In the West Loop, the private life
05/20/2009 10:00 PM
Itís been quiet in the West Loop.
I guess the big public issues like building heights wax and wane. We seem to be in a wane phase right now, waiting for projects to get done. Like Adams-Sangamon park, the Skinner Park improvements, the new Skinner School facility.
People seem to be cocooning, focused on work and relationships and home life.
Iím doing the same ó working away, volunteering for organizations I like and for causes I believe in, moving, and opening myself up to the possibility of a relationship.
Itís the private life instead of the public life.
But there are always those places where my private life meets public issue.
I am a member of the host committee for the Chicago Green Festival, which wrapped up last Sunday. One of our goals was to recruit attendees who donít already own hemp bags and SIGG water bottles. We did much of our outreach outside of the standard green-and-granola circles. It was great to see families, school teachers, and people young and old looking for ways to soften their impact on the planet in small, everyday ways.
At Green Festival, displays of worm composting and eco-friendly toys shared space with a host of speakers who presented on recycling, healthy school lunches and the meaning of fair trade. I learned, for example, that I need to split the grapes before I feed them to my worms (the poor things canít get through the hard shells. Imagine the trauma I must have caused).
If you missed the event, you can always shop eco-friendly in the West Loop. A number of neighborhood businesses were a part of this yearís fest. Pivot Boutique on Fulton Market, which hosted one of our Festival planning meetings, sells clothing and other items made of organic and sustainable materials. The Balanced Kitchen on west Grand offers vegan catering and Green Home Chicago on north Morgan focuses on environmentally and socially conscious home design and care.
I came away from Green Festival with great sustainable design ideas. The timing is perfect because at the end of this month I will become a first-time homeowner. I am moving mere blocks from where I am now, too dedicated to the many parts of the West Loop to leave it now.
In the new place, Iíll be liberated from the landlord. Iíll have more interior dťcor freedom!
The first-time homebuyer credit will provide the cushion for me to install items like carpet tiles, non-volatile organic compound paint, and container gardens. At a cost of less than $60, I am also going to retrofit the toilet with a dual-flush system. For those unfamiliar, it allows each user to determine how much water they need (by pressing one button or the other) to dispel the toilet of anything they have deposited in it ó get it? Who knew there might be an environmental benefit to constipation?
The guy I talked to about the system even offered to come over and install it. It was seemingly a flirtation except that the only numbers being discussed were #1 and #2. Itís too bad, really. Since I wonít have to conduct an embarrassing toilet flush demo with him once itís installed, we could make for a good match.
The renewed relationship efforts and the condo purchase fulfill just two of the promises I made to myself after attending LifeBook in March. LifeBook is located on west Lake Street. I consider it yet another West Loop treasure. The four-day program of personal reflection focuses on 12 aspects of living, including health, relationships, and spirituality.
When you dedicate four solid days to yourself, you get some things figured out. Letís just say I now have a very long to-do list.
If the West Loop were to go through the LifeBook experience I would have more to write about.
Like the recent presentation of the Central Area Action Plan. Few neighborhood residents showed up last week to learn about it.
This is important ó exactly the kind of strategic planning process that has us imagining our neighborhood five, 10 and 20 years out.
A meager smattering of people showed.
By itself, the connections between clout and development in Chicago should be enough to justify paying attention to the city planning efforts. And despite the cool transportation projects in the plan, we will be getting very little. East of Jefferson will be sprouting with activity.
These days, buying in the West Loop and living in the neighborhood are less about a quick investment and more about finding a home.
Since youíll be sticking around, youíll want to know about these grand plans. In the meantime, Iíll keep you posted on the condo and the dual-flush man. My five-year plan is beginning to play out quite nicely.
And perhaps the intensity and passion about neighborhood issues will re-emerge.
There is a meeting May 27 about parking in the neighborhood.
But that issue has never caused controversy, has it?