Archives for posts with tag: diversity


Tonight, catching up with Perfect Duluth Day, a link takes me to The Way North series from the New York Times.  Damien Cave and Todd Heisler travel I-35 from Laredo TX to Duluth MN.

Day 37 of their travels brings them to my hometown.  Mayor Don Ness describes “A Missing Piece” –

… he often hears that one of the city’s drawbacks is its homogeneity. Those with experience in other parts of the country have come to expect a mix of ethnicities and cultures, he said over dinner and beers at a neighborhood restaurant where the only sign of international flair was the hummus on the menu. In his view, and especially of those Duluthians who moved elsewhere for college or work, diversity and the conflicts and benefits that immigrants bring with them are an expected norm — an integral part of what defines the contemporary American city.

“A lot of them, they’ll come back and say that’s a missing piece,” Mr. Ness said.

I agree.  On return trips, after decades of living in Chicago, Detroit and now St Louis, Duluth seems really white.  And I feel out of place.  It is a strange feeling to return to one’s home and not fit in.  I don’t.

Am I a missing piece?

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My alma mater. What a great looking high school.


We are liking our Sunday mornings when in town. We drive from suburban West County, east on I-64 (US 40 if you are that way about it), cross the Mississippi into Illinois, stick with 64 as it veers east, taking us to the St Clair exit into East St Louis.

We are Soldiers of the Salvation Army corps in East St Louis.

Our corps officer is Lieutenant AJ Zachery.  He is the Sunday morning preacher for a small gathering of mostly young people who have found church at Salvation Army.

We meet in a Salvation Army building built in 1960 –  East St Louis corps building plaque

Back then they called it a citadel.  War, yes, but more of a quick-get-in-here place of safety.  The way things are these days in East St Louis …

A few of our colleagues and peers understand our choosing this small corps in a rough place as our place.  To worship.  But most everyone else, they don’t.

For us such places have a gritty charm.   Next door to the corps building –

Way Bigga Burger


Way Bigga Burger 2



Way Bigga Burger 4Sometime in the next few weeks we will begin having a shorter commute.  Instead of driving from somewhere close to the Missouri River in west St Louis County, our trip to church will originate from the city of St Louis.  Our new living quarters will mean a 5 minute trip to work instead of 30, 45 or more.  It will mean that we once again become city dwellers instead of suburbanites.  Living in a place of density and diversity.  Where we will move from is not.

Some understand why.  Others don’t.

Gail and I enjoyed hearing Richard Twiss give his presentations at the 2011 CCDA conference in Indianapolis.  I felt some kinship, at a shy distance.  Same age.  Four children.  Conversion the same year.  And many times feeling the odd man out in terms of being part of a Christian culture and community that too often makes it clear that my background is different from theirs.Richard_Twiss 3

Richard died in DC earlier this month while there to participate in the National Prayer Breakfast.  Here’s a video at the Huffington Post, “Operating Out of Perception”.  I think you’ll pick up something of Richard’s way of getting us to think.  So that maybe we would change?

Today was a good day for a bowl of wonton soup at Penny’s Noodle Shop in Lakeview.

Penny’s is a little shop wedged on the corner of Roscoe and Sheffield underneath the Brown Line. It has been one of our favorites since the 90s, and of the five Chicagoland locations this one is best.  The CTA rattles overhead.  The artwork inside, the kitchen at work right there in front of you, even the radio station music all contribute to making it in my opinion a comfortable and comforting spot.  Especially today.  It’s finally beginning to feel like winter in Chicago.

I barely needed to order the soup.  ‘Need a menu?’  The waitress knows me and knows that I am likely to order the wonton soup, with noodles, in cold weather.  Summertime, I tend to get the chilled Sesame Beef Noodle. 

I order noodles as an extra to fill me up.  She did make one mistake:  she brought iced tea.  I know why.  That’s Gail’s beverage.  Me, just water.  She laughed at her error and glided away with the glass for the man sitting over there.  He expressed how much he was enjoying his noodles with a baritone belch.  He emptied the tea.

My soup arrives.  It is a five course meal in a bowl.  I began with the steaming broth, then moved to some of the vermicelli noodles.  Next, Chinese greens.  Now, a few pieces of the tender barbecued pork.  Then, the dumplings aka wontons.  They tend to be hottest so it’s wise to wait before tackling one of the four in the bowl.  Finally, alternating between all five, sometimes a morsel of greens with a slice of pork.  More broth.  Noodles.  Dumpling.  I am conducting a symphony.

The finale ends.  The bowl is empty.

The check:  $7.15.

Years ago friends told us we were spoiled.   Pizza Hut will work, they said, when you don’t have the kind of choices a city like Chicago offers.  Chicago pizza is legend, there’s a lot of it, and almost always it’s wonderful.  I’ve enjoyed Pizza Hut, too.  But eating in the city with all its diversity and many choices is great.  One of the perks of being in an urban place.


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