mental-health

Nov 6. Vote YES! for Mental Health in Logan, Avondale, and Hermosa

In the November 6th election, voters are going to have two very easy questions to answer on the back page of the ballot: “Should we build a mental health center?” and “Are you willing to pay for it?” (Paraphrased, exact questions at end).  The work has been done by The Coalition To Save Our Mental Health Centers who have successfully reinstated two mental health centers in Chicago already.  Logan Square’s previous mental health center was closed six years ago due to budget constraints. Before work can begin on building this new center, it has to pass a vote.  So I’m here to either convince you it is worth the very small tax hike, or more likely to convince you that after you cast a vote for governor- there are still important things you need to vote for, you’ve already put the time in going down to the polling place and I know you’re excited to go bowling, or eat potato chips, or spend 5 minutes in peace by yourself in the car with out your kids tying the dog’s tail in a knot, but please just flip the ballot over and quickly check two more boxes (actually fill in the little line thingy).

Residents have shown an overwhelming support for building the facility.  They’ve collected over 8800 signatures, partnered with neighbors, religious groups, local non-profits, schools, and held press conferences.  And of course this is the sort of thing that residents would be in support of- better access to mental health for residents in the community is like a politician promising “fair taxes”, or “better schools”, or “no killing kittens”, it’s just the sort of feel-good thing that everyone can get behind.  (As a politician, I have a strong “no killing kittens” platform).

no-votes
No gods endorse this threat.

The only deterrent to this is obviously raised taxes.  The center is unique because the communities served will pay for the center directly; every dollar is by law, guaranteed to stay in the community.  A second question on the ballot will be “are you OK with having your taxes raised?”.  The increase will be 0.025% or about $4 for every $1000 you pay annually in property taxes. This center will be providing out reach programs at schools, family counseling, therapy, and other services regardless of the recipients ability to pay, and I get it, “all taxation is theft”, but how many more double-shot-double-whip-soy-almond-half-caff-cappuccinos do you need every year, Susan? Are five of them really more important than little Timmy and Tina having family counseling? Are they?

As a veteran, I’m strongly in support of this center getting built. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that approximately 20 veterans per day commit suicide nationwide.  When I returned from Afghanistan I would drive 45 minutes once every three months just to ‘keep an eye’ on my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms for three years; I work on math and other problems to self-medicate symptoms, that works for me but not everyone.  I know countless veterans who struggle with PTSD.  Easy access to mental health can literally be the difference between a suicide attempt and seeking help.  This facility would mean easier access for veterans and everyone in the community and would provide access for people who don’t have it now. And if you’re thinking, “well, Veterans fought for the country and these other people didn’t do anything so the Vets ‘deserve’ mental health care and these other people don’t”, then I think you need help most of all, because that line of reasoning is insane.

Finally, the question remains- why am I pushing for this on my campaign for Alderman site? Some of you may remember the Cambridge Analytica thing from last election. Well, Facebook and Twitter were a bit embarrassed and to keep that from happening again they now have 1000 hurdles you have to jump for doing anything political.  Since I’ve already passed most of those hurdles on Facebook and Instagram, I wanted to use my platform to shout about something I care about. I will say, aside from being one of the 8800 signatories, this article, and some advertising to raise awareness, I’ve had no involvement in this coalition, so if you don’t like it- yell at me not them.

Snapchat on the other hand has a shockingly low bar for political stuff, so I made this filter which is running all weekend in the 60622 and 60647 zipcodes.  Ahh Snapchat, teenage dirt bag of the social media world- never change.

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Right click and Save Image As… to download this horrible filter. Or use Snapchat this weekend.

 

For more information checkout Coalition to Save Our Mental Health Centers.

Remember to vote yes! to Mental Health on November 6th, and to come out and vote for someone in your local elections on February 26th.

Question 1:

“Shall there be established, to serve the territory commonly described on this ballot or notice of this question, a Logan Square, Avondale, and Hermosa Expanded Mental Health Services Program, to provide direct free mental health services for any resident of the territory who needs assistance in overcoming or coping with mental or emotional disorders, where such program will be funded through an increase of not more than .025% of the equalized assessed valuation of all properties within the boundaries of the territory?”

Question 2:

“Under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, may an aggregate extension not to exceed $850,000 be made for the Logan Square, Avondale, and Hermosa Expanded Mental Health Services Program for the 2019 levy year?”

dog-friendly

Peace4pits recap, T-shirts, and Signatures!

Peace 4 Pits’ annual fund-raiser Rock Out For Rescues, was awesome!  As always the silent auction had a bunch of amazing stuff.  I bought more art than I have wall space for, so my girl friend got a bunch of Christmas presents.  Also ended up with a printing gift card, and a nice gift basket from The Native!  It was a fun way to spend a day with friends and like minded people.

My dog Apache decided he was people and wanted to sit on the skinny picnic table benches and not-super-strong-chairs.  For a German Shepherd this is not an easy task and he constantly looked like he was about to fall. I asked him why he was doing that, and he just looked at me like I was the idiot, so I let it go.

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Sitting in chairs like people.

The other big news of the day was I got the “Trevor Grant for First Ward” T-shirts in.  Aren’t they great?!  Since I’m going to be wearing one every day between now and February 26th (election day), I really went first class on the cotton.  A big shout out to Propaganda Printing for doing a bang up job!

How do they fit you ask? About like you’d expect.  Apache is also my t-shirt model, he is wearing a size L. (so am I, but he does a better job).

peace for pits
Who wore it better? Obvi, Apache did.

So how do you get one of these great t-shirts? The easiest way is to volunteer to help me get signatures! We (finally) started collecting signatures on October 8th, and got 190 out of our goal of 1500 (~13%)!  So if you see any of these gray shirts walking around the neighborhood, make sure to sign their petition- then tell all your friends to do the same.  Also as an aside if you sign the petition for any other alderman candidate of the first ward, you can’t sign mine! I think everyone deserves to be on the ballot, and I’ll usually sign those petitions with out too much research, but just something to keep in mind.

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Getting signatures- Day1: 13% Complete!

Big Thanks to everyone who came out and those who have volunteered for upcoming drives.  Make sure you check out Peace4pits to see upcoming events, donate, and potential new best buddies!

women-in-tech

#sherules, women in tech, and teaching the next generation.

Last Thursday I attended the joint Chicago Women in Big Data – Netflix #sherules event at the Palmer House.  Women in Big Data is one of several meetup groups in Chicago that supports and enables women to support each other in the technology field. If you work in technology, it’s no secret that women are severely underrepresented in the industry.  A number of explanations have been brought up, from workplace sexism and “macho male culture” to in group favoritism.  Chicago is actually a bit better than most places with respect to those two issues, but what can we do in this ward? (and why does anyone here care?)

Motivation

A recent article in Wired Magazine said it best, “The Next Big Blue Collar Job is Coding“.  Google, Apple, and IBM (where I work), no longer require college degrees.  This is because many people have learned to code, not in college, but at Dev Bootcamps, or just by reading the Internet and figuring it out.

I don’t claim to be the best engineer that ever walked, but I do have a fair amount of code in production (that is tech-lingo for “in live user facing systems that people depend on”).  I picked up a book on programing for a 7th grade “how-to” speech, and kind of just kept playing with it.  (My formal training is in economics, mathematics, and business administration).  This is another reason that I am a huge advocate for people learning to code from a younger age (don’t write your first lines freshman year of college).

But let’s say you don’t want your kids to grow up and work a “blue collar job”.  OK fine.  Let me tell a little story.  When I was in college, a buddy of mine had a summer internship in an office. The people in the office were older, and they would give him assignments- usually to create some spread sheet.  This is 2007 (I spent about 10 years in college off and on), and he knew how to use Excel.  He would do the work in about an hour, play on Facebook and the Internet for about two days, then turn it in.  Everyone applauded him for working so quickly, they were amazed! “This would have taken us a week if not more!” they would exclaim.  That story continues to terrify me.  Technology is constantly coming out to make slow tasks exponentially quicker.  If I don’t stay sharp, someone will learn a new tech and I will become a relic, like the old people in that office. So here is the punchline:

What Microsoft Excel skills were to the workforce of 1998-2018, programming languages will be to the workforce of 2018-2038.

Can you get a job and get by with out them.  At first, sure. But over time, other people who know how to program will come up and start “eating your lunch for you”.  Private schools such as St. Ignatius, Lake Forrest Academy, and U of C Lab Schools are already steaming ahead with programs to introduce youth to computer science / coding concepts. Chicago Public Schools even see there is a need (but no concrete time line for addressing it).

Action Plan

We can huff and puff at length about what the city “ought to do” to address these issues.  In the Apache Software Foundation, there is something called a “do-acracy”. While we should get consensus to work on projects, the person “doing it” gets a lot of say in the final design.  Instead of waiting for CPS and a number of other things which are totally beyond the control of a lone alderman, I recommend partnering with organizations that want to also promote tech and women in tech to run after school and summer camp programs.

These can be public service organizations such as Girls Who Code, an organization the explicitly works to encourage girls to get involved with programming from as early as elementary school.  It can also be through charitable programs being run through public companies such as the Netflix #sherules campaign.

Final Thought

Focusing on the future, we need to start incorporating technology programs into our schools.  We can wait for CPS to do this, or we can be the “doers” of the do-acracy and start connecting local schools and organizations to create after school programs and summer camps that will train the bright minds of the next generation and put them on a level playing field with the kids going to fancy private schools.

safe-bikes-pls

Canadian Ghost Bikes

July 18th, 2013- a cyclist was struck and killed in the Mile End district of Montreal.  Last week, I was attending ApacheCon in Montreal, and saw this beautiful Ghost Bike.

Kristen Green has been leading Chicago’s Ghost Bike program for several years.  I met her last year and have become interested in Ghost Bikes in general.  She does an amazing job, but there is only one of her and so many bike incidents.  As you can tell, this bike is different than the ones we normally see around Chicago…

Any time a cyclist is killed it is tragic, but this beautiful display was especially bitter-sweet.  Sweet because the people cared and remembered this person so much that they continue to keep up this wonderful memorial five years after the incident.  Sweeter still because this is such a rare occurrence in Montreal, where Vision Zero has been implemented, that people still care and remember when horrible events like this happen.

But it’s also bitter.  It’s bitter that this woman lost her life, but even more bitter is the fact that this happens so often in Chicago that it’s just another thing.  How many ghost bikes have you seen this week?  How many looked maintained- much less covered in notes, pictures, and flowers?  You may be surprised to learn that Chicago adopted Vision Zero before Canada, and yet has made almost no progress towards that end.  The people of Chicago and the people of the First Ward deserve more.

Incumbent Joe Moreno, has taken some steps towards increasing bike safety in the Ward.  My favorite Joe story is where Joe “impersonated police”. (He actually just told some lady to get out of the bike lane).  But there is a lot of room for improvement.  It’s time to send Joe a message that bike safety is something we take very seriously, and that we want Chicago to make progress towards Vision Zero. (Challenger Daniel La Spata, as best I can tell has no opinions on bike safety.)

ghost bike montreal

What Can You Do?

  1. Call up Kristen and volunteer to help with Ghost Bikes Chicago
  2. Sign my petition to be on the ballot so I can address Joe about this in public forum.
  3. “Stay Alert, Stay Alive” (old Army saying but on your bike in Chicago sadly is relevant).
hooray-vets, mental-health

Chicago Veteran’s Ruck March

You may have seen this on WGN-TV or in your local paper.  Just before Memorial Day weekend- a bunch of veterans doing a walk to raise awareness for veteran suicide and PTSD.  You probably thought, “Oh that’s nice,” and forgot about it until you saw this post.  I get it- it’s an uncomfortable topic. It’s a bummer to think that if you served our country in the armed forces, you’re twice as likely to take your own life as someone who didn’t.

I think about it more often.  I think about how military training is specifically designed to increase mental fortitude, and how if anything, service members should be less likely to commit suicide.

For the last three years I have taken part in Chicago Veteran’s Ruck March.  It’s indescribably inspiring to walk with thousands of brothers and sisters in arms all carrying forty pound packs.  I was in the National Guard, so for me its a great chance to meet up with people I served with.  Two years ago a new study was released, Veteran Suicide was down from 22 people a day to 20- so now we only walk 20 miles! Great news.  It’s still too far.  For reference- we start right next to the Glenco Metra Station- we used to walk to Navy Pier- now we walk to Lincoln Park (directions are a visual aid- not the path we walk, which is longer).

I can’t thank Chicago Veteran’s enough for what they do to bring awareness to mental health, but we as a community need to do more. It brings me hope that residents of the 1st Ward recognize this and are demanding the return of the mental health clinic to our neighborhood.   I’m also stoked that that members of the community are pushing to reopen the mental health clinic.   I’m also stoked to live in a neighborhood home to the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of proceeds support proactive suicide prevention. The residents of this neighborhood that deserves an alderman who will make the city work as hard as they do towards these goals as they do.

Screenshot from 2018-10-01 16-27-36