Veterans Need the Best We Can Offer: Chicago HAVE For All Military Personnel

Chicago Needs to HAVE Veterans In Our Hearts All the Time

There are many men and women who have served our nation in uniforms of the military branches of our great United States. They have enlisted and signed the papers, put on the faces and marched through the mud. They have seen international tours of duty and they have seen service right here at home.

Speak Up, America! Watch US Work.

Remembering America’s veterans.

Home… a word that does not ring with many of those proud people, since they do not have a home to go to. Yes, there are homeless veterans… HOMELESS… the very people who have given so much, who have sacrificed and labored and been through obstacle after obstacle, to protect the homes we go to every day, do not have a home of their own to step into.

That is disgraceful.

Yes the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system is seeing its share of dishonorable behavior and wasteful disgraces, but to think that a veteran or any military member is homeless is a major stain on our nation and a pustule on our society. These are people with medical problems due to their tours of duty, and that to which they have been exposed, such as gunfire, diseases, shelling, shell shock, PTSD, and loss of limbs. They have been sick for us, been maimed for us, and been tossed aside by us.

Something has to change, and such changes cannot wait for politics or elections. Those in office, those who command and lead and order around those veterans must step up, just like those folks did in lines of rank or to police an area of their base. They wanted things to look better, they wanted freedom, they wanted health and well being, and they were willing to sign on and give their lives and legs and hands and arms for those privileges.

Do we arrogantly stand by and wait for a new mayor or new senators or a new president to be elected before we bother to look at the endurances these proud people have made for the rest of our nation and around the world? They cannot wait for the influential, the rich, the government that hired and ordered them about, to step up.

Every veteran and their families should have a home and work that is fitting to their talents and needs. Every man and woman should have a house they can call their own, a space that suits them. If the vet has lost a limb, build them a home that will accommodate their special needs. If they are sick, give them the best care a reformed VA system can provide.

HAVE is an idea I thought of while listening to excerpts of Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration speech recently, and the acronym means Home All Veterans Everywhere.

After all, we have homes; we have spaces all our own we can go to after work and play and worship and trips to the grocery and the mechanic, so why don’t these veterans have a home?

It is going to take a lot more than dropping a buck or two in the shaking cup of a homeless vet crouched at the side of a street under a light post, or holding a sign as he strains to sit up in his wheelchair; it is going to take elbow grease action, grassroots efforts, caring and tender and loving people who deeply understand that these are their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Treat them with respect. They deserve it.

America's flag flies proudly.America's flag flies proudly.

Bless our veterans, love our veterans, take care of our veterans, home our veterans.

Divi Logan. Chicago, on this Memorial Day 2015.

Shootings? NOT ANOTHER ONE!

Shootings. Shoot… the last word I want to hear every single doggone day around here is “shooting”.

Enough already with the reports that even mention that someone was shot in Chicago or anywhere else for that matter. The time for just talking about or reporting it is come and past; the time for action to stop the violence is NOW.

RIGHT NOW.

After all, there are other meanings to the word “shoot”. Time was that “AW SHOOT!” was nothing more than a mildly explosive expletive when someone would misplace their keys or break a shoelace. The words were just a bridge between the incident and getting over what happened, rather like saying drat, dang, rats or doggone it.

But now when the news networks mention “shoot” it deals with someone getting shot, as happened today in Las Vegas.  A “shooting” with a “gunman” happened at a university in Washington State.

Shootings happen in some parts of Chicago every day, and no doubt folks in Chicago are darned sick and tired of hearing every day about someone getting shot.

Rather get a camera and go on a photo “shoot” and document what’s going on and perhaps in that way find out if there is a solution to this pressing problem. Not attending to “the press” when they talk about it and hype it up is one way. Just turn it off and protest this “if it bleeds it leads” gibberish.

What’s the deal with summer and hot weather being a time when suddenly the violence and people running amok seems to explode? Folks, find other ways to entertain yourselves. No need for this junk with the flash mobs, the gang involvement, and bored kids that seemingly have nothing to do.

The kids have plenty to do if only people with consciences get them off their lazy and jaded behinds and put tools in their hands, give them a plot of land to till, clean, take care of and get a garden going. The kids have plenty to do if they get involved with building houses or playgrounds or tidying up a school or serving in a soup kitchen or collecting items for a charity or a mission.

Come on, people – you don’t need guns and drugs and gangs to give your life meaning. Those things will only put you in danger – in danger of losing your life, of hurting someone else, of ending up in prison and with a record you cannot erase. Gangs, guns and drugs are dangerous.

DANGEROUS. No one can emphasize that enough. Gangs, guns and drugs are DANGEROUS. You ought to be running away from those things as you would from a poisonous snake, a tornado, a scorpion, a toxic spider. You who have conquered the need to have such garbage fouling up your life, and who know about the perils and dangers and ugliness of prisons and police stations and being booked, and facing the people you have hurt, can turn this around and help others get over the need for these things in their lives.

Remember that gangs and guns and drugs endanger everyone, including children. Kids want a safe place to live, play and go to school. They should not be afraid of dying on the way to the store or having some idiot gang banger drive past their porch and open fire in the hope of killing someone else.  Children are vulnerable in this society as people start to care less about others and more about only their selfish and lazy and arrogant selves. Kids are abandoned to make their own decisions, to test judgment not completely mature, and to be exposed to harmful habits, to foul language, to violent video games, and to “the streets”.

If only more adults could think like the teachers who sheltered students during the tornadoes the Weather Channel features on their tornado week specials these days. Teachers in Moore, Oklahoma sheltered their students as the twisters approached and damaged their school. Teachers in Joplin, Missouri did the same, taking care of their students. But teachers cannot do the work of parents. Sure a school can provide shelter and food and instruction during part of the day but a school is not a home and teachers are not parents. Parents MUST take more responsibility, first for their own habits and then for their kids, making sure they have these good examples of care and decency and dignity to follow.

Maybe it’s time to stop this diversity thinking and start thinking UNITY. Quit thinking about whether or not someone “looks like you”, “talks like you” or “lives in your neighborhood”. So what? No one is going to look like, talk like, or live like anyone else, even though they are right across the hall or the street or in the next building. Everyone is different but in some ways we are united.

Those who are united in the common thought of ending the violence must band together, stuff the diversity talk in the trash bin, and start thinking in a group sense and a unified sense. An army cannot fight successfully and with a purpose and with strength unless the personnel are unified in their goal of driving out the enemy. Without this common bond of discipline and unity and purpose the biggest army will be nothing but a bunch of people going every which way, not going forward to the goal, and the effort will collapse, and the enemy will win.

The armies of the gangs, guns and drugs cannot be allowed to win these little victories every day. Thanks to the mass media they are winning, because people talk about the incidents and the shootings, talking about the problems instead of the solutions, talking about the investigations instead of banding together to call people out to drive the gangs away for good.

AW SHOOT, folks… can’t you find ways to stop the violence already?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

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 Public Spaces and Parks a Disgrace: What are the Consequences When we Do Whatever We Want?

We Have Freedoms and Privileges… But What Happens When we Abuse Them?

redwingbird

Last year it hit me, so to speak, and I have spent months wondering what to do about this situation…

Maybe get out my own broom, mop, dustpan, trash can, trash bags, gloves and boots and get to the parks and clean them up myself?

That is what I gladly would have done had I those resources and the time to improve a particular section of Grant Park. I wanted to take a nice walk along Michigan Avenue in sunny weather, to clear my head, get away from work for a while, and ground to the natural world to get some good Earth energy. What met my eyes and other senses was enough to make me want to get back to the hard sidewalk (not much cleaner) and go back to where I work.

 Grant Park Scene

In that one stretch of what would have been nice green space and good space were cigarette butts enough to take over the grass, evidence of pet and human waste, trash and enough detritus to make it seem that area of the park had not been cleaned in weeks.

That is what I have encountered in parks and beaches all over Chicago- litter and trash blowing about or embedded in the ground, glass shards, food waste, pet waste, cigarette material including butts and containers … and all in sight of trash cans someone could easily walk or ride a few steps over to deposit the waste.

View Towards Downtown Chicago from Lincoln Park Bridge near the Zoo.

View Towards Downtown Chicago from Lincoln Park Bridge near the Zoo.

Do we dare think ourselves in America civilized and progressive? Hah, I think not. We are about as crude, lazy, disgusting and indecent as people can get. I think people whom we dismiss as “Neanderthals” were more civilized than we are… we ought to be ashamed of how we are treating our public spaces and how little attention we are paying to the others who want to use them and enjoy them, who want as I did to get away from the office and have a good lunch or a nice walk in the parks that line the “Magnificent Mile. We want a place to step into the fresh grass, see the fine trees and flowers, and get in touch with the energies of the universe that can revitalize and inspire us, that wonderful world of nature.

But this is awfully hard to do when the park walks are cracked and jutting and uneven and littered. It is hard to do when there is human waste in evidence, which is not only unsightly but can be dangerous. Suppose someone touches it, or steps in it, which in the former case could lead to disease and in the latter is tracked into cars, busses, trains, your place of work, the restaurants, the schools, the museums, maybe your condo or apartment. Kids and pets are curious about lots of things and they could easily touch it, lick it, or put their noses into it. Wastes endanger people and pets, so when you leave wastes around you are creating a public nuisance. By your disordered and crude thinking you are endangering others. How pitiful and how disgusting and how uncivilized. EEWWW.

Come on, folks, think right: you have rights, privileges and freedoms, but do not abuse them. Think of others for a change and get some discipline in your lives. If you are going to be around others (the public) then you have to respect the rights, privileges and freedoms of everyone around you. If you start to get that sly, foxy look and frame of mind as you walk the streets chewing on that burger or banana and you think, “Oh, I’ll just dump the paper here, no one will notice,” (what cave did you crawl out of?) you bet someone will notice, the person who has to clean up after you or steps in that stuff and gets it on their new shoes. Take the few steps to the nearest trash can and dump the refuse in there and then quietly go your way.

You pay taxes to keep the parks clean and others pay taxes too, for the purpose of having spaces to enjoy. Respecting others is simply a matter and part of being a good citizen, something you should have learned from an early stage of life. You don’t just throw down your garbage and expect that others will clean up after you because “it is their job”. Cleaning up is a matter of safety for yourself and others.  It is disgusting to litter and “do your think” in a public setting, so just don’t do that. And do not eat or drink on public transit. Ever seen a train car or a bus littered with sunflower seeds, banana peels, chip bags, disposable cups and candy bar wrappers and gum stuck to places others touch? YECCH.

As for the personnel of the Park District, I bring to your attention Bughouse Square, which one year before the Chicago Marathon was littered with cigarette refuse, other trash, dog waste and leaf litter, a disgrace for people visiting to see and have to deal with. In fact I went back to my apartment and took out a broom and went to the park to try and clean up a little bit of it. It got so disgusting after a while I shook off the broom and went to do other things, wondering why it looked like that part of the Gold Coast had not been touched in a long time.

ChiNash2013 093

Wood Duck in Stunning Plumage.

Lincoln Park is also just as bad: cracked and crumbling walking paths that jut bodies and bikes and are uneven and dangerous, litter everywhere, cigarette crud that is toxic and unsightly, trash blowing about, remains of picnics, food waste. It is not even a thought to want to step on the grassy areas in that (should be) beautiful park because of the junk that is in those spaces. Areas north towards the 2800 and 3000’s areas of Chicago also have parks that are in terrible shape. These parks are close to homes, schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants and museums.

Where is the money for the parks and public spaces going? I think any concerned citizen should get down to finding out.

In the meanwhile, we concerned citizens might just have to use our own brooms, gloves, tarps, mops, trash cans and trash bags and clean the parks up ourselves, using the wonderful concept of the neighborhood cleanup day to do just that the moment we have weather good enough to do that in. We should consider the parks as we would our own yards and keep them clean. We can see them from our living spaces after all, and most city dwellers do not have a real yard, so we have the parks and beaches we all should be able to enjoy and love.

What we love and enjoy we ordinarily want to take care of, right? When you get something precious as a gift you want to have it for a long time and take good care of it. The parks are a precious natural resources set aside for everyone, that’s right EVERYONE, to enjoy, to go to and commune with nature, to romp around with family and friends, to take a quiet walk or a bike ride, to walk the dog or to stroll the baby. Naturally if you walk the dog it is up to YOU to clean up after the pet totally and thoroughly and leave no trace of where you have been. Dispose of the waste in a trash can, tightly wrapped to prevent odors escaping. Change the baby before going out. If you eat, dispose of your trash in the proper receptacle, and that is not including park benches, the ground, or any surface. Trash goes in trash cans.

Black-crowned Night Herons from part of a Colony in Lincoln Park.

Black-crowned Night Herons from part of a Colony in Lincoln Park.

Take care of what you have, including your dignity and your fellow citizens.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. Wikipedia contributors. “Grant Park (Chicago).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

Photographs taken with a LEICA V-LUX-4 bridge camera.

Photography, not Demography: The Arts Bring Us Together

PHOTOGRAPHY… NOT “DEMOGRAPHY”: Art Brings Everyone Together

Sometimes we like to say or think, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could get along, if we could communicate easily all we say and think, our hopes and dreams and plans?” We can communicate in spoken and written words and in other ways as well.

ChiCOMMU

 

Communication Manhole Cover”. Divi Logan, Chicago. 2013.

There are those who cannot speak, and those who cannot write, at least in the conventional methods most people understand, with the computer or with pen and ink and pencil and paper. When language is a barrier, when we cannot understand the standards of Sign Language, and when music appears as foreign as a tongue with which we are not familiar, we can use other ways to get our message across.

One way is art, and what a broad range of expression that covers! We think of painting, dance and music; we think of sculpture, architecture, bronze casting, batik, and skywriting. We see people in the studios dreaming up ways to hack into the marble block or figure out which line to put in next on a drawing; we think of designers of cars and planes looking to the future, and we can envision the astronomer pondering ways to use the space telescopes to image distant galaxies and stars. We can follow the lead of that astronomer and, in our own special ways, “write with light”, which is the fine art of photography.

The arts transcend every barrier humans can create, any of the nonsense of demographics, of census bureaus, of departments of commerce and of those who wish to lead our nation in Congress by those very examples of separation and division, which in the long run do much more harm than good.

Why would anyone want to do more harm than good, or any harm at all? Those are subjects for another time; for now we want to concentrate on the good that “the arts” can do for us and for our nation and our world.

“The Arts” are so elemental, so basic to us that we wonder how schools can cut such programs even in the most budget -strapped of situations. We need our artistic forms of expression in order to release stress, in order to focus on the special gifts we have, in order to share our talents and our unique natures. Those arts listed above are fine ways to tell others what we think and how we feel when words escape us.

 Writing with light is a special art form; photography has been around for more than one hundred years and it is an art in which anyone can participate. In photography, all the demographic lines are erased; the person holding the camera is not “black”, or “white” or “man” or “woman” or “ethnic” or “income”. The person is a photographer, and they have something to say.

With that camera in your hands- be it a SLR, a DSLR, or a rangefinder, with whatever film format you choose, or with memory cards ready for video or for a few hundred photos of special occasions, you are prepared to tell the stories of others or your own special tale. You have the means of helping others speak. You can express thoughts and plans in your mind that you might not be able to put words to but which the image, which what you see can tell. The person on the street, the landing plane, the dragonfly on the tree or over a pond, the incoming storm and the building being constructed speak to people in different ways, and anything can be used to help express something in the brain.

What do you want to say that perhaps cannot be said with ordinary words, but which a photo can say? The picture is worth a thousand words, goes the proverb, and by taking one simple photo you can look at it and write about what it says to you.

Look at the photo – what are the elements in it?

 

redwingbird

Here is a photo I took at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The dominant feature is the Red- winged Blackbird, a standout with its distinctive colors. It is on a rail over a bridge that overlooks a pond where other birds feed and nest. But there are other things you see in the photo besides the bird. What about those flagstones, or the metal of the rail, or the grass, or the branches? Might those things say something to your audience?

interiorcolor2

Here is an interior I photographed. There are many things here, and what might the picture say? What is special about the room- the chandelier, the furnishings, the drapes, the lighting, the way items are placed on tables, or the dividing column on the right? If you photograph a home, inside or out, professionally or casually, some element you see might just speak to you in a way you did not expect, and it could be very pleasant and enlightening.

Use your camera to help someone else tell their story or stories. Is there someone in your home or community that cannot speak or walk, an older or disabled person that wants you to take pictures of memories in their home or business, a person that is unable to take photographs? Offer them the use of your hands and eyes and camera gear; tell them you can help out and will gladly photograph for them. Perhaps they want to make an album to share with relatives or others that will factor in their later lives. Offer to use any artistic talents you have to help them create an album or scrapbook.

Naturally you can use your photographic skills to branch out and start your own business or work for a media company. You can do events such as weddings and holiday parties; you can become a field photographer for a news corporation… there are so many things you can do, including photographing sports, working for transportation companies, and working for interior design magazines or architects. Combine the skills of photography with other lines of work, such as going into the military or the fire department or astronomy, and the horizons will expand.

As you take your camera up today and think about how to use it, consider the good you can do with that specialized equipment.  How will you “write with light?”

Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Chicago, ©2013.