Blocks Together (BT) is a multi-issue, direct-action community organization made up of residents, schools, and churches in the West Humboldt and North Garfield Park communities of Chicago. For over 10 years, BT has been dedicated to developing grassroots leadership and empowering residents to create systemic change. Our mission is to increase the community’s capacity to take action to address important issues; challenge members to develop skills to advocate for their community and themselves; address the root causes of inequality; create neighborhood stability by ensuring that needed resources are invested in the community; and unite residents on the basis of equality to engage in building a social and economic justice movement.
Recognizing that oppressed and disenfranchised people have historically been at the forefront of social change, BT’s evolving approach to leadership development aims to unite community members across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, language, and national origin to identify and challenge the struggles they face collectively. In our efforts to build a sustainable social justice organization, BT’s work over the past year has sought to proactively address and bridge the divisions between Black and Latino communities on the West side. BT balances traditional skills-based organizing trainings with political education, providing a foundation for our members to understand, analyze, and confront the structures of power that impact their lives. Through this process of leadership development, members create a shared social justice vision that informs how BT designs campaigns, holds public officials accountable, and works to eliminate oppressions within and beyond the boundaries of their communities. With our evolving understanding and application of organizing, we have expanded our physical boundaries; involved new constituencies; added new issue committees; diversified our staff by hiring more people of color, women, and community members and continued to challenge our model of organizing. In addition to our Board of Directors made up of community members, BT has five issue committees: Education, Housing, Women’s Rights, Community Peace and Justice, and Youth Organizing.
Currently, our five issue committees are each working on campaigns to address the root causes of oppression in the community:
- The Education Committee unites parents, teachers & students from 10 local schools to address issues including community governance, parent rights, school repair needs, safety, and special education issues. They are currently working to win a public library in the N. Garfield Park community.
- The Women’s Committee unites low-income women to address issues affecting them. Leaders are active participants of the Coalition to Save St. Elizabeth Hospital, comprised of local community organizations and labor, fighting to prevent the closing of a local hospital and to win greater community accountability from Resurrection Healthcare.
- The Youth Organizing Committee offers youth the tools to affect systemic change and develop a terrain supportive of youth leadership. By addressing the criminalization of poor youth of color in Chicago’s Public School system, the Youth Committee offers youth the means to shift public ideas to support youths’ right to self-determination.
- The Housing Committee is fighting gentrification and working to keep the area affordable for longtime residents. They are part of the Balanced Development Coalition which is working on passing a citywide ordinance that will provide set asides for affordable housing.
- The Community Peace and Justice Committee is dedicated to examining the root causes of violence and criminalization on a local and citywide level. Members are working on a campaign that focuses on formerly incarcerated people’s right to rebuild their lives.
3914 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: 773-276-2194 Fax: 773-276-2296