A Beatuiful Day in the (Logan Square) Neighborhood

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Today, this last day of July 2011, The PRDude will dispense, somewhat, from the rhetoric that has graced these pages (can I say that with a blog?) since September of 2009.  You loyal followers know that I began chronicling my job search and commenting on many topics related to public relations; then, the blog “transitioned” into whatever inspires me at a given time.

Today, on a sun-kissed Sunday, I’ll provide you with a travelog of sorts.  What follows is a snapshot in pictures taken on my trusty Blackberry Curve featuring an hour spent strolling through Chicago’s coolest neighborhood — Logan Square.

First, being an ethical public relations practitioner, I will offer this disclosure: We live in Avondale, the neighborhood just north of Logan Square.  But we did live in a beautiful greystone two-flat on Logan Boulevard, so I deem myself qualified to offer these images and commentary.

Every Sunday from June to October, hundreds gather along a stretch of Logan Boulevard to enjoy the Farmer's Market. Everyone's welcome. People show off their tats and dogs while shopping.

Visitors can purchase lots of good stuff to eat -- from locally grown vegetables and produce to breads, meat, honey and more. But why oh why didn't some farmer offer watermelon! It's July!

Food vendors have taken over part of the south lawn and offer lots of prepared good stuff to eat. It's like a hip food court.

And, we have entertainment! Here there young guys perform old-time music with passion and drive. They don't know any Metallica. I checked.

At the nearby Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, I caught these guys playing avant garde jazz. A great way to enjoy my cappuccino.

And, what's an Arts Festival without some art! A nice piece, but probably would not fit into our living room. Plus, it might frighten the cats.

Homes like this mansion, once owned by a prominent local business family, can be found throughout Logan Square. I've been inside the home many times. It's as awesome as you could imagine.

So, I hope the images above provide a little “good PR” for my neighborhood.  (I know: I live in Avondale. But we’re splitting proverbial hairs here.  Plus my friends who sell houses still market Avondale as “Logan Square.”)

Logan Square has history and culture.  It contains the best-preserved sections of Chicago’s famed “Emerald Necklace” boulevard network.  It’s still relatively affordable and ethnically diverse. Much of the bad crime — gang wars and drug traffic — has been diminished.  Cool restaurants, bars and shops have opened.  And, we have artists.  Lots of artists.

Where other parts of my home city of Chicago have hit someplace below bottom, Logan Square has charged ahead — offering a little piece of America to immigrant families, people like me who work in nice offices, entrepreneurs who have a vision of something new to offer,  and yes, the artists.

Today, a few hundred miles to the east, the men and women we elected to run our government are close to a resolution on raising the debt ceiling.  They could have been out this spectacular Sunday, enjoying the time outside, or even taking in a simple American pleasure like visiting a local farmer’s market or arts festival.

A note to the President, members of the House and members of the  Senate: The next time a “crisis” looms on the horizon, fix it then.  You guys and gals are missing out on some of the things that really makes this country great.

Repurposing a Post on Accredited in Public Relations

By Edward M. Bury, APR aka The PRDude

Here’s one of my favorite words, and for that matter, practices:  “Repurpose.”

The online Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word this way: “To give a new purpose or use to;” and cites as an example, “finding ways to repurpose old computer equipment.”

On Wednesday of this week, I had the honor of having a post published in CommPro.biz, an electronic newsletter for those of us in the public relations and communications industry. The newsletter arrives in my mailbox each day and offers some great blogs and articles from communicators. The subjects range from the global — the News Corporation scandal and meltdown — to the more provincial.

My post certainly falls in the latter category.  It tackled a subject very close to my heart: The Accredited in Public Relations (APR) program.

Look up at my “byline,” and you’ll see I’m Accredited.  And, those loyal readers out there know I’ve covered Accreditation a few times through this blog.  And, I’m a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, which grants, administers and markets the credential.

It was in my role as co-chair of the UAB’s Marketing Communications work group that I received the offer to contribute to CommPro.biz.  The subject: The second quarter statistics for those pursuing the APR.  Interested in reading my thoughts?  Click here. I won’t spoil the fun by letting you know the subject.

I just checked the CommPro.biz post and was thrilled to see eight comments.  Well, nine because I just added one.

I’m bullish on Accreditation; that’s why I repurposed the post.  But this just struck me: Since I wrote the post as a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, perhaps I was not giving enough weight to the commentary.  Maybe the discussion of Accreditation — the only credential in the public relations arena — ranks up there with the News Corporation debacle.

What do you think?

If We Can’t Grow Up, Let’s Grow Something

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Things do get hot here in the USA in July, especially in Washington.  For weeks,  the President and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and from both upper and lower house are getting hot under their starched collars about the economy.

Specifically: What to do about the impasse over raising the national debt limit to avoid a default and other nasty economic problems that only economists seem to understand and politicians, of course, control.

A quick poll here: Do you really understand what this all means?  I think the issue centers on giving Uncle Sam the ability to borrow even more money that we don’t have the ability or resources to pay back any time soon.  If you have a better answer, please share it with The PRDude.

From another perspective, we as a nation — one that just celebrated its 235th birthday — have not really grown up. We’re metaphorically still children.  And, from what I’ve read about places like Greece, Spain, Portugal and now Italy, we have lots of company out there.

Children haven’t matured to understand reason.  They just want and want and want, without having any thoughts toward the consequences.

So, I’m offering a solution: If we can’t grow up, let’s all start growing something.  And, I’m referring to plants grown in soil or growing compound, although hydroponics would qualify.

Here’s a sampling of stuff growing in the PRDude’s little garden in the beautiful Avondale neighborhood of Chicago:

Heirloom tomatoes grown in an EarthBox.

Big Boys (or are they Better Boys?) grown in an simple container.

Basil grown in a container under a portable "greenhouse."

Would you believe this modest perennial bed has around a dozen species!

 

A stand of sage, chives and parslely.

Growing these plants — vegetables, culinary herbs, perennials and annuals — takes some work.  But there is a great deal of satisfaction in following one of the most natural practices known to man: Making things grow from soil.
Perhaps the President and members of Congress should push themselves away from the negotiation table today, pick up a shovel or some other garden tool and get their hands really dirty in the White House garden.   If not, I’m sure there are some nice gardens near Capitol Hill and around the National Mall that need care.

Frankly, it would be “good PR,” to use an often misused phrase for media exposure, to show our leaders engaged in something productive, like gardening.  Because from what I’ve read and witnessed during my lifetime, they should have not done well running the country.

Happy 235th Birthday, USA

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Today, in backyards across this great, sprawling nation, with its hodgepodge of cultures and landscapes, Americans in all 50 states will spend the day grilling food, consuming all kinds of beverages and igniting fireworks (mostly illegally) as a way to honor the birth of the United States of America.

Of course, there were only 13 original states, or “colonies,” as our former owners the British called us, back around 1776.  Yes, 13 is an unlucky number; but so far, we’ve turned out pretty well as a country and people when compared to the rest of the world.

Some of our domestic and foreign policies have not been looked upon too favorably by our neighbors around the world.  Starting an unprovoked war and an unparalleled thirst for fossil fuels are just two reasons why the USA gets bashed and bashed some more on the global stage.

(Note: If you disagree with me on the following two points — or any other — that’s certainly your prerogative.  What truly makes this nation great, along with baseball, apple pie and hot dogs, is the fact that we can disagree and live to disagree again without fear of ending up getting bashed on the shins in a windowless room.  The PRDude wholeheartedly encourages dialogue.  This is a blog after all!)

But decades ago, our countrymen (and women, I guess) were tagged with the term “ugly American” as a reference to perceived arrogance and boorishness.  The term actually was coined from a 1958 political novel that was made into a movie starring Marlon Brando; the setting is a fictional nation in Southeast Asia, which of course was the location of some pretty awful stuff in the decades to follow.

Have you heard the phrase “ugly American” today?

Actually, these days we’re called a lot of nasty names by people from various cultures  — names that are much worse than what’s inferred by the “ugly American” moniker.  Some even consider us the modern Satan, or Beelzebub, Lucifer or one of the other names for the real Bad Guy.

But despite our (perhaps) diminished status on the world stage, we’re still pretty popular outside our borders.  Some statistics I found on Wikipedia reveal that in 2006 the USA accepted “more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined.”  Is this true today?  If you have stats to share, please send them my way.  I’ll bet those newly-minted Americans don’t consider themselves “ugly.”

Perhaps what we need today — and I’m not a fan of more government, especially on the Federal level — is an office or department or bureau of Public Relations.  Perhaps our various government bureaucracies can assign a skilled public relations practitioner — preferably one with the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR credential, which I proudly hold — to develop a real PR plan for the nation.   The key goal would be to enhance our reputation for all the good that the USA does here and internationally.

Have it based on the four steps in a real plan with measurable results:

1. Define the opportunity or threat

2. Conduct research and define publics

3. Communicate — execute the plan

4. Analyze results and make revisions

Apple pie-in-the-sky?  Maybe.  But it’s assuredly a lot less costly than a war or some of the nation-building exercises we’ve engaged in recently.  What do you think?

So get out and celebrate Independence Day.  Today’s national birthday celebration — our 235th — should be honored with parades and fireworks, brats and beer.  Or doing just about whatever you want to do, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t bother your neighbor.