The Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) is very pleased to announce that Brian Dyer is this year’s recipient of the Kale Williams Award for Exceptional Work in Promoting Human Rights and Social Justice.
A CURL undergraduate who exemplifies the work and ideals of Kale Williams is chosen each year to recieve this award. Kale Williams served as the senior scholar in residence at CURL for 10 years, and through his inspiring volunteer work at CURL and human rights advocacy throughout his life, Kale served as a model for everyone around him. He worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1966 open housing marches, bringing about fair housing opportunities to all citizens regardless of race or religion. After serving as executive director of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities for more than 20 years, he became the senior scholar in residence at CURL at Loyola University Chicago.
The award was created as a reminder of Kale Williams’s motivating spirit and commitment to promoting social justice and human rights within the community and serves as an inspiration to the many passionate workers within CURL. Phil Nyden, CURL’s director and professor of sociology, elaborates on why Brian Dyer deserved to be this year’s award winner.
“He has been working with the human relations commission to create asset maps for Evanston to help all levels of the community, whether it be with children in need for recreational space or people looking for food pantries. He was working with us during these various activities and is passionate about his work, which really stands out to the faculty and staff at CURL,” says Nyden.
Brian is a senior at Loyola, majoring in economics and minoring in urban studies. Last semester, he worked with the city of Evanston to create a community asset map. This asset map involved researching to find all the non-profit service providers in the area and finding a way to connect them all. The map includes a directory of organizations that provide services for all types of needs in the community.
“It is an interactive map, and we’ve had it sent to a few agencies. Now, the city of Evanston is going to use it like a Google map, where you can pull it up and see all the different agencies. We did interviews with some of the workers at these non-profit places, and when you click on the link you want, you will see the general information about the organization and also a video link explaining more about the services provided,” says Dyer.
Brian’s work with CURL has not yet ended. This summer he was been working on a project with a photographer to take pictures of five different communities who have suffered through eminent domain.
“Richard Wasserman took the photographs of these areas, and we are compiling a list of the people who live in these communities and interviewing them. Eminent domain is a real problem, and we are working on figuring out what happens psychologically to the people who are displaced. Eventually all of these pictures and interviews will be put together in a book,” Dyer says.
Not only has the quality of Brian’s work impressed the people he has so diligently worked beside, but Brian’s passion for social justice and social change has been noticed by everyone at CURL. As part of this award, he will receive a $100 honorarium from CURL. After graduation, Dyer plans to take his GRE and apply for grad school. He wants to go to UIC for a master’s degree in urban planning with a focus on community development and transportation.
“I want to make a change. I want to spend the next 30 years making small, but impactful, changes that are good. I was in the right place and working with the right people, and we all are working towards the same goals. It really meant a lot to me to receive this award.”