U.N.I.T.E. Takes on a New Identity, and It's a Real TRIP

By Patty Wetli on February 20, 2013 8:12am 

 U.N.I.T.E. Civic Association's positive loitering efforts drew crowds — and food trucks — to troubled corners.
U.N.I.T.E. Civic Association's positive loitering efforts drew crowds — and food trucks — to troubled corners.
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Facebook/TRIP

IRVING PARK — After more than 35 years of community activism, U.N.I.T.E. Civic Association has changed its name to The Residents of Irving Park, or TRIP.

"No one knew what UNITE stood for," said Misha Mann, in her first year as the group's president. "We've been talking about [the name change] for years."

The association formed in 1976 to tackle crime in the neighborhood, specifically within the area bounded by Montrose Avenue, Irving Park Road, Sacramento Avenue and Monticello Avenue.

It has long since outgrown that initial mission, though. Today, representatives from TRIP are as likely to attend a zoning hearing as a CAPS meeting.

At this week's TRIP board meeting at Brisku's Bistro, 4100 N. Kedzie Ave., the extent of the organization's reach in the community was apparent.

On the agenda: planning for the annual spring "clean and green," including recruitment of local high school and elementary students; appointing a member to the steering committee exploring a proposed Special Service Area on Irving Park Road; and putting together a slate of positive loitering dates for the coming summer. 

Last year, the loitering events not only proved effective at deterring gang activity, but were so popular with neighbors that they attracted food trucks to serve the festive crowds, Mann said.

Despite these efforts, as well as its long history of advocacy in the community, the group lacked identity with residents, particularly newcomers, and was often incorrectly associated with Albany Park, Mann said. As a name, TRIP helps ground the organization.

"We're really trying to define ourselves as Irving Park," Mann said.

The group's next general meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 13 at a location that will be posted on TRIP's Facebook page. All neighbors are encouraged to attend.

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