Over the past two days, I witnessed two walks.
First, was the walk of thousands of music lovers in Chicago’s Uptown to the Mumford and Sons concert.
They walked right in front of where I live, lemmings on their way to the concert venue at Montrose Harbor.
The Alderman wanted to make sure the streets were clean for these drive-by visitors of Chicago’s “down and out” neighborhood, and in the process, dislocated a lot of disadvantaged folks who actually live there.
City resources were used to remove the homeless and create a pristine path from the Wilson Red Line to the lake front, so concert goers wouldn’t have to smell stinky pee under the viaduct when they walked to the lake front and pee in stinky port-a-johns after slurping $8 beers.
For a brief moment, Uptown looked as uncomfortable as a kid in itchy clothes worn only for a relative’s wedding. My colorful neighborhood didn’t look like itself, the streets crawling with visitors dressed in Banana Republic beige.
My favorite panhandlers in sequins were hidden from view.
The tent village under the Wilson viaduct was dismantled.
Truth be told, this pop-up residency under the Wilson exit ramp is stinky but several consider this location their home sweet home. Some of my coworkers regularly feed theses urban nomads and have befriended a few, like an older lady with vase of day-old flowers in front of her tent.
But now Tent Village is gone.
And so are the flowers.
And the thirty five thousand visitors.
And a lot of tax dollars.
That was walk number one.
The second walk wasn’t in Uptown, but at Solider’s Field on Saturday.
This is a walk I took part in.
It was the 30th Annual Hunger Walk, to support the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Roughly fourteen thousand people walked, several with the help of walkers, others pushing strollers.
This Five K walk wasn’t grueling, probably about the same distance as a round trip walk from the Red line to the Montrose Harbor.
Many of those living and working in Uptown left their neighborhood to walk at this fundraiser and support the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The GCFD makes food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters possible in Uptown including those of Cornerstone Community Outreach.
These non-profit employees and volunteers walked to feed those in need.
Like those in Tent village.
And the sequinned panhandlers.
And countless other homeless who were displaced the week before.
Maybe the Alderman should have used the money spent on impressing Uptown visitors to support the local food pantries instead.
And the Hunger Walkathon walkers could have slept in.
And Mumford and Sons fans could have experienced a new side of Chicago.
And maybe even get blessed by a vase of wilted flowers.