Casa Aztlan and Housing situation in Pilsen (meeting recap)

July 7, 2017

Pilsen Alliance Meeting, La Catrina Café, 06/27/17 (Casa Aztlan and Housing in Pilsen)

Arts and Arts Activism Group Notes

  • Need for a community-run arts and cultural center
    • Third spaces such as bars and cafes cannot be depended upon to support and respect local artists
    • New developments often bring in artists from outside the community
    • Cultural center can be brick &mortar but shouldn’t ignore digital technologies and social media platforms that allow for “virtual” community spaces to share art, knowledge, and local history
    • For the time being, local cultural objects and artifacts can be preserved through the Chicago Public Library’s artist archives
  • Need to support existing arts and cultural organizations
    • Organizations such as Yollocalli and Elevarte have existed for years and are heavily invested in the community; any work toward sustaining arts and culture in the community should build upon existing organizations
    • Pilsen is home to numerous DIY spaces that should also be supported and, if possible, coordinated in their efforts; such DIY spaces can serve as a starting point for gathering support for a community-run cultural center
    • Artists and young people should be trained to be advocates in support of local art and culture
    • Increase artist volunteerism by connecting work toward a community cultural center to existing artistic networks
  • Advocate for a citywide cultural policy that protects and preserves local art and culture
    • Seek landmark status for existing murals or advocate for an ordinance that protects them
    • Seek support from the city for mural restoration
    • Shift dynamic from city to communities: culture is created within communities not at the city-level
  • Use art as a political tool and pressure point
    • Restore murals in Casa Aztlan
      • Use restoration efforts to demand that ½ of the 10 luxury units be offered as low-income housing
    • Challenge the aldermanic use of Year of Public Art Funds
    • Disrupt by placing art strategically in the community to make political points outside the usual channels

Accountability Group Notes

  • Self determination – protecting what’s ours
    • Accountability to where you’re at
  • Staying vigilant / can’t sleep on things / can’t only be reactive
  • Somebody has to step forward – public representative
  • We need to hold the following people/groups accountable
    • Public representative of our groups
    • The City
    • The representative of other orgs
    • Politicians
  • What are potential action plans? What is our common vision? Por qué luchamos?
  • Can we prevent something like erasure of Casa Aztlán murals from happening again?
  • How can we effectively advocate to Solis/city govt?
  • Where’s info on other vulnerable locations? What are our rights in these places?
    • City led historical preservation organizations
    • Chicago Landmarks Ordinance
  • Not just murals, we’re thinking about effective forms of political advocacy
  • Legal / regulations vs. by any means necessary (legal vs. extra legal means)
  • How can we hold new arrivals (condo owners, developers, etc) accountable
  • Focus on details can be strength / working to reform within the legal/political system?
  • Has there been a discussion about buying back Casa Aztlán?
  • Can we increase affordable housing requirements?
  • Younger people moving in are often renting…maybe best to focus on those who are buying the houses?
  • We’re here but “we” don’t necessarily represent the WHOLE neighborhood
    • Who’s here and who would we like to be here?
    • How do we get THEM involved?
    • What does it mean to represent ALL of Pilsen
    • How can we grow our advocacy beyond those who’ve already showed up?
  • Info / Action
    • Community Land Trusts —– Ennissa / Albany Park
    • Look to positive examples from other neighborhoods (Albany Park / Somos Logan Sq / Etc)
    • Connect movement across neighborhoods y razas y divisions
      • [race/sex/class/gender]
  • Porqué no está la comunidad negra aquí?
    • Vea Humboldt Park y otros ejemplos
    • Afro Americanos / latinos / palestinos
    • Enlaces entre los oprimido por sobre toda la ciudad

Qué es el paso siguiente? Next meeting Wednesday, 6 de Julio — be more clear about who we’re going to hold accountable and how

Summary points

  1. Have to figure out WHAT Pilsen wants / also have to figure out who represents Pilsen (who’s at this meeting, who should’ve been? How to reach out?)
  2. Hold ourselves accountable for continuing to vote in people like Solis
  3. What spaces are most vulnerable? Where are concrete LOCATIONS of action (not only modes of action)
  4. How are we organizing ourselves? Connection across lines of division /// intersectionality
  5. Working within or outside legal/political system?
  6. Who’s buying the buildings? Who’s letting them? More direct contact needed with developers/investors

Overriding point, we need a place from which to continue these conversations, need to have a cultural center that can ground these places (exactly like Casa Aztlán did)

…holding A.P.O. accountable


Housing Group Notes

  • Frank: Uniting Independent Fair Housing Projects
  • “Right to the City Alliance”
  • Tax Reforms:
    • Progressive State Income Tax
    • Taxing Financial Speculation
  • Legal Reforms:
    • Just Cause for Eviction
    • Rent Control