One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for October 2016

Soundtrack For A Young Social Change Advocate

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The past few weeks haven’t been easy, mostly due to some personal and family issues. In fact, much of my time has been spent revisiting the music of my youth….as well as meditating on my “career” in social change.

(Oh, and this is also part of Blogapalooz-Hour, meaning that many Chicago Now bloggers will be posting their song choices.

My early adulthood was spent focusing on comics, writing, and buying records. (I’m sure that had the Sound Opinions podcast existed, it would have been on my must-hear list). So much of my current musical listening has been focused more on finding emotional comfort than, say, nostalgic reassurance. (Although one of my choices does carry a nostalgic twinge, and yes, I have written about music and social change in the past).

So for this week’s post, something a bit different – something slightly less professional, and more personal. Something which may provide insight into who I am and what songs give me further motivation, striking a chord and forcing me into further action.

The Replacements have always been one of my go-to bands for emotional support – in fact, during rough times I’ll binge listen, switching between Let It Be and Tim. But my favorite song from either album is “Unsatisfied” from Let It Be. Lyrically, there isn’t much there – only the singer’s challenge to “Look me in the eye and tell me/that I’m satisfied”. However, it’s Westerberg’s vocals, as well as the sweeping pedal steel, that gives this song a strong sense of anguish that necessitates moving forward. For me, it’s as much about daring me to move beyond my feelings of loss and desperation, meeting those feelings head-on.

Now comes the obvious nostalgic choice – one of the few memories of my father and I getting along is listening to Harry Belafonte’s Live At Carnegie Hall album. (We checked it out from the Brighton Park library, and I believe it’s the album that introduced calypso music to the States. I could be wrong). It’s an incredibly goofy song…but it’s also a great reminder that when pursuing social change, a sense of humor and self-awareness is definitely appreciated.

This was often the most listened-to song while I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree at Loyola University.  (And Husker Du was another go-to band in my youth. Although I missed one of Husker Du’s final concerts, I managed to see Bob Mould – both solo and with Sugar – twice). All I can say is…listen to the lyrics. They’re the closest that anyone else has come to articulating my own personal philosophy.

Yes, it’s a rather unusual choice (I was “alternative rock” before it was cool), but the chorus – “If there are gods above/they must be drunk/reveling in the madness, you and I” – speaks to a certain absurdity about life in general. Plus, part of driving social change means, generally, not taking myself so seriously….and wishing Roy Orbison would tell me what to do.

Now this is a rather tricky choice – my second personal favorite of this batch comes from Love’s Forever Changes, an album that is definitely worth your time. My favorite part comes in at 2:25…in which Arthur Lee, half-resigned, half-defiant, sings “This is the time in life that I am living/And I’ll face each day with a smile”, leading into a near-manifesto. It’s that sense of courage in the face of despair, that sense that time is running out but that an individual needs to make the best of it, is one of the key attitudes that drives social change. It is the realization that right here, right now, one person can make the most out of their limited time.

For many of us, music has a power to inspire, motivate, and drive personal and social change. I’m glad that, for this exercise, I was able to share some of my playlist with you.

Have any song suggestions? Questions? Please feel free to leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you wish to contact me privately, simply visit this blog’s About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

October 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Open Letter To Donald Trump Supporters

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First, let me make this clear – this isn’t a blog post about why you shouldn’t vote for Donald Trump for president. By now, you are locked into your decision, and nothing I say will convince you otherwise. Despite overwhelming evidence of Trump’s inability to act professionally, he is choosing to remain in the race and will be debating Hilary Clinton for the final time tonight.

Today’s blog post suggests positive action that you can take which supports Donald Trump.

(No, please don’t close that browser….read on and you’ll understand what I mean. There are no hidden insults here. I promise.)

Many times during the election, Donald Trump has suggested that people “sign up” to monitor the polls in order to avoid a “rigged” election. He has asked that you sign up at his website as an “unofficial” poll monitor. What I am recommending is that, rather than sign up to be an unofficial poll monitor, you consider serving as Election Judge for the Board of Election Commissioners.

Because if you think elections can get “rigged”, you will learn about how polling places are set up and run…and ensure that your neighborhood polling place is run clean. (After Bruce Rauner was elected, I volunteered to be an election judge. Not only did I serve as an election judge for a primary election, I also wrote about things I learned after serving. For the record – my only agenda is to encourage greater participation in our process. Nothing more, nothing less. voting

One reason for Donald Trump supporters to consider serving as an election judge is obvious: in Chicago, we need more Republican judges. Having party balance can be critical for some areas of the city and suburbs, providing a healthy counterweight. If you think that the Democrats are going to “sway” this election, this would allow you to have a first-hand view without worrying that you’ll be dismissed because you support Donald Trump.

(One nice thing about the process is choice: people choosing to serve as an election judge can opt to serve as Democratic or Republican judges….or allow the Board to decide their affiliation. But given Donald Trump’s position as the Republican candidate, supporters will most likely opt for “Republican”).

Secondly, there are procedures in place for the running of polling places. Every election judge has access to a handbook which outlines specific tasks and procedures. In fact, if you serve as an election judge – and you can sign up online – you should attend the mandatory training. Even if you can’t make it this close to the election, your fellow election judges can provide insights and guidance. (Plus, you should consider downloading and reading the handbook even if you don’t serve).

Yes, you do get paid for your time, and keep in mind – it’s an all-day event. You’ll need to be at your assigned polling place early for set up. Depending on your work, you may end up not getting home until late. (Past elections have seen me out the door around 4:30 am, and back home at 10:00 pm). But serving as election judge has taught me much about how elections are run…and why Donald Trump’s suggestion that elections are “rigged” may be a bit overdramatic.

And for those who aren’t willing to be election judges, but who want to make sure the election is “fair”…you can sign up as a poll watcher with the Board of Elections. Because despite what Donald Trump might suggest, running elections is not easy. Many people volunteer their time and deal with an increasingly complicated procedure. Accountability in elections is always encouraged, but you have to work at it.

Again, if you are interested in serving as election judge, simply sign up at

We also encourage you to comment and give your thoughts in the section below. Comments are moderated, so all we ask is that you stay civil and respectful.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Written by gordondym

October 19, 2016 at 5:41 am