If I read the article on Liberty Bank closing correctly, the branch in North Lawndale had 10 times more in deposits than the Forest Park branch, and the North Lawndale branch was closed due to “underutilization” while the Forest Park branch remains open. The North Lawndale branch will retain its ATM service, and the bank will focus more on online banking, acknowledging that its customers are not so tech-savvy.

I remember doing a study on the lack of banking services in North Lawndale when I was in business school (in the late 1980’s), and the situation seems worse now than it was then, unfortunately. It seems that, regardless of ownership, banks prefer to plant ATM’s in North Lawndale, while offering full services in other locations. They are effectively investing the community’s deposits in other communities, which does not bode well for North Lawndale’s consumers or local businesses.

North Lawndale could benefit from an economic development strategy that will include capacity-building to raise the earning potential of local residents while helping local businesses to move towards long term sustainability. 

This will necessarily include the creation of a community-controlled financial institution and an economic development agency with the capacity to engage in micro-lending and incubate small businesses through multiple growth stages. 

A lot easier said than done, given the plethora of other community issues, but doable, assuming investors will take the long view, and the community responds appropriately.

Valerie Leonard, North Lawndale 

Be the gorilla! 

“The Invisible Gorilla is a book published in 2010, co-authored by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. The title of this book refers to an earlier research project by Chabris and Simons revealing that people who are focused on one thing can easily overlook something else. To demonstrate this effect, they created a video where students pass a basketball between themselves. Viewers who were asked to count the number of times the players with the white shirts pass the ball often fail to notice a person in a gorilla suit who appears in the center of the image.” (Wikipedia)

The media’s speculation on who’s running for mayor is the ball being passed back and forth. The voters are the viewers. The gorilla is the backroom dealings between the major candidates and the minor candidates who are carving up jobs, contracts and resources.

Additional gorillas are the various political action committees potentially aligning with or against certain mayoral candidates.

Unfortunately, most voters have been conditioned to focus on watching the ball being passed rather than the gorilla.

The community and likeminded community organizations need to view the upcoming election for mayor as an opportunity to be the gorilla. While the candidates are jockeying for attention, we need to organize among ourselves to create an agenda for the mayoral candidates to align with, rather than aligning ourselves to their agenda. 

The community’s agenda must have specific demands, timelines, detailed actions and an allocation of resources from any proposed budgets.

In my opinion, investment in education, job training and programs, behavioral health,  and affordable housing are immediate priorities.

The corporate billionaires have been in control long enough. We must become the GORILLA!

Dwayne Truss, candidate for 29th Ward Alderman 

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com