Small Business Saturday

Horse-drawn carriage rides are a special treat on weekends this holiday season in Long Grove.

Horse-drawn carriage rides are a special treat on weekends this holiday season in Long Grove.

Yesterday was Small Business Saturday. My family participated by patronizing a few of the shops in our favorite small business shopping district–downtown Long Grove.┬áRoving carolers helped set a festive mood and fellow shoppers were enjoying the annual carriage rides around the crossroads, showcasing two great reasons to celebrate the season in the unique ambiance of our historic village. Check out below some of the many smiling faces that I encountered:

Judy, at the Long Grove Confectionery, who cheerfully wrapped my grab bag gift for the Bunco Party.

Judy, at the Long Grove Confectionery, who cheerfully wrapped my grab bag gift for the upcoming bunco party.

Matt, at Scout and Forge, who showed me some vintage treasures and recently became a new Dad!

Matt, at Scout and Forge, who showed me some vintage treasures and recently became a new Dad!

Rachel at Epilogue, who helped me pick out the perfect hostess gift to bring to the Holiday Party that evening.

Rachel, at Epilogue, who helped me pick out the perfect hostess gift to bring to the cocktail party that evening.

Marian, at Within Reach (on the left), who helped me select something adorable for my newborn grandson!

Marian, at Within Reach (on the left), who helped me select something adorable for my newborn grandson!

Mary, at the Long Grove Coffee Company, caught in a random act of kindness delivering Small Business Saturday balloons and a hot beverage to a fellow merchant.

Mary, at the Long Grove Coffee Company, caught in a random act of kindness delivering Small Business Saturday balloons and a hot beverage to a fellow merchant.

During this holiday season it’s easy to find reasons to support our local merchants. I’ll be back in the weeks ahead to dine and dance and shop with my Christmas list in hand. I encourage you to do the same!

The Mayor Stick

Village President of Kildeer, Nandia Black (on the left) and former Village President of Long Grove Angie Underwood on October 24, 2018, holding a Mayor Stick from Peru.

Village President of Kildeer Nandia Black (on the left) and former Village President of Long Grove Angie Underwood on October 24, 2018, holding a Mayor Stick from Peru.

While I was serving as Village President of Long Grove a friend humorously told me, “What you really need, Angie, is a magic wand.” Whichever issue of the moment I was expected to fix (the roads, the budget, the downtown, the bridge, the Rt. 53 extension, the flooding, the rogue trustee, the dead deer on the side of the road, etc…) could be so much more easily resolved if I only had the ability to flick my wrist, point my staff and make it so. Of course the reality is that the key to solving most problems in government involves a mixture of time, money, collaboration, compromise, and a process that must be followed. It does sometimes take a bit of magic to make this happen.

But to my surprise, I have discovered through my travels that there is at least one place in this world where the mayor of a village IS given a special stick. Peru, to be exact. While spending a few days in the town of Cusco, acclimating to the altitude before starting a trek to Macchu Pichu, my husband and I toured several historical sites and art galleries and I learned of the custom of the mayor stick. In ancient culture, the small mountain villages in the region surrounding Cusco depended on one another for trade and economic survival, as well as support in times of hardship. The Alcalde (mayor) of each village had a custom Palito (stick) which was handmade from chonta wood, a type of palm. These sticks were often traded or given to the mayors of neighboring villages during an annual celebration to encourage goodwill and prosperity. I absolutely loved this idea, and our tour guide was kind enough to find a store for me that sold these traditional mayor sticks.

Recently, I was able to gift a Peruvian palito to my friend and former colleague Nandia Black, who is serving as the mayor of our neighboring Village of Kildeer. Our towns have collaborated and supported each other in the past and we hope this continues for many more years to come. The exchange of mayor sticks took place over Mexican cuisine at the new Uncle Julio’s in Kildeer, and not on a mountain top in the Andes, but the sentiment of peacefulness and kindness remains the same. Maybe it’s not really a magic wand, but I’d like to think so.

Power of the Purse 2018

A table full of powerful and philanthropic women from Long Grove, Kildeer and Buffalo Grove  helped raise funds recently for early childhood literacy in Lake County.

A table full of powerful and philanthropic women from Long Grove, Kildeer and Buffalo Grove helped raise funds recently for early childhood literacy in Lake County.

On November 4th, Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove was the location once again for Power of the Purse, the major fundraiser of Women United. As a member of this women’s affinity group of United Way of Lake County, I was pleased to participate by donating a gift basket of items showcasing downtown Long Grove, and sponsoring a table of twelve local ladies of influence. Two of these ladies even happened to be the mayors of neighboring Kildeer and Buffalo Grove–talk about harnessing some female strength! Long Grove played another major role in this fundraiser, as the Primrose School of Long Grove partnered with Women United to be the Platinum sponsor of the event. Owner Jennifer Wierzchon is a member of Women United, and together with families from the school helped teach the students the value of philanthropy and helping others by raising over $3,000. towards early childhood literacy at a spring school fundraiser. Long Grove businesses, families and ladies all came together today to rally around a worthy cause: to ensure that children living in Lake County’s most vulnerable communities are prepared for kindergarten and ready to succeed.

Besides the important work of philanthropy and support, we did manage to enjoy some fun and friendship along the way. New purses were acquired, games played, prizes awarded, bling bestowed, and raffle winners announced. New books and educational toys were donated and a silent auction rounded out the day. The sold out crowd of 216 women raised a net total of $59,800 which will go directly to support early childhood literacy programs in North Chicago, Round Lake Beach, Waukegan and Zion. It was gratifying to play a small part in making this event successful again this year, and I was proud to see our community of Long Grove becoming even more involved this time around. Kudos, ladies, to a job well-done!

Julie Burger-Branham (on the left) and I show off our new purses that we won, and "bling rings" that glowed, but unfortunately did not win us any real bling!

Julie Burger-Branham (on the left) and I, having fun and showing off our winning new purses and “bling rings” that glowed, but unfortunately did not win us any real bling!

 

Wanted: Your Vote Today

Since I happen to be out of town on election day, I made sure to participate in early voting.

Since I happen to be gone from Long Grove on election day, I made sure to participate in early voting. Here is my sticker to prove it!

Regardless of how you feel about the various candidates and issues of the moment, I hope you will make some time to go to the polls today and cast your vote, if you haven’t already. I was flabbergasted to learn recently that someone I know well who is educated, hard-working, smart and sensible, is not planning to vote. This fellow citizen isn’t even registered. Knowing how hard the women who came generations before me fought to simply get the right to vote, I can’t imagine not exercising it. I read a quote yesterday from Captain “Sully” Sullenberger:

“This Election Day is a crucial opportunity to again demonstrate the best in each of us by doing our duty and voting for leaders who are committed to the values that will unite and protect us. Years from now, when our grandchildren learn about this critical time in our nation’s history, they may ask if we got involved, if we made our voices heard. I know what my answer will be. I hope yours will be a “yes.”

Wise words, indeed. Please vote!