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Thursday, May 6, 2004 11:23 pm

Grace about town 5-6-04

Judgement day

I want to thank all of you who sent me your ideas for improving our lovely city. Some were brief -- "Cut down on noise polluation" (I assume they added the extra "a" for effect) -- and some were mighty long and serious. Last week I mentioned the many complaints about other Springfieldians, but other ideas were positive.

I received more entries than I expected, so I'm only talking about a few this week. I did capture a few ideas on video, which you can watch at the end of my column at www.illinoistimes.com. Next week, maybe I'll get to some of the others. I've been busy, though, working on my one-woman show, GraceTalk #1. It's May 19 and 20 downtown at Stella Blue. Have you bought your ticket yet? It'd be a shame if you waited until the last minute and it was sold out.

Here's a study in contrasts. The most vitriolic letter said, "How to improve Springfield? Burn the whole thing down and start all over again. I hate Springfield. I have hated it since I was forced to move here after my parents divorced."

Ouch. Please, whoever you are, figure out some way, by hook or by crook, to get the hell out of town. Pronto. Life is way too short to be so miserable.

Luckily, that same day I heard from Curt Fox, who wrote, "One of the best things to happen to Springfield in the past year or so is the appearance of your column in the IT ... my idea for making Springfield a better place is to have your writing appear more than once a week!"

I love you, Curt. It's a brilliant idea, but I regret you can't win the prize because of all the backlash that would smack into me -- bitter accusations of self-promotion and so on. But I love you just the same.

Kevin, in Taylorville, sees a "disturbing trend among the people," the "lack of civic pride" in our community. "Our town needs to clean up its act!" was basically his message.

Brice, too, thinks the town needs cleaning. It seems pretty clean to me, but maybe I haven't been paying enough attention. Brice wants a program to make people aware of the benefits of walking. How about this: Hey, walking is good for you. Walk already.

The first runner-up (he gets to have the lunch if the grand-prize winner disappears) is Doug Mayol, also known as the Cardologist. Doug suggested a restaurant in the pavilion at Washington Park. He wrote, "That giant porch on that beautiful building in that beautiful park just screams to be dined upon."

Excellent idea, Doug! Short and to the point. Who can tell me how to make that happen?

Another cheerful entry -- I'll designate it second runner-up -- is from Kristin DiCenso. She gets to lunch for free if Doug decides to take a cruise and not come back.

Kristin is full of good ideas. The best one is that everybody should be CPR-certified. Kristen said they did this in Seattle; it not only taught everybody a valuable skill (yeah, I'd say lifesaving is high on the valuable-skills list, much more so than, say, knowing how to decorate cakes, one of my many skills that has never saved any lives) but also brought the community together and made it a safer place.

Kristin also wrote, "And just so I'm not being too negative, here are some really cool new additions to Springfield." She proceeds to list her boyfriend (he sounds great, and I'm somewhat bitter that she found him first, but I can deal with that) and a couple of other things.

She signed her entry, "Hope this list helps! Have a great weekend!" Thanks, Kristin!

Finally, the grand-prize winner (imagine the drum roll in your head):

It's Janet Ford. Janet thinks my mandatory-naptime idea is "a dream come true." And she says that when she lived in Arizona (the only state with no time change at all), life was much better because of it. So of course right away I'm crazy about Janet, because she loves my ideas.

It's not all about me, though. Here's her idea:

"I think that with the loads of people doing things downtown ... energizing snacks should be offered on street corners. Good granola, fresh fruit, cold cups of water or carrot juice -- this energy-replenishing fare would keep everyone's energy level up and their attitude smooth. There would be longer periods of doing things downtown if we could graze at will and not get cranky for lack of energy."

Janet loves snacking and napping. Perhaps she's my long-lost twin. She's thought up a good, positive way to make people more cheerful. Amen to that.

My heartiest congratulations, Janet! I look forward to our lunch.

Janet said she'd love to have lunch with me. She wrote, "I bet you get bigger appetizers than the regular customer." Sadly, Janet, this is not true. But we can order extra appetizers.

To see Grace's latest video click here.

Unable to view the video? Download Quicktime now!

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