EVA President’s Message

by Mary Szpur

First, I would like to thank Aaron Bilton for serving as EVA President for the last two years. His legacy comprises the hard work of keeping a community group functioning, but also, on a more exciting level—the strides he and others have made toward establishing a new library within East Village boundaries. Apparently, this wondrous event is a real possibility, and Aaron will continue to work on this project and keep us apprised. Thanks, Aaron.

Thanks also to the other outgoing EVA officers: Vice President Adam Marton, Treasurer Ronda Locke (congratulations on her newly born baby), and Secretary Julie Rudloff.

Thanks to Michael Furlong for serving as newsletter editor. Michael has recently married and moved to Ukrainian Village.

Kudos to the new EVA officers, who have agreed to volunteer their time to work on civic matters of import to all of us: Vice President Brian Thompson (new to the group, and willing to serve), Treasurer Julie Rudloff, and Secretary John Sekowski. Special thanks to Julie and John, who have served as officers in the past and have stepped up again (and John is a new father to boot).

I am grateful to Brian Roman, former EVA President and former newsletter editor, who has agreed to put out the newsletter on a short-term basis until we find a replacement, despite the responsibilities of fatherhood and a new academic position.

Thank you to Cheryln Pilch and the other folks at Happy Village Tavern, who have agreed to continue their long-term commitment to serve as our meeting place every month. Please support Happy Village by buying beverages and food when you are there for meetings, or whenever!

And finally, I would like to thank the EVA members who have agreed to serve on the Board of Directors: Deborah Milkowski, who will serve as liaison regarding the new Dominick’s development on Chicago and Damen. Deborah has served EVA in the past as newsletter editor for five years, and brings valuable experience and an analytical mind to the Board. Scott Rappe will serve as head of the zoning and development committee. Scott is an architect and skilled in interpreting complex zoning and building issues for people less well versed in these matters. He is an invaluable asset to the Board. Rohan Sundaralingam is a new addition to the Board, and I think he will bring new ideas and perspectives.

Board meetings will be held monthly, on the Monday following the monthly EVA membership meeting, at 6:30 pm, at Happy Village Tavern. They are open to the public, so please come!

My goals for EVA over the next year are simple: increase membership (residents and businesses), establish a website, re-establish committees such as: website and newsletter editor, membership and fundraising, zoning and development, greening/green space/recycling, aldermanic liaisons, traffic, and library. I would like EVA to have an active Board of Directors, and I hope to add a few more people to the Board eventually. Are any new neighbors interested?

To me, EVA should function primarily as a civic group promoting community discussion of matters relevant to our neighborhood. As a result, the group can also educate and serve as a social outlet—a way to meet your neighbors. We can try to help neighbors in need, and offer information, advice, and manpower for residents on myriad issues.

When a neighborhood changes—as all Chicago neighborhoods do—the goals and focus of any representative community group may need to change as well, to adapt to new residents and the changing environment. On the other hand, we all need to be sensitive to the fact that tumultuous change in a relatively short amount of time is stressful to a community, even if much of the change is positive. I have seen that type of community stress, positive and negative, all my life, living on both the south and north sides of Chicago. It isn’t just in our little corner; it’s everywhere. Another helpful function of a neighborhood group like EVA is to try to cultivate common ground and consensus among neighbors in the face of an evolving community.

For the small handful of readers who might have actually read this long-winded first presidential message to the end, I apologize for my wordiness, and I’ll work on brevity in the future.
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