Sunday, June 10, 2007

The "Other" North Center Neighbors

Julie Hobert - President of the "Other" North Center Neighbors Group:

My name is Julie Hobert. I live on Bradley Place just south of Grace and west of Damen. Three years ago, I and some of my neighbors wanted to start a neighborhood organization that would advocate for "responsible development"-diverse housing stock, green space, and money for schools and parks. We wanted to promote the idea that an incredible neighborhood like ours could be diverse, and that the neighbors could have a voice in local development. It took us awhile, but we decided to file as a political action committee (PAC) because we were not raising money, just raising awareness and organizing. We also realized we wanted to bring this vision beyond our own area in order to reach out to other neighborhood blocks and groups with the understanding that the more we organized the more our voices would be heard. In October, we had a rally for "Responsible Development " which was well attended and continued the buzz. We then have had several development issues in the Bell School District which have further galvanized our neighbors and expanded our reach.

Besides petitions, we basically are an email tree among neighbors. If someone hears about a zoning issue, they email me and I let the group know. If there is a development issue, again, they email me, and I pass it on to the neighbors. We have successfully had petition drives this way, shared information about community meetings, and supported neighbors concerns about development. It doesn't replace face to face relationships, but it is an efficient way to organize quickly.

It was through neighbors on our email list that I heard about the development in your neighborhood. I realize that it might be confusing because we both have the same name of North Center Neighbors and I wanted to clear up what our organization is. We've been working with your neighbors because we believe that there is strength in numbers and in information sharing. We've been informing neighbors who care about development in the 47th ward about the Irving Park development and the actions you've taken as a neighborhood. We also will continue to let our neighbors know the outcome. I believe that the Alderman does want to do what he feels the community wants, but we just have to make sure the neighbors voices are adequately heard. My neighbors have had similar experience and I believe that we can all learn from each others experiences. There is a lot of room for development, and it will be a process that happens again and again.

The North Center Neighbors information you have been getting in your mailbox and through the petition, emails, and blogs are from some very caring neighbors who have put a lot of time into organizing your blocks against the rezoning of the Irving Park development. The similarities (besides the name of course) between our organizations are that we believe that the neighborhood should have a voice in issues of development and zoning, we organize block captains, we use petitions, and we care about our neighborhood. The differences are that we have already started as an organization that's filed as a (PAC), we're trying to be more ward wide, and our agenda includes "responsible development" .

We are asking you to formally join our North Center Neighbors email list by emailing me at with the message of "add me to your list." I will not email you unless you have asked to be put on the list. I also urge you to tell other people and friends in the 47th ward about it so they can be put on the list. It makes an impact when we care about an issue, and the alderman receives hundreds of emails and phone calls about it. It makes a difference when we can share our experiences. It makes a difference when we can support our neighbors.

You will still be getting emails from North Center Neighbors/Irving Park Branch about this development, and if you sign up, from me as well. We were trying to come up with a name and all realized it’s hard to switch mid project-(Irving Park Neighbors?) but I hope you will look beyond the name to realize that we are creating an even stronger North Center Neighbors for all of us.

If you have any questions, please feel fee to email me at

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