Another Kind of “Memorial” on Memorial Day 2018

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

On this Memorial Day 2018, with weather in Chicago much more suited to Independence Day, I struggled for a relevant commentary, for some poignant message to communicate in this space appropriate for this national holiday.

I have experience in this subject.

Is the owner of this cart, photographed along the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, a veteran? Really, does it matter?

Last year, I wrote about a small monument in the Logan Square neighborhood, a community in the midst of revitalization and change now best defined as gentrification. And, in 2015, the PRDude reported on a memorial to Polish service men from St. Hyacinth parish in Avondale.

One thread between those two posts and this one: Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

Here’s why: Yesterday, I came across the shopping cart noted in the image above on the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, an arterial thoroughfare that connects Logan Square to Avondale and beyond. I have no idea who controls this rag-tag device, filled with aluminum cans and personal possessions.

Could this be the belongings of a U.S. serviceman?  Or a servicewoman?

Today, I read a news article that reported servicemen and women who get discharged for non-serious offenses are discriminated against when trying to return to the workforce.

That led me to search for some insight on those U.S. veterans who — despite serving their country — have not been able to land meaningful employment, find a place to live and assimilate into civilian life and society.  On the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans site, I learned staggering statistics on the plight of too many veterans today.

That led to this thought: On this day when we honor the men and women who served in our armed forces to let us live in a free land — one facing challenges, but fundamentally free — too many veterans are discarded and compelled to homelessness.

Perhaps some maintain their possessions in a shopping cart along a stretch of some  street in America, like Milwaukee Avenue.

So, on Memorial Day 2018, I offer thoughts of honor to those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. But I also think we should do more — much more — to honor those veterans searching for the road that leads to the America they fought for.

 

 

 

A Super Way to Start This Super Bowl Sunday

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

Perhaps it’s not an exciting way to start off Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, 2016.

A view of northbound Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

A view of northbound Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

But here’s what I did on this unseasonably warm and pleasant morning: I went for a long walk in the neighborhood and stopped for a cup of coffee at a new, independent shop just off Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

Sounds innocuous, uneventful, even predictable, right.

Not so.

My stroll and stop at the Bow Truss shop on Kedzie Avenue gave me an opportunity to break away from my Sunday morning routine of coffee on the couch with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and gain some more insight on the changes taking place in and around Logan Square.

My view from the corner stool on a warm-for-February Sunday morning.

My view from the corner stool on a warm-for-February Sunday morning.

While sitting at the Bow Truss counter, I overheard a conversation between the barista (who hailed from a small town in northern Michigan) and the two guys next to me — one from Toronto, the other from France.  All three had been in Chicago for a short time, all were happy to be here, and all looked forward to learning more about the city.

Using my keen powers of observation (remember, I used to be a reporter), I ascertained that other patrons of the establishment, which was a scary bar back in the early 1990s, also moved to the neighborhood recently; they selected Logan Square because it’s become a very desirable place to live and work, and drink good coffee, too.

Ah, great coffee in a real glass mug!

Ah, great coffee in a real glass mug!

And, as illustrated in the adjacent image, I brought along some of today’s Sunday newspaper to read while I enjoyed the excellent coffee and relaxed atmosphere.

 

Bow Truss is just one of the seemingly dozens of new establishments bringing vitality and diversity to Logan Square. More restaurants, bars and even a brewery will open along Milwaukee Avenue in the near future.

These changes, which are leading to dramatically higher rents and housing prices, come in the wake of what some call “gentrification,” or a process where lower-income residents and business get priced out by newcomers.

And, there’s certainly validity in that perspective.

But Bow Truss replacing a long-gone seedy tavern called the Big O is a reflection of many factors, like market dynamics, the economy and shifting demographics.

Hopefully, those who want to live in Logan Square will still be able to do so. I’d welcome to overhear their conversation about the neighborhood the next time I break my Sunday morning routine.

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I’ve written about Logan Square (and Avondale, where we live) before. Here are some past posts.