Today is Day One for Me in launching this blog for my summer school class. Of my disparate interests, I love knitting/crocheting, reading, history, and volunteering in various communities. I constantly wonder at how individuals and society as a whole define community, and how that gives texture to our lives. One interesting lens through which to consider community is through the City of Chicago‘s Office of Tourism‘s 175 Days to Love Chicago project to celebrate the 175 years since Chicago’s founding. The Office provides scads of information on cultural, historical, and just plain fun events across cost, class, and interest spectrum for locals and visitors alike, which is unique for many tourism offices.This project kicked off on March 4, 2012, the actual anniversary of the 1837 incorporation, with the Chicago History Museum hosting a birthday party of sorts. Each day, the project highlights a different event, service, or specials. What has continually struck me is not only the wealth of information, but also who ends up on the site, and when and where, when it is a commercial venture or a smaller community-based cultural venture. For example, today’s selection is Kayak Chicago Fireworks Paddle, a commercial venture that takes advantage of the Navy Pier fireworks, which are privately sponsored, but clearly available to anyone with a view (including my favorite spot at Burnham Park’s Promontory Point in Hyde Park).
So what is this celebration? A good combination of public and private partnerships? Is it a good way to promote local businesses while still providing the citizenry a great portal to celebrate the city’s history? I don’t have an answer but as a Chicago resident without a car, and always seeking to find cheap or free things to do in the City, I appreciate the Office of Tourism’s centrality of information. I’m sure there’s some biases in there, but hey, when aren’t there?