Ain’t Too Proud!

And one more musical – the last one from this subscription. I am so glad I became a Broadway in Chicago subscriber (and so glad that the live shows are back!). As always, the question is how to find time for all the shows which are out there!

I was surprised to find, that all the Broadway in Chicago venues quietly stopped checking the vaccination status, and also, the voice message from the CSO which I received today about the upcoming concerts, states the same. It is not necessarily a bad thing, considering that although the infection rates are currently high, we hospitals are not overwhelmed. I hope it will stay that way!

To Kill a Mockingbird

I went to see this play at Netherlanders Theater on Wednesday. I do not know why I didn’t check details in advance – probably because I was sure that there can’t be anything unexpected – but I didn’t realize that this is a play, not a musical. Until some time into the show 🙂

It was a splendid production, and very true to the book, except for adding some references to today’s situation (like “seventeen shots”).

The theater was packed (and they do not check the vaccination cards anymore, although masks are fortunately still required)? and the audience was completely taken by the performance.

At some point, however, I got a feeling that not everybody in the audience was familiar with the book (although it seems impossible); or maybe they forgot since school. It’s just that the reaction to some scenes (like announcing the verdict) seemed to be a little bit like they didn’t expect it.

On my way home, on the Red Line, I heard people talking about the play – some of the passengers saw playbills in other passengers’ hands, and that started the conversation. When this happens, it always feels very good, like we are indeed one city. One Chicago.

Chicago. The Bean. Saturday Night.

I was in the Loop on Saturday. I was in the Millennium Park. I passed the Bean at about 3-30 PM.

I am reading more and more details, and the more I read, the less I can take it in. Out of all places, Millenium Park seemed to be the safest place in Chicago indeed, with constant presence of security. It felt exactly as this article says – the safe place in the city, open for those who can’t find a safe place in their communities.

This article from Sun-Times is heartbreaking. I am copying it here because, after a while, it will disappear from the online version of the newspaper. Here is it.

Continue reading “Chicago. The Bean. Saturday Night.”

Homelessness

Because of my volunteering with homeless individuals, I immediately notice whether the situation there is better or worse than in Chicago each time I visit other cities. And if it is better, I wonder what these cities are doing better and what we could do in Chicago.

I think about this each time I visit Helsinki, but it was even more pronounced this time. I went to clinic escort on Saturday morning, and I had to go to the earliest shift because I was leaving the same day. It was the first time I ever ook the Red Line as early as 5-15 AM, and the first two cars were pretty much “sleeping cars” – I didn’t even try to get in and move to the third car right away. The next day, I read a letter of complaint from some North Side residents about the homeless encampment and how “they have too many defendants, like the Night Ministry…”

I understand people’s frustration, but I also know that, unfortunately, we do not have any solution in Chicago. It’s great, that the homeless problem in Helsinki is almost non-existent, and I wonder whether we will ever be close to that…

Tonight

There was a program change for today’s CSO concert because maestro Muti tested positive and had to quarantine for a week. I didn’t want to return my ticket, but at the same time, I still had a lot to do to get ready for tomorrow’s PUG and needed to have normal sleep. And at the same time, I loved the updated program – several of Mozart’s piano concertos. I was going back and forth, and I decided to go to the first half of the concert at the very last moment.
I had a lot of positive emotions. I love it when a conductor is contacting from the piano, as Mozart himself did, and I love this full of light music, so bright and beautiful, a real celebration of life.
Also, I loved it when I saw that the Ukrainian flag was now permanently displayed on the right side of the stage, and the musicians continued displaying the ribbons in Ukrainian colors.

And I loved that the weather was finally warm, and I felt like Chicago is back.

I decided to take a Brown Line for the half of the way home to look at Chicago from the elevated level. I passed a young man on the planform talking to another waiting passenger: every morning I look outside and see the lake, and I can’t believe I live here! OMG! How much I can relate!!!

The Art Institute

Saturday marked a return of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but it also marked a sharp temperature drop (down to 11F in the morning). Because of that (actually, because of both), I decided against any outings on that day. I attempted to go to escort (the last shift), but it turned out that we were not even needed, and I could leave an hour later.

My fellow escorts asked me how did I get there. I replied – “interestingly,” and they immediately suggested giving me a ride to any CTA station further North. For those who haven’t been on the CTA on St. Patrick’s Day – good for you! For those who took CTA on that day previously – it was twice worse than you ever saw!

But to compensate for it – Sunday was beautiful, quiet, and the weather was gorgeous! I thought I needed to do something together with mom, because then I will be gone for ten days, so I suggested we go to the Art Institute during the member’s hour. And it turned out to be a very nice outing. I was finally able to see the Egyptian Exhibit without the crowd.

Continue reading “The Art Institute”

More About The Rally on Sunday

The moment Lena and I walked out of the alley and headed to the CTA station, a person on the other side of the street cheered us and asked where the rally would be. In the Loop, we were pleasantly surprised by a huge turnaround. The number of people who responded as interested in the event was less than 200. Still, we saw people with flags and signs everywhere (also going in different directions, which was confusing). Since we had to meet Anna at the train station, we were in the Loop ahead of the rally, but we still met people who stopped us and asked in Russian or English where exactly things were going to be. 

t turned out that there were multiple gathering places and marching before the rally. We went to the Bean, marched with people there, and headed to the Daley Plaza.

Continue reading “More About The Rally on Sunday”

Chicago’s Response To The War

I take back all my resentments about Chicagoans – here is today’s tribune front-page article:

Marta Farion received a call from a friend in Ukraine on Tuesday, asking her how she was helping the embattled country from Chicago. Her friend, a veteran in Ukraine who had stayed behind to fight, was calling from an actual trench, one of many that have appeared in the country as it resists its Russian aggressors, using a generator for a phone charge.

Farion, president of a nonprofit that supports the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, had a variety of answers: lobbying the American government, supporting a protest this weekend and fundraising.

For Chicagoans with or without connections that close in Ukraine, it can be overwhelming to know how to help. Here are some of the ways advocates suggest people get involved.

Where can I donate supplies?
Ukrainian shipping service Meest-Karpaty is organizing a major effort to send a plane of supplies from Chicago to Kyiv every week, a representative from the company’s location in Palatine said.

They’re looking for military goods, as well as nonperishable food, blankets and clothes, advocates said.

Supplies can be dropped off or shipped to the Chicago location, 6725 W. Belmont Ave. The shipping service is also collecting supplies at 1645 Hicks Road in Rolling Meadows, a representative posted on social media.

Edgewater resident Leonard Mogul, a community advocate and founder of Chicago children’s organization Arts4Kids Foundation, is partnering with Waukegan pastor Julie Contreras to send care packages to women and children in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, Mogul said. Mogul’s organization has previously sent food to refugee children in detention centers at the Mexican border, he said, so Contreras reached out to him about turning aid toward Ukraine.

They’re looking for essentials including diapers, children’s clothes, socks and women’s hygienic products, Mogul said. People can donate or volunteer time by contacting Arts4KidsChicago@gmail.com, he said.

When is the next big rally?
Supporters of Ukraine plan to gather in Daley Plaza at 2 p.m. Sunday, said advocates including Pavlo Bandriwsky, vice president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America in Illinois.

How can I tell if a fundraiser is legitimate?
Chicagoans should look for established organizations that have a proven track record of providing assistance with low administrative costs, Bandriwsky said.

Smaller campaigns, like those organized on social media, can be positive resources as they may have very low overhead, said Mogul, who has helped found and moderate Facebook pages for Eastern European people across Chicago. But potential donors should make an effort to ensure those smaller fundraisers are legitimate, he said.

Donors should see how well the purpose of the money is described, and what means the fundraiser has to deliver the results, Mogul said. They should also feel free to ask the organizer any questions, he added.

What are some national or international organizations I can donate to?
Locally, people can donate to the Ukrainian Congress Committee for America in Illinois, advocates said. F.R.E.E., a synagogue for the Russian Jewish community in Chicago, is hosting a fundraiser for Jewish people in Ukraine.

The nonprofit Razom for Ukraine has a list of army, medical and humanitarian initiatives accepting donations, and is accepting aid to its own emergency response fund.

The National Bank of Ukraine is accepting funds to both its humanitarian account and military account. The Red Cross, UNICEF and World Central Kitchen are all accepting donations for the crisis.

Advocates have also asked people to contact their representatives to demand stricter sanctions against Russia, and the closure of airspace over Ukraine.

One Chicago couple is worried and asking for funds to get their preemie newborns, born via surrogate, home safely from Ukraine.

Alexander Spektor and Irma Nuñez became parents on Feb. 25 when their twin sons, Lenny and Moishe, were born in Kyiv. They were born two months early and need continued medical care before traveling to the U.S. The family is frantically trying to coordinate a specialized medical transport capable of moving preemies out of the country.

“It’s unimaginable,” Spektor told the “Today” show. He explained that the twins’ prematurity works against them as they need stability and care, but also to be moved out of a war zone.

In the meantime, they were able to transfer the twins to a hospital in Kyiv better equipped with supplies and staff, according to a GoFundMe raising money to help cover medical and travel costs.

What if I want to help refugees? Or advocate for Ukrainian citizens in the US?
The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America in Illinois is starting to prepare for refugees to resettle in the Chicago area, Bandriwsky said. People in Chicago with space to potentially help shelter refugees can contact the Ukrainian National Museum, he said.

Northbrook immigration lawyer Gene Meltser started a petition to grant Temporary Protective Status to Ukrainian citizens in the United States, a form of deportation relief for people whose visas are from places involved in strife.

Meltser, an immigrant from Belarus with family and friends in Ukraine, said he hopes people will sign the petition and call their representatives in favor of granting the status, regardless of political party.

What will people need when they arrive?
Many groups in Chicago constantly work with refugees and are always taking donations to help the many refugees already in Chicago. World Relief, RefugeeOne and Catholic Charities are all groups that work with federal agencies to resettle refugees.

People who may eventually arrive from Ukraine will be handling layers of trauma, said Corina Ratz, a faculty member of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology who trains people on treating immigrants and whose family in Romania has seen firsthand waves of people already arriving at the border.

Not only were their lives suddenly upturned by war, she said, they are suddenly faced with uncertainty they never could have prepared for.

“It is something you can imagine may happen, but until it actually happens, you’re not dealing with the repercussion of it,” she said.

So they will arrive fresh from a wartime exodus, likely unable to bring much from home, with the double uncertainty of not knowing whether or when they’ll be able to return.

When people have the ability to have a conversation with an immigrant or a refugee, she said, what’s important is to listen. Hear their story, and their narrative of what happened. “Validate their story,” she said. “It’s so basic, and it is so important.” People might assume that refugees are thrilled to be here, or heartbroken. It’s different for everyone.

How have people in Ukraine reacted to support from the States? How do Ukrainian Chicagoans feel about the support from the city?
Advocates described the support from Chicago over the weekend as overwhelming — “nothing short of incredible,” Mogul said. People in Ukraine are grateful Americans are protesting and not remaining indifferent, he said.

Orysia Kourbatov, administrator at the Ukrainian National Museum in Ukrainian Village, said people have been calling every five to 10 minutes, asking for flags to display. The museum was out as of Tuesday afternoon but was expecting more shipments soon, she said.

The conflict may have even incited a cultural change: If there’s a “silver lining to any of this,” it’s that people are becoming more familiar with Ukraine and rallying around it, said Yara Klimchak, a Chicagoan who grew up visiting relatives in Ukraine. Klimchak, who once heard people frequently mistake Ukraine for Russia, now has people from all different parts of her life reaching out and asking how they can help, she said.

Moscow Is Not Chicago Sister City Anymore

From Chicago Tribune:

After nearly three dozen aldermen called for Chicago’s Sister Cities relationship with Moscow to be suspended while the Russian war on Ukraine is ongoing, Mayor Lori Lightfoot directed World Business Chicago to do just that.

“While this is not a decision I enter into lightly, we must send an unambiguous message: we strongly condemn all actions by the Putin regime. This suspension will be upheld until the end of hostilities against Ukraine and the Putin regime is held accountable for its crimes,” Lightfoot said. “We must continue to support freedom-loving people everywhere and ordinary Russians in their desire to be free.”

The move is largely symbolic but highlights the ongoing condemnation toward Russia throughout the world after Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, 33 Chicago City Council members signed onto a proposed order suspending Moscow’s Sister City status.

Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv is among Chicago’s 27 remaining Sister Cities, whose roster also includes Bogotá, Colombia; Accra, Ghana; Osaka, Japan; and Warsaw, Poland. Chicago formalized its Sisters Cities program under former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1990, the proposed order states.

The document calls for the immediate return of gifts, materials or services provided by a revoked participant and states that it won’t be considered for readmittance “until normal diplomatic relations are reinstated.”