Mayoral finalists Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle say they would tackle poverty, violence and other challenges facing many Chicago neighborhoods. Whoever becomes mayor can make real progress toward safer, more viable communities by using the latest community psychology research.
Consider the “community resilience” approach: Neighbors pool their strengths to foster healing and buffer the effects of trauma, a strategy that has proved to be more effective than wrestling with one’s problems alone.
The Belmont Cragin neighborhood, which is 80 percent Latino and whose poverty rate doubled from 2000 to 2010 as residents fled from gentrifying Logan Square, is pioneering the community resilience approach. Community leaders learned many residents there suffer from traumas they experienced when they were younger, traumas that are known as adverse childhood experiences. ACEs include living through significant poverty or suffering physical, sexual, emotional or domestic abuse, plus many more. ACEs can have long-lasting effects that shatter quality of life, hamper people’s ability to function, impair health and reduce life expectancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says close to two-thirds of Americans, rich or poor, have at least one ACE. As that number increases, so does the risk of negative outcomes later in life, including poverty and being a victim or perpetrator of violence.
To aid Belmont Cragin residents in healing, leaders formed the Resilient Belmont Cragin Community Collaborative. It allows schools, health providers, counselors, businesses, police, parents, faith leaders, nonprofits and others to collectively plan ways to help residents bounce back from ACEs by supporting each other.
Suzette Fromm Reed, Judith Kent and other faculty members from the community psychology doctoral program at National Louis University work with Belmont Cragin leaders to help residents cope with ACEs. They also work on the overall quality of trauma-informed services and supports. The Resilient Belmont Cragin group has facilitated trauma-informed programming at Steinmetz College Prep, using mentoring, tutoring and counseling to help at-risk youth stay on track; behavioral health counseling for students; and ACEs training for 25th District police to de-escalate conflict and avoid further traumatization.
Lightfoot and Preckwinkle understand Chicago needs a human-centered approach to healing violence and poverty, but the woman who becomes mayor can go further. She can respond to ACEs’ harm to our residents, observe Belmont Cragin’s cost-effective approach and leverage community resilience to help heal Chicago’s other hurting neighborhoods.
— Judah J. Viola,
Dean, College of Professional Studies and Advancement, National Louis University, Chicago
CSO musicians, time to sober up
As a deeply appreciative subscriber to the wonderful concerts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for over four decades, and a faithful donor as well, I am fully aware of how superbly talented these fine musicians are, and how deserving they are of impressive rewards. This orchestra and its personnel are a cultural treasure that must never be taken for granted.
Nevertheless, I say to these players: It’s time to end this senseless strike. You are not downtrodden workers whose starving children are clamoring for bread. Your salaries and benefits are already the envy of most ordinary Chicagoans (and rightly so), and will be even greater if you accept the offer that’s on the table. What’s more, the men and women across the table from you are not greedy bosses trying to boost their profits by keeping you down, for there are no profits in this game. They are simply your own business-minded colleagues, trying to keep your shared organization on a sound financial footing. They should be listened to.
— G.R. Paterson, Wilmette
Market forces affect CSO
What an odd concept it is to say that employees of any organization “deserve” more pay. What does “deserve” really mean, or more appropriately, what does it have to do with how much someone is paid? Like any other employee, musicians are subject to market forces. Like athletes and other artists, pay is based upon value produced as well as supply and demand. Do you think Major League Baseball players would be paid as much as they are if fans stopped coming to the stadiums and TV and radio stations were unwilling to pay big bucks to broadcast the games? Unless some wealthy sponsors wish to subsidize this endeavor, the CSO will face the same reality every employer faces and not be able to afford the pay and benefits that some think the musicians “deserve.” It’s real-world economics.
— David Howard, Rockford
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