One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for November 2016

Celebrate Small Business Saturday – Shop Chicago Neighborhoods

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Last week, I wrote about how Local First Chicago is looking to drive small business growth in the city. Last week, they worked together with the City Treasurer’s office to highlight Small Business Saturday….

….and what a great gathering it was.

Last week, Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers announced his office, the Office of the Mayor, and Local First Chicago were launching the Shop Small Chicago Neighborhood Rewards Program. Initially created to drive customers to local businesses during the busy holiday shopping season, Small Business Saturday has engaged over 95 million consumers who spent $16.2 billion at local and independent businesses shopping for the holidays.  The Shop Small Chicago encourages shoppers who support local businesses by providing a $50 neighborhood gift card for every person who spends over $300 at local businesses. (Some limitations apply – it starts on Black Friday, you will need to save receipts, and you can find participating organizations via this link).

Held in the Ravenswood neighborhood, the launch started with opening remarks and featured a merchant walk through Alapash New Home and District, two local businesses. Thanks to inclement weather, remarks were made inside of District, as Treasurer Summers and other local dignitaries spoke about the need to invest in our communities, and one of the ways is by encouraging the growth of local businesses. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity drive that investment, and as many of the speakers point out – neighborhood businesses tend to invest and put more money into the neighborhood than traditional “big box” stores. (Think of it as the inverse of the Wal-Mart Effect).

But as many readers will know, I’m not just an advocate of community-based businesses….I’ve also made an effort to keep my money and work local. I’ve featured organizations like Sunshine Enterprises, who work to drive local entrepreneurship. I have also worked with Greater Southwest Development Corporation and attended Tech Thursday sessions. I believe in the power of local business to drive economic development. It’s more than just smart business – it’s about building a stronger community, and in light of recent events…anything that brings us together is welcome.

I also believe that that this Saturday, many of us will be avoiding the Black Friday rush and participating in Small Business Saturday. Because it’s not just about saving money…it’s about saving our communities and neighborhoods.



Written by gordondym

November 22, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Meet Your Neighbor on 11/15: Local First Chicago

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One of the great things about writing this blog is that there are ample opportunities to highlight organizations hoping to make an impact on Chicago neighborhoods and the greater community. Local First Chicago is one such organization, and we’re more than happy to highlight an upcoming event where you can learn more about them.

Local First Chicago’s mission is to strengthen Chicago’s neighborhood economies by promoting the benefits of locally owned, independent businesses. They do this by promoting how neighborhoods and consumers benefit from a strong base of local businesses; making finding locally owned, independent businesses easier through their directory;  educate local neighborhood organizations, city officials, and Chambers of Commerce on the benefits of locally owned, independent businesses; and providing Shop Local campaign material to businesses and local chambers. Local First Chicago is also encouraging customers to shop locally on “Small Business Saturday” on November 26th. (Here are details about their efforts during the upcoming holiday season)

This Tuesday, November 15th, you will have the opportunity to learn more about Local First Chicago….and about how a new city ordinance will affect local businesses.

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

              Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Back in June, the City Council passed an ordinance which provided earned sick time to Chicago workers in businesses of all sizes. The ordinance allows employees to earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked (up to 5 sick days a year), and allows them to roll over up to 20 hours of unused sick time to the next year. More recently, the Cook County Commission passed a similar ordinance.

Local First Chicago will be holding an event titled “High Road Practice: Paid Leave” at the Overflow Coffee Bar located at 1550 South State. Moderated by Megan Kruis of Local First Chicago and Julia Watts of the American Sustainable Business Council, the event will focus on conversations around what it means to be a “High Road Employer”;  the rewards and challenges of offering paid leave, and an examination of what the Chicago sick time ordinance will mean for small businesses. (You can easily RSVP via Eventbrite – there is a cost, and appetizers and beverages will be provided).

Speakers at the event include

Part of this blog’s mission has focused on highlighting community and economic development efforts throughout Chicago. Although seemingly tangential, Local First Chicago is driving efforts to bring dollars back into our community neighborhoods by fostering small business growth and patronage.

And that‘s the kind of patronage Chicago needs.

Written by gordondym

November 13, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Now That The 2016 Presidential Election Is Over

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(NOTE: this is a much longer version of content that I have posted on Facebook and elsewhere. But I feel it needs to be said)

First, I am just as saddened and downhearted as many others about the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. Yes, the people have spoken…but they’ve spoken out of fear. Fear of losing what they have. Fear of uncertain times and rapid change. But most importantly, fear of the “other.”

And I apologize. Because somebody has to.

Many of my friends and colleagues wonder how they can continue to help – how they can make a difference in spite of this rapid change. I’ll direct them to this article, which outlines many organizations that will need help in the next few years….

But for many who are the “other”, you are unsure about your future. Given many of the threats made by the current President-elect (and let’s be clear – they were threats), any reassurances that “everything will be all right” are counterfeit.

So for those of you who are the “other” – in terms of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, atheism/agnosticism, or many of the “other” categories who are feeling unsure right now… My personal mission will be to work harder to be a better ally.

Because again, somebody has to.CNow - Skyline

The next four and a half years will…be challenging. But the only way to fight it is for us to continue building and strengthening our community.

If you’re an organization whose mission relates to any listed in the linked article, please drop me a line. We’ll write a feature blog post about your organization because our mission is providing diverse perspectives on social change.

We’re a bit disheartened and disappointed…but we also now can work on a grassroots level to drive change.

To paraphrase one of my favorite Leverage quotes, “This was your crusade…now it’s our mission

Written by gordondym

November 9, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Please Vote in the 2016 Election

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You’ve probably heard this over and over again….but if you do anything tomorrow, make sure you’ve voted in the 2016 election.

For those of you who have voted early – thank you. You’ve done your part. But it’s time for the rest of us to do ours.
You’ve seen the commercials, you’ve heard the rhetoric, you’re tired of the nastiness and divisiveness…and you have a choice. You can either do nothing and complain, or vote…and still complain, but at least you’ve expressed your opinion.

Those of you who want to claim that voting in the 2016 election means choosing the “lesser of two evils”….well, you have a choice. Democracy is about living up to ideals not courting popularity – sometimes, we have to make tough choices. And sitting out the election is not an option.

(By the way, you know that infamous George Carlin quote about how nonvoters have a right to complain because they’re “stuck” with a choice? Sorry, George got it wrong – when you have an opportunity to make a choice, especially in this year’s election, you take it with both hands. And then you walk away knowing, win or lose, you have asserted your rights. If you defend freedom of speech and freedom of thought, you are obligated to defend freedom of political choice).

Both nationally and in Illinois, most political campaigning surrounds the idea of “us vs. them.” The “insider” versus the “independent leader”. But both are part of the same system, and you have an obligation to make a choice because you have the ability to vote.

And let’s be clear – one of the presidential candidates has made it clear he won’t respect that choice to the point of saying, “There’s no need for elections – just give me the presidency”. This candidate has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of understanding of how democracy works, but also has no self-awareness about his own blind spots. (After all, this is someone who intends to allow his Vice President to run things while he “makes America great again.”) Even other candidates are not perfect, but the worst I can say about either is that Gary Johnson should get geography tutoring and Hilary Clinton showed bad judgment in using e-mail).

You might not be happy that your candidate didn’t make it – not Bernie Sanders, not Ted Cruz, not Mike O’Malley. They all put in great effort….but now is not the time to sulk. Now is the time to vote for the candidate that reflects your beliefs. Now really is the time to take action.

And yes, some of you will leave comments below calling me “naive”, or berating me for my beliefs….but where would you rather live: a country that ensures your right to express your opinion without punishment or a country where you could be imprisoned over a Facebook comment?

Didn’t think so. So

Right now, the United States is in a precarious position: many people have felt left out of the process. There’s a legitimate feeling of isolation, that changes are being made and they have a hard time adjusting. I won’t dismiss those feelings (I’ve had them myself from time to time), but I will say that nothing comes without struggle. Anyone who claims that they have all the answers, who capitalizes on that anger without recognizing the feelings behind it….should not be lead this country.

All you have to do tomorrow is to vote in the 2016 election. Yes, it’s tough. If you live in Illinois, you can search for your nearest polling place here. You’ll have to take time away from work. (And we agree with this recent Last Week Tonight With John Oliver piece on Election Day):

But right now, the only way to change things is taking it one step at a time.

Your next step should be to vote. Tomorrow. The 2016 Election.

Because, just this once, the future really is in your hands.

Written by gordondym

November 7, 2016 at 11:02 am

Posted in Commentary, Politics