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Help make Roseland a better place

12-30-04 Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy 250 E. 111th St. Chicago -  Facade Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Chicago's South

12-30-04 Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, 250 E. 111th St., Chicago - Facade of Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep in Chicago's South Side - Photo by John J. Kim/Sun-Times

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Updated: June 1, 2013 6:16AM

Help make Roseland better

Roseland is a dangerous place. It has been a place where low-income people have been dumped, mental illness runs rampant, angry and desperate young men with criminal records flounder, women with low self-esteem manipulate lonely relationships, too many people are hooked on drugs and alcohol, and a racist attitude by African Americans is isolating the community from any hope. Until we stop denying this fact, the community will never do anything to better itself.

I have lived and pastored in this community for eight years. I know the sins of the community, but I also know its graces. Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep is one of our gems. Our alderman, Anthony Beale, to his credit, has guided its foundation, making it a cornerstone to the “New Roseland.” This community has very efficient city services, great police and fire protection, terrific parks, a sufficient transportation network, schools that have picked themselves up and are serving the needs of this community, wonderful churches and ministers, a hospital that continues to serve the community to the best of its ability, and mostly hardworking residents who are trying to make a good life for their families.

Still, visitors to Roseland place their lives on the line, because at anytime one of our “stupids” may act out and do harm. But please know they do not define the entire community, and we need the presence of visitors to challenge our good people. Families in the community need to identify problems in their families and get the help before tragedy occurs. The community needs more mental health and alcohol/drug rehab facilities that can get the people the help when they need it.

Peyton College Prep had reason for not wanting to play in Roseland. Don’t condemn them, but work to make Roseland a better place. Stop denying the sins, so the healing can occur.

Rev. Mark J. Krylowicz, pastor

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church

Charen column was untrue

I was very disturbed by the column by Mona Charen [“Islamic terrorism gets a pass from liberals”]. That not only is untrue (a lie), but it also simply enrages the “low information voters.” Liberals are not “soft on terror” regardless of the disinformation the conservatives try to claim. What I found even divisive was Ms. Charen’s attempt to politicize the deaths of four Alabama girls some 50 years ago. It was a disgusting attempt to inject race into the mix.

Ron Williams, Old Town

Charen thinks for us

I want to thank Mona Charen for her wonderful article about how liberals give Islamic terrorists a pass. As a liberal myself, I had no idea that I was so forgiving of Islamic terrorists. All this time I thought I was just as angry at Islamic terrorists as I am at people like Timothy McVeigh. Charen ever so helpfully told me what I really believe. All this time I thought Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to speculate on the motivations of accused criminals during an ongoing investigation was the way a responsible officer of the court behaves at such times, but now I realize I was simply blinded by my own love for Islamic terrorists. I sure am glad I’ve got helpful conservative members of the liberal mass-media around so I don’t have to think for myself about what I’m really thinking.

Sam Lipkin, Lockport

Invest in green infrastructure

When the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District decided to re-reverse the Chicago River last week, alleviating pressure on the overwhelmed chain of underground sewers and channels known as Deep Tunnel, a current of contaminated wastewater flowed into Lake Michigan. At that moment, we Chicagoans were visually and viscerally hit by three important realizations: The Deep Tunnel is neither complete nor completely effective; the impact of climate change means more rain more often; and something more must be done to reduce the devastating personal and economic impacts of urban flooding.

Our streets, backyards, and basements flood because we built much of Chicago on a mucky wetland between a massive lake and a series of rivers. Ironically, it’s not the “wetland” bit that’s the bigger problem; it’s the “built” bit. We covered a lot of the land’s natural absorption qualities with concrete, yet we’re surprised when foul water seeps into our homes or sewage belches onto our streets. Implementing green infrastructure projects to make more of the MWRD service area permeable — all 884 square miles, not just the 350 square miles served by Deep Tunnel and related elements of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan— would allow communities to catch raindrops where they fall and put them to work: greening local yards, boulevards, and parks on the way to recharging the region’s water supplies and cleaning up our polluted waterways.

Unlike the $4 billion TARP project, which won’t be complete until at least 2029, most green infrastructure projects can be implemented in pieces, a community or even block at a time. These projects require far less engineering, with more of the funding going to expertise and construction (read: “jobs”) than to capital and energy, and more of the benefit going directly to residents and businesses most at risk. Flooding is prevented much earlier, and communities become more attractive and wealthier places. In 2011 and 2012, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Grand Rapids, Michigan, embarked on initiatives to incorporate cost-effective green infrastructure practices into public and private construction projects already in the pipeline. In their project areas, these two cities reduced runoff by between 2 percent and 3 percent in the first year. Both cities believe they could meet an annual goal of a 1 percent reduction for several years running. The cumulative effect over five to 10 years would have a remarkably positive impact on urban flooding problems.

In the energy efficiency world, this is known as a “no-regrets” strategy. If we make progress now, while we pursue longer-term reservoir strategies, we’ll be ahead of the game and could keep pace with local climate changes. And, by learning how to do this, we will become a national leader in these kinds of place-based, distributed and more beneficial systems. This can only serve to complement Chicago’s excellent engineering reputation.

MWRD and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have a consent decree that commits the district to significant investment in green infrastructure. This is scarce capital, and MWRD needs to (a) challenge and work with each of its member communities to put it to smart use; (b) use it to help capitalize a working landscapes industry, thereby creating jobs; and (c) use it now, in real time.

MWRD should, for example, establish an annual 1 percent runoff reduction goal across its entire service area, and provide the technical assistance and financial support necessary for each community to meet the goal at a local level. Standards and guidelines exist for this kind of work, which could begin immediately.

More rain is coming, this much is clear. The fetid water gurgling up from basement drains and the sewage surging into Lake Michigan is not.

Scott Bernstein, president,

Center for Neighborhood Technology,

West Town

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