I was a student at Loyola University Chicago in Rogers Park in 2007. There was a Borders Bookstore off Lawrence and Broadway. It was my favorite study spot. And across the street were great omelettes and pancakes. Cash only. The pancake house is still there.
I think I was 22 years old at the time in 2010, when I met with Uptown neighbors to help organize a summer event series called Neighborhood Nights. I had been a resource coordinator at the community council in Edgewater, the neighborhood to the north. I think we all played games together every Wednesday night of summer in the back play-lot of Goudy Elementary. I admit I was young. To me, it felt like we were changing the world.
I finally had a chance to move to Uptown May 2016. I love my block. I live the perfect distance from the Lake, pizza, rib-tips, pancakes, and the barber. The access to all the public transit options is amazing.
Somethings are different from the neighborhood that I remember. Somethings are the same.
One thing that has not changed is that the people of Uptown love their neighborhood.
It was a pleasure to meet so many of my neighbors at my apartment building’s first ever meet and greet.
Part of me still does believe that getting to know our neighbors can make all the difference. I like to think that I am helping organize block clubs everyday. I prepared a pdf called “The New Neighborhood Block Club Manual.” I am still young enough to find it encouraging each time it gets a download. I think it may have been in nearly every state.
I feel the same way about education. I was privileged to be elected a Community Representative on the Local School Council of Nicholas Senn High School in 2012. The experience was among the most rewarding of my life.
I was sad to move in 2014 and end my service, but I like to think I might be sharing that experience each time a Chicagoan downloads the manual I prepared on how to run for local school council. I even titled it, “Let’s Run For Local School Council.”
I have learned to be proud of some of these contributions, little as they are.
I hope to think I have the experience to have learned that the best time to start planning for next summer is now. I only wish to join.
I know there is a lot of work left to do.
I want to help.
Sometimes I feel I am met with skepticism.
However, even those skeptical have pointed out that a political campaign for the neighborhood would require so much effort that candidates would have to start now.
I would much rather do neighborhood good by spending the next twelve months working together as oppose to having to spend the next twelve months building a political fundraising list.
I am not going to be asking for anyone’s vote, but I will continue to ask to hear their voice, especially if they are willing to listen to mine.
I am not running away, but I am not running for office.
Let me know if you can help me get an early start on making next summer in Uptown greater for everyone.
and, Looking Forward,