The past year presented village residents and village leaders across America with unprecedented challenges, and demanded that we respond with unprecedented determination and creativity. One of our most pressing challenges has been to devise strategies that help keep our local businesses open, our economies thriving, while also keeping community members safe.

Enter Ravi Parakkat and Takeout 25 Oak Park: a grassroots campaign geared toward getting commitment from local residents to spend $25 on takeout. Because the restaurant industry has depended on people getting together — impossible in COVID times — it was hit harder than other sectors. Takeout 25’s ability to build an online community of neighbors encouraging neighbors to support local restaurants was ingenious, and I could see that it would help River Forest as well.

When I called Ravi, I found him eager to collaborate. His vision for Takeout 25 already included restaurants along Oak Park’s borders. He readily saw Oak Park, River Forest, and other neighboring communities as part of a cooperative network that is necessary to sustain us all. Rather than replicate Takeout 25 in River Forest, we agreed that River Forest would formally join the movement, adding our 10,000+ residents and 10 local restaurants to the already active Takeout 25 community!

The results have been tremendous. Ravi’s ability to stay positive and solution-oriented has resulted in a broader sense of community and re-energized businesses. Takeout 25 has fostered a sense of community that is inclusive and that encourages us all to see local business owners and workers as neighbors and friends. Initiatives like his are critical to the survival of our businesses and have the added bonus of making us a tighter-knit community.

Ravi’s recognition as one of Wednesday Journal’s OP-RF Villagers of the Year was well deserved. His is the kind of leadership I hope to see at the board table: embodying the creative problem-solving, collaboration, and inclusion that we will need over the next few years as we recover from this pandemic.

Please join me in supporting Ravi in his campaign for Oak Park village trustee. I hope to be able to work with him and others who agree that solution-oriented collaboration between our villages makes us all stronger. 

Good luck, Ravi!

Cathy Adduci, River Forest village president

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