By Guest Blogger, Watchen Nyanue
Every time I hear someone who is not from Chicago refer to Chicago as “Chiraq,” I cringe. Every time I hear someone who is from Chicago refer to Chicago as “Chiraq,” a piece of my heart breaks. Yes, it’s true that homicide total for the year has reached the 200-person count, and yes, it is also true that in a single weekend more than 80 people were shot in a city that is becoming more know for violence than its great culture and history. I get overwhelmed just writing these statistics, and in all honesty that is part of the reason that I started the Chicago Action Brunch.
Although I was not born in Chicago — I was born in Liberia — I was raised all over the city. And although I have lived in other cities, I have always considered Chicago home. While living in New York, I became frustrated with the way that people talked about Chicago. People who had never been to the city were afraid to visit because of what might happen to them. While this was frustrating, it wasn’t until I moved back to Chicago and heard the same fears and frustrations from my friends and associates that I realized that I had to do something.
Outside of the normal complaining, what I got from conversations was that people wanted to help the city, but the issues seemed overwhelming. With the demands that they have on their time, as they try to create a life for themselves, a lot of people just don’t know where to start. It was in conversation with a friend about why the city was getting so bad that I decided that I would create an environment where people could not only openly discuss some of the issues facing Chicago, but also figure out a way to give back to the city in a way that works for them. The concept of the brunch is simple: 8 people, 1 project, 30 days.
Each month a group of 8 people — 4 young women and 4 young men — gather for brunch and network through dialogue and (of course) action. At this brunch, participants have an opportunity to have a moderated discussion around some of the pressing issues facing Chicago, and most importantly, commit to a project they are passionate about. THE CATCH…the group only has 30 days to plan and execute their project.
Looking back on my childhood in Rogers Park, I do not remember being afraid to go outside to play or feeling unsafe when I traveled to different parts of the city. To hear that in certain neighborhoods today kids need to get permission from other kids to enter a public playground makes me sad and a little angry. I believe it is up to the people who live in the city and benefit from all that the city offers to help be a part of the solution. I am grateful for the opportunity to facilitate different efforts that give back to Chitown.
Watch how it’s done:
To find out more or join the next cohort of action brunchers, visit: http://www.chicagoactionbrunch.com/
Born in Liberia and raised in Chicago, Watchen Nyanue is a graduate of DePauw University and an alumna of The Posse Foundation. Since graduating from DePauw, Watchen has lived and worked in Los Angeles , New York, and relocated back to Chicago in September of 2013. Her work experiences include Comedy Central, Hearst Digital, and Yahoo!. In addition to running the Chicago Action Brunch, Watchen is a member of the Chicago Advisory Board of The Posse Foundation, a member of the LINK Unlimited Associate Board, a first generation mentor at Achievement First, and the Delta GEMS Co-Chair of the ENSA chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.