Man, can we use a little kindness right about now.
Forest Park is rising up, through its children, to recognize that simple kindness is what we need.
We are smack dab in the middle of the duly authorized Kindness Week in our village. You'll hopefully pay attention to the 10,000 District 91 student-generated stickers turning up this week on your Counter Coffee cup, on that pair you buy at Madison Street Shoes. You'll see someone wearing a "Be kind today" wristband. You'll see a picture on Build Forest Park or Forest Park Town Hall capturing a kind act. And, if we really get cooking, you'll experience firsthand an unexpected thank you, or other simple expression of neighborliness.
This is all the brainchild of Amy O'Connell, a D91 teacher. She saw the idea on Instagram in November. She brought it to her principal and a district official and just last month took it to the school board. Then students took it to Mayor Anthony Calderone.
And now, voila, it is Kindness Week. That's the sort of lovely momentum that can build in our small town. The parks and the library jumped on board, the Chamber of Commerce, too. This is just the kind of viral goodness we need to spread all across Forest Park.
We need destinations
We spend a fair amount of time staring at empty storefronts, worrying about potentially empty storefronts, pondering the fate of retail and considering if we have too many bars or an oversaturation of restaurants.
What's the alternative? We'd suggest it is a whole range of alternatives with the common theme of being an actual destination. We need, and every town needs, places where you actually have to turn up in person. This week we carry a piece about one such place that is carving a new role on Madison Street. Urban Pioneer Group, 7503 Madison, sort of defies definition. And we think that is part of the concept.
This appealing space can morph through a single day, hosting everything from popular bakery pop-ups in the morning to a birthday party in the afternoon and then an evening fundraiser. Each one has the benefit of bringing divergent crowds to our main street.
The future of Madison Street is not going to look like the past. Fostering innovation, celebrating what's different will be that future.
Most of us would be scared stiff to turn an architect loose in our homes to tote up the deficiencies. To its credit, and because it is required, our District 91 public schools tasked its architects to look in every nook and cranny — think oven hoods and janitor's closets — looking for things that need help. A month ago across all the district's buildings, the firm came up with $300,000 in minor repairs that now need to be updated over five years.
This is a testament to the year-by-year investments in our schools that the district makes and that generous taxpayers fund.