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Showing posts from July, 2024

The Long Way Home 7.12.24

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As they encounter potholes, a new policy at their favorite gas station, or get their hackles raised by some government action, I hear people say, “Someone needs to do something about that.” We all say it from time to time, in frustration with problems and having a desire for solutions. Yet it’s always someone else we think should do something. My friend and neighbor Arvis Thompson is one of those who does something when she sees something that isn’t right. She’s a wife, mother, and grandmother who has called Colvill, MN (an unincorporated community in Cook County) home since 1976.  Arvis is a retired county employee but spends some of her free time attending public meetings of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. When she can, she raises concerns and questions with the commissioners. Those questions and concerns are often uncomfortable for county elected officials and staff, but at least she does something. Arvis is the kind of person that Gloria Steinem would have approved of. Stei

The Long Way Home 7.5.24

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The Long Way Home 7.5.24   Last week, the Bohunk asked me if I’d like to watch Grumpy Old Men before bed. Thinking she meant the 1993 comedy, I said, “Absolutely.” A chance to laugh at our accents, our winters, and grumpy old men. I was surprised when she called up CNN, a strange venue for a serious comedy. Expecting to glimpse Ann-Marget, I saw Dana Bash and Jake Tapper instead. Then, President Biden shuffled on stage, making a fair impression of Burgess Meredith. I don’t know if it was our little television, but he seemed to have the ghastly pale of the spirit that is Dicken’s Jacob Marley.  After Biden got to his podium, Donald Trump strutted on stage like Walter Matthau. However, his appearance was perhaps closer to Benito Mussolini if Mussolini had lived well into his eighth decade.  As a recovering political junkie, I decided this episode of two grumpy old men, both running to be the leader of the free world, deserved at least a small amount of my attention. The next day,  I got

The Long Way Home 6.28.24

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It still amazes me that many people share my experiences growing up with insecurities, fears, and unresolved questions. It makes me think I’m not unique after all. We have more in common than we know, which could explain the popularity of  “coming of age” stories in books and movies. Mostly, those insecurities and fears follow us throughout our lives.  How many of us didn’t feel sick to our stomachs on the day we needed to present our science or art project in front of a classroom of kids who were all cooler, brighter, and better dressed than we were? Not to mention a scowling teacher ready to cruelly humiliate us further by asking questions we didn’t know the answer to. Fast-forward to adulthood, and you’re asked to speak in front of a group of people. Fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears in the world, and I bet it’s because of what we endured with knotted stomachs and active bladders forced to present something to a class in sixth grade.   I was a middle-of-the-pac

Progress Despite, Not Because Of Meetings? NS Journal 6.28.24

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As we witness the upcoming elections in Cook, Lake, and St Louis counties, it's worth considering the workload of the average elected county commissioner, as detailed on the Cook County website. These elected commissioners are tasked with serving on over 40 different boards, committees, and state or regional peer groups. This multitude of commitments demands a significant amount of time dedicated to preparing for, attending, and following up on meetings each month. According to Work Life, an online publication of Atlassian, a global software company, meetings are ineffective 72% of the time. Three out of every four meetings do not achieve their intended goals and probably should not take place. The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the way we hold meetings. The ubiquitous Zoom app has become our virtual meeting room, connecting attendees from the comfort of home, their car, or their office. But these Zoom meetings aren’t what they used to be.  A recent article in Axios by Emily