With the passing of the equinox on March 20, it’s officially springtime in Logan Square. As a season associated with rebirth, resurrection and redemption, spring is especially meaningful in the year 2021. No one has come out of 2020 and into early 2021 unscathed. Hurt and pain linger with us, but this springtime is undoubtedly something for the neighborhood to view with hope.
During a reading of “A Christmas Carol” last year, First Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata described Chicago as, in part, “a city that is shaped by trauma and loss and grief,” adding, “and this has an effect on who we are.”
The City of Chicago’s COVID Dashboard shows the cumulative COVID-19 data for the 60647 ZIP code. South Side Weekly’s neighborhood-by-neighborhood COVID death report, with data from the Cook County Medical Examiner, shows 111 total deaths from COVID in Logan Square as of March 20. This COVID-related trauma, economic and social in scope, is only one piece of the hurt. We also have to focus on racial inequity, exemplified in the summer of 2020 in part by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ensuing outcry and more recently in escalated violence against Asian Americans. These issues and more show that our problems as a community and nation are real and they are still with us.
Just as these problems remain with us, it is also true that spring and rebirth are with us. More and more vaccinated people are strolling along the streets. Diners and drinkers are returning to restaurants. Bikers and skaters are taking advantage of Milwaukee Avenue’s enhanced bike lanes. Chicago Public Schools, fearing a $300 million budget shortfall next year due to declining revenue, will fill that gap and more with $1.8 billion in funding coming to CPS from the federal American Rescue Plan legislation. Some of the funding will go to COVID-19 safety protocols and hiring more school nurses, social workers and special education case managers in a long-overdue change for Chicago’s schools.
Personally, I look forward to seeing more people chatting along the 606 with coffees and kids in hand. And I look forward to all the small gatherings which will become more doable as the months progress — porch parties, park picnics and even street festivals one day. The ability to introduce yourself to people and say hello without anxiety. Bars and restaurants reopening to more and more people. Jobs coming back for those who are still looking.
Logan Square is a progressive community marked by exuberance, strong relationships and love of place. We will continue to be ahead of the curve as the rest of country wakes up to the importance of people over corporations, shared sacrifice over selfish individualism and viewing life through the lens of a whole society rather than just an economy. We are blessed with beautiful people and beautiful spaces.
I’m proud to call Logan Square home and cannot wait to see our bright future come into being every day in a 2021, marked by recovery, redemption and gratitude for life. Let’s stay the course – mask up, get vaccinated, be there for each other and take no blessing for granted.
Featured image: Kosciuszko Park, May 2020. Photo: Michael Dhar