St. Edmonds Tenants of Chicago Protesting for Better Housing Conditions. Image Courtesy of STOP.

St. Edmonds Tenants of Chicago Protesting for Better Housing Conditions. Image Courtesy of STOP.

STOP and FLY are two grassroots organizations bringing together residents from the Southside of Chicago to fight back against injustice. In an area that is known for its lower-income residents and higher crime rates, it is important for the community to empower themselves and demonstrate for their needs.

Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) brings the community together and has two focuses: mental health and housing. STOP tries to erase the stigma of mental illness and mental health services. While doing so, the organization rallies for the right to healthcare. One example of the Southside residents’ effort was the continuous petitioning for a trauma center in their area so people could receive needed the medical care. Through cooperation with different tenant associations, STOP advocates to improve housing in the neighborhood. The Housing Justice Program also works with subsidized housing councils in order to liaise for their stakeholders’ rights.

Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) allows young members to create their own change movement. The member organization of STOP empowers the youth to develop leadership skills and realize their own campaigns. In the Audy Home Campaign, FLY advocates to create alternative programs for youths impacted by incarceration. FLY also participates in the Trauma Center Campaign advocating for emergency care units in the Southside neighborhood.

STOP and FLY both are organized by the community and in the last year the focus has been primarily on the trauma centers. While fighting for such causes, the resident-led movement also is advocating for racial and economic justice. The lack of appropriate health care facilities only accentuates the inequality this predominantly African American area of Chicago.

So clearly STOP and FLY has nothing to do with departing people, but with bringing a community and its needs together. The organizations are a grassroots campaign that might not fly high, but certainly has an impact on the ground.

By Georgine Paltzer

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  1. Eric

     /  February 9, 2015

    I found this article to be interesting and exciting to see a grassroots movement raise awareness of the needs of their community. In many cases whether it is development work abroad or with non-profits in the United States, a “top-down” approach is used. When a “top-down” approach is used, it is often people from outside of a particular community that are deciding the needs for the community. In cases like this, the actual community needs might be different what the outside organization determines the needs to be. It’s great to see the community work together with a goal of bringing much needed services in to their community. Without coming together, it is nearly impossible to raise awareness and accomplish a goal. However, when the community or group of people come together, it is possible to accomplish a lot. It’s refreshing to see a grassroots movement like this, and it’s encouraging to know that a motivated group of citizens can work together to address the needs of their community.


  2. Andy P

     /  February 9, 2015

    It’s good to see community-based approaches to mental health services, especially considering so much of the work typically exists in the shadows. Partially due to lack of exposure, but (unfortunately) mostly due to stereotypes, there is such a misunderstanding of mental illness even though it overlaps with so many other persistent community problems, such as homelessness, housing, and employment. Organizations like STOP can help communities confront mental illness through inclusivity rather than in isolation and in the process begin to change perceptions & outcomes.



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