March , 2019

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Theta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is joining forces with 1 Woodlawn to address the effects of gentrification in Woodlawn. The chapter has a strong bond with Woodlawn as its flagship AKArama Foundation Community Service Center is located at 6220 S. Ingleside, in the heart of Woodlawn.   The Center will be the site of the chapter and 1 Woodlawn’s first joint venture:  The showing of the documentary, Gentrified Ethnic Cleansing: American Style. The showing  takes place Friday, May 18 from 6 PM to 8:30 PM.  The public is invited to the event, which is free of charge.


Elaine Smith Singh, president, noted that the eagerly-awaited Obama Presidential Library will be located in Jackson Park, which is in Woodlawn. With this showcase tourism spot in the area and with it being close to Lake Michigan, Woodlawn is a prime locale for gentrification.


“Woodlawn is poised to become a major lure for new businesses, a hub for vibrant opportunities, and an ideal site to attract an influx of new residents,” observed Smith Singh.  She noted that since Woodlawn became an economic magnet, property values have increased and crime is down. “This signals the beginning of a Renaissance and an economic revitalization,” she said.


While gentrification has positive benefits, Smith said it also represents an issue in minority communities like Woodlawn. “The rush of new residents can destabilize communities and can drive residents out of a community that has been home to them for decades.  It can also spark tension and conflicts.”


Smith noted that the chapter is a stakeholder with a vested interest in the community.  As proof of its connection to Woodlawn, Theta Omega’s 300+ members engage in service initiatives that uplift the community.


Recognizing Theta Omega’s role in bettering Woodlawn, principals from 1 Woodlawn sought the chapter out to join the crusade to address the potential impact of gentrification. 1 Woodlawn plays a critical role in the community mission by focusing on equipping residents to discover needs communities are facing and documenting those needs in terms that integrate governmental, community, founder and provider language. The organization also designs solutions that meet those needs, prioritizes implementation of those solutions and scales the solutions.



To facilitate the collaboration, President Smith Singh charged the chapter’s Connection Committee to work with 1 Woodlawn to strategize.  Josephine Perry is chairman of the Committee, which identifies and studies issues that impact the quality of life.

Connection also designs strategies for communication with the membership regarding these issues and mobilizes the membership for action to formulate and recommend position statements to the Leadership.

Gentrification is an issue that falls under the purview of Connection. It also supports Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s mission to serve mankind.


Since education is key to understanding gentrification, the chapter and 1 Woodlawn will present the showing of the documentary, Gentrified Ethnic Cleansing: American Style. The documentary explores the “unspoken ethnic component” behind gentrification: serious economic upheavals affecting those living in what’s deemed historically economic depressed neighborhoods.  The movie addresses what can be done to survive gentrification.”


The showing will take place Friday, May 18 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM at the AkArama Foundation Community Service Center, 6220 S. Ingleside.  The showing is free to the public.


Following the presentation, leaders from Alpha Kappa Alpha and 1 Woodlawn will lead a discussion and engage the audience on the message in the documentary.


“This should be a forum where the community will be educated and enlightened,” said Smith Singh. “As a result of the gathering, the process for designing a plan of action will be formulated. Because gentrification is a flash point, the event will spark a conversation and unleash all the concerns regarding this issue.  Hosting the documentary and exposing it to the public represents a first step in addressing how to deal with the rewards, risks and ramifications of gentrification,” declared Smith Singh.


Those interested in attending the showing should RSVP at networkofwoodlawn@gmail.com



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