In every essential way, life goes on

Opinion: Dan Haley

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Odds and COVID-19 ends, with some a bit odder than others:

Good day for a parade: Teachers at Mann School, 30 of them at last count, will be connecting with their students Wednesday afternoon in a passing parade of teachers' cars driving through the northwest Oak Park neighborhood.

An email and Facebook request went out from Amy Mariani, a 20-year Mann veteran, to fellow teachers last week to gauge interest. With enthusiasm strong, Mariani next reached out to Oak Park police to make sure the parade would not violate the current stay-at-home regs we're all operating under. The police response was that if social distancing is maintained, they were in favor.

Well as Mariani explained in an email to the Journal, the teachers will be properly distanced because they'll each be in their own car. And as Cheryl Sullivan, the interim principal, told us, the notification to Mann families was to stand on front porches or to wave from windows.

Alex Rogals, our photographer, will be out shooting the parade, so look for pictures by Thursday at OakPark.com and on our Facebook feed.

Finally, in some sort of seeming secret message, Mariani asked me to reference the MARIANI OREO MILKSHAKES. Whatever that means.

As nighttime comes on Wednesday: At a time when we are all alone together, efforts to create communal experiences continue. Locals are planning "Let There Be Light" tonight across the villages. Simple idea. At 7 p.m. light a candle or place a Luminary outside your house.

Where there's a Y, there's a way: In the first week of all this mishegas I wrote about a plan hatching at the shuttered West Cook YMCA to reopen as an Emergency Child Care facility serving the children of local hospital staffers and first responders.

Seemed then that there were, rightly, plenty of hoops to jump through. And when I didn't hear back from Phillip Jimenez, the Y's CEO, I wondered if it had proved impossible. Well, don't underestimate the Y.

Monday morning the Marion Street facility opened its Emergency Childcare service and was anticipating 30-40 kids from K through 8th. They expect to be at 80 youngsters next week. There is a fee for parents, there are scholarships available, and early funding comes from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation with other leads pending. A batch of local providers have joined in as collaborators, specifically Loyola, Rush Oak Park, and Riveredge hospitals, West Suburban Dispatch Center, PCC Community Health, Proviso Township Therapist and UIC.

The Book Table sends up a flare: You could make a list of all the things that make Oak Park Oak Park. Way high on my list is The Book Table, the Lake Street bookstore which has been "fiercely independent since 2003." Rachel Weaver and Jason Smith sent a reluctant email last week to fans of the largely locked up store asking for donations. "We don't like begging for money, especially when so many are hurting right now, but if you can afford it, and you value having our store in the community, please do consider making a donation," they ask. 

Well, I'm in. You next?

Speaking of generosity: In their note Jason and Rachel mention hating "begging for money." Well, folks, as Wednesday Journal became a nonprofit this year, I had to face up to my worries about asking for money. And you know what? I've discovered I don't have any worries. I'm not great at it. And I can't figure out how many zeroes to ask for when I'm talking to a potentially larger donor. But it turns out the fundamental ask isn't hard because I believe with such passion that the work we do here is so important. Especially now.

Last Tuesday, after we wrapped up our first almost fully remote print edition, we sent a direct ask to our thousands of digital readers. Didn't know what the response would be. But as you read this week's skinny 28-page newspaper, you can see that ad revenue has been scorched for the moment and reader revenue is more critical than ever.

Well, as of Sunday just under 400 of you have donated to Growing Community Media this week. It is a response that has been heartening to every person who is working so hard around here (or wherever the hell they have gotten themselves off to).

I am grateful to each of you. And, if you have not invested in our independent community journalism, I'm not shy about asking: Why not today? 

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Reader Comments

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Mary O'Malley Petranek from Geneva  

Posted: April 1st, 2020 12:16 PM

Bravo to my colleagues at Mann School and a special shout out to Amy Mariani for making today's parade happen.

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