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N.C.T.T. Endings & Beginnings - 2020/2021

Updated: Jan 2, 2021


From all of us at the North Chicago Think Tank, we'd like to give a heart filled thank you to everyone who has supported us in 2020!

It's your willingness to volunteer, donate, sign up, come out, collaborate, brainstorm and get involved that helped us learn the best ways to move closer to our goals!

Our mission remains the same as we head into 2021!

The North Chicago Think Tank continues to strive towards improving the quality of life for citizens of North Chicago by:

  • Building & Growing Local Power

  • Creating Spaces For Black Innovation & Imagination

  • Centering Black Joy

Please click here to review our e-booklet and familiarize yourself with our mission, pillars and associated goals.

Let's take a moment to look at this year and review what was accomplished, recap lessons that were learned and energize ourselves for the future!

Lesson: There's much work to be done in educating the people of North Chicago on the importance of "Quality of Life" Indicators.

Our biggest lesson learned this year was simple. "People in North Chicago DON'T speak in terms of quality of life."

This created a bit of challenge when we tried to author language for our outreach and marketing materials.

We reached out to the North Chicago City Council at the Sept 2020 City Council meeting for more information on what the city has done to educate the families of North Chicago on quality of life? We also requested more information on what has been done to measure the current quality of life in North Chicago. We have not received a response from any member of the city council, including Mayor Rockingham, on this request for more information. (Please click the image above to review the full text provided to the North Chicago City Council.)

What have we done to achieve Goal 1?

Collaborated with Michael Brankin & Eden Restoration Project/Wadsworth Farmers Market to support their goals, better understand if North Chicago is truly a food desert and explore plans to bring healthy food sources and small scale agriculture practices to North Chicago.

What have we learned?

North Chicago IS a food desert and suffers from food apartheid.

Community gardens are currently being managed in North Chicago & can succeed ONLY if more people feel aligned to the culture of small scale urban agriculture and engage with education on the pros and cons of differing eating/shopping styles in relation to quality of life.

Farmers Markets can work in North Chicago IF community members can transition away from easily purchased processed foods AND if SNAP benefits are accepted at North Chicago Farmers Markets.

To achieve this goal, we have to begin a Small Scale Urban Agriculture Training and Education that can be paired with a Small Scale Agriculture Project : Land/Space Acquisition program aimed at selecting open lots and spaces in North Chicago that can be used for gardening and small scale agricultural education areas.

What have we done to achieve Goal 2?

This was the most difficult of all of our goals, simply due to time constraints. As an underfunded and volunteer based organization, we could not find the resources to truly review the contracts held by corporations in North Chicago. We also found it very difficult to access all information for empty lots or spaces available for purchase through auction.

We have reached out to the Department of Economic Development multiple times and have received no response.

We did consult with Renew Communities to learn more about their goal to get 300 families into homes in North Chicago & we will continue to support their mission into 2021.

What have we learned?

This goal will be reimagined and refocused with clear objectives regarding areas and types of land/buildings we are focusing on for the inquiry.

  • Based on our current goals we will only be looking for empty lots and houses that are available at auction for low prices that can be transitioned into small scale agricultural growing spaces or hydroponic gardening training centers.

  • We will continue to press the City Council, Mayor’s office & Economic Development office to gain data that better outlines the ownership of North Chicago.

What have we done to achieve Goal 3?

Volunteered with North Chicago Community Partners to learn more about & support their efforts to meet the needs of educators and families in North Chicago, District 187.

We also reached out to local authorities to understand the current use of Novak King Middle School & Hart School and the possibility of using those spaces for developing and encouraging Black innovation and imagination.

We were told that the building are unsafe for use due to asbestos and other issues with building safety. No documents were released that validated any of these claims nor plans for these buildings.

We will continue to monitor the construction and development of the Neal Learning Center and the upcoming CLC Lakefront Campus rehab in downtown Waukegan for more opportunities to support and understand how they will strive for diversity and inclusion.

What have we done to achieve Goal 4?

Collaborated with Vance Wyatt & the Foss Park District Board to better understand plans to improve Parks & Recreation in North Chicago, (click here to view most updated plans to improve parks) launch a Virtual North Chicago Park Evaluation Survey & initiate a Foss Park Beach Restoration & Clean Up Event. Click here to view the NCCT Park Evaluation Survey.

Vance Wyatt has taken charge of this through the Park Board and initiated many new projects through the parks program. We will continue to support and assist as we see fit.

Until a proper break wall is constructed, there is not much we can do to encourage safe use of our North Chicago beach.

What have we done to achieve Goal 5?

We have reached out and had multiple discussions with members of RFU staff to understand how we can support current pipeline initiatives and efforts to improve diversity and inclusion at the local university. With changes of staff, we have had a few setbacks, but we are encouraged for the future. We are looking forward to working with their outreach departments to develop programs and events that encourage building bridges in communication between the Black community and the scientific community. We want to address the issues facing our community, like valid lack of trust in scientific and medical communities due to historical racism and white supremacy. We want to have assertive conversations regarding stigmas that have resulted in a disparity in services provided to Black men, women and children in our community.

Whew! That was a mouthful.

We hope you continue to support us as we evolve in our strategy and tactics for achieving our mission of improving the quality of life for citizens of North Chicago.

We hope you and your family remain happy and healthy mentally and physically as we look towards a new year filled with promise and clearer perspective.

We thank you again for all of your support this year and we look forward to working with you all in 2021!


William Jerard Coleman

Executive Director

North Chicago Think Tank

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