Public Art coming to our community



After the completion of the construction of the 12th District Police Station on Blue Island Avenue, I approached the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to discuss the Percent of Art program for the police station.  Normally the public art is put inside of a new police station, but that doesn’t allow a majority of the Chicago residents to enjoy it as they don’t seem to have a reason to go inside of the station. So for the past  6 years I have waited somewhat patiently and finally we are on the road for something to happen.

The FIRST COMMUNITY FORUM is next Tuesday, May 14th at 5:30 pm at the police station. Please see the flyer link. Hope you can come.




12th D community forum flyer PIC

A community amenity happened quickly!

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For over a decade our community has lived with the unsightliness of a triangular piece of property across Blue Island Ave. from our 012th District police station. A few years ago, not only was the triangular shaped piece of property a mess, but the planted grounds, and parkways of the new 012th District police station were also a weed infested mess while its parking lot was literally sinking into the ground in spots, and wrought iron parking lot entrance/exit gates that had never even been installed sitting rusting on the ground…..until C4C intervened.

The station issues were due to a long-unresolved subcontractor issue from when this new station was built. C4C’s approach was to first get the situation at the 012th District station addressed, and then begin immediately working on the triangular shaped piece of property which had a longer time horizon.

Walking by this part of our community now is a totally different experience.

The above slide show is evidence of what happens when you take 100 volunteers, $200,000 of in-kind donations, and enlist the City of Chicago Commission on Chicago Landmarks, and land scape architect Ernie Wong, a Principal of Site Design Group, to design a small, public amenity.

The transformation of Triangle Lot along Chicago’s Blue Island Corridor goes from vacant mess to vibrant “Insta Park, ” and a community amenity in six hours!

Big thanks to: Ernie Wong, and Site Design (also responsible for the beautiful Ping Tom Park in Chinatown, the spectacular Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop, and future beauty coming to the Jane Byrne Interchange redesign, and redevelopment in which C4C was deeply engaged); the Student Conservation Association; Speedy Gonzalez Landscaping; The Home Depot; and Timberland for helping us see through this One-Day Urban Greening Initiative. Alderman Solis’s office helped where it could.

To add to the inspiration, University Commons resident, Jevon Covington, and his super-chill, green-feathered friend, Nigel, saw the volunteers working from their condo across the street, and decided they wanted to get in on the volunteer action. And yes, we’re speaking about a man’s parrot as though he were human. If you’ve met Nigel you’d understand why.

A few weeks later, a small fence was installed, along with seeding and mulching.  HUGE THANKS to UC residents Ed Renner, Milo Plavec, Ashley Keefe, Isa Morales and her son Aiert, Cory Tanzer and his son Theo, MJ Lawrence and Yassine Taib for your help. Children are never too young to be shown how wonderful volunteering is.

And now the latest news! After 5 years of C4C advocating for public art to be put in this area it will finally happen. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events met in mid November with District 12 Commander Steven Chung and C4C’s Director of Community Outreach Nancy Plax. Officially the “Plaza” will now have the art installation process started. Stay tuned for more information as available. We are very excited.


Viaduct Beautification Fundraisers in action

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In addition to its work in education, housing, and public safety in the UIC community, Connecting4Communities also devotes a great deal of time, and energy organizing, and activating neighborhood residents to help beautify our community, and to promote it as a place to live, work, or just enjoy as a visitor. C4C’s Executive Director was recently interviewed on camera, and in print by the Chicago Sun Times feature The Grid: Exploring the Little Italy neighborhood.

C4C has also long been successfully advocating to get the viaducts at 16th Street, along Halsted, Peoria, and Morgan Streets, and Racine Ave., which separate our community from Pilsen, repaired, cleaned up, well-lighted, and beautified with murals for which it has been raising money in partnership with local businesses, and residents, as well as collaborating with local arts organizations.

Thinking Creatively, a viaduct-beautification fundraiser was recently held at University Commons, and featured a Pet Portrait Slam put on by C4C, and Project Onward, a nonprofit art studio, and gallery in Bridgeport that supports Chicago visual artists living with mental, and developmental disabilities. We collaboratively raised $667 with six talented Project Onward artists who did portraits of pets, and/or their people.

Save the date for the next Portrait Slam (pets, kids, couples): University Commons 1111 W. 14th Place, 4th Floor Party Room. 4 pm to 8 pm, Thurs., Jan. 31st. Print up a color copy of what is to be drawn–sorry no pets allowed in the drawing room. Colored portraits will be $40, and money raised will be a win/win/win for the artists, Project Onward and our Viaduct Beautification project for murals to be done starting in the Morgan viaduct.

Thanks to University Commons entrepreneurs, Laura Levitt Lifshitz, and DeShawn Murry, the owners of Chicago’s first t-shirt truck, ChiBoys, we quickly raised $100 in viaduct beautification money at our POP UP TOP SHOP. ChiBoys sells men’s, women’s, and children’s t-shirts, along with sweatshirts, hats, and neck warmers. ChiBoys’ clothing features the history, architecture, and cultures of Chicago. We see UIC/Pilsen viaduct murals featured on future t-shirts.

There will be another POP UP TOP SHOP fundraiser coming up. Shop for the holidays and also support our Viaduct Beautification efforts. On Sunday, December 16th the ChiBoys t-shirt truck will be at University Commons 1071 W. 15th Place (Aberdeen) from 3 pm to 5 pm in the loading dock.

Monnie Burke’s, a wonderful Pilsen restaurant, stepped up immediately after it first opened in the summer to host a fundraiser with C4C to raise nearly $1,400 for its viaduct mural projects.

Not long after that, our This Little Bowl of Soup fundraiser at HaiSous raised $500. Thanks to HaiSous and community residents Chef Thai and Danielle Dang. Chef’s big sister Chi Thu oversaw the preparation of this delicious Vietnamese beef noodle soup. You know HaiSous must be something special when the “Breakfast Queen,” Ina Pinkney, the beloved restaurateur of Ina’s joined us.

Anyone who might want to have a matching donation made by their employer, checks need to be made out to Connecting4Communities. Remember we are a nonprofit 501(c)(3), and all donations are tax deductible.

We also have a GoFundMe account set up for donations.

Contact with any questions.

C4C Viaduct Beautification Fundraiser


Connecting4Communities has worked very hard with residents of the University Commons/Village area, Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, City of Chicago, and the railroads that traverse the viaducts to have clean, safe and pleasant viaducts for everyone to walk through between our community and Pilsen.

Join us on this coming Wednesday, July 25th at a wonderful Pilsen restaurant, MONNIE BURKE’S, for our C4C viaduct beautification fundraiser. Suggest making reservations.

15% of all drinks and food (between the hours of 5pm to 10pm) will go into our viaduct fund.  You MUST MENTION VIADUCTS FUND for us to receive the donations. This is also a kid friendly place with a separate kids menu.

Thanks go out to the wonderful owners of MONNIE BURKE’S, Anan and Margi Abu-Taleb.  Anan is a great guy and is the Mayor of Oak Park. They are 15 year restaurant veterans. The food is delicious and under the direction of Chef Michael Shrader who was the chef of the acclaimed Urban Union on Taylor Street, which was sadly short-lived due to an unfortunate selection of a business partner lacking in integrity by Chef Shrader..


1163 W. 18TH STREET (just east of Racine on the south side)

5 PM TO 10 PM



Any questions or if you can’t make it and want to make a donation please contact


Viaduct Update


The residents of the University Village/University Commons live next to many aging viaducts along 16th Street. Four years ago Connecting4Communites along with residents got the attention of Patrick Thompson, who was then running for Alderman of the 11th Ward.  He took up our cause and made the safety and well-being of his constituents along with others travelling through these viaducts part of his platform.

Fast forward to now and Alderman Thompson is keeping his campaign promise throughout our area.

The Peoria Viaduct has new LED lights installed and work on its sidewalks and street should start this summer.  The Halsted, Morgan and Racine viaducts will be getting new LED lighting in the next year or so.

The Alderman has requested if any resident sees any infrastructure issues to please report them to his office. He has direct contact with the railroads and has been discussing these issues with them.

A new mural will be going up in Halsted viaduct later this year, and, hopefully, with some community fundraising of $6000, we can add an additional mural in the Morgan viaduct. If you are interested in making a donation or want to help fund raise, please contact

Learn more about the UIC School of Theatre & Music

I have the pleasure of being on the advisory committee for the UIC School of Theatre & Music.  One of our goals is to get more community members to attend the theatre and music productions. We are starting to work on an Fall event, but in the meantime why don’t you take a few minutes to learn about this wonderful gem in our community. Sign up to be on their mailing list and keep up to date on their current productions.

Christin Dunford, who is the Director UIC’s Department of Theatre, has been an ensemble member with the Tony Award winning Lookingglass Theatre Company since 1989, and has acted in, written/adapted and/or directed nearly three dozen Lookingglass productions. Most recently, in the spring of 2013, she directed her own adaptation of the New York Times best-selling novel, Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, for Lookingglass as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season. She is currently writing a new play/adaptation commissioned by Lookingglass’ through the Glassworks new work development program.



Tis the season for our Smyth School Students!



This year the residents of University Commons, University Lofts, 15th Place Condos and University Village, holiday Community Giving Tree project will be adopting the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes at the John M. Smyth School along with outfitting a group of students that reside at the Pacific Garden Mission.

$25 gift cards from the students request are available for residents to choose from at a Sign up Genius link.

You can easily make your selection at this sign-up link.

Additionally, we will be taking a group of students who are living at the Pacific Garden Mission shopping for winter clothing at Target with $50 gift cards.

You can easily make your selection at this sign-up link.



Thanks in advance for opening your heart this time of year. Let’s make this a holiday to remember for these students!

BACKPACKS to school at Smyth


We want to wish all students at John M Smyth, an IB World School, the very best in this new school year. The students are proud to be attending  a LEVEL 1 school, and look forward to continuing to soar further upward!

Residents of University Village Townhomes/Single Family Homes, University Lofts, 15th Place Condos and University Commons joined together to provide the students with backpacks, and school supplies. A full SUV was unloaded, and now the teachers will be able to utilize the donations where they are needed.  There is always a need for boxes of kleenex, and disinfectant wipes (Lysol type). If you would like to make a donation please contact Nancy Plax