In regards to "Frugal to a Fault," which appeared in the July 27 issue (Section One), regarding Jennifer Liu and the Holstein Park employees, the Reader seems to have gotten swept into a hysteria which I don't fully understand. First of all, as a board member of the Bucktown Fine Arts Organization, attempts by others in the community to persuade me to become not only vocal but enraged by this issue have caused me, I'm afraid, to shrug my shoulders. The main statement of objection seems to be, "How could the Park District 'accept' Jennifer Liu's resignation?" Hey, I'm sorry, when somebody quits they quit--end of story. Even if it is true that Liu couldn't afford to stay part-time, it was the actual act of her leaving that secured the fate of the theater workshops.
In all fairness, I'd like to remark that the Chicago Park District, particularly in Bucktown, has been overly cooperative with me on several artistic projects. Though I am not a paid employee, I have requested permission to use Senior Citizens Memorial Park several times for major poetry events, and was not only given the green light, but they lent me their sound system to help make my events even better. As a matter of fact, a huge, unheard-of exception was made recently on my behalf: the park stayed open an extra four hours so that I could present my recent ChicagoPoetry.com Fest. I don't claim to know anything of their internal affairs, but by my own experiences, Holstein Park already supports the arts more than most parks in Chicago, and they need to be given credit for that.
Incidentally, as a construction worker, I lose a job about three times a year, and I know that shit happens. I also know that the best way to convince someone of the importance of your position does not involve resigning and then going on record with a scathing version of events. Besides, lack of money for the arts should be something we get enraged at George W. about. Since when do we crucify our neighbors?
The article did not seem fair to both sides. Its caption should have included the word "allegedly," when referring to allegations that the Park District is focusing "on the many at the expense of the few." I don't know of any other park in Chicago which even offers 20 hours of theater class to the public, and demanding a full-time position, but then crying wolf when it is not available, seems undiplomatic, to say the least.
Granted, I don't know the whole story, so it could be true that Ms. Liu was dealing with a bunch of park bullies. But Ben Joravsky's article certainly didn't convince me of that, and everyone seems to be crying over the spilled milk instead of wiping it up and pouring themselves another glass.
Bucktown Arts Fest