ENGLEWOOD — From a radio program dedicated to discussing good news to the first 5K in the history of Englewood, locals had a lot to talk about in Englewood and Chatham this year.
1. Running in Englewood: The first-ever 5K in Englewood drew nearly 1,000 runners — nearly double what organizers expected.
The Ditch the Weight & Guns 5K Walk & Run took place Nov. 2. Participants ran through South Side streets a world away, both literally and figuratively, from the neighborhoods that saw tens of thousands runners during the Chicago Marathon the month before.
Organizers hope the event will become an annual way "to promote nutrition, fitness and nonviolence," said Andrea Natay, owner of Forever Fitness Chicago.
2. Good in the neighborhood: In February, Englewood resident Rashanah Baldwin launched the "Good in Englewood" radio segment on Kennedy-King College's WKKC (89.3 FM). The program aims to counter the negative headlines that dominate much of the news reports from her neighborhood, she said.
"I get tired of seeing TV news doing live shots in other neighborhoods about positive stuff going on there but not in Englewood," Baldwin said a couple months after the show began. " ... I want people to know that Englewood is not the worst place to live. We are homeowners, educated and employed."
3. New housing center welcomed by vets: Hope Manor II, a 73-unit housing complex, opened in October to much praise from the veterans it was designed to help.
The $23.5 million complex was built with eight studio units, 24 one-bedroom, six two-bedroom, 30 three-bedroom and five four-bedroom townhomes.
Dallas Wade, an Army reserve guard, said the home was a godsend for himself and his three small children.
"Before I moved to Hope Manor II we [my family] had nowhere to go. But thanks to Volunteers of America we now live in a three-bedroom apartment and we love it," said Wade, who grew up in Woodlawn.
4. Walmart breaks ground: A Walmart Neighborhood Market will occupy 42,942-square-feet at 76th and Ashland avenue when it opens soon. Officials said the store will create 130 new jobs.
The new Auburn Gresham store will be the sixth Walmart built on the South Side since its expansion into the city four years ago, a Walmart official said.
5. Low-wage protests: Demonstrators protesting low wages at fast-food restaurants took to the streets on multiple occasions around Chicago — including in Chatham. In September, 19 workers were arrested for blocking traffic while sitting in the street outside a McDonald's at 29 E. 87th St.
"We are doing whatever it takes because we can’t wait any longer. My family can’t wait any longer," said Brittney Berry, a single mother of a 2-year-old daughter. "I know we are so close to winning and that’s why I’m going to continue fighting until the end."
The City Council later voted to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2019.
6. Bucket boy controversy: The "bucket boys" who set up shop at the intersection of 87th and State streets were the subject of intense debate, as some residents pushed for more enforcement of the law that forbids panhandling in the area.
"How dare they come into my neighborhood, cause disruption and think residents are not going to say anything about it," said Nellie Sanders, who has lived in Chatham for 56 years.
But the bucket boys themselves defended the practice.
"If we sell drugs or go out and rob people to make a living, then we're wrong. Now we're doing something legal like banging on buckets and receiving donations and people have a problem with that," said Darnell Williams, 21, an Englewood resident.
7. Turnaround school goes forward: Parents, teachers and even the principal hotly contested a move by CPS to make Auburn Gresham Elementary a turnaround school. Principal Diedrus Brown complained that her school was never given the resources to thrive and said that CPS constantly changed plans for the school.
""We have been jerked around like the Super Cycle in the washing machine for the last three years," Brown said in April while noting that CPS had earlier said the school would close, share a building with another school or become a welcoming school for another school that closed.
But CPS didn't back down, and this year the school is being run by the nonprofit Academy of Urban School Leadership, which oversees 31 other CPS schools.
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