By Dan Haley
Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:
Evanston envy reduced: You want your local publisher to be pulling a little for the hometown, now don't you? Sort of like Ken Harrelson announcing and subtly rooting for the White Sox, but with fewer clichés, perhaps, dadgummit.
Well I've been following along in the Evanston Roundtable, the best independent paper this side of, well, I'm too modest to go on, but following its coverage of some newfangled concept in Evanston called Cradle to Career, though I most often call it Cradle to Grave, which really isn't the idea at all.
Cradle to Career is the notion that an entire community ought to work collaboratively to nurture young people from birth into school and then on to college or a job. It isn't simply the job of the elementary school or the daycare or the parents or a minister to provide for a child. It is the shared task of all of us.
Felt a little bit like Oak Park had been left behind on this, especially when I figured out this sort of project is happening in a good number of places.
Turns out that, unbeknownst to me, under the auspices of the Community Foundation and its CommunityWorks effort, Oak Park and River Forest are about ready to unveil a local version of this concept. The wraps come off on April 22 at a community meeting. We'll have coverage a week ahead of the meeting.
Those crazy comments: Can't go too many places around town without hearing some exasperation about the live comments on our OakPark.com website. Yes, sometimes I am astounded, and once in a while I cringe, too, when our readers go off on a bender about taxes or a certain school principal or handguns.
But last week was too much. This really wonderful and cool thing happened in our small burg. An international pop star — 17-year-old Lorde, Grammy Award-winner from New Zealand — showed up, hung out, visited the high school, appeared to be perfectly friendly and approachable and some people took pride in dissing her.
Good lord, people.
Speaking of awards: Concordia University invited me to its annual Community Awards on Friday at the Carleton. So I went. Five fascinating people were honored, including Sue Crothers, one of those remarkably active River Foresters who are giving the town a good name.
Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, executive director of the Collaboration for Early Childhood Care & Education, was recognized in the field of education. In her quiet way, Newberry Schwartz gave an impassioned speech on how our community can and is reaching out and helping our youngest children who are at risk. In his so long speech, Ray Johnson called his vote to fund the Collaboration one of the top five notable accomplishments in recent Oak Park history. Newberry Schwartz, Eric Gershenson and Joan White get the credit for creating this Cradle to Kindergarten approach.
Baseball's back: Will be at the Sox opener next Monday (actually opening in March!). Do not expect a column next week. Though I might surprise you if writing it turns out to be a can of corn.
True North: Had lunch last week with Judith Alexander and Joe Graber, leaders of the North Avenue Neighbors Association of Oak Park. Turns out they had bought the dubious honor of eating lunch with me at a PADS auction two years ago. Took them a while to collect. Have been following their work and the bonds they're building across North Avenue on the pawn shop issue, a nightclub and now the attempt to bring Mariano's to the Sears site. Feels as if Oak Park has been waiting a long time for this sort of positive and determined energy along our north end.