Mrs. Farley lived in a neatly kept frame two-flat in the middle of our block on Maplewood Avenue. I remember it was a blue-grey color with white trim. The top floor had a porch. It was a tidy two-flat and I believe I remember a garden. Many of us had gardens in our Chicago city urban neighborhood. Most families grew vegetables. Some had beautiful, immaculately maintained flower gardens. Most of us had 25 foot lots — a small yard in front and a bigger yard in the back. If there was an empty lot with no house built on it, we would refer to it as a prairie.
The neighborhood kids would run around and play in the unkempt prairies. Mrs. Farley was like every other old lady on the block. She wore a house dress and a hair net and had an old lady shopping cart trailing behind her as she walked down the very long city block of Maplewood. Maplewood was an odd block as it was nearly two blocks long from corner to corner. Mrs. Farley lived right in the middle.
The odd thing about Mrs. Farley was she was the only Black person in Brighton Park in the 1970s. She rented to a single Black woman upstairs. A woman I knew was a nurse. I would see the nurse walking the very long block home in her white nurse's uniform and her flat rubber-soled sensible shoes. I never spoke to her and didn't know how I knew she was a nurse. Mrs. Farley's niece and nephew would come to visit. It was then the neighborhood kids went to play with Marcus and Marla. Marcus and Marla were teenagers and I was less than ten. I don't know how I knew they were coming. The kids would run up and down the block, excited when they arrived. They were someone new to play with. One day Marla showed up with a newborn. I don't even remember her being pregnant or if I had a concept of what it was to be pregnant. I just remember one day we saw Marcus, Marla and the baby, a welcome new playmate. We squealed with laughter as we passed him around, a baby boy of about six months, and played with the curly hair sprouting from his head.
Mrs. Farley would sit on the porch chatting with the other old ladies. They would watch their properties and make sure we didn't run on their lawns. We would be yelled at fiercely if we did. Keeping an immaculate house was a source of pride in our working-class neighborhood. The Polish ladies would scrub their sidewalks on their hands and knees with scrub brushes, many times just wearing a bra and a skirt. We never asked them about it, although we thought it was peculiar. If anyone mentioned it, we were told, "it's hot out and it's just like a bathing suit." The men were often shirtless or wearing a white tank T-shirt while they worked. That never seemed strange. I grew to accept it.
The 70s was a time where racial equity was talked about often. Black TV shows and commercials were touting Black is Beautiful. There were dialogue and debate about how Black people should be addressed. Negro? Black? Colored? African American? One day the old ladies sitting on the porch chatting just asked Mrs. Farley straight out. "What would you like to be called?" We never, ever discussed Mrs. Farley's race. Although she was an oddity living in a White community. It was just there, neither good nor bad. It just was. Perhaps the message of the day brought about the conversation. Mrs. Farley seemed to be pleased. I remember the soft smile on her face as she responded, "I'd like to be called Black." The other old ladies giggled with relief as they all agreed Black would be the term if there was ever a reason to describe Mrs. Farley's race. As she left the afternoon chat I remember my friend's grandmother in her house dress and hair net chuckling at her bravery in asking the question. "Hey" she proclaimed, "when I want to know something I just ask." This grandmother was kind of rogue. She would let us have a sip of a whiskey drink, eat candy and read steamy romance novels to 'teach us about life". She was fun to be around.
In the 90s now I was a teenager. I was struck by the unusualness of this Black woman living west of Western when in Chicago where no other Black people lived. Unfortunately, I would hear about the line. Halsted was once the line but as I grew up. Western was the line. We were three blocks west of Western. While Bridgeport, the neighborhood we originated from, was an enclave east of Halsted. Bridgeport was a world within itself. Italians, Irish and Lithuanians lived there and in certain sections. Bridgeport was insular. I left when I was three and still remember the community and culture of living there.
I remember moving to our 3-flat frame house in Brighton Park with a lot next door with nine trees. I remember being in a station wagon watching a ketchup bottle bounce, not knowing we were moving but feeling a sense of excitement. I remember we would live on the first floor, not a three-floor walk-up. I remember my mother had big dreams for this house but my father wouldn't have any of it. We lived very simply, not in a tidy house like Mrs. Farley.
In the 90s, I asked my Mom if anyone mentioned an unlikely Black woman who lived in the middle of the block. She said they did. She said that the neighbors remarked that Mrs. Farley was a nice woman and a nurse lived upstairs. My mother said she figured it would be OK because she was nice and she was a woman. My mother would always seek the other mothers and women in the community for solidarity. It was likely a reprieve against their husbands who would make proclamations like 'this house will stay the way it is,' and it just did.
One day the old ladies on the porch asked Mrs. Farley why she lived on our block. Mrs. Farley explained she was one of first residents on Maplewood, back when the block was all prairie. She replied "I didn't know all White people were going to move in.”
I was given a copy of Publish Your Knowledge by Vilius Stanislovaitis in exchange for my honest review. The book is written in a nice, straightforward style. The wisdom is freely shared and there are many quotable pieces of advice that will help anyone that wants to self-publish. I liked comparing yourself to yesterday vs comparing yourself to others and not setting your expectations too high or too low. The book is so loaded with practical advice, the reader can start implementing the tips right away. No need to wait until the end of the book. There is value throughout. I give this book an enthusiastic five star review. It's the best I've read on the topic.
I was given a complimentary copy of The Broken Contract in exchange for my honest review. This book is very well written and thoroughly researched. There were several forward-thinking ideas including innovation agencies, special criminal sanctions for abuse of power, parallel competitive departments requiring them to compete for talent, and secondment assignments. The thorough citation that constituents are not represented is eye-opening. Examples of public abuse were disturbing and well-documented.
I received a copy of The Money Hackers in exchange for my honest review. The Money Hackers clearly summarizes the whirlwind of the financial transformation we have experienced in the last 15 years and as it states 'changed the narrative of banking'. While big banks didn't quite know what was happening, entrepreneurial fintech companies ate their lunch, while hopefully, creating a true, accessible financial democracy. This book is an informative and engaging read. It clearly defined and summarized new financial technical developments, including bitcoin and blockchain technology, in simple terms.
Since we are giving out a form of UBI with the stimulus package I thought I'd read The War on Normal People to find out what the theory of UBI is all about. It's as if Andrew Yang took every social problem I've witnessed over the last 30 years, packaged it, presented it back to me with an explanation -- and a solution. I'm very grateful. He should've been given more acknowledgment as a presidential candidate. He's a young man - perhaps he'll run again? We need Andrew Yang's voice, his heart, and his action in this world. I'm grateful for this book and the perspective.
I enjoyed The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes a lot. I agree with other reviewers, I especially appreciated learning about his brother, Jazz musician, Chris Howes who rebuilt his life after a stint in prison and hope to see him perform one day. I connected with Lewis most when he was vulnerable. Through the book, I discovered the podcast and mostly enjoy it. I can feel when Lewis slips from authenticity. He seems to have been bitten by the "wealth" bug and that is unfortunate. How much is enough? I'll be unfollowing his email list because they are thinly veiled sales pitches. I just attended a 'webinar' that I had to sign up for and it was obviously pre-recorded. The webinar didn't deliver on the promise of the information it stated it would share. I guess that's harsh, 10 steps were in the 1 hour and 30 min webinar but it wasn't transparent sharing. There was a LOT of selling that had to be weeded through. So disappointing. My hope for Lewis is that he will LIVE the messages, reach the people he is supposed to reach and be happy with enough.
The answer is 'maybe'. One advantage restaurants and Chefs have is a built in audience. If you choose to write a book you can market it online or at your restaurant. You'll have the ability to connect more deeply with your patrons. It could be additional swag in your online store. It might also serve as a tool used to attract potential investors demonstrating that you have a marketable process and a sound business methodology. A book will capture your history at a point and time. It may set the stage for more stories and future books to come. Lastly, consider writing a book if you think it would be fun. There's great art in cook books and telling the stories of restaurants and the hospitality businesses. Don't write a book if you think it will be a big revenue producer because it likely will not be. A published book will document your history and enhance your brand.
If you choose to publish a book there's never been an easier time to get your message to market for relatively little cost. Gone are the days where someone with a message had to pitch to a publisher, hoping to get selected.
What are the advantages to being accepted by a publisher? There's a cred factor. Publishers endorse your work and also have a access and audience reach. Your book will be found a public library which is really great.
If you choose to self-publish there are many avenues to choose from. Your book can be carried on Amazon.com creating a broad reach. While you won't boast the prestige of being promoted by a traditional publisher, if there's money to be made, you will keep more of it.
Some self-publishing houses are quite generous to the authors and offer several services of traditional publishing houses. Independent Publisher's Group is one example, their business model contends they make money when you make money.
What should you budget in time and money for your book? I know it's frustrating to always say 'it depends' but if you're willing to do the heavy lifting yourself with copy, layout and photos a budget of less than $500 is fair. If you want to save time, by relying on pros to create a showpiece to record your history and use in promotions for years to come, $10,000 to $15,000 is a great place to start. For turnaround time estimate three months on the low end and be aware of scope creep by drafting a book that will take a year or longer to produce.
If you'd like to explore creating a book and can work within the ranges quoted above:
If being a book author is right for you, after you're holding the finished product in your hand or admiring it on the device of your choice, then the need to promote comes in. Use all the social media channels you are using today to advance the sales of your book.
Should you write a book? Don't ask me. I'm biased. I'm a writer and can't get enough of books, especially industry and culinary books. If it suits your brand and you think it would be fun, definitely take the time to capture your history and share it with the world.
After the worldwide pandemic is all over I hope that we never go back.
Photo Credit: Alicia Dale
I had the occasion to hear Political Analyst and former Chicago Tribune City Hall Reporter, Manuel Galvan give an overview of Chicago's Mayoral election process in late 2018 and early 2019 to listen, learn and watch as the continuous candidate announcements unveiled.. In November Mr. Galvan presented at a Rotaract meeting, the Rotary-affiliated young professionals club. Last November there were 37 potential candidates. Some withdrew and others couldn't meet the stringent requirements which include obtaining 12,500 valid signatures supporting the candidate's petition to be listed on the ballot. The definition of valid signature includes legible handwriting, the ability to validate the person is real and consistency in the signature.
For example, if Jonathon Jones signed a candidate's petition as Jonathon Jones but his voter's registration card lists him as Jonathon R. Jones that signature could be invalidated. Even the most seasoned Politicians struggle with the process. Dorothy Brown unexpectedly didn't meet the requirement. Only 21 remained after the first scrub and actually filed their petitions.
Most recently Mr. Galvan gave an overview of the 14 Chicago Mayoral candidates left standing from the original 37 that initially threw their hats in the ring. or at least considered running. During a Chicago Rotary Meeting at the Union League Club held on February 11th, Mr. Galvan demystified the Chicago Political Process. If that sounds too optimistic, he at least wiped some of the Vaseline off of the lens so the attendees could see the Chicago political process a bit more clearly.
Who's going to win the election on February 26th? No one. In Chicago, Manuel Galvan explains a winning candidate needs 50% of the vote plus one vote to win. With 14 candidates on the ballot dividing the vote, it's a pretty safe bet (even in Chicago) that not one candidate can achieve 50% plus one vote. Mr. Galvan predicts a high voter turnout based on the likelihood that many Chicagoans know or are at least familiar with one of the candidates. Me? I know Bob Fioretti, who was the beloved and respected Alderman of the 2nd Ward until, in his words, he was 'mapped out.' The Chicago Ward boundaries were re-drawn and the 2nd Ward as we knew it was dissolved. Yes, they can legally do that.
Before Alderman Ed Burke was charged with attempted extortion, Susana Mendoza seemed to be a formidable competitor having what Mr. Galvan described as a strong 'likeability' factor;. She did, until the playful video was leaked describing her Mayoral bid before she officially announced it. Then, of course, there's the fact that her wedding was held at Alderman Burke's home showing that they were pretty chummy. She continues to attempt to distance herself from the Burke connection. Willie Wilson turned out to be a surprisingly strong contender and remained in the game when it seemed unlikely he would be able to meet the mountain of requirements a candidate must meet including obtaining 12,500 verified signatures. Mr. Galvan notes, it's not easy to become a millionaire by your own means. It requires a sense of urgency and the ability to work hard. Mr. Wilson clearly has both qualities. I walk away from this Mayoral election with a deepened respect for Willie Wilson.
Could we really get another Daley in the Mayoral office? A possibility that seemed unfathomable six months ago is starting to seem to be a more likely possibility. Toni Preckwinkle's Pop Tax was pretty unpopular . We all learned, right along with the Cook County Board President, that Chicagoans can be pretty passionate about their pop.
The fact that we have only 14 candidates might seem a little light. Not to worry if you don't feel you have enough choices, a full list of eligible write-ins will be released on election day.
Hang tight. As we all know, anything can happen in Chicago.
I, of course, found out the hard way. I withdrew $60, received $20 and a receipt showing I withdrew $80. There was an error message on the screen. Not sure what to do, I left my chip enabled card in the ATM machine while I frenetically, fumbled for my phone and snapped a photo. I then grabbed the $20. Incredulous, thinking "how am I going to prove I didn't really get $60?" I walked into the bank branch.
The bank manager, who was not the regular manager but filling in for the day, was not concerned. She explained to me that the machine was "probably out of money." She said she would file a claim and that my $40. would be returned in 10 business days. Wouldn't it have been great if she just pulled $40. from the drawer and gave it to me? Apparently that was not an option. She explained that when the daily transactions were reconciled that the machine would be off by $40. My claim would be validated and I would get my money back. Fair enough.
I further researched what to do should this occur again. Seems what I did was a pretty good process. However, there might be an 800 number on the ATM machine that you can grab. You can also call your card issuer and your bank. The claims and reconciliation process is the same. Lastly consumers are protected by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act of 1978 known as Regulation E. Big relief. Be careful, though, because the regulation only applies to consumers. It does not protect business accounts. If you have a small-business account, you'll likely still benefit from the claim. However, if your claim is unresolved, you will not have the benefit of federal protection. If your record keeping is not stellar, you risk taking a loss.
Alicia Dale is a strategic thinking Creative that understands the power of words to influence, change and build new infrastructures. This Blog is to capture ideas that have no where else to go at this very moment. Who knows how they will be developed? Or where they will go? For now they are sparkles of light easily stored where I can search and find them when they call my name again.