Celebrating 5 Years of Impact

Best Wishes for the New Year

We begin the fifth year of operation of the Central Austin Neighborhood Association.

2015 Activity Schedule

  • Six Visible Action Events
  • Ten CANA meetings

2015 Objectives

  • Increased civic engagement
  • Celebration of achievements
  • Positive impact on quality of life


Next Meeting:                        Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 301 N. Mayfield


If you need a refresher on the impact of CANA read the following summary of our work.   Please feel free to share with your network.




In December of 2010, Austin Weekly News published an article about the Central Austin Neighborhood Association, CANA, on its front page. The article presented the activities and objectives in an introduction of the newly formed CANA to the Austin community.


The Central Austin Neighborhood Association, having entered its fifth year of operation, has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments and awards related to its stated mission. The impact of CANA has been visible on the Austin landscape and felt in other parts of Chicago as well.


Public Safety

In 2010, in preparation to learn more tactics for civic engagement, members attended Watchdog Training provided by the Better Government Association. Employing tactics learned there, CANA members were able to expand their work on behalf of their community.


The ACLU of Illinois and the Central Austin Neighborhood Association (CANA) in 2011 filed a lawsuit in Cook County court asking the City to deploy police officers more equitably to serve all communities across Chicago. Thanks to a ruling in 2013, the city must now hand over all data requested by the Central Austin Neighborhood Association in our lawsuit alleging that 911 response times are slower in predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods than in mostly white areas in the city.



Our slogan is “We make Austin look good”. We’ve established our reputation of making Austin look good in a number of ways.


CANA members have conducted an average of five street, alley and vacant lot cleanups per year since it began. For each event, we worked on our entire 16-block area. In addition we “Polished the Jewel”, Columbus Park, by conducting a cleanup led by a park historian.


Joyce Charmatz, President of Keep Chicago Beautiful Inc., presented its Keep Chicago Beautiful 2011 Neighborhood Beautification Vision Award to the Central Austin Neighborhood Association on September 27, 201. CANA received the award in recognition of its completion of planting 19 corner gardens in our target area.


The National Black MBA Association, Chicago Chapter, worked with CANA members on a beautification project. Together we chose a family in need, purchased the materials and provided the labor and tools to design and install a new front yard.



CANA has been able to bring together a large, diverse set of volunteers to assist with our work in Austin. For two years, Duke University alumni chose CANA projects as their annual Chicagoland family project. Christ the King high school has included CANA projects on its list of options for their family/student/teacher volunteer day for three years. Since CANA’s inception, Third Unitarian Church has provided a consistent meeting space, set of volunteers and operating support.


CANA was the first community group to join and volunteer with Austin Coming Together at its inception. Other groups that have assisted CANA include the Loyola Graduate School of Business, Safer Foundation, Brick Yard Home Depot, National Black MBA Association and the Oak Park Synagogue.


Community Engagement

Within the area that has been CANA’s primary focus, CANA has strived to build a greater sense of community and establish connections between neighbors. CANA has touched close to 1,000 Austin residents. At least 200 have identified each other as neighbors and established personal connections.


CANA’s annual Neighborhood Festival has brought together volunteers from inside and outside the Austin community. Connections among families made here might not have otherwise taken place.


CANA’s work to increase community engagement has been visible, varied and recognized.

  • CANA was the first community group to join and volunteer with Austin Coming Together at its inception.
  • States Attorney Trouble Building Forum at 15th District Police Station included our president, Serethea Reid, as one of the panel members
  • CANA led groups of residents to represent the interests of Austin at Police Board meetings at Police Department Headquarters
  • CANA enlisted residents to assume ownership for upkeep of the award winning corner gardens.


Expanding Cultural Options

CANA sought to help increase participation by Austin residents in the full spectrum of cultural options available around the city of Chicago. We accomplished this objective in a number of ways including;

  • Invited the Chicago Tango Society to perform and teach at our Neighborhood Festivals
  • Opened our Neighborhood Festival with Tai Chi demonstrations
  • Coordinated family group bike rides
  • Coordinated group outings to a music concert in Millennium Park and an opera at the Civic Opera House
  • Sailing on Lake Michigan


Today, in its fifth year, the Central Austin Neighborhood Association enjoys a reputation for effective programming and thoughtful involvement. We have heard many complimentary comments from residents including:

  • I’ve changed the way I drive through the area
  • I hadn’t talked to my neighbor in years before the planting project
  • Let me know how I can help


The Central Austin Neighborhood Association looks forward to what has become possible due to the foundation it has laid. We value partnerships and look forward to working with more Austin stakeholders in the future.