Mary Ann Smith - Transcript

Transcript of Mary Ann Smith
Interviewer: Dorothy Nygren, Bob Remer
Date: 2/9/13
Chicago, IL
Transcriber: Carly Faison
Total Time: 49:15

Copyright © 2013 Edgewater Historical Society

0:00 DN: Today is February 9, 2013 and we’re doing an oral history interview with Mary Ann Smith in her home. First of all, Mary Ann, let us thank you for all the effort you’ve made on behalf of Edgewater, the people of Chicago, and congratulate you on being chosen as one of 2013 Edgewater Living Treasures. Congratulations.

0:27 MAS: Well thank you. It makes me warm and fuzzy all over! [Laughs] But it’s really a privilege to represent this community.

0:36 DN: I’d like to ask you how you came to Edgewater.

MAS: My husband and I started dating when he was living at Paulina and Montrose. We had a second floor apartment full of leaded glass and so forth, and we had two babies. Got married and had two babies, and it became time to move, to get a house. We looked all over, in the suburbs and all the neighborhoods and we decided to move four blocks east to Dover Street in Uptown where we had many friends. We were there for two years. It came time again, we needed another bathroom and you know all that kind of stuff, and it was Bob Dunne, the brother of one of our best friends, the amazing Kip Rand, who called us up because he knew we were looking all over, and said, “there’s a house for sale, come and look at it.” So we came over here, and by the way my best friend since I was seven years old lives on this block, so that was certainly a compelling issue. But we came and looked at the house, and immediately fell in love with it. So it was kind of the house, but more a desire to stay in this part of the city. My husband went to Loyola [University Chicago] undergraduate, and Loyola Law [School].

1:55 When we were hunting for houses I said to him in exasperation one day, I said, “Okay, Ron. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live?” And he said, “the South of France.” And I said, “Okay, well after the South of France, where would you want to live?” He said, “the north lakefront.” So, here we are. We’re in the north lakefront close to the [elevated train], which is important to us. Close to the lake, close to Andersonville, close to the people we love.

2:24 DN: Once you settled in the house and got your personal life–

2:31 MAS: You’re not going to say my personal life is in order! That’ll never happen! [Laughs]

2:34 DN: Well let’s just say that once you came to terms with personal issues here, you came outside of yourself and started becoming involved in community efforts. Can you tell us a little bit about how that happened?

2:50 MAS: Well actually, it started before then. When I was single, living on Roscoe, I met the amazing Lois Weisberg. My roommate and I were disgusted with the condition of the playground on Roscoe Street, so we got together with a few families to spend the day painting that. It turns out Lois Weisberg somehow knew about it, she didn’t live very far away, but obviously we were on the other side of the tracks from the Weisbergs. So that was number one, and Lois was kind of bombing around the neighborhood, commuting with her kids, who were little at the time. You know, it was just a sense of things.

3:31 I was working at Encyclopedia Britannica at the time, at the art department, and met the amazing Florence Scala, and I had come back from college actually in Minnesota, because of the Democratic Convention and things of that nature that were going on here. So it was inevitable I guess that I would cross paths with my husband, and with people on the lakefront who were busy busy busy doing all these things. So, fairly soon someone at Encyclopedia Britannica asked me if I would take a leave of absence to work in his campaign for the state [representative], which I did. Hubert Humphrey was chairman of the board, and directly he and I think it was Mortimer Adler and I think a few other people, not only gave me time to work in the campaign with a little congratulatory note. I wrote a check for a hundred dollars to my candidate. So you know, I jumped in head first into that campaign which was an “independent campaign” [air quotes]. Well the situation at the time was that you could be an independent, you could be a republican independent. It was tough to be a democratic independent, but that theory quickly began to evolve. And so it kind of began like that.

4:55 Then I went to work at the Lake Michigan Federation. There were two of us there, and the executive director and founder was the amazing Lee Botts, who took on everybody. The nuclear power industry, the oil companies, the phosphate ban in the Great Lakes was to a certain extent her doing. She was working shoulder to shoulder with Sidney Yates and all kinds of power brokers in the whole Lake Michigan region. So just breathing the same air as Lee Botts was empowering and watching that woman in action. She had been a newspaper editor, and there was nothing, nothing she couldn’t take on and accomplish. That was one of those great empowering lessons. I was imprinted like a baby duck to have a sense that nothing was sacred. So, that kind of starts early on.

5:57 When I was living on Dover Street in Uptown, a lot of us volunteered to work election day, I don’t know what the campaign was. But we quickly realized when we were poll-watching, poll-watching was a huge initiative at that time, that ballots were coming out of nursing homes all in the same handwriting voting a straight ticket. Straight Democratic Party ticket. It wasn’t what the community organizer types like myself wanted. That very quickly led us to take a look at what was going on in nursing homes, and very shortly after that Woody Bowman passed the Nursing Home Election Law, and we were in the process of moving up here at the time. And then there were, I believe, eight of us women from the neighborhood, we looked at how many ballots have been requested by certain nursing homes in the neighborhood, and depending on the number of ballots, like it was twenty or forty, you could have two poll-watchers for each increment number of voters.

7:21 So I think six or eight of us went to Mid-America Nursing Home to poll-watch. June Heiner and Sue McCabe and a lot of Marion Volini’s people. We got in there and the ballots never showed up and we were sitting in a room downstairs, kind of cut off from everybody, waiting, you know judges, and poll-watchers, and all of us. Waiting for the materials to show up and we were tipped off, I think the Attorney General had somebody checking on the nursing home, I think it was either the Attorney General or the States Attorney’s Office, was tipped off by a worker. The precinct captain was upstairs in the nursing home filling out ballots. So all hell broke loose, and we were able for the first time to confront the issue of the integrity of the vote, or lack of integrity, in nursing homes. That also was life changing because it may seem like a little initiative, things like this may seem small, but they really speak to the larger problems and they can be, they can help you define what problems are. Is it a problem, or is it a goodwill mistake? But, um, you never know what you’re going to find.

8:45 Later on, with Operation Lakewatch, doing a little. I think the budget was what, twelve hundred dollars? Something like that.

8:56 BR: You started right here in your dining room too.

MAS: Yeah, we had these weekly meetings in my dining room and starting with simple, systematic water sampling. That was one we found Taste of, oh, Chicago Fest at Navy Pier. Dumping raw sewage and grease and food waste of all kinds and toilets leaking, you name it. And so, you just have to follow your instincts and your interests, you can be amazed at what you can do.

9:28 DN: What do you think, could you list some of your favorite issues with Edgewater and what the problem was and how you addressed it and how you solved it Mary Ann?

9:40 MAS: Well. [Doorbell rings.]

BR: That’s your snow-shoveling guy.

DN: We can stop for a minute if you want.

MAS: Okay. [Recording stopped.]

9:46 BR: Mary Ann, on Operation Lakewatch, tell us how it actually started. What actually prompted you to start that wonderful program?

MAS: Well the beaches were closed for eight days and my kids weren’t beach kids, but a lot of families in the neighborhood had kids who just lived and breathed and slept the beaches. And that was where we had most of our open space at the time, so I remembered when I was working at the Lake Michigan Federation hearing stories about the Fox, who was vigilante water sampler, vigilante kind of clean water guy, who operated for the most part around the Fox River. Having heard about this situation here with the beach closings, subsequently I went to the Indiana Dunes with my kids for a month or so, and it just kept eating at me. It also was eating at Kathy Osterman. She was furious. But the question was what to do about it. And I remember sitting on the beach in Indiana with a bunch of kids, and my kids and dogs and so forth, and thinking about the Fox and about the difference that one person could make doing simple focused kids of things. I believe I talked to Lee Botts and Tom Murphy.

11:24 The question was: was it possible to create something extremely simple, reliable and inexpensive that you could use to do the water sampling, because if not, I mean that’s one of the stumbling blocks &ndsah; technology. So Tom’s the genius there, because he knew how to put together this gismo, and he knew how it had to be incubated and what would constitute responsible handling and the creation of real evidence and information. We quickly talked to Sandy Stein, a lawyer in the neighborhood with a specialty in environmental law, about this and that and who else was involved? It was Kathy, myself, Tom–

12:07 BR: Shalom?

MAS: No, not Shalom. Shalom was birds. [Laughter.] He was birds. Our bird expert.

BR: Oh, the young fellow.

12:21 MAS: Oh, yeah we hired a… we got some money. Kathy went to the Metropolitan Sanitary District Board, that’s what it was called at the time. It’s now called the Water Reclamation District. She was raising hell, and they each contributed personal money to stake us one summer, to hire this graduate student to do the Citizen Water Sampling Project.

12:51 BR: John Bizanus?

MAS: John Bizanus. That’s correct. I kept going to Belzikus. Belzanus… Belzikus. So anyway we met every week at seven in the morning in my dining room during the season. We did it for three years. The first was sort of this sampling, surface water in particular, around the beaches, at the point of human contact was the question. And at one point sampling around Chicago Fest at Navy Pier because we had observed filth, garbage, overrunning latrines, you name it, and gigantic squeegees being used to push stuff off of the pier into the water. And then I had always been interested in the harbors also, so the last year was when we sampled water in the harbors, because so many boaters do jump in the water, and clean their boats and just fool around and play, and have games and stuff. And their kids.

13:57 So we started sampling in the harbors, and the question was, “were the pump-out stations working? Were people dumping human waste into the water instead of using pump-outs? What was happening to this waste in harbors particularly where there was very little flushing action in the harbor?” And sure enough, the numbers climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and got to an all-time high at about Labor Day. So it was a very interesting exercise in seeing what citizens can accomplish. A few citizens, you know, igniting the imaginations of people. That’s where we did public service announcements, and the press loved it because, you know, you in your high rises. Get out your telescopes. If you see oil slicks, if you see masses of garbage, call us.

14:51 And then it was Kathy’s idea to reach out to pilots. And actually my husband, who will be coming down in a little while, was a Navy pilot and he had to keep up his hours, his flight time every year. So we go to Great Lakes and he’d have to get helicopter hours or whatever. So anyway they also. I had told the story about how Ron had been looking at Calumet. This was way before Lake Watch, but he had seen the plumes of warm water and contaminated water coming out of the Calumet [River], into the Great Lakes. You know that told us a little bit about what pilots could do also to help. So it was a lot of fun.

15:37 BR: The fisherman?

MAS: Oh yeah. Salmon Unlimited, the fisherman. Ducks Unlimited. They were all helping. In fact I went back to that. Recently I was up in, I guess it really amounts to curiosity… I was up in Kellogg, Minnesota. I was on the board at Saint Mary’s University in Winona. And then, of course, my girl pals came up with me and we were adventuring up and down the river, and we went to the eagle sanctuary up there north of Winona on the river and went into a little seminar. They were explaining, you know, this much lead will kill an eagle [holds index finger close to thumb] in four days; this much lead will kill an eagle in four hours. You know it was a real, very straightforward. So that was when I learned fishermen were still using lead sinkers and lead sinkers continue to get into the food chain and they continued to be consumed by wildlife by accident. That, one of my last initiatives was to go after the lead sinkers and the use of lead in fishing tackle. Then our senator got on it down in Springfield. I don’t know how far it got. But the Park District has stopped using lead sinkers, and the Forest Preserve, in their fishing programs.

17:03 BR: Then you put the signs up warning swimmers.

MAS: Oh, yes. The year we did the water monitoring in the harbors, we were very good about communicating with one another, the four or five of us, constantly. To make sure everything was being done properly and that we were all on the same page. We saw the fecal coliform counts getting dangerously high, and they were dangerously high. Sandy Stein, he’s the lawyer, was taking his family on vacation and he said, “No matter what you do, don’t post any signs.” I mean he knew us inside and out. We were all like brothers and sisters. He knew. So sure enough he leaves town, we get these fecal coliform counts, and we feel the only responsible thing to do is to make the boaters aware of what’s going on in the water that they’re jumping in and out of and playing in. So we do put up these notices, and it was done in a very respectful way. It wasn’t the skull and crossbones or anything. My husband, fortunately, you know we had a lot of lawyers step up to defend us. The Park District decided to sue us. They said, “how many times do you get to handle a first amendment case that doesn’t involve Nazis?” [laughs]

18:37 So they all had a good time and we were gagged in Chancery Court. My husband said, “Oh, they’ll never gag you in Chancery Court, no.” But sure enough, we were gagged and we had a wonderful bunch of lawyers. Of course later on, decades later, when I was alderman, we had an issue with ad benches. The bench companies would come and dump these things anywhere they wanted. It was revenue for them, income for them because of the advertising, but from the community’s point of view, some of them, they very quickly would break. They weren’t maintained well. Often they would block the public way and they would block bus stops. They were a nuisance. You would think they would be a convenience because people could sit down. But really from the community’s point of view they were a nuisance. And one thing led to another, and finally Mayor Daley, in his second, he had the two years that he finished and then he was elected to his first four-year term. I think it was in that first four year term that, the first or the second, that they created a legal mechanism so that alderman could declare either their whole area or parts of their area bench free. So we went to the zoning and planning committee in the 48th ward and yes, everybody wanted everything in the 48th ward to be ad bench free.

20:12 Well, I think it was autumn; benches started to show up in the neighborhood. I called downtown and said, “Get rid of them. We’re a bench free zone.” I remember Mary Kate was my staff person at the time who handled this. We were a bench free zone, what are these benches doing here. And we also at the time got menu money so we were in the position at the time to start buying good benches. There was so much to do here, I don’t really know how many benches we bought. It’s kind of a regret of mine.

20:26 BR: There’s more to the story.

MAS: So it turns out that apparently someone in the city had given a bench company X number of spots where they could put benches. There was certain criteria. The problem was so many communities and so many aldermen didn’t want the benches that the city didn’t have enough spots to give them. So they were in a fix. So someone decided to start sprinkling benches around, and my neighborhood thought I had double-crossed them. There was a suspicion, although why I would do that I don’t know. So one thing led to another and we decided, well, you know, I kind of put out the word, and we had a group of I think thirty eight people showed up at eleven o’clock at night to form teams to go out and paint the benches.

21:40 Now what most aldermen were doing is that you would have either streets and sand workers or just volunteers go grab the benches and hall them away. But I thought someone might get hurt and so and so forth. But I’m thinking, painting them, nobody will get hurt. Well so there were three teams out working and the police were at Lawrence and Broadway and they said they saw a bunch of clean-cut guys painting ad benches at midnight and they just didn’t look right to them. One of them was my son of course, and one of them was a famous architect in our neighborhood, Thom Greene. And one was Arnie Owens, who was also on the board at Hull House and you know just this absolute pillar of the community. Thom Greene, Arnie Owens, myself, and my son Matthew, and so we were charged with criminal damage to property so we were on trial again. We had pro bono lawyers, including my husband, who wasn’t very happy, helping us. But you just do what you gotta do, you know, that’s how I feel.

22:51 DN: A troublemaker for the public good.

MAS: Well, yeah, [laughs] you know there was, yeah. Yeah. You know, and the other thing is, the community really wants to know that you will do what it takes to get things done. I went to the police and I said, “Please, all these volunteers were acting as my agents. Please just charge me.” But they did it by the book, and the States Attorney’s Office did it by the book. It was okay. So you know every ten years you get arrested, you know you’re alive. [Laughs]

22:35 DN: As Alderman, Mary Ann, I think you’re involved in the Human Rights Ordinance, helping promote that?

MAS: Well certain aspects of it were passed when Kathy was Alderman. And actually, you know in our community… our community at first was not known as a community which was tremendously populated by gay, lesbian, LGBT. But in the Block Clubs people knew. We benefited from the fact that, at one point almost every Block Club president was out to a certain extent. It was fantastic. The people who marched arm in arm literally at night against crime very often was the LGBT community and seniors. It was a tremendous thing in this neighborhood to have that kind of energy here. So knowing that, I couldn’t wait to get to the head of the line to sponsor anything I could, or co-sponsor anything I could to make sure that these communities were, you know got the rights and the respect that they were entitled to.

25:01 DN: Edgewater is a very diverse community. Can you speak to how, as Alderman, you tried to serve that?

MAS: Well, I’ve tried to protect it as well, and affordable housing has a lot to do with that. We have a lot of social service agencies in the community, but from this community’s point of view, what has mattered is, are folks good neighbors, or are they not good neighbors? In fact, out of Goudy School, which we were talking about earlier, we had worked really hard to help acquire some buildings and redevelop them into top-of-the-line SRO housing. I had to go nose-to-nose with the executive director of one of the organizations who had adopted the attitude that what the community has to understand, many of our residents have challenges. And I said, “Everybody has to understand that these children have a right to walk to school in peace and that many of these children come from countries which are at war, and they and their, usually grandparents, if you remember, need to be able to walk to school in peace.” So there was a détente.

26:33 So people, that’s really the bottom line. And the other thing is, in redeveloping businesses, we wanted restaurants, we wanted retail and all this, but to notice that the price points in the restaurant community, the price points in the food and food retailers, the price points at the clothing stores and coffee shops, it’s really a broad range. It’s a broad range. It’s also a broad range of lifestyles. So you’ve got perhaps something a little more on the “she-she“ end, and then you’ve got something that’s a little more bohemian, you know. In fact there’s an article you can find online which the title of it is, “Diversify or Die.” That’s what it’s called. It points out the fact that the more diverse a community is, the more resilient it is, which is something being talked a lot about now. Economic, age, sexual preference, cultural, education, all these diversities really matter. And then, you still don’t want to silo these folks. Affordable housing here, immigrant housing here. Wealthy housing here.

28:01 There was a big discussion at one point about cul-de-sac-ing the street. From the bottom of my heart I would love to have this street cul-de-sac-ed because it’s a cut through. But the community in its wisdom said we don’t want to imply that there’s a difference between this side of the street and that side of the street. We don’t want to take the risk that anyone would interpret a cul-de-sac that way, so there were no cul-de-sacs. There was also a community debate about a mental hospital on Marine Drive. The community’s position down there was responsible ownership, responsible management, and they fought to keep it there, which is totally against what everybody presumed about a community that’s kind of fighting it’s way up.

28:58 DN: What–

MAS: Let me say one other thing.

DN: Really these are open ended questions, so anything that you want to contribute it’s really up to you.

MAS: Well, it’s the housing stock, it’s the schools. Unfortunately, the Tibetan community came here and we lost them to… I think principally to the suburbs, because we could not turn the schools around fast enough because the refugee populations do not come here to stay the same, they come here to achieve and to excel, especially their children. It’s quality housing stock for every income level, quality schools for every kind of child, every family’s needs, and the business community also has to be nurtured very carefully so that immigrants and refugees are so eager to open up a business. We saw a trend, which was building owners observing that a group would come in, take gigantic risks, risking everything they have, working their blood, sweat and tears, and then the building owner would terminate the lease and open their own version of the store.

30:23 Well, it’s very interesting sitting on the Landmarks Commission and seeing how much wisdom Marge Britton and others brought to the discussion about historic preservation. We knew, you know, everyone, I tried to boil down some of these broad, wordy concepts into slogans. Like, we want this to be a place people want to be, not a place people want to flee. Or I would say, “you don’t wake up in the morning…” this is… I’m talking history now. You don’t wake up in the morning, birds singing, sun shining, beautiful spring day, and say, “Golly, I think I’ll go take a walk on Ridge Avenue.” Trying to make the point that Ridge was a fairly large part of the neighborhood and it was in such terrible shape. We really had to focus energy there.

31:24 I think many of us that are involved in these activities are doing things that are just so much fun. But to take them on as a long term responsibility without experience would be kind of scary. You know, working the press or doing exhibits or writing or organizing, no matter what it is, just focusing on something that could be better. It’s not necessarily something that is bad, but is it what it could be? And then I’m gonna go again to, I just love doing this kind of research, the University of Chicago, Daniel Boorstin wrote a three volume set of books. Their kind of a history of America, a little philosophical and so forth. He has a chapter called “Making Things No Better Than Need Be,” which is so sad because it is such a so-so, it’s settling. And so in this very short chapter he talks about how America transitioned from craftsmanship to acceptable losses and margins of error. So when I spoke about this to a class recently at Loyola [University Chicago], if you talk about education. Is the margin for error and the acceptable losses you, in this classroom? Is it you? Are you the one that should fall into a crack? And when we talked about traffic planning, we talked about the need to be able to get across the street, and the speed of traffic here, and how engineers and technicians look at traffic. You know the number of collisions, the numbers of pedestrians hit. My response is, “What if it was your grandmother? Would that number mean something different to you at the intersection of Sheridan and Hollywood if it was your grandmother?” I find whether you’re trying to get people to focus on a problem or to help them understand what this situation really means to our community at the gut level, you have to kind of translate or interpret information. That’s also tremendous fun.

34:08 You know there’s this book “The Tipping Point” and all these studies now. The wisdom of the masses, as opposed to the wisdom of the experts, you know. So I’m kind of divided on that, because in our zoning and planning thing… committee, we had I think seventy-eight delegates in the end, and it was Block Clubs, clergy had one vote, the business community had votes in various ways, the immigrant refugee community, the kind of… the groups invested in the community, not just transient, had a vote and so forth. Why is an Uptown person sitting in this committee, looking at an Edgewater problem? Why is east of Sheridan Road looking at a west of Broadway problem? It’s because you learn the consequences of decisions, and I think it really did help the community think of itself as more than a community, more than just east of Broadway or south of Howard. So that was kind of a long-term goal, I found it tremendously satisfying. Inclusiveness for more than just the sake of being inclusive, but inclusiveness with some goals. That’s what activated people, when they saw, “Oh my god, they decided to let a liquor license in here. Look what happened.”

35:35 BR: Mary Ann, you’re now on the Landmark Commission. Looking back as Alderman, you left knowing there were three major historic districts in your ward.

MAS: Well actually.

BR: Maybe you can speak to your involvement and pride in that accomplishment.

MAS: Sure. The question was, what did we have to put on the table that would help us compete for investment dollars and for businesses? When Marion Volini was Alderman, she persuaded Crown Books to come into the community. She wanted a bookstore here so badly. The response to Marion was, it didn’t look like anybody in the community could read a book, let alone buy a book. Looking at statistics and information, you know we had to mold information to serve our purposes. So we were telling people that we have more buying power than Kenilworth, which we did, and we still do obviously. But how do we really set ourselves apart, what are our competitive issues. One of them, of course, were our buildings. So Bryn Mawr, you know it was a little bit of a tough decision which way to go first. Fortunately I had someone on my staff who was extremely interested and proficient in researching and developing the kinds of materials we needed, and the neighborhood was responsible.

37:15 BR: What about the Landmark? You worked in the Landmark?

MAS: So, how do we… we needed to do a lot of homework about how our community functioned to an extraordinary level in the 1940s and how the community had become impaired. That was a lot of fun, doing that kind of homework and turning back a lot of the mistakes that have been made. But then, in looking at our historic buildings, we have lost… let me just say, you know, unfortunately, loss very often propels you to action. We had lost this extraordinary little terracotta building on Clark Street. It was like an over-the-top wedding cake. It had from the sidewalk to the roof on all sides it was covered with gargoyles and whoop-de-dos and whipped cream. We had in my office and with the folks downtown tried to stop the demolition and we knew what was going on. They had an internal demo permit and their strategy was to whack the walls just to the point where the terracotta became loose and then it would have to be removed for public safety issues. That, in Edgewater, and the Uptown Theater in Uptown, because that was in my ward. Those two things were extremely compelling.

38:46 Obviously as an Alderman your first responsibility is public safety. Public safety and the schools. Public safety and the schools, economic development are all like this [intertwines fingers] But then getting it to economic development, one of the principles of sustainable development is identity. Who are we? What makes us different? What makes people want to come here and be here? What makes it fun to be here? The architecture really matters here. It really does. So then we were confronted with the issue of, okay, so how do we begin to actually do this using all the tools that we possible can? That’s why in Edgewater we started with Bryn Mawr, because I think we all felt that by focusing on those two glorious buildings, the two glorious terracotta buildings on Bryn Mawr, we could make a huge statement about who we are and what our expectations are. Those expectations are: for excellence. We do not want to be strip malled. This is who we are, and this is what our expectations are, and we will work with anyone who wants to meet these expectations.

40:06 I learned a big lesson. I always hated the disgusting drive-through restaurant at Thorndale and Ridge. It just, when you would make that turn heading into our neighborhood, it was like a slap in the face. Ducks. It was Jack-in-the-Box, Ducks, whatever. In starting to do a little homework, which I was doing with my staff, we didn’t really even know who owned that land. First we thought the Board of [Education] owned it. Turned out it was Park District land. Turned out some moron way back in time sold that piece of land. And it’s not the only thing that was sold in this neighborhood but, knowing that, and knowing that Midas Muffler innocently was trying to move ahead and buy it, we pleaded with Midas Muffler to sell it to the Park District. Of course, I was chairing the Park District Committee. Forrest Claypool was head of the Parks. He also understood the incredible power of what could happen there. We have photographs of the demolition, where we were all just like so excited, so happy. And then, not only to get rid of it, but then at that point, to have young Abraham Lincoln. I felt it was an incredible statement of again, who we are, what our expectation are, and more than that, internal within the community, what is possible.

41:43 There were so many people who just couldn’t get their arms around the idea that significant big change was within our power. We had the Daley administration, was tremendous to work with. Just tremendous. Because he loved this neighborhood so much. He was up here a lot, in the restaurants, walking the alleys with me. And his commissioners were up here a lot. Some live here, which was not true before 1989.

42:22 BR: Jack Markowski?

MAS: Yeah we had Jack Markowski. We had the environment commissioner. Oh yeah the one commissioner of fine arts from Harold Washington [Library].

BR: Oh, Fred Fine.

MAS: Fred Fine lived on Sheridan Road. Mayor Daley had also made me his, in the city’s delegate, to an international consortium working on climate change. That started in about 1991. It was my privilege to represent the city and also to have international groups come to Edgewater to literally walk the streets of Edgewater. They were fascinated with the original urban design of Edgewater, which worked and how it had been screwed up, tampered with, with the end of Lake Shore Drive, ripping down the buildings, doing a highway on Ridge Avenue. You know, it just ripped the guts out of this neighborhood. But I learned a lot. I learned about sustainable development. I learned about green technology, permeable surfaces, so it was a lot of fun to bring those technologies, low-tech technologies to Chicago and this neighborhood. Traffic circles, traffic counting, permeable alleys and things of that nature and work with them. It was very exciting.

43:46 But, what’s most important is, this neighborhood was the perfect partner to make that happen. It wasn’t, why are you doing that stupid thing? People in this neighborhood actually went to Seattle to look at how the traffic calming worked in Seattle.

44:05 DN: Why do you think Edgewater was perfect or unique in that respect?

MAS: I have to tell you, I don’t know. I know that a lot of Loyola people choose to stay here after, like the Volinis, after graduate school or whatever. It did not become a laissez-faire kind of Lincoln Park situation. It was, I think the perfect balance of people who loved the neighborhood but for some reason this is a place where you can be exactly who you want to be. I had a focus group of a hundred women come together. We met at the Old Admiral and had a facilitator. The questions were, why did you move here and/or why do you stay here? You know how these things go. It was a couple hours long and it was fascinating to hear what people had to say. But essentially it was, because you can walk to do what you want to do, and that really helped me also. It kind of ratified all the stuff we had been doing. It really told me neighborhood schools, neighborhood business district. They didn’t want to–

45:30 DN: Keep it local. Keep it local.

MAS: Keep it local. People treasure and value community. When I go out in the street or the sidewalk to start working in the garden whenever everything melts, I can’t be out there for more than ten minutes without people stopping to talk, whether it’s walking the dog or working in the garden it is the most wonderful thing. I’ve recently begun studying “the Village Concept” [air quotes] of aging and place and kind of how communities are organizing systems so that people continue to live in their homes and are not forced to move because of mechanicals or whatever. What is it that supports people’s right and need to live at home.

46:30 DN: What would you say is your biggest personal accomplishment?

MAS: Honest and truly, I believe it’s empowering the community. It was initially very difficult to have people commit to volunteering to work on things because they didn’t see that change could happen or a project could happen. As they began happening, people really were very excited, so I think that empowering the community, partnering with the community, and accomplishing so much of what the community was yearning for. We don’t want people to have to move when their kids hit fourth grade and get a good education.

47:25 DN: This is a community that you can be born in and live your whole life in.

MAS: You can live your whole life here, yeah.

DN: What advice would you give to younger people?

MAS: I would say do what you love and sometimes that’s not possible in terms of work, per say. You know, what puts food on the table. But if you do what you love eventually you’ll meet someone you love who loves you, and you will get into a career that you love. It may take some time.

48:00 DN: Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share with us before we conclude this interview?

MAS: I’m never going to move. [Laughs] I had thought, I had looked, I found actually a plot, it was called a farmette in Wisconsin on top of a hill, with the Amish on one side and a river on the other. And I thought, wouldn’t that be great? I could have, you know, a couple more dogs and they could run around and be so happy and boy would that be lonely, and you’d have to drive.

DN: Bob, do you have any other questions you’d like to bring up?

BR: Well you, I just think you have many accomplishments and I’d love to hear more about them but the time is running short.

DN: We can always do more I think.

MAS: We can always do more and I’ll tell you, it’s a big thrill to take so much of what I’ve learned here and the confidence I have to the Forest Preserve and to be helping them do these things.

BR: You are our longest serving Alderman.

MAS: I’m really proud of that.

BR: You should be.

MAS: Thank you, I’m glad you told me that. I didn’t know that.

BR: I don’t think anybody’s served any longer than you.

DN: I’m going to conclude the interview at this point.

49:05 MAS: Don’t you want to know what I want to have named after me?

BR: Yes.

MAS: No. [Laughs]