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By Ken Trainor
It's time for a little appreciation. Most years on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I compile an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of everything I appreciate (including, of course, appreciation, which is easy to lose track of).
Sunny days in November with temps in the mid-50s, for instance. I deeply appreciate those.
I appreciate the progress on Scoville Park. New sidewalks have been laid, and the entryways look downright inviting. I'm optimistic that we'll have our new and improved park back by Memorial Day. Easter would be even better.
Spring — now there's a season I appreciate. Just as my appreciation of autumn is tempered by the season that follows, so my apprehension about winter is tempered by the season that ensues. I would appreciate winter more if we could keep the temperature in the 50s. Is that too much to ask?
I appreciate Festival Theatre, which continues to survive against the odds and produce quality live theater, outdoors and in — most recently Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, with tour de force performances by Kevin Theis, Jack Hickey and Chris Rickett.
I appreciate Ginie Cassin, who was in attendance the night I was there. She's still going strong, still supporting local theater. I also appreciate Village Players, which created such a comfortable space on Madison Street and kept it open long enough to bring in other companies like Festival and Circle Theatre to call home. May they stay long and prosper.
And speaking of Circle, I appreciate any troupe with the creative brass to offer something titled, Pippin: A Bollywood Spectacular. And I appreciate longtime artistic director Kevin Bellie, who is no doubt the mastermind (and master choreographer) behind putting a Bollywood spin on a Broadway musical. Alas, Doug Deuchler reports in his review (LifeLines p. 30) that Kevin is leaving the company after this production. We trust Circle will not be broken.
I appreciate FitzGerald's, and Bill himself, not only for offering a virtual cornucopia of live music down on Roosevelt Road all year long, but also making his nightclub available on Election Night for the local chapter of "the 21st-century coalition," all of whom issued full-throated roars every time another state fell into the blue column.
Needless to say, I deeply appreciate the American people for rising to this occasion. One hundred percent of Americans will be better off for it.
I appreciate Bobbie Raymond, one of our many village treasures, who celebrated her recent birthday by inviting a group to lunch at Avenue Ale House and then to Open Door's new theater space at Ridgeland and Harrison to hear Charles "Corky" Troy's absorbing multimedia presentation on the brothers Gershwin. George, whose music I have long appreciated, died of a brain tumor at age 38 (what might he have accomplished?) and his brother Ira's lyrics to "Our Love is Here to Stay," a song George left unfinished, were likely written with his brother in mind. Troy's "Secular Songs of Christmas" program, by the way, is Dec. 11.
Included in our gathering were Debby Preiser — whose programming at the Oak Park Public Library throughout the year is remarkable (and most appreciated) — and Rose Meyer, one of the most energized and energizing fin-de-siecle citizens I know.
I appreciate Open Door as well, another against-all-odds theater company, which has created a lovely, intimate auditorium on a shoestring, thanks to never-give-up folks like Artistic Director Mary Pat Sieck, who was working the ticket desk last Tuesday afternoon.
The following evening I found myself sitting in Frank Lloyd Wright's one-of-a-kind worship space with approximately 300 it-takes-a-villagers, who cover the spectrum of community involvement, to hear a Nobel laureate in economics, James Heckman, make the case for the efficacy of applying our resources proactively to the 0-5 age group in Oak Park and River Forest.
A group with the ungainly name of Collaboration for Early Childhood, whose efforts we should all appreciate, has been pushing a comprehensive, preventive approach to ensure no preschooler gets left behind, promising huge dividends further along the life spectrum.
I appreciate living in any community with enough of a clue even to attempt something this noble (not to mention innovative) and that we have so many high-quality, high-minded residents who care so much about important causes like this one. But this community has a long history of innovation and caring about quality — including the architect who created the space we gathered in.
All of this, of course, is just the tip of the appreciation iceberg.
I appreciate the creativity, collaboration, caring, commonality, and cultivation of culture in this community.
And I am thankful for the opportunity to live here.