The City Of Cities Inside The Global Village

Take a seat in one of tomorrow’s privately-funded Shuttles and you’ll get a better view of our little blue planet determinedly spinning in black space from here to eternity. That vantage point will make it more clear just how inter-dependent our 7 billion bumping-together lives really are down here. Making today’s demand we return to our mythical 19thC “rugged individualism” as improbable as it is iconic.

However, what that seat won’t make more clear are the billions of digital messages criss-crossing the planet. Making McLuhan’s Electronic Global Village the 21st C reality that it is. Well, except down here in our very own Chicago. And therein lies a story…!

In Chicago the spectacle of our globalism can’t quite overshadow the splendors of our localism. I’m talking about our city’s more than 200 local neighborhood communities; each a little ethnic and caste enclave all its very own. And god bless us for that, for it makes us one of the more unique metropolises in the world.

OK, we’re not the biggest [only 2,700,000 down from our high of 3,700,000 in 1950]. And we’re never ranked the finest [that always goes to New York, London and Paris]. But find me another world-class city which has better encouraged its local communities to hold and honor their proud localism? All the while fueling their emerging globalism?

From Albany Park, Andersonville and Austin to Woodlawn, West Pullman and Wrigleyville, most of our community enclave were born and took shape from out of the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Irish and German, Poles and Italians, Blacks and Mexicans, Asians and Arabs. It’s happened in ways that keep sociologists up nights spinning new demographic theories about how each of these urban births has had the usual lifespan: youth, middle age, old age, then often gentrifying rebirth.

Watch the WTTW documentary tours…take a sight-seeing bus…better yet, walk the streets and stores this summer. You virtually sense when you’re entering one of these communities. Each looks different. feels different. smells different. is different.

This has a lot to do with the many distinctive neighborhood festivals and feasts. More than 100 each year bubble up from the passions and purposes of neighbors, retailers and churches. We may be cocooned inside our homes most nights of the year, but on these special occasions, neighbors spill out into the streets and actually talk with neighbors.

But then why wait for the events when the everyday is even more available. The everyday mom&pop stores, the corner taverns, the local parks, the nearby schoolyards. Contrary to the 10 o’clock news, the vast majority of these are unpretentiously functioning every day. Compelling your better angels to believe that, yes, both city and global village alike are making it! Not always heroically, but almost always humanely.

Go, Chicago, go….

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