Think of a city or neighborhood you love that isn’t your own. Maybe it’s Paris with its grand boulevards and sidewalk cafes or a charming, narrow backstreet in Italy where locals congregate and dine. Perhaps it’s the old industrial neighborhood of a city that has been re-inhabited and repurposed or a quaint town in a corner of America that only you and a few others know about.
Think of what you love about that place — how it looks, how it is designed, how the people interact with each other. That is its sense of place, that certain something that inspires people from near and far to visit and for locals to put down roots and bring it to life.
Now, think of your neighborhood. Does it have that same spark? Does it inspire you and others in the same way as those other places?
Of course you love the neighborhood — or at the very least, parts of it — otherwise you would probably live somewhere else. Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood are aspirational neighborhoods, the kinds of places that are beloved for their beautiful homes, diverse population and good schools. But like all communities, our neighborhoods are not without their challenges, from vacant storefronts and parcels to underused parking lots. These things often either detract from that sense of place or prevent it from becoming fully realized like in those other cities and neighborhoods we love. With this blog, I hope to start discussions about ways we can enhance the sense of place in the Beverly area and bring about change that improve its economic well-being and quality of life.
Don’t get me wrong — I am first and foremost a booster for this community. I intend to celebrate the aspects of it I love, especially its people, businesses, organizations and culture. But as a boosters, I’m not afraid to give tough love when it is needed. It is my hope that the stories in this blog spark discussions about initiatives big and small that can make our already great neighborhoods even stronger and better.
Some ideas might prove to be popular. Others, I realize, might not be loved by everyone. However, I won’t shy away from informed and civilized debate. When it comes to economic development in this community, I will often challenge the status quo, because it is clear that in some cases the status quo is not working.
But I will never criticize in a way that isn’t constructive. I will present new ideas, drawing inspiration from other Chicago neighborhoods, other cities and, most importantly, the people in our own communities.
This blog is about place and all the components that come together to shape it: people, businesses development and culture. And it’s also about fostering that sense of place for the long-term, continuing to refine all the parts as everyone in this community strives to build the perfect neighborhood. The beautiful thing is that it will never be perfect. There will always be challenges. Those challenges give us, the people of Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood, the opportunity to band together to come up with solutions, strengthening our feeling of community in the process. Anyone who wants to participate is welcome.