Unity, Pride, Culture: My View: Spirit for peace lives in Rockford

I extend my greetings to the citizens, dignitaries and civic leaders of Rockford and to the Peace Coalition of the Rock River Valley. A few months ago, Rockford was chosen as the 107th International City of Peace by our organization. Our selection committee was sincerely inspired by the increasing legacy of peace building in the Rockford community.

But why Rockford? Why Rockford when there are cities such as Geneva, Switzerland, the Hague in the Netherlands, Stockholm, Sweden, and others that have had momentous advancements in peace building in the world? Our organization has the goal of 1,000 cities of peace by the year 2025 because we need to recognize the efforts of everyday people in peace building, as it is, in the end, our individual responsibility to better ourselves, our families, our communities, our nations and our world. This is where we will find peace in our shared future.

Rockford, through its Peace Coalition, has assembled more than 40 community groups and an impressive array of peace-building activities on a coordinated, organized basis, touching the lives of thousands, if not tens of thousands annually. Other cities around the globe are taking note.

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150902/OPINION/150909841?template=printart

Families & Neighborhoods: Rockford police, United Way say listening is key to building strong neighborhoods

City leaders agree that reaching out to residents in Rockford’s most at-risk neighborhoods and connecting them with important resources is one key to building a safer community.

As part of Strong Neighborhood Days on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, police officers met with residents who live near St.

That was the goal of the five Strong Neighborhood Days, organized by the United Way of Rock River Valley and the Rockford Police Department, that took place in July and August. Coordinators say the goal is to give neighbors a chance at positive interactions with police and one another.

“People in the neighborhood are a contributing factor to the safety of the community,” said event organizer Matt Simpson of the United Way. “You can have a thousand police officers walking down the street, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe. It’s how the people relate to each other and care about their neighborhood that makes it safe.”

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150830/SPECIAL/150839999/12896/NEWS

Economy: Rockford-area businesses benefit from end-of-summer heat wave

ROCKFORD — September is coming in hot.

Throughout much of the U.S., temperatures this week will reach 10-15 degrees higher than average this time of year. Rockford is no exception.

Kristina Reuber eats ice cream with her miniature schnauzer Marley on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, at Dairy Depot in Loves Park. Dairy Depot sees the most business during heat waves. SUNNY STRADER/RRSTAR.COM

Local temperatures will hit some of the highest marks this summer, and humidity will hover around 60 percent. Wednesday is expected to be the hottest day of the week, with a high of 90 degrees in Rockford.

While the heat blast is an inconvenience to runners, students in schools sans air conditioning, and people who work outdoors, it’s beneficial for seasonal business owners.

John Elliott, co-owner of Dairy Depot in Loves Park, said all business at the walk-up window shop is weather-related.

“We were off to a pretty slow start back in June when it was raining a lot,” Elliott said. “But with the weather this week we’ve seen about twice as many people as we have in past weeks.”

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150901/NEWS/150909899?template=printart

Share YOUR Ideas on how to implement Impact Statements! (Community Idea Exchange Series)

IMG_0298The Community Idea Exchange Series has completed.
However, we are still taking your ideas!

1) Download ideas shared from Community Idea Exchange events below.

2) Click links below the topic of your choice to submit YOUR ideas!


Living the Brand livingbrand Communications Communications

Community Idea Exchange
July 23, Burpee Museum

Ideas from meeting:

Click links below to submit your ideas:

Living the Brand


Education education Leadership and Youth youth-leadership

Community Idea Exchange
July 30, Guilford High School Fieldhouse

Ideas from meeting:

Click links below to submit your ideas:

Youth & Leadership


Economy & Jobs  economy-jobs Physical Infrastructure  infrastructureQuality  planning

Community Idea Exchange
August 4, Rockford University

Ideas from meeting:

Click links below to submit your ideas:

Economy & Jobs

Physical Infrastructure


Unity, Pride, Culture unity Family & Neighborhoods family-neighborhoods Arts & Recreation arts

Community Idea Exchange
August 6, Levings Park

Ideas from meeting:

Click links below to submit your ideas:

Unity, Pride, Culture

Family & Neighborhhoods

Arts & Recreation

Planning planning Funding & Alignment funding

Community Idea Exchange
August 11, RMAP

Ideas from meeting:

Click links below to submit your ideas:


Funding & Alignment

Safety  safety Healthy Lifestyles healthy-lifestyles

Community Idea Exchange
August 25, YMCA

Ideas from meeting:

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Healthy Lifestyles


Caring: Habitat For Humanity Helps Rockford Family

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Another Rockford family can now say they’re homeowners all thanks to a local organization.


The Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity has built another home. This time for the Garrett Family who will be moving into their new house in the eleven hundred block of Geneva Avenue, in a few days. The ceremony featured a home blessing, the opportunity for the Garrett’s to thank volunteers and sponsors, home tours, and the turning over of the keys. The organization has now helped roughly 130 families over a 27 year span.

“I love my ceiling fans. That’s my favorite part, the ceiling fans and just seeing it being built from the ground up is so amazing. That’s a once in a lifetime thing to see that,” says Shanica Garrett.

Habitat families are qualified and selected based on their need for simple, decent, and affordable housing, along with their ability to pay back zero-interest home loan, and their willingness to partner with the organization.

Read more…http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/Habitat-For-Humanity-Helps-Rockford-Family–323390451.html

Chuck Sweeny: North Madison Street taking shape as Rockford’s riverwalk, entertainment district

For years I have advocated making the east bank of the Rock River the riverwalk, and it is slowly turning into just that. Last week marked a big step in that gradual conversion with Cellusuede Products’ pending move to a bigger, newer building at 1515 Elmwood Road in the North Rock Industrial Park, which is off North Main Street near Sportscore One.

Meanwhile, the Cellusuede building on Madison Street will be turned by the owners of the Prairie Street Brewhouse into a “use your imagination” center of creativity. The buildings across the street from Cellusuede will be leveled for parking, which will be needed as the Brewhouse becomes more and more a popular place to gather.

Ald. Tom McNamara, D-3rd said he’s happy that both sides are getting what they want in the deal.

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150831/NEWS/150839909?template=printart

Economy & Jobs: Prairie Street Brewhouse acquires Cellusuede property in downtown Rockford

ROCKFORD — The Cellusuede Products factory in the 500 block of North Madison Street will be redeveloped after the company moves to 1515 Elmwood Road.

But what exactly becomes of the plant, which was part of three Madison Street parcels transferred Aug. 6 to the owners of Prairie Street Brewhouse in a $1.3 million property swap, hasn’t been determined. The Rockford Township assessor’s office said the one-block factory and two parcels in the 400 block of North Madison have an estimated market value of $437,000.

The brewhouse and its bars, restaurants, offices, dock, loft condominiums and programs have turned the block into a popular destination and will use the acquisition to add attractions.

“Across the street we will raze two buildings to create expanded parking,” Dustin Koch, president of Rockford Brewing Co., said of property on the east side of Madison. “For the large building on Madison, we will reuse it. We are exploring the option of maker spaces for local artists and makers with communal work space and retail space, maybe even an aquaponics urban farming system.

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150830/NEWS/150839950?template=printart

Unity, Pride, Culture: Midtown District ethnic parade and festival celebrates Rockford’s diversity

ROCKFORD — A vibrant parade through downtown, culminating with a festival Sunday in the Midtown District, celebrated the city’s rich cultural heritage and surprising diversity.

People of a Laos heritage were among the dozens of ethnicities and cultures on display Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, at the second annual Midtown District Ethnic Parade and Festival.   JEFF KOLKEY/RRSTAR.

Hundreds of participants in the second annual Midtown Ethnic Festival wore traditional clothing, waved flags and rode in floats representing nearly 50 cultures: Latino, American Indian, Serbian, Greek, Norwegian, Laos, Vietnamese, Filipino, Karen, Jewish, German, Turkish …

“This is a celebration of the world and a celebration of peace,” Sevgi Halil said as she marched in traditional Turkish garments. “We need peace in the whole world.”

It’s a festival meant to celebrate and embrace the diversity that abounds in the Midtown District and throughout Rockford, organizers with the Midtown District Association said.

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150830/NEWS/150839946?template=printart

My View: Strong Neighborhoods build strong communities in Rockford

Strong neighborhoods build strong communities. We hear this but what does that mean?

To some, it means that safe, vibrant neighborhoods are bursting with people who are comfortable in their homes and with their neighbors. Strong neighborhoods are filled with residents who love where they live.

What does having strong neighborhoods in your community mean to you? How about more hope, more aspiration, more people achieving the American Dream. Maybe less crime, less poverty, less despair.

United Way of Rock River Valley recognizes Strong Neighborhoods as an achievable dream through the Collective Impact model. Collective Impact calls for a community to first choose a specific area on which to focus. Once a specific goal is selected, United Way orchestrates collective efforts to direct resources to maximize the end result.

Read more…http://www.rrstar.com/article/20150828/NEWS/150829434?template=printart