Did You Know?

Nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school.

A mutt of a trail

From our Southland Coordinator Steve Buchtel: 

To our sleek and sinuous brindle greyhound we’ve recently added Shelby, who in a nursery rhyme (taught to unfortunate children at a very bad pre-school) would be made up of four short sticks of beef jerky stapled to a rutabaga and rolled in coal dust. That’s what little Shelby is made of.

A mutt? Where to even begin unwinding her muttiness – it’s as tangled and knotted as the inside of an old golf ball. Part terrier. Part Chihuahua. Part one crazy, careless night at the dog pound. Part tuber. About as delightful to the eye as a burnt meatloaf with teeth.

Yet last night, she was a shimmering oracular vessel: Staring into her rheumy eyes and runny nose [I apparently am not hypoallergenic], way past bed time, I realized that Barack Obama is going to give the Calumet-Sag Trail $15,000,000. For Christmas.

I know! I didn’t get him anything either! That’s the kind of generosity that I think we can agree has been missing in the White House for a long time. And I too have puzzled: Why the Calumet-Sag Trail? Why now?

And really? – it’s the Mutt Factor.

I myself have described the Calumet-Sag Trail as a “an undulating narrative as shimmering with silvery promise for this corridor as Ariadne’s thread,” but you and I and everyone else in the bar at the time were thinking Chef Boy-R-Dee noodles with meatballs and leftover pizza.

Have you looked at the Calumet-Sag corridor? Dear lord – where in all the land do you find such a mess of confusion; Ariadne’s children would flip onto their backs, legs curled over trying to find a way to connect it all. Active industry. Failed industry. Rail. Trail. Glacial moraines. Bluffs. Dumps. Democrats & Republicans. Money, both got some and need some. Hospitals. Diabetes epidemics. Developers. Conservationists. City. Suburban. Blacks. Browns. Whites.

Shelby’s a freakin’ Michelangelo. She’s the Statue of David, compared to THAT.

Sleek, sinuous paths don’t slink out of that kind of gene pool. The only thing with the traction to climb out of there is going to be a mutt.

A mutt like the trail that’s won more than $2 million of funding in four years. That has 14 communities bound together to build it. That opened its first segment this fall. That has created a movement around recreating this canal of crime and neglect as celebrated riverfront, with quality of life and economic benefits for the 1.5 million people within a 20 minute drive from it, and the 480,000 that live just blocks away.

A mutt like Obama.

Here’s how he’s going to give us $15,000,000:
The super secret Presidential web crawler is going to scan this blog and communicate to the President Elect hits on “Obama,” “mutt,” “hypoallergenic,” “$,” and “beef jerky” (that’s his business). He will be moved not only by my heart warming opening about our rescued dog (did I mention Shelby was rescued? She was!) but by the similarity of the Calumet-Sag Trail’s development to his own. Then he will sneak the National Checkbook out of Timothy Geithner’s backpack, cut a check to the Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail (if he instead nicks the National Credit Card), and fold it inside a personal note to me, mentioning how I’ve captured his heart with my clear-eyed yet inspiring assessment of what it means in America to be a mutt. He will wish my family a happy holidays. And in the P.S. he will offer me $750 for Shelby after he sees this picture of her.

I take PayPal.