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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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Daley Golfing in Blue Pants, in an Alley off Damen South of Belmont

Yes, Mr. President, I'm There With You.

This is the most compelling campaign email I have received in a long, long time. It made me cry, and the upcoming municipal election is why.

Subject: Daniel, I need you in the game

Daniel --

I come into this election with clear eyes.

I am proud of all we have achieved together, but I am mindful of all that remains to be done.

I know some out there are frustrated by the pace of our progress. I want you to know I'm frustrated, too.

But with so much riding on the outcome of this election, I need everyone to get in this game.

Neither one of us is here because we thought it would be easy. Making change is hard. It's what we've said from the beginning. And we've got the lumps to show for it.

The fight this fall is as critical as any this movement has taken on together. And if we are serious about change, we need to fight as hard as we ever have.

The very special interests who have stood in the way of change at every turn want to put their conservative allies in control of Congress. And they're doing it with the help of billionaires and corporate special interests underwriting shadowy campaign ads.

If they succeed, they will not stop at making our work more difficult -- they will do their best to undo what you and I fought so hard to achieve.

There is no better time for you to start fighting back -- a fellow grassroots supporter has promised to match, dollar for dollar, whatever you can chip in today.

Please donate $5 -- and see who wants you to re-commit to this movement.

I know that sometimes it feels like we've come a long way from the hope and excitement of the inauguration, with its "Hope" posters and historic crowds on the National Mall.

I will never forget it. But it was never why we picked up this fight.

I didn't run for president because I wanted to do what would make me popular. And you didn't help elect me so I could read the polls and calculate how to keep myself in office.

You and I are in this because we believe in a simple idea -- that each and every one of us, working together, has the power to move this country forward. We believed that this was the moment to solve the challenges that the country had ignored for far too long.

That change happens only from the bottom up. That change happens only because of you.

So I need you to fight for it over the next 26 days. I need your time. I need your commitment. And I need your help to get your friends and neighbors involved.

If you bring in a new donor today, your $5 donation will become $10. And our Vote 2010 campaign will have twice the resources to make important investments like putting staff on the ground, providing materials for volunteers, and turning out millions of voters come Election Day.

Please donate $5 -- and renew your commitment today:


If we meet this test -- if you, like me, believe that change is not a spectator sport -- we will not just win this election. In the years that come, we can realize the change we are seeking -- and reclaim the American dream for this generation.

Thank you for being a part of it,

President Barack Obama

This is the President of the United States. I gave him some money today, and I'm glad. Now let's do the same thing in Chicago.

Nudging Toward an Open Chicago

Here's a thoughtful post from Gapers Block political writer Ramsin Canon: "Modeling an Open Chicago: Taking The City Back". Key passage:

Forget "the Washington coalition" as an electoral strategy. It was a moment in time. If Chicagoans truly want to take our city back, we need to forget electoral strategy altogether. An Open Chicago doesn't mean "It's Our Turn." It means making sure we never need another Washington moment again.

He pokes at what might help get us there. Groups of solid citizens that have formed to solve specific problems or jab at large indecencies:

It may well be that the tools are already there. Institutions like local school councils (LSCs) and park Local Advisory Councils (LACs), and the potential for TIF advisory boards could form the cornerstone of placing development and economic policy creation to the neighborhood level. There's no easy answer, obviously, nor does the answer necessarily live somewhere waiting to be found.

He doesn't have the answers. And this is just the first in a series of posts toward figuring it out.

But personalities are making announcements and shaking hands and hiring strategists and going on (g)listening tours. And making phone calls and cutting deals to freeze out whole sections of the city like they're meat.

It feels like those crisp cold days of December 2008 the Feds seized Blagojevic out of Ravenswood, when we sat back in glee and wonder what the political class would do next. Will the Senate impeach him? Will Jesse White sign the document?

And all the while, all we had to do was surround his house with a couple hundred people to stop him from going to work. A few hours of chanting, a couple tough moments of arm-locking when he tried to leave. Stand up for ourselves. Have enough innate dignity to deny him a ride to work.

But we didn't. I didn't. And I've been mildy ashamed of that since then. As he clowned around the national media and made us the fool.

And later, a good man, my friend and former client David Hoffman, couldn't gain enough traction among the outraged to keep ethics-challenged Alexi Giannoulias from winning the Democratic nomination for US Senate. We just couldn't catch him.

And now strongman Rahm comes out to listen. Gratefully, people came out to give him shit:

Johnson introduced Emanuel to Bill Bradshaw, 48, and pulled the collar of Bradshaw’s shirt back to reveal a bullet wound in Bradshaw’s right shoulder.

“This is what’s happening when you don’t send any of those federal funds to this neighborhood,” Johnson told Emanuel. “Welcome to Chicago!”

The men with the banner shouted through much of Emanuel’s conversation and followed him outside but Emanuel still managed a few productive conversations with diners, including 21st Ward aldermanic candidate Sylvia Jones.

This is where I want to live. With the messy and the unorganized. Uncomfortable and freelance, with people I don't know yet, figuring out where we're going, and how.

But it feels like we're pressed for time, because the organized and the monied are moving in their methodical, rote ways. I may join one of them someday, if I hear what I want to hear or I get pinned in by election calendars; seduced by the doable. I want to be a better person than that, a better Chicagoan, but I might not be.

But right now I'm with Ramsin. Fuck electoral strategy. Let's roll.

Chicago Mural in McDonalds - Wabash & Adams

EveryBlock + David Schalliol

Wall of Isolation, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

At the Ravenswood Art Walk, Saturday, October 2, 2010.

Come by tomorrow, Sunday, October 3, from 11 - 5 at EveryBlock offices to buy awesome art from Schalliol and other RAW artists!


Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


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    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.