SOUTH SHORE — Participants in a new weekly Walk, Stroll and Talk campaign hope to inspire “peaceful living” in South Shore by doing something radically simple: talking to their neighbors.
Organized by block club organization The Neighborhood Network Alliance, the group will meet every Tuesday through the summer at 6 p.m. outside the Rosenblum Park fieldhouse, 7547 S. Euclid Ave. Walkers will take a new route through the neighborhood each week.
It’s the group’s goal to increase turnout to the walks week-by-week, said Chanita Jones-Howard, co-chair of the Neighborhood Network Alliance’s education network. But the campaign’s true measure of success will be in developing South Shore’s capacity for organizing around its most pressing issues.
“By participating in events like this, we’re able to have face time with our neighbors and figure out what their interests are,” Jones-Howard said. “I’d like to see where we’re targeting the areas where we don’t have as much engagement and get them involved.”
At the inaugural walk Tuesday, about 20 residents came together to weave through South Shore’s blocks, saying hello to whoever happened to be outside.
Some attendees were pushed in strollers, others walked slowly with canes; all were interested in building relationships in their rapidly changing area.
Neighbors in South Shore need to be in tune with each other’s needs, especially as drastic changes like the Obama Presidential Center and a Tiger Woods-designed golf course in Jackson Park loom large, attendee Charles Kyle said.
“It’s imperative that we come together right now because of the changes that are coming to our community,” Kyle said. “We need a voice, and it needs to be a collective voice.”
After a few group members stopped to chat on her porch, resident Luvenia Hendricks said she had never seen a gathering like the Walk, Stroll and Talk in her five years in the neighborhood.
She said it and similar campaigns would help motivate her young neighbors to get to know one another, rather than resorting to violence.
“It’s good for them to get out and talk,” Hendricks said. “Young black people need to stop the killing, because it takes so many young people’s lives before they really get the chance to grow up.”
Something as simple as being visible in your neighborhood can be a form of activism, said Sharon Baxter, who along with her sister Patricia has lived in South Shore for 35 years. “The Sisters,” as their neighbors call them, have long seen the value in keeping in touch with their surroundings.
“Things used to happen like this a little more back in the day,” Sharon Baxter said. “Even just knowing your neighbors makes you feel safer, makes you feel part of the community.”
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