Neighborliness in a Time of Pandemic Panic, or, Calling Mr. Rogers
A friend of mine, Debra Shore, wrote a fantastic list of things to think about and do during this time of shut down. I am sharing it with you along with some of my suggestions. She has a friend who lives on the West Coast that posted the most wonderful thing to Facebook yesterday. She had written notes to her neighbors to say, in effect, “We’re here. Call if you need us. You’re not alone.” I was so touched by her gesture and I plan to do the same. What a lesson in how to be neighborly in this time of pandemic preparedness – and panic. Much better than standing in line for hours to buy water and toilet paper.

What can we do? A few suggestions follow.

  • Help others
  • Support health care workers. In the U.S., Direct Relief is delivering protective masks – along with exam gloves and isolation gowns – to health care organizations in areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases. 
  • Many colleges have set up special funds for students in need of assistance to get home, store their things, pay unexpected bills. Check with your alma mater.
  • Volunteer at a food pantry: bring food donations to one of the many serving families in need or serve as a delivery driver
  • Offer to get groceries or other goods (or pay to have them delivered) to an elderly neighbor
  • Clean up empty lots in our neighborhood
  • Contribute to The Bail Project, a revolving fund that provides bail to low-income people confined to jail solely because they don’t have cash to pay bail. Why pitch this now? Because our jails are like a giant cruise ship and if coronavirus spreads there, everyone will be stuck. The Bail Project evaluates prospects and works with people who have a support network outside of jail – families or loved ones to vouch for them and make sure these individuals appear in court. Since June, the Bail Project has assisted 407 people in Illinois to go home to their families. 

This project is not just a matter of criminal justice reform – though it is certainly that – but also now an urgent matter of reducing an imminent public health threat. (You can stipulate that your contribution should be applied to: The Bail Project Illinois only.) 
Checks should be made out to The Bail Project and mailed to:The Bail ProjectAttn: Development — Illinois sitePO Box 750 Venice, CA 90294
If you want to know more about this worthy project, contact Peter Hoyt at or (847) 274-1131.

  • Get outside and embrace nature
  • It’s still okay to go outside, just not in groups or close proximity to others. What better way to embrace the advent of spring than by taking a long walk in a nearby forest preserve? The forest preserves themselves are still open, as are the outdoor paths at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Do notice trillium or spring beauty emerging in the forest understory? At dusk, do you hear the woodcock’s mating flight and anxious peent….peent near the edge of an open meadow bordering oak woodlands? Can you discern high overhead the unique cry of sandhill cranes migrating north or in ponds nearby the insistent call of spring peepers and chorus frogs? Pope Francis has called Earth our common home – what better time to reconnect and remember how dear it is to us and we are to each other?
  • Save water
  • Join me in taking MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita’s Million Gallon Challenge to save a million gallons of water for World Water Day March 22nd. Sign up at

Even as we’re using more water washing our hands many times each day, there are plenty of ways to save water. 
Josina’s team will provide 20 challenges that only take minutes each to reduce your water footprint and save hundreds, even thousands, of gallons at a time. For example, eating salmon instead of steak for one meal saves 500 gallons of water. Buying one less pair of jeans a year saves 2,000 gallons of water. Replacing your pet’s wet food with dry food for one meal a day saves over 5,000 gallons of water a week. 
Author’s note: I don’t know why so many people are loading up on bottled water. It’s crazy! Tap water in the Chicago region is perfectly fine. If you’re worried, you can always boil waterP.S. Our water here in Bolingbrook comes from Chicago!

  • Read, listen, and ponder
  • Get a jumpstart on spring clean up, all around our community too
  • As I will be spending the next few weeks sheltering in place (and walking outside and seeking to be neighborly in a social distancing way), don’t forget our online library. One Drive and Hoopla are a part of our local Fountaindale Library, so even though they are closed you can still access their amazing selections. Just use your smart phone or tablet to download the apps.

Stay connected

I’m here for you — remotely, that is. Send me your questions about local County Government, Weber Road, Covid-19, whatever. Ill be here and do my best to answer.