Sunday, August 31, 2008

Second City thoughts

I've been thinking a bit about Chicago lately -- in large part because of the Democratic National Convention and the story of the Obamas, but also some other reasons.

some recollections...I have been thinking about when I first ran across Barack Obama's name. It was when I was part of the ACM Urban Studies program back in 1998. I'm not going to get into what the program was (or was not), but I do recall sitting in our apartment in Bronzeville reading the paper and seeing Obama's name associated with progressive legislation in the sate legislature. Honestly, I didn't think too much about it and rather, I was more interested in what Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr was doing at the time.

Bronzeville vs Judkins Park -- this may have to do more with racial covenant laws and what not, but I find it interesting that both neighborhoods have historically had large populations of African Americans, near neighborhoods of significant Asian American populations. Having moved recently to Judkins Park, I am just noticing the similarities in neighboring areas. As segregated as Chicago was, it just reminds me that Seattle also has a history of segregation in spite of it's progressive image.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released 10 years ago this last week. I picked up the album while I was in Chicago, thanks in part to learning about it from my roommate, T. I can't believe it was 10 years ago! Where did the time go?

Asset based community development -- I first ran across this term via that Urban Studies program. Strangely enough, I've run across that here in Seattle through various organizations.

Politics of a different sort -- Barack Obama, Deval Patrick, Jesse Jackson Jr...this is a very different generation of politicians that what I studied in Chicago and at Carleton.

Identity and place -- I went to a presentation recently from a researcher with Microsoft's Cambridge office. He talked about how place influences identity, and that made me think about who I am at work, in Seattle, in Chicago and the like. My life in Chicago was very different than that of my life here in Seattle. Perhaps it's the size of the cities, or it's the nature of my social networks in both areas. Regardless, once again I found myself thinking on Chicago again...

Where am I going with this? I'm not really sure. But with all my work professionally with community, the poetic description of service by Michelle Obama, and my volunteer work locally just makes me realize how much more there is to be done if we are to fully realize our potential. Who knows what the next ten years will look like, but I have no doubt in the possibility of the human spirit.