Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Visit to Back of the Yards

L-R Rev. Q and Irene Lopez standing in front of the many dance trophies that some of the 400 youth BYNC works with have won over the years!

Industrious resident working in his garden!

Infrastructure upgrades in Back of the Yards!

Bingo Mamas at BYNC patiently waiting for the game to get underway!

L-R Officer Cary Cooper, REv. Q and Officer Tony Corral (Community Police). They have offered to schedule a walking tour of the community for me.

Dedicated staff of Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc.
L-R Sandra Barboza, Esmeralda Huerta, Robin Schmidt and Elizabeth Diaz

Father Bruce Wellums of Holy Cross taking a minute out of his busy schedule to meet with me and talk about his program.

One of the many industrious vendors evident in Back of the Yards!

Development in Back of the Yards!

This is the dedicated staff at Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council that works hard to improve the quality of life for its clients.

Back of the Yards
It has been a pleasure and an adventure becoming familiar with the section of the
20th ward known as the Back of the Yards. Back of the Yards is located in the community area of New City and extends from 39th to 55th Streets between Halsted and the railroad tracks along Leavitt Street, just south and west of the former Union Stock Yard and adjacent to packing plants. Back of the Yards has been the focus of Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle and activist Saul Alinski's organizing efforts. Until the 1950s the Back of the Yards comprised the largest livestock and meatpacking center in the country.

Back of the Yards was settled by Irish and German butchers and joined in the 1870s and 1880s by Czechs. By the turn of the century the area was dominated by Poles, Lithuanians, Slovaks, and Czechs. World War I and the 1920s witnessed small numbers of Mexican immigrants but the area remained Slavic until the 1970s when Chicano's and African Americans began to move into the area.

In the Depression and WWII years residents created two key social movements: the Pckinghouse Workers ORganizing Committee AKA the United Packinghouse Workers of America or UPWA-CIO and Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC). According to James R. Barrett, UPWA-CIO became a progressive "mainstay of the labor movement." BYNC, a coalition of dozens of neighborhood and parish groups, became Saul Alinsky's model for community organizing throughout the country.

In future posts I will describe in more detail the work that BYNC,Holy Cross and Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc is doing.

Question: How have you lived out your values and beliefs today in the world? How have you shown up in the world with your gifts and your unique contributions?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

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