Humboldt Park woman, sick of 'dibs,' shovels entire block #nodibs

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 01/09/2014, 03:56pm

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Sick of the “dibs” chairs marking shoveled-out parking spots on your street?

You could collect all the chairs in your neighborhood and sell them on Craigslist, like this North Side resident.

Or you could take the day off work to dig out your entire block.

That’s how self-described “West Side philanthropist” Jamie Lynn Ferguson, 29, of Humboldt Park spent her day Thursday. And she live-tweeted the whole thing.

“Good Morning! No one can park on my block unless they’ve called #dibs. I’m taking the day off to shovel us out,” she tweeted at about 9 a.m.

Ferguson came up with the idea to shovel out all the parking spots on her street Wednesday night, she said, after reading “all the stories about dibs and neighbors getting upset and fighting over spots,” she said.

“Forget about dibs, and I’ll just do it for you. I just think it’s a better way for us to live as a community: as people who look out for each other instead of fighting for spots.”

Ferguson’s neighbors are people who, “when we see each other in the summer, are nice and friendly,” she said.

Many are “elderly ladies,” like the woman across the street who ran outside, bundled up, to thank her. She told Ferguson she’d gotten sick while trying to shovel her own car out the day before.

She met five or six more neighbors while digging Thursday: The man next door who didn’t have a shovel, but talked her through Spot No. 4, a rehabber who’d rebuilt the front of his building, the 20-somethings who cheered, “Stay warm, ma’am.”

“I probably talked to about five or six people, some of whom came out and were like, ‘What are you doing?’ being it’s obvious I’m going up and down my street and these aren’t all my cars,” she said.

Ferguson also was inspired in part by her coworkers at a homeless shelter and after-school program in East Garfield Park, where, she said, “every day I see my coworkers, who do such amazing things.”

“It gives you a heart to do the same and help people.”

Her plan to dig out the block almost was ruined, she said, when she couldn’t find a shovel in her building’s maintenance closet. Luckily, she spotted one outside a neighbor’s home.

Her last task of the day will be to dig out that neighbor’s walkway, she said.

By 3 p.m., Ferguson already had dug out one side of her street: about 16 parking spots, she said. She estimated she probably had five or six more to go before she was finished.

“It’s been really cool,” she said.

“To me, it’s a simple thing to do for your neighbors, but the look of awe on their faces is so rewarding. They were like, ‘God bless you.’”

Sorry, Craigslist chair seller. We have a new hero.

Here are some of the highlights of Ferguson’s mission to free the dibs on her block: