Rahm Lights Up Chicago? Be Sure to Clean Up Thoroughly First!

Inspired by a news story heard this morning on Chicago’s CBS affiliate radio station, News Radio 780 WBBM, I present:

CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!

1. To Beautify a Space, First Make a Plan

When someone designs anything –  a garden, a car, a cityscape, a grand hotel or an office building or a home, the process begins with a plan. People sit down and draw a plan that goes from the mind, the workings of the brain, onto paper and also on a computer. A lot goes into making progress: the way the group works together, weather, availability of funds and of the location suited to the project… so many variables.

The important factor is that the planners work together in a civilized atmosphere with all that is needed to make the plan come to life. Whatever is needed: coffee, tea, a new office, travel to other destinations, booking a hotel or a limo to get to where the plans will take shape, a quiet place to sit and draw it up… everyone must agree to what will make the plan a success.

2. To Beautify a City, Talk to Everyone Who Has a Say in How it will Look (or should look)

** And that means EVERYONE, EVERYBODY who is a member of that city and community! **

Start by doing at the very least what will make communities better: THINK UNITY! One reason we are so fragmented is that we are thinking along demographic lines, not person to person and civil lines. We are thinking in ways that box us in (race, income, ethnicity, religious creed) instead of thinking on common ground and thinking towards what will make progress. We will make progress only when we clean up ourselves in all those ways that make humans special: in mental, spiritual, and physical ways.

We need to clean up areas of gang violence. Why, even the very idea, the term “gang violence” is ridiculous. The gangs were not here first and people are sick and tired of hearing about them on the news every day. The more the press gives attention to the gangs and those actions related to them, the more they will do those things that get them press time and air time and talk in the reports. NO MORE GANGS! Folks, get brave and get those gangs out of the area, right now. Stop your need for drugs and guns; YOU DON’T NEED THAT STUFF and you don’t need anyone to help you solve problems, at least not that way.

You can solve your own problems without drugs, illegal guns, and membership of and the presence of gangs. How stupid can we get, tolerating gangs. REALLY. Gangs are nothing and nobodies and mean nothing to us except for the trouble they cause. Well, run those punks off your street corners, clean them out of your area and get involved.

When we get our streets and land cleaned up, we can turn to beautification.

But we must make sure the gangs are out of the picture, the abandoned buildings are either renovated or torn down, the lots are cleaned and free of pests, trash, rats, squatters, etc., and the streets are safe for people to work on, play on, and go to school and work on.

The job does not do itself; we have to use elbow grease, folks. We have to run the gangs out with shouts, voices, prayers, music so loud they can’t transact and will leave the area, stones if necessary, sticks and pelting those punks with bottles and rotten tomatoes until they get the message. GO AWAY AND DON’T COME BACK. These are OUR streets, understand!?

Assess, once the area is safe, what your area looks like. What are the main problems and who will help you solve them? Who will help you break through the red tape and get the funds and the materials necessary to get the community looking better? Are the problems viaducts that flood, then sit on the departments of water and streets and sanitation until they get off their behinds and act to solve the problems.

Is the problem a lot full of trash and debris? Well then, get in there with a group and clean it up. Get the tools of the cleanup trade: tarps, rakes, shovels, sturdy gauntlet gloves, bug spray, insect repellent, trash bags, trash cans, dumpsters to haul the stuff away, and people who will be available to have food and drink ready to serve to volunteers who, literally, work for food in such cases.

3. Beautification Begins With a Thorough Cleanup Campaign

* For a city Chicago’s size, is a month enough? *

For the mayor’s plan to work, Chicago needs a thorough cleanup. There is enough bird poop in the Loop to build a wall, so no matter what we feel towards wildlife, the pigeons must go. After all, pigeons are introduced pests from Europe. The proper name for these birds is the European Rock Dove. They were brought to America and have prospered due to a lack of natural enemies, so they must go. Accumulated droppings can lead to disease, and it looks really gross and smells even worse (like waste will do after a while), and animal waste attracts some of the worst pests of all, the disease -bearing rats we are trying to rid out of our city.

The L stations, the entire L structure, and buildings along that area of the Loop must be power -washed and cleaned down, right to the sidewalks, and then anti -pest programs must be instituted. Putting up anything that will get rid of the pigeons is necessary… either that or bring in a natural solution, the amazing Peregrine Falcon and the super Cooper’s Hawk.

These birds are bird -eaters, and will go after anything when they are hungry, and there is a plentiful supply of pigeons. We could then return these birds to a natural setting or watch them breed and enjoy the balance they will bring to controlling the pest population.

We must also assess the pollution in our city in order to find the right ways to clean up such problems as petroleum coke, or petcoke, which is documented as causing caustic pollution to an area of Chicago near a plant that harbors piles of this black sooty stuff that gets on people’s homes and into their yards and into their lungs. Chemicals pollute our water, trash litters our beaches and litter clogs our streets and alleys. Corporations need to be held seriously accountable for their practices, for no matter whether they say that their studies show they are acting within the law, doing so does not mean that what they produce and how they manufacture is good or right or best or decent. Those who produce and harbor the petcoke say they are acting within the law and are doing nothing wrong, but in using such language they are completely ignoring the residents of that area who suffer from the black dust that floats into their neighborhood.

Also, excess light is a form of pollution. It is now shown that light pollution harms the circadian rhythm and causes stress to the human body and mind. We need our dark spaces and our real night spaces so we can rest, have quiet and transition from work to rest. In those areas where the mayor wants these light displays, people do live, and the mayor wants to attract more tourists to those areas. People need their space… residents need their space away from tourists’ eyes, and people do live downtown.

Do you wonder why our city has that odd dirty -bronze rusty -golden color at night? Light pollution, plain and simple. We are thrown into thinking we have to act and work all day and all year no matter what, because of this overblown presence of artificial light. We need to turn it off, not turn it on, and we need more efficient lighting, using mirrors, reflectors, solar power, whatever it takes to conserve energy and make our use of it more efficient. Besides, as the news story related, Paris, the famous “City of Lights” is trying to cut down on its golden reputation and reduce use of light. This is more energy efficient. Why Chicago wants to use excess light, even more light on buildings and bridges and historic structures, is not logical. We need less light , not more light.

There are times and places for tourists and times and places for residents. Residents’ needs and wishes come first, plain and simple.

Trash along a Chicago street.

So, Your Honor, before you get some high-minded plan to light up the city, be sure that what you want to highlight is what you want the world to see. Be absolutely sure that you want the world to see trash on the riverfront, homeless veterans roaming the lakefront and the riverfront and the Loop digging in trash cans and sleeping on corners. Be sure you want the world to see places where gangs shoot up innocent people and teenagers roam in flash mobs terrorizing law -abiding tourists and citizens shopping and dining along Michigan Avenue and towards the Loop. Be completely sure you want the world to see the petcoke, the trash on the bridges, the dirty buildings, the oil on the lake, the glass fragments and other debris on the beaches, the bird poop in the Loop and the trash along the highways. Do you want the world to see and hear about the gangs, the drugs, the labor disputes and the airport noise?

We could spend months getting the trash picked up from the roadsides and still only begin to make a dent in the pollution that plagues Chicago.

Let’s get up and get to it, folks. The roads and bridges are not going to clean up on their own.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. Wikimedia Commons, searched through GOOGLE images.

2. http://waronfilth.com/tag/broken-glass.

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Wabash Renewal Project? Clean Up Your Spaces First!

It seems that the more we hear about tax increases and paying for the management errors that have resulted in our pension crisis (or is it pension emergency?) here in Illinois, the less enthusiastic we become, the more we tune out any more talk of taxes and politics, and the less happy we become with our officials, from the mayor to the city council to everyone above and below and in between.

Now we have word of this special district around State Street, and the talk of raising taxes and of funding to work on Wabash Avenue and the areas between State Street and Michigan Avenue. Now hold on a moment, folks! Before you waste even one more minute talking about it or one more cent “working on” a plan or “looking into it” or “investigating it”, there are certainly aspects of that area we affectionately call “the Loop” that we can take care of right now.

As my late grandmother would tell you nonsense talkers and big talkers, “DO SOMETHING!” She was not one to take the nonsense stuff politicians and planners throw out these days to woo the taxpayers and to lull the citizens into doing what they want. No way. She would have tackled what can be easily done at the moment the need is seen to take care of a very important facet of revitalizing any area or doing any kind of project of that nature.

Clean up the area first. That’s right, use elbow grease and planning and gather the resources and CLEAN UP THE SPACE FIRST.

Think of a true class act – think Palmer House Hotel. This is a beautiful, classic building inside and out, with a sense of welcome and of luxury and of grace that I think epitomizes what Wabash Avenue should be. Sturdy elegance and gracious service are what make businesses of any kind special and inviting. A bland interior need not be what is all that the business shows, as is seen by the interior of the Palmer House. A plain brick and glass and neutral stone face might conceal a richness of color and pattern and creativity in artwork and displays prepared to welcome customers and visitors, families and colleagues.

The Palmer House Hilton Hotel - Chicago, IL - Mezzanine The Palmer House Hotel

So here is what is needed: Get the pigeons away from the buildings and the “L”, get the trash off the streets, the trash cans cleaned and sanitized, and the sidewalks power blasted. Get the windows washed, the alleys washed, the buildings washed and given a good dusting inside and out. Break out the shovels, the rakes, the bags, and tackle the parks; break out the tool kits and tool belts and work on the doors and windows. Give the store displays a totally fresh look, an appealing look that will invite shoppers to come in… but first go back to step one and get the resources together.

It is very simple, though tackling the bird problem might be somewhat risky and complex, it needs to be done. The health department must get involved, especially in the area that is bordered by State Street, Adams, Jackson, and Wabash. In that area are some of the filthiest L tracks, sidewalks, signs, and stairs. There is a stink in the air in that section that is probably caused by the accumulation of bird waste and trash, and in an area where there are so many restaurants and thousands of people walking it every day, that is a recipe for health problems and the driving away of business. I mean, it is not very pleasant looking around there.

So, for that project there is step one: get the resources together. The needs are easy to figure out: gloves, masks, shovels, hoses, trash bags and trash cans, power washers, boots, sturdy clothing, head protection, bug spray, pest control. Everyone must organize, from first responders to be around in case someone gets into serious trouble, to small business owners giving solid input as to what they want to see and what is best for their customers and capital plans; from volunteers willing to give hours to making their city look better and smell better and be more inviting to people giving supplies to make the project successful.

 Picture taken from a search on GOOGLE images, showing businesses alongside the Loop “L”.

No one person will be able to take on the remodeling, renovation and reworking of the Wabash Avenue Loop area alone. It will take the veritable mission control team to make it happen: people to supervise, people to take over when others are on breaks, people to bring in supplies and people to haul trash away. It will take everyone looking out each for the others to ensure safety and security. The project is huge, but taken step by step, beginning with a good solid cleanup session as detailed above, a lot of problems will be seen and some will be solved. Issues regarding structures will then be noted and repairs or other steps can be taken, such as historical preservation or demolition or repurposing.

It is hoped businesses would open their doors to those working on the project, for restroom use, or for dining in the food courts or just for a place to sit and have a simple lunch if the weather turns wet or stormy. Were I a business owner, that might be on my menu too – wanting to help out the workers who are giving time and energy to make the Loop look better and be welcoming to visitors and to my customers. I might have a place set aside with a sign saying, “Welcome Loop Work Volunteers! Sit here, rest and have something to eat!” Pitch in and do your part, and don’t worry about the money. It will come when things look and feel better.

Get cleaning first, and then take the next steps.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/illinois/palmer-house-a-hilton-hotel-CHIPHHH/index.html?WT.srch=1

Chicago: Prejudice at Work (and Worship) Rears its Ugly Head

… and the Cardinal, our Archbishop Cardinal George, is at the lead of that head!

The destruction of St. James’ Church at Wabash and 29th is underway, eh?

So, not even Your Holiness Pope Francis wanted to intervene to spare this grand historic structure, hm?

And all this going on when only a few years ago Holy Name Cathedral (the “Cardinal’s Church) had a major fire, a three -alarm inferno that could have destroyed that building and perhaps even others had the embers spread! Over $12 MILLION $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ was spent on that project on the famed Gold Coast, in the North side of the city. That church looks better than it ever did. It looks as St. James’ should have looked after the fire. So why did not the archdiocese put the money into restoring that historic and magnificent building?

Precious Holy Name Cathedral with its grand spire, great windows and splendid bells continues to stand. That fire was covered from nearly its beginning to its end. And after the fire, with more than two feet of water in the sanctuary and more than that in the lower levels, THAT BULIDING was a safe place to be? I think not! Coverage of the repairs to it went on, and that structure was soon dedicated and a service held to honor the first responders.

In fact, soon after the Holy Name fire, as parishioners attended masses in the auditorium or the smaller room in the school (I think it was called the club room), the Cardinal remarked to the effect that the Chicago Fire Department could easily have let Holy Name burn down and basically be gutted. They easily could have said it was too dangerous to go in there or commit to getting personnel to attack that fire. But did they? Not at all. Three alarms worth of companies came in and worked with might and water and in freezing conditions to smother that fire. Tower 21 was attacking the roof with hundreds of gallons of water; Truck 19’s crew watched and fought, and other companies gave their all to save the “Cardinal’s Church”.  What I wonder would the cost have been had the damage been greater? What if the spire had collapsed or the floor caved in? What if the windows had been broken or the organ warped?

I am ashamed to be called Catholic now! So where are all the rich Catholics with their millions now, who probably came to the help of Holy Name and its historic structures and congregations to rebuild and restore it? Where are these benevolent Christian people?

Did you go into the woodwork when you realized that St. James’ Church is in a depressed area, is in need of restoration and reconstruction, and in Bronzeville? You shamefully tucked tail and ran away from people when they needed you. SHAME ON YOU! And shame on the archdiocese for just shoving these people out of the way and going ahead with the plan YOU wanted to do, that YOU wanted to shove in their faces and that YOU wanted to dump on their dignity and grace and appeals and peaceful pleas.

Makes me never want to give a red cent to another worship service donation ever again or go into a Catholic church ever again.

Prejudice at work here, prejudice and bigotry and racism have shown their true colors, and they are red and white and the tarnished gold of the treasuries of the Catholic Church. Prejudice lives under the miter of the Cardinal and the church officials who just basically ignored the people of that area and kept on the plan they wanted all along.

PITIFUL PEOPLE! PITIFUL CARDINAL, PRIESTS, and MILLIONAIRE CATHOLICS who turned away from the people of Bronzeville.

It is a shame that even the intervention of the historical preservationists could not stop the demolition from beginning.

How would you like it, MISTER CARDINAL GORGE, if someone locked you out of your precious nest in the Gold Coast, that gigantic mansion with its fine piece of land, that costs tens of thousands to maintain, and said you could not come back in? The padlocked doors of St. James send the same message to the people of Bronzeville, that someone has locked them out of their worship home and cares not a whit that an essential part of their community is going to be gone.

I wish the firefighters who responded to the Holy Name fire could help rebuild St. James’ Church alongside the parishioners of Bronzeville and stand with them. I bet they would be willing to throw their strength behind preserving such a wonderful and significant structure, since they know what hard work is needed to save a building like that. Their comrades saved the church so many years ago, and the people who responded to Holy Name carried on the traditions the CFD is known for maintaining. I wish the personnel of Engine 42 and Truck 3, of Engine 98 and Squad 1 and Tower 21, of Tower Ladder 10, Aerial Tower 1, Engine 1 and the ambulance crews could rejoice instead of watching the work of those who came before them go to waste as St. James’ is torn down.

The honey -colored stones will be gone, the windows will no longer gleam with color and light, the steeple will not pierce the skies of Bronzeville on Sunday mornings, the grand doors will no longer be there to open and welcome parishioners, and the magnificent bells will not ring. They will not ring there.

But they will continue to ring at Holy Name Cathedral.

stjamfront Good bye St. James……………….

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.

RESOURCES

http://friendsofstjamesonwabash.com/

http://intelligentempiricism.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/315/

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=6640405

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/04/holy-name-cathedral-fire_n_163882.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ5V8hNZ-tY

Related articles

Holy Name and St. James: Churches of a Cardinal’s Feather

HOLY NAME AND ST. JAMES: CHURCHES OF A CARDINAL’S FEATHER

English: Steeple of St. James Catholic Church ...

English: Steeple of St. James Catholic Church in Chicago, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See them both for yourself and you will get more of the picture than is being put on the news. The parishioners of St. James’ Church have a legitimate beef against the Archdiocese of Chicago and have every right to be heard in their efforts to keep this wonderful church open and the area around it thriving.

I had to go see what the real issues were behind just the talk of demolition, of the transit lines being here and there, of the area around the church and of the demographics (a nasty word at times and in this case the real problem, I think) to gauge the situation. The photos I have of this day speak to more than we have so far heard.

There are hidden gems to this beautiful structure, and the area around the church has its ups and downs just as any area of a major city does, especially when there has been neglect and racism and gerrymandering and politics getting in the way.

Now let us compare the areas around Holy Name Cathedral (the “Cardinal’s Church” as a friend of mine put it today) and around the magnificent structure of St. James’ Church at 29th and Wabash. I noticed a problem right away when I went into the area for the photographs. After a few minutes it hit me: this area should be just as thriving and prosperous as the area of the Gold Coast where Holy Name Cathedral is, just as beautiful, as clean, as preserved, as lovely, as safe, just as glorious, as televised and as touted and as visited by tourists and native Chicagoans alike. What is going on behind the scenes then, that has the diocese wanting to demolish St. James’ and be in such a rush to further destroy that area of the city?

Seems to me that demographics is playing a role, but to use that as a lame, corporate and vague and arrogant and authoritarian excuse to further the demolition … now that is about as false as any lie anyone has ever told- and to hear such a thing from the Church, the oh –so- holy high and mighty Catholic Church with its corrupt Curia and all –male official roster, and its priests and its prejudiced laws and rules is only to say, “Hey Cardinal, what’s wrong with this picture? What is going on, man? Why are you not owning up to admitting to playing the race card and wanting to see this area, Bronzeville, suffer as you talk of taking away this church?”

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Playing the demographics card is worldliness and falsehood and pride, and can lead to real trouble. Get over this demographics, racial gerrymandering and race card –playing, folks! Everyone lives everywhere, so do not come to the news people and say some area is “predominantly” this or that; every “race” lives in every place. Incomes and lifestyles are changing and with those changes people are looking for alternatives to living and working and moving to parts of the city that suit their need and their means. I don’t give a flip where “blacks” and “whites” and “Asians” and “Hispanics” live- that kind of talk does not fly with me and it should not fly with anyone who considers that they are educated. To speak in such a flippant and ignorant manner is an insult to everyone, Monsieur and Madam Politician.

Answer the people of St. James’ Parish about THAT one if you can, Your Eminence and Your Holiness; what is the problem  with that area that you cannot give them the same rushed consideration you gave to the rebuilding and preservation of Holy Name Cathedral? From what I gather it would cost no more to rebuild and preserve St. James’ than it did Holy Name.

And please do not use the “transit system is so close to it” lame excuse any more, please. The Red Line runs under Holy Name and you can hear and feel it when it does. Busses and cabs and planes roar by and over that church all the time, so mass transit is alive and well in the Gold Coast and around the school, rectory and cathedral. So what if the train lines run behind St. James’s? Just soundproof and shore it up somehow –certainly there are people who can do that and the money would come out of the woodwork if the project goes forward for the salvation of St. James’. Ask anyone who lives around the historic Gold Coast and I’ll bet those homeowners have found companies who can soundproof those older buildings so they are suitable for families and businesses and shore them up against the rumbling of subways, busses, trucks, jets, and the everyday traffic between Chicago Avenue and North Avenue.

The area around St. James’ Church has residents, businesses, and schools; it has bus routes and roads (that granted do need some fixing up and some cleaning up, but make the diocese alive and relevant and Streets and Sanitation would have to come out and do the jobs), so it is far from deserted and down-trodden. So there are some bare spots and trash that could be cleaned up, but then in a city this large there are bare spots and trash all over the place; vacant lots and dilapidated buildings and such exist even in the Gold Coast. On the bus ride back into the Loop and into the Gold Coast and through Lincoln Park the changes became apparent.

North of where it seems the diocese might end its borders (but then again if people can get to Holy Name from other nations they can get to St. James’ from anywhere as well), things turned more active and seemed cleaner and better maintained overall. People were milling about and folks were walking dogs and sporting their jogging togs as they exercised, and walking with their young children. People were shopping, going in and out of businesses of every caliber and every item from food to clothing, apartment finding to beauty supplies. Though the day is overall gray and damp, the spirits of the people north of 29th and Wabash certainly had a livelier flair than what I saw in the area around St. James’ Church. West of State Street there came a few people around the housing complex, and some walking about, and there were trains and busses passing regularly. But east, there came a couple of people and a few cars.

A couple of cars pulled up in front of the church as I took photos, but I waited till they left to continue taking pictures so I could get the buildings without too much modern interference. And there is more to that church complex than just the cathedral itself.

There is a hidden gem, a large stone structure that must at one time have been a very grand home indeed.

Take away the church and most likely the diocese would have to remove this gorgeous building as well which is in perfect condition from what I can tell gauged on this view. The architecture is magnificent and it should be preserved and used as a music school or some kind of learning center for the diocese.

People have been commenting left and right about the real issues and it is time the media stepped in to tell the whole and the true story about this demolition versus preservation beeswax. To do anything but preserve it and restore it would be an insult to the parish, to the diocese, to lovers of landmarks and history everywhere, and to everyone who has a history connected to St. James’ Church.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.