Hyde Park Block Club Revival to be Focus of Community Group

By Sam Cholke on June 12, 2013 8:31am 

 Timika Hoffman-Zoller, chairwoman of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference's Safety Committee, is launching an effort to bring back Hyde Park's block clubs.
Timika Hoffman-Zoller, chairwoman of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference's Safety Committee, is launching an effort to bring back Hyde Park's block clubs.
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Timika Hoffman-Zoller

HYDE PARK — The Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference is revitalizing one of its early missions to promote and support block clubs in the neighborhood.

The group will hold a workshop on organizing block clubs and crime-prevention techniques on June 22 at the Nichols Park field house, 1355 E. 53rd St.

“As the Safety Committee chair for the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference it was brought to my attention that the HPKCC use to be very active with block clubs during the ‘50s through the ‘70s,” Timika Hoffman-Zoller said. “I thought that it would be good for the community for us to become active in promoting block clubs again.”

In 1950, the conference helped establish more than 60 block clubs in Hyde Park to quell fear-mongering as the neighborhood began to become more diverse and restrictive covenants that barred blacks from moving to many neighborhoods in the city were overturned, according to a history of the organization by member Gary Ossewaarde.

Hoffman-Zoller is inviting local police to attend the workshop as the conference reignites its interest in block clubs.

“The session will be led by Faleesa Square, the CAPS community organizer for the [Wentworth] District — P.S. crime-stopper whistles will be available,” Hoffman-Zoller said.

The whistle was once an iconic symbol of the conference’s efforts to curb crime in Hyde Park and Kenwood.

The Whistle Stop program provided residents with whistles to blow if they saw or experienced crime, and the trinket was an emblem for those in the neighborhood working to stabilize the community when many neighborhoods were losing residents to the suburbs.

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