A Multitude of Thanks

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By Rob Breymaier

Executive Director, Oak Park Regional Housing Center

It's that time of year when we ask ourselves, "What am I thankful for?" and hope to answer with something meaningful. Let us know what you're thankful for as well.

For starters, I am thankful to be living in Oak Park. After 6 years of working here and 5 years of calling Oak Park home, I honestly cannot think of another place I would rather live. There was a time when I missed the faster action of living in the city. There are moments when I dream about a quiet place in the mountains. But there is nowhere else I would want to live my day-to-day life.

In some sense, this is because Oak Park really does provide the best of city energy along with the best of a village atmosphere. Sure, there are some holes in the tapestry. We'd all like better restaurant variety. And, I'd really like to see the Arts District get filled in so I could walk to even more shops and services. But, overall, living here feels great.

Like many Oak Parkers, I suspect that feeling stems from my conviction that I live on the best block in the village. Just about everyone I know says the same thing to me and they all have a pretty convincing argument. On our block, I think I'm most grateful for the spontaneity. The daily interaction we have with our neighbors, whether it be walking our kids to school, working in our yards, or impromptu "stooping" on an unseasonably warm day make our lives richer and, frankly, more fun. There are many days where, unplanned, I run into a neighbor and find myself in conversation far longer than I expected. Put simply, I happen to live among really good people.

Those good people are at the heart of most of my reasons to be thankful.

I'm thankful for Irving School and the amazing community it includes. We have not only a top-notch school but also a place where community is lived out to the fullest. I'm so happy that my son is having the experience of learning and growing up at Irving. I'm grateful that the classes he's been part of look like the wider world.

I'm thankful for SEOPCO and all the work they do for our neighborhood. It's a lot more than Barrie Fest.

I'm thankful for the many voices that speak up in the community. I don't agree with all of them but I am glad that we feel free to express ourselves. When it stays honest, constructive, and respectful the dialogue in this community almost always results in making things better.

And, of course, I'm thankful for living in a community that is committed to diversity, tolerance, and equity. It's wonderful to know that the convictions I hold dear are similar to the convictions of the community that surrounds me.

Cheers! Here's to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all!

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