LETTERS: As a South Sider and a tour guide, I can’t wait for the Obama Center

SHARE LETTERS: As a South Sider and a tour guide, I can’t wait for the Obama Center

The most recent model of the proposed Obama Presidential Center. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

I moved to Chicago and bought a home in Hyde Park/Kenwood 30 years ago, in order to work at the University of Chicago as its centennial director, organizing events to celebrate the university’s first 100 years. I was dismayed to learn that the maps the city handed to tourists didn’t show the attractions on the South Side — the city’s southern boundary appeared to be Roosevelt Road. And, in trying to organize partnerships with the city’s other cultural institutions, I learned that many of them couldn’t imagine that their visitors would want to travel to the South Side.

Fortunately, those views have begun to shift, thanks in no small part to the election of President Barack Obama. Now, as a Chicago Greeter — a volunteer tour guide who offers visitors opportunities to explore the city — there are frequent requests, especially from foreign tourists, to visit Kenwood so they can see Obama’s house. Our tour may also include the Hyde Park Art Center; I tell them how the Art Center, in partnership with other local cultural organizations, works to promote the South Side as the “Culture Coast.”

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We then frequently make our way to the university’s campus, where those who love history, art and architecture, or parks and gardens can all find something of interest. When we walk along the Midway over to the Wooded Island in Jackson Park, I talk about Chicago’s long history of using park land for different purposes: as spaces to appreciate nature, as well as sites for entertainment and culture, as our museums in the park so richly demonstrate.

I can hardly wait to be able to take visitors to the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park! In keeping with our tradition of placing museums in parks, visitors will be able to view fascinating exhibits, gather together for events, and appreciate beautifully landscaped grounds that will enhance the park.

Kineret Jaffe, Hyde Park/Kenwood

Jeanne Ives’ mockery

State Rep. Jeanne Ives recently released a TV ad that depicts various groups — a transgender person, a young woman who supports legal abortion, and a Chicago teacher — in an unfavorable manner. Ives says we should not be offended by this ad. She asks, “What’s the big deal?”

Transgender and gay teens have the highest suicide rate among teenagers in the country. Ives’ ad could very well encourage further bullying of this group.

As a parent of an adopted child, I assume that my child’s birth mother made a very difficult decision as to whether to terminate her pregnancy or give birth. But Ives’ depicts such a young woman wearing a comical hat and expressing her “gratitude” to Gov. Bruce Rauner in a flippant manner. I was especially disgusted by this segment of the ad.

Ives says she wants to “protect pensions,” but her ad suggests she is not interested in protecting the pensions of hard-working Chicago Public School teachers who try to educate poor minority children in Chicago.

In 2016, I voted in the Republican primary. Next month, I will not be voting for Jeanne Ives.

Peter V. Grafner, Forest Glen

Jeanne Ives’ hard heart

In Jeanne Ives’ heart lies a serious lack of empathy for people struggling with the most personal of issues. Does she think that terminating a pregnancy or changing one’s gender is an easy choice? Does she think all immigrants are criminals? Does she not know the history of immigration laws in this nation? Does she think immigration is mainly a state issue? Her knowledge of pension reform also is seriously lacking. Does she know that the Illinois General Assembly has not fully paid into teachers’ pension funds for more than six decades?

If Ives has no empathy for people in pain or a depth of knowledge on complicated and long-standing issues, why would anyone vote for her?

Jan Goldberg, Riverside

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