Heroes rarely choose to assume leadership positions; rather, it is circumstance that forces them into these roles. Oftentimes, it is something unfortunate—something happens, and they feel a calling to demand justice, some sort of righting of a wrong.
When Lisa Davis’ home was burglarized in 2012 and 2013, this unfortunate experience stoked a fire in her to become more active. Today, Davis is a community activist based in Avalon Park. She is involved in organizing her immediate neighborhood’s block club, and she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity in Pullman and Rebuilding Together in the Englewood and Austin communities. She also works to improve the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the Avalon Park community.
Davis grew up in Avalon Park, where her parents purchased a building in the 1970s. She left to pursue career opportunities as an engineer, shifting into software, which morphed into IT. Davis returned to Avalon Park after her father died, to care for her mother and her parents’ building. She was set to move to the South Loop. However, she was challenged by her mother, who told her, “Why pay for something else, when this building is yours?” She stayed.
Davis was having a quiet life until she suffered two burglaries in six months. She sought help from the police and was told to attend the beat meeting in her area. There the talk was to form block clubs to increase neighborhood activity and decrease criminal activity. Davis observed block clubs that operated near her and became involved in the block association. Finally, she and her neighbors formed a club on her block. They recently held a block party that was well attended—Davis said it attracted more children from the neighborhood than they knew were there.
Her efforts are having a positive effect in the immediate area, encouraging neighbors to look out for each other, as illustrated by times like when she found a neighbor watering her garden for her.
Lisa Davis is an example of what the late Bronzeville community organizer, Johnnie Owens, said about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.