Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

What’s the Big Idea?: Wednesday night there’s going to be a local non-profit with a bold notion that is going to get $50,000 to put behind it. Have to say that the Community Foundation’s now annual Big Idea pageant is one of the cooler concepts going around. Funded by about 40 local entrepreneurs who each put $2,500 on the table, this is really Oak Park and River Forest at its best, boldest self.

The Journal is one of the many investors in the Big Idea because it really taps into our idea of what our towns can accomplish when we pool resources and aim high. 

Thanks to Laura Maychruk of The Buzz Café, John Houseal of Houseal Lavigne, Michelle Vanderlaan of Sugarcup Trading, and John Harris of A5 for inventing this idea and seeing it through.

Numbers guy: Don’t know Jim Taglia. He is one of the candidates for the Oak Park village board this spring. But I was struck by his “One View” in last week’s Journal where he laid out the revenues and costs associated with parking and parking garages in Oak Park. Wasn’t heavy on conclusions but it certainly set the stage for a fact-based discussion. 

Discovering Austin: There’s another happy early outcome in the village board election. Two candidates that I’m aware of – Deno Andrews and Dan Moroney – have figured out that the wall along Austin Boulevard is not impenetrable. We have much more in common with our neighbors in Austin than anything that separates us. But making real connections is going to take time and work because we do operate on fears and stereotypes and there are layers of distrust that have grown over the nearly half century since rapid racial change upended the easy connection that once existed.

Fond farewells: Rose Joseph died a bit ago. She was one of the trio – Rose, Iris Yipp and Sharon Patchak-Layman (yep, that Sharon) – who started a children’s bookstore in an unlikely Madison Street location well over three decades ago. Magic Tree later moved to Oak Park Avenue. But our family also remembers Rose from shared days at Pilgrim Nursery School. This week we carry the obit for John Hayes. John was president of the library board when the new library went up. But I remember him more for the lovely garden he tended near our old house and for the kindness of his wife Pat, a longtime aide at Beye School, toward our kids.

Meanwhile at the Journal: Been a lot going on lately here at Wednesday Journal. Now, true, we are an easy group to gather if there is free beer and/or cake. But the sentiments were genuine these past few days as we celebrated two of our colleagues. 

On Friday we went downstairs to Hamburger Mary’s to mark the 10th anniversary of the unexpected death of Dennis Gordon, our longtime production manager and completely remarkable fellow. An amazing musician, natural curmudgeon, Dennis was sharp-witted, sweet with a side of edge, wonderfully creative. One of the builders of this company.

And Monday we turned out to celebrate Jackie Schulz. Not someone a Journal reader would likely know. But Jackie has been writing the weekly Talk of the Town column in our Forest Park Review for 45 years. Now she’s stepping back to once-a-month. If you had a birthday, got married, graduated from school, had an anniversary, played the cello, were nice to the lady walking her dog, you wound up in Jackie’s column. This is the essential connecting tissue of small town journalism. And Jackie has been the welcoming, guileless, genuine connector in Forest Park all these years.

We have another Jackie here and that’s Jackie McGooey. A young Oak Park mom, Jackie has been working on the digital side of our wonderful Chicago Parent magazine the past few years. Starting a week or two ago, our community pubs began “borrowing” Jackie a few hours a week to start showing us how to do better on social media. So if you have noticed a less “sewer referendum update” quality to our Facebook feed, or that we have reengaged on Twitter and Instagram, that would be Jackie’s doing. 

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...