This post (and this week’s issue) marks one of the last for yours truly, Anna Lothson your (beloved, possibly hated?) village government and business reporter. I’m moving on to a new opportunity next week. 

Inspired by the lead sentence from my favorite news series about Oak Park’s pigeon problem, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts about what I value most in this village: Oak Parkers don’t keep their opinions cooped up.

I’ve covered eight suburban communities and I can say with all honesty that there’s no place like Oak Park. Good and bad, this town has an edge.

Village President Anan Abu-Taleb said during the campaign season that there may be a “thousand things wrong with Oak Park, but there’s a million things right.” I get what he’s saying.

You love some things — like the diversity, the open-minded people and the engaged residents — and then there are other things, like the odd parking regulations, that no one can quite figure out. The number of parking tickets I racked up here are proof.

The old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” can be amended in Oak Park to read, It takes a village to raise a village.” Everyone — from residents and workers to the leaders, elected or hired — it takes them all. It’s a challenging balance and all towns must find it.

I heard a lot about Oak Park before joining the Journal team and it didn’t take many lengthy board meetings to confirm its reputation. There’s tension, but it’s almost always dissolved later with a handshake, a pat on the back (or hug from Anan) and some collaboration and compromise. Everyone wasn’t always happy, and mistakes have been admittedly made. Life happens.

But a wealth of successes can also be celebrated, just in the past year alone. The Early Childhood Collaboration, new levels of sustainability achievements, new projects, new businesses, and a glimpse of hope for new developments. The list goes on, as do the flubs, which could get their own list.

Again, life happens.

Sitting through hours of village board meetings has given me an appreciation that all residents could benefit from. Sure, it’s not my tax dollars, but it was my work and time. That alone made me care about this village like it was my home. So as I say goodbye to the Journal team and Oak Park— who need each other equally to run well — I’d just like to say thanks. Thanks for the stories, the good and the bad.

I’ll even miss the meetings. Well, eventually.

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