Thursday, May 7, 2020

Three Evanstonians weigh in: What should the post-pandemic “new normal” include?

Maybe you’ve heard it too: I look forward to getting back to normal.
As for me, I’m not sure I want to go “back” or if we even can.

This pandemic has changed the whole landscape of our world personally, locally and globally.

When we evaluate all that has happened during the pandemic, we’ll find that loved ones and neighbors have been taken. Students’ education have been impacted. Jobs have been lost. Businesses have been closed and many will not open again. While isolating, all of our mental health has been challenged. On an up note, government agencies have learned to cooperate (to a certain extent). Some of us have gotten stimulus checks. The kind and generous side of many individuals and organizations have been exposed.

But now what?

I’d like to see our kind and generous sides expressed through our governments, corporations and other systems to continue, but more robustly.

Mom Stephanie Kulke offers her thoughts on the subject:

The first thing the new normal should include is us humans having greater awareness of our interdependence. Who has not gotten teared up by the lawn signs thanking our hospital workers? Or inspired by the generosity of restaurants and neighbors who have made food available to the hungry?

I hope this knowledge of our interdependence leads to greater respect and appreciation for those who make our communities work, and generosity toward those who are vulnerable (which is all of us).

I asked my middle schooler how he thinks things will be different. He says he will appreciate everyone more when he gets back. Not just his closest friends and favorite teachers, but everyone in his classes and on staff whose presence make the day more fun and productive, because they are in school together.

I could not have said it better. I don’t just miss my closest friends and family—I also miss the people that are part of everyday life in the community. The cast of characters at the McGaw YMCA I share a laugh with every week. My church community—who although we still meet virtually—have been kept apart for major life events like baptisms and funerals. And the big events that knit our community together like the YWCA’s Race Against Hate.
The second thing the new normal should include is a universal proficiency with best Zoom mic and lighting practices. My teens have been mocking me for speaking overly loud at my screen as if I were talking to someone in another part of the house.  Now I am practicing modulating my volume. I have even learned to elevate my laptop a few inches, so my chin and neck look better on camera. And I avoid backlighting! When this prolonged period of social distancing is over, the YouTube and Twitch celebrities will have nothing over the rest of us middle aged and older non-digital natives.

...and artist Adriana Poterash shares her perspective:

Everything changes. That is the only constant in life.

Adjustments will be many and painful at the beginning. The old ways of life are not coming back: the instant gratification and pleasurable excess of accustomed consumerism is over, the sense of invulnerability, and the reliability on efficiency of government and adequate medical supplies in time of need - are gone. 

We learned that economic class disparity is deadlier for those in need.

Maturity comes with price, but it has a prize too: we learned how to take care of ourselves and to care for others from small local communities to the global international actions.

The world has shrank in two months, as we understood that we are all in the same boat, so better get alone. We learned daily frugality, appreciation of basic needs and humbleness of our non-importance in the eyes of the natural world that we shamelessly abused for so long.

We became wiser and stronger due to learning about our inexperience and fragility in the eyes of disaster.

We will keep going forward without falling apart and living every day to the best of our personal ability. We will develop a ‘sense of elbow’–as being more together interconnected vs detached individualism.

We will navigate our ship through this storm carefully and intelligently to be prepared for, yet, harder times ahead before this is all over.

History shows many examples of incredible human survival through much worse atrocities and disasters—by all means, we can overcome our challenge.

…and lastly here’s some specific ideas from musician Steve Reinfranck:

There are so many areas that could be changed as we head to our new normal.

• Closing at least half of the 800+ military bases we operate around the world would be a start. Make the Pentagon accounting open to oversight investigation. Identify those weapon programs that are already outmoded, but are continued to provide “pork" to the legislators whose home states "benefit" from building those weapons.

• Guarantee universal health care as a human right.

• Eliminate the Electoral College and re-examine the Second Amendment—both are vestiges of slavery!

• Reinstitute Glass-Steagall.

• Levy colossal taxes and penalties on the corporations who license themselves overseas to avoid paying taxes, who deliberately sabotage pension funds of the workers (Bruce Rauner and Mitt Romney come to mind), and who shut down factories in the U.S. and re-open them in low-wage countries to increase their own profits without regard to the fate of the American workers.

Terminate subsidies to petroleum companies and corporations such as MacDonalds

• Make voting an automatic right of every citizen.

• Limit and regulate lobbyists.

• Campaign finance reform—get rid of Citizens United as soon as possible.

• Student loan reform/forgiveness. Free state colleges for all.

• Green New Deal—time is running out!


Sunday, January 19, 2020

February 15: What Would Make Evanston an Extraordinary Place for All Kids to Grow Up In?

This in from Rotary Club of Evanston

Evanstonians of all stripes are invited to share their ideas at “Evanston Big Ideas 2020: What Would Make Evanston an Extraordinary Place for ALL KIDS to Grow Up In?” at Evanston Township High School’s South Study Cafe scheduled for Saturday February 15, 1-4 p.m.

“Every voice and perspective will have something to bring to this conversation,” says co-facilitator Kelly Fidei, PhD, a member of the Rotary Club of Evanston.

To encourage collaborative dialogue and constructive possibilities for action, Evanston’s two Rotary clubs—the Rotary Club of Evanston and the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club—have organized this community conversation.

“Both Evanston Rotary clubs like to have their finger on the pulse of Evanston. This is just one fun way for our neighbors to inform us on what should get more attention in the name of making Evanston a great place to raise ALL kids” and encourage fellow Evanstonians to do what they can to make greatness happen," says co-organizer Kathy Tate-Bradish, a member of the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club.

Kelly Fidei
(left) and Tiffini Holmes will lead the conversation.

Kelly Fidei is an executive leadership coach. She is an active
member of the Rotary Club of Evanston. Tiffini Holmes is a life
wellness coach and HR consultant. Tiffini is active in Evanston’s
Organization for Positive Action and Leadership, OPAL.

This community conversation will follow a process called “World Café”. After an ice breaker, neighbors will form groups of 4, 5 or 6. Questions relating to the primary question will be discussed and ideas written or illustrated on butcher block paper. Teams will split up and go to new tables and continue to share ideas. The butcher block paper will be tacked to the wall and teams will report out on their ideas.

A report on all ideas discussed and other achievements will be share with all participants shortly after the event, as well as a survey for organizers to learn participants’ reaction to what they learned and if they plan to take some kind of action.
Participating partners include:
OPAL/Organization for Positive Action and Leadership

Light refreshments will be served. Child care will be available.

Walk-ins are welcome, but seating is limited, so registering online by February 10 is advised.

In 2020 the Rotary Club of Evanston will celebrate 100 years of service, and the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club, 35 years.


Monday, December 23, 2019

StoryCorps adventure with Dan Coyne

I'm still laughing a little at Dan Coyne, and life in general.

"I'm an open book," he claims.

Yeah, but it depends on what page the book is opened to, I say.

Around Evanston, some know Dan has the guy who covers the city council meetings live for Evanston's Facebook audience.

Others know Dan has a Ridgeville Park District board member and an active member of Reba Place.

A few know him as the guy that donated a kidney to his favorite grocery store clerk approximately 10 years ago. That is where we started our conversation in the StoryCorps booth at the Chicago Cultural Center on September 21, 2019.

I learned that he moved to Evanston from Portland, Oregon and grew up in Toledo, Ohio.
He has O- blood.
Rotary played an important role in his life early on. 
It wasn't until the end of our conversation that I learned something very surprising, not covered in any press about him.

I appreciated the trust he gave me. I'm in awe of his grace and equanimity.

Give us a listen here.


Media coverage of part of his story:

February 7, 2010 - A surprising transplant offer

June 15, 2010 - Man honored for donating kidney may lose job

July 1, 2012 - A gift of life...

October 7, 2014 - Kidney donor's CPS job in jeopardy--again (video)

December 22, 2015 - CPS fires social worker who donated kidney to stranger

December 22, 2015 - Termination of School Social Worker Raises Questions about Residency Rule, Caseload

Rotary Club of Evanston celebrates 100 years of "service above self"

Friday, September 13, 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tuesday Toasters TONIGHT/August 27 at Five and Dime.

TONIGHT: The Rotary Club of Evanston invites you to Tuesday Toasters at Five & Dime at 1026 Davis St., Evanston from 5:15 - 7:15-ish p.m.

Join us friends and neighbors, some of them Rotarians, for conversation over food and/or drinks.

Bring a friend, if you like.

Tuesday Toasters is the Rotary Club of Evanston's monthly no-agenda meetup of Evanstonians and friends gathering in the name of promoting friendship.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Evanston Rotary's PizzaFest May 21

This in from the Rotary Club of Evanston...

Stephanie Murray--with other member of the Rotary Club of Evanston Paul Fischl, Gene Servillo, Jane Lawicki, Paul Larson, Dick Peach, Dave Stumpf, Diane Krier-Morrow, Ada Kahn, Janet Butterfield, Björn Gylling, Pete Giangreco, Tori Foreman, Helen Dickson, Harry Vroegh, Gary Bowen, Paul Giordano, Bill Logan, Shawn Iles, Evelyn Lee, April Jensen, Jason Orloff, Pam Rosenbusch, John Robertson, Bridget McDonough, Tracy Tebear, Mark Lowry, Michele Berg, Wally Bobkiewicz, Kelly Gilbert, Brian King, Tom Swigert--invites you to this year's PizzaFest
Gigio's Pizzeria, 1001 Davis, Evanston
Tuesday, May 21, from 4:30-8:30 p.m..

New this year is outdoor dining on Maple Street ad entertainment by the Greenleaf Band and Johnny Price aka DJ JP Gunnz.

Bennison's will be bringing the dessert.

The growing list of "celebrity servers" expected to be there slinging slices includes John Hewko, Rotary International; Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty; and Evanston Alderman Peter Braithwaite.

Tickets for all the pizza and pop you can consume run $20 for adults and $12 for kids, if you purchase from a club member or online. Tickets at the door will cost a bit more.

This umpteenth annual pizza and pop extravaganza raises funds to support community projects and initiatives vital to the well being of Evanston. Past recipients of the club's philanthropy include James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, Family Focus Evanston, On Your Feet Foundation, Curt's Cafe South, Evanston Food Exchange, Park School PTA, School for Little Children, Youth and Opportunity United/Y.O.U., Mudlark Theater Company, Youth Job Center
and others.

Deejay JP Gunnz aka Evanston's own Johnny Price