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[EMAIL] United

Niles Coalition has celebrated the 1 year anniversary of our founding. It was the attack on our Niles-Maine District Library that acted as the inciting incident bringing us together to create the #SaveNileslIbrary campaign. More and more community members have been reaching out and folks have been connecting with our organizers at local events. We’ve been meeting up with our neighbors in Niles, Skokie, Park Ridge, Glenview, and more! Please read below and find out about some recent events we’ve attended as well as upcoming opportunities for you to join us!

In April we endorsed Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform and connected with others at their kickoff event: Make Every Vote Matter!

On April 24th along with allies from Action Ridge, Niles Coalition organizers helped greet attendees at the first of a series of Cook County United Against Hate events. About 200 community members and elected officials showed up and shared messages about our opposition to hate and antisemitism.

➡️ Join us on Sunday May 15th as we unite with our neighbors from Niles, Park Ridge, Skokie, Glenview, Chicago and the surrounding area at our Neighbors United Against Hate event at Jonquil Terrace Park in Niles.

#SaveNilesLibrary

On April 20th many of our organizers, unionized library staff members, and other supporters showed up with signs and leaflets to raise awareness of the unnecessary and destructive hiring freeze that anti-library trustees instituted last May and have refused to lift. Niles-Maine District Library’s staff keep providing services that our community wants and needs, and we’ll keep showing up for them and doing what we can to get the word out about the reckless cuts Trustees Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula have forced on all of us. Please help us spread awareness by sharing savenileslibrary.org with your friends and neighbors.

There are TWO MORE Library Board Meetings you can participate in this month, on Wednesday 5/18, and Tuesday, 5/31, both start at 6:30 PM at 6960 W. Oakton Street in Niles. Public comments are only allowed in person shortly after 6:30, so if you are unable to attend in person at that time and want your message heard please respond to this email, or send your message to <email@nilescoalition.org>. If you can please arrive early and join us outside the library to show solidarity and share information with the public.

Reminder about the June election June 28th is election day this year. The spring primary was moved to June, please make a plan to vote by mail or in person and mark your calendars now! Here’s a page where we’ve collected links and information.
Thanks for reading, see you in the streets!

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[EMAIL] Coalition Building in Niles and Beyond


Hello friends, the weather is warming up and we are getting out! Looking forward to seeing more of everybody this spring and summer!

Anti-Hate Actions

You might remember that back in February a number of racist hate incidents happened in our community. The initial response from the Village was nonexistent which was very disappointing but a reminder that we will have to look out for us. In crafting a response we have partnered up with Action Ridge and a coalition effort with 14th District Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Commissioner Britton introduced a Resolution Against the Rise in Anti-Semitism and in Support of Cook County’s Jewish Population which was unanimously passed by the Cook County Board. We also have plans for a continuing local effort including an event in May. Stay tuned for those details. Reach out if you would like to help!

Community Move About Event

Our first official event of 2022, our Community Move About during National Library Week, was a great success! We had three speakers and a ~2mi walk through neighborhoods near the library. Community members were able to meet and talk with each other along the way, including several Niles Coalition organizers, members of other local groups like Bike Walk Niles, Go Green Niles, Action Ridge, as well as candidates for the upcoming state- and county-level primaries (the primary got moved to June this year) including Michael Rabbit running for State Representative of the 15th District. Hot topics attendees were chatting about include the hiring freeze that’s choking our library and the loss of the Free Summer Meals Program. You can read more about this in the Chicago Tribune. Be on the lookout for more events like these in the future!

Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform

There’s a new effort in Skokie aimed to “revitalize democracy and promote inclusive civic engagement”. That sounds fantastic and it’s something we’re endorsing. We could use some of that magic in Niles for sure. They have a kickoff event on Tuesday April 19th (tonight!), see you there!

Niles Community Relations Commission

Appointments for the Community Relations Commission are next month in May. To be on the list please be sure to apply by sending in this form. You can also BCC us on the email to leave a paper trail for accountability. Not familiar with the Community Relations Commission? Read more here. We’ve been working with Mayor Alpogianis on reforming the Community Relations Commission so it can fulfill its mission to improve community relations.

#SaveNilesLibrary

Emily For President!

An ally in our fight to #SaveNilesLibrary is now the president-elect of the American Library Association! Emily Drabinski reached out to us early in our efforts to protect the Niles-Maine District Library to understand how libraries like ours are threatened throughout the country. We’re thrilled by her win and look forward to the growing support for libraries and workers.

No More Food For Children

The Niles-Maine District library was a site for the federally-funded Free Summer Meals Program for several years. This year they don’t have the staff to maintain this program so youth in our community will have less access to nutritious meals for children during the summer school break. This is the result of Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula decimating our library staff.

⚠️ ACTION ITEM: Board Meeting Wednesday

April 20 at 6:30pm is the next Niles-Maine District Library board meeting. We’re asking people to come out to pressure trustees Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt and Joe Makula to end their hiring freeze. The library continues to struggle for lack of staff to provide for a library experience our community deserves. This chaos is intentional and we must show up and resist before it’s too late! Agenda is posted here.

Thanks for reading, see you in the streets!



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[EMAIL] Niles Transparency


The people of Niles deserve transparency. We know an open government strengthens democracy and builds trust. Unfortunately, in Niles, actions and decisions that affect our Village government occur behind closed doors. Most residents remain unaware of these actions, but we all pay the price.

We showed up at the February Village of Niles board meeting to implore the board to “improve its appointment process for the various committees to engage a diverse slate of applicants” and we are serious about this. We had front-row seats to how the Community Relations Commission has failed us all. We insist that the Village of Niles fulfill its most basic responsibilities to our community by making sure all people are being represented. We can’t fall back on the ways we’ve been doing things. We need a new intentional effort to fill these committees.

Here is a list of the various committees, commissions, and boards that residents of Niles can apply to volunteer on: Village of Niles Boards, Committees & Commissions. The application form for all of these can be found here: Village of Niles Committee Interest Form.

At the May meeting of the Village of Niles Board of Trustees the trustees will vote on appointments that the Mayor will propose, so now is the time to submit your application if you are interested in participating in one of these commissions/committees/boards.

White supremacist attacks on our community

Recently, white supremacy has flared up in our community. Just like the attack on our library, this one speaks to a deeper issue. Contending with this latest act of terror will require us to come together in community. The Niles Coalition is reaching out to local stakeholders to collaborate on an anti-hate campaign. If people polluting our community with white supremecist bigotry is something that irks you, we hope that you will join us to fight back. Please reach out here: https://www.nilescoalition.org/sign_up/

#SaveNilesLibrary Campaign Update

Library Board meetings are now an exercise in resistance. There are many casualties from the anti-library campaign waged by local right-wing raiders. However, our coalition of concerned community members have stayed the course and support current and former library staff who are concerned about the actions of reckless board members. Here’s what former Assistant Director and Business and Operations Manager, Greg Pritz, who resigned at the end of 2021, had to say: “If enough people believe these misleading statements, the Niles-Maine District Library will never be able to dig itself out of the financial hole that Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula are digging for it.”

Pritz couldn’t remain silent about the Board of Trustees activities and warned us in a Letter to the Editor printed in the Tribune on February 28, 2022. Read it here: Don’t be fooled by grossly inaccurate statements about Niles Library’s funding.

The next board meeting is this Wednesday at 6:30. Join us to bear witness and grind these gears of injustice to a halt! Be sure to meet one of our friendly organizers!

Also BTW National Library Week is April 3-9 this year, and we’re organizing a ride/walk/roll/stroll that will start at the Niles-Maine District Library in the afternoon on Saturday, April 9th. We’ll share the time, route, and other details soon.

Niles Youth Community

The voices of the youth are often ignored so it is crucial to not only listen but follow their lead on issues that affect them most. We showed up for the students of Niles West and we will continue to do so. The racist attack by anti-facemaskers is just the latest incident that got media attention due to the student rally. We have so much more work to do in our schools. Our Niles Youth Community caucus is a crucial part of coalition building. If you or young people you know are interested in organizing in Niles, please reach out at <nilesyouthcommunity@nilescoalition.org>.

Thanks for sticking with us!

-Niles Coalition

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White Supremacy in Niles

The Niles Coalition was founded to foster social justice in our community. The use of racial slurs[1] in our schools and the distribution of antisemitic flyers[2] in our neighborhoods are just the latest acts of white supremacy that have no place in Niles. While these acts have done immediate harm to our family, friends, and neighbors that deserve immediate care, we also want to recognize the long-term work it will take to build the loving community we all deserve.

If you have recently received one of the antisemitic flyers, or experienced other forms of targeted bigotry please report this to the Village of Niles at 847.588.8000 or communityrelations@vniles.com (and CC us at coalition@nilescoalition.org so we can ensure that the Village responds appropriately to these matters). In the coming days and weeks we’ll be sharing more information and resources. We welcome all community members to join us at nilescoalition.org.


[1]Protesters Denounce Hate Speech and Racism at West, The Niles West News by Emma Schieffer and Ella Lindemann

[2]Antisemitic flyers found on driveways, lawns in Park Ridge and Niles, Chicago Tribune by Jennifer Johnson


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[EMAIL] Love Means Action

Love Means Action

It’s time for action! Join us this Friday at 1:30 p.m. to Denounce Racist Attacks at Niles West in solidarity with the Abolition Coalition of Skokie, NAACP Northshore, the Skokie Schools Equity Collaborative, and Niles West & Niles North students against racism.

Denounce racist attacks at Niles West

Communities all over the country are facing pressure from right-wing groups under the pretext of countering mask mandates. At the District 64 Board Meeting last week, a group “barged through doors” (we heard they destroyed props for a student play in the process), refused to wear masks, mocked public speakers including a cancer patient and a nurse, and threatened trustees. Niles West High School experienced racist slurs directed against Black and brown students and staff incited by a mob of adults outside. Superintendent Dr. Steven Isoye stated:

As a district, we will always condemn hatred and bullying. Hatred because of someone’s beliefs- masks or no masks-hatred because of race, racist remarks, hatred because of religion, antisemitism or Islamophobia, hatred because of gender, misogyny, and hatred because of sexual identity, transphobia, or homophobia.“

#SaveNilesLibrary Campaign Update

You helped send 822 letters to local politicians calling for action and they listened! Thank you to Ram Villivalam, Robert Martwick, Lindsey LaPointe, Larry Suffredin, and Josina Marita for signing this public letter calling for an end to the board’s hiring freeze.

Last month’s library board meeting was a long (over 5 hours!) and embarrassing display of dysfunction. But there are two key takeaways. Carolyn Drblik, Joe Makula, and Suzanne Schoenfeldt continue to block the appointment of a trustee to the vacancy, leading the Secretary of State to escalate the issue to the Attorney General. Library staff union members stood behind State Senator Ram Villivalam, as he read this letter during public comments. He demanded an end to the board’s unnecessary and harmful hiring freeze, pointing to problems covering service desks, properly maintaining the building, and the loss of public programs.

This month’s Niles-Maine District library board meeting is Wednesday, February 16th at 6:30pm, and the public is encouraged to attend in person or online. On the agenda there is no motion to fill the trustee position that has been vacant since August, leaving the many qualified applicants who are willing to serve on our library board unable to help.

Neoliberalism & the Public Library

This month we hosted a speaker session with librarian Stavroula Harissis to put the attack on our Niles-Maine District Library in a broader context. She is the author of “The Fight for Public Library Funding, Demonstrate Value or Demonstrate in the Streets?” We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to host Stavroula and the presentation was excellent. By understanding the cause we can mitigate the symptoms now and into the future to save our library! You can find the presentation portion shared on our Youtube channel: Neoliberalism & the Public Library

Neoliberalism & the Public Library

Niles Youth Community

We’re looking to mobilize Niles youth to have their voices represented in our community. This past week WTTW Chicago featured the Niles Teen Center. We love seeing Niles youth celebrated, and we think it’s important to have their voice represented in a more official capacity. The Niles Youth Community is looking to make that happen. Please send us a message at <nilesyouthcommunity@nilescoalition.org> if you or young people you know are interested in organizing in Niles!

Community Relations Commission

With the attack on our library, anti-mask mobs hurling racial slurs at students, and antisemitic vandalism, now would be the perfect time for our Community Relations Commision (CRC) to uphold its mission and bring our community together. For months, we have been calling for the removal of Carolyn Drblik from the CRC and for this body to take proactive measures against racism and hate in Niles. Please email us <coalition@nilescoalition.org> to let us know if you too want to have a strong CRC with commissioners that represent the diversity of our community.

Golf Mill Plans

Have you seen the plans for renovation at Golf Mill? We’ve seen very little chatter on social media, and we want to know what you think. Send us an email <coalition@nilescoalition.org> with your thoughts and concerns, because it’s going to be important for the Village to continue hearing from the community as the plans move forward.

Love you! <3

Thanks for reading, see you Friday at Niles West!


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[EMAIL] Voicing Truth!

Greetings friends,

In our last email Silencing Dissent, we spoke not only about the lack of representation in our governing bodies but the direct suppression of speech. We’re taking action to make civic engagement available to all.

Community Relations Commission

After months of public comments voiced in their meetings and complaints sent to the Community Relations Commision (CRC) went ignored, we wrote a letter directly to the mayor and board of trustees. We believe Commissioner Carolyn Drblik is not fit to the purpose of the CRC and she needs to take accountability for her actions. Stepping down from the Niles-Maine District Library board would be a good first step. We are asking the CRC to step in to repair the harm this attack on our library has inflicted upon our community.

#SaveNilesLibrary Campaign Update

Public Comment Censorship

Spurred by our complaints regarding Carolyn Drblik’s public comment censorship policy, the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor started investigating this under the Open Meetings Act. We also brought this to the attention of the Citizen Advocacy Center who made a public comment urging to rescind policy 3.27. We made a short video to raise awareness of this ongoing affront to our community.

Trustee Vacancy Still Vacant

Library Board Secretary Suzanne Schoenfeldt failed in her duty to report the vacant board seat to the county clerk. Illinois State Library Director Greg McCormick sent a letter giving her 45 days to respond. She, Carolyn Drblik, and Joe Makula are failing to do their duty as trustees. The community deserves better representation and we deserve a fair process. Former Niles-Maine District Library Director Susan Dove Lempke made an excellent comment at the October board meeting regarding representation for the board vacancy.

January 2022 Niles-Maine District Library Board Public Meeting

Hey, that’s tonight, Wednesday, January 19th! Unfortunately they don’t allow remote participation anymore. You can tune in to the livestream here or show up in person at 6960 West Oakton St, Niles IL 60714. Niles Coalition #SaveNilesLibrary campaign organizers and allies have been making public comments at every. board. meeting. since these anti-library trustees seized control. We’re never going to stop voicing truth to power!

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[EMAIL] Silencing Dissent

Greetings community members,

In an inclusive community, all voices would be represented and heard. We wrote about how public access to Village of Niles Board Meetings has been recently restricted. Now we’re seeing how the Niles-Maine District Library board led by Carolyn Drblik is similarly restricting access and engagement. This is an expected response when we speak truth to power but we should never ever accept such restrictions. Public participation should be prioritized to ensure a truly democratic process.

Speaking of public participation, did you know that the Village of Niles has a “Community Relations Commission”? What do they do? Well we’re glad you asked! Here’s their stated purpose:

The purpose of the Community Relations Commission shall be to foster, encourage and stimulate the improvement of relations among and between citizens of all races, creeds, national origins and economic and educational levels; and to provide all individuals with an equal opportunity to grow and participate to the best of their ability in the economic, educational, social and cultural activities available in the community. The Commission will also assist in the development of public information and related communication programs to enhance the quality of life for all Village residents.

But here’s the punch line: Carolyn Drblik, the very person leading the anti-library attack upon our community, is also a commissioner tasked to “improve relations”. How can she serve on this commission and not speak out against fellow library board member Joe Makula’s racist comments, and continue to silence dissent during public comments at board meetings, and disregard the Niles Youth Community’s anti-racist demands? We’re looking into this more.

Speaking of the library, we’ve been very busy setting the foundation for the continued #SaveNilesLibrary campaign into 2022. We’re so excited for the plans we have in store!!

#SaveNilesLibrary

Letter-writing action update

In our last email a month ago, we launched a new letter-writing action: Help Save Niles-Maine District Library! To date, 798 letters were sent! Thank you, thank you! We’ll be following up with the results of this action we collectively took to speak truth to power!

Niles Youth Community update

Our Niles Youth Community caucus launched an anti-racist petition in September. To date 209 people signed in solidarity with our youth. It is so important to champion the voices of people especially those who are often marginalized. No response from Carolyn Drblik, the library board president.

The library continues to bleed

You may recall that beloved Executive Director Susan Dove Lempke, after 23 years years of excellent service, was forced to resign in June 2021. By our count, since June 16 staff have resigned. Most recently the last remaining Assistant Director and Business Manager, Greg Pritz, resigned this month due to this toxic library board. Greg shares his perspective as a guest post on Susan Dove Lempke’s blog. The anti-library trustees continue with their own contrived “hiring freeze”, refusing to backfill positions that staff have been begging them to fill and that are already budgeted for.

Trustee board vacancy

After Trustee Olivia Hanusiak resigned in the summer, leaving a seat open for appointment, the board has been deadlocked and the anti-library trustees continue to damage the library through obstructionism. By law they are supposed to fill this seat “forthwith,” or as soon as possible. But there is still no motion to do so on the next agenda.

Meeting lockdowns continue

Carolyn Drblik imposed draconian meeting rules created specifically to stifle public criticism. The Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau has been alerted and are investigating the matter.

What can you do?

Help spread the word! Share this email with friends and neighbors so they can sign up for our mailing list, share us on social media: Facebook Twitter Instagram

And if you’re able to come to the library’s board meeting it’s at 6:30, Wednesday, December 15th at 6960 West Oakton St, Niles IL 60714.

Thanks for reading!


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[EMAIL] Write With Us!

Howdy neighbor!

With several elected officials leaving their posts mid-term in recent months, there are alotta opportunities for new leadership and representation in Niles. First we learned of Niles-Maine District Library Board Vice President Olivia Hanusiak’s departure, then Village of Niles Board Trustee Denise McCreery’s, and now 15th District State Representative John D’Amico’s. We at Niles Coalition hope to see new candidates coming forward who represent our diverse community. Please reach out and introduce yourself!

#SaveNilesLibrary

Our local #SaveNilesLibrary campaign also has wide support including organizations across the country. Most recently the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and their American Libraries publication shined a spotlight on the situation with the hostile anti-library faction of Niles-Maine District Library’s board. Unfortunately libraries in other communities are also under attack.

In Niles we organized and came together in several popular efforts this summer to #SaveNilesLibrary, but Carolyn Drblik, Joe Makula, and Suzanne Schoenfeldt are abusing their power to put the library and its services at grave risk again. Since the the summer, they have been:

While we have had successes in slowing down their anti-library agenda, it does not mean the library is safe. Time is running out with the library on the edge of a financial cliff. It is time to call out to our elected officials, including our State Librarian Jesse White. Please take a minute to join our new urgent letter-writing action: Help Save Niles-Maine District Library!

Please also plan to attend the November 17th 6:30 Niles-Maine District Library board meeting and make a public comment in support of the library. This is your opportunity to tell the board how important it is to you that we properly fund the library.

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Liberate the Library Protest Postponed

Hello supporter!

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Niles Youth Community has decided to postpone the Liberate the Library protest scheduled for Wednesday October 20th.

Liberating the library means more than a single protest. It’s an ongoing commitment of solidarity with groups of people who are impacted most. We’re not slowing down one bit!

There are still ways you can show solidarity and stand up for equity:

We appreciate the enthusiastic show of support from the community and are committed to building youth power in Niles.

Thank you.

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[EMAIL] Youth Solidarity

Howdy neighbor!

Leaders of social justice have emphasized the importance of solidarity. It is a crucial element for a just society. All of us are or will be subject to marginalization that dramatically affects our lives. It’s in solidarity that great strides towards justice have been made. In that spirit, here are opportunities to show support for our community.

#SaveNilesLibrary

We’re looking for a library superhero!

It took a lot of work to get us to this point, but now there is an opportunity for change. We need a trustee that loves the library and will work to sustain this community resource. We need new voices and leaders that represent the growing diversity of our community. Please apply or spread the word. The application is available on the library’s website and due by October 12: Trustee Vacancy Information

Liberate the Library!

The Niles Youth Community is advocating for the Niles-Maine District library board to commit to anti-racism and choose a new trustee that represents the diversity of our community. You can support these youth in three ways.  

  1. Sign the Niles Youth Community Library Petition

  2. Show up at the Liberate the Library Protest on October 20th

  3. Share these opportunities of support with your friends and family

Events

A big thank you to everyone that showed up to our neighborhood stroll and our first volunteer event at WINGS. Our walk gave us a chance to meet library supporters and hear their concerns about the actions of the anti-library trustees.

At WINGS, we sorted donations for 20 hours and helped them clear about half their tables. Neighbors showed up with more bags of donations for the store to help them support people impacted by domestic violence.  

Stay tuned for upcoming chances to meet up with like-minded neighbors and give back to the community.

Press

Understanding the underlying racist motivations of the library board takeover is crucial to #SaveNilesLibrary. This is part of a pattern that is happening across the country.

Demolishing Public Libraries From The Inside: Niles Public Library Is A Warning

“Unfortunately, Niles-Maine Public Library isn’t the only public library seeing this kind of destruction from the inside. Not all of the tactics are identical, but following a disappointing election for members impassioned by a particular flavor of political fervor, they’re running for small boards and destroying beloved public institutions from the inside in the name of white supremacy.” – Kelly Jensen, Book Riot

Libraries aren’t neutral ground in the fight for anti-racist education

“Even when conservatives take control of library boards, communities aren’t left powerless. While it may not be possible to undo every policy enacted by conservatives that can curtail library services and materials, they can still be mitigated. Advocates and supporters shouldn’t underestimate how much of a difference intense community pressure and concentrated mobilization plans can make. In Niles, a coalition of activists and community members eventually pressed education leaders, religious groups, and elected officials to speak out against the cuts, held a Save Niles Library rally in the town, and lobbied the conservative board members to either side with the community or resign. The library staff even voted to unionize.” – Lakshmi Gandhi, Prism

Members of activist group seek diversity on Niles-Maine Library Board as trustees prepare to fill vacant seat

Adding diversity to the Niles-Maine District Library’s all-white elected board was sought by members of a community activist group as library trustees discussed a tentative timeline for advertising a vacancy on the board.” – Jennifer Johnson, Niles Herald-Spectator / Chicago Tribune

Applications Open Until Tuesday To Fill Niles-Maine Library Trustee Vacancy, Library Lists Required, Preferred Qualifications, As Does Niles Coalition Youth – Tom Robb, Journal & Topics


Thank you for reading, see you in the streets!  📢