Monday, June 9, 2014

Come back, grads! Come back to Chi

I found it amusing to learn that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is going about these days urging high school graduates not to give up on Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune reported about Emanuel speaking at three commencement ceremonies on Saturday, giving essentially the same message.

WHEN THOSE STUDENTS finish their education elsewhere, they ought to make sure to make a return trip to Chicago. Apply that education here. Make something of themselves in the Second City.

“You are our future,” Emanuel told one group of students, according to the newspaper. “We have a great future as long as you make Chicago home.”

What next? Will he be calling out for “Shane” to, “Come back!”

Although my guess is that Emanuel is far from the only political person who worries about the potential for brain drain causing problems for the future. I have heard too many instances of Michigan residents who, upon completing college, make a beehive right for Chicago.

THOSE WITH AN education and some special skills seem to think our metro area is a finer place to have a life than Detroit, or anywhere else in Michigan – a place many Chicagoans with some financial means use as a place for the summer cottage, of sorts.

Maybe Emanuel figures that Chicagoans with the same spirit of wanting to move up will make the same beehive for New York (except for those geeks who studied political science who will rush for the District of Columbia instead).

Although I just stumbled across New York Times story about the added cost of living in New York – to the point where many people who wish to live there just can’t swing it. Particularly if they also have significant financial debt that put themselves through college in the first place.

So where do lifelong New Yorkers with greater aspirations in life make a beehive to? Are they the ones who decide that they just have to live in Paris (if their education included any foreign language training) or London (if it didn’t)?

OR DO THE most sensible of those people realize how much nicer Chicago is in terms of being a place to actually live a life. Primarily for the fact that New York costs of living really do make Chicago out to be a financial bargain (unless you’re one of those people who thinks that slumming it is living anywhere outside of a penthouse apartment in the Trump Tower that sits on top of the foundation of the Sun-Times Building of old).
Am I alone in looking at Trump Tower and longing for what used to be?

Personally, I don’t think Emanuel has much to worry about. I believe many of those younger people who leave Chicago for a four- or five-year stretch (depending on how studious they are) will wind up returning.

I know I did. The only area college I applied to (Columbia College on Michigan Avenue) was purely my backup, and I quit thinking about the place once I learned I had options to experience life elsewhere for a few years.

Which was a smart move on my part. I got exposed to other people I never would have encountered here. While also having summer breaks to roam about the city and soak it in to the point where I couldn’t get in the car and drive back up Interstate 55 fast enough the day I graduated some 27 years ago.

EVEN WHEN I took work elsewhere (including a seven-year stretch in Springfield), I always have managed to come back to Chicago. The city just has a lure to bring people back.

And as for those who just aren’t latched by that lure? The ones who somehow decide that some place like Southern California is more attractive?

As far as I’m concerned, they can live in fear that the big earthquake will come along, and they will drop into the Pacific – a long way away from here where we'll enjoy the shores and beaches of Lake Michigan.


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