Without question, the single most common adjective I’ve heard from Chicagoans about their neighborhoods is “quiet.” Add the 8th Ward’s Cederick Grier to the list of the noise-averse.
“My neighborhood is quiet. It’s peaceful,” Grier says, before offering a community description I haven’t heard yet. “It’s easy for people to grow up and do things in their life as far as succeeding in [their] careers, being exemplary people in their community and everything.”
The community is called Marynook, which can be found on the South Side between Chatham and Calumet Heights. This supportive – and small – neighborhood is home to a large number of senior citizens, Grier says.
“It’s a good thing,” he says. “You can come in late at night. You can leave late at night and go to work. Doesn’t really matter ‘cause you really don’t have too much going on and then you always have somebody watching out. Because I’ve noticed some of the older neighbors tend to be always watching out for you.”
Grier moved here with his family seven or eight years ago, he says. Now he’s 18, and working two almost-full-time jobs: one at a grocery store, another as a manager/personal assistant at a salon. The long hours don’t bother him.
“It’s actually a pleasant thing to do something you enjoy,” he says.
Grier pauses to think when I ask if there’s anything about his neighborhood that he doesn’t like. Then it hits him.
“These trees,” he says.
Trees? This is a new complaint for me.
“I love trees – don’t get me wrong. I just don’t like how many we have, and then when we have these major storms they become a big issue.”
“I think it was last year, we had the entire block was kind [of] confined to their houses ‘cause the entire street from one end to the other was completely covered in trees. We had somebody’s car get hit by a tree and crushed.”
It is a lucky man whose sole complaint about his neighborhood is too much greenery. But Grier’s point is this: many of the trees are in the parkway, so the city should be a step ahead of the weak ones.
“Make sure they’re manicured correctly and taken well care of," he advises.
His concern about tree upkeep aside, Grier seems pleased with city leadership. The new(ish) mayor gets high marks.
“So far, I’ve noticed that Rahm Emanuel has been doing a lot of good things to our community,” he says. “I do agree with longer school days because I’ve been a charter school kid most my life mostly, so I do see the difference.”
So long as the schools get funding for after-school programs and arts, kids will see the benefit of a longer day, he says. Of course, that question remains at the heart of the debate.
As for Grier, he’s going back to school in January – beauty school. It’s all in the pursuit of one of these two dream jobs:
“Either travelling the world as somebody’s makeup artist, hair stylist or stylist in general," he says. "Or just owning my own salon that has different venues in different states.”
Grier says when he's on his own, he’ll probably try to live in this neighborhood – so long as he's still in Chicago.