International readers that will start reading, I do not fault you rather educate you on the beautiful people Chicago has to offer you.
When I speak of Chicago, one of the first things I share is how friendly and great the people are: hospitable, kind, generous, fun, educated, open minded, and the list goes on. In
life I 'm a living and breathing example as I had amazing friends growing up-all different types ages, cultures, and in the cities/suburbs. When you need directions, someone will help you. When you are standing in the middle of a festival, the couple next to you will look over an smile. You are at a bar and you can manage to speak with almost everyone feeling comfortable and welcome. The Cheers song was originally made in Chicago-ok not really, but it should or could have been.
Of course, some traveling out of Chicago for long periods I may not be the best judge. There should be an official study to test the non-verbal and verbal components of interaction overtime. Well this may or may not have happened, but from my analytic perspective-not much has changed. There is great unity and pride for Chicago sports, which creates many social opportunities. Evidently, people are socially interacting through culture, events, daily interaction, etc.
The Chicago friendly factor has been introduced to me in the writing scene. Attending storytelling, lit events, seminars, workshops-there are some truly accomplished, creative, educated, and incredible mind that are humble and so helpful. Sometimes it feels like the Chicago writers community is more supportive than friends and family(that is another post-a good one I promise!).
Saturday, I attended the Lit Fest in Downtown Chicago, which consists of 200 booksellers and 200 authors. You can read more....about all the festival details and authors in attendance. On this Saturday, at this event and all around the area- "Chicago was smiling." I ordered a tea from Starbucks and the order went wrong. She kindly fixed it and gave me a cookie. I declined and she insisted-that is Chicago! We ended up having a conversation for twenty minutes and laughing like old friends. Beautiful spirit asking for money on the corner-commenting on how beautiful the weather is and the spirit of God. I sat with him and had the mini-life session and next steps. He was a happy "homeless" man-dislike using these labels, but people must understand. Those on the street are social and want to get to know you in Chicago-stop by and say "hello."
There is no need to mention everything, but it was non-stop with publishers, authors, the staff at 7/11, the information desk, and the security guard in the conference. This guy was your typical depiction of a friendly black guy in Chicago named "Show Stopper" who offered to take me to the Signature room for some popcorn and fireworks on his bike-heart warming moment. The best was sampling popcorn and talking with a 17 year old boy who is a musician and a blonde girl who looks like 25 and has three children(Oh and Chicago is full of surprises too!). She advocates for Human Trafficking and just came from the "Justice Conference," which is another place where I should have been! She was just standing there up against the black fence listening to this boys' story with empathy and kindness. Her friend was sitting on the pavement with a few "homeless band members" sharing their stories with each other. These moment I just say "Yes" always the proud parent for people giving them praise for their good deeds. These girls were just being their "Chicago friendly self" and many Chicagoans behave in this same manner. My friends were "Chicago therapists" by socializing not career. It is just a place where people have a true feeling and caring for one another.
While I often have connections with all kinds of people, this was just not the case on Saturday, June 6 rather CHICAGO gets all the credit for this one. The connecting was happening all around me and it was truly fantastic for me to witness.
Thanks Chicago for positively contributing to my character allowing me to be helpful, empathetic, kind, understanding, and just plain social making friends all over the Chicagoland area.
Keep up the great work and I will continue to share the good news that my city is not a "dangerous, bad" place full of crime rather it is full of Welcoming social butterflies.....
Let's Fly Chicago!!!!