Before I get to My Head Meets Heart Kits….
…an Important HEADS UP:
I’m a native born, bred, and very proud Chicagoan 🙂
The Chicago Flag
For this reason, most pages on this website will begin with and feature a brief video hyping my beloved hometown’s beauty, style, character and pure GORGEOUSNESS…
….a feature which I have titled “A Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight.”
Here is the first one. 🙂
A Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight:
“Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright – Legendary Architect – (1867 – 1959)
It looks like the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright absolutely did not lie. 🙂
Yes, you read that correctly.
In 2021, Chicago beat out Paris, London, Vienna, Barcelona, Athens, Venice, Rome, Florence, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Tokyo, Cape Town, Sydney and most every other beautiful city you have frequently heard of…
…and was voted as the 2nd most beautiful city in the world. 🙂
*Prague was voted #1. (Congrats Prague!)
“Chicago, in my humble opinion, is, architecturally, the best American city traditionally, and just visually. It’s so exciting.” ~ Frank Gehry, renowned architect
Chicago was voted the 2nd most beautiful city in the world by a whopping 79 percent of 27,000 Time Out Index survey voters from across the globe.
*To clarify, in addition to being voted the second most beautiful city in the whole entire world…
…that would mean Chicago is the #1 most beautiful city in America and North America.
Oh yeah 🙂
No surprise at all to us native Chicagoans 🙂
*Chicago was also voted the second most FUN city in the world and the #1 most FUN city in America and North America…
…which makes sense because it takes some real effort to find a way to not have fun while in the Windy City. 🙂
“I wish I could go to America if only to see that Chicago.” ~Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890
*Chancellor Bismarck reportedly made this comment to Chicago resident and Union Civil War Hero General Philip Sheridan in 1870 when the General was in Europe to honor the Iron Duke’s rout of Napoleon III, (per author Donald L. Miller’s excellent book “Chicago: City of the Century”)
*Statue of Union Civil War Hero General Philip Sheridan in Abraham Lincoln Park in Chicago.
*Chicago’s major street “Sheridan Road” is also named in his honor.
FUN FACT: There is no major city in America which honors the real winners and victors of the American Civil War more than Chicago does.
Here’s the thing:
Chicago does not pretend.
Because Chicago is REAL.
Chicago would never build statues or monuments pretending like the side it fought on and/or supported won if it had in reality lost.
That’s not real.
Chicago also would never build statues, monuments, etc. honoring the side of the American Civil War which not only lost…
…but the side which also fought to keep slavery enshrined forever in the U.S., even if it meant tearing these United States apart via separating or seceding from it to achieve their sinister goals.
That’s not real.
This is just basic commonsense, which is something the city of Chicago has a LOT of.
Honoring those who sought and fought to continue enslaving human beings also went against the very character and nature of the city of Chicago.
That’s just not “The Chicago Way.”
FUN FACT: Chicago was an important and vital stop for many of the freedom seeking enslaved on The Underground Railroad.
In fact, Chicago made mortal enemies very quickly in many parts of America just 13 years after it was founded by defiantly refusing to uphold The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 passed by the U.S. Congress.
This law gave enslavers the right to re-enslave freedom seeking Black people who had risked their lives to escape slavery and head north to free states like my home state of Illinois.
13 year old Chicago was the first and I believe the only US city to officially do so.
“On October 21, 1850, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution condemning the new law as “cruel and unjust” and directing the city’s police “not to render any assistance for the arrest of fugitive slaves.” ~ Encyclopedia of Chicago
Chicago was immediately condemned, castigated, and branded a lawless city by many across the U.S.
Remember, Chicago was only 13 years old at this time, and many on both sides of this nation defining issue were like:
Just who do you think you are defiantly breaking the laws put forth by the U.S. Congress?
Aren’t you brand new?
Chicago didn’t care.
Fast Forward to 2016:
Chicago became the first and only US city or town to shut down a Donald Trump rally before it even got started:
“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
One thing no one will ever accuse Chicago of is being cowardly.
Also it’s important to remember that this country was founded on a protest which evolved into the American Revolution.
From it’s stand alone 1850 protest and defiance of the Fugitive Slave Law…
… to it’s stand alone 2016 protest of Donald Trump holding a rally within it…
…one thing that can be said about the Windy City is it’s consistent…
…and it’s not afraid to stand alone.
Needless to say, Trump never re-scheduled his hate rally, nor did he ever try to hold another rally in Chicago again.
The record shows that the only American city or town which in response to Trump’s attempt to use it as a stage for racism, hatred, xenophobia, sexism, etc. in 2016…
…and instead basically responded with “Oh no you’re not bringing that here!” was the city of Chicago.
That’s because Chicago does not pretend.
It’s 100% REAL.
Case in point…
…here were a few headlines at that time:
Independent UK – December 2017 – Chicago’s New Motto Is ‘A City Trump Will Never Sleep In Says Mayor
“Chicago is a “Trump Free” zone. We don’t want him.” ~ Outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the Late Show in 2017
Here’s the thing:
Chicago is not going to claim that what Trump says is unacceptable…
…but then roll out the welcome wagon to allow him to say those unacceptable things within it’s borders.
Chicago doesn’t play that.
And Chicago means business in regard to not enabling Trump in even more tangible and more meaningful ways.
Case in point:
Chicago is arguably the friendliest and nicest city in America…
…..but that friendliness, niceness and civility most definitely does not extend to Trump.
And Chicago is still letting him know he is not welcome.
Case in point…
Chicago’s Trump Tower
Yes, even Donald Trump wanted his name immortalized on the beautiful Chicago Skyline.
The problem is Chicago doesn’t feel the same way.
“Seven years after the tower bearing the braggadocio’s (Trump) name was completed with postcard-worthy views, the presumptive Republican nominee has not managed to lease out even one of his huge riverfront retail spaces at Trump Tower.”
“While many wealthy residents of the Trump Tower told the Tribune in December that Trump’s policies targeting Mexicans and Muslims made them embarrassed to admit they lived in a building bearing his name, and a slew of Trump’s business partners broke ties with him over his campaign rhetoric, problems leasing the retail space both predate and appear unrelated to his presidential campaign.” ~ From Chicago Tribune article titled “Why Won’t Retailers Move Into Trump Tower?” – July 2016
*Also check out the following linked article:
The Real Deal – March 2019 – “No man’s land”: How Trump Tower Became Chicago Retail’s Biggest Failure
See? Rather than pretending to be civil to the uncivilized…
…Chicago just keeps it REAL.
Fast forward to just one of the many horrible examples of what millions of legal and law abiding immigrants from the countries Trump was referencing in the following headline had to live through and put up with being broadcast from the White House for four years once Trump became president:
Just think about how the kids who are from and/or whose parents are from those countries felt hearing the President of the U.S. publicly label their native country a “shithole” whose citizens are not welcome or wanted in the U.S.
Heck, think about how their parents or any other immigrants from those countries living in the U.S. or in any other part of the world felt hearing that hateful rhetoric from Trump…
…especially since what a U.S. president says that is notable is typically broadcast around the world.
What is that inscription on the Statue of Liberty again?
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” ~ The words inscribed on The Statue of Liberty in NYC – (by Emma Lazarus – 1883)
To state the obvious…
…dissing, scapegoating, humiliating, and vilifying our nation’s immigrants or immigrants who reside anywhere else in the world is not “The Chicago Way.”
Case in point:
The Most Diverse Street in America – Devon Ave. in Chicago
*Check out this fabulous food tour which hits a few of Devon Ave’s wonderful Pakistani restaurants.
The video is less than 5 minutes, but it will surely have your mouth watering. 🙂
Devon Street Chicago Food Tour
“Right now, when we’re hearing so much disturbing and hateful rhetoric, it is so important to remember that our diversity has been – and will always be – our greatest source of strength and pride here in the United States.” ~ Michelle Obama – Native Chicagaon
In stark contrast, Chicago prefers to celebrate Diversity vs vilify, demonize, and hatemonger it.
Chicago does this in many ways via it’s hundreds of diverse cultural offerings offered year round across the city.
Diverse cultural offerings like the following which brings the world of DANCE to Chicago every year:
2022 Year of Chicago Dance
Also diverse cultural offerings like the following which brings the world of FOOD together in the world’s largest outdoor food festival in Chicago every year.
The Taste of Chicago
And the following is just one of multiple ways Chicago celebrates the diversity of the people within in it’s city at Christmas time every year:
Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light
This year (2022), Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry celebrates the 80th anniversary of a beloved Chicago tradition which began in 1942 with a single tree, newly decorated every day for 12 days to represent the countries fighting alongside America during World War II.
Today, Christmas Around the World features more than 50 trees highlighting a variety of countries and cultures, offering insight into the holiday customs celebrated by families around the world.
These trees and displays are decorated by volunteers from around the Chicagoland area to represent holiday traditions from their various cultures which spans across the globe.
Christmas Around the World
“Chicago is a beautiful city – the architecture, the food, everything in the city is awesome.” ~ Chance the Rapper – Native Chicagoan
Back to Chicago’s authenticity…
Chicago’s penchant for commonsense and realness is why author Alex Kotlowitz titled his acclaimed book about the Windy City:
“Never a City So Real”
“It’s a city that doesn’t presume. It’s a democratic city. Expansive and exposed. There’s nothing false about it, no pre- tense. It is as you see it.” ~ Alex Kotlowitz from his book “Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago”
The late, great Anthony Bourdain also wrote about Chicago’s penchant for being real, no pretense, or what he colorfully called “NO BULLSHIT.”
“(Chicago) is, also, as I like to point out frequently, one of America’s last great NO BULLSHIT zones. Pomposity, pretentiousness, putting on airs of any kind, douchery and lack of a sense of humor will not get you far in Chicago.” ~ Anthony Bourdain – Medium essay, 2016
Interestingly comedy legend and native Chicagoan Bob Newhart also spoke about Chicago’s lack of pomposity and pretentiousness:
“I think the thing about it is when you grow up in Chicago there’s such a thing as putting on airs, you know? And you just learn not to put on airs. Don’t act like, ‘Oh boy, I’m somebody.’ They’ll slap you down.” ~ Bob Newhart, legendary comedian
One word: Yep
Going back to the following quote about Chicago:
“It’s a city that doesn’t presume. It’s a democratic city. Expansive and exposed. There’s nothing false about it, no pre- tense. It is as you see it.” ~ Alex Kotlowitz from his book “Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago”
Note: “democratic” with a small d = Democracy
*Author Kenan Heise made a very persuasive and fact-filled case that the city of Chicago is the true birthplace of American Democracy in his fascinating 1990 book titled “The Chicagoization of America – 1893 – 1917.”
“The distinction between a revolution and an evolution is often the difference between a sword and a ploughshare. In 1776, the Colonies formally initiated their revolution. In 1893, the United States launched it’s most important evolution. The first was meant to make America a republic; the second, to turn it into a democracy. The American Revolution started on the East Coast and the evolution, in Chicago, IL.” ~ Kenan Heise
Heise’s thought provoking book made a compelling case that while America was founded as a Democracy in theory, it really was never one in reality.
His fascinating book documents that most efforts that were made to make this country into a legitimate democracy began in Chicago…
…although some of the successes that were birthed from those early efforts were unfortunately short-lived.
*I believe Kenan Heise’s book “The Chicagoization of America – 1893-1917” is currently out of print…
The fact that American Democracy is presently on such perilous and shaky ground now is I believe 100% proof that this country has yet to fully live up to it’s democratic ideals.
The sad fact of the matter is being founded while at the same time enslaving human beings always made the concept of American Democracy extremely suspect, to put it mildly.
How can a country declare “All men are created equal” while at the same time enslaving an entire race of men, (in addition to women and children)?
Was that only true of certain men, and if yes, why didn’t America’s Declaration of Independence specifically state that instead of pretending it was intended for “all men” or for “The People” aka for ALL people?
This is why President Abraham Lincoln saw abolishing slavery and the American Civil War which unfortunately followed, as correcting a serious flaw in the stated ideals this nation was founded upon…
…the ideal of the U.S. finally becoming a true Democracy.
Abraham Lincoln aka “Honest Abe” very correctly saw that America could not honestly call itself a Democracy while at the same time enslaving people.
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” ~ Abraham Lincoln – Fragment on Democracy, August 1, 1858
Isn’t that basically The Golden Rule?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated. Various expressions of this rule can be found in the tenets of most religions and creeds through the ages.” ~ Source: Wikipedia
Exactly. Don’t do to another something that you would not want done to you. It’s really that simple.
“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
In other words: The Golden Rule
President Lincoln hoped that abolishing slavery would enable America to have what he called in his iconic Gettysburg Address in 1863 “a new birth of freedom.”
A freedom without slavery which could potentially bring this country much closer to being the Democracy it was founded to be.
Notice I said potentially.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address performed by President Obama – (2013)
“That the nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ~ The last sentence from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – November 19, 1863
This all brings me back to the city of Chicago.
“Lincoln warned the South in his Inaugural Address: “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”
Lincoln thought secession illegal, and was willing to use force to defend Federal law and the Union. When Confederate batteries fired on Fort Sumter and forced its surrender, he called on the states for 75,000 volunteers. Four more slave states joined the Confederacy but four remained within the Union. The Civil War had begun.” ~ White House.gov
The fact of the matter is not only did Chicago only honor and support the real victors, winners, and heroes of the American Civil War…
…few major cities in America was more committed and more enthusiastic about preserving the Union aka keeping the “United States” together and intact against the efforts of the Southern Confederate States attempts to tear the nation apart than very northern and very anti-slavery Chicago.
“Union support ran high in Chicago and its surrounding county. The state of Illinois is known for the large number of soldiers it supplied to the Union Army. Enthusiasm for the war in Chicago ran so high that the draft was seldom used; enlistment rallies and large bounties further encouraged men to volunteer.” ~ Battlefields.org
In fact, Chicago resident Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, who was killed while removing a Confederate flag from the roof of the Marshall House Inn in Alexandria, Virginia, was the first Union officer killed in the Civil war.
Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth
“On May 24, 1861, (Ellsworth) and his men were in Alexandria, Virginia, assisting with the occupation of the city. When Ellsworth spotted a large Confederate flag hanging from the roof of the Marshall House Inn, he climbed up and tore it down. As he was heading back downstairs, James Jackson, the innkeeper, shot and killed him. One of Ellsworth’s men Francis Brownell fatally shot Jackson in retaliation. The Union mourned this tragic loss, and “Remember Ellsworth!” became a rallying cry. His name and face soon appeared on stationary, sheet music, and common household items.” ~ Chicago History Museum website
*Ellsworth was also a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s and after studying law in Chicago, he worked as a law clerk in Lincoln’s Springfield IL law office before he was elected president.
“When President Abraham Lincoln learned that Union Army Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth had been killed, the president exclaimed, “My boy! My boy! Was it necessary this sacrifice should be made?” ~ National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
In addition to General Philip Sheridan and Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth…
…General Ulysses S. Grant, who was the commanding general who handily defeated Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army and led the Union Army to victory…
…and the Great Emancipator himself President Abraham Lincoln in addition to many other civil war leaders and heroes, all lived in or had strong ties to Chicago and/or the great state of Illinois.
FUN FACT: Lincoln’s nickname “Old Abe” originated in Chicago:
“One afternoon, several of us sat on the sidewalk under the balcony of the Sherman House (in Chicago), and among the number was the accomplished scholar and unrivaled orator, Lisle Smith. He suddenly interrupted the conversation by exclaiming, ‘There is Lincoln on the other side of the street. Just look at “Old Abe”. And from that time we all called him “Old Abe”. No one who saw him can forget his personal appearance at that time. Tall, angular and awkward, he had on a short-waisted, thin swallow-tail coat, a short vest of the same material, thin pantaloons, scarcely coming to his ankles, a straw hat and a pair of brogans with woolen socks.” ~ Future Illinois congressman Elihu B. Washburne in 1847 via the website AbrahamLincolnsclassroom.org
In fact, the well-known Civil War song “Battle Cry of Freedom” originated in Chicago, written by yet another Chicago resident named George Frederick Root.
Composed in a single day in response to President Lincoln’s second call for troops in July 1862, “Battle Cry of Freedom” was first performed on July 24 at a huge rally in support of the Union in Chicago. (per Battlefields.org)
Root’s legendary song gave tons of joy, upliftment, and much needed inspiration to the tough, hard fighting Union soldiers:
“A glee club came down from Chicago, bringing with them the new song, “We’ll rally ’round the flag, boys”, and it ran through the camp like wildfire. The effect was little short of miraculous. It put as much spirit and cheer into the army as a victory. Day and night one could hear it by every camp fire and in every tent. I never shall forget how the men rolled out the line, “And although he may be poor, he shall never be a slave.” I do not know whether Mr. Root knows what good work his song did for us there, but I hope so.” ~Henry Stone, The Century Illustrated, “Memoranda on the Civil War: A Song in Camp”
For these and many other reasons…
…President Abraham Lincoln, General Philip Sheridan, General Ulysses S. Grant, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, and the many other victorious Union heroes of the American Civil War which freed the enslaved and prevented the United States from being torn apart, are forever gratefully and thankfully honored in countless ways in the city of Chicago.
Although Chicago honors the triumphant Union Army’s heroes in many diverse and unique ways all across the city…
…one interesting way Chi chose to honor President Abraham Lincoln and the Union Army’s Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant is of special note:
Case in point:
Here is “The Head of State” Abraham Lincoln statue in Chicago’s (Ulysses S.) Grant Park.
And here is the Ulysses S. Grant statue in the (Abraham) Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago.
Notice how Lincoln’s statue is in Grant Park which honors General Grant, and how Grant’s statue is in Lincoln Park, one of two neighborhoods in Chicago which honors President Lincoln.
That’s no coincidence:
In their own words:
“Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.” ~ President Abraham Lincoln on Grant
“In February 1862 he (Grant) took Fort Henry and attacked Fort Donelson. When the Confederate commander asked for terms, Grant replied, “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” The Confederates surrendered, and President Lincoln promoted Grant to major general of volunteers. At Shiloh in April, Grant fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West and came out less well. President Lincoln fended off demands for his removal by saying, “I can’t spare this man–he fights.” ~ From White House website
“No general could want better backing, for the president was a man of great wisdom and moderation.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant about Lincoln
“Tears flowed down Grant’s cheek as he stood at attention next to the commander-in-chief’s coffin inside the White House and mourned the loss of a friend. “My personal relations with him were as close and intimate as the nature of our respective duties would permit,” Grant wrote. “To know him personally was to love and respect him for his great qualities of heart and head, and for his patience and patriotism.” Grant clearly had become, by all means, a “Lincoln man.” ~ Excerpt from History.com article titled “How Lincoln and Grant’s Partnership Won the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln was disappointed by most of his generals—but not Ulysses S. Grant.”
How proud Chicagoans everywhere should be, (as well as every truly patriotic American should be), that the city of Chicago chose to honor the remarkable friendship, kinship, and deep respect these two timeless American heroes had for one another…
….the two men most responsible for ensuring slavery would stay abolished, would lead the supreme battle to prevent the South from seceding, and in doing so preserved and saved the UNION aka The United States of America.
Is it any wonder that Illinois’ own Abraham Lincoln has consistently been voted America’s most popular president?
“A new YouGov poll has asked Americans their view on the 45 men who have served as president to date. Abraham Lincoln is the most popular US president Topping the list is Abraham Lincoln. Eight in ten Americans (80%) have a favorable view of the president who freed the slaves and won the Civil War, including 56% who have a “very favorable” view of him.” ~ YouGov America – July 2021
And most American academics, scholars, and historians feel the same way:
The National Interest – February 2018 – America’s Greatest President Ever: Abraham Lincoln “Whenever academics and scholars tickle their fancy by putting forth yet another poll of historians on presidential rankings, there is little doubt about which president will top the list—Abraham Lincoln. In the numerous such polls executed since Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. pioneered the genre in 1948 for Life magazine, Lincoln has come out as number one in nearly all of them. Of the seven surveys I pulled together for my 2012 book on the subject, Where They Stand, the Illinois rail-splitter was judged the nation’s greatest president in six of them.” ~ The National Interest – February 2018
This is one of many reasons why my home state is so proud to be known as “The Land of Lincoln.” 🙂
Illinois License Plate:
Fast Forward to 2008:
Hence why it was so fitting and meaningful to Chicagoans everywhere when a 21st Century Chicagoan became this nation’s first Black president of these still United States along with his Chicago-born first Black First Lady by his side.
And how very fitting it was that President-elect Barack Obama chose to give his incredible victory speech which was seen all over the world from Ulysses S. Grant Park in Chicago with the “Head of State” Abraham Lincoln statue looking on. 🙂
Chicago was so proud on that history making night, and that includes the 250,000 jubilant Chicagoans in Grant Park on that magical evening…
….the millions of Chicagoans at home proudly watching it all on their television screens…
….and the millions more Chicagoans watching across America and around the world. 🙂
250,000 victorious Chicagoans in Grant Park on that iconic and world changing Election Night in 2008:
“Anyone who was in town that night — certainly anyone who joined the mass pilgrimage to Grant Park — remembers how it felt, and even if you didn’t vote for Chicago’s own, you could admire the Chicago that his victory put on worldwide display. The autumn-tart evening light. Remember that? And the surprising air, almost summer-sweet. And how we the people — white, black, everything else, and not only Democrats — flooded the downtown streets.
The sound in those streets, without snark or irony, of the words “history” and “hope.” And the dancing. Remember? The crying, the honking, the hugging, the cellphone photos sent to impress faraway friends with the fact that we were here.
Grant Park. Chicago. Our kind of town.”
“This is the highlight in Chicago’s history to have the first African-American president hail from Chicago and have a president from Chicago,” Mayor Daley told a New York Times reporter, with his unique eloquence. The country seemed liberated, however momentarily, from its racist roots. And however much that moment belonged to the whole world, it belonged, just a fraction more, to Chicago.” ~ Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune in an article titled “This Year Will Be Different, But We’ll Always Have 2008″` on election day in November 2012.
Interestingly, Barack Obama used his community organizing experience which he learned in Chicago, the birthplace of Community Organizing, to mount a massive grassroots campaign unlike any presidential campaign before it in 2008.
What few people know is long before even the people of Chicago knew his name…
….little known 30 year old Barack Obama the community organizer, played a KEY role in helping then Gov. Bill Clinton to defeat then President George Bush Sr. for the presidency in Illinois in 1990…
…and Barack Obama the community organizer also played a KEY role in electing Chicagoan Carole Mosely Braun the first Black woman U.S. Senator…
…to the same U.S. Senate seat he himself would go on to win years later and launch his ground breaking presidential campaign from.
*For those interested in how, please check out this fascinating Chicago Magazine article from 1993 which is likely the very first article ever written about young Barack Obama as a likely future political candidate titled “Vote of Confidence.”
Fast forward from 1993 to 2008:
Maybe the Republicans shouldn’t have used their 2008 political convention to belittle and ridicule then U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for being a mere “Community Organizer.” 🙂
Note: It’s never wise to voice an opinion on a topic you don’t have a clue about.
This is especially true when you are broadcasting your opinion based on nothing to millions.
*For those who don’t know what Community Organizing, (pioneered in Chicago) is,….
“The Chicago Way” says it’s also not wise to underestimate your competitors. 🙂
FUN FACT: That community organizing experience laughed at and ridiculed by Republicans at their 2008 convention…
…helped the Obama-Biden ticket to receive more votes than any other presidential ticket in U.S. history in 2008.
Whose laughing now?
Obama-Biden 2008 – We ARE Out There
*Update: The Obama-Biden 2008 record has since been broken by the Biden-Harris ticket in 2020:
The Independent UK – November 2020 – Biden Breaks Record For Most Votes in History For Any Presidential Candidate
“The previous record holder was Barack Obama.” ~ The Independent – November 2020
Note:Chicago being the birthplace of Community Organizing is just one of many forms of American Democracy it helped to create, innovate and/or revolutionize.
And of course President Obama used his invaluable community organizing cred to go on to win four more years in the White House in 2012.
President Obama’s stellar Chicago-based re-election campaign headquarters in 2012 made sure of it.
“Every president since Richard Nixon has run his re-election campaign from either Washington D.C., or its Virginia suburbs.” “Reelection campaigns are typically based in Washington because that puts the leadership closer to where [the candidate] lives,” Jamal Simmons, a Democratic consultant, told Politico.
“In modern presidential history, this is kind of revolutionary.” ~ From CBS News article titled “Report: Obama to Run 2012 Campaign from Chicago” – December 2010
Needless to say, Barack Obama is a very smart man.
He intimately knew the city that in many ways very strategically helped and positioned him to launch straight into the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Case in Point:
During the very hard fought battle between Barack and Hillary during the Democratic primary for the presidential nomination in 2008…
…Chicago pols and Illinois state lawmakers made no secret which candidate they were all in for:
A few examples:
“In fact, state Democratic lawmakers moved up Illinois’ (presidential) primary — one of more than two dozen “Super Tuesday” contests across the country — to try to give Obama an early boost.” ~ Reuters – January 2008
“Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose father and namesake was famously not so sympathetic to antiwar protesters, is coming to the defense of Barack Obama for his link to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. Daley accused Hillary Clinton and other critics of Obama’s association with Ayers of ‘re-fighting 40-year-old battles.’ And the mayor noted that he also knows Ayers and has ‘worked with’ him on city education reforms.” ~ Los Angeles Times – April 2008
Knowing how hard Chicago worked to get him into the White House…
…President Obama also knew Chi would work hard to keep him there.
One thing is for sure, any presidential campaign that is run from Chicago is most definitely going to play to win.
Comments from this highly effective Obama 2012 re-election campaign video on You Tube:
“Wow! Well done Team Obama. This is powerful stuff.”
“Brilliant ad. Hats off to the team that did this. And most importantly, it’s factual.”
“I applaud the Obama campaign for this ad. Not only is it accurate but it’s made incredibly well.”
“Most effective ad I’ve ever seen at getting to the point simply and directly with just facts.”
Fearlessly cutting through the BS and getting straight to the point or straight to the real truth of the matter is “The Chicago Way.”
And (of course) The Chicago Way worked and won Barack Obama…
And yes Obama-Biden did indeed win Florida (again) in 2012 🙂
Throughout it’s colorful, exciting, pioneering, and one of a kind history, Chicago has always been known for attracting & breeding tough, smart, and charismatic winners. 🙂
“Let me tell you something. I’m from Chicago. I don’t break.” ~ Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to a crowd of supporters concerned about political attacks against him in 2008
FUN FACT: Four of the Top 5 U.S. presidential candidates with the most votes cast for president in U.S. history…
….were either born or schooled in Chicago…
…or as in President Biden’s case, was previously on the same winning ticket and the VP partner of a Chicago president:
Candidate Year Party Popular Vote
Joe Biden 2020 Democratic 81,283,501 – Winner.
Donald Trump 2020 Republican 74,223,975 – Runner-up.
Barack Obama 2008 Democratic 69,498,516 – Winner.
Barack Obama 2012 Democratic 65,915,795 – Winner.
Hillary Clinton 2016 Democratic 65,853,514 – Won Popular Vote, lost Electoral College
For those who don’t know…
…Hillary Clinton was born and bred in Chicagoland.
Coincidence? I think not 🙂
And of course being the ground-breaking, pioneering, and most importantly Democracy loving city it is….
…these 4 out of 5 top vote getting Chicago affiliated presidential tickets include…
…the first Black president…
the first Black VP…
the first Asian American VP…
the first female VP…
…and the first female presidential party nominee and candidate.
Back to present day typically winning Chicago 🙂
Fast Forward to 2022:
“What are the best cities in the world? Every year, Time Out surveys more than 20,000 people around the world to identify the best cities to visit right now. This year, Edinburgh topped the list as the best city in the world, followed by Chicago, Medellín, Glasgow and Amsterdam.” ~ Forbes – July 2022
YES! In addition to being voted second most beautiful city in the world and the #1 most beautiful city in America/North America in 2021…
….Chicago was ranked the 2nd Best City in the World in 2022 by more than 20,000 Time Out survey takers from around the world.
*Edinburgh, Scotland was voted the #1 Best City in the World. Congrats Edinburgh 🙂
This means Chicago was voted the BEST City in America and North America by those same 20,000+ voters.
How cool is that? 🙂
This is the reason why Chicago keeps breaking it’s tourism records year after year with tens of millions of tourists flooding the Windy City from America and from around the world.
“Chicago does not go to the world, the world comes to Chicago.” ~ Peter Orner – Native Chicagoan
…this happened in 2015:
Curbed Chicago – April 2016 – Chicago Breaks Tourism Record With 52 Million Visitors in 2015
And this happened in 2016:
Curbed Chicago – January 2017 – Chicago Hits New Tourism Record With 54.1 Million Visitors In 2016
And this happened in 2017:
Chicago Tribune – January 2018 – Chicago Tourism Numbers Hit Record High, Topping 55 Million Visitors In 2017
And this happened in 2018:
NBC Chicago – April 2019 – Nearly 58 Million Visitors Help Set New Chicago Tourism Records
“Going to Chicago was like going out of the world.” ~ Muddy Waters
Year after year, Chicago keeps breaking it’s own tourism records.
Chicago keeps topping itself.
How badass is that? 🙂
Chicago has fascinated visitors to it almost since it’s inception.
“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago—she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” ~ Mark Twain, legendary writer and humorist – (1835 – 1910)
Keep in mind as the 3rd largest city in the US, Chicago has only 2.7 million residents.
For context, Los Angeles which is the 2nd largest city in the US, has 3.9 million residents, which is 1.2 million more residents than Chicago has…
…yet even with Cali’s beaches, it’s beautiful mountains, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and the chance for star sightings, 50 million visitors visited LA in 2019, which is 11 million visitors less than Chicago had in 2019.
As the largest city in America with 8.5 million residents, New York City reached a record high of 66.6 million visitors in 2019,…
….but that’s just 5.6 million more visitors than Chicago reached with it’s record 61 million visitors that same year…
….even though NYC has more than triple the number of residents Chicago has.
“As somebody who has not been right here in Chicago over the last couple years, whenever I visit, I tell people, Chicago’s never looked more beautiful. It has never sparkled more.” ~ Former President Barack Obama – (2017)
It looks like tens of millions of people from around the world know a LOT more about Chicago than the vast majority of the Windy City’s very vocal haters do.
One of many examples:
Bloomberg – September 2017: “War-Torn” Chicago Is More Popular With Tourists Than Ever
“Chicago, described by President Trump and others as a hellish, dystopian crime scene akin to a “war-torn nation” and “worse than Afghanistan” is about to shatter all of its tourism records, including the one it set last year.” ~ Bloomberg News – September 2017
*Interestingly, the following was reported in that same year, (2017):
“A non-profit news outlet that focuses on gun coverage called The Trace, found that in gun violence per capita, Chicago isn’t even in the top 10 — or the top 15.” “When The Trace crunched Chicago’s five year average last October, covering the years 2010 to 2015, the city came in eighteenth among the 82 American cities with populations greater than 250,000. Updating the same calculations to cover homicide rates for the years 2011 to 2016, Chicago’s falls to twelfth.” ~ The Trace – 2017
In my opinion, the answer to why the media focus is always on Chicago and not on the many more violent cities in America can be summed up in the following quote:
“News media from other cities, especially New York, are extremely jealous. That is why they continually run hit pieces on our city. Chicago’s crime rate is no better or worse than other major urban areas.” ~ Peter Bella – Chicago Now – (2013)
Yes, it can really be that simple.
Most reasons aren’t rocket science, or difficult to figure out.
“Chicago has disappointed her enemies and astonished the world!” ~ Erik Larson
Yet in spite of the constant and never ending (jealous) hate and over the top rhetoric constantly thrown at the Windy City from various corners of America…
…millions of average Americans totally ignore it and still know the real deal about Chicago’s greatness.
For example, the following happened in October 2022:
“Chicago was voted the Best Big City in the U.S. again by Conde Nast Traveler. This is the 6th time Chicago has been named this title. Nearly 240,000 readers weighed in for Conde Nast’s readers choice awards. They have selected Chicago as the Best Big City in the U.S. every year since 2017. No other city has won the title more than three times in a row in the award’s 35 year history.” ~ CBS News – October 2022
CHICAGO VOTED THE BEST CITY IN AMERICA IN 2022 FOR THE SIXTH YEAR IN A ROW.
No other American city has done what Chicago has done annually SIX CONSECUTIVE TIMES. 🙂
“The best food is in Chicago. There are great restaurants everywhere, from fancy places to burger joints.” ~ Steve Carell
The following excerpt is from Conde Nast Traveler Magazine representing it’s 240,000 travel loving voters:
“It’s no wonder Chicago is topping this list yet again. A world-class destination known for its impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene, it’ll take several repeat visits to get through your list of must-dos. Most people start downtown—from the Magnificent Mile to the ritzy Gold Coast to funky Old Town—but there are 77 neighborhoods to explore, where you’ll find cutting-edge restaurants, chilled-out corner bars, and, no matter where you go, some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.” ~ Conde Nast Traveler Magazine – October 2022
“….some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.”
Yes Chicago has dynamic and pioneering architecture, world-class museums and cultural institutions, a gorgeous miles-long lakefront, wonderful year round neighborhood festivals and concerts, a stunningly beautiful skyline, the best foodie scene in America, an unrivaled art, music, and comedy scene, and some of the best contemporary and historical public art in America but….
…in my humble opinion, the #1 reason why Chicago has won this coveted “Best City In America” title from Conde Nast Traveler Magazine for six consecutive years, more than any other city in America, is the PEOPLE of Chicago.
To put it simply, Chicagoans make Chicago and vice versa. 🙂
“Chicago made me who I am.” ~ Michelle Obama
That reminds me of a quote from a legendary player for the Chicago Bulls:
“I didn’t come here to be average.” ~ Michael Jordan
The truth is none of us came or were born on this planet to be “average” or to not strive to be true to ourselves and our abilities, but those from or associated with Chicagoland seem to know this truth better than most.
“Chicago has always been a fertile and nurturing environment for those who march not to the beat of a different drummer, but to a different symphony. Loud and proud, Chicago’s distinctive personality has less to do with its gloriously distinctive architecture than it does with the sum of its people.” “Unlike any other city in the land, Chicago accommodated its characters, celebrated them, in fact.” ~ Rick Kogan in the forward of the book “Chicago Originals” by Kenan Heise and Ed Baumann
I would argue that the worst place in America for you to live if you’re striving to be average, inauthentic, to live a life of pretense, or to just fit in is in Chicago.
“People who don’t fit in anywhere else fit in here. It’s a collection of square pegs.” ~ Artist, Golden Gloves Boxer and Character actor Tony Fitzpatrick as featured in the book “Never A City So Real: A Walk In Chicago” by Alex Kotlowitz
A great example of Chicago’s character is the Chicago Greeter Program a wonderful and 100% Free program where super friendly Chicagoans volunteer to take visitors on neighborhood tours of our great city.
The Chicago Greeter Program
“The most typically American place in America.” ~ James Bryce on Chicago, The American Commonwealth, (1888)
*Visitors can register for a Free tour of one of Chicago’s many unique and diverse neighborhoods with a local tour guide at the following link:
Also, anyone visiting Chicago and interested not only in Chicago’s pioneering, innovative, and colorful history, but also interested in American history in general, should be sure to stop at the Chicago History Museum when visiting.
“Chicago’s Oldest Cultural Institution
The Chicago History Museum is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers.” ~ From the Chicago History Museum’s website
Founded in 1856, this truly incredible museum is one of the top historical museums in America with a growing collection of more than 22 million historical items.
These invaluable historical items include an original copy of The Declaration of Independence, an extensive collection of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant artifacts, and an extensive Civil War collection of artifacts.
“Charles F. Gunther, a prominent Chicago collector, donated some items to the historical society (later named the Chicago History Museum). In 1920, the society purchased the remainder of the large history collection from his estate, with the intention of changing its focus from only a research institution into a public museum. Many of the items in Gunther’s collection, in addition to Chicago, were related to Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. These include Lincoln’s deathbed, several other pieces of furniture from the room where he died in the Petersen House, and clothing that he and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln allegedly wore the evening of his assassination. The collection also contains the table on which General Robert E. Lee signed his 1865 surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant, an official act that ended the American Civil War, at the McLean House in Appomattox, Virginia.” ~ Source: Wikipedia
*This fascinating linked video gives info on some of the other priceless historical artifacts the Chicago History Museum has related to Abraham Lincoln and so much more.
*The museum is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, one of two Chicago neighborhoods named after President Lincoln.
“Sometimes words are just music themselves. Like ‘Chicago’ is a very musical sounding name.” ~ Tom Waits
Even Chicago’s name reeks art, just like the city itself.
Speaking of music, even the legendary crooner Frank Sinatra knew the real deal about Chicago.
Frank Sinatra – My Kind of Town (Chicago Is) – From 1964 film “Robin & the 7 Hoods”
“I had no particular image of Chicago in mind when I wrote ‘My Kind of Town.’ All I wanted to do was write a song in praise of Chicago, and that’s what I did.” ~ Sammy Cahn, legendary songwriter
Those that actually know Chicago know how extremely easy it is to praise the Windy City.
That may be why Frank Sinatra recorded not just one iconic song about Chicago, (like he did with “New York, New York”)…
…Frank recorded TWO iconic songs showing his undying love for the Windy City:
Frank Sinatra – Chicago, My Home Town – (written by Fred Fisher)
Take that NYC. 🙂
“I must say that it’s easy to write nice things about Chicago because it’s that kind of town.” ~ Sammy Cahn
And then there was that time in 2012 when President Obama along with Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Jeff Beck and a host of other rock and blues music legends performed the iconic blues song “Sweet Home Chicago” at the White House.
Sweet Home Chicago sang at the White House
What can I say?
Chicago spawns and attracts some legendary and really cool dudes, (and gals too.) 🙂
“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.” ~ Michelle Obama
What Michelle Obama’s words demonstrates can be called “The Chicago Way.”
I highlighted “I know who I am” from the above quote by Michelle Obama because it is KEY to how Chicago also operates.
Chicago also doesn’t invest interest or energy into the constant hate thrown at it from it’s plentiful haters.
Because Chicago knows itself.
Here’s the thing:
When you truly know yourself or know who you are and what you represent, what others say or claim about you, (especially if it’s demonstrably false), doesn’t bother or impact you.
Chicago just continues to innovate, create, beautify, work hard, play hard, and have fun…
…while letting it’s amazing feats, accolades, accomplishments, awards, and tens of millions of people from America and around the world flooding into the city every year speak for itself.
At best, Chicago finds it’s many haters amusing. 🙂
We all know what the word “born” means, but what does the word “bred” mean?
Bred: “a person reared in a specified environment or way.” ~ Google Dictionary
“Whatever man undertakes here, should be either actually or seemingly without limit.” ~ Excerpt from Master Architect & City Planner Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan Of Chicago
“…seemingly without limit.”
How else could much of Chicago go from being totally destroyed by The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which was the worst natural disaster to happen in America at that time…
…to now being the #1 most beautiful city in America and North America, and currently the second most beautiful city in the world?
That doesn’t just happen by accident.
Following is a fascinating video narrated by the legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite using scenes from the 1937 Oscar-nominated film “In Old Chicago” doing a mock news broadcast about the GREAT CHICAGO OF 1871
The day after the fire finally burned out, the Chicago Tribune newspaper’s editorial said the following to the frightened, grief-stricken, and totally devastated city:
“CHEER UP! In the midst of a calamity without parallel in the world’s history, looking upon the ashes of thirty years’ accumulations, the people of this once beautiful city have resolved that CHICAGO SHALL RISE AGAIN.” ~ Editorial from the Chicago Tribune newspaper on Oct. 11, 1871, which was the first edition of the paper published the day after the Great Chicago Fire
“CHICAGO SHALL RISE AGAIN.”
Of course Chicago did just that. 🙂
“With woe on every hand, with death in many strange places, with two or three hundred millions of our hard-earned property swept away in a few hours, the hearts of our men and women are still brave, and they look into the future with undaunted hearts. As there has never been such a calamity, so has there never been such cheerful fortitude in the face of desolation and ruin.” ~ Editorial from the Chicago Tribune newspaper on Oct. 11, 1871, which was the first edition of the paper published the day after the Great Chicago Fire
*The Chicago History Museum has an incredible but temporary exhibit on the Great Chicago Fire called “City On Fire: Chicago 1871” which anyone visiting the museum should check out while it’s still there.
Smithsonian Channel: How The Great Chicago Fire Of 1871 Actually Benefitted Chicago.
“Anthony Trollope, an Englishman, visited Chicago. He said: “These businessmen in Chicago are reckless, and they fail a lot. But failure doesn’t bother them. Catastrophe doesn’t bother them. They bounce right back.” And that seems to be ingrained in the character of the city. The (Great Chicago) fire happens, and believe it or not, in the newspapers its seen as an opportunity. Chicago hops right to it after the fire and rebuilds itself in an astonishingly short period of time. It’s about a two year period.” ~ Author Donald L. Miller – (PBS)
Question: Do you know who designed your city or town?
*Most* native Chicagoans definitely know Daniel Burnham.
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. THINK BIG.” ~ Daniel Hudson Burnham, the Legendary Chicago Architect and City Planner who is responsible for the 1909 Plan Of Chicago
FUN FACT: Chicago’s own Daniel Burnham was also the man responsible for designing the breathtaking National Mall on Washington in DC.
“Architect Daniel Burnham was the Chairman of the Senate Park Commission, which created a comprehensive redesign of the National Mall and DC parks system in the early 1900s. At that time, he was also working for the Pennsylvania Railroad to design a new station. Burnham helped convince the Railroad to relocate their station from the Mall to a nearby site; the building he designed on that site is Union Station. In 1910, President Taft appointed Burnham Chairman of the US Commission on Fine Arts, which advised the Federal Government on the location and design of monuments like the Lincoln Memorial.” ~ Mall History.org
Daniel Hudson Burnham
“The prairie and the lake, each immeasurable by the senses, dictate the scale of possibility in Chicago. Whatever man undertakes here, should be either actually or seemingly without limit.” ~ Excerpt from Master Architect & City Planner Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan Of Chicago
Daniel Burnham mandated that Chicagoans be or act as if they are LIMITLESS…
….and the City of Chicago eagerly picked up that baton as is illustrated by one of the city’s multiple and most cherished mottos “I Will.”
“In the history of American urban planning, Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan Of Chicago stands alone not only in it’s innate elegance, but also in it’s astonishing ambition. With near hubris, it counseled that the people of Chicago “must ever recognize the fact that their city is without bounds or limits” and that they themselves are “a population capable of indefinite expansion. More astonishing, much of it was implemented. Today’s Chicago is a living monument to the plan – which called for replacing chaos, filth and congestion of industrial turn-of-the-20th century Chicago with a formal downtown of skyscrapers, an accessible 20 – mile public park along Lake Michigan, and a necklace of parks and handsome boulevards uniting neighborhoods.” ~ Wall Street Journal
Burnham’s “Make no little plans” mandate to Chicagoans is why both President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama accomplished so much during the 8 years they were in the White House.
“Daniel Burnham said, “Make no little plans.” And that’s the spirit behind his bold and ambitious designs unveiled 100 years ago this month that helped transform Chicago into a world-class city. That’s the same spirit which we have to approach the reinvention of all America’s cities and metropolitan areas.” ~ President Barack Obama in a speech to urban leaders in July 2009
Having the guts, courage, and audacity to “Think BIG” is how Chicago birthed, innovated, and created the Skyscraper out of the ashes of the fire, which some have said is the most important structure created for the world since the Egyptian Pyramids.
“It was in Chicago that the world’s first skyscraper rose up – and the city’s energy and dynamism has had a lasting impact on architecture throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries.” ~ From BBC October 2015 article titled “Chicago: The City That Changed Architecture Forever”
Chicago more than any other city in America knows that you have to “work” to achieve your big visions, your seemingly impossible goals, and your far fetched dreams.
“I’m impressed with the people from Chicago. Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work.” ~ Michael Douglas
“The City That Works” isn’t one of Chicago’s mottos for nothing. 🙂
“The Chicago Way” aka the art of constantly initiating challenges was on full display during the 8 years of the Obama administration, and that’s why President Obama’s administration ended up accomplishing more than any other presidential administration had in decades.
Only a presidential administration led by and filled with Chicagoans could have pulled the many BIG and truly consequential things accomplished during the 8 years of the Obama administration off.
President Elect Obama brought a large group of Chicagoans to Washington, DC to work with him in the White House to help clean up the absolute mess he inherited from the previous administration.
Harper’s Magazine – June 2010 – In the Loop: Obama’s Hometown Takes Washington
It’s important to remember just how bad things were in America when President Obama first took office in 2009.
Actually President Elect Obama was forced to begin working on the total disaster he inherited from the last administration even before he left Chicago to be sworn in as president in Washington, DC.
The following brief video is an important reminder of all President Obama and his Chicagoan packed administration had to deal with on DAY ONE…
…and also all they managed to accomplish after being in the White House less than four years.
*Yes, that’s actor Tom Hanks doing the narration.
The Road We’ve Traveled – Narrated by Tom Hanks
That was witnessing “The Chicago Way” in action, ladies and gents.
The New York Times – January 2017 – The Most Successful Democrat Since FDR
Vox News – July 2017 – Barack Obama Is Officially One of the Most Consequential Presidents In American History
Image: W.H. photographer Pete Souza captures President Obama’s reaction on hearing the Supreme Court’s affirmative decision on upholding Obamacare – June 2015
Strengthening yourself, making yourself sharper, stronger, smarter, more resilient, more patient, more persistent via challenging yourself over and over again can lead to you possibly pulling off some herculean feats…
….like doing something that many presidents had tried to do yet failed to do over many decades.
Like passing Health Care Reform.
What made President Obama’s job even harder is the fact that he was 100% obstructed by the modern day Republican Party and received ZERO support from them while trying to accomplish this beyond difficult feat which all the media and pundits said would never happen.
“Everything looks impossible to the people who never try anything.”~ Jean – Louise Etienne
Yet like The Chicago Way teaches…
…still President Obama persisted.
The following brief highlight video from National Geographic on Obama White House photographer Pete Souza captures just a taste of both the extremely hard work that went into achieving this extraordinary feat…
…and the amazing feeling of triumph after finally accomplishing it.
Excerpt from National Geographic: The Obama White House Through the Lens
“You run and hopefully win elected office not just for the sake of being something, but for the sake of doing something.” ~ President Obama on why he considers passing and signing Health Care Reform into law his most gratifying moment in public life
*Recently I was thinking about how even more horrible and more devastating this deadly pandemic we are all still living through would have been for Americans if Health Care Reform had not been signed into law.
In addition to the many unavoidable and unwanted challenges the Obama White House faced….
…being from Chicago, the Obamas also took the extremely rare step to seek out, initiate, create, and launch intended challenges during their 8 years in the White House.
For instance, the following video features the Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s #GimmeFive Challenge for the 5th anniversary of her highly accomplished childhood obesity initiative Lets Move.
Here is just a small sampling of other Challenges launched by the Obama White House during the 8 years they were there:
Why were Challenges such a plentiful and crucial part of the Obama Administration?
I suspect its because the Obamas are from Chicago.
And to actively seek, create, or rise up to CHALLENGES is “The Chicago Way.”
“As the school year starts again, Let’s Move! is celebrating a major accomplishment. More than 4,000 schools have achieved certification in the Healthier US School Challenge, a voluntary initiative that awards schools for creating healthier school environments for America’s schoolchildren. In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama issued a challenge to certify 1,250 schools in the Healthier US School Challenge by the end of June 2011 and then to add 1,000 schools per year for the following two years. This summer, we hit the First Lady’s 2012 goal as well as the 2013 goal, a year ahead of schedule!” ~ From the Obama White House Archives
In 2010, the Chicago led Obama White House even launched a government website called Challenge.gov geared towards encouraging federal workers and the public to take on the challenge of trying to solve some of the federal government’s and nation’s most difficult problems for prize money.
The following excerpt is from the Obama White House archives:
The Challenge President Obama has recognized that “the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck.”
The Federal government seeks to harness the expertise and insight that lies “outside the beltway” support the broad adoption of community solutions that work, and form high-impact collaborations with researchers, the private sector and civil society, to solve tough problems.
On September 7, 2010, Challenge.gov was launched, making it easy for federal agencies to launch challenges and for the public to share their solutions and innovations with the government.
On Challenge.gov, agencies can use challenges and prizes to find innovative and cost–effective solutions or improvements to ideas, products and processes. The public can find challenges that interest them, support, share and discuss those that are important to them with friends, and solve them. ~ From the Obama White House Archives
And guess what?
Many Americans accepted the Obama White House’s challenge:
Government & Technology – September 2010 – (Obama) White House Launches Challenge.gov, Offering Prize Money for Innovation
Forbes Magazine – February 2014 – Incentivizing Innovation: How The White House Uses Challenge.gov To Solve Big Problems
“In January 2011, Obama signed the America Competes Reauthorization Act, which allowed all federal agencies to set up challenges. Known by the shorthand Challenge.gov, its central Web address, Washington’s prize program trickled into all corners of government, from $500,000 to create vascular tissue in a test tube for NASA, to $5,000 for a white paper on using the new blockchain technology in health care, to a $1,500 prize for a high school kid who designed a comic-strip nanotechnology hero. The law was extended in 2016, and as of this writing, dozens of agencies had held more than 770 competitions, producing innumerable cool gadgets and software—from a robocall-blocking system invented by a retired engineer in Peru, to an app that lets you read medical records online, to a portable sensor for air pollution. In 2015, Congress got in on the action, with individual members offering small prizes to app-designing high school students in their districts.” ~ Politico – June 2017
Note: Challenge.gov is still active in 2022, and it even remained active during the Trump administration?
Because it was highly effective.
“In the years since the idea was reinvigorated by Obama, government prizes have attracted thousands of entrepreneurs and inventors; their breakthroughs include improved algorithms for asteroid detection and preparing coastlines to recover from hurricanes, to better maps of the universe’s dark matter and a gadget that could prevent fatal accidents during high-speed police chases. Many of the big payoffs have been in science and technology, such as the $50,000 prize sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 that led to a technology to block robocalls. The winner, NomoRobo, is now in business as a private company, offering a free landline service ($1.99/month on mobile phones) that had blocked 236 million calls from 530,000 robocallers as of June.
NASA has used prizes to develop flexible astronaut gloves, space elevators, unmanned aerial vehicles capable of exploring other planets, robotic construction of moon buildings, and systems for managing space poop.
The Department of Energy’s SunShot Catalyst program has put up over $1 million in prizes to incubate cutting-edge solar tech companies working from discoveries spun out of its national laboratories. Prizes are also used widely in health care. The Department of Health and Human Services has run 140 contests since 2011. Competitions have inspired makers of apps that speed identification of dangerous pathogens or respond to asthma attacks, creators of wearables that collect health data, and efforts to improve patient matching through electronic records.
The competitions have fostered dozens of new companies and partnerships. A Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, funded partly by the Avon Foundation and private NGOs, encouraged inventors to develop products from the National Institutes of Health’s collection of patents related to the disease. Eleven companies have been started as a result. An NIH Debut challenge, aimed at firing up undergraduate scientists, led to a prototype device for measuring lung function that plugs into a smartphone.
A group of kids from Washington University in St. Louis created a company, got their product approved by the Food and Drug Administration and now market it. The U.S. Agency for International Development provided $2 million to its Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge, which drew 1,500 proposals and led to development of new diagnostics, tracking apps and protective equipment for health workers, including cool packs allowing them to comfortably treat Ebola patients while wearing hazmat suits.
“It’s been exciting for me to watch,” said Kittrie.
“In the beginning it was apps, websites. Now we’re doing much bigger things.” The NIH, for example, just launched a $1 million, multistaged competition to develop human retinal tissue in a dish.” ~ Politico – June 2017
In other words, this is one of many ways America has been made much better by having a Challenge loving Chicago Couple in the White House for 8 years.
Why do so many Chicagoans actively seek out Challenges, something 99% of average people try hard to avoid?
Are they nuts?
Answer: Living in the REAL world, many Chicagoans know that, as with any challenge or difficulty in life, you can only truly overcome it if you ditch fear, make big plans, and fight to overcome whatever is standing in your way.
There are many examples of Chicagoans time and time again creating or accepting challenges to accomplish a specific goal, or personally challenging themselves as Barack & Michelle Obama constantly did the 8 years they were in the White House.
….like the time when then President Obama accepted the challenge to go up against former All American basketball star, now sports commentator Clark Kellogg in a game of HORSE….
This necessity to regularly ditch fear to meet challenges, whether external or self-made, is a distinctly Chicagoan trait….
….like these guys who challenged themselves to swim in all 32 of Chicago’s beautiful beaches all in only ONE day…
…and like local fitness expert and entrepreneur Shea Vaughn, (actor Vince Vaughn’s mom), who challenged herself to jump out of an airplane over Chicago…
…and like this Chicago resident who is originally from Australia who challenged himself to break the “Chicago L Train Challenge” record….
….and like these tough and fun Chicago women who periodically get together to arm wrestle each other for charity.
Again many Chicagoans aren’t afraid of challenges.
“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” ~ Michelle Obama
Living in or being from Chicago inspires people to actually look for or create their own challenges just to see if they can master them….
…..to regularly TEST themselves to see just how fearless, strong, courageous and innovative they really are or can be.
What this does is it REVEALS to you exactly who you are, not who you think you are or pretend to be.
So many people are all talk, but when actually challenged to be who they claim to be, they fold like a chair.
In short, rising to challenges = The Chicago Way
Case in point:
The iconic rock song “Eye of the Tiger” could have only come from a band from Chicagoland named Survivor. 🙂
“Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.” ~ Lyrics from “Eye of the Tiger”
That song is “The Chicago Way” in a nutshell.
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ~ Mark Twain
And Chicago is a dog with a LOT of fight.
“Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive.”
How else could Chicago rebuild so quickly and better than ever after The Great Chicago Fire?
That may be one reason why Chicago has spawned so many icons, legends, innovators, creators, and pioneers. 🙂
“Take the challenges you face and own them.” ~ Michelle Obama
This brings me to a riddle of sorts from an episode of the 90s hit television series “The West Wing.”
Here is the relevant quote from the script from that West Wing episode:
Leo: “You’re scared of Babish.
President Bartlet: Oh, like you’re not.
Leo: No, because we are both men of Chicago.
President Bartlet: What is it with people from Chicago that they’re so happy to have been born there? I meet so many people who can’t wait to tell me they’re from Chicago and when I meet them, they’re living anywhere but Chicago.
Leo: You wouldn’t understand.”
“What is it with people from Chicago that they’re so happy to have been born there?” ~ West Wing’s President Bartlet
Leo’s response to President Bartlet was 100% correct.
Most people wouldn’t understand…
…..but hopefully after reading this tribute to my beloved hometown, many more people now understand. 🙂
Last but not least….
In my opinion, the following video represents Chicago’s character, spirit, and nature better than anything else…
…and also demonstrates why Chicago was also rated the second BEST city in the world…
This amazing thing happened on Chicago’s Michigan Ave in September 2009 on an Oprah Winfrey Show episode which featured the band The Black-Eyed Peas. Enjoy! 🙂
“In 25 years of doing The Oprah Show, Oprah says the best example of joy rising is when 20,000 audience members learned a choreographed dance in just hours for the Season 24 kickoff-party flash mob.” ~ Description from a Behind the Scenes video on this amazing and unforgettable flash mob which took over Chicago’s Michigan Ave in 2009.
“…20,000 audience members learned a choreographed dance in just hours”
Only Chicagoans could have pulled this incredible feat off and with so much energy, fun, and joy while doing it.
Chicagoans are just different and proudly so.
As The Black-Eyed Peas’ leader Will.i.am, said after it was all over:
“Only in Chicago.” ~ Will.i.am.
“The most American place in America.” ~ The Telegraph UK on Chicago – October 2017
Chicago will always be America’s top model for what America was founded to be….
…and for this reason Chicago’s beauty is more than it’s incredible and pioneering architecture or it’s astonishing surface beauty….
….but is also the beauty of the city’s HEART.
“I adore Chicago! It is the pulse of America.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt – Legendary French Actress – 1844 – 1923
How fitting because Chicago is the city which most represents America’s “Heartland”…
…and is a city which is commonly called “The Heart of America.”
“Chicago is the heart of America. It is the quintessential American city. We do not fear. When the going gets rough we work harder, we innovate, we rebuild, retool, and we survive. Chicago knows how to rebuild and innovate. Chicago has continued on a path of survival since its inception. If any city has an exclusive claim to be survivalist it is Chicago.” ~ Peter Bella – Chicago Now Magazine
One last point on the extremely important topic of Democracy:
American Democracy currently being under serious threat is a very hot topic right now in this country.
And in the same way the mainstream media gets it wrong when it is constantly demonizing Chicago…
….the media is also predictably 100% wrong and way out of touch about how tens of millions of Americans feel about the topic of preserving American Democracy.
Case in point:
The media’s narrative BEFORE the 2022 Midterm Elections:
The media AFTER the 2022 Midterm Elections:
Incredibly before the midterm elections, the vast majority of the corporate owned mainstream media along with many of the pollsters and media pundits they bankroll thought most Americans were simply “meh” on the issue of preserving American Democracy.
About a week before the midterm elections, President Joe Biden gave a pivotal speech on the important topic of Democracy and how we are currently in jeopardy of losing it in this country.
In that pivotal speech, President Biden said the following:
“Democracy means the rule of the people, not the rule of monarchs or the moneyed, but the rule of the people.” ~ President Biden’s speech on Democracy – November 2, 2022
*A transcript of President Biden’s speech on Democracy can be found here.
In a nutshell, American Democracy is about “The People…”
….and that means all of the people in this great, diverse mixing pot of a nation.
May we never forget that and always fight for it.
On that note…
…in the following video, Poetry In Voice 2016 winner Marie Foolchand recites a legendary poem from Chicago’s own Carl Sandburg at the Griffin Poetry Prize awards ceremony.
Who is Carl Sandburg?
He’s an American Icon.
Carl Sandburg’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery:
*Carl Sandburg was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime—the first in 1919 for his poetry collection Corn Huskers, the second in 1940 for his biography Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, and the third in 1951 for Complete Poems.
The following classic Carl Sandburg poem recited by Poetry In Voice 2016 winner Marie Foolchand titled “I Am the People, the Mob” celebrates what American democracy is truly all about….
Back to Chicago:
“Here I saw a city rise and say to the peoples round world: Listen, I am strong, I know what I want.” ~ Carl Sandburg on his beloved Chicago
What does Chicago want?
Answer: To be awe inspiringly BEAUTIFUL 🙂
Here is one last Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight:
The late, great noted chef, international foodie, and famous world traveler Anthony Bourdain said all that really needed to be said about Chicago:
“Chicago is a town, a city that doesn’t ever have to measure itself against any other city. Other places have to measure themselves against it.” ~ Anthony Bourdain
Speaking of the late, great noted chef Anthony Bourdain…
…now on to the Main Course which is…
…My Head Meets Heart Kits: “When you FEEL, you HEAL.” 🙂
Please click the following link: