Monday, October 20, 2008

'Clean & Green' Another Success

A reader writes in:
"Here's the photo from yesterday's (Saturday's) Clean & Green. We had a larger gathering from last Spring and we're finding less garbage on the ground these days. I would guess easily a 1/4 of the garbage we found 4 years ago when we were doing this."


  1. Thanks guys and J!

    I don't mean to toot the Uptown horn so to speak, but man, we have some good looking people in Uptown!

  2. I am impressed with your commitment to your community and agree with chip! Go Northwestern!

    I have been reading, with interest, this blog for the last couple of weeks as my husband and I have been looking at property in the area. We are originally from Chicago and hope to return. We are trying to find just the right fit for us and see many positives in the area. We visited on Sunday and I shared this story with the realtor that we have been working with

    I have to tell you a little story about what happened after we dropped you off. We went to Starbucks on Magnolia and as I was putting honey in my tea, one of the girls who works there approached a woman sitting by herself and handed her a $10 Starbucks gift card and said, "This is from the lady that you were just talking to. She asked me to give it you." The woman (who looked rather down on her luck) was speechless and so appreciative of the gesture from her unknown benefactor. Curious, I went up to the girl at the counter and asked if it was someone from the neighborhood who had given the card. The girl said, "Yes, she lives across the street." The girls behind the counter were obviously touched by her thoughtfulness.

    I was struck by the kindness of this person. I think this incident more than reflects the spirit of the people of the Uptown area. We enjoyed walking through the neighborhood and felt very comfortable there.

    I’m wondering if people who contribute to this blog would be willing to share something about the Uptown area, why you live there, why should other people want to move there?

  3. Uptown is a great area for the most part. We come together, we are strong, and friendly. We do great things without a geniune leader.

    The gaurd is changing in Uptown. The "old" way of doing things is less and less frequent. We still struggle with our share of crime, drugs, and inept leadership but we look beyond and forge frienships on common goals.

    The people in this photo belive Uptown is worth cleaning, worth the effort. The leadership not present in this photo does not.

  4. Thanks for all that helped.....and yes, what a cute crew of people!

  5. "I’m wondering if people who contribute to this blog would be willing to share something about the Uptown area, why you live there, why should other people want to move there?"

    My feeling is that you should think SERIOUSLY about moving to Uptown. There are still too many social service agencies and Section 8 renters and various vagrants vying for space with the gentrifiers. Lots of shootings, vandalism, break-ins, and other crime that will more than balance out that touching interaction you saw at Starbucks.

    But if youre the type who wants to live in an "edgey" community, perhaps Uptown will suit you just fine.

  6. Don’t listen to the blog trolls! Uptown like any place in Chicago has its share of problems. However, unlike other places in Chicago our local leadership refuses to address many of the concerns I have had. This has somewhat backfired on the Alderman as it has pushed many of us to do more and work harder to create the changes that we need in our neighborhood. I am proud of what has changed in the past 4.5 years I have lived here.

  7. Uptown Vegetarian: If youre referencing me as a "blog troll," I'd like to state that I feel my observation of Uptown is much more honest and to-the-point than your namby pamby description of the area.

  8. Hey Friendly Visitor,

    I moved to Uptown in March 2007 and have not regretted the decision. Yes, I will concede that there is crime, drugs and the homeless, but you will find that in any other part of the city. Actually, in comparison to some other parts of Chicago, Uptown is not bad at all.

    There are a lot of great elements to Uptown, including the theaters, parks, lakefront, dog parks, restaurants, etc. Also, you can't beat the price of real estate so close to the lake on the North side without getting far up there, like Rogers Park. I chose to live here over Lakeview or Edgewater because I was able to get a lot more for the money.

    I will admit that the leadership here is lacking and that's why I've become more involved in the community (I'm one of the folks pictured here). So, if you're planning on moving here, just be prepared to be involved. That's how things are really going to change in Uptown.

    The only other factor that I think you should be taken into serious consideration is your work location. Traffic here can get bad at times and you probably want to look for something that will not have a bad commute to work. Oh yeah, and schools if you have kids. I don't have kids, so I don't know much around the schools here. That'd be worth some more research.

    Good luck on the househunting! Let me know if you'd like feedback on anything else.

  9. Well billyjoe I am referring to you as a troll due to your negative responses about Uptown without mentioning any of the positives we enjoy that were mentioned in an earlier post. Mentioning the number of section 8 housing renters, social service agencies, or various vagrants in the area appears quite negative and unproductive. I apologize if you are overly involved with creating change in the neighborhood by attending some of the many community meetings and activities in the area. Holding the mentioned “various vagrants” accountable for any crime they do commit and attending court hearings to make sure the concerns are taken seriously and supporting anyone effected by them. If you are doing all of that and are still so full of negativity they I guess we will have to agree to disagree. But until you have tried several of these things and have given some of your free time to the neighborhood, please feel free to keep your thoughts to yourself. I think it is incredibly disrespectful to those of us who work very hard to create small changes in this area. Maybe those of us that work so hard for the small changes just pay more attention to what is different. Forgive me for being excited about them!

  10. "I’m wondering if people who contribute to this blog would be willing to share something about the Uptown area, why you live there, why should other people want to move there?"

    Uptown Vegetarian: I answered the above question based on what I know about Uptown (hence, the reason I don't live there) and
    what I read about what goes on in Uptown on this blog: Gang shootings, homeless vagrancy, car break-ins and vandalism, gang and tagger grafitti, extreme disdain for the alderman, COURAJ, perceived disdain for the monied residents by the alderman, Wilson Yard, Section 8, Wilson Men's Hotel, et cetera.

    Sure there are some very nice homes and condos, Unique So Chique, Chinatown North restaurants, Carol's Pub,
    Truman College, and an overwhelming enthusiasm by many Uptown residents to dress up and parade their dogs in Halloween costumes. But the negatives listed in my previous paragraph outweigh the positives mentioned in this one.

    Many others who moved to Uptown in the dead of winter have also expressed surprise (on this blog, no less) how "different" the neighborhood becomes when the warm weather seasons arrive.

    Im simply trying to tell it like it is to the person who originally asked. Im sorry you can't accept the truth.

  11. Friendly Visitor, Billyjoe doesn't live in Uptown, but in the 'burbs. He's said why he doesn't live here. However, he also posts that he's here constantly, eating in the restaurants and enjoying the concert venues, etc.

    Take his advice with the knowledge that he's a suburbanite who hangs out here a lot.

  12. [Billyjoe is] here constantly, eating in the restaurants and enjoying the concert venues, etc. Take his advice with the knowledge that he's a suburbanite who hangs out here a lot.

    Yes, me and thousands of other "Uptown dilettantes" who enjoy some of the things the neighborhood offers, but who know better than to reside there.

    Friendly Visitor, I have one word for you: Ravenswood.

    Props to Caring Neighbor: Thanks for not censoring me, at least today.

  13. I have lived across from Clarendon Park for 11 years. Given they just pulled a dead body out of the sewer last week, I would be hard pressed to sing the praises of Uptown. While it's still got many problems, it has come a long way in the last decade. Is it a community where I would feel safe to raise a family? Hell no.

  14. I'm always reading and this is the first time that I've ever written in, but obviously I've been holding it all in ... and can't take it anymore!!

    To Friendly Visitor:

    I bought my condo just one year ago. One advantage is that I did get more space for my $$ than I would have elsewhere. I was really trying to find a place in Ravenswood or Andersonville over Uptown, but I was pressed for time and the right place just wasn't available. The other few +'s about Uptown, you probably already know: close to the Lake, easy access to public transportation, etc. I'm happy with the size of my condo, but that is about it! Honestly, I didn't really think it would be so bad. And for how bad I've found it, I think that the condo prices are way to high to put up with what goes on aroud here.
    I NEVER EVER do anything in my neigborhood. And that's not good for the growth of the economy of Uptown and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Why? Gee, because it's a collision course just trying to get to any of the nice restaurants, bars, etc. If I want to walk almost anywhere, I'm accosted by either a pan-handler, a drunk, a high person, a hooker, etc... . I'm not kidding. I'll give you only 3 shining examples:
    Here's what I heard at Jewel last week. Upon exiting a woman was begging for $$. A drunk man came out (with bags of booze). He said to her, "I don't have any $$, but come with me & I'll give you a shot. What I want to do is stick my foot right up your A*S."
    I'm not kidding!! Unfortunately they were going in the same direction as me to do their driking. So even though I was on the opposite side of the street, for two blocks I had to hear the drunk man tell her over and over again what DISGUSTING things he wanted to do to her. It was very sad and sickening - especially because she was going with him she was so desperate.
    Walking home (in daylight) a woman was walking in front of me (drunk and/or high) and she was stepping in front of EVERY man walking towards us and propositioning them. She is obviously a hooker & I had to hear her foul sexual language ... and not only me ... people walking along with me with their children. Disgusting.
    Walking home again (in the daylight!) along the stretch of Broadway by the Spot & the Tattoo place, some young men were all drunk & hanging out. One of them stopped & faced an closed (or vacant??) shop and unzipped is pants and continued to pee all over the door (or window - I'm not sure because I was trying not to look.) He didn't care, or was too high or drunk to care, and just whipped it out & peed. Nice.
    Sorry I know that I said 3 examples, but this is good.
    I was in my car at the intersection of Sheridan & Wilson and I had the pleasure of seeing two women literally punch each other in the face over & over again. I thought they would end up getting hit by a car.
    Oh wait, and 5, not to mention the gang fight with baseball bats & around 20 gangmembers at the end of my block. The ran in front of my car. I called 911 & hi-tailed it out of there.

    So before anyeone starts calling me racist and an evil-condo dweller, just stop it right now.
    The drunk man with the foot ... caucasion, the hooker... caucasion. I really don't care if my neighbors are green martians, I just want them to respect the neigborhood and the people that live in it.
    I don't know where to begin to fix the problems - that's another blog .
    Your question is why would someone want to live here? While I would LOVE to have more people here that will care and be decent citizens, I FEEL I MUST BE HONEST WITH YOU.
    After being her one year, do I WANT to live here? NO. Can I get out? Not in this market. BUT IF YOU WANT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BEGGARS, DRINK IN THE OPEN, PICK UP JOHNS, PEE ON THE STREET, FIGHT ON THE STREET, then sure, you may want to live here.

  15. There is far more positive in Uptown than negative. I've been solicited for money in Uptown, yes. I've been solicited for money in front of expensive boutiques on Southport. I've been solicited for money in every big city I've been to, on all of the continents I've visited. I don't think what is in Uptown is unique. It's probably more in Uptown than some, and less in Uptown than others. Chicago is a big city, it happens.

    I enjoy my close access to public transport. I enjoy being close to the lake. I enjoy the development in our neighborhood over the past several years (Thank you Mary Ann Smith). And I also truly believe Shiller is soon on her way out. The momentum grows every day.

    I wish I didn't work so far from my home, because I'd actually like to spend MORE time during the day in Uptown. There's a helluva lot of things I still haven't experienced yet.

  16. Good heavens, suzyq, you've been shocked more times in one year than I've been shocked in ten!

    friendlyvisitor there are plenty of nice, caring people in Uptown such as the person whose kindness you recently witnessed.

    Uptown has been known as "the next up and coming neighborhood" for at least 20 years, and there have been tons of condo conversions and new condos built in the ten years I've lived here.

    But it still has 6,000 units of subsidized housing, a lot of homeless shelters, several SRO's,and most of all, the highest concentration of social service agencies in Chicago. I think anyone who moves here should be aware of that and all it implies.

    This neighborhood has a lot of people of all incomes who care about it, and some things have definitely improved, but it still has a long way to go (and I agree with another poster, I would definitely not feel comfortable raising children here right now unless I could afford a private school.)

    However, as you've probably seen from this blog, there are a lot of people who are working hard to improve the neighborhood.

    I'd say if you're someone who's willing to get out there and work, if you're someone who isn't quite so shocked by living adjacent to some of the less fortunate members of our society, then Uptown could be for you.

    But if you're expecting a gentrified neighborhood, um, nope, not there yet.

    Good luck.

  17. Based on Suzyq's very honest description, Im assuming "Friendly Neighbor" is already looking to see if some other Chicago neighborhood (with a Starbucks) is a "better fit."

    My feeling: Anyone who exclaims "Go Northwestern!" probably shouldn't live in Uptown.

  18. Okay, I don't post often, but I couldn't resist!
    I have lived in Uptown since 2001.
    I was here before the Starbucks on Broadway and Lawrence went in. Before much of what that corner and many others have become.
    I love Uptown!
    I have been approached by prostitutes and beggars in the Loop, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and YES even Gold Coast! So if any of you think Uptown is unique on these occurrences think again.

    Now, I am not trying to paint the perfect picture of Uptown either. We all know it has a long way to go. It does bother me when someone who does not even live here tries to jump on a question that was so obviosly aimed towards people who do.

    SuzyQ, I have to admit that you have seen a lot in just one year. For as long as I have lived here I have not had that much activity in one year. I am sorry for your negative experiences. I hope time will give you many more positive ones to outweigh the bad.

    Friendlyvisitor, I would love to share some stories with you:
    1. I have a neighbor in my building that is section 8. I consider her a very good friend. She has two children that she is working very hard to keep on a straight path. She will come up to my place or I will go down to hers and we will talk for hours. She makes me meals once a month. During the holidays she has made me pies and cookies. I buy her kids gifts for Christmas and their birthdays.

    2. I have many friends that have moved up into Uptown. We all live in a few blocks of each other. We have gotten together and helped clean out shelters, cleaned up alleys and have patrolled the streets as a neighborhood watch. We have been thank countless times by neighbors and business owners.

    3. A sushi place named DIB opened up down the street. My friends and I went there when it first opened up. We love the food. We now know the owner well. She always throws in extra stuff with our meals when order a pick up meal. We love to support businesses like this that pop up in the community. I highly suggest you going there some evening.

    4. I have met many people at both Starbucks in Uptown. I can walk into either at almost any time of day and get a warm welcome from a familiar face.

    Uptown has its negatives, but from my experience it has a lot more of the positive things to offer.

    I would love to see someone that cares and would be willing to contribute move into our neighborhood. That is what Uptown needs more of. Friendlyvisitor, if you fit that mold, then I hope you consider Uptown! I have never regretted my decision ONCE!

  19. Uptown Pioneer wrote: "We all know [Uptown] has a long way to go."

    That's all this Evanston resident and others really need to know. It's cute you can spend "hours" talking with your Section 8 neighbor and maybe get an extra maki roll from DIB, but you can do that in a lot of other Chicago neighborhoods, too. Neither contributes to making Uptown a safe or desirable place for a person of moderate means to buy property and feel safe.

  20. Wow, BJ and you argued with Uptown Vegetarian about not being a negative blog troll? Fo real, fo real? I'm just going to put the facts out there - 6 out of 21 comments for this post are from you and they're all negative about Uptown.

    Go back under your bridge. We don't want you in Uptown.

  21. billyjoe, I gave friendlyvisitor what they asked for
    ("I’m wondering if people who contribute to this blog would be willing to share something about the Uptown area, why you live there, why should other people want to move there?").
    These are stories that I have personally experienced LIVING in Uptown. I am glad you think you can devalue that considering you don't know me and don't even live here.
    It's "cute" that you can sit there on your perch in the suburbs and judge us and our experiences.

    Go back to Naperville's blog and bog them down with your ignorance.

  22. 'Billyjoe', it seems rather ironic that you sweep into uptown, and graze on the 'amenities', then retreat to the suburban enclave of Evanston, and then render advice?
    If you don't live here, It seems like your proclamations don't hold much sway. Solutions and actions are good.
    Myopic comments from a non-resident don't seem to help much.

  23. BillyJoe is a troll.

    He posts all over the web daily. Likely from his mom's basement. Or as he calls it his "Fortress of Solitude".

    Just ignore him. He won't go away, but then perhaps this site and the others he posts on bring meaning to his otherwise meaningless, bleak existence.

  24. As a troll, one of BillyJoe's goals is to divert conversation away from the topic at hand (and preferably into a discussion about BillyJoe!)

    Six comments out of 25, and he's accomplished his goal in this thread.

    Just ignore his ramblings and realize that THIS is what he gets off on. Don't give him the satisfaction. Nothing you post will change his behavior or make him see the light. Rendering him insignificant is the only cure.

  25. Ah, I fell into his web. Will never happen again. As far as I am concerned he no longer exists on here. Thanks.