It’s a strange and delightful feeling to see an idea transform into a reality. A reality even more lovely than you imagine.
On Sunday evening, over thirty-five neighbors gathered in an empty storefront to share a meal, stories, ideas, and hopes for the neighborhood.
A longer entry of thank yous and reflections is coming shortly, but it is safe to say that the evening was delicious, warm, and inspiring. It transformed many neighbors into new friends and had a wonderful energy that we hope to capture in similar instigations and occasions. The League is all about highlighting what’s awesome and capturing what’s possible through delightful provocation.
A million thanks are due to many individuals and groups, and do check back for those over the coming days and weeks. Also, a huge reason to come back? Joe, our photographer, will be sharing pictures from the evening. We are so lucky to have his talents and good humor at the table.
Until then, enjoy the start of your week, and check back soon.
Photography Credit: Joe Tighe
Need all RSVPs by Friday for the Pop-up Possibility Potluck this Sunday, June 24.
One of the magical things about starting a project that is essentially a collection of collaborations that delight and propel a neighborhood, is that you open yourself up to possibility.
A couple weeks ago, a neighbor tweeted a picture of an “I wish this was” sticker I had placed on a the abandoned Ravenswood Hospital (slated for a summer demolition for the new Lycee Francais). This simple act of sharing acted as a catalyst to connect.
I found out Rebecca was a British transplant to our city and neighborhood and an avid photographer (check out her work - and adorable son). Our tweets turned to coffee and chats about families, currency, cities, and even future collaboration.
This translation of a physical experience in the urban world (taking a picture, for example) and sharing it in the digital world is so simple. Yet so powerful. I look forward to exploring that cyclic analog-digital relationship in the coming months and how it enhances the experience of community. In the meantime, I love seeing images of The Awesome League of Possibilities valentines or installations pop up on twitter or instagram every now and then. A reminder that these projects capture people’s attention and add a sense of community and pause to their day.
So many talented neighbors we have just next door.
Take a look at Rebecca’s work if you get a chance–– especially her recent reflection (excerpt below) on finding a sense of calm in a city and the journeys we take through our neighborhoods.
We don’t have a car, relying on our feet to take us where we need to go. I often relish the opportunity to walk through our tree-lined streets, especially when we have good weather and even if I’m just doing something as mundane as fetching groceries.
We take things slowly, leaving enough time for Mikey to pause and examine flowers peeking through railings, to pick up small twigs and branches fallen from trees, to chat to other children when we pass them or ask to pet dogs that we might meet on our journey. For me to occasionally window shop at the pretty boutiques and antique stores that line the bigger streets. Perhaps we don’t get a whole lot done in a single day because of the long walks and the constant pauses, but that is fine because we’re intentionally taking it slowly instead of rushing from one thing to the next.
Honored and delighted to announce that The League of Awesome Possibilities submission won the GOOD maker grant. Absolutely not possible without all of your support. Truly impressed and thankful for all of the friends, family, friends of friends, neighbors, and stumblers upon who took a moment to vote. Not possible without all of you.
Now, I need to take some plotting time to finalize some dates and collaborate with our first dinner site.
An inspiration for possibility potlucks.
One last appeal for voting. It ends tomorrow around lunchtime (12 PST).
Feeling very fortunate and grateful to have creeped to the top of the GOOD maker voting in the last 24-hours. Hoping I can hold the lead to make this all the more possible (and awesome!).
I’ve always been told to not rest on my laurels, so here I am with an end of week appeal: give me your vote for these delightful community development dinner parties in unexpected places.
You can vote through Monday (yes, I changed the date on the banner for those of my friends who have creative interpretations of time).
And this image below is Facebook ready for those with a big enough love of the project to support it as their backdrop photo. Also works as an email header. :)
I can’t believe I nearly missed this. This Sunday, April 29th is the 16th annual Ravenswood Run, an annual neighborhood 5k.
The proceeds from the Ravenswood Run benefit the Ravenswood Community Services Food Pantry at All Saints’ Episcopal Church and the Student Health Centers at Lake View and Amundsen High Schools. It also is an official Fleet Feet race, a Chicago favorite shoe store with a location in Lincoln Square.
The League of Awesome Possibilities started because the Awesome Foundation of Chicago believed in an idea. Their initial funding (with a lot of elbow grease) started a series of cafe installations, a small business valentine initiative, and the connections and conversations that led me to this point. Without them, a whole series of delight would not have been possible.
In my original proposal, I included the idea of hosting possibility potlucks in empty storefronts in my neighborhood. The reality was, it took a lot more conversation, trust building, and frankly, serendipity to get to the reality of hosting these events. The first grant went into the cost of making this prelude of projects happen. (and I am sure glad it did!)
That is why I am coming to you with an opportunity from GOOD magazine to help make that initial concept a reality. Paired with the remaining Awesome grant, this extra $500 will help clean, brighten, and make dinner party ready an empty storefront in the Ravenswood and Lincoln Square neighborhood. This dinner party will host, business owners, leaders, and neighbors to chat about what is needed to keep our neighborhood vibrant.
Help make this a reality by voting here by Sunday, April 29th! Spread the word!
Anne Merritt is the woman behind The Perfect Cup, our local coffee shop just steps away from the Damen Brown Line stop. She has created a friendly business and space that invites people of all backgrounds to the table to have a cup of joe. A mom, daughter, and wife–– you can see Anne’s family hanging out in the shop on any given day.
Beyond creating a favorite hangout, she also is a community-minded business woman who invites neighboring small businesses to work together. Anne holds a special place in my heart as a connector and cheerleader of The Awesome League and first host of the awesome/possible installation. A few weeks ago, I was able to grab a few insights from her in this short interview. Enjoy!
Let’s start with the basics. How long have you lived in the neighborhood? And how long has The Perfect Cup been around?
I first lived in this neighborhood when I first arrived from the Philippines almost 37 years ago. I opened the coffee shop in 1997, 14 years ago.
The Perfect Cup has a perfect little location off of the Damen stop. What inspired you to pick this spot and this neighborhood?
My inspiration to open the coffee shop simply came to me because the corner location caught my eye and the brown line L was just across the street. Coffee just seemed perfect for this little corner of my “old hood”.
Whenever I stop into The Perfect Cup, I never know if I am going to see a freelancer having a meeting or a few munchkins on a playdate. How would you describe your clientele?
My clientele is very diverse. And I am so proud to say that! I never wanted it to be exclusive to young people or young professionals only. We have many seniors, students, working professionals, and of course parents and their young coffee-lovers-to-be.
What role do you think The Perfect Cup plays in the neighborhood?
The Perfect Cup serves the neighborhood well in that it’s a good meeting place, neighbors see each other every day and get to know one another better, if someone needs something (dog sitter, apartment, used car, and the like), I can always refer them to someone in the neighborhood who has exactly what they’re looking for.
As a small business owner, what do you see as the challenges and opportunities of establishing yourself in Ravenswood?
The only challenge I have, and always had, is the constant changes the city of Chicago imposes on small business whether it be new taxes, increased taxes, new licenses, etc. I think it would be harder to start a business now than 14 years ago.
It seems like you have very friendly business neighbors, something I notice throughout the neighborhood. How would you characterize the small business community in this area?
Over the last five years, I am happy to see the number of other small businesses arrive on Damen Avenue along with myself such as the antique store, candy store, stationery and gift stores, salons and restaurants. I would like for us to work together to keep our neighborhood beautiful and vibrant for all our businesses. We all take pride in the fact that we are a small businesses and are always willing to help each other out.