Chatham Neighborhood Chicago Illinois Interview with Rep. Marlow H. Colvin

Recently I did a study on the Chatham neighborhood in Chicago Illinois for a class I am taking at Dominican University earning my MSW. Below is an interview I did with Representative Marlow H. Colvin about the neighborhoods history and what makes them unique.

New Place, Life and Niche in the World

The illustration is from Hugh MacLeod who's brilliant! - http://gapingvoid.com

Well, well, well here we are everyone. I think I’m starting to really find my niche in the Greater Chicago area, otherwise known for me as Berwyn and Dominican University for me. It’s been a big change of having to worry about things like papers and midterms, it’s like going to work, but you get to pay them. I enjoy it though, it’s nice to feel like you’re really building toward something significant. I think with my business skills, having an MBA and a future MSW I can really do some good. I can speak “business talk” and now I’m learning about social services/social work – could make for a dangerous pairing. In my first class a professor talked about, I’m paraphrasing – everything we do is political as a social worker. My reaction was “that doesn’t make any sense.”

The more I thought about that phrase the more it resonated with me. I had a marketing professor, in my MBA program, tell me “everything is a test in life, how we act, how we respond, it’s all a test.” I tend to agree with him. The more I learned about social work and it’s roots, Professor Oporto is completely right. I did a report on Eunice Kennedy Shriver and she is simply an AMAZING person who took people with intellectual disabilities out of the institutions and let them live life more like people without the disability.

For myself I went down to Springfield for NASW‘s Advocacy Day, it was an experience in itself. I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d be lobbying for, but I had a variety of options.

What I really observed was that there were very few normal-every-day-citizens there talking with representative, but rather guys in very expensive suites (who were professional lobbyist) waiting in line to talk to their representative/senator…I was immediately maddened by the process. Thinking to myself “I need to starting getting involved and not passively stand on the sideline letting the guys in suites decide how we live our lives.” I kinda like the term “t-shirt and jeans lobbyist,” but I’ll probably get stuck in a suite myself. I know getting political is easier said then done, but as a social worker (and as a citizen) we have the ability to change the playing ground in which we operate.

I think the first thing for me is to do is educate myself and learn how to play the game of politics. In a previous job/life when I wanted to talk to a representative a good way to get a meeting quickly was to have a business leader in the community recommend me or come along with me to the meeting.

Side note: one lobbyist when he walked in literally said “Boy everyone **cking hates our company, but they sure love our products” I was shocked how he spoke with such frankness- he represented a large chemical company I didn’t find out which one…shocking indeed.

The NASW they may not have the funding large companies have, however there is power in numbers and actually voting. It’s a government of the people, by the people, for the people right Mr. Lincoln? Did you vote in the last election? Did you really educate yourself about the issues? I did my best to, but I’m going to really make an effort to get much more involved on both a micro and macro level. I’m very happy to be on the path of having the ability to help people on both a personal level through counseling and also being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.

I interviewed at an Adult Day Center this week, for an internship this fall, and the director was speaking to me about hard it is to get funding for the elderly. The people at this center were there for a variety of reasons, dementia, strokes, Alzheimer’s and other reasons. I thought to myself  – “they can’t speak for themselves and what is happening to those who aren’t in a facility like this one?” They can’t go and talk to their representative/senator and say they need help because they can’t afford medication or care. The people in the center were the lucky ones; I can’t imagine the situation for those who cannot get help. I think I’m going to make it my mission to try to get them better care.

This life change for me wouldn’t be possible without the help of my family, sister’s fiance and friends, so thanks everyone. I may be an hour and half away, but you’re always in my thoughts and heart.

I’m just about half way through my first semester, but I’m motivated…watch out.

PS. Another person who helped me get into the MSW Program at Dominican University is Ike Pigott, he’s my digital mentor of sorts, read his brilliant and witty blog at http://occamsrazr.com (if you go to Ike’s website please don’t steal his content or at least give him credit ::cough:: lifehacker.com ::couch::).

And I’d like to end this post with a song…been listening to a lot of Wilco lately and I’m in an optimistic mood. Enough said.