SAVE Pembroke and Hopkins Park!
Pembroke Township is a small, rural community of 3,000 residents in Kankakee County whose land is targeted by conservancy groups. These groups are purchasing land all throughout the area, including within town limits. Since owners of conserved land only have to pay 5% of the amount of taxes residential owners have to pay, the local government and current residents will soon be unable to maintain residence and infrastructure with such a diminished tax base.
An entire community will be forced to relocate with little to no resources.
The entire town will be demolished.
“United we prevail, divided we disappear.”
How Can I Help?
WHAT CAN WE DO?
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The Township of Pembroke-21st Century
Preservation of the Pembroke Community Coalition
Share with the Media
Please contact local media representatives to spread the word! Let them know that the community of Pembroke-Hopkins Park is more important than preserving wetlands!
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Contact Local Legislators
Contact your Illinois Representatives and Senators and ask that they become aware of the Pembroke Township issues. Request that they consider legislative reform that restricts the land acquisition rights of conservancy groups in populated areas.
Download and edit this sample letter for your legislator: Sample letter to legislator
Representative Kate Cloonen
1 Dearborn Square
Kankakee, IL 60901
U.S. Representative Robin Kelly
600 Holiday Plaza Dr.
Matteson, IL 60443
Senator Toi Hutchinson
222 Vollmer Rd., Suite 1D
Chicago Heights, IL 60411
(708) 756-0885 FAX
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin
230 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk
230 South Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60604
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Contact U.S. Legislators
Illinois and U.S. Legislators must become informed about this important human rights issue. The 1965 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) takes money from oil drilling leases and funds conservation organizations, like the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The LWCF required Congressional reauthorization in September, 2015, but was allowed to sunset due primarily to the work of U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). As the Chairman of the House Committee of Natural Resources, Rep. Bishop refused to reauthorize the LWCF without the provision of additional restrictions and regulations that will limit, among other things, continued land acquisition. The Fund was temporarily reauthorized for three years in December of 2015, but there is still time to advocate for change before permanent reauthorization! If restrictions are put into place that limit land acquisition, it is possible that the conservation groups will lose interest in such a contentious land deal like Pembroke Township. Contact your local U.S. Representatives and Senators and ask that they support Rep. Bishop’s LWCF restrictions.
Join The Preservation of the Pembroke Community Coalition
Click here to join The Preservation of the Pembroke Community Coalition and be counted as a supporter. As a member, you will receive email updates and can attend the monthly Coalition meetings.
Portraits of Pembroke-Hopkins
Many residents have family roots that go back several generations. The original Potawatomi Indians were exiled from the area to west of the Mississippi River, where they were given land, money, and supplies to resettle. Pembroke then became part of a trade route and eventually a terminal on the Underground Railroad. As such, it became a rare multiracial community during the late nineteenth century. More African-Americans began to settle in Pembroke Township during the Great Depression and throughout the twentieth century as an attempt to flee the horrors of the inner-city. The current Mayor of Pembroke Township’s only village, Hopkins Park, reported that he, like so many residents of Pembroke today, grew up in this rural landscape hunting animals and riding horses all throughout the town. He loves Pembroke Township and the people that commune with him in it.
Pembroke-Hopkins Park is now one of the largest communities of black farmers north of the Mason-Dixon line. The Pembroke Rodeo and Pembroke Days festivals showcase the spirit of community and love of nature. Numerous farmers pride themselves in organic and sustainable farming and lifestyles. The local school, which has whittled down from what was once 3 schools, to now one school that was recently slated for, is now the only school in the entire county in the black. It recently changed its name to the Lorenzo R. Smith Sustainability and Technology Academy.
Pembroke Days–August 27-28, 2016
Lorenzo R. Smith Sustainability and Technology Academy
The Cardboard Arcade taught children to upcycle cardboard in fun and creative ways! Fun times WITHOUT any technology!
Pembroke-Hopkins Park History
Page Under Construction
Stop Community Genocide of Pembroke Township: Land Versus Lives
Pembroke Township is located just one hour south of Chicago in a rural area of Illinois. Twenty miles to the west of Pembroke is Kankakee, a large suburban city where one can find almost any good or service. Pembroke Township, however, is a struggling community of 3,000 individuals burdened by poverty and poor infrastructure. It is considered one of the poorest areas in the entire Midwest (Fountain, 2002). 55% of Pembroke Township residents live below the poverty level, 44% live without running water, 98% of the children qualify for free school lunch, and the community groans under a 50% unemployment rate (Ghosh, 2011; Miller, 2010; Warwick, n.d.). Very few small businesses exist in the community and precious gas must be used to make the long trek to find groceries. Roofs and floors are decaying and while many have no running water in their homes, water is more than plentiful in all the wrong places when the inevitable Midwest rains saturate unpaved roads, basements, and yards. In the midst of these conditions is a community of individuals who, despite their oppressive conditions, have grown close in their shared struggle and social connections to each other. Many residents have family roots that go back several generations and a relative of the infamous Emmitt Till still resides there. The original Potawatomi Indians were exiled from the area to west of the Mississippi River, where they were given land, money, and supplies to resettle. Pembroke then became part of a trade route and eventually a terminal on the Underground Railroad. As such, it became a rare multiracial community during the late nineteenth century. More African-Americans began to settle in Pembroke Township during the Great Depression and throughout the twentieth century as an attempt to flee the horrors of the inner-city ghettos (Warwick, n.d.). Some families were resettled in Pembroke Township after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. The current Mayor of Pembroke Township’s only village, Hopkins Park, reported that he, like so many residents of Pembroke today, grew up in this rural landscape hunting snakes and possums and riding horses all throughout the town. He loves Pembroke Township and the people that commune with him there (M. Hodge, personal communication, December 2, 2015).
Efforts to assist Pembroke Township are too numerous to account for. Federal, state, county, local, church, and individual assistance efforts have attempted to raise the living standards of the community. Efforts to improve housing, encourage small business developments, offer food beyond the limits of food stamps, and improve the infrastructure have offered little more than “Band-Aid” care for the many systemic issues. The community is used to surviving on little. What it is not prepared for is the giant foe it currently faces that threatens community genocide: land conservancy.
The Nature Conservancy is a massive private land preservation group whose overall mission is noble: the preservation of precious land in the United States. The Conservancy seeks to obtain land that will be forever designated as conservation land. In a great many area, conserved land means that it can be maintained in its natural state for generations of Americans to enjoy and serves to restrain over-development across the land. The Nature Conservancy, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and a private investor, have been systematically purchasing land within and around the town of Hopkins Park in Pembroke Township. These groups, however, do not typically target an entire community. Rather, they focus on conserving critical pieces of relatively untouched land. Pembroke Township is an exception to that rule, having been targeted for procurement since 1997 as part of a plan to designate a 30,000 acre refuge in the area (Themer, 2015).
Property owners living under the poverty threshold, farmers, or owners from outside of the community who rent to community members own much of the land in Pembroke. Many of these owners have been enticed by the conservancy groups to sell land at higher than market rate prices. In addition, these groups often purchase land at annual tax auctions. The community has worked hard to work together with conservancy groups, attempting to collaborate so a fair amount of land is rightly conserved for future generations while the community can remain sustainable, however, the groups have maintained their commitment to purchasing a large expanse of land in Pembroke Township and includes the town of Hopkins Park. Currently, conservation groups own random plots of land throughout the entire Township, verifying a plan to take over the entire community.
Owners of land purchased for conservancy have the benefit of paying a property tax rate that is much less than that which residential property owners pay (S. White, personal communication, December 2, 2015). That means that each piece of property purchased by the Conservancy reduces the amount of property tax paid into the community, which currently manages on a shoestring budget. However, decreased property taxes does not simply mean that the community takes in less money. Because property taxes are assessed based on a formula of need, when taxes go down in some areas, they go up in the other area: the residential properties. Therefore, two scenarios are imminent for this community: a.) property taxes on remaining residential properties will rise to unmanageable rates and they will have to relinquish their properties to auction, or b.) conservancy groups will eventually buy all of the land from land owners, forcing residents in rental properties off the land.
Without policy intervention, Pembroke Township residents will be the next Potawatomi Indians, only without the parting “gift” of land, money, and supplies.
Without intervention, the residents will be subject to community genocide.
The Preservation of the Pembroke Community Coalition
The Coalition was established in January, 2016 as a means of bringing together supporters of the preservation of the Pembroke-Hopkins Park community. Membership is free and communicates your support for these efforts. Members receive email updates and can attend monthly Coalition meetings. We meet monthly and encourage organizations, agencies, and businesses to join and also welcome individuals to join as part of the Friends of Pembroke-Hopkins group.
Like us on Facebook! The Preservation of the Pembroke Community Coalition
Want to join? Email Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pembroke-Hopkins Task Force
Committed to Preventing Community Genocide
To preserve the lifestyle, land, and culture of their resilient forefathers, to safeguard Pembroke’s historical values, its community, and natural areas for future generations.
• Stop Community Genocide
• Assure that Historic and Cultural Heritage of the Community are protected
• To Steward the People and the Land
• To Serve as a Resource for Buyers and Sellers of Pembroke/Hopkins Park Land
Must be Land Owner, Live in the Community or are Invited to Join
Executive Team Members
Sharon White – Pembroke Township Supervisor – email@example.com
Community Advocates – Task Force
WELCOME TO THE
PEMBROKE/HOPKINS PARK COMMUNITY
HOME OF COWBOYS AND FARMERS
A COMMUNITY WITH A RICH CULTURAL HERITAGE
“United we prevail, divided we disappear.”