Blog Archive

Sunday, September 30, 2007

"When we see a star in the sky, we will remember them."

This is the artists' statement that Dawn wrote (with some help from her art teacher) regarding the Big Picture ofrenda now at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen:

This ofrenda is dedicated to the memory of the 32 Chicago Public School students who died during the 2006-2007 school year. We want to honor their presence with us, even as time passes. As students, this crisis of violence against youth makes us upset. It’s terrible having this violence around our community. At Big Picture H.S. in Back of the Yards, most students have experienced a violent death of a brother, sister, father, neighbor, or friend. The deaths of the CPS students affect their family deeply and also other students because violence happens to the people we know. The losses of these students change our school environment because it makes us scared and insecure. There should be no reason to be scared to go to school, to take public transportation, or to be out in our community. It bothers us to have so many young students die. These students, no matter what their situations were, should have been future doctors, lawyers, social justice leaders, and had the chance to change our community for the better. Today we honor and remember the 32 students who passed away during the last school year, and their continued presence in our lives as students. In our offering, we created an empty classroom with a symbolic seat for each of the departed students. This represents the absence other students will feel when they are not with us this year. We included school supplies that are essential for daily learning and other things they enjoyed during their lives. We created papel picado with a gold foil star that has a silhouette of a girl or boy representing each student. When we see a star in the sky, we will remember them. We wanted to capture the feeling of sadness and emptiness that their absence has created, and to remember what their lives meant to us while they were among us. Sharing our sadness is part of the process of healing, and we hope that visitors will be inspired to take action the end the violence against youth that continues in Chicago.

Block Book Fair

This afternoon I went to the 57th Street Children's Book Fair in Hyde Park. Someone I know told me that in the last hour you can get heavily discounted children's books. While the books were not as heavily discounted as I had been led to believe--I didn't go home with a bag full of books for a quarter--I did get 20 books for a dollar apiece, and more for about half price. And yes, I fell for the three for the price of two on Roald Dahl books offered by 57th Street Books, and picked up others from them as well. In total, I spent $120 on about 40 books, so the average price was three dollars each. Not too bad, especially since I did find some Spanish-language books at the dollar price, too.

My new tenant/roommate (who is so easy to live with he doesn't even rate tropical storm status, so I haven't given him a pseudonym yet), loaned me his car to help me get the books home. As it turned out, I probably could have managed my small boxful on the bus, but it was nice to step out of the car after parking near the Brady Bunch house and hear all the children on the porch holler, "Maritza! Hi, Maritza!"

"Guess what I have," I called back as I made my way to their porch with the box in my arms. When I got there, I showed them the books. "I got a lot of books cheap this afternoon," I explained to their parents in Spanish. "They can come over and choose which ones they want."

"It's like a book fair," said one of the younger ones. She and two other of the littlest ones came right away, eager to check out what was on hand.

They loved "There Were Ten in the Bed" by Annie Kubler, who created a book with a little wheel on the side so you can make the children disappear as the song progresses. (You can look it up on Amazon if you are interested--it's ten bucks. I got mine today for about five.) The song is:

There were ten in the bed,
Ten, ten,
And the little one said,
"Roll over! Roll over!"
So they all rolled over and one fell out.

It goes to nine, eight, seven, etc. When none are left, the little one says, "Good night." We kept forgetting that part when we sang, which made us all laugh.

We all sang the song innumerable times, and the youngest had a lot of fun spinning the wheel and making the children disappear one by one. The two older girls had the song memorized by about the fourth try. The younger one, who is still obviously learning English, was singing the way I do at Spanish Mass--faking it except for the word or couple of words she knew really well. I smiled at her and she got embarrassed, but I kept smiling until she smiled back and sang louder. Next time I'll have to tell her that's exactly how I sing in church.

So we took that book and a bunch of others to their house, and then the older kids had to have a chance to choose. All in all, about three waves of kids came over to see what the pickings were. By the end they were pretty slim.

To call this endeavor the Block Book Fair is an exaggeration. Although I saved a few books for some of our friends--Danny, Daya, Dawn and the other kids at Big Picture--the Brady Bunch down the block walked away with more than three-quarters of what I brought home. I only have eight books left on the kitchen table. Whew!

It is an especially good time to be handing out books since Chavez Elementary is on intersession in October, which means the kids are out of school for two or even three weeks. The teachers usually assign them a book to read or some other long project, but I'm glad to be contributing to 16 kids' intellectual stimulation while they're on vacation.

When we got back to Brady Bunch Central, one of their moms was pretty excited to see the Spanish-language books in the stack. That was very gratifying. Dawn's mom has occasionally picked up the couple of Spanish-language baby books I got for Angelito in Oaxaca last year, and Daya's mom reads to her sometimes, but neither of them has ever examined a book with as much interest as this mom did. Hurray!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shout-outs of thanks and action

First a big thank you to Alexander Russo at District 299 for picking up my blurb about the Day of the Dead show tonight at the National Museum of Mexican Art. His current lead post is about our neighbor to the south, Englewood, and efforts to partner with Teach for America to create a principal pipeline for schools there.

Now, a big no thanks to Senate Republicans, who backed off the DREAM Act under pressure from a flood of negative calls. I called my senators to support it and I hope lots of other people reading this did, too. Harry Reid and other Senate Dems decided it wouldn't get 60 votes any more, so they pulled it off the defense appropriations bill. Reid has vowed to introduce it on its own by November 16.

I just met another young woman on the block here last night who might benefit from the DREAM Act. She's the oldest sister of my new young friends who come over for homework help. She's a sophomore at Rauner College Prep, one of the Noble Network Charter Schools on the Northwest Side. She travels two hours a day to attend the school, and gets up at 5:30 a.m. so she can arrive early enough to do their morning exercise program. She's also getting involved in fundraising for books for a school in Nicaragua. "Because of my status, I probably can't go down there, but I wanted to help out," she told me. That was the tipoff that college will be an issue, too. Given all her siblings and cousins, I now have about 16 new friends who could benefit from the DREAM Act.

I'm just going to say it one more time: these kids are here, this is the only country they've ever really known, and we're shooting our neighborhoods and our society in the foot if we don't give them a real chance at a college education. That's what the DREAM Act is designed to do.

If you'd like to balance the flood of negative calls and tell your senators to support the DREAM Act, you can call them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find them online here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day of the Dead Show Opens Friday

This photo is a little sample of the ofrenda (altar) created by Big Picture Back of the Yards for the National Museum of Mexican Art's 21st annual Day of the Dead exhibition. According to the art teacher who worked with the students, Dawn was her "lead, lead artist!" and worked really hard on the project. Dawn also wrote the artists' statement that appears next to the ofrenda, explaining that it was created to remember all the Chicago Public Schools students who were killed violently last school year.

The opening is this Friday night at 6 p.m. For directions to the museum, click here. For more info about the Day of the Dead show, click here.

Dorothy gets Mail

I bet you're asking: who's Dorothy? Dorothy is the name I'll use in the future for the woman I've been calling "my friend the prostitute." For the purposes of this blog, she's now named after Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, who staked her life on the observation that "The gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor."

Anyway, while I was in Colombia, some mail for Dorothy arrived at my house. I think it's from the Department of Human Services, probably paperwork related to applying for SSI (Supplemental Security Income).

Dorothy is in her mid-fifties, homeless, crack-addicted, has mental health issues and is HIV positive. She's been on the streets a long time and it seems like she's finally starting to get ready to get off them, I hope for good. Although the government has strictly narrowed the eligibility criteria over the last decade or so, if she doesn't qualify I'll be fighting mad.

This afternoon, she was coming down the street just as I was walking out the door to get my bike and ride to the post office for a package. "Wait, I have some mail for you!" I said, going back in the house for the three big manila envelopes.

"I was waiting for you to get back," she told me. "I didn't want to come up and check in your mailbox."

"You look good," I told her. "Healthy." She was eating a banana and drinking juice. She does look better. She's not rail-thin any more and her skin is brighter.

"Thanks," she said. "I'm going to a meeting tonight. You know, those people I used to hang around with--they're just depressed all the time. They argue."

"What you're doing is hard work," I said. "I'm praying for you."

"Keep on praying," she said. If anyone reading this post wants to join in, you'd be very welcome. Just pray for Maritza's friend Dorothy. I'm betting God will know who you're talking about.

Sunday in Soacha, Bogota

Quedate Senor, quedate Senor, Quedate Senor
aqui, aqui, aqui

Stay Lord, stay Lord, stay Lord
here, here, here

That was the chorus of the communion song at an outdoor Mass on Sunday in Soacha, a community of poor people and civil war refugees who live in the hills above southern Bogota. It was the same song Fr. Ed sang at my housewarming party almost three years ago.

About 50 people attended the Mass, held on a flat patch of dust above the local brick factory. More than half of the people who came were children under 10. Mass was celebrated by six German priests plus the U.S. Jesuit in our delegation. Radical Catholic readers will appreciate the following details. During the homily, members of the congregation were invited to speak, and the whole congregation said the consecration together. Given that the word I heard is most of the Colombian church wouldn't do that, it was an extra treat to be there.

I put Soacha in Google and the first thing in English that came up was an EU-funded project to improve education and prevent forced recruiting of youth into the armed groups. Here's the story.

The story mentions an educational method from Brazil that helps children make up for lost time in school. Someone from the program says it has helped students make three years of academic progress in one school year. CPS, are you listening? Maybe that's something worth researching.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

saludos desde colombia/greetings from colombia

well, marshfield tattler hits the road again. some of you may remember my trip to colombia last summer. i am back, visiting some of the same people i met last time and meeting many new people. today i got very sunburned while going to Mass on top of a hill outside bogota. six german priests and an american jesuit presided. we worshipped with a community of people displaced from their homes by the civil war here. we also had an opportunity to see people working on a community home-building project. i bought a baseball hat at the community store but it was too late to keep me from getting burned.

this afternoon we visited the gold musuem in downtown bogota. The museum was full of amazing precolumbian gold artifacts. wow!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yup-yup Returns

I heard his rooster cry this morning. I saw him tonight when I got off the Ashland bus.
I was carrying a load of dry cleaning and walking slowly to stay within range of an older woman and a young boy as long as we were all walking in the same direction.

"Yup-yuup," he called softly. "I'm back. I'm rested and refreshed. How are you?"

"I'm busy, stressed and broke," I said with a mix of bravado and brusqueness. I was expecting to get hit up for money. I was wrong.

"Busy is good and stressed you can fix," he advised. Not bad advice, really.

Yup-yup was drunk, I think, not high, because he waxed philosophical. (I tried really hard not to get close enough to smell the alcohol, so I can't say for sure.) What is it about booze that brings out the armchair philosopher, especially in middle-aged men? It took a few minutes of him chatting at me for me to realize he was behaving like some other middle-aged drunks of my acquaintance, including my own father back in the day. He ranged from the bush in the traffic circle to reconnecting with family in Mississippi to roots and place.

"How can a person live in a place where he has no roots?" Yup-yup inquired. I thought I was supposed to take that personally and started to feel defensive, but as he kept going I decided I didn't have to. "My mother's spirit rests in that house," he said, pointing down the block. "My nephew's is in your house. My sister killed him."

"I know," I said. But I didn't know until that moment that it was Yup-yup's sister and not his sister-in-law who set the fire that killed her son.

I had just heard a couple days ago that he was in Mississippi, hiding out from the law over "something bad," sources said. I must say I was hoping he would stay down there longer. I had just started to enjoy the quiet.

He alluded to the "something bad" very obliquely. "This neighborhood is changing. People be taking down license plates and stuff. How can you live in a place where you have no roots?" he asked again.

But he didn't want an answer, and I didn't try to provide one. Another guy went by in the street, pushing a cart. "Tony, is that you?" I called out, hoping.

"No," Cart Guy said. But he hung around.

Yup-yup broke off talking with me and started asking Cart Guy for a sandwich. I tried to slip off unnoticed, but he looked back as I was locking my gate and said, "You keep that gate locked, Miss Maritza." He's been saying that to me since the not nice new kids on the block arrived, even though I think he squats with them at least some of the time.

"Yes, sir," I said.

New Kids on the Block--Very Nice!

I haven't had a chance to write about the new family down the street. There are two brothers who bought a house together a few houses south of here. Both brothers have big families; I think each has eight kids. Maybe we'll call them the Brady Bunch on Steroids for purposes of this blog.

Some of the girls over there like to rollerblade on the sidewalk. We had races and I pulled two or three of them down the street in a line. The other night I went out and read them some Shel Silverstein on the sidewalk. They liked that so much I loaned them the book a few days later, in care of the oldest girl I've met, an 8th-grader.

A couple of afternoons this past week I was lucky enough to be home at homework time. Eight of them piled in my house to do work and take care of their youngest brother, who is not even a year old yet. Little Eddie takes a nap around 4, so it was just a matter of getting him down. His six-year-old sister gave him a bottle, and his 11-year-old brother took him home when he fell asleep. Their mom/aunt works at home in the afternoons putting boxes together, and she has trained them all to do their homework very quietly. I was amazed at how little noise they all made while they were working. The first day, I even got some writing done!

Later, one of the younger ones, who is obviously in the early stages of learning English, came and told me she had to read a book in English to somebody for her homework. It was a beautifully illustrated book called Half-Chicken/Mediopollito, bilingual in facing pages. She started reading it to me in English, but one of her older sisters suggested that I read the Spanish on each page before she started reading the English, "so she'll understand." I jumped on this immediately because I wanted the practice and the help with Spanish pronunciation. So I read the Spanish and occasionally asked for help pronouncing unfamiliar words. Then Alma read the English. When she clearly had no idea how to pronounce some of the words, I would re-read the sentence in English to her and then invite her to try it again. One of her brothers liked the story so much he hung around listening through the whole process.

The second day, it became more apparent which of them are struggling. Everybody seems to be doing pretty well in math but a couple of them are struggling with the transition from Spanish to English. One of the older boys is in 6th grade and was struggling with some hard words the first day. I loaned him my copy of "My Side of the Mountain" (in English) to see if he liked it and if he could understand it. He had some trouble with that book, too. I think maybe we should read it aloud and have him draw some of the descriptions if I can get enough time to do that with him.

There's a second-grade girl who is still a little weak on the alphabet, and her spelling reflects that. It's invented and looks more like first-grade spelling to me. I suggested to her big sister that they try getting some alphabet flash cards from the dollar store and singing the ABC song with her once or twice a day.

"Like before bed?" When you pray?" kidded the older sister.

I grinned. "Well, probably before praying," I suggested.

One of the younger girls had a Spanish vocabulary assignment, including the word unidad. The English word given to define it was "together," but the kids and I all thought that was weird. "Juntos" means together. I got out my Spanish-English dictionary and as I suspected, "unity" is a better definition, but she didn't quite get the concept. That's probably why the teacher gave the word together, but it didn't satisfy us. Her older brother was able to help her get unidad from communidad (unity from community) and we put our heads together and came up with this sentence:

The family that has unity is going to have a lot of success/La familia que tiene unidad va a tener mucho exito.

That would be their family, for sure!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mentors Are Good

Today I was riding my bike up by Soldier Field, in Burnham Harbor. Today was about as spectacular as it gets in Chicago, clear blue sky and water to match, light breeze, sunny. Great biking weather--so great it surprised me not to encounter too many cyclists.

But one did notice me. A skinny bearded white guy rode past me and said, "Yay! Mentors are good!" It took a split second to realize he was referring to my Big Picture t-shirt. On the back it says, "I am a mentor."

We smiled and laughed together. Before I could thank him, he was gone.

Guess Who Got the Microwave!

Yesterday afternoon, I ran into Jesse on the street. I hadn't seen him for a while. Junior's whole family came and cut the grass last weekend because it was a foot high and breeding all kinds of bugs. I wanted Jesse to do it but he was nowhere in sight. So now he's around and the grass is short. However, Junior's family didn't cut back the baby trees in the fence that keep overgrowing the sidewalk. So I still had a job for Jesse, and he agreed to come over this afternoon and take care of it.

Once the branches were all cut back, I came out in the yard to pay him and he asked me, "Do you sew?"

I do not, but I would almost consider starting in light of his latest alley find. He picked up an almost-brand-new Singer sewing machine with patterns to boot! I'm sure he'll find a taker for it--somebody around here does alterations (maybe she threw it out? who knows?). Anyway, once he had thoroughly dissected all the good points of that find, he said, "You put that microwave out, didn't you?"

"You picked it up, then?"

He nodded. "I'm using it now."

"You cleaned it, right?" I asked. "And it still works?" I went into some detail about my efforts to clean it with the garden hose, etc.

"I left it out in the rain," he said. "I plugged it in and it still works fine." He assured me he had cleaned it out thoroughly and the flies were out of the door's window.

Well, I'm glad it went to a good home. And I'm double glad my new tenant/roommate has a microwave, so I don't miss the old one!

News from the Hood

This is the third night in a row I've called 311 to get the streetlights back on. They are out from Ashland to Paulina, and 51st to the viaduct at 48th.

My friend the prostitute stopped by yesterday afternoon. I am very much afraid she is relapsing.

In happier news, at Holy Cross today Fr. Bruce announced the Board of Education has promised our new high school in Back of the Yards will be built by 2010. There was a board report over the summer making it official that the site will be near 47th and Hoyne, if I remember correctly. I'll post a link soon.

Also, it sounds like the idea of putting a Chicago Public Library branch in the Goldblatt's building at Ashland and 47th is not dead yet. Stay tuned....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Breaking News--A Happy Midnight Visitor

You may recall that Yup-yup's girlfriend stopped by in August and I gave her a referral because she wanted to get treatment. Well, she's going for it. She came by a few minutes ago with a paper which I now forget where it was from--not Thresholds (where I referred her) but maybe public health? She looked clean and seemed calm and explained she is out through the weekend but they are trying to get her into an in-patient drug treatment program. She needed a contact number and address--her social worker wants to talk to someone who knows her out in her real life--so I gave it to her. A little scary.

It was easier with Priscilla, who just disappeared once she was up and ready for treatment.

She says she is going to stay with her sister until she can get into an inpatient program. I hope so. I hope she wasn't bullshitting me and about to relapse.

As she was leaving she said, "I'm sorry I came through the neighbors' yard, but I thought you'd want to know about this."

"You were right," I told her.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Prayer Walk

This morning I went on the weekly prayer walk sponsored by the Port Ministries. The walk was started by Deacon Coleman, a longtime employee at the Port and a neighborhood legend. I hear he's now working in Roseland but still living in Back of the Yards and hopes to make it back for some prayer walks when he gets settled in his new job.

Brother Jim, a Franciscan who lives in Berwyn but comes to walk every Wednesday, is now the linchpin of the walk. He wears a habit he sewed together from old blue jeans about 20 years ago. He's a six-foot-plus white guy walking around in a denim habit in 90-degree weather. Our third walker, Walter from St. Joe's, observed that we got a few more stares with me along today than Brother Jim was racking up. (All it takes is two X chromosomes, I gather.)

Brother Jim has been going out walking and praying in all kinds of places for a long, long time. He used to work at St. Malachy's Parish in the Henry Horner projects. He's still walking through Dearborn Homes regularly--everybody knows him over there. I gather he's pretty new to our neighborhood--it's the first time in his ministry that a lack of Spanish has been a burden to him--but he has great presence and connection.

We stopped to pray in front of a couple of houses on my block. One where the shots were fired recently, the other the house where there are squatters. It was 10 a.m. and the block was very quiet. Only one young guy was out on a bike while we were making our way down the block. I prayed at the house where the shooting happened in thanksgiving for the safety of everyone who lives there, especially for the little girl, and for peace within and outside the house.

What interested me was that later, we were over by Sherman Park, and we ran into Mr. Worrisome, who lives in the house where I prayed that morning. Regular readers will remember Mr. Worrisome as the guy who was always bothering me with marriage proposals and such when I first got here. Now that I'm friends with his sister, his niece and his nephew, he's calmed down a little bit. Maybe he's also calmed down because he has a girlfriend....

We came upon Mr. Worrisome and his lady friend sitting in the shade along the edge of Sherman Park. Mr. Worrisome recognized me first. "Hey, I know where you stay? What you doin over here?"

I knew who it was from the voice and crossed the street. Brother Jim and Walter came along and we all introduced ourselves. We got to talking with them and Lady Friend said she could use some prayers for her health. Brother Jim was all over this and asked Mr. Worrisome what he'd like to pray for.

Among his prayers, he offered, "That she'll marry me." At least this time he meant Lady Friend, not me. Thank God for that!

So we all joined hands and prayed, and Brother Jim gracefully managed to keep marriage out of it but pray for both of them and their needs. He did a good job.

"You really touched me today," said Mr. Worrisome. Despite the liquor on his breath, I think he was pretty much for real about it. Lady Friend appreciated it 100 percent.
And it's the nicest I've felt about Mr. Worrisome since I met him.

Sometimes in these situations, prayer can be used as a confrontational tactic. Big groups praying out in front of a drug house send a pretty clear message--shape up or ship out. This prayer walk isn't really like that, and that's part of why I decided it was time for me to go. Because I don't know the New Kids on the Block here, I'm just mad at them for messing things up. They're not like Yup-yup to me, who's a pain in the ass but he's my pain in the ass in some kind of weird way. I struggle to believe in their humanity. That's why I wanted to go pray in front of their house.

Brother Jim and Walter helped me to remember they are just people after all, even though we didn't see them or talk to them this morning.

After we got done with Marshfield Avenue and Sherman Park, we walked pretty far east, to 52nd and May, where Jim and Walter had heard there was a shooting last night. Four young men were hurt badly and had to go to the hospital. I haven't found a thing about it on the news, which doesn't surprise me.

It turns out we picked the right spot on the corner, according to two church ladies who walked up and joined us in prayer. I'll call one Ella because she used to lead her old church choir. She wore an SEIU t-shirt and sang "Precious Lord" in a key (or keys) I couldn't follow in the slightest, so I didn't try to sing along. Her companion told me she has two sons who are Catholic--one is in the service and the other just got out of jail. I'll be praying for Roy and Beau tonight.

We walked down the street a bit and there were a few people sitting on their front stoop. They wanted to know when the Bread Truck was coming back. They take a vacation in September because they work extra hard feeding kids during the summer, when many aren't getting free lunch. Even though the city provides meals, they're at summer programs or in places the poorest kids may not be in, so the Bread Truck hits the streets.

"They be all over the place," one stoop-sitter commented, "47th and Racine to 55th and Ashland." My friend by 63rd and Kedzie knows the Bread Truck.

The folks on the stoop talked a lot about the shooting. Not super-great information, but more than the none they would have given the police, I imagine. It was a testament to the trust the Port and its Bread Truck inspire.

The lady on the stoop asked if we would come inside and pray with her mother, who is homebound and on oxygen. So we went in. She was reading the Bible, book of Revelations, chapter six, verses one and two, where the lamb is breaking the seven seals:

"Then I watched while the Lamb broke open the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures cry out like thunder, 'Come forward.' I looked, and there was a white horse, and its rider had a bow. He was given a crown..."

Oxygen Lady asked Brother Jim what the verse meant. He took a minute of verbal tap-dancing, and then asked what it meant to her.

She thought for a minute and said, "If I do what the Lord tells me I will get a crown."

Jim went with it. We prayed for her that she would know God's presence near her whenever she was afraid. I think she let a tear or two fall near the end of Jim's prayer. They looked like good tears. Ella had followed us down--she knew her neighbors--and she prayed the Our Father for Oxygen Lady with us as her backup pray-ers. Then she sang a little more.

I should go out with those guys more often.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Five moms!

Whoo-hoo--I got five moms to show up for coffee and doughnuts and to talk about stuff on the block. My friend Mike, who is fully bilingual and used to be president of his block club in Chicago Lawn, came over and helped translate and told us about some things his block has done to try to help keep his block nice and encourage neighbors to get involved. One of them says she will go to our next CAPS meeting, which is good because I can't make it. We hope to make it two or more by talking to some other folks who couldn't make it tonight.

Monday, September 03, 2007

All Politics Is Local

I've been out a few times in the last couple of weeks trying to round up signatures for a nominating petition. In the past I've signed a few but never circulated one. It's tricky to do around here--there aren't that many registered voters to begin with. Then there's the language barrier, then just shyness. And until yesterday I wasn't totally sure of the boundaries for this office, so I think I got a few out-of-bounds signers. I've even encountered two Republicans!

And I'll be hosting our latest attempt at some kind of block meeting tomorrow night. Yesterday afternoon I ran into our precinct captain, who tells me she was going to start a block club with just the homeowners but she never got around to the paperwork. I don't know what we're calling tomorrow night but I intend to invite long-term renters, too. We need to get everyone who's willing to keep an eye out together. I have to make and pass out flyers and clean up the house. I feel very under-energized about this, but I made a promise, so here we go. At least maybe I'll find someone else to go to the CAPS meeting on Sept. 17 since I can't make it.

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