Unfortunately, recently another young man lost his life, a student of Oak Park River Forest High, before his 17th birthday. The Community actually came together and at a vigil in Scoville Park celebrated his life.
The weird thing about it was when I heard about this on the Channel five news to me, it seemed that as it was reported was that this young man died in this far away land, somewhere he and other young people should not venture to. This land of Austin, the Austin neighborhood where I grew up, is not far away at all, in fact it borders Oak Park, IL in other words it is, literally RIGHT across the street, the street named… Austin avenue.
Decades ago, to stop the “stem” of crime from the Austin area Oak Park, build cul de sacs to deter the bad elements from simply driving across Austin into Oak Park, IL. Now, there have been a few debates how effective this is, but it does not trump the point that there is some mythical belief that these simple barriers eliminate the dangers of crime and danger from The Oak Park, IL area.
Instead of residents actually realizing that this area, the Austin neighborhood, is literally next door, and trying to live up to their hype as an upright community and help this ailing area. The idea being perpetrated is that it is a problem for “over there” that Chicago’s issues do not affect Oak Park, IL. Where this young man’s death shows otherwise, one could only hope that this starts the conservation or action amongst Oak Park, Il residents to see how they could invest into the Austin area to either help combat crime and/or poverty found in this area.
Again, many would say “why bother?” because invisible make believe borders do not guarantee safety as we have seen, time and time again, in the news regarding terrorist attacks. If we gather and apply the same amount of resources to the crime upon the neighboring streets of the Austin community, we might be able to save a few lives and possibly make Oak Park, Il live up to its hype.
Instead of making this young man a statistic and simply thinking that “he shouldn’t have been there in the first place” Oak Park, IL could use this as the catalyst to create a partnership with this neighborhood, much like they do with River Forest, and helps their neighbors as good neighbors should. But I doubt Oak Park, Il will dare to venture across the street, to help anyone out, even their own.