What is the East Village Association?

The East Village Association (EVA) was officially established as a nonprofit organization in 1982. It was created from a partnership between a block club that had been active for many years and a group of new residents who had recently moved to the area. The common bond was an appreciation of our neighborhood as a good place to live. Our charter states that we seek to maintain our diverse community while making it a cleaner and safer. In the past year, here are some of the ways we’ve worked toward this goal.

· We have monthly meetings that provide a forum for representing and discussing issues.
· We meet regularly with our alderman.
· We’ve picked up trash during neighborhood clean-ups and removed graffiti from alleys during our paint-outs. And after three years of negotiations, we convinced the City to establish a weekly street sweeping schedule for Ashland Avenue, and made sure the police enforced the “No Parking” restrictions. We’ve also planted trees and continue to sponsor Frankie Machine Garden, which was established by EVA in 1988.
· We’ve worked on improving Division Street. This includes numerous meetings with the Liquor Commission about problem bars, as well as starting the Division Street Initiative.
· We socialize, with a summer picnic, a Christmas party, and other events throughout the year.

This is far from a complete list of what EVA does, but I think it suffices to describe the group’s focus. To me, the more interesting aspects of EVA are the “whys”. Why do we do these things? And why are they important – for us, as individuals, and for our community? Certainly, EVA means different things to different people. But I think my attitude is shared by many of our members – and this is that being an EVA member is an important part of my life as a West Town resident, and as a citizen of Chicago.

For instance – it’s easy to identify problems in our community, but trying to fix them is another matter altogether. Solving them on your own is possible, but hard. It’s too easy for an individual person to be dismissed as a disgruntled complainer, or to be sent on a bureaucratic run-around that serves only to exhaust you, not to provide any answers. But chances are that the same complaint is shared by one or more of your neighbors, and when the issue is presented as a community concern, it has more legitimacy. Plus you have the benefit of the support of others, instead of an overwhelming feeling that you’re fighting against the system alone. One of the paradoxes of urban living means that, despite being surrounded by hundreds of people, we’re often personally isolated. EVA is a good way to meet your neighbors, and to participate in the social and political life of Chicago.

But without you, our community is not complete. So why don’t your consider attending one of our monthly general meetings? We’re sincerely looking forward to seeing you soon!

This post was originally published in the EVA News, and re-published in July 1994. It was written by Marjorie Isaacson