Picture from the Women's March on Washington, courtesy of Dr. Mary Ann Bender.

So, I missed another protest due to prior engagements.  Keeping up in our current world is overwhelming. 

Although I continue to do what I do, focusing my small nonprofit on the local economy, I find it difficult to stay focused at this historical moment.  Or to remain confident that I am focusing on the right things amidst a constant barrage of issues – all critically important.  I imagine others feel the same.

I always have kept a tight schedule.  It never occurred to me last November that I should pencil in time this year to accommodate last minute trips to the airport, group postcard-writing sessions, flash-mob fundraisers, additional information meetings and time to call, fax and email politicians.  But here we are.

And that is just national-level politics.  By press time, there will have been a likely-contentious meeting about a high-rise in downtown Oak Park.  I went to get my paper Sunday morning only to find a flyer from an activist not pleased with the proposed developments on Madison Street. There are dozens of candidates running for local office this April all wanting to be heard.

I am trying to keep up with what it means to be a “sanctuary village” although I missed that meeting as well.  The new District 200 superintendent is hosting a “listening tour” to gauge local sentiment regarding the high school.  Oak Park District 97 is scheduling forums to explain the elementary school referenda on April’s ballot.  Events to discuss equity keep showing up in my Facebook feed. 

Speaking of Facebook, I need a new outlet for recreational chatter.  No longer is my guilty pleasure filled with family news, birthday reminders and a glimpse into the lives of warm acquaintances.  Now it is a constant stream of rally cries.  Appropriate and (usually) informative.  Just exhausting.  

We each need to find balance, a way to impact our world without burning out.  We arrived at this banquet with an already full plate. 

Do what you do and add on what you can.  Let’s make our voices heard without beating ourselves up if we miss something. Looks like we will have plenty more opportunities.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...