Sign Me Up! Get Latest TransformRockford Updates!

Stay connected to whats going on with TransformRockford! Our community has declared a vision of a safe, healthy, well educated and well rounded Rockford region. The team of volunteers at TransformRockford is taking your vision and working hard to come up with a way to put feet to your vision! Sign up today to get the latest updates! Thank you, TransformRockford volunteers

Subscribe below.

Help Spread the Word!

Subscribe Now!

* indicates required

Interconnectedness: September 19 at Rockford City Market

Rockford City Market (located on Water Street between State and Jefferson Streets in downtown Rockford) features local growers and vendors who sell natural products and unique retail items, live music, demonstrations and kids’ activities. Thanks to everyone for making the 2013 season another record-breaking year with over 75,000 visitors to the market!


Respect History: Architect Gary Anderson builds on efforts to preserve Rockford’s history

Gary Anderson has made quite a name for himself during the past three decades in northern Illinois, from designing Rockford’s award-winning Nicholas Conservatory to rebuilding Poplar Grove’s Edwards Apple Orchard after a devastating 2008 tornado.


In recent years, the architect has undertaken some of the largest projects of his career, most notably the renovation of the Prairie Street Brewhouse, a 75,000-square-foot brewery erected between 1857 and 1918 along the Rock River. The mixed-use property, 200 Prairie St., features offices, residential lofts and the popular Rockford Brewing Co. and is a model for revitalization efforts across the region.

“Saving old buildings has been a passion of mine since I was in architecture school,” he says. At the University of Illinois, his final design thesis centered on ways to bolster downtown Rockford.

“Whether you call it conservation, renovation or reinvention, the goal is to preserve these buildings for posterity and to give them new life.”

In the 1970s and ’80s, Anderson’s commitment to Forest City history quickly led to major renovation commissions at Stafford Square (308 W. Main) and the Waterside Building (124 N. Water).

After more than 30 years in business, his firm maintains a list of preservation accomplishments; among them are Tinker Swiss Cottage, Midway Village and the celebrated 1992 renovation and addition at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

“As ridiculous as it sounds, walls do talk to you when you’re working on an old building. Unfortunately, we’re not always very good listeners and end up throwing away many great opportunities to preserve.”

At the top of Anderson’s to-do list is the historic Ziock Building – a century-old riverside factory in the heart of downtown. The City Council agreed in April to a plan to converted it into a $53 million hotel and conference center. Anderson says it could be a monumental tipping point in the area’s efforts to save its historic-built environment.

“People who visit Rockford can’t believe the beautiful building stock we have, and the Ziock is a wonderful example.

“Thanks to a tremendous grass-roots effort, we have investors, developers and believers just waiting to make the Ziock revitalization a reality. This project is an unbelievable game-changer … and there’s a lot of momentum and support we can leverage right now.”

For a comprehensive look at Anderson’s work, visit his firm’s website,

– Tyler Rudick

Source: Click Here

Unity: Mohatma Gandhi’s grandson talks ‘peace building’ at Rockford University event

ROCKFORD — Until America can abandon its willingness to turn away from the rest of the world’s suffering, it will not fulfill its destiny, according to Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of India’s peacemaking leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Rajmohan Gandhi

“The world must enter its heart,” he said.

This son of Gandhi’s youngest son talked Wednesday at Rockford University about his own peace building efforts. A biographer and historian, Gandhi is a research professor, now retired, in South Asian and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

Rajmohan Gandhi was 12 when his grandfather was assassinated in 1948. Because he lived and attended school in New Delhi, he had many interactions with Gandhi, especially in the three years immediately before he died.

Until those last years, his grandfather was less present in his life because he was often in prison or traveling throughout India “putting out fires.”

Gandhi’s last year coincided with the emergence of India as an independent country and the partition of India in 1947. “His final months were spent dealing with this conflict,” recalled his grandson.

“The way he dealt with the people around him, with their complaints and anger, watching him deal with these was something that I cannot forget. That is my strongest recollection of him, surrounded by pressing crowds and angry and sad people.”

Gandhi described walking with his grandfather to daily multi-faith prayer meetings that gathered late in the afternoon. Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Muslims praying together at this hostile time in history inevitably created tension, he said, often over the religious texts to be read and songs that would be sung.

“I would sit near him, wondering if violence would break out, whether he would be attacked. And, sitting close to him, I would see how he would cope with that.”

Gandhi’s assassination, in fact, took place as he walked to such a prayer meeting. Young Rajmohan, then 12, was not there that day because of a sporting event at school.

Rajmohan Gandhi has authored 10 books, many biographies of prominent Indian and Pakistani leaders and statesmen whose mark is still felt today, including Mahatma Gandhi, as well as his maternal grandfather Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, India’s first free head of state.

He also has met with other leaders working toward nonviolent conflict resolution, including a young Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mendala, the Dalai Lama, and Aung San Sue Kyi.

Gandhi, in his Rockford talk, made specific reference to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, often called the “Frontier Gandhi,” a man he knew and of whom he wrote a frequently-referenced biography. Khan, a Pashtun Muslim, was a lifelong pacifist and a “tremendous leader for nonviolence.

“It’s important to know that his legacy of nonviolence is still very strong in the Pashtun region in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Gandhi said.

The question remains, why are so many parts of the world so mad, so angry, he added. “Is it in DNA? In a religion?”

More people now realize that blaming the world’s problems on one religion is a false approach. “We understand that in all religions, there are always some people who do terrible things.”

“Can nonviolence work?” he’s often asked.

“I like to respond, ‘How wonderfully has violence worked?’”

Governments have to get out of a habit of making violence the first impulse. “We create cycles of violence, hate and revenge,” he said.

Reflecting on this and other struggles in today’s world, Gandhi said, “Revenge doesn’t necessarily mean justice. It often means another round of suffering.”

But reconciliation and justice both have to be our aims. “If we don’t work for justice,” he said, “peace can become just another nice word for surrender.

He compared conflict resolution to the way a parent, who has lost a child to violence, must move on. “For the sake of their surviving children, they move their focus away from revenge to reconstruction. These are the real heroes.”

“I cannot talk glibly about forgiveness. I haven’t experienced the degree of injury that others have experienced.”

The world’s greatest peacemakers are ones whose names never make the headlines, he said.

“So much of the continuance of life on this planet is based on people working with difficult people. All of the time we are obliged to practice some amount of forgiveness.”

Efforts to resolve conflict justly and peacefully take place daily, he said — in the smallest of communities, neighborhoods and even within families.

“There is much more peacemaking taking place in the world than we recognize and acknowledge. Normal life depends on this kind of peacemaking.”

Gandhi will speak briefly at the annual Peace Awards Luncheon today hosted by the Violence Prevention Collaborative of Winnebago County at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 200 S. Bell School Road.

A video recording of Gandhi’s remarks at Wednesday’s forum will be shown starting at 9:30 a.m. The public is welcome.

Interconnectedness: Rockford upcoming AAR facility will impact the entire community!

WREX EXCLUSIVE: What’s in store for Rockford when AAR facility opens

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 6.30.15 AM

Rockford is about to become home to a major aircraft service company. 13 News told you last month AAR is set to build a new maintenance facility.

It will look very similar to one already operating in Indianapolis. 13 News’ Rebecca Klopf took an exclusive tour of that building to find out what Rockford will be getting.

The facility in Indianapolis includes 1.6 million square feet for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul.

“This is where they do the heavy maintenance work on the aircraft,” says Joel Beaubien, AAR maintenance program manager.

WREX EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Hundreds of jobs coming with AAR facility

The facility employs more than 500 mechanics alone for an operation that runs 24 hours a day.

“There’s a lot of different people that work on these planes. We have cabin mechanics, we have sheet metal mechanics, we have electronics people and we have airframe power plant people,” says Jay York, AAR maintenance supervisor.

On top of that, hundred of support workers are employed.

WREX EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Skills vary at AAR facility

The bigger the plane, the more maintenance crew members are needed for one. A small regional jet means 45 to 50 workers are involved. A 777 could have 70 employees working on it.

These employees work around the clock to make sure planes aren’t grounded for too long. AAR gets about 15 days for them to be in service again.

Though it varies, Joel Beaubien says a complete overhaul of a large aircraft usually happens every two to three years.

WREX EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Heavy maintenance machinery

But don’t think there is much down time at the facility. In between heavy checks, planes still need light checks. AAR even does paint jobs. And sometimes, employees aren’t doing maintenance work but making upgrades instead.

“We had a 757 that wanted nothing but business class seats, LED lights and the entertainment is getting upgraded,” Beaubien says.

Despite all they can do in the Indianapolis facility, AAR wants something even bigger in Rockford so they can work on wide-body planes, and maybe even the Dreamliner.

The Rockford AAR facility is set to be built in spring of 2016.


Unity: Peace Coalition: Commitment to peace alive in Rockford schools

The students of Rockford Public Schools are connected to peace ( in many ways including annual participation in International Day of Peace celebrations at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza and through Rockford’s Peace Month Coalition and the message of peace is climbing up the grade levels in the Rockford Public Schools.


Last year, our involvement with the International Day of Peace included elementary schools participating in the Peace Chain. Fifteen of our schools presented a segment on peace to their students and then asked them to write “Who will you make peace with?” on the bracelets. The chain was displayed on the Perryville Bike Path and was more than a mile long.

This year, several of our elementaries again are participating with the peace chains. But what has been a pleasant addition is some of the middle schools are getting involved.

Judy Cunningham, a counselor at Lincoln Middle School, will use the peace chain bracelets as a way to talk to her sixth-grade students about getting along. At the start of every school year, she goes into the social studies classrooms of the sixth-graders to explain what she does and also gives information on bullying.

“I do kind of a mini lesson on what it is that I do, and then I always give a little spiel on always being nice to each other, even though the kids are all different,” Cunningham said. “I just thought this would be a fun activity to do with them so it will be more memorable. It’s important to teach (peace) at this level. This is where bullying starts. You do see some in the younger grades, but middle school is where it really starts to get intense.”

West Middle School also will celebrate the International Day of Peace this year. The school’s CAPA students are placing a peace pole in front of the main entrance to the building and will dedicate it Friday morning — the same day many elementary schools will participate in the actual Peace Day celebration at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza.

West will be the 15th Rockford Public School Peace Pole school joining Bloom, Kishwaukee, Spring Creek, Froberg, Brookview, Fairview, Whitehead, Walker, Haskell, Montessori, Carlson, West View, Marsh and Johnson in proclaiming our common aspiration: “May Peace Prevail on Earth”.

The Peace Pole dedication will include the choir singing and the sidewalk lined with pinwheels the students created, playing off a “Pinwheels for Peace” theme. CAPA instructor Kirsten Garrigan said they are doing this activity to create an atmosphere of peace and acceptance.

“The lesson about peace and acceptance will, hopefully, open the students’ minds to realize what things are really important in life,” Garrigan said. “It’s all about people and relationships.”

I close by quoting the theme of this year’s IDOP celebration: “Who will you make peace with?” It is a good question that we each need to answer.

Emily Tropp serves as Project Coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools.

Education: Rockford Students Get Help in Figuring Out Career Paths

ROCKFORD, IL–It’s the third annual Academy Expo and this event is designed by Alignment Rockford in partnership with Rockford Public Schools.


It’s a way for students to explore possible career fields and figure out what they might want to do.

The expo gives kids hands on demonstrations in different jobs– from teaching, to farming, to manufacturing.

Based on what they like, it shapes their high school curriculum.

There are four academies students can choose from. They are EMITT (Engineering, Manufacturing, Industrial and Trades Technology), BAMIT (Business, Arts, Modern World Languages and Information Technology), HPS (Human & Public Services), and HS (Health Sciences).

Once a student decides which path they want to take, they’re put in classes designed to help them get there.

David Carson, the director of college and career readiness for Rockford public schools, said, “The importance is to help students understand the value in getting a high school education and seeing that connection between what they’re doing in high school and what they would like to do with their lives after they graduate.”

The program is in its third year and organizers say that it’s helping to keep kids in class.

“There’s students who are in their third year of the high school academy, as we’ve seen increase of attendance, we’ve seen a decrease in truancy, we’ve seen a higher level of engagement overall,” said Bridget French, the executive director for Alignment Rockford.