WBEZ | Albany Park http://www.wbez.org/tags/albany-park Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rents may be going up, but residents say they're not going anywhere http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust-2.png" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="(from right) Arturo Chavez and his roommate, Jorge Herrera, share an apartment for $700 a month in Albany Park. A new building owner is evicting them to convert the units into upscale rentals." />There&rsquo;s a fight brewing in Albany Park over who gets to live there.</p><p>Arturo Chavez would like to stay in the North Side neighborhood, where he&rsquo;s lived for roughly three years &mdash; but that seems increasingly unlikely.</p><p>&ldquo;I go around in a car, looking for places,&rdquo; he says, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I see ads, and I call the numbers. Some places were being remodeled. I was told they were going to rent it, but later they told me they had already leased it to family members.&rdquo;</p><p>Chavez is one of the few remaining tenants of 3001 W Lawrence Avenue, a courtyard apartment building with 32 units. In August, new owners bought the building and notified its tenants that they were all to be evicted. The plan is to gut rehab the units and turn them into upscale rentals.</p><p>Inside, ceiling pipes have started to leak and parts of the walls are falling off. Chavez, a car mechanic who has been fighting for workers compensation since he was injured last year on the job, knows he&rsquo;ll have to leave soon. But he says he hasn&rsquo;t been able to find another place nearby that comes close to the $700 monthly rent he pays now.</p><p>&ldquo;The rents are too high and that means people are being separated and they&rsquo;re moving to areas farther away,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the community group Centro Autonomo in Albany Park, says scores of low-income Albany Park residents have been pushed out in recent years. Just like Chavez, they&rsquo;ve been unable to keep up with the rising rents and property values in some areas.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say about 40 percent of them, they ended up having to leave Albany Park and having to move outside the city to suburbs,&rdquo; said Gutierrez.</p><p>Between 2011 and 2013, the median home price in Albany Park rose almost 40 percent. Gutierrez says after the recession, speculators flocked back to the neighborhood, buying foreclosed homes and driving up property values.</p><p>So last year, Centro Autonomo decided to try a creative idea to bolster affordable properties in the neighborhood: it created a &ldquo;community land trust&rdquo; called Casas del Pueblo. The land trust is a non-profit entity that will acquire properties in the neighborhood, then rent them out.</p><p>&ldquo;(The rent) would just be the taxes for the property, the insurance for the property and a maintenance fee,&rdquo; Gutierrez explained. &ldquo;And they can stay there for as long as they want.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Albany-Park-Median-Home-Sales-Price-Median-Sales-Price_chartbuilder.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The concept of community land trusts is not new to the Chicago area. Gutierrez&rsquo;s variety is a slight twist on something that&rsquo;s been tried before, just a few miles south, in West Humboldt Park.</p><p>There, three, red brick single family homes sit on a residential street next to the noisy Union Pacific rail line.</p><p>&ldquo;The homeowners say the walls were built in a way it&rsquo;s not really bothersome,&rdquo; said William Howard, former Executive Director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council.</p><p>Under Howard, the Council created the First Community Land Trust of Chicago, also a non-profit, in 2003. He said residents at that time were worried their neighborhood might become unaffordable. With the alderman&rsquo;s support, the land trust bought city property for $1 and built the 3-bedroom homes.</p><p>&ldquo;Were it not for these spots, the gentrification would have just swamped everybody,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;A lot of people would have moved out.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust.png" title="William Howard led the establishment of the first community land trust in Chicago in 2003. It built three, single-family homes that remain affordable, though the recession halted its expansion. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>Howard&rsquo;s land trust follows a more conventional model than the one in Albany Park.</p><p>Instead of renting the homes, it offered them for sale.</p><p>&ldquo;The land trust owns this land in perpetuity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And then we get the homeowners, and the homeowners own the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Howard said three things keep land trust homes affordable. First, homeowners don&rsquo;t buy the land; they only buy the house itself. That means the house sells for much less than its market value.</p><p>Second, homeowners have to agree to resale restrictions.</p><p>&ldquo;Even if the homeowners decides later on they want to sell the home, they must sell it to someone of a like economic profile,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;Otherwise the land trust goes bust.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, homeowners have to sell the home to someone that qualifies as low-income. That keeps the resale price of the house low.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/14/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Finally, homeowners only pay property taxes on the value of the house, not including the land.</p><p>Howard originally wanted to build ten homes, but the timing didn&rsquo;t work out.</p><p>&ldquo;We only got three up,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone at that point had any idea that the recession would last as long as it did or be as deep as it was.&rdquo;</p><p>During the recession concerns about gentrification in West Humboldt Park fizzled out.</p><p>The First Community Land Trust of Chicago still exists, but only to collect the nominal monthly ground lease from the three homeowners in those homes. Property values in the neighborhood dropped so much after the housing bubble burst that it doesn&rsquo;t make sense for the land trust to build additional homes.</p><p>But there is another Chicago-area land trust that&rsquo;s flourishing. It&rsquo;s north of the city, in Highland Park. Luisa Espinosa-Lara and her family once struggled just to rent in this wealthy suburb.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought OK, one day (when) we are able to buy a house, it&rsquo;s not going to be here,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Houses here are so expensive.&rdquo;</p><p>But thanks to Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Illinois&rsquo;s oldest and largest community land trust, Espinosa-Lara and her husband were able to buy a three-bedroom house in Highland Park. They paid $175,000 for it, roughly half of its market value.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like when you feel that you win the lottery, but like you get millions,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because you don&rsquo;t have to go. And I think it&rsquo;s so painful when you have to leave.&rdquo;</p><p>In Highland Park, the community land trust isn&rsquo;t really about gentrification. Instead, it&rsquo;s about creating inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Antonio Gutierrez hopes to do back in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood. But he&rsquo;s taking on a big challenge. Community land trusts typically need hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs, to buy, renovate or build homes. Most of them rely on a mix of public grants and private donations.</p><p>Casas del Pueblo doesn&rsquo;t have that kind of money, so Gutierrez hopes to persuade banks to donate foreclosed homes to the community land trust. So far, this strategy has yet to bear fruit.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single time I get to a meeting with a bank, the first thing they ask is how many houses do you have now? How many houses are you managing? And when we say zero, they close the door,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Gutierrez remains undeterred.</p><p>He believes once they have a couple of homes, others will look to his community land trust as a model for how gentrification can benefit even those it would normally displace.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 Refugees raise vegetables, put down roots at urban garden http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 <p><p>On a recent afternoon in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood, Linda Seyler chirped at a small crew of helpers from Nepal: &ldquo;Stay there,&rdquo; she said to a group ranging from small boys to grown men. Seyler pulled out a measuring tape as she knelt in a tarp-covered ditch. &ldquo;From here to here is two feet&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>Seyler was helping two more refugee families measure out their new vegetable plots at the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm, located on busy Lawrence Avenue. It was a cool Sunday, but several families were there, eager to start preparing their long, skinny garden beds for spring planting.</p><p>Janet Saidi, a Congolese refugee who came to Chicago more than a year ago stood next to her family&rsquo;s plot, number 95, rattling off what she&rsquo;s grown. &ldquo;Onion, okra, beans,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The name of this one I don&rsquo;t know. It&rsquo;s like mushroom? Yes.&rdquo;</p><p>Saidi and the other refugees who garden here all farmed in their native countries. Most hail from conflict-ridden places like Bhutan and Burma, and often don&rsquo;t know any English when they arrive. With the language barriers and the sense that their farming skills have no use in a big, American city, many battle feelings of isolation as they try to settle in.</p><p>&ldquo;Being here (in the city) they feel themselves really worthless,&rdquo; said Hasta Bhattarai, a Bhutanese refugee who now volunteers as an an interpreter for some of the gardeners. &ldquo;But once they are here (in the garden) and once they are able to produce something, that really makes them happy from inside,&rdquo; he continued, &ldquo;and they feel themselves (like) they are back home, and that gives them some kind of spiritual happiness.&ldquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Refugee-Garden-2.jpg" title="Janet Saidi, a refugee from the Congo, grows okra, onions and beans on her small plot. She said she never imagined she would grow her family’s food in the U.S., as she did in her native country. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>The garden began with a grant from the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, under the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Seyler, at the time working for the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly in Chicago, applied for the three-year, nonrenewable grant. In its first year, the garden had 42 families with plots.</p><p>Now in its third growing season, the garden has more than 100 vegetable beds jammed haphazardly against each other, with additional areas reserved for new commercial plots and a quarter-acre reserved for use by the Peterson Garden Project. In all, the refugees use about one acre of the 1.33 acre area. They grow bittermelon, bok choy, okra, mustard greens, and roselles -- a plant related to hibiscus. It&rsquo;s a cheap and convenient way to find the vegetables that they traditionally use for cooking, which may be less common in U.S. supermarkets.</p><p>&ldquo;This garden, it&rsquo;s really changed my life,&rdquo; said Mary Thehtoe, a Burmese refugee whose family had a large farm in her native country. Thehtoe got a plot at the garden when it began, during her first year in the U.S., in 2012.&nbsp; She said at that time she knew no English, and cried every night after she came to the U.S., until she met her refugee case worker. That was the first person she met in Chicago who spoke her language.</p><p>&ldquo;If I don&rsquo;t have garden, I always go to the appointments,&rdquo; Thehtoe said through an interpreter. &ldquo;I have a lot of appointments, like medical appointments, And I stay working at home, and just do house chores, take care of my kids, those kinds of thing. When I got the garden, all the sickness and stress, depression, go away, Because I always think about the garden.&rdquo;</p><p>Thehtoe said she comes to the garden every day.</p><p>Saidi said she never imagined that in the U.S. she would be growing her own food, as she did in the Congo. &ldquo;When I came here, I said, &lsquo;Oh my God, I don&rsquo;t know (if in) America, if they have fresh food,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Yes, they are also farming, and I said &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; it was exciting.&rdquo;</p><p>The garden&rsquo;s success has earned attention from the Governor&rsquo;s office, which wants to replicate it in places like Rockford, Elgin and Aurora. Meanwhile, the grant that started the garden has run out. Its organizers are planning to make the garden self-sustaining with commercial production and an expansion of the farm&rsquo;s community supported agriculture program, which allows individuals to buy &ldquo;shares&rdquo; in the garden&rsquo;s seasonal produce.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Foyousef&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKQ6bayggMubwgs9U53FsOML-b9A">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZoutloud&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGciFiqidUKx7xm655BDbaPU9eB3g">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: This article incorrectly referred to the Peterson Garden Project. It has been corrected.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 May 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 Albany Park, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/albany-park-past-and-present-103119 <p><p>Take a ride out to the far end of the Brown Line. You pass Western Avenue, cross the river, and now the train is running on the ground, in an alley behind two-flats and large apartment buildings. You&rsquo;re in Community Area #14, Albany Park.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-22-1--1974.jpg" title="Ravenswood 'L' in Albany Park, 1974" /></div><p>The&nbsp;first permanent settlers arrived here in the 1840s. They were mostly German and Swedish farmers. William Spikings was among them. He&nbsp;built a brick farm house with his own hands and lived in it for over 70 years, watching the city grow out to him.</p><p>These early settlements were part of the Town of Jefferson. After Chicago annexed the town in 1889, the&nbsp;developers moved in.&nbsp; One of them&nbsp;called his subdivision&nbsp;Albany Park, after his native city in New York&nbsp;state. The name stuck.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-22--2-map.jpg" style="height: 260px; width: 350px;" title="" /></div><p>Electric streetcars ran on Lawrence Avenue as early as 1896. The real breakthrough came with the arrival of&nbsp;the &quot;L&quot; line &mdash; then known as the Ravenswood branch &mdash; in 1907. And now Albany Park took off.</p><p>The&nbsp;&quot;L&quot; terminal was located at Kimball and&nbsp;Lawrence. Soon the surrounding blocks were filled in with massive apartment buildings&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;only the lakefront had a denser concentration of dwelling units. Lawrence Avenue became a ribbon commercial street. Stores also sprouted up along&nbsp;Kedzie and Montrose.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-22-3-apartment%20palanx.jpg" title="Apartment phalanx in central Albany Park" /></div><p>Away from the terminal, the apartments thinned out. East of Kedzie, where the river turned, a charming bungalow enclave called Ravenswood Manor developed. The section west of Crawford&nbsp;(Pulaski) also became a bungalow belt. This area was part of an older settlement known as Mayfair.</p><p>Raw numbers tell some of the story. The 1910 Census counted about 7,000 people living in Albany Park. Ten years later the figure had grown to 27,000. Another ten years, and the population was over 55,000.</p><p>Haugan School was expanded several times until it stretched over an entire city block, becoming Chicago&rsquo;s largest elementary school. Roosevelt High School grew so crowded that the nearby Von Steuben School was converted into another high school. The city widened Kimball Avenue, and the street got its own bus line.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-22-4-Lawrence%20Kedzie.jpg" title="An empty Sunday morning at Lawrence and Kedzie" /></div><p>Most of the new people&nbsp;were Eastern European Jews. They came from West Town, Lawndale and the Maxwell Street area. With temples, schools, community centers, theaters, and all manner of businesses, Albany Park became the center of Jewish life in Chicago.</p><p>The community remained stable into the 1960s. But the city was evolving, movement to the suburbs accelerating. More people were driving cars, and didn&rsquo;t depend on public transit. If you didn&rsquo;t need the &quot;L&quot;, why bother to live in a congested area of apartment hulks?</p><p>By the 1970s Albany Park was in trouble. Much of the Jewish population had dispersed. Crime rose, property values fell, storefronts became vacant. The&nbsp;neighborhood was on its way to becoming a slum.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-22-5-Ethic%20Diversity%20on%20Lawrence.JPG" title="Along the sidewalk on Lawrence Avenue" /></div><p>New vigor&nbsp;came in&nbsp;with a new wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Asia and Spanish-speaking countries. The population decline was halted. Albany Park became one of the city&rsquo;s most ethnically-diverse communities.&nbsp;</p><p>The 2010 census reported that 52,000 people were living in the Albany Park. About half of the population was Hispanic. Non-Hispanic Whites numbered 29 percent, and Asians &mdash; mostly Koreans&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;were 14 percent. African-Americans were counted at 4 percent.</p><p>So this is the Oz you&#39;ll find at the end of the Brown Line. Through all the changes, Albany Park has endured. You can&rsquo;t really call it a typical Chicago community &mdash;&nbsp;a &ldquo;representative&rdquo; community might be a better way to put it. Some of it is pretty, some of it is gritty. But Albany Park is never boring.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-22-6--Blago%27s.jpg" title="Albany Park in the news--TV crews outside the Blagojevich house, 2010" /></div></p> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/albany-park-past-and-present-103119 Revision Street: Aaron Karmin (III) http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-aaron-karmin-iii <p><p><em>Early-thirties </em><a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/amoore/2010/08/revision-street-aaron-karmin-early-30s/34850" target="_blank"><em>Aaron Karmin</em></a><em> has a new home in Albany Park, </em><a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/amoore/2010/08/revision-street-aaron-karmin-ii/34853" target="_blank"><em>a new wife</em></a><em>, and an incredibly upbeat attitude for someone who, in his own words, spends the whole day listening &ldquo;to peoples&rsquo; sad stories.&rdquo; </em></p> <p><em>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s called compassion fatigue,&rdquo; he adds.</em></p> <p>I work with everyone, I mean from people who are on probation because they&mdash;it&rsquo;s an anger management clinic. I get clients who come in to deal with shyness. I work with cops. We&rsquo;re on Michigan and Monroe, so it&rsquo;s right in the financial district, so we got a lot of bankers, hedge-fund guys. Fortune 500, I own a law firm and I punched a bailiff in the courtroom, versus, you know, I beat my wife and this is part of my plea agreement. The private practice is fairly diverse, and the phone counseling reality is&mdash;I mean, it&rsquo;s phone counseling, so it can be people from anywhere.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1237/1326266755_94eba1fe67.jpg"><img width="500" height="390" src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1237/1326266755_94eba1fe67.jpg" alt="" /><br /><em>Albany Park (Photo by Heather Phillips)</em><br /></a></p><div>&nbsp;</div> <!--break--><p>We get translators, they&rsquo;re born in, I don&rsquo;t know, Pakistan, and now they&rsquo;re working for the contractors and they&rsquo;re worried about retribution against their family in Pakistan and so I&rsquo;m doing phone counseling with them. Or guys from Texas who are driving the convoys and they hit a roadside bomb and the car behind them blows up and they see the person dragged out, beheaded, lit on fire, and now they&rsquo;re having flashbacks. Whether they&rsquo;re rich or poor, black or white, mental health is kind of mental health in that way. As far as my peers, my colleagues, the world of mental health is largely female. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of men just in general.</p> <p>The dark humor in the world of therapy is, a bad economy is good for business. I preface it with being dark humor because if you don&rsquo;t have humor you don&rsquo;t survive in this line of work. I worked at an in-patient psych unit at Swedish Covenant Hospital and in in-patient psych treatment you get all of these people trying to hurt themselves, kill themselves, trying to kill somebody else, you know just totally unable to care for themselves. You get a guy who&rsquo;s trying to take a swing at you and break your nose, or trying to stab you with plastic knives that he sharpened, and if you don&rsquo;t have humor about it then you&rsquo;re just gonna melt down.</p> <p>Right now, I think people feel stuck. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of options. In the world of mental health funding, cuts go down in government, state, federal levels and there are lot of counselors who are having to cling to the jobs that they&rsquo;re at. So there is definitely that lack of flexibility.</p> <p>I work with a lot of check cashing places as well. They sign up for the phone counseling service. Their employer will pay for it because a lot of times the employees become agoraphobic. They get robbed all the time, obviously they&rsquo;re check cashing places, so they become agoraphobic. In a bad economy you see those places get robbed more and more frequently or you know you talk to people, I talk to people who are in retail stores and they see a lot more robberies. Or you get a lot more people who are looking for documentation so they can get disability, worker&rsquo;s comp, things like that just because they&rsquo;re not being able to return to work.</p> <p>Then you get the flip side. You get the type-A personalities, people who, you know, I had my baby and I&rsquo;m going back to work two weeks later or a week later because they&rsquo;re so worried about losing their job. Or someone who had a death in the family so they take a day off for the funeral and now they&rsquo;re grieving in the workplace because there&rsquo;s that fear of losing their job.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s part of being a therapist. You have to look at things from as many angles as you could come up with, because somebody comes to you with a problem and they&rsquo;re looking at it this way and that&rsquo;s probably why they&rsquo;re coming to a therapist, cause they&rsquo;re stuck at looking at the problem in only one way: If I lose my job it will be terrible. Why will it be terrible? Because I&rsquo;ll be homeless, I won&rsquo;t be able to pay my mortgage, my wife will leave me, I&rsquo;ll be eating out of the dumpster like Oscar the Grouch. But really that person has siblings, parents, they have some money saved. Even Oscar the Grouch had a pet worm named Slimy. I mean come on, it wasn&rsquo;t so bad.</p></p> Thu, 26 Aug 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-aaron-karmin-iii Revision Street: Aaron Karmin (II) http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-aaron-karmin-ii <p><p><em>Aaron&rsquo;s been telling me about meeting his wife on an online dating site. Now, they live together in a house in Albany Park.</em></p> <p>I think my first email was like, Hey I like your profile. Do you wanna go run with squirrels, laugh with small children, and scare the old people? You know, just goofy banter. She picked up on it and played along. She was like, Yeah we&rsquo;ll open a Kool-Aid stand and we&rsquo;ll spike the drinks for the puppies.</p> <p>I like being with someone who&rsquo;s open-minded and has different tastes, someone who&rsquo;s independent and can take care of themselves, someone who&rsquo;s humor, even in the most frustrating moment, can still have some ridic&mdash;life is pretty ridiculous. Being a therapist, I don&rsquo;t come home and talk about my day very often because it&rsquo;s terrible. I mean, my day&rsquo;s not terrible, but I listen to peoples&rsquo; sad stories. It&rsquo;s fairly intense. You get exhausted giving out so much energy and not getting it back. It&rsquo;s called compassion fatigue. My wife works as an administrator in a hospital working with cancer patients, so we have a similar understanding about self-care and need for balance.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/106/300067763_b71dc4f57a.jpg"><img width="500" height="375" src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/106/300067763_b71dc4f57a.jpg" alt="" /><br /><em>(Photo by Heather Phillips)</em><br /></a></p> <!--break--><p>I read a study in a journal of psychology that said if you have a good story, your relationship is more likely to endure. That speaks to me. It&rsquo;s a good story. So ultimately, Yes, I met my wife, on Match.com. Now we&rsquo;ve been together 20 months. I&rsquo;m a dork, I&rsquo;m sentimental, and I remember anniversaries. We just had our 20-month anniversary.</p><p>I got roots. I&rsquo;m an adult. . . . I chose a path. I have commitments and obligations.</p> <p>I&rsquo;m from Buffalo, New York originally, so I see a great deal of similarities, great lakes people&mdash;sweeping generalizations&mdash;but Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, Green Bay. You get a lot of similar, what I always say is lack of pretension. What you see is what you get. You get guys in Buffalo who have a mullet and they beat their wives and they have no trouble being proud of those things. There&rsquo;s something almost beautifully simplistic in that. At least you don&rsquo;t have to deal all of the pretension, all of the smoke and mirrors that people put up.</p> <p>As a therapist, one of the hardest things in the world is letting people live with their own pain. I often offer this: if you&rsquo;re not selfish, if you&rsquo;re not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of others? If you&rsquo;re working harder than other people, if you&rsquo;re working harder than your client, what does that say about you as a therapist? Sometimes it&rsquo;s just a matter of just offering them some kind of assertiveness. The more you give solutions, the more you encourage dependence, the more you encourage dependence the more fatigued you become. It&rsquo;s like, somebody&rsquo;s like, <em>Pssst</em> Aaron, What&rsquo;s the answer to number four? If I give them the answer, they get the test answer right but they don&rsquo;t understand. All they learn is the next time they don&rsquo;t know the answer, go to Aaron. That&rsquo;s where compassion fatigue comes in. Clients become dependent on the therapist.</p> <p>We don&rsquo;t control many outcomes, but we control our efforts. As long as we&rsquo;re able to recognize our own efforts rather than seek approval and validation from others, we&rsquo;ll feel confident. I can be a great driver, but somebody hits my car. I check my mirrors, I put my turn signal on. My efforts are commendable, the outcome was tragedy. You could be a loving, caring person, somebody breaks your heart, doesn&rsquo;t mean that you&rsquo;re a screw up. People get fired in this economy, but doesn&rsquo;t mean that they&rsquo;re not hard working and responsible. It just means they don&rsquo;t control the bank.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 Aug 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-aaron-karmin-ii Revision Street: Aaron Karmin, Early 30s http://www.wbez.org/amoore/2010/08/revision-street-aaron-karmin-early-30s/34850 <p><p><em>Aaron Karmin is a mental health counselor, and he recently got married. &ldquo;</em><em>Chicago&rsquo;s been good to me,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t complain. I always say, I&rsquo;m a Chicago ambassador I go around and I tell people, Chicago&rsquo;s a fantastic city.&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t know him very well&mdash;he&rsquo;s the brother of an acquaintance, so I start by telling him <a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/amoore/2010/06/revision-street-abby-smith-45/26272" target="_blank">how many of the Revision Street: America interviews touch on September 11</a></em><em>. And right away his story fascinates.</em></p> <p>I was on the phones with people who were trying to get in touch with people in the Towers, I need you to find my cousin, my mother, my brother, my lover, my broker. Part of what I do is, I work with a counseling service, so if you work for, say, Target, you get this counseling service. Now we have JP Morgan, American Express, what have you, that were in Tower Eleven, so it wasn&rsquo;t the main Twin Towers, but Tower Eleven was one of the towers that went down. So I was actually on the phone in the NBC building downtown, so it was like: When&rsquo;s the other shoe gonna drop? You know, Chicago. Eventually, they let us go after they were gonna shut down the CTA. That&rsquo;s where I was on September 11. Being a counselor, you get different perspectives on things. So, OK, you&rsquo;re talking to people trying to find their loved ones after, and they don&rsquo;t know who to call, &lsquo;cause the lines are jammed or the power was down, so they called us . . .</p> <p>Right now I do a private practice for anger management, and I work doing the same job that I was doing on September 11. I&rsquo;m a phone counselor. I do a lot of phone counseling with contractors who are overseas in the war zone.</p> <p><em>That sounds incredibly hard.</em></p> <p>I think cab drivers do hard work or my accountant does hard work, I mean it&rsquo;s all relative. But it&rsquo;s a different skill set, that&rsquo;s how I see it, like I couldn&rsquo;t sit in a cab all day, I couldn&rsquo;t be a trucker. I do a lot of truckers because people who are on the road, they&rsquo;re remote, so phone counseling is a good option. I always marvel at my accountant. I don&rsquo;t know how he does that, I mean sit around and do numbers all day. I mean god bless, &lsquo;cause we all have different skills, so my skill set is, I listen.</p> <p>I just bought a house. I live in Albany Park, so I bought a single family house, three bedroom, one and half bath. Got a yard. It was a fixer upper, so we totally fixed her up. I&rsquo;ve been very introverted, less exploring the neighborhood. The neighborhood is good because I&rsquo;m a stone&rsquo;s throw away from the Brown Line. I&rsquo;m not a car person.</p> <p>I got married just this past March. March 13<sup>th</sup>. We got married at the Cultural Center. We actually met on Match.com. It works. We are a terrible bloody commercial, I tell you. It&rsquo;s like the Home Depot. Every time I see a Home Depot I&rsquo;m like, that&rsquo;s me, I&rsquo;m the Home Depot. They should name an aisle after me after all the money I spent there renovating.</p> <p>So yeah, Match.com. I was on for, god help me, I was on for like a year. Never mention that you&rsquo;re a therapist if you&rsquo;re gonna do online dating, &lsquo;cause you seem to meet a lot of people who are looking for free therapy. I tried to kill myself two days ago. . .</p> <p><em>No way.</em></p> <p>Yes way. This was a first date conversation. You know, the build up is: hard working, academic, does yoga and kayaking, has interests, activities, has her own place&mdash;so autonomous, independent. These are the qualities. I&rsquo;ve had a beer with many worse people than that, so hey? Why not meet for a beer? And then I was like, Whoa, that&rsquo;s just too much information. I&rsquo;m all one to show your cards, but that&mdash;that was . . . ah, <em>Check please</em>. It&rsquo;s always good for the ego to feel like there are a lot of unhealthy people out there, and when something like that happens, you&rsquo;re like, Boy I&rsquo;m a really healthy guy compared to my competition.</p> <p>There are a lot of people who have trouble working on themselves. Maybe because I&rsquo;m a therapist, I see everything through my eyes. But that&rsquo;s how we met. She was only on it for like three months. I&rsquo;m on it for a year, and I&rsquo;m like all jaded and she&rsquo;s just open-minded. At that point, I was like, It&rsquo;s gonna be terrible. But it worked out.</p></p> Tue, 24 Aug 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/amoore/2010/08/revision-street-aaron-karmin-early-30s/34850 Revision Street: Eric Jones, late thirties http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-eric-jones-late-thirties <p><p><em>A former punk enthusiast, Office Eric Jones was a new member of the Chicago police force when I first met him a few years ago. One of the first interviews I conducted for this project, Eric remains an intriguing character: a friend of a friend, who happened to also be a cop. He lives in Albany Park and patrols the area around Humboldt Park.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmmmarshall/3673356105/"><img width="500" height="375" alt="" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//albany-park.jpg" title="albany park" class="size-full wp-image-32352" /><br /><em>(by mmmmarshall via flickr)</em><br /></a></p><div>I&rsquo;m a Chicago Police Officer. I&rsquo;ve lived in this neighborhood for three years, Albany Park. We moved here because it was affordable. We previously lived in Ukrainian Village and we were just priced out of the neighborhood. There are a lot of condos going in here, now. I mean the building right next door was a twelve-unit building, and that was Section 8 Housing, as was the building across the street from that. Those have both been emptied out and are now being all turned into condos. Like the one across the street on Leland is still under construction and this one here I think they only have one or two units left. But now I see people who I&rsquo;d normally see walkin&rsquo; around Wicker Park walking around here. Young starter couples. It&rsquo;s not particularly affluent around here. It&rsquo;s a good mix, though. If you go directly north to Lawrence Avenue there are Korean stores and Korean barbecue places and a little Korean tiki-like bar, and there are all the Nigerian cab drivers on Elston to Pulaski. It&rsquo;s just crawling with diversity.</div> <!--break--><p>I work in the 14<sup>th</sup> district, the south side of Belmont Avenue to the north side of Division, west to Central Park Avenue and then east to the river. I&rsquo;ve only been on the streets for six months.</p> <p><em>Why did you become a police officer?</em></p> <p>I hate having to go to the same building and spend my entire day inside a building all day. I like helping people. I like not knowing what I&rsquo;m going to be doing next. I guess that&rsquo;s about it. It&rsquo;s just, every day you never know what you&rsquo;re going to get into. I feel silly saying that, because I&rsquo;ve only got six months on the streets, but it&rsquo;s the truth. It&rsquo;s hard to imagine the things you see, and you get paid to see it. It&rsquo;s great.</p> <p>Like, last night we got a call from the DEA. They were chasing some guy, and he jumped out a three-story window on to a neighbor&rsquo;s roof and they had him trapped up there so we had to call the fire department, get a ladder, and bring him down. Once he got down, they brought the dogs to search for drugs and whatnot. Came up negative, but we still had to arrest him for criminal damage to property &lsquo;cause he wrecked the gutters on the house next door. So that neighbor signed complaints, and once that happens we&rsquo;re compelled to arrest that person. We <em>could have</em> arrested him for fleeing or eluding police, but he didn&rsquo;t flee or elude <em>us</em>.</p> <p>We were on location for like two hours, and then by the time you transport him to the district and then book him and all that stuff, it&rsquo;s about another hour. But typically you can do a simple arrest in about 45 minutes to an hour. [A simple arrest would be] like a simple battery, like a fight, where you arrest somebody for deckin&rsquo; somebody in the jaw or somethin&rsquo;. And that other person signs a complaint, you take them in, do all the paperwork, go through and make sure they don&rsquo;t have any weapons or drugs on &lsquo;em. Put &lsquo;em in lockup. A simple battery, you&rsquo;ll go to court for it, but that&rsquo;s it. You&rsquo;re not gonna be talking to the state&rsquo;s attorney or anything, unless it was a heinous battery, where someone poured acid on another person or somethin&rsquo;. There are cases that come along where you&rsquo;ll have to talk to the state&rsquo;s attorney real quick. Even if you go to court for a traffic ticket or something like that, sometimes you&rsquo;ll have to testify. I mean, you never really know.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a lot of boredom involved, too, though. I mean, in between jobs there are a lot of mundane things you have to do that, they are police work, but they&rsquo;re not the exciting variety. Parking tickets. You have to do that just to unclog traffic, and people don&rsquo;t seem to understand that.&nbsp; Traffic tickets. You&rsquo;d think that pulling people over for running a red light would be boring, but that&rsquo;s where you find a lot of guns and drugs. It&rsquo;s sort of like winning the lottery.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s just a feeling kind of thing, a lot. And you get to know your local gang-bangers. When you seem &lsquo;em riding around you can tell, is this guy a Satan&rsquo;s Disciple, is this guy a Latin King, you know. What area of town is he in. Some of the cars people drive: if it&rsquo;s a totally dangerous car with no brake lights and it looks like the wheel&rsquo;s gonna fall off, you&rsquo;re gonna pull that person over and say, Do you have insurance? Do you have a license? And if they don&rsquo;t have that, then who knows where it can lead.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 03 Aug 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-eric-jones-late-thirties