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Chicago Loop Alliance designates the Loop ‘Everyone’s Neighborhood’

Posted  4 years ago  in  Trending

7 MIN READ --Chicago Loop Alliance launches a new initiative designating the Loop as "Everyone's Neighborhood," as the city reopens for activity in accordance with the Protecting Chicago initiative, and activism continues for Black lives.

The initiative aims to unite and promote the Loop community as it safely and gradually reopens in accordance with regulations and guidelines from city leaders and public health officials. The project utilizes banners and street-level signage along State Street, as well as partnerships with community organizations, property owners, cultural institutions, and other local businesses. To further unify the community, participating Loop buildings join together in a light-up campaign in July. This summer, Chicago Loop Alliance will commission a mural in the Pedway between Macy’s and the CTA station to reflect the “Everyone’s Neighborhood” theme. Chicago Loop Alliance also invites the public to share their experiences returning to the Loop using #BackInTheLoop on social media.

While the Loop’s essential workers and 20,000 residents never left, the neighborhood saw an 80-percent drop in pedestrian activity during the state’s stay at home order, illustrating the importance of the Loop’s 370,000 workers and millions of annual visitors. Chicago has the second largest business district in the U.S. outside of Midtown Manhattan, and members of the large worker population in the Loop hail from every neighborhood in Chicago and beyond, which was the chief motivation for earning the “Everyone’s Neighborhood” moniker. Prior to COVID-19, many Loop workers spent more of their waking hours in the Loop than their own neighborhoods; and as home to some of Chicago’s greatest icons, visitors often picture the Loop first when they think of the city.

“The Loop is where we gather; whether that’s to enjoy Millennium Park or to show elected officials what democracy looks like, we’re proud that Chicagoans from every neighborhood see the Loop as a place for coming together,” said Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards. “Based on interactions we’ve had on social media and with our membership, people missed the Loop in ways they didn’t expect during the state’s stay at home order. We now realize that home isn’t just the place we sleep, but the restaurants, shops, offices, schools, theaters, parks, and streets we experience together.”

“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and the Loop serves as the neighborhood for our entire city where Chicagoans and visitors alike from all walks of life come together to work, play and discover,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From our stunning architecture, magnificent lakefront, great shopping, world-class culture and more, I look forward to welcoming everyone to our beautiful downtown again as we continue to safely and cautiously open our city.”

While coming together in the Loop to work and play is valuable in building community, the “Everyone’s Neighborhood” nickname rang truer than ever last month. Thousands of people from across the city and beyond gathered at Federal Plaza on May 30 and marched through the Loop in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and justice for George Floyd and other unarmed Black people who have been killed. While protests have continued throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods since, the first and largest happened downtown in the Loop.

Representatives from the business, residential, arts and culture, and student communities have expressed their perceptions of the Loop and their support for the “Everyone’s Neighborhood” moniker.

“Chicago’s neighborhoods are its lifeblood—the Loop is its heart,” said Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. “Chicago’s Loop boasts a diverse workforce representing every neighborhood, ethnicity, race, and culture the city has to offer. That’s what makes it great—that’s what defines our city. The Loop showcases and represents a variety of ideas, traditions, and cultures—a true reflection of Chicago and its possibilities."

“I love the energy of the Loop,” said Sandi Robinson, co-founder of ChiGivesBack and Chicago Loop Alliance’s Loop Employee of the Month for July. “I can remember being a little girl and getting on the Green Line to go downtown with my grandmother to Marshall Fields. She introduced me to the Loop, and I’ve always had this love and passion for the downtown area. To this day, every time I go past Macy’s, I just smile because it takes me back to that time with my grandmother.”

“My fiancé and I love living in the Loop because we are near Chicago's biggest cultural institutions, countless restaurants, and can easily travel around the rest of the city by transit,” said Loop resident Kayla DeSouza. “As a Chicago native, it was always a dream of mine to live in the Loop and in the heart of the action.”

“It is time to return to the heart of our city and get back in the Loop,” said Kevin Purcell, President of Leasing and Management Services for MBRE and board member of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago. “Phase 4 has lifted many COVID-19 restrictions, and hardworking building teams have developed proactive plans for their tenants' return. Every scenario has been considered, evaluated and planned for in the hopes that employees from all industries can come back to safe and healthy offices.”

“Our photo studio is based in Wicker Park, but our services normally take us to our clients' businesses in the Loop several times a week,” said Michelle Kaffko, owner and photographer for Organic Headshots. “Small businesses like ours, no matter where their headquarters are, really feel like the Loop is their true neighborhood.  We missed the bustling energy of the Loop, and the beautiful faces of everyone working, playing, and living life together downtown.”

“The Chicago Loop is a vibrant, energetic neighborhood that inspires creativity and reflects the pulse of Chicago," said The Joffrey Ballet’s President and CEO Greg Cameron. "Each day at the Joffrey, we see aspiring professionals and elite artists perfecting their craft in the studios. In many ways, Joffrey Tower is their second home, and in turn, so is the Loop. We are fortunate to be located in such an inclusive part of the city that exemplifies hard work, artistry, and exceptional culture. There is no better place for the Joffrey to be than the heart of Chicago.”

Photo - June 2020

“The Loop is the heartbeat of Chicago, and now more than ever, the neighborhood is itching to get back to business,” said Skydeck Chicago General Manager Randy Stancik. “We are excited to welcome locals and visitors alike to enjoy the energetic and vibrant environment that we’re so proud to call home.”

“As the nation’s largest Catholic university, DePaul is fortunate to call the Loop our classroom, where students learn about real-world problems and tackle them head-on,” said Julie Emms, Director of Community Relations for DePaul University. “DePaul is committed to an educational experience for our students that weaves together mind, place, people and heart, right here in the Loop.”

“There are so many barriers designed to prevent young people of color from feeling like they belong and can achieve success in any part of our city,” said Stephanie Truax, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Embarc, a three-year program that provides community-driven, experienced-based learning opportunities to low-income high school students to inspire and prepare them for college and career success. “Bringing Embarc students into the Loop helps them awaken to the possibilities of their potential. In turn, businesses and cultural institutions in the Loop are challenged to take on their own role in breaking down barriers that keep these students from neighborhoods and experiences. When students go on these impactful experiences in the Loop and throughout the city, they’re breaking down internal and external boundaries about where they belong and what they can achieve. And even more than that, they’re making the human-to-human connections that can transform Chicago. Through their experience in the Loop and across Chicago, young people are empowered to become changemakers for our city.”

The COVID-19 crisis elevated efforts to keep the Loop a safe, clean and healthy place for all. During the city and state stay-at-home orders, Chicago Loop Alliance continued essential work on State Street, including power washings that incorporate a virucide monthly in an effort to kill strains of COVID-19 on street-level surfaces. The Chicago Loop Ambassadors have also been on the street seven days a week cleaning and disinfecting touch points like bike racks, garbage cans, and door handles, as well as connecting people experiencing homelessness with resources they need. This work continues as Chicago cautiously reopens. After sweeping vandalism of the downtown area on May 29 and 30, Chicago Loop Alliance helped coordinate board-ups and other clean-up efforts with members, partners, and the City of Chicago. Chicago Loop Alliance also connected businesses with artists Missy Perkins and Barrett Keithley, who conceived of a project called “Paint the City,” which transformed boarded up businesses with hopeful murals.

The Loop's boundaries are the Chicago River to the north and west, Ida B. Wells Drive on the south and Lake Michigan on the east.

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