Free, Local News, Opinion

The Weeks | Feb. 5: A cheerful yellow magnetic vote for sane driving

THE WEEK >

Getting involved in local government will be easy this week. There are five meetings to choose from (a sixth will mainly be in closed session.)

Flossmoor Board of Trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, in the board room at village hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road. 

Homewood School District Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, in the James Hart Media Center, 18220 Morgan St., in Homewood.

  • The agenda is here.
  • Highlights: The board will meet in closed session to consider a student discipline matter. In open session, the board will consider approving the 2023-24 school calendar and the purchase of kitchen freezers for Churchill and Willow schools.

Homewood Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the board room at village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road. The board regular board meeting scheduled for Feb. 14 has been canceled.

  • The agenda is here.
  • Write to the board by sending email to [email protected] or by placing written comments in the drop box outside village hall. Comments submitted before 4 p.m. on the meeting date will be distributed to all village board members prior to the meeting.
  • Attend the meeting virtually using ID 980 4907 6232 and passcode 83018 or call 312-626-6799.

Flossmoor School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, to consider student discipline cases, including six proposed expulsions and one suspension. The board will meet in closed session.

Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Board of Commissioners will hold a committee meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in Irwin Community Center, 18120 Highland Ave. in Homewood.

Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

  • The agenda is here.
  • Attend the meeting virtually using ID 991 8481 1606 and passcode 573812.
  • Highlights: The commission will continue work on topics that need further attention following the comprehensive zoning code update. First up with be discussion about clarifying definitions and application of personal services, salons and spa, and massage therapy uses. 

< THE WEEK

Churchill student injured
A student suffered a serious injury when he was stabbed with a pencil by another student. The victim’s mother is seeking answers and assurances from District 153 officials that steps will be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Artist spotlight
Reporter Nick Ulanowski wrote a feature on Flossmoor artist Nico Martinez, whose work captures village landmarks. Martinez is autistic and said art helps him express himself in ways words cannot.

Nico Martinez with a piece of artwork he made that was commissioned by Dunning’s Market in 2019. (Provided Photo)
Nico Martinez with a piece of artwork he made that was commissioned by Dunning’s Market in 2019. (Provided Photo)

H-F athletes sign with colleges
Feb. 1 was national signing day, and seven Homewood-Flossmoor High School student athletes, including five football players, committed to play college sports. Thanks to David P. Funk for getting the story.

Nine Homewood-Flossmoor High School athletes signed letters of intent to play college sports on Feb. 1. (David P. Funk/H-F Chronicle)
Nine Homewood-Flossmoor High School athletes signed letters of intent to play college sports on Feb. 1. (David P. Funk/H-F Chronicle)

Native plant sale
Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve (HIWP) and Thorn Creek Audubon Society (TCAS) are taking orders for native plants. The deadline to pre-order is March 1. The two groups are offering 37 different plant species, including trees, shrubs, flowers and ornamental grasses. Plants are chosen to represent different colors, textures, sun exposures and bloom times. All are native to Illinois.

Southland Committee meets in Flossmoor
The Southland Committee of the Nordson Green Earth Foundation met Jan. 28 at Wiley’s Grill to continue working on plans for green projects in the South Suburbs. Several local environmental groups are participating in the foundation’s planning. Chronicle reporter Nuha Abdessalam was there to keep us in the loop.

DEMOCRACY WATCH

Homewood Pace Car program
I’m all in on the Homewood traffic calming effort. To become a Pace Car, all you have to do is sign a pledge to drive like a responsible citizen rather than like a “Fast & Furious” movie stunt driver, then pay $2 and you get a Pace Car magnet.

I have three.

It was an easy call for me, since when I’m forced to drive, I get around in a little Chevy Spark that was built not built for speed, so the crazy careening lifestyle isn’t happening anyway.

I do get a certain amount of satisfaction from driving exactly the speed limit, while other drivers roar up behind me, frustration vibes almost visibly emanating from their vehicles, roar around me, zoom ahead and have to sit there along side me at the next stop light with no measurable gain for their exhilarating acceleration.

I also get a sliver of satisfaction from participating in this attempt to shift the driving culture in our area. I know the immediate reaction on social media when the Pace Car program was launched in December was skepticism (and not a little scoffing). I get that. This cheery little yello  magnet, and even multiplied by three, it is not going to magically convince inconsiderate, dangerous drivers to suddenly become safe, considerate drivers.

It’s bright, but it won’t make people see the light.

I think of the magnets as a bit part in a larger effort to change the narrative drivers have in their heads. Driving fast and furious has been elevated in our culture by the stories we experience in the videosphere. It’s hard to find an action movie without a chase scene, and heroes always outdrive villains, usually leaving a trail of wreckage. There’s money to be made by glorifying a disregard for the safety of everyone else in the vicinity.

Changing that story is a big project. It might be similar to the project of combatting smoking.

That was an effort that began in the mid-1960s after the U.S. Surgeon General’s report naming smoking as a health hazard. It took new laws, lawsuits and endless public service messages over more than half a century to significantly dent our smoking habits, but smoking did finally decline significantly, from 41% of the population in 1965 to 14% in 2019

The changes in the lane structure on 183rd Street (if Homewood gets a grant to pay for it) will help. The Pace Car magnets will help, a bit. Police issuing tickets will help. Anything we can do to convince others that bad driving is not cool will help. No one thing will solve the problem. And the problem won’t be solved quickly. 

But if we can deal with smoking, we can deal with reckless driving.

Two of the three Pace Car program magnets on the writer’s car. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name
Most read stories this week

Community Calendar