During a regular meeting on July 14, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted 6-0 in favor of approving a Twin Villages Covenant with River Forest. The move comes three weeks after the River Forest village trustees unanimously approved the covenant during a meeting on June 22.
As Village Free Press has previously reported, the Twin Villages Covenant commits the neighboring suburbs “to the principles of humanity, equity and inclusion,” according to a draft of the document. “The covenant will guide the overarching spirit of our distinct towns to think as one and to interact in more collaborative ways.”
Possible areas of collaboration include the two suburbs committing to “a regional perspective on commercial and residential investment/development,” the “recognition of multicultural holidays” like Juneteenth and Cinco De Mayo, the “exploration of partnerships for procurement with local business,” the collaboration between the Maywood and Oak Park-River Forest Chambers of Commerce and possibly sharing facilities.
Maywood Trustee Miguel Jones, who introduced the covenant and approached River Forest officials with the idea several weeks ago, said he conceived the proposal after listening to a Maywood resident talk about her reaction to a hate crime that happened in the parking lot of the River Forest Jewel back in June.
When Jones introduced the idea in June, the proposal garnered lots of positive feedback from residents in both villages, many of whom expressed a desire to move beyond the racial unrest that has swept the nation in the wake of the May 25 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Floyd’s murder prompted marches and other protest demonstrations all over the country, including multiple marches in Proviso Township that attracted residents from different communities. A June 14 march from Bellwood to Forest Park that was organized by Maywood Trustee Isaiah Brandon attracted several River Forest village officials, including River Forest President Cathy Adduci and River Forest Trustee Erika Bachner, who attended Tuesday’s board meeting in Maywood.
“This is a hopeful document and a hopeful moment for our Maywood/River Forest community,” she said during public comment on Tuesday. “[The document is] a way to share ideas on how we can change our policies and systems to not work for racism, as Trustee Jones put it at our River Forest Village Board meeting, and to stand and work together.”
During his comments at the July 14 meeting, Jones described the Covenant as “a solutions oriented approach about how we can rebrand ourselves against racism and hate.” With the favorable vote, the Maywood board also allowed Jones to create a task force on which he will serve as a board liaison. The task force, he said, will be “similar to an ad hoc committee where we can take what this covenant is saying and really operationalize it, be able to brainstorm and come up with ways in which we can partner officially.”
Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. indicated in his comments on Tuesday that the covenant might strengthen the relationship between the neighboring suburbs.
“People have a tendency to fear each other, because they don’t know each other,” Norfleet said. “Once they begin to know each other, relationships can get a whole lot better.”