Four hundred twenty miles driven and eleven tanks of gas exhausted stalking presidential candidates over the last two months. I know it isn’t technically stalking because the public is invited, but my Instagram feed is beginning to look like there should be a restraining order. Pictures of me with presidential hopefuls and tiny images of someone gesticulating wildly on a stage who seem farther away than they were because of my not-so-great camera phone. I have thought about bringing my big camera, with the 50x zoom, but for some reason, this would reinforce that stalking feeling.
Seven different events and seventeen candidates (list below), plus two presidential debates, and I am no further along in deciding who I want to throw my support behind for the primaries. I vote in Illinois, and typically, the primary race is over by the time it’s our turn, but maybe with 20 contenders, Illinois will become relevant. And even if we don’t, it’s important to me that I have a preference because, to be honest, I am excellent at having opinions.
Although I don’t have a final “pick,” I have learned three things about the Iowa process and made some initial decisions about the field.
Originally published on the Global Communities website.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley (BGCMV) has been an integral part of the Floreciente community since it opened its first club in the neighborhood in 1994. Their presence has since expanded to include a Teen Center as well as administrative offices for the entire Quad Cities area. Whereas the BGCMV is highly regarded among community members for their youth programming, their Administration Building – located in the center of the neighborhood – needed to be repaved to deter people from leaving their cars unattended on the lot.
Several additional buildings, public infrastructure, and other services in Floreciente also needed improvements to make them more welcoming to residents. Neighbors, business owners, and representatives from local organizations that work in the Floreciente neighborhood began to meet monthly to identify and prioritize community needs. They also worked to identify projects that would increase community pride and participation and civic activities in Floreciente early on to draw more neighbors to their cause. Popular suggestions included undertaking beautification projects, planting flowers, addressing transportation issues, creating play areas, and celebrating together.
I have been lucky enough to work with community organizers and politicians throughout the Midwest, as well as in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. As a result, I have helped craft and implement to a wide variety of community development initiatives from the “usual” (building roads and schools, providing health care, fostering employment opportunities for youth) to the “surreal” (addressing python infestation currently tops the list). Part of the process in developing countries is teaching people about key principles for civic education and engagement, which is something Americans all know about, but we sometimes forget. The Chicago Tribune recently asked readers to submit ideas about a plan for Chicago, and while drafting my plan to address crime and violence, I put together some ideas about civic engagement and government, and how we can re-engage in city decision-making.
Includes professional topics, as well as thoughts about Chicago politics. I also keep a blog on Medium that includes these, as well as more personal posts.