. So more people like me gonna come here and going to have the same opportunity and the feeling of being in a diverse community

Joey Lieberman: on the other side of Emmet street, however, there’s a development that’s working against these efforts. It’s yet another luxury apartment development that took over what was once a local bakery.

Isabel Cabrera: Now we’re here on what it was appears. They hear it. And we can compare this building with chemistry and how is building not going to have, nothing affordable. And on top of that, I don’t think people that going to live here, you’re going to use the public transportation.

Joey Lieberman: Isabella’s concerned with access to public transport. Well, Emmett street will provide easy access to the blue line for those who need it. The tenants at this other development may not even need it at all. [00:09:00] Isabel brought me to another luxury development in a building that might surprise some people.

Isabel Cabrera: So now they’ve taken over the church was a place where people used to come and, uh, find peace in there.

Joey Lieberman: She points me to an inscription on the door of the church,

Isabel Cabrera: Say the house of God, the gate of heaven. Is now, luxury like I say, people like me cannot afford

Joey Lieberman: like Melvin Isabel chooses to focus on problem solving.

Isabel Cabrera: We need to find solutions. How are we going to keep working to create a better environment that benefits everyone.

Isabel Cabrera: It’s kind of my responsibility to keep working the same way, taking care of each other. This is where I belong. I don’t want to go nowhere.

Justice Gatson: That [00:10:00] was local audio producer, Joey Lieberman telling us about Elevated Chicago and their work on Equitable Transit Oriented Development in the city. In our next segment, Elevated Chicago reflects on the work they have done with support from the Chicago Community Trust and the Convergence Partnership.

Kendra Freeman: Hi, my name is Kendra Freeman. I’m a vice-president with the Metropolitan Planning Council. I also serve as the steering committee co-chair for Elevated Chicago, which is a collaborative of 16 organizations working to advance Equitable Transit Oriented Development in the city. I’m excited to be here with two colleagues from our Elevated Chicago table, Juan Sebastián Arias and Ghian Foreman. And maybe we’ll start with Juan Sebastián.

Juan Sebastián Arias : Yeah. So I, I joined my role in the mayor’s office a little under a year ago, so I’m definitely still learning and absorbing a lot, but working on [00:11:00] mostly on housing development and some food security issues. And that includes our Equitable Transit Oriented Development across a number of city departments and sister agencies.

Juan Sebastián Arias : And also in partnership with Elevated Chicago and a number of other community and civic group stakeholders. To advance Equitable TOD in the city.

Ghian Foreman: And my name is Guianan Foreman. I’m the president and CEO of the Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative. It’s an economic development organization that was created to really take advantage of the opportunities that will come to the south side.

Ghian Foreman: As a result of the Obama center being built in the Woodlawn community. I’m a steering committee member of elevated Chicago, specifically work in the, what we call green line south communities. I also wear a hat as being a private investor in the community as well.

Kendra Freeman: Thanks Juan Sebastián and Guianan, so glad to have you. How’s everyone doing ?

Ghian Foreman: All is well, all is well it is Springtime in the city.

Juan Sebastián Arias : Yeah, I can’t complain. I’m still, uh, riding [00:12:00] the high of an 80 degree, sunny summer Chicago weekend.

Kendra Freeman: And I’m just coming back from vacation. So I’m still somewhat refreshed. All right. Well, if we’re going to talk about the work that Elevated Chicago has been doing, it’s really been focused around what we call. eTOD or Equitable Transit Oriented Development, and really at the heart of, of eTOD is how do we value the land around transit, the creates vibrant communities and vibrant centers of commerce and connection in a way that is not just typical development, but in a way that really brings in a strong lens on working with the people who live there, working to foster connections, to other places, to build economic development, to preserve affordability in places where that may be being lost and to bring opportunity to places that may be being overlooked.

Kendra Freeman: So using community-based solutions and really listening to community is really a cornerstone of our approach to equitable [00:13:00] development. Juan Sebastian and Ghian would love to give you the opportunity to tell us a little bit about why this work is important to you. What inspires you to do this work and why that connection of making sure community is a core partner in this work is important.

Juan Sebastián Arias : Thank you Kendra. So I can start a little bit of just like my own personal background and how I, uh, started to, to, to care about these kinds of issues and even learn what eTOD meant for myself, but a lot of it starts with my own experience just growing up in Chicago. So I’m a, I’m a born and raised Chicagoan grew up across different neighborhoods in the near Northwest and Northwest sides.

Juan Sebastián Arias : One of those being Logan Square. And the story I always like to tell is about when I would come back from college and go to Spanish mass, the same Spanish mass that my family would go to for much of my childhood and over time realized or saw that, uh, [00:14:00] what once used to be a jam-packed mass standing room only ended up in the aisles with my parents eventually over time was maybe two thirds, three fourths empty. And as I started to realize that there were less Latinos or less Spanish speakers in the neighborhood going to Spanish mass, it made me start asking questions. Right. It made me. What’s happening, where are people going, why is the neighborhood changing?

Juan Sebastián Arias : And that led me to think about, or ask more questions about larger structures or policies related to how neighborhoods change, what segregation is, why we have concentrated already in some neighborhoods, the root causes of segregation and just structural racism in the city. And so, anyway, all that to say is that part of what got me first, uh, paying attention to issues of displacement was what I’d experienced or seeing some of those changes happening in Logan Square.

Juan Sebastián Arias : which, coincidentally, is they’re a very transit served community area. The heart of which is really around this Logan [00:15:00] Square blue line train station too. As I got the opportunity to work in the mayor’s office, focused on housing neighborhood development issues, it seemed like a natural fit. And actually, before I joined the mayor’s office too, I was already a part of Elevated Chicago eTOD family through my work, being able to work with a number of really just incredible people and leaders in communities across the city. Also, I think continuously brings, makes me inspired about this eTOD work and all the people that, that rally behind it as a cause.

Ghian Foreman: Yeah. So, so it, it’s interesting hearing your story. Our stories are not very dissimilar. I grew up on the south side of Chicago, live six blocks from the house I grew up. Uh, living in a community where there was, you know, all kinds of houses, right. There was big mansions in the neighborhood and there was public housing in the neighborhood. And over time, a lot of that public housing was torn down.

Ghian Foreman: Uh, some of the other housing for all the way back from the sixties until present is kind of [00:16:00] being torn down. And it resulted in a significant amount of vacant land. The South Lakefront communities, there’s over 11 million square feet of city owned, vacant land. When I graduated from college and graduate school, and I had to decide where I was going to live, kind of made a decision to live as close as possible to one of our biggest anchors, the University of Chicago. Couldn’t really afford to live in the neighborhood Hyde Park so I had to go to one of the neighborhoods that was pretty close. And as I started investing, uh, use that same criteria. Where did I think the University would be expanding?

Ghian Foreman: Where was transit located? Right. Because that’s a multi-billion dollar worth of infrastructure that exists in the neighborhood. Right. Where does the traffic flow kind of thinking about all of these. You know, in thinking about the fact that all of this vacant land does exist in city owned, on vacant land. A lot of it think about where the opportunities will come.

Ghian Foreman: We’re talking about four miles from the central business district. So I made a strategic decision to start [00:17:00] investing in those communities saying at some point, these are where they’re going to be the communities that would be repopulated. And so kind of hearing Juan Sebastian and talk about it hearing and a part of the thing that this whole Elevated process has done for me is it’s allowed me to learn from other communities that have kind of gone through some of the things that, that my community is now going through, or will be going through kind of thinking about. What kind of a childhood I had.

Ghian Foreman: Right. And thinking about when I’m going to invest in a community, um, you know, what are some of the things that we need to put in place? So those, the residents of those neighborhoods could kind of have the same kind of good childhood.that I had. , for me to go to high school I had to take two buses and a train. Um, so, so transit was always very important to me, but that experience has showed me the city.

Ghian Foreman: Um, you know, here in Chicago, we are a very segregated city. Black people live in certain neighborhoods, Latino people live in certain neighborhoods. White people live in certain neighborhoods, but going to school outside of my neighborhood and having to use [00:18:00] public transportation. It kind of opened up my world a little bit.

Ghian Foreman: And so for me, and thinking about what Equitable Transit Oriented Development means, it means how do we use the assets that we have, both the transit, as well as the land to kind of create some bright futures for the people in those communities.

Kendra Freeman: Thanks. This is great to hear those stories about how both of you at different points in your time growing up here and your neighborhood experience have been connected through transit and really how that’s kind of shaped how you think about your work and actually, you know, your decisions probably in some ways to do the work that you’re doing now.

Kendra Freeman: Well, love to just talk a little bit more in detail about some of the work that you’ve been involved in. I think one of the extra benefits. um, of working at the Elevated Chicago table has been the synergies that’s been building between different community groups and the opportunity to support each other and in broader advocacy and learn from each other.

Kendra Freeman: I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the process in which Elevated it really brought [00:19:00] community members and stakeholders together to really help shape the eTOD policy plan from a community perspective.

Ghian Foreman: Yeah. So, so we were organized into different, uh, what we call community tables. So I’m a part of the green line south table.

Ghian Foreman: Um, we actually have three stations in our table. Some tables have two train stations and others have one station. And so, but from our perspective, what we did was we identified organizations or institutions already working in those communities and brought them together kind of on a regular basis to have conversations about certain particular issues within a half a mile of the train station themselves. You know, they want always friendly conversations, right? People came in the group, people left the group, they will no longer talk to each other. People are a lot closer, right? Just like kind of all of the regular things that happen in community.

Ghian Foreman: But, you know, we, we, we kind of created a constitution, so to speak. These are the rules that everyone was going to [00:20:00] abide by. One of the important things that we did. I think that made it viable is that we, we created a system in which people would be compensated for their time. And people were used to going to a lot of meetings and talking and talking and not a lot of action.

Ghian Foreman: So we found that even just a small amount of compensation, it had a significant impact and a work together. Uh, Elevated Chicago and SPARK at a national level to identify what other kinds of resources we can bring to the table. What kind of research? So we were able to use the research from an MPC, uh, the research from several, a lot of other groups.

Ghian Foreman: I mean, I could go on naming names for a long time. Uh, but then to be able to see how do we apply this to our community. So maybe it was a mural, maybe it was planting a rain garden. So these things are tied to transit. It was tied to environment, health. We’ve done walking tours and bike tours, and really just a real way to try to make sure that there was maximum community participation [00:21:00] that nobody felt that this new group coming in Elevated Chicago is going to change all of the work that we’ve been doing in community.

Ghian Foreman: No, it was being a part of the work that was already taking place in community. And I think that in doing so, what it did was it kind of gave us a good format in which to work together is kind of how I would describe it.

Kendra Freeman: Awesome. I know one of the things that I always think about in, in, in part of the work that I do is, you know, When you, when you got to have a conversation with community about development and what can be, people always send a bit concern like, oh my God, you know, people are just going to ask for the sky and now we’re going to manage these conversations and, and whatever.

Kendra Freeman: And, and part of it is creating kind of more of a level playing field. Like you said earlier, speaking of people in language, they can understand and kind of demystifying concepts around, uh, development and what could happen because people in their communities know what they need. And part of the way I think theElevated has tried to bridge that [00:22:00] gap is starting the development ambassadors program.

Kendra Freeman: Which allows community members who may be going to public meetings and maybe very interested in what’s happening on their block. Um, but don’t know the entire process and the tools and like what really happens, you know, beyond that community meetings kind of demystify that for them. Uh, can you both talk a little bit about your experience?

Kendra Freeman: I know Ghian you were present at the presentation when, when the ambassadors, um, shared some of their key learnings, can you talk a little bit about what what’s been the benefit of, of that process for, for the average community?

Ghian Foreman: Yeah, so, you know, for me it was, it was interesting, right. You know, sitting in on the final presentation and there were groups presenting teenagers and middle-aged people and older people. Right. And it is kind of everything that makes up a community. So I think that what it did was it allowed people to kind of demystify some of the terms. We hear like TIF tax increment financing, or the use of tax credits, um, Opportunity Zones. Some of the [00:23:00] buzzwords that we hear about this group in a short amount of time was able to kind of think about.

Ghian Foreman: How to utilize the available tools that allow the community to grow. And ultimately talk about creating wealth. Right? One of the big things that we’re thinking about is this Equitable Transit Oriented Development. So how can you create wealth in the community that really has been, uh, disinvested or, or, or others taking advantage of the growth of these communities?

Ghian Foreman: It allowed community members themselves to think about self-sufficiency. And I saw it happening in a really short amount of time. I’ve actually followed up with a couple of the community members, you know, COVID obviously, uh, made it a little bit more challenging, but you know, community members walked through community, and videotape things, right.

Ghian Foreman: They showed the broken sidewalks. And so they were able to tie some of the resources that exist. Some of the programs that Juan Sebastian and the city has to be. How can we get [00:24:00] a new sidewalk built in these parts of the community to get people to the train? So what do we do with these vacant lots?

Ghian Foreman: How do you make it active? And so I, I saw a community really come together and bringing people together who wouldn’t normally come together, um, on these types of issues. And so for me, it was an incredible success.

Ghian Foreman: And Juan Sebastian , how would you say that that type of community knowledge it’s being listened to or what might be the barriers to, to hearing that knowledge from community members who want to be more engaged?

Juan Sebastián Arias : Yeah, it’s a good question. You know, one of the first things that, um, that comes to mind, I think there’s an ingrained culture. There’s some limitations on fundings or that some processes are, are just a little bit long. If I’m trying to be sympathetic or empathetic, I can also understand why there might be an inclination to think of well, here are the five reasons why, what you’re saying is not doable or is really hard, but I think part of the work we need to do as the city is to approach things more proactively to not, to not just have reasons why not, but to like, think [00:25:00] about what are ways that we can actually meet the needs of what community residents are identifying, um, either creatively or, or within the existing structures that we have.

Juan Sebastián Arias : Part of the work that we do in this eTOD work group is hopefully to help connect some of those dots too, so that we can. Be more transparent about how some of these city decisions are made or how things are prioritized, how different funding streams were. When for example, Federal, there is an opportunity to advocate for some Federal funding, how to do that and what the limit and what some of the strings are.

Juan Sebastián Arias : Um, and being able to navigate that together, right. Not just as you know, me in my city hat, but as a partner with the community groups and residents who know what they need in their neighborhoods too. But I do know that that the city has a lot of room for growth in, and that I am also hopeful that we can try to tackle this more through this Equitable TOD policy plan and implementation of it.

Ghian Foreman: You know, I, I think that a part of the [00:26:00] challenge is, is that in these communities that we’re talking about that have been under invested, we always look from a perspective of what we don’t have, right. Rather than an asset based perspective on what we do have. Right. And so I think that a part of what programs like Elevated have done, uh, Juan Sebastian just described the, well, I think it allows us to tell our own stories to kind of learn about the assets that are available to us to learn how to use those assets. With the people being some of the biggest assets. Right. And kind of telling these stories, you know, people are really proud of the neighborhoods in which they live in which they grow up. Right. So how do we elevate those things? I went on a bike tour to some of the other sites and somebody showed them, Hey, this place right here, man, they have the best tacos. If you want to taste the best taco in Chicago, you have to stop right here. Right. And so yes, it is the story of that delicious taco, but it’s [00:27:00] also the story of that family..

Ghian Foreman: Who owns this business. Right. And the people who’ve been coming to this place for years, right. The story of the neighborhood and how you keep the flavor, the culture of that alive. Right. And so, um, so that’s what I think a lot of these programs are doing. It’s it’s us understanding that we have a whole lot more similarities than we do differences.

Kendra Freeman: Yeah, I love that phrasing. Your use of telling our own stories, particularly from the neighborhood level. So I guess I ask, what would you tell a funder? What would you tell people who are supporting this work? Um, what lessons are critical so that we can continue to support this work?

Ghian Foreman: So, so I think of funders in a different way. Yes. I think of philanthropy and we definitely want philanthropy to continue to support. I also think funders should be corporate, right? The people who live in these communities are their clients. And so look at it from the perspective of why is it important to support your clients, your customers, [00:28:00] their workforce comes from these neighborhoods, they are selling goods and services to people in these neighborhoods. Tax dollars are going to support people in these neighborhoods and that the problems that some of these neighbors see every day, it’s not just a problem of those neighborhoods. It’s Chicago’s problem just because you didn’t know the person who was shot or carjacked.

Ghian Foreman: Someone knew that person, someone was carjacked, someone was shot, right. Someone lost their home to foreclosure and that impacts all of us. Right. And so, you know, this is a humanity issue that we’re dealing with right now. And we can see ourselves as a part of one unit. Then that’s where we’ll start to get some good results

Kendra Freeman: And Juan Sebastian and I would say, you know, we, the a lot of the work that Elevated has been from a policy perspective, but we know the city can’t change things alone. Uh, so what would you say to a funder?

Juan Sebastián Arias : I guess I would just want to emphasize [00:29:00] for funders or for others who want to support the work to the importance of investing in the communities in community organizations, in the organizers, in the processes that help us, uh, have, or know what the community’s priorities are. I think the city also obviously plays a role in that too, but the voices that are listened to a lot are not often those from like the residents or from the people who should be a part of the decision making table. And so I think just investments in, in, in those organizations that do that are really important.

Kendra Freeman: So you both started this conversation and reflecting a little bit about growing up in Chicago and how that kind of, in some ways led to the work that you’re doing. Now, I’m curious to hear, since you’ve been doing this work, particularly over the last couple of years, as part of the Elevated collaborative and the other work you’ve been leaving, what are the lessons you’ve learned? How has this changed your approach or your, your view? Why don’t we start Ghian.

Ghian Foreman: The challenges of our communities were not created overnight, and they’re not going to be changed overnight. [00:30:00] I think that I’ve learned that there’s some trial and error not everything’s going to work, but I think at the end of the day, the biggest thing that I learned is that we have the power to create. And when we come together and create the outcome is guaranteed to be good.

Ghian Foreman: That is great Juan Sebastian, same question.

Juan Sebastián Arias : You know, I feel like one of the things that I have been able to grow from and benefited from the most, through my, um, involvement with Elevated Chicago even itself, right. Was in the connections and the relationships that it helped me build.

Juan Sebastián Arias : And honestly, I think that that actually leads to more success. I don’t know how pulling everything together for this eTOD policy plan or how this next phase of implementation would be going. Had I personally not had the opportunity to already build relationships and establish some trust and rapport with you, both with others that are part of, uh, the eTOD work group or a part of the table too. So I think the problems that we face are so big that no sector itself can solve them or tackle them [00:31:00] on the. Uh, so I do think that being able to work across silos, even inside the city, right? Uh, the value of that has been made more clear to me through all this work to,

Ghian Foreman: and one important thing that I wanted to add it’s about scalability. And so while we started with a set number of stations, we have something now called Elevated plus it says, people like, who is 95th street? We borrowed some things we’ve gathered some resources that could be useful to some of these other communities. It’s about how we work with our other, uh, relationships throughout the city that are facing very similar kinds of issues.

Kendra Freeman: Uh, so thank you both Ghian and Juan Sebastian for spending time and talking about the important work you’re doing. How can listeners learn more about the work that you’re doing or get involved? Any resources folks can go to?

Ghian Foreman: I think a great place honestly is Elevated Chicago. It’s a good resource that they kind of send you to our individual organizations, [00:32:00] uh, points you in the direction of some of the incredible research that we’ve been able to get through it.

Ghian Foreman: ElevatedChicago.org. Uh, certainly City of Chicago Juan Sebastian in the can pointed to some of the incredible initiatives that they have. Uh, each of our organizations, our websites, um, my website is Emerald south.org. And, you know, I, I, I think that, um, you know, one day come and join one of our Elevated meetings.

Juan Sebastián Arias : Yeah, I’ll just quickly add, I folks want to see more about what’s included in the city’s eTO D policy plan. That’s at shai.gov/e T O D a. And then I think, you know, just one other plug I’d make on the city side that is relevant for this and is an initiative that’s launching just as we speak. Is around the city’s citywide plan.

Juan Sebastián Arias : What we’re calling, We will Chicago, which is a multi-year effort to go through an engagement process and develop a vision for the city that then policies and budgets will be, uh, aligned around. And so I think [00:33:00] eTOD all the things that we’re talking about today are also going to be very important. Part of that process and part of the vision, um, and part of the, some of the changes that are proposed coming out of the city and city wide plan.

Kendra Freeman: Great. Thank you. Both of you. It’s always my pleasure to work with you. It’s been great to be partners with you around the Elevated Chicago table for the last couple of years. Uh, I want to thank all the listeners for tuning in. I hope that you will spend some time learning more about Elevated Chicago and really spend some time thinking more about what Equitable Development means in your community, how you can be an advocate or for community, voice and community participation in that process and how you can work together across sectors to really tackle some of these problems around equitable development that we’re facing, not just in Chicago, but across the nation and our city.

Kendra Freeman: Again, my name is Kendra Freeman. Thanks again for tuning it.[00:34:00]

Justice Gatson: You’ve been listening to the Convergence Partnership podcast, where we hear stories from both our funders and grantees across the country who are working to create racial justice and health equity. Broadcasting from the Gulf Coast to Chicago, to the San Joaquin Valley to Buffalo and places in between learning how our network is amplifying community power, transforming narratives and building funder capacity. To learn more about the Convergence Partnership visit us at www.convergencepartnership.org. That is www.convergencepartnership.org. Stay tuned as we continue telling the [00:35:00] stories of our work.