Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ald. Shiller Tells Us What She's Learned

If you like your history revisionist, then you may want to go hear former 46th Ward alderman Helen Shiller talk about her 24 years as alderman in a talk entitled "Helen Shiller, Reflections on 30 Years as Alderman."  (Just based on the title, we have an issue with the veracity of what will be said.)

The blurb on Chicago Now says:
On Sunday, September 11th, [date change per's website], portoluz will present: Helen Shiller, Reflections on 30 years as Alderman. portoluz is keen to hear the ruminations, lessons learned and “behind the headlines” tales from one of Chicago’s most tireless community organizers.  Often under fire from developers for her commitment to keeping poor people in affordable housing in “the people’s republic of Uptown”, and derisively branded a ‘socialist” by the same hostile opponents.  We’ll get a hands-on account of what it takes to build an inclusive city, what are the realpolitik concessions and negotiations that make a ward run, and what is next for Helen Shiller.

Helen Shiller, Reflections on 30 years as Alderman
Sunday, September 11th, 6-7:30pm
Ten Cat Tavern beer garden, 3740 3931 N. Ashland
Free, for ages 21+


  1. Wow. I can't wait to read all the coming comments!

  2. Would it be impolite to show up and chase her out like she was running from Truman College? Probably, but it would be fun. I'm reminded of Flounder who once said "Oh, boooooy. This is gonna be great." =]

  3. 30 years was a "rounding error"

  4. I think I may need to pick up ten thousand marbles for this soiree.

    Oh, and some holy water.

  5. *facepalm*

    Oh, wait ... update:

    Old and busted: August 14th.

    New hottnes: September 11th.

    Yep. Spend the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (and the 1st Sunday of the NFL season) with Helen Shiller and her merry band of nitwits.

    PS - portoluz (a massively partisan group) is partially supported by the city's office of ... um ... Tourism and ... er ... Culture.

    Oh, and mixing history and geography: Has Helen ever spoken at an open event WITHIN the 46th? Ever?

    Ten Cat's in the 47th.

  6. I think she is speakin' in Uptown in the photo Yo. Not sure but it looks like McD's on Wilson.

    You can still make it...its just an exhibition game, they always hold back on those anyway...heheh

    I've seen this photo before even if not sure what ward its in. Didn't an artist use it as a reference photo for that "50 Alderman" portrait show a few years back?

    I think the show was in Pilsen...pretty sure it was south-side. UU may have done a post on it.

    They should do it again what with all the new Aldermen...I could do Ald. James portrait...not sure what photo I'd use parking lots don't work for me......or microphones...too distracting.

  7. JL - fair 'nuff. I'll rephrase my question: has she spoken at an open event in the 46th within the past 4 years?

  8. How about we wait for that art show until it is only the 25 Alderman of Chicago? Wouldn't that be much nicer? Eliminate Burge and his entourage of unnecessary security personnel.

    Helen hasn't learned anything. You have to listen to varying viewpoints in order to learn anything new.

  9. We'll be cleaning up Ms. Shiller's mess for years to come. A retarded chimpanzee on crack would've known how to better exploit the development boom that Uptown could have had between 1990 and 2007. We've got five empty lots on Malden and another on Beacon where a beautiful Queen Anne once stood thanks to Ms. Shiller's battle against market forces and her 30(minus 6) years of "my way or the highway" politics.

  10. Good Lord....hasn't she found a 'tent city' in Boca Raton yet.....

  11. Well, one person's "revisionist history" is another person's "side of the story." Anyone planning to keep an open mind about this?

  12. Nope, not after Helen's completely bogus account of how the community garden on Winthrop came to be. She got up and made a ten minute speech at a dedication a couple months ago, all about how the new residents had been shunning the original residents and it was her idea to put in a garden to bring the community together. Even the people being honored at the dedication were stunned at The Helen Version and just politely said afterwards, "Well, yes, we did notice some inconsistencies." She *has* to turn everything into an us-versus-them conflict, with St. Helen of Uptown riding in on her politically correct steed to make everything right for those she deems oppressed. We've been lied to for 24 years... I suppose there's a chance she got hit by the truthiness stick in the last few weeks, but I doubt it. See, Gayle, we were here, too, and we know what happened, which is usually not The Gospel According to Helen. Perhaps we could all go see a movie at Wilson Yard, followed by a trip to the Crate and Barrel there, and then tour the "small business incubator" and the condos and townhomes in the mixed-income housing there to check on her truth-telling skills.

  13. It would be nice if someone with the equipment and time could tape her amusing speech and put it up on YouTube. You know, much like the copwatch people love to tape our local district police officers.

  14. I have heard James Cappleman himself give Helen credit for positive developments in Uptown. I think some of the folks on Uptown Update would do themselves and Uptown a massive favor by dropping the hostility a few notches; Helen's history of Uptown is well-worth hearing and her part in that history important. As Gayle's post suggests, having an open mind is a good thing. Helen, who still is a neighbor here, can continue to serve as a liason not just to James and any other public servant, but also to those of us who are concerned to continue in a progressive vein re *all* Uptown's citizens.

    By the way, Helen spoke at length during her retirement celebration at the Aragon in May of this year... and I think that was a short-hand version of what we might hear her say next. Here's a nice article on her retirement party here:

    Helen Shiller 46th Ward Says Farewell

    Let's work at embracing the good of one another's histories and experiences. It is the only way forward.

  15. gg - so what is the story about the garden? Sorry, but your post is the first time I heard about this.

  16. The community garden was the idea of residents on the block to get rid of a bad empty lot that hosted drug use, trash and prostitution. The neighbors wanted a park and they approached Joyce Dugan of Uptown United, who thought a community garden would be a better use of the space. It took years to purchase the land with funds that were set aside for open urban space, and Joyce Dugan really worked to cut through the red tape. Alderman Shiller had to okay it and she came to a couple meetings and she was responsible for the city being the caretaker owner of the land until NeighborSpace could take ownership. I'll give her that. It was the idea of the residents on the 4600 block of Winthrop to name the garden after the black families who had lived there in segregation and who are still very active in the garden, and a few of whom still live on Winthrop. That's the way it happened and it took eight years for everything to come together. Uptown United presented Joyce Dugan with a birdbath in the garden as her retirement gift and there was a dedication ceremony this summer to honor Joyce and all her hard work. Joyce made a speech that lasted all of two minutes, thanking everyone for their hard work. Then Helen spoke for ten minutes, telling everyone who had been involved with the garden since the beginning her version of what happened. Which was ----- the new residents on Winthrop hated the older residents and shunned them until St. Helen got the brilliant idea for a community garden because she felt it would bring poor old fractured, hateful Winthrop together and make the new residents get to know and accept the long-term residents. And it was her idea to name it after the Winthrop pioneers. Which is utter crap, as it was the older and newer residents working together to come up with the idea for something to replace the old drug lot before Helen even had heard about it. Old and new residents worked on that lot together for years, mowing it, picking up bottles and syringes, cutting down weeds. The sad thing is, she believes her own crap, that she was the force to bring this horrible fractured community together and she thinks she really came up with the idea of the garden.

    Sorry, Jon Trott, speak your platitudes to those who buy into them. I'm not going to hum and hold hands with Helen and sing Kumbaya just because her personality disorder makes her think she's Uptown's Joan of Arc. I live here, too, and I know what I experienced while she was alderman, and revising history ain't gonna make it true.