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Chicago's Block ClubsHow Neighbors Shape the City$
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Amanda I. Seligman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226385716

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226385990.001.0001

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(p.55) 2 Organize
Chicago's Block Clubs

Amanda I. Seligman

University of Chicago Press

Most block clubs were created and cultivated by larger community groups such as the Chicago Urban League. Organizing block clubs was a labor-intensive task. Organizers solicited neighbors to attend meetings and serve as leaders. Some organizations wrote manuals to guide the process. New block clubs established charters, elected officers, set eligibility for membership, and chose their name and boundaries. Participants decided on logistical matters such as meeting schedules and locations, dues structures, and activities. These decisions revealed divisions among neighbors, including racial differences, tensions over class and respectability, between property owners and renters, and over the appropriate role of children. Umbrella organizations hoped to turn leadership over to participating members while still harnessing their support to larger neighborhood purposes. Because block clubs were small, local, volunteer-driven organizations, most lasted only a few years, although some endured for decades.

Keywords:   block clubs, children, citizen participation, community based organizations, community organizations, leadership, organizing, property owners, renters, volunteers

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