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History takes rightful place

Ten years ago, we wrote an editorial declaring the old Cicero Township firehouse/water pumping station at Lake and Lombard to be the perfect and inevitable new home for the Historical Society of Oak Park-River Forest. And this Saturday that long-shot wisdom comes to fruition as the new Oak Park River Forest Museum opens in that lovingly and audaciously restored landmark.

The Journal's first go-round on the then stuck-in-place Historical Society was in our earliest years when columnist Francis J. Walsh, aka The Spectator, marshaled us to do pages and pages of content in one issue on just why the society was moribund and what it could look like at full vim.

Of course, it was dedicated and visionary volunteers, a profound nudge from the park district to vacate the second and third floors of Pleasant Home, a welcome from village hall to remake the old Cicero Township firehouse, a champion in the form of Frank Lipo, the first and only full-time executive director, and some well-to-do benefactors who have made this possible.

We've watched the fits and starts of raising money, the determined efforts at restoration, the simultaneous renaissance of East Lake Street. And now, this very weekend, the rightful opening of a museum worthy of the fascinating history of these two villages.

LemonAid looks east

Another great day on Monday for the annual LemonAid event in River Forest. Sixteen years already since 9/11, the direct inspiration for this kid-fueled and now super-sized fundraiser.

And this year, a notable first. All of the money raised — and it will add up into the tens of thousands of dollars — will go to a terrific charity in Austin. This is the first time that a West Side charity will be the beneficiary of LemonAid. We see it as yet another sign of the growing bonds across Austin Boulevard. 

In Kidz Express, LemonAid has chosen a first-rate nonprofit that quietly does great work with young people in Austin. This is an after-school care, mentoring and jobs skills program that dates back 20 years. It has its roots in an alliance between Lutheran churches in Austin and Oak Park. And the funds from LemonAid will go a long way in furthering its efforts.

DACA and Dominican

In recent months, as we have covered efforts in River Forest and Oak Park to approve Welcoming resolutions focused on protecting undocumented neighbors from increasingly harsh Trump-era deportation policies, the constant voice of support of such efforts has come from Dominican University. 

This River Forest school spoke forthrightly again last week as Trump and his minions announced that the Obama-era DACA program was being rescinded, that it would end in six months if an inert Congress could not make it law. President Donna Carroll wrote that the school "stands in solidarity with its undocumented students, their families and their communities."

This Catholic institution consistently, confidently stands for values of inclusion and opportunity that we believe are the essence of both Christian beliefs and American values. 

Indigenous Peoples Day

It is hard to be a progressive community without taking progressive action. It is difficult to acknowledge the reality of institutional racism at work in this village, as our schools and village government have done, and not stand against it.

So credit to the Oak Park Village Board for its action last week to follow other progressive towns in declaring the second Monday of October to be Indigenous Peoples Day. Yes, of course, that is the same day as we have long, and without much understanding of history, celebrated the insulting idea that Christopher Columbus "discovered" America. 

And that would be the worthy point being made. 

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