Wednesday, April 30, 2014


There was an interesting meeting in the East Bluff last night.  It was a follow-up to meetings/communication with business owners/managers along or near the Wisconsin Corridor.  The area under consideration follows Wisconsin Ave. from Forrest Hill, south to Glen Oak.  About 30 +/- residents of the area met at the East Bluff Community Center at 6:00 PM.

We took a short walk.  We looked at buildings and houses.  We noticed some fantastic land use and vacant buildings in need of new facades, but full of possibilities.  We saw homes that showed pride of ownership and houses in dire need of repair or re-purpose.  Following the walk, we returned to the Center to begin our table discussions.

Each table had maps of the area and the assignment to figure out realistic goals and time lines for those goals.  There was a surprising amount of agreement on the type of improvements the neighborhood would like to see.  We envisioned improved street lighting, public art, neighborhood gathering spots in the form of a restaurant, coffee shop, diner, etc.  Small businesses such as a bike repair shop, beauty parlor/barber or thrift/antique shop would be welcome.  We want to see kids playing soccer on the grounds of Glen Oak Learning Center.  We want to see a Farmer's Market located on a parking lot on a Saturday afternoon.  We want to see the parking lot at Wisconsin Plaza reconfigured.  Public art could include decorative shop windows, sculptured bike racks, carved wood decoration and murals like the one at Wisconsin and Frye Avenues.  We are pleased that that one has been there for over a year and has not been vandalized.  The neighborhood is proud of it!

We were realistic enough to know that safety is goal #1!  It doesn't matter how good it looks or what it offers if people do not feel safe enough to visit the area all times of the day.  We also know that an active, welcoming street scene providing many eyes on the street increases safety.  We can't have one, without the other!

One item on the list from our table raised some eyebrows.  I was even quoted in the Peoria Journal Star!  I thought we needed a Starbucks among the businesses.  Well, maybe not Starbucks, but something like it.  We want Mom & Pop places to succeed, but it may take  a chain like Starbucks to pull people traveling to and from work into the area to see what else is there.  A business that could provide employment to people living in the neighborhood.  Mom & Pop places usually are run by the family and do not hire many "outsiders".  Whether Starbucks or another well known entity with a philanthropic mission to empower young people, a business of this type could serve the neighborhood in more than one way.  Heck, I would even get a $4 cup of coffee occasionally!

I am hopeful!  It was a good meeting that went until almost 9 PM.  I am anticipating the report that will be presented to the City and look forward to private development $$$$$, East Village Growth Cell $$$$$ and mostly, I look forward to the renaissance of the East Bluff. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Past 12 Months

This past year has been a difficult one.  March 17, 2013 saw the passing of my niece, Kim.  Kim had a difficult time with diabetes and its many complications.  July 9, 2013, Kim's mother, my sister Wini, passed away at her home.  She had an unsuccessful back surgery many years ago and lived in pain for a long time.  She also had diabetes. 

The final straw was the death of my nephew, Bruce on February 23, 2014.  Bruce died in the line of duty as a firefighter in Columbia, Mo.  He had been with the department for 23 years.  I was not able to attend his memorial service in Columbia, but a local TV station did live streaming of procession of "first responder" vehicles from throughout Missouri and beyond.  The memorial service was also shown.  I watched it all.  I have shed more tears in the last 2 weeks than I had done in my life time, thus far.  Just when I thought I was though, someone would post a new memory or photo on his memorial page. 

Today, there was a second memorial service held.  This one in a little town north of Springfield where Bruce grew up and started his life as a fire fighter on the local volunteer fire department.  Local fire departments were represented, as well as a group from Columbia.  It was a beautiful service.  There were many tributes to the man he had grown to be.  His wife and three year old daughter were there.  My heart breaks for them.

I learned today, that as an organ donor, Bruce saved or enhanced the life of twenty more people. 

It is said that things happen in threes.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Little Word

January 1, 2014, New Year's Day.  I was watching The Today Show after CBS This Morning was over.  They interviewed a man who suggested that rather than make resolutions, identify a word, just one word, that would sum up what you hoped to accomplish in the year.  It should encompass everything that would be on a list of resolutions if you were to make one.  He suggested posting it around the house, maybe frame it or make a screensaver out of it.  I thought about his suggestion for a bit and a word came to mind.  I thought about the suggestion off and on throughout the day.  The word has not changed, so I guess I was meant to go with it.  I am going to make copies of my word and hang it on the wall, attach it to the refrigerator, tape a copy on the scale, write it on duct tape to put on my gym bag, affix it to the computer monitor and  the clock I look at most often.  I will figure out where else I need reminders.  Will have to put it in the car and probably several other places.  My word covers most aspects of my life.  My word is BALANCE.