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47WARD.ORG says "NO!" to Development that Displaces Residents

Community members form direct action group and website--47WARD.ORG--to oppose development and displacement of residents on Chicago's rapidly gentrifying North side.

On August 5, 2000, after discovering that the global corporation Starbucks was targeting our community -- planning two more stores in an area already saturated with locally owned (and other Starbucks) coffeeshops -- nearly 200 people gathered in front of the office of Chicago's northside Alderman Eugene Schulter to tell him: No more business as usual! After posting an Eviction Notice on the Alderman's window, we held a rally, complete with placards and a puppet.

Our community demanded:

$ No more STARBUCKS.
$ No more planning behind closed doors.
$ No more condo conversions.
$ No more chain stores.
$ No more secret deals with developers.

In addition, we called for greater openness from the Alderman, and more democratic decisionmaking structures in this community. The rally, followed by a march to a local Starbucks, called attention to long-standing problems in the neighborhood and energized both longtime and newer residents. As one older participant said, as she marched and waved a sign that read, "Schulter, Clean Up Your Act, Or We'll Clean You Out" on one side, and "No Development Without Community Involvement" on the other, "I haven't seen anything like it [the rally] in this area since 1932!" Other marchers carried signs that attacked the planned Starbucks expansion, "Trouble is Brewing," and Brew Your Own Reality--Support Locally-Owned Coffee Shops."

The group that called the successful rally, pulled together with only a week of planning, has posted a website at 47WARD.ORG. Go there to see pictures of the rally and learn more about this community's concerns, which are probably much like your community's.

We are an ad-hoc group of 47th Ward residents -- homeowners, business owners, and renters -- who are sick of seeing our elected officials act as puppets to big business and developer-driven development. We are angered by seeing the local Alderpuppet sell out our community to the highest bidders, while residents are forced out of our homes, as rents and property taxes leap. We want development without displacement, and elected officials who are more responsive to consituents than to big bucks.

At the rally we collected a petition calling for open forums and community meetings on future developments, and NO MORE STARBUCKS!! which we've delivered to Alderman Schulter, repeatedly (fax zap, registered mail). As of September 21, no open meeting or forum has been called by the Alderman.

The website has a comment page--we welcome feedback and collaborative projects that use art and direct action, and are fun. We like puppets, and can offer you many practical tips if you need to build a papier-mache Alderpuppet to talk back to your elected Alderpuppet. And, there is a link at the site to Chicago's aldermen--tell them what you think too.



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