Monday, December 20, 2010

Center for Urban Transformation Plans for 2011

Orrin Williams of CUT at the PEACE CENTER in Englewood informal survey on Urban Ag. from Judith Helfand on Vimeo.

The CUT has spent 2010 in an evaluation period that has lead the organization to conclude through its' ongoing strategic planning process that it will be reorganized as an organization that will become a community and urban planning organization and community development corporation.

Programs for the upcoming year and into the future will be predicated on projects such as the Community Based Research and Focus Group project which will be done in several communities starting in Englewood on the south side of Chicago.

For a preview of the project see the video posted above.The video short here is provided through the Filmmaker Judith Helfand who produced the winner of the cinematography award in the documentary competition at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

The project will do what few organizations have done - it will ask community residents what kinds of options they'd like to see for food access in their community. The focus group part of the project will provide community participants with an overview of the various options for accessing fresh produce available to them from farmers' markets to small grocery store to buying clubs to the option everyone seems to think is what the community (any community thought to be a "food desert") needs - a full service, chain grocery store. The CUT believes that a grocery store is just ONE element to having a healthy food environment and that community input to determine what the community food environment should include is critical to creating a healthy food environment.

To that end once the research and focus group project is completed in Englewood the CUT will work with a variety of partners to develop the social enterprises that reflect the food access and food based economic development requirements the community desires.

If you know or if you have a community  or faith based organization in Englewood please contact the CUT to host a research and focus group session commencing in January 2011. After completing the project in Englewood, the CUT will conduct the project in any communities in the metropolitan area beginning in April 2011. For more information contact us at (773) 956-7251 or

While the CUT is excited about the organizational changes and the community based research project we are most excited about our community development corporation enterprise development work to develop our small grocery store concept - community scale wellness markets and the public market innovation center during 2011. We have retained the services of E.dali Pollard of Kyehui (pronounced kiwi) Consulting to assist us in developing the project. We are working to develop project specific relationships with Chicago Community Ventures and the Chicago Community Loan Fund as well as other public and private partners to develop the enterprises.

Stay tuned to the blog and our website for ongoing updates about the projects.

A Special Thank You to Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois-Chicago; Patty Boblick, RN, RD, assigned to the project by Angela while she was completing her graduate studies at UIC and Martha Boyd of Angelic Organics Learning Center for collaborating with the CUT on the development of the community based research and focus group project. 

Also thanks to Harry Rhodes and Growing Home for funding support for doing the project in Englewood and to Warren King and other partners on the Greater Englewood Urban Agriculture Task Force and the members of the Food, Fitness and Health Task Force at Teamwork Englewood for your suggestions and feedback.

Your assistance was invaluable! Gassho!