As we try to make change in our community, it is crucial for us to maintain focus and to build broad-based community involvement. Sometimes when we lay out an objective with key decision-makers, we are told the reasons why what we are seeking to accomplish can't work. Our response to that must always be to push back by asking what would make a positive outcome possible. Tell us how it can be done, not why it can't.
We recently have commented on the opportunities for making better use of the parks in our area. Lerner Park is an underutilized asset, particularly on its west side adjacent to Winston Towers, where there are no benches or tables, no sidewalks leading from the buildings to the park, and no play area for the buildings' growing population of children of orthodox families. The park also has no programming.
As we have pointed out in the past, we also have a park, Park 538, which runs between the Northshore Channel and Kedzie from Thillens to Touhy, which is virtually unknown to our community, because it has no signs and no visible entry points. As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so click on the link below to see some pictures and a description of the 3 ½ miles of nature trails which run through this park, the upkeep of which is performed by volunteers led by a member of our community, Larry Yablong. I think you will agree that these trails are beautiful. Why the Chicago Park District has no information on its website about this park and why there are no organized programs to encourage utilization by the community is a mystery to us, and we aim to correct this neglect of a community asset in our midst.
When we have raised these issues with key individuals, we have been told that there is no money to do anything. We know that the City of Chicago is pressed for funds, but this is a huge city, and there are still improvements happening every day. The difference between the things that get done and the things that don't is usually the difference between those who have the right connections and community pressure and those who don't.
We the Jewish community have the power to make change happen, we just need to organize and use our influence effectively. As a way to build diverse community support for the enhancements which would make these parks a focus for activity and socialization, we will be reaching out to the boards of each of the Winston Towers buildings and residents beyond. We also have reached out to JUF/Federation which is willing to help. Stay tuned for the next chapters in this saga.