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Neighborhood Block Clubs Face Shifting Needs, Generation Gap

The Steinkes pose under a hand-carved wooden sign with the date they moved in to Edgewater. Credit: Karen Chen

Betty Steinke doesn’t have to squeeze past teenagers hanging out on her doorstep anymore. The drive-through drug window next door no longer exists. When she hosts her 4th of July barbeque this year, she doubts someone will be shot and murdered on the stairwell of the adjacent building, as had occurred in the past.

Today, there are more flowers than whiskey bottles lining the 5700 block of North Ridge Avenue where she and her husband, Roy Steinke, 87, have lived for more than 30 years.

For 20 years, the Steinkes have been part of the Edgewater Triangle Neighbor Association block club, which worked with local officials to change the ownership of the once-troubled building that sits adjacent to their home. Edgewater is divided into 15 block clubs, an alphabet soup of acronyms and boundaries. The block clubs helped shape Edgewater, and now, the community’s shifting needs help shape the future of block clubs.

Block clubs and other community organizations have been part of Edgewater’s evolution for decades, but with fewer hot-button issues, they struggle to stay relevant—especially to younger?

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