“When we no longer work to sustain our own points of view and work toward community ownership of change as accountable partners, we will discover that what endures is the fire of inspired action.”
— Jennifer Vanica, Courageous Philanthropy: Going Public in a Closely Held World

When I first met Jennifer Vanica in May 2017, I was not aware of her history with the Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] and her use of our Technology of Participation [ToP]® methods.Vanica Book Cover I did know of the Market Creek Plaza from a presentation several years ago at an annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC]. This once abandoned 20-acre factory, at the heart of San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods, was transformed into a diverse community focal point, incorporating cultural traditions, arts, and entertainment with necessary community retail and services.

Jennifer first shared this story with SHELTERFORCE readers in October 2014 in her article “Residents Need to Own Community Change.” Now Vanica’s book, Courageous Philanthropy, recounts the full 20-year journey of not just this project but also of this community and its unique partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI) and the innovative capital structure required to bring the Plaza to life so the community could enable itself to thrive.

First let me disclose that as CEO of ICA-USA, it is my job to market our ToP methods as tools to build real consensus for real action. I first encountered ICA when I became CEO of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO] in 1984. The Harold Washington Administration had contracted with ICA to provide strategic planning for its non-profit delegate agencies. Given our current Mayoral Election, Chicago’s neighborhoods can only hope the winner is as committed to equitable planning and development as Harold was.

Jennifer acknowledges that ToP’s “power of participatory planning became one of our first and most important tools” and continued to guide work for nearly two decades. The key was resident working teams engaged with Jacobs Center staff to plan, design, build and OWN the Plaza. One chapter title quotes a resident: DON’T DO ABOUT ME WITHOUT ME.

My second reflection is that I am confronted today with the same challenges of raising capital and philanthropic support that Jennifer writes about. I am both in awe of the creativity and distressed by the multi-year saga told in this book. I have only been working four years to restore ICA’s GreenRise in Chicago’s most economically and racially diverse community, Uptown. Personally with 2019 being my 45th year in my community development vocation, I’m unclear on my ability to persist another 16 years.

In a chapter entitled SAILING IN HIGH WINDS, Jennifer remarks that the need for risk capital to support community change remains largely unmet. While financing community change requires learning how to blend types of capital, the field of community change, she proclaims, is “calling out for a reawakening and resurgence.” Readers can only be envious of Jennifer’s mentor, Joe Jacobs, as the indispensable “angle-entrepreneur-philanthropist, willing to take the risk position and provide the patient, flexible resources needed.”

My third interpretation of Jennifer’s message for us all is the prerequisite of “working at the intersection of social responsibility and market–driven approaches.” But to do so requires us to “Lead – not with answers – but questions.” As Jennifer observes, “we stopped being program developers and had become process designers and facilitators.”

My fourth observation is the imperative of Jennifer’s challenge: “It’s about getting at underlying contradictions and barriers that keep disinvested communities stuck.” The captivating chapter, THE PEOPLE’S IPO, starts with this quote from a resident on the Ownership Design Team:

“We’re allowed to buy Lotto tickets and that’s got to be a riskier way to make money than land in our own neighborhood.”

Invest, Participate, and Own; together they formed an IPO like no other.

After six years and three state applications, The People’s IPO was finally issued on January 6, 2006. It closed less than ten months later with $500,000 raised at an average investment of $1,176 from 415 investors [78% African-American, 11% Latino; ages ranged from 8 to 85].

Four years later at the end of 2010, total economic activity generated was $47.8 million with 215 jobs created at the Plaza [65% from the community; 84% people of color]. Of its $10 million in construction contracts, $7.8 million went to minority contractors. Once known for its “Four Corners of Death,” the community became home to 14 major cultural events, attracting nearly 25,000 people.

Vanica counted nearly 4,000 visitors from 31 states and 17 countries for learning exchanges with the resident teams while she was part of the Market Creek experience. I’m sure that number continues to grow annually.

Yes, the book is long; but it is certainly worth the time. Being the community development geek that I am, I enjoyed the chapters with the organizational structures to address the “theory of thirds” and the evolution of a Citizen-Centered Learning Model and the capital stack chart. If only there were five foundations today actively seeking Program-Related Investments [PRIs] for community anchor projects.

Having interviewed community leaders nationally for almost 12 years in my first job, I enjoyed every one of the stories Jennifer shared. I enjoyed their embracing of her story telling in the video from her book launch.

I especially relate to her Top 10 List for thriving in the face of complex community change. My four favorites are:

#2 Choose to act; aim at a headpin
#7 Look for the clearing
#9 Refuse to be defeated
#10 Leap and the net will appear

The lessons she details are especially relevant to philanthropy and the community development field at this point in our history. For example:

• Embrace people as citizens, not clients
• Accept the obligation to hear a public voice
• Form a platform to work together across divides
• Build a collective vision
• Craft new narratives for communities taking charge of change
• Create a culture of ownership

Jennifer & Ted Jan 2019

Jennifer Vanica & Ted Wysocki at January 2019 Technology of Participation [ToP]® gathering.

Vanica’s last chapter, LETTER TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF “UNREASONABLES” is aimed at a new generation of philanthropic leaders. But this final message on the final page is for us all:

“You must align the work of community regeneration with the heart of democracy by lifting up the chorus of voices within neighborhoods as worthy, mindful and equal at the table…”

Jennifer’s biggest lesson to remember? “When transformational change is needed, courage is required.”

Courageous Philanthropy is available at iUniverse



I had my last Mindfulness Meditation class last Saturday as I entered another birthday week. I enjoyed the morning classes not only as stress prevention for the workday ahead but also as learning a tool to deploy when my a-fib speeds up even more irregularly. The last class centered on a mantra that I found able to sync to my breathing: “I open my awareness to wholeness.” Sounds like a good New Year’s resolution to adopt.

I don’t think I have shared in my blogging that I also keep a journal, writing while traveling or on vacation. Since there is no trip this birthday to Michigan or somewhere milder, I’m going to put this month’s blog into the journal as my year-end entry. I did the same last year with my January 1, 2018 blog: JOINING IN A GREAT EXPERIENCE.

On June 15 this year, I started a new journal that was actually a birthday present from my wife Lynne in 2014. I was still writing in my previous journal that I started on July 7, 2003; so it took me awhile to get to this present.

Oslo to Bergen by Rail June 15, 2018

Oslo to Bergen by Rail 

But that June entry was a great moment of Hygge, since it was on a train from Oslo to Bergen, Norway and the beginning of a trip that I captured in my July blog this year on BEING NOT HAVING.

My birthday horoscopes for the unknown year ahead offer the following insights:
• Gain wisdom through community and friends this year.
• Nurture relationships you value.
• Service to others is your theme this year.

I’m unclear how many trips there will be in 2019 for more journal entries. But I do plan to strive for more discipline in grabbing more time to meditate. That would enhance my hygge as well in the year ahead.

Harmony, Hope & Healing is a choir which performs every month at our church, Old St. Patrick’s. They provide creative, therapeutic, and educational music programs for homeless and under-served women, children and men in the Chicago area.

They introduced me to this song over three and a half years ago. I first added “One Day” to the U2Cando playlist in May 2015. HH&H performed it at Sunday mass earlier this month. I think it’s an appropriate tune to end 2018 and offers a mantra for us all in 2019.

Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I’m breathing
Then I pray
Don’t take me soon
‘Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around because…

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day, One Day, One Day
One day, One Day, One Day

[Thiam, Miller, Hernandez, Levine, and Lawrence]



I’ve blogged about our son TJ before over three years ago on his 28th birthday. This time I get to blog about TJ and our new daughter Maureen Sanchez Wysocki. Nov 24 2018 Maureen & TJTheir wedding gives us another date for family celebrations: November 24th.

The wedding mass was at Old St. Patrick’s where TJ had his First Communion. It’s also our church where my wife Lynne has been singing in the choir for over two decades. Many of her choir mates volunteered to sing but were outnumbered by one of the largest and most diverse wedding parties at OSP.

Nov 24 Wedding PartyMany emotions and memories flooded that day. One was that TJ’s Irish Great-Great Aunt Anna lived across the street from OSP and made her First Communion there as well, perhaps in the first decade of 1900. My mother’s Irish ancestors emigrated post-famine from County Cork, first settling in Troy, NY.

My father’s Polish ancestors emigrated in the early 1870s fleeing from domestic policies in the German part of partitioned Poland, where poverty and official discrimination aimed at Catholics were prevalent. I’m sure Theodore Sr, my mother Daisy and Lynne’s Irish and German parents, Leslie and Harry, were all there in spirit to welcome the Mexican-American culture into our heritage. Nov 24 Mo & Dad

Most of my blogs are overtly political. This one is certainly personal. But I need to be true to my own voice and share my pride in TJ & Mo as they start the next branch in our family tree as Polish-Irish-German-Mexican American. This is America’s heritage. This is America’s future.

God Bless, TJ & Mo. May your years ahead be full of joy and happiness.

While I haven’t added lyrics to the U2Cando playlist in a number of months, it’s only appropriate to do so from your Wedding Playlist:

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles
And the heaven’s open every time she smiles
And when I come to her that’s where I belong
Yet I’m running to her like a river’s song
She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love
She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

Yeah when I’m returning from so far away
She gives me some sweet lovin’ brighten up my day
Yes it makes me righteous, yes it makes me whole
Yes it makes me mellow down in to my soul
She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love
She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love
— Van Morrison



Two years ago after the November Trump Ascendancy to the throne, I went to hear Bill McKibben, the founder of, speak. I’m sure all in the audience were looking forward to hearing about all the progress on climate action that was awaiting us over the next four years. While McKibben shared the audience’s frustrations over the election result, he inspired me with his story telling on how was founded.

Anna MoveOnThis year post-election, I heard Anna Galland, Executive Director of, speak at a fundraiser for Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality: Northside [ONE Northside].

MoveOn is where millions mobilize for a better society—one where everyone can thrive. MoveOn is more than its name. It is challenging America “to move forward boldly and fearlessly, upholding and enacting the values that will make our country work for all of us.”

ONE Northside is a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization that unites diverse communities on Chicago’s north side. Building collective power to eliminate injustice through bold and innovative community organizing, they are developing grassroots leaders acting together to effect change.

Anna shared in her keynote remarks that MoveOn’s Nobody Is Above the Law campaign, which is fighting to defend the Mueller investigation, had deployed that day its rapid-response network to convene 900 protests over Trump’s effort to ensure that the Justice Department ends the investigation.

ONE Northside leaders shared their multiple issue campaigns including its Affordable Housing Team’s focus on defending the North Side’s diverse neighborhoods, like Uptown where I work, against gentrification. Among current advocacy is IL state legislation [SB3512], which would both lift the ban on rent control and implement rent stabilization in the state of Illinois. Election Day was a victory for the hard work of its Team to tackle the urgent need for affordable housing with over 70% of Chicago’s 46th Ward voters checking their support for rent control.

MoveOn_HouseWinGraphic_NewAnna imparted her elation in the House returns providing a check on Trump exploits over the next two years. ONE Northside leaders proclaimed their pledge to take their issues into the pending Chicago Mayoral race.

Now there is less than two years for us all to be Moving On For Change.


“The banks of this country are remote from the people and the people regard them as not belonging to them but as belonging to some power hostile to them.”

I started my March 15, 2015 blog with this quote. I first acknowledged that it was not a quote from US Senator Elizabeth Warren; but it could be. It is from a 1908 keynote address to the American Bankers Association by Woodrow Wilson.

Now in the last month, Senator Warren @SenWarren has awakened my imagination to the possibility of electing a President who is an affordable housing advocate, not a luxury developer. She has introduced legislation, titled the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which takes aim at segregation, redlining, restrictive zoning, and the loss of equity by low-income homeowners.

The Atlantic article by Madeleine Carlisle on September 25th describes it as “perhaps the most far-reaching assault on housing segregation since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. It’s ambitious, pouring half a trillion dollars over 10 years into affordable-housing programs.”

Warren’s bill would strengthen anti-discrimination laws by expanding Fair Housing Act protections to include gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, and source of income, attempting to limit housing segregation in the future. It will authorize more enforcement mechanisms for the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA] and expand it to include credit unions and nonbank mortgage companies.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has started the comment clock on its efforts to strip “community” out of a law that’s supposed to strengthen America’s communities. A New York Times Op-Ed on August 28th by Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC], ran with the headline: “A Green Light for Banks to Start ‘Redlining’ Again.”

The Community Reinvestment Act [CRA] was passed in 1977 to end “redlining” by requiring banks to lend money in the communities where they are chartered to do business or receive deposits. According to NCRC calculations, banks have made nearly $2 trillion in small-business and community development loans since 1996 to meet CRA requirements.

NCRC members 5th3rd & Huntington MAR 2017

NCRC members announce community lending agreements with Fifth Third & Huntington banks March 2017

This impressive record is now at risk of being turned into a math formula, which would make CRA exams considerably less effective in evaluating how banks are responding to local needs in metropolitan and rural counties. One ratio cannot tell an examiner, a bank, a mayor, or a member of the public how responsive a bank is to its various local service areas.

If CRA exams award points for financing or activities that do not address lack of access to banking or community development needs in lower income areas, then CRA will be less effective in channeling resources to the very communities that were the rationale for its passage. Coupled with an expansion of the kinds of activities that could count as “community lending,” it could allow banks to make fewer loans in poorer urban, suburban and rural communities.

Ignoring the lens of “equitable development,” it could accentuate CRA credit for loans to luxury and market-rate housing in economically and racially diverse communities that will only further real estate speculation, displacement and the lack of affordable housing for those Americans who should benefit from CRA lending.

Comments to these proposals to weaken CRA must be submitted on or before November 19, 2018. For more info, including instructions on how to submit your comment go to: 

Reinvesting in communities can make America’s economy great for all. At a time when power is again becoming hostile, we must Treasure CRA in order to pursue a Just Economy.


My first blog was in August 2014: DOES ANYONE HAVE BONO’S CELL NUMBER? Unfortunately, no one did, so I “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

My first year of blogging, I did so weekly and Blog #52 offered a Top 10 retrospective of that year: BLOGGING FOR JUSTICE OVER A YEAR’S WORTH OF SEEKING.

Looking back on the last three years of monthly blogging, there have been many renewed calls for justice and sorrowful farewells to warriors who have left us.
Reviewing my last 36 blogs, I’ll limit this anniversary reflection to my ToP 5.

#5 HAPPENING HERE? – January 2017: Comparing Trump’s inauguration to my alternative history, envisioning the inaugural speech that President Robert F. Kennedy could have delivered in January 1969.

#4 WAIT, WAIT… DON’T TELL ME… REDLINING LIVES? – February 2018: Anticipating that all Trump financial regulators will be “bluffing” when it comes to enforcing the Community Reinvestment Act [CRA] and that building local economies and encouraging racial and economic diversity will be regarded by Trump as “Not My Job!”

#3 MAKING PEACE…RESPECTING DIVERSITY – March 2017: Remembering my June 1996 visit to Belfast as a member of a delegation convened by Senator George Mitchell, who noted:  “When I first came here, people on both sides of what is ironically called the peace line told me, without any rehearsal, exactly the same thing – that there was direct correlation between the level of violence and unemployment.” Hume quote

#2 HEEDING A WARNING TO HUMANITY – October 2017: Observations from my tour of Auschwitz in Poland as a place forever to be “a cry of despair and a warning to humanity.”Auschwitz Plague

For those who know me, I’m sure you beginning to guess that there was a life-time moment for me on November 2, 2016 that is the #1 blog: GOING ALL THE WAY… CUBS WIN!! CUBS WIN!!

It’s still unclear how the Cubs will fare this Fall. I’m rooting for a Cubs / Red Sox World Series. Our political landscape remains hazy. Perhaps, a blue wave will reclaim the House & Senate. Chicago faces a Mayoral Election next year for its very soul and future opportunities for all.

As I pledge to keep blogging in the months ahead, it’s only appropriate to add another song from Bruce to the U2Cando playlist. I look forward to meeting you in a land of hope and dreams. U2Cando!

Well, I will provide for you
And I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion now
For this part of the ride
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past
Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Oh meet me in a land of hope and dreams
— Bruce Springsteen


“People have been lied to and cheated. People have been systematically denied their right to control decisions that affect their lives and their communities.”
–Studs Terkel quoting Gale Cincotta during July 7, 1977 interview

This is not my first blog to be influenced by a sermon of Fr. Ed Foley, from the Catholic Theological Union. One homily back in May 2014 especially resonated with me when he encouraged the congregation to be “Traders in Hope.” This inspired me to post a series of blogs about my community development colleagues who could add that title to their LinkedIn profiles. More recently on Sunday July 8th this year, Fr. Foley offered two additional job descriptions which are timely positions to be filled for today’s challenges and an appropriate title for this blog.

That same Sunday afternoon, I attended a presentation at our favorite independent book store, City Lit, by the archivist for the Studs Terkel Radio Archives. Studs ArchivesThen later that evening, I searched the site and found Studs’ interview 41 years and a day ago with the “Warrior for Truth and the Prophet of Virtuous Action” who shaped my life and vocation, Gale Cincotta.

Not only was it great to hear Gale’s voice again, it was especially relevant to hear Studs quote above the essence of Gale’s call to action over four decades ago. In the interview Gale reminds us even today: “Getting people to realize that they can exert control of their own lives is what it is all about.”

Gale Cincotta

Gale Cincotta Reclaims America October 13, 1980

Gale went on to discuss with Studs the “sense of Power, sense of being” when people act together. My first memory of Gale goes back to the spring of 1973 as she addressed a school hall filled of African-Americans, ethnic whites, and Latinos from communities across the country, which were all inundated by racial steering for profit. She would call out the truth today as affordable housing remains plagued by developer greed and racial segregation.

On July 9, 2018, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial, Growth vs. Affordability — Neighborhoods Need Both, referencing a Tribune story that discovered: “in gentrifying neighborhoods where affordable housing is most needed, fees paid by developers to fund housing at below-market rates get diverted elsewhere.” The editorial concludes that a pilot program should be expanded to more gentrifying communities to eliminate the buy-out option and ensure that if developers are going to build in these neighborhoods, “they’ll have no choice but to include affordable housing in their plans.” My comment is absent such a timely policy shift, the City of Chicago and other US cities are fostering continued racial and economic segregation.

For those who would protest such governmental action would be market interference, a history lesson can be learned from Studs’ and Gale’s 1977 conversation. Studs asks if Chicago’s posh Lincoln Park had a plan to move out its low-income population. Gale answered by noting that 55% of Chicago’s federal HUD loans went to Lincoln Park’s more affluent instead of where they were supposed to go to assist low- and moderate-income Chicago residents and communities.

Warriors for Truth and Prophets of Virtuous Action needed even more now 41 years later. Applications welcomed!