10 Things I Think Would Be Cooler Than Getting A George Lucas Museum In Chicago

So. Star Wars. George Lucas. Pretty huge part of pop culture and the American movie landscape. Archetypes abound. Special effects. The advent of movie marketing and action figures and tie-ins. Darth and Stormtroopers and Luke and Han and Leia and C3PO and R2D2 and the Ewoks. Lightsabers and plot twists and the Death Star. So much there to talk about. It's an institution, really.

Who wouldn't want a Star Wars, I mean George Lucas museum?

If it were just a matter of having one with no other context, sure. Why not? Give me a Lucas and an E.T. and a Indiana Jones. Give me a Superman and a Batman and a Spiderman museum, while you're at it. But when you announce your plans in Chicago in 2014, I have some other requests of things I'd rather see happen and get done in Chicago FIRST.

1. Make an honest effort to really look at the problem Chicago has with guns and violence and look at real ways to change it. I don't know what the answer is. I know we need to be working hard to find it, though. The fact that people inside and outside of Chicago are bandying about the term "Chiraq" as if that's the new norm or even a way to think of it, is ridiculous and hurtful. We need to figure this out -- ALL of us -- even those of us who don't really feel like we're affected by this on a day-to-day basis.

2. Re-open the mental health facilities that were closed. It seems like hardly a day goes by without some new report of a mass shooting. It doesn't excuse these people, but I just can't help but wonder how many of these incidents could have been avoided if the shooters would have had proper treatment and interventions along the way.

3. Re-open the schools that were closed. It's such a slap in the face that Rahm will close public schools and then give millions to a private university for a basketball stadium. It would be disgusting no matter who it was, but DePaul? When did they become an NBA draft-making machine? Also, I can't believe that revamping and revitalizing the public school system wouldn't have something to do with changing the amount of violence in this city. We have to start from the ground up.

4. Ensure that we have the right amount and caliber of police officers, teachers, and firemen on the job and make sure that they are paid well. Again, I don't know for sure what will fix things, but I know if you don't have enough police officers to fight crime, enough teachers to educate your children, and enough firemen/paramedics to respond to calls in a timely fashion, you are just aiding and abetting in your city's demise.

5. Fix the corrupt public transportation system so that it is modern, serves the most amount of people in the most efficient and inexpensive way, and involve the citizenry in decisions. How many times is the CTA going to get contracts for things that no one checks up on? How many times are they going to do work that no one who actually rides the trains/buses want? And while they waste money, how many times are they going to cut service and raise prices? It's getting real old, real fast.

6. Rebuild an aging and ailing infrastructure with quality materials and honest contractors. Potholes. Sidewalks. Bridges. Roads. All falling apart, and no one seems to be able to do a damn thing about them. I'm sure each alderperson gets an endless stream of calls and emails a month. I can't tell you the number of times I am walking or biking around and see something that looks like it's a sinkhole just *waiting* to happen. And lord knows, it's not something I'm just paranoid about.

7. Ensure that our lakes and rivers are clean and protected from waste and pollution. There's always a variety of jokes that get passed around about how dirty the Chicago River is and to what degree Lake Michigan is literally full of shit, but beyond that, down in Whiting, BP is making mistakes and dumping oil into Lake Michigan, and it would seem that we should have a stake in making sure that never happens again.

8. Make sure everyone has affordable housing. Instead of going balls out to tear down public housing projects for another Target (hey, I love me some Target, but let's not go crazy here), let's assess if we really need more strip malls in Chicago surrounded by cookie-cutter condos and figure out how we can keep people living in the city who can afford their rent without trying to work four jobs.

9. Make libraries a priority again. I know, who really reads books? But, seriously, libraries are a wealth of information and resources. Besides functioning as archives and reference centers, they are heating/cooling centers. They offer internet for people who don't have access for whatever reason. If given more time and attention, they could be community centers and focus points for a host of resources (registering to vote, tutoring help, life lesson classes (e.g., how to do your taxes, how to make a budget, how to plan for college), help enrolling in the Affordable Healthcare Act). Even so, as they stand, they offer many services and opportunities and we can't afford to let them go by the wayside.

10. Knowing that instead of chasing corporations and giving out tax breaks to rich people to make them richer, our mayor and City Council would use tax increment financing for what it was intended for -- to build up the communities from whence the monies came.  I'd give up a George Lucas museum in a heartbeat if I knew that our government wasn't so stuck on the window dressing instead of what was slowly rotting beneath the surface. I love this city so much, and it always hurts me to know we could be so much better.

So, that museum will be cool as hell, I'm sure. I'm sure Lucas will micromanage every last bit of it. But, before we get all excited and Rahm starts in on another project for us, maybe we could take care of our own business first.


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