Several business owners in the area said Ald. James Cappleman was the person to talk to. He started working in the neighborhood 30 years ago with Travelers and Immigrants Aid (now Heartland Alliance), assisting Ethiopian and Cambodian refugees and serving homeless living with HIV. Almost 20 year ago, he moved in, attracted by the diversity and the uniqueness of the community.
“I love the fact that on any given day, I can walk down the sidewalk and see a Buddhist monk wearing robes near a woman in a hijab,” Cappleman said.
He’s helped the neighborhood evolve and tried to give residents a chance to weigh in on community decisions. “The critical step I took was creating a process for residents to have a voice and a vote when developments are proposed,” he said. His framework allowed block clubs to weigh in on projects in their areas, and the ward’s Zoning and Development Committee — a group of about 40 locals — to decide on larger projects.
Some of those projects include the Chicago Market, a local food cooperative slated to open in the Gerber Building near the new Wilson L station next year, and investment in and around the neighborhood’s entertainment district, specifically the Riviera and Uptown theaters.
“My vision is to have an economic and ethnically diverse ward that is a model for celebrating differences and embracing all residents,” said Cappleman, who points to his experience as a former grade-school teacher, a social worker and a Franciscan friar as formative in his ability to bring people together.
See the full article by Griffin Jackson at Chicago Tribune