Velma Thomas Honors Culture and Community Through Our Multilingual Curriculum

Published July 18, 2019

Giselle Sanchez SantiagoGiselle Sanchez SantiagoBy Giselle Sanchez Santiago, Teacher at Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center

"Ice cream, ice cream, quien quiere ice cream?!” was a frequently chanted phrase in our classroom right up until the last day of school at the Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center in McKinley Park. Among many other topics this year, my preschool classroom studied ice cream: the transactions around it, the money involved and the design and construction of stores. As with all our studies, we used as many tools as we could think of — digital cameras, one-on-one and small group conversations, walking field trips, and parent and cross-classroom collaboration — and it was all happening in Spanish.

Velma Thomas has undergone many transformations over the years, including leadership, teaching methods and language models. We are a Chicago Public Schools child-parent center, which puts an emphasis on building deep relationships with parents by involving them in the classroom, providing them with resources, and inviting them to see children as we do: curious, capable and autonomous holders of love and theories about the world.

Read more: Velma Thomas Honors Culture and Community Through Our Multilingual Curriculum

Chicago Needs a “Green New Deal” to Get Rid of Lead, Prioritize 12th Ward Residents

12th Ward Chicago City Council candidate Pete DeMay sits outside his home in the McKinley Park neighborhood.
12th Ward Chicago City Council candidate Pete DeMay sits outside his home in the McKinley Park neighborhood.
Published January 22, 2019

By Pete DeMay

As a parent of young children here in McKinley Park, I want to make sure that clean, safe drinking water flows to our community for the next generation and beyond. However, lead levels in Chicago tap water currently make this an impossibility, according to WBEZ and the Chicago Tribune. This brain-damaging lead in our water is due to the City of Chicago’s requirement that the metal be used for residential service lines: the pipes that bring water from the water main to your home. This practice lasted until 1986, decades after most municipalities abandoned it for obvious safety concerns.

So when construction or other disturbances like water meter installations or heavy equipment traffic shake lead particles loose from the pipes, they enter our drinking water, and readings spike to dangerous levels. Sadly, the city stuck with lead despite its known dangers due to well-documented political corruption, and we are all now left to deal with the mess.

Read more: Chicago Needs a “Green New Deal” to Get Rid of Lead, Prioritize 12th Ward Residents

Carbon Fee and Dividend Policies Would be a Boon for McKinley Park

Published May 15, 2018

By Noah Paulson

Climate change might seem like too big and far away an issue for the McKinley Park neighborhood, but addressing it would realize immediate local benefits. Although dramatic events like Chicago's 1995 heat wave may come to mind first, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas has other less obvious, but still deadly effects like increasing our risk for asthma, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. This is in addition to problems from ongoing climate change caused by release of carbon into the air. We live in the middle of a hot spot: The American Lung Association's 2018 State of the Air report ranks Chicago as the 22nd most ozone-polluted American city.

A nationally enacted policy called Carbon Fee and Dividend would slow climate change, improve our local air quality and deliver significant boosts to the McKinley Park neighborhood economy. Here's how it could work.

Read more: Carbon Fee and Dividend Policies Would be a Boon for McKinley Park

Our Neighborhood Deserves Advance Notice of Major New Development

Published April 25, 2018

By Kate Moser

Kate MoserKate Moser The McKinley Park neighborhood deserves better notice of major new developments like the new MAT Asphalt plant about to start operations at 4010 S. Damen Ave. I personally knew nothing about it until coming across a Facebook post in late March. Few in the neighborhood seem to have known about it either: The development was a surprise to the McKinley Park Development Council, the McKinley Park Civic Association and the McKinley Park Advisory Council.

Like many neighbors, I was concerned to see the plant going up, as I live nearby with my family. The plant lies a block south of Pershing Road across the street from the park, including the brand new site of the McKinley Park Community Garden. 

Read more: Our Neighborhood Deserves Advance Notice of Major New Development

End Gender Segregation at the McKinley Park Pool

Kate Moser and baby Lucy Moser enjoy a summer swim at the McKinley Park pool.
Kate Moser and baby Lucy Moser enjoy a summer swim at the McKinley Park pool.
Published March 27, 2018

By Kate Moser

I have been a proud resident of the McKinley Park neighborhood since 2005. In the summer of 2007, I discovered what I believe to be McKinley Park's greatest summer amenity: the outdoor pool.

It is an amazing space, Olympic-sized with an attached kiddie pool and water playground. It is also on the southern side of the park, so it gets a lot of sun. Best of all, it is free. But here's the caveat: Many families can't make use of it.

Most of the summer, the times that the sun is high in the sky are reserved for day camp, which is reasonable. Although the pool opens "to the public" at 2 p.m., this is reserved for male-only swimmers until 2:45 p.m. and then female-only swimmers from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Males and females can only swim together from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.  

Read more: End Gender Segregation at the McKinley Park Pool

What is the Future of Our Neighborhood?

Published February 23, 2018

Alma Anaya photoAlma AnayaBy Alma Anaya, candidate for 7th District Cook County Commissioner

Off I-55 and a few minutes away from the bustle of downtown Chicago, we find McKinley Park, a quaint, diverse, working-class neighborhood that boasts being the geographic center of our city. I have worked for Cook County 7th District Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for the past six years; the last three have been in our office in McKinley Park. It’s a great neighborhood for our office as it is conveniently positioned as the gateway to the broader Southwest Side, easily accessible by public transit and a hop away from the neighborhoods in the 7th District north of the river.

Chicago is undergoing a housing crisis as property values increase and residents are being displaced from communities that were once affordable and a refuge for working-class families. McKinley Park is no exception to this, and as new developments come to the community, it is crucial that residents define a vision for what McKinley Park seeks to become in the future.

Read more: What is the Future of Our Neighborhood?