Is the “Greening” of Avondale a Good Thing?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The images that accompany this post are fairly explicit, yet there’s something beneath the surface. They show what once was a modest home under significant renovation, actually a gut rehab.

Whipple two

The homes that flank the one under rehab also were ungraded in the past few years.

In fact, as depicted, the contractors working on this home have literally raised the roof. The dumpster shown is one of perhaps five dumpsters workers have filled with debris removed from this century-old structure the past four months.

Whipple three

Hope they get the roof installed before it rains. We are in April.

Located just a few doors north of our modest home in Chicago’s suddenly hip Avondale neighborhood, this home once was owned by an elderly women; then it sat vacant for a few years.  For the past two or so years, and man and his family lived there.

Now, it’s undergoing renovation that will cost tens of thousands of dollars.  A neighbor estimated the home will be put on the market for around $650,000.  And, I think he’s right.

Whipple One

Ah, the sign of progress: A dumpster.

On the surface, this project is a good thing for the neighborhood, a good thing for Chicago and a good thing for me.  Rehab projects preserve the character of the neighborhood and contribute to the housing stock. The city gets another property back on the tax rolls — at assuredly a higher valuation than before the work was done.  And, the value of our home most certainly will rise.

But I wonder if examples of this type of “greening” or rebirth — okay, call it “gentrification” –is changing our corner of Chicago entirely for the better. Is Avondale now a “destination?” Or will it remain a neighborhood?

Yes, the neighborhood is safer, quieter and cleaner than it was when we moved here 15 years ago. New merchants are opening businesses nearby, escaping the higher rents in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wicker Park/Bucktown and West Town — where I lived for the first 19 years of my life. Yes, there’s a growing sense of community here.

Still, I don’t envision the future owners of this home-down-the-block staying in Avondale for the next 15 years.  Perhaps it’s how society is changing, but to me many people today use a place for what it’s worth, then move on.

Perhaps I’m wrong.

I do look forward to meeting the people who will move into this home-down-the-block. I hope they’ll cherish the home, perhaps as much as the elderly woman who lived there for many years.


Three Smart Communications Strategies Followed by Hillary Clinton in Presidential Nomination Announcement

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

For the record, I’ve only been involved as an active participant in one political campaign.  More on that later.

But, like many Americans, I follow the political process (locally and nationally), vote in every election (even the primaries) and have my opinions on pressing governance issues (not for publication at this time).


Can you find the “red, white and blue” in this image?

And, like many Americans, I viewed the video announcement April 12 that Hillary Clinton has officially entered the race for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2016 national elections. Clearly, it was a decision many — from professional political pundits to the average American (whoever that is) — anticipated.

Count me in that category.

But what I found fascinating was the way the message was delivered, which prompted me to identify three sound communications strategies employed by the Clinton campaign.

1. Delivered Digitally. It was a wise strategic decision to make the announcement through a crafted video. The format allowed Clinton to deliver an entirely scripted message using a medium widely embraced and accessible to most Americans. It avoided the standard practice of breaking the news at a rally attended by cheering partisan supporters. Finally, the video format — comments from people, followed by a message from the candidate — proved very effective. I got the message, and I wasn’t bored.

2. Engaging “Everyday” Americans. As just noted, the production opens with very short profiles of a very representative cross-section of Americans — a home gardener, two Hispanic brothers starting a restaurant, a young Asian woman exploring the job market, a gay couple from Chicago, an African American couple expecting a child, a woman who plans to retire, and others. These are the candidate’s supportive base, without question.  I found their brief profiles compelling and believable.

3. Going On the Road. After the video was aired initially, Clinton took the message to the heartland, literally. She headed west in a van, making unscheduled stops at cafes, stores and service stations in small towns before a planned speech in Iowa. This kept the story alive, gave the candidate opportunities to engage with those “everyday” Americans and probably kept her out of range from answering the substantive kinds of questions that surely are forthcoming.

Now, back to my involvement on the campaign trail, of sorts.  Way back in the mid-1980s, I was enlisted by a friend to help distribute “palm cards” — small handbills — near a polling place on the Northwest Side of Chicago. I don’t recall the candidate or his platform, but I believe he was a Democrat. I do recall that after the polls closed, a campaign organizer invited me and other volunteers — those distributing literature for Democrats and Republican candidates — to a pub for beers.

For the uninitiated, this was a clear example of how politics operated in some parts of Chicago and Illinois back then: Like a combine fueled at times by rewards (in this case a few rounds of drinks, for others a job) rather than political ideology.

And, in a final thought, #4 communications strategy: Candidate Clinton’s campaign managers were smart to keep the candidate’s husband off the stump. For now.

An Opening Day Thought: What Does Hate Have To Do With Baseball?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

This is more than a typical Sunday here in Chicago. Yes, of course, it’s Easter Sunday, and I wish all a blessed Easter — regardless of your beliefs.

It’s also Opening Day — make that Opening Night — for the Chicago Cubs, those beloved boys of summer.

Today marks the first time the Cubs will play the first home baseball game of the season at seemingly perennially under construction Wrigley Field at night.  And, the foe is that seemingly always successful team who play in a city 300 miles southwest — the St. Louis Cardinals.

CardinalsOr as some — fans, newspaper sports writers and broadcast media — define them, “the hated St. Louis Cardinals.”

For some untold, inexplicable reason, Cub followers and others around the baseball and sports world, “hate” the Cardinals.

I’ve read the “hated Cardinals” phrase frequently in recent print reports about the Cubs’ chances in the 2015 season in columns on progress during spring training games. In fact, in a Chicago Tribune sports article published in late March of this year on the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry, Cubs GM Theo Epstein was quoted as saying: “I’m a Cub, so I have to hate the Cardinals.”Cubs

Note to Theo and every other Cub fan: I’ve been a Cubs fan as long as I can remember. Perhaps there was a time when I “hated” the Cardinals, especially when they routinely walloped the Cubs season after season.

(I guess the same comparison can be made by Chicago Bears fans when referencing the Green Bay Packers.)

But given the state of the world today, when true hatred drives men, and increasingly women, to unspeakable horrors against their fellow man, I’m past expressing hatred for a baseball team that competes against the team I root for.  I hope sports writers, TV commentators and fans of all sports will learn to dispense with using the word “hated” or its derivatives when talking about sporting competition.

After all, it’s supposed to be a game, not a war.

The Cubs will take the field a few minutes from now. I hope they wallop the Cardinals.

Play ball!