Monday, November 23, 2009

Children of City Water, Light, and Power

After Parent-Teacher Conferences, most of my colleagues spent the next day in Institute Day meetings. But I, along with Mr. "LawDawg" Lawler, headed downstate to our State Capital, Springfield, Illinois for a conference on educational technology. The hotel hosting the conference featured the tagline, "The Place to Meet". When I explored the hotel website, I noticed that all of the building photographs, save one, featured interior shots of the facility. I didn't think to wonder to why.

When I arrived late at night after conferences, I used a provided "chip-clip" to tightly seal the curtains of my $85 "executive suite", and set my alarm for an early wakeup. When I awoke the next morning, I threw open the curtains to see this image, which I captured with my phone. (Click on the photo for a larger image)

I guess I was a little shocked and wanted to share this experience. Using "The Facebook", I posted the photo and got the following response from my cousin:
Cleo P
That's where I was raised. My father worked for the state.
Yesterday at 7:46am
Spiro Bolos
Cough cough -- sorry, Cousin!
Yesterday at 7:55am
Cleo P
Yes, everyone left as soon as they hit 18.
Yesterday at 8:13am
That last statement really hit me hard. It made me start to wonder about the life we provide for our own children and the choices we make toward that end. Certainly, I have made decisions about where to live based upon the welfare of my children, but it's undeniable that what I do for a living and where I work has also forced these choices. Talk to your parents. What sorts of choices did they make for you and why? What are the implications of those choices, either positive or negative?

Want to learn more about these structures in Springfield? The City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) smokestacks are the three tallest structures in our state capital, built originally in the 1960s, and may stand for another forty years,


Nathan said...

I'm surprised to find out that Sringfield has such a pollution problem, but thats another discussion to be had. In respect to the question you posed, my parents made a few big choices for me. I was born in another country and my parents chose to move me to the states for better schools. I lived in the city for some time and then was moved to the north shore for the same reason. I would say that this impacted me positivly, as I think the education I am getting at NT is among the best available.

Katie O. said...

I think the biggest decision my mom made for me was similar to Nathan's. My mom decided to move us both from Scotsdale Arizona to Wilmette. She made this choice so that we would be closer to my family and have a better education than the one in Arizona. I think this choice was a great one because if i hadn't moved here, I wouldn't have as great a relationship with my family and we wouldn't be able to spend every holiday with them like we can now.

Molly Hunt said...

Like Katie and Nathan, my parents moved our family because of schools. My brothers grew up a few blocks from where I live now, but then my dad's job took them to california. I was born in california, but my parents moved us back here when I was two. My mom taught in the schools there and felt that we would be better off here. Personally, I think it's positive too, because I have wonderful friends and have great opportunities here. I don't know if I would be a totally different person if I grew up in California, but I certainly have different life experiences.

DPark said...

My mom and dad decided to move from a Chicago apartment to Buffalo Grove to settle down, since we had three kids at that time. It was our first suburban home, in a pretty good school district. The educational aspect of it was an overall positive one.
About four years later, my parents made a real estate investment that moved us over to Northfield. After we moved, I realized that my parents moved us to an even better educational environment, a more well-funded, competitive, and prestigious one. Like every "move" I lost contact with old friends but quickly made new ones. I realize that the education here is more suited for my family than Buffalo Grove.

Caroline C said...

Both my sister and I have lived in the New Trier school district our whole lives. My parents moved out of their Evanston apartment and into the suburbs before either of us was born. They knew they wanted to start a family, and what better way to move here. My mom grew up in Northbrook and attended GBN high school. I've always wondered why she and my father did not move back to Northbrook. I asked her and she said because of the school system. I can't help but wonder how different two school systems can be only 15 minutes away from eachother. Is New Trier that much better? Overall, I think my parents wanted what was best for us, and I am very grateful.

Anna.S said...

Like a lot of people, I'm here for the schools. As my mom un-subtley points out at times, if it hadn't been for me, the fourth and unexpected child, we'd be living in the city, in a nice house on Fremont St. But here I am, here we are. Winnetka, where I grew up, doesn't really have pollution, but in big cities its very obvious. Spending time in the four corners area has made it clear how "gross" pollution is. You should be able to see the mountains hundreds of miles away-- the sky is bright blue and sunny, but you can't. Pollution.
The first thing I thought of when I saw your photo, Mr. Bolos, was Ew. That's disgusting. This photograph is so repulsive to me. Its so clearly a problem, so why are people prideful that they are the tallest structures? And please tell me someone will take them down before those forty years are up.

Zoe C. said...

I don't think my parents came here necessarily for the schools. Obviously that's a bonus, but my mom grew up in Glencoe and we live down the street from where she grew up. Every time I walk my dog I pass by the house she lived in as a kid. My dad grew up in a very small town in Michigan, so I think my parents decided to move here because the area is nicer, than where my dad grew up, but it's still close enough that it's only a few hours drive to his family.I'm thankful my parents made the choices they did because I have had one of the best educations in the country, but I can't say that I will end up here later in life. But I'm very grateful for the upbringing they have given me.

Sarah. said...

If I read this post with a narrow perspective, only comparing the Chicago skyline to that of Springfield's, I would definitely say that those in Springfield have the shorter end of the stick. In a world where aesthetics do provide much premature judgement I say, yes, the CWLP smokestacks are tall, but we have the beautiful bustling city and the lake. We have the schools, the nice area. So what if Chicago is not the capital? We are happier.

Luckily, I've been able to look back at my parents past and assessed this photo in a different way. My dad moved to Chicago in hopes of becoming a doctor. He didn't know what the North Shore was and he probably didn't know much about Springfield's tallest structures. He knew only one thing; that wherever he ended up, it would be better. Better in the sense that he has more opportunities, in that he can live the "American Dream". So, yeah, maybe we hate the sight of these smokestacks. But I'm sure that a myriad of people around the world look at them with awe. Not because they're beautiful, not because they promise success, but because they represent a choice that will lead to many choices that will lead to others. The best choice for them.