A sample of news clippings featuring Dan Kleinman
On a typical evening in Edgewater, dozens of young men linger along the sidewalks of Thorndale Avenue near the elevated train stop. Their presence is intimidating, say many in the community, and sometimes there is drug dealing and theft.
But on Monday evenings, the scene changes. Sidewalks fill with children playing board games and adults engaged in cards and chatting over grape leaves, courtesy of local Iraqi refugees.
The organized gatherings — called Neighborhood Nights — take aim at a more than 40-year history of gang activity along the business district in the 1100 block of West Thorndale Avenue. The strip has a shoe repair shop, dry cleaner, video store, coin laundry, liquor store and two family-owned restaurants. “It’s no coincidence that we chose Thorndale,” said Dan Kleinman, housing director of the Edgewater Community Council, which sponsors Neighborhood Nights. “If you can fill Thorndale with an ongoing effort, it starts to become a more enjoyable place.”
The tone is far less confrontational at Edgewater’s weekly positive-loitering event along Thorndale Avenue, Neighborhood Nights, which draws a diverse crowd and takes the form of a neighborhood festival: chess, checkers, hot-dog grilling, face painting and—the week we visited—a magician and juggler. A year ago, Edgewater used the same approach as Uptown and Lakeview. “People would just gather on the sidewalk with their cell phones out and try to report what they saw,” says Dan Kleinman, housing director of the Edgewater Community Council, which sponsors Neighborhood Nights.
But when Kleinman was hired eight months ago, he took a different tack. “Instead of trying to deter negative activity through fear and pressure, we’re trying to do it simply by filling that space with positive activity. It’s a more community-creating than community-dividing approach,” Kleinman says. “People often say, ‘We need to do this for the community.’ That begs the question, ‘Who is the community?’ The answer we’re trying to give is that we’re all the community.”
Senn High School Local School Council member Dan Kleinman, who was the lone dissenter in the council’s vote to approve a $470,000 budget cut last week….
“Senn did not have as large a budget cut this year as many other neighborhood schools across Chicago,” Kleinman wrote, “but that was this year, and I am concerned about next year, and the year after that. My job and responsibility is the future of this great school.”
In an interview Wednesday, the 25-year-old said the Chicago Public Schools are continuing a trend of working more with less.
He said that in coming years high schools, like Senn, could be targeted as “underutilized” and be closed down, like the 48 “underutilized” elementary schools closed this year.
“The trend needs to end,” he said, “before there is little left.”