Austin is the largest Community area in Chicago. It's also one of the highest in crime community areas in Chicago. This weekend, I decided to see firsthand what Austin is really like. I can't take the media's word on everything. I prefer to shape my own perception, rather than have someone tell me what to believe.
While walking Westward on Madison Avenue I asked a fellow Chicagoan, "What good is going on in Austin? He paused, scratched his head and responded, "In this area.......Man.......... they got some good lemonade at Wiley's on the corner." We both shared a laugh.
As I continued to walk West on Madison Avenue I asked more Chicagoans if they knew about anything good going on in the Austin community area.
"We're the worst, a lady claimed. "The police always messing with us," another man admitted. One man was so apprehensive, as I approached, he reached into his pocket and warned me to back up........"BACK UP! he yelled. Not many people wanted to be interviewed in Austin. Usually, folks don't mind speaking, but not in Austin. It seemed like people were on guard and didn't feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger. Can't say I blame them. The media has us all scared.
I did speak to a guy that owned a rim shop on Madison Ave. He told me that the media purposefully portrays Austin as bad community so they can sell more papers. "It's all about the money and politics," he professed.
I told him that yesterday I attended an event where a Chief of the Chicago Police Department echoed the same sentiments. The Chief proclaimed, "The crime rate in Chicago is the lowest its been since the 1960's." He continued, "The problem is..........If I tell you that last year there were five homicides in Austin, and this year there's only been three homicides in Austin, people don't feel 40 percent safer." The Chief also blamed the media for Chicago's negative perception.
Enough with all the drama, I kept traveling West on Madison Avenue and I arrived a two homes built by a legendary Architect named Frederick Schock. The home featured above is located at 5810 West Midway Park ave is owned by Mr. George Manning II, who was nice enough to speak with me, and show me around his property.
I also got a chance to help out the Central Austin Neighborhood Association, as they spread mulch and pulled weeds from 16 corner gardens. Mrs. Reid, the Executive Director, and her Husband Mr. Reid, are true role models. Austin is a better place because of their community service. Chicago is great City because of people like them.
My favorite restaurant in the Country is MacArthur's Fine Southern Cuisine; it's a MUST VISIT! Go try the Barbecue Chicken, Macaroni and Yams; I promise that you'll become hooked. You're not famous until you have your picture hanging in MacArthur's. You'll understand what this means when you visit.
As I continued to travel west on Madison avenue, the magnitude of economic disparity became more apparent. The streets appeared cleaner as I inched closer to Oak Park, IL. All and All though, Austin is a community full of hidden gem restaurants, artful intersections and passionate community groups. Don't take the media's word about Austin being abominable. Everything isn't always what it seems. Magicians rely on this fact to make you see things the way they want you to see them, the media does too.
I stumbled upon a great mural of Chiarman Fred Hampton. Had to stop and salute this great Chicago Activist .