The day after the election, the state of Illinois on the electoral map looked like a blue island floating in a sea of red. My immediate thought was to focus my sights more locally on life here at home, including ways to improve the city I live in and love. As it turned out, many of my friends were wondering the same thing: With a new and potentially hostile administration, what can we do to better protect the lives of our more vulnerable populations?
In a little over a week I met with three different groups of women, none of which was instigated by me. What quickly became clear is that women talk things through, not that anyone needed evidence of this. When times are rough, our instinct is to help one another solve things out loud. The meetings were a way to air out a lot of the same concerns, only surrounded by different voices. One group was focused primarily on finding new ways to address youth violence in Chicago. The others were more of a free-for-all—more wine, less agenda. I found myself clinking glasses with women I didn’t know the day before. We were still freaked out, but at least we weren’t alone. We were soon exchanging ideas, links and therapy for those about to see their Trump-supporting relatives over the holidays. It’s just the beginning.
With inauguration day over a month away, the following women agreed to share what’s at the top of their wish list for a stronger Chicago:
“I would like to see a collaboration of law enforcement and community resources to stop the flow of guns into the community.”
President and CEO
Chicago Urban League
“More citizen involvement. For example, I applied at Refugee One to tutor Syrian families in Chicago.”
“While young women are less likely to commit violent crimes or become involved in the justice system, they are nevertheless deeply affected by violence that they may encounter in their families and communities. Yet most existing efforts to reduce violence and improve outcomes for youth focus on young men. To ensure the safety and vitality of all among us, it is critical that we also invest in programming that seeks to improve life outcomes for young women growing up in our most distressed, underserved communities by focusing on challenges related to violence, trauma, and teen fertility, which can contribute to the transmission of disadvantage across generations.”
UChicago Crime Lab
“One thing I’d like to see is for schools to develop partnerships with other schools, both so that a school like University of Chicago Laboratory Schools could help ‘sister schools’ in a place like Englewood, and so that kids from both schools could benefit from understanding their greater community.”
Former Chicago Public Schools teacher (and my sister)
“More investment in affordable housing and social services for folks with mental illness.”