An Adventure Taken to See the Light in a Fallen Chicago

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

Last week Wednesday, I set out on an “adventure” after the work day was over.

Well, an adventure of sorts, coupled with finding some solace at a time when my city is facing great challenges.

Rather than ride the CTA Blue Line train straight to the Logan Square station and hike the six blocks home, I exited the train at Monroe Street. My destination was to see first-hand some of what makes Chicago truly great during the holidays. (And, much of the rest of the year, too.)

Cloud Gate (please don't call it The Bean!) is mesmerizing in the evening when there are few people around.

Cloud Gate (please don’t call it The Bean!) is mesmerizing in the evening when there are few people around.

I strolled east to Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute, admired the two lions, then walked north a few blocks, taking in the grandeur and scale of classic office towers to the west and installations and skating rink in Millennium Park to the east.

And, yes, I did what many visitors do: I shot an image of the Cloud Gate sculpture. Fortunately, I got to admire this great work of art for a few minutes in relative quiet that night.

From there the real adventure began: A ride north on the #151 Sheridan bus through the North Michigan Avenue retail district, its store windows resplendent in holiday finery, onto inner Lake Shore Drive, past Gold Coast high rise apartments and into Lincoln Park.

The articulated bus (often called “accordion buses”) twisted its way on Stockton Drive past the Zoo, the lake to east and still visible if you knew when to look.  At Fullerton Avenue, I exited, walked west to Clark Street — still one of my favorite thoroughfares — then north.

Clark Street, or at least the present ambiance, was much like how I remembered it back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it was still on the edgy side: Lots of small shops, cafes and bars, once frequented by hippies, now a decidedly less bohemian demographic.

I found a lively cafe, ordered a glass of red wine and reflected on the things around me — and the turmoil taking place here.

Along with enjoying the downtown cityscape and Lincoln Park hipness and charm, this evening diversion from my routine afforded time to contemplate the upheaval taking place since authorities were ordered to release a 2014 video showing a Chicago Police officer fatally shooting a 17-year-old boy named Laquan McDonald on the South Side.

The recent protests are shaking Chicago to its very foundation, to its very core.

The recent protests are shaking Chicago to its very foundation, to its very core.

You’ve read about it; you’ve probably seen the video.  You’re aware the officer involved was charged with first degree murder.  You’re aware of the anger toward City Hall, the Police department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. You know about the protests that have been taking place these past few weeks.

Yes, there were protests the night of December 3, when I had my quiet, peaceful evening. From one perspective, it was sort of surreal to take in the serenity while the mood was palpably the opposite in another part of Chicago.

The crux of the turmoil centers on truth and disclosure, two principles I firmly believe in, two principles that guide how I practice public relations. Based on what’s unfolded and been reported, decision-makers ignored facts and withheld information until told to do so by the courts.

That’s a simplistic analysis, I know. Yet, what’s transpired these past few days has made me ashamed of my city.

For Chicago to overcome the challenges ahead, past practices of deceit and delay must come to an end. It’s a much different world now, one where dash camera videos provide an unabashed account of what actually takes place. Those who commit crimes, whether they hold a badge or not, must be held accountable.

I think Chicago can be seen in a better light and regain the confidence and trust of all the people who live and work here. At least I hope so.

Perhaps I’ll need another adventure to find the answer.