Park Stories: Oriole PAC
This week we got together with Liz DeChant, President of Oriole Park Advisory Council, to learn about how the council came to be and how they work to enhance the Oriole Park community!
The Oriole Park Advisory Council (PAC) will soon be celebrating their 1 year anniversary! Throughout the past year, the group of community members have made great strides in getting their name out into the Oriole Parkneighborhood, located on the northwest side of Chicago, through grassroots marketing and bringing interesting events to their park.
The group formed during the Chicago Plays! process, in which Oriole Park received playground equipment for their two play areas. The Oriole Park Community Club wrote the grant to receive this equipment, and realized that having a community group dedicated to organizing around the park was necessary. Liz DeChant, who also is the Vice President of the Oriole Park Community Club, and her neighbors saw that the park was the center of the neighborhood and had a lot to offer people of all ages. This motivated them to come together and create the Oriole Park Advisory Council.
When asked what advice she could give to PACs who are just starting out, Liz borrowed a quote from Colin Powell - "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
And it is exactly this attitude that has made Oriole PAC the successful community group that it is today.
Oriole PAC’s first event was a Park Open House complete with a bounce house, crafts, obstacle course, and free popcorn. The event brought over 300 people to Oriole Park. The group also facilitated brainstorming so community members had a chance to share their opinions about what they wanted to see in the park. And Oriole PAC listened.
In the subsequent months Oriole PAC brought yoga classesto the park, connected with the Chicago Park District to bring the Midnight Circus, and set up a schedule for three more park events throughout the year.
They achieved all of this through dedicated time putting up fliers in the community and connecting with their Alderman and local businesses. Oriole PAC made sure to survey their community at every event to ensure their efforts were what people wanted to see. Small fundraisers like selling glow sticks and books at their events helped build capital as well.
Now, Oriole Park Advisory Council has a schedule of fun events including a Fall Open House, Holiday Bazaar, and Spring Dance. They have set both long term and short term goals to accomplish, and are continuing to build their membership base and get more people involved in park activities and fundraising!