Breach of Ethics Spans Generations

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

A recent local news story struck a responsive chord with me, and I’m sure a lot of other people here in metropolitan Chicago and elsewhere.  The issue: A breach of ethics and poor judgment among some high school seniors involving a mandatory requirement to perform 24 hours of community service as a prerequisite for graduation.

As I’ll explain, this instance of “kids behaving badly” has another perspective.

Oak Lawn LogoHere’s what happened.  As reported extensively by Chicago media, around 40 graduating seniors from Oak Lawn Community High School allegedly paid a classmate to forge a signature on documents related to the completion of the community service requirement.  View this report from the local CBS television affiliate for more details.

Yes, these kids messed up. They made a mistake, and they’ll pay for it by not being allowed to don the cap and gown with their peers — those kids who actually spent the required hours at a nursing home, pet shelter or local business.  (Sidebar: The reportedly forged signatures were those of a golf course manager; come on!  What’s so hard about helping out at a golf course?)

Clearly, these students tried to get away with something.  But in the end, they violated a standard and brought shame on themselves, their families and their school.

But too often today, it’s mainly the younger generation — the so-called Millennials — that get bashed for lacking the same morals and character as those of us from previous generations. In the case of a handful of the 2014 graduating class of Oak Lawn High School, that’s true.

In an effort to support my contention with more than anecdotal evidence, I ran a variety of Google searches and found lots of reports about kids lacking ethics, especially while online, as found in this Mashable post citing a Harvard University study.

However, a decline or lack of ethics transcends Millennials.  Here’s an ethicsexample.

When Susan and I moved to our home in the Avondale neighborhood 14 years ago, we noticed neighbors two houses west had restricted parking signs in front of the home. The City of Chicago allows this privilege for residents with disabilities — in essence granting that person the right to park there.

The issue: We rarely, if ever, saw a car parked in that spot. Later, we learned that two elderly women lived in the home and secured the restricted designation so their son — who visited a few times a month — could park in the space.

Was this a breach of ethics, an absence of moral principles governing good citizenship and conduct?  Without question, and from two people who were part of the so-called “Greatest Generation.”

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, those of use who are serious about the practice of public relations prescribe to maintaining the highest ethical standards at all times.   Those of us who earned the Accredited in Public Relations credential pledge that we’ll provide ethical counsel.

Hopefully, the Oak Lawn High School students embroiled in this issue learned a lesson.  As for our elderly neighbors, they sold the home and moved years ago. Shortly thereafter, the parking signs were removed from the ground.

Here are two other posts from The PRDude that reference the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago:

1. An August of 2013 post about disturbing messages found outside.

2. A July of 2013 post about sitting on the front porch and enjoying all things natural.

 

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One More Thing About the Pending Closing of Hot Doug’s

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

The news yesterday was stupefying for Chicago aficionados of “encased meats” and those who enjoy long waits to get something to eat: Hot Doug’s, the so-called “sausage superstore,” will serve its last dog this fall.

The legendary Doug Sohn, behind the counter of his soon-to-be-shuttered hot dog "superstore."

The legendary Doug Sohn, behind the counter of his soon-to-be-shuttered hot dog “superstore.”

A collective wail spread through the food-loving community, a demographic that never ceases to amaze me with their quest for edible products that are unabashedly hip, generally expensive and usually requiring a lengthy wait to purchase.    This aptly-named Chicago online source even reports on the “reaction” by Chicago’s food community to the closing on what basically is an upscale hot dog stand.

I pray those who will crave a Hot Doug’s rattlesnake dog topped with fois gras will find a suitable alternative when the establishment shuts for good. (In the full disclosure department: I dined at Hot Doug’s once and recall the dog and fries were pretty good, but not worth the 45-minute wait.)

But back to the purpose of this post: Hot Doug’s is located in Avondale, and fortunately, media reports on the story — from both traditional and digital outlets — identify the establishment as being in Avondale.

This is Avondale!

This is Avondale!

Where’s Avondale?

It’s where I’ve lived the past 14 years, a neighborhood often overshadowed by its sister neighborhood to the south, Logan Square.  Avondale is what  Brooklyn is to Manhattan, what St. Paul is to Minneapolis: Grittier, edgier and perhaps to some, less cultured and less expensive.  Many never heard of Avondale, or just lumped the neighborhood in with its wealthier neighbor.

But perceptions — like real estate values — change over time, and Avondale is now hip. Read this Chicago Sun-Times piece for details.

Not to knock Logan Square: Susan and I lived in a wonderful apartment in a greystone on Logan Boulevard for eight years and were very content.  But it wasn’t ours, and when time came to purchase, we found a wonderful home  in Avondale — just a block north of the formal boundary between the two  neighborhoods.

In fact, we’ve been in our Avondale home a little longer than owner Doug Sohn has held down counter duties as Hot Doug’s.  So, we were pioneers of living in a neighborhood on the cusp of cool even before Mr. Sohn.

So, thanks Mr. Sohn for helping to build awareness for Avondale as the next bastion of hipness.  But remember, we were here first.

Two Messages, Both Disturbing, Neither Digital

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

Today, two messages — both compelling, both literally at my doorstep — prompted me to think about the number of new messages, stimuli or advertisements we receive each day.  First, some quick research:

There’s other statistics like this, I’m sure.  But rest assured, we are bombarded by messages, especially when we go on line and open a browser window.  For the record, The PRDUde does not take advertising dollars; but I might mention you in a future post if you buy me a good beer.

MarlboroOn to the focus of this post.  Today, I found a crumpled, empty pack of Marlboro Gold on the sidewalk in front of our home.  It contained a warning message that’s pretty straightforward, as you can see from the adjacent image.

Most educated people are aware of the dangers of smoking, but they continue to puff away.  Some discard their empty packs and spent butts with reckless abandon, ending up on someone’s lawn.  The warning message on this Marlboro package, in boldface type and right below the brand “logo,” is the result of federal laws that took effect last year.  The objective of this message is to decrease the number of smokers in the U.S.

Now look at the image to the right.  This graffiti, probably sprayed on by gangDSCN0567 punks or wannabe gang punks last night, now adorns a building right across from our home in the Avondale section of Chicago.

What does this nonsense mean?  I have no idea, however it’s a criminal act.

I trust it’s a “warning” message of some kind to alert rivals that our block is turf claimed by some affiliation of punks who believe they “own” or “control” the neighborhood.  For the record, we did have gang activity around our home years ago; it’s gone, thanks to more concerned neighbors and regular police patrols.  And, I called the City of Chicago to request the graffiti be removed.

Before drafting this post, I checked my email accounts, visited Facebook, watched a news program on TV and read parts of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  I received lots of messages.  But it was two very simple, non-digital messages — the cigarette pack warning and gang graffiti — that prompted me to act.

What messages grabbed your attention today?

A Few Things I Will Miss Doing Each Morning Since …

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

This summer has been delightful here in Chicago, especially from a weather perspective.  That makes for ideal conditions to take advantage of all things relaxing and outdoors.

These past few weeks, I’ve started my day on the front porch, lounging on the wicker furniture Susan restored.  I leisurely enjoy my coffee and can read as many articles as I want from the Chicago Tribune, which we still have delivered.

Here's a street in Avondale. It's not the street I live on, but it's representative of our neighborhood.

Here’s a street in Avondale. It’s not the street I live on, but it’s representative of our neighborhood.

I’m accompanied by birds — cardinals, robins and sparrows — and am serenaded by their calls.  The morning sun, filtered by the linden trees to the east, is warm and inviting.  From our front porch, I greet neighbors — retired folks like Joanne, long-standing friends like Bree, Hispanic kids, hipsters sporting tattoos and straw fedoras — heading to work, off to school or walking their dogs.

In essence, I see the neighborhood come alive; it’s peaceful and tranquil, and a reflection of how Avondale has evolved from one sometimes plagued by gang punks, loud cars and graffiti to one of tolerance, quiet and normalcy.

This is the view from outside the office building where I now work. Can you guess where it is?

This is the view from outside the office building where I now work. Can you guess where it is?

Well, my cherished morning routine is over.  Now, I’ve joined my neighbors. I now have someplace to go.  I landed a new full-time position.

Thrilled to be back in another great public relations position? Without question.  Excited about the challenges ahead?  Bring them on. Looking forward to continue growing and learning?  As my friends from Wisconsin would say, “You betcha!”

To those who offered support during my search, sincere thanks.  (A special shout out to my friends at PRSA Chicago for the opportunity to stay active in the profession through my volunteer work coaching APR candidates.)  To those who are searching for the next career opportunity, I offer this advice:

  • Always preserve your integrity.
  • Always remember you have value in today’s job market.

And, as for my coffee-and-newspaper routine: There’s still Saturday and Sunday, and there’s half of summer left.

Three Months Later, And It Snowed Today

Well, the sun also rose today, the start of the third month since I became unemployed.  And, winter made a debut, leaving the first few flakes of snow. But perhaps “unemployed” is not at all the right word.

Since being let go from my former full-time position in public relations, my days are a whirlwind of activity:  Networking initiatives;  responses to posted jobs; calls, emails and research into places I’d like to work at; more project work than I imagined; volunteer work on behalf of the Universal Accreditation Board and the Chicago Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America; learning more about the increased role of Web 2.0 in public relations and business; meetings and more meetings.

Perhaps I’ve forgotten something?

Oh yes.  I still take my morning walk, usually after 9 a.m. when the streets in our Chicago neighborhood are quiet.  Those with “real” jobs are at work, leaving the thoroughfares of Avondale and Logan Square to me, a few joggers and others out for a stroll.   There’s a certain tranquility in mid morning on these streets, framed by century-old stone and frame homes, some quite grand and stately.

Newer parts of the city can’t match the sense of permanence we have here. Generations ago, this part of Chicago was built up by developers who sold two-flats and single-family homes primarily to European immigrants.  They stayed for decades, raising families and building futures.  Most moved away in the 1960s and 1970s; but their presence will forever be defined by what’s left, the streets where I walk each morning.

It’s late now.  I look forward to waking up some seven hours from now to a new day filled with challenges and activity, another day searching for an opportunity where I can contribute my skills in public relations, another day of being “unemployed.”  And, another day to walk the streets I have all to myself.