Should I Stay…

Is life getting harder in Chicago? A recent poll showed Chicago is one of the ten most miserable cities to live in. I thought that was a little abrasive. But then I began to think about our over-priced parking meters, dissatisfied school teachers, massive school closings and ever-rising cost of living. I began to think about my situation and wondered if Chicago is hurting me more than it is helping me.

Over the last twenty years, several of my African-American peers have left town for Atlanta, where the good life and good schools could be had for a fraction of the cost in Chicago. I have never been that excited about the place though, it just seems like a hot version of Chicago. I can see my self down-sizing, but not suburbanizing. A small city like Raleigh where I have family has piqued my interest. Surely, you would wonder why I would skip Charlotte, an urban, but cozier southern city. But alas, Raleigh has an NHL team, and yes while I would NEVER root for the Hurricanes, I can go to the games decked out in the opposing team’s gear-yes I am evil.

I like my neighborhood of Bronzeville, but development is SO inconsistent there. Myself and other residents who used to be able to openly gripe on Everyblock.com before NBC shut it down had a forum to discuss what we wanted it to become. Many moved there fifteen or twenty years ago thinking development was right around the corner. The massive housing projects to the west were torn down and development came in fits and starts with new homes and condo-coversions, but new, significant major retail is still eluding the area. Some residents stated they were fed up and were moving on with their lives, and I cannot blame them. Many attest that a north side neighborhood that close to the Loop and the lakefront would not be ignored by developers for as long as Bronzeville has. Everyblockers were pointing fingers at the Alderman, the Mayor, Developers, or all three for the reasons why things have not taken off.

Depending on when you ask, I may agree as well that it may be time to move on, but they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I may leave town, and I may come back so fast you wouldn’t even know I was gone.

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Greeter’s Dilemma

Many of you may not know I am a volunteer Greeter for the the Chicago Office of Tourism. I either take visitors out on pre-arranged neighborhood tours, or last-minute tours of the Loop. I give visitor’s a local’s perspective on life here, and show them someoff the beaten path attractions as well. I am a Bronzeville resident and have taken visitors to this area as well.

There is a challenge to a Bronzeville tour. While the neighborhood has many historical and well-known attractions, they are spaced far apart for someone doing a walking tour. While the Southside Community arts Center and the Illinois Institute of Technology are on the western edge near State street, the site of Stephen Douglas’ tomb is east of Cottage Grove. The Migration statue, on Martin Luther King Drive at 25th street is a whole 10 blocks from the area’s retail hub at Thirty-fifth street. For some, this is just too far to walk.

An innovative idea would be to use golf carts to get to these places quickly. The Loop has Segway Tours, which could be used in Bronzeville to manage the long distances between attractions.

Changing the subject-slightly, I will be getting together with another Greeter to walk  her version of a Bronzeville tour. She is focusing on the area near Quinn Chapel, a historical African American congregation. It is located around 24th and Indiana Avenue. Those familiar with the area know it was once connected to the city’s Black Belt, but cut off and  isolated due to the Interstate 55 extension to Lake Shore Drive. Being the life-long learner I am, I am excited to see how I can add a different twist to my tour or offer a shorter substitute.