Happy Birthday, Long Grove!


(Note:  Earlier this year I wrote the following article for our Village newsletter, The Bridge. Following that publication, it was reprinted by our regional newspaper, The Daily Herald. Apologies to those of you who have read this before!)

On December 30th, our Village will be marking an anniversary as we celebrate 60 years since our incorporation in 1956. Prior to that time, this area had evolved from a rural commercial crossroads whose roots go back to about 1838. The idea to incorporate first surfaced when some residents in the early 50’s formed civic groups to represent zoning concerns, and soon the Lake County Clerk was petitioned to place a referendum question on the ballot. Former Village President Robert Parker Coffin (who served from 1959-1981) remembers that Long Grove was incorporated, “To protect it from being gobbled up by the surrounding communities which were in the early stage of increasingly vigorous expansion. We wanted to protect an environment and rural way of life that was fast disappearing around us. At the time (1956) Long Grove consisted mainly of dairy farms and residential estates. There were no subdivisions.”

The first Village Board of Trustees consisted of community members who were appointed informally to serve until the next election date in April. That election, a contested one, resulted in all of the previously appointed officials being duly elected. The trustees had been selected in an effort to represent every section of the new village, farmers and commuters. The first Village President was Guy Reed; the father of Barbara Turner and benefactor of what we enjoy today as Reed-Turner Woodland. In the beginning, the Village had no income for two years and everyone was a volunteer. The first full-time employee began on October 1, 1970. He was Superintendent Tony Berg, who carried out his duties from a basement office in the old creamery building. Our first Village Manager was hired soon afterwards. The early Village Board meetings were held in the Kildeer Countryside School cafeteria, which provided a small office for the Village Manager to use. Official village records were stored in the homes of elected officials.

Well, times have changed since those early days. We eventually acquired a Village Hall in 1977 after the old Drexler Tavern had been saved and moved to where it is now, adding a proper meeting room. Today Long Grove has one part time and four full time employees who work out of that same building, serving approx. 8,500 residents in 60 different subdivisions and neighborhoods. Our Village has grown to encompass roughly 18 square miles, which includes approx. 3,000 acres of protected, dedicated open space.

From our humble beginnings sixty years ago…Happy Birthday, Long Grove!

Give and Take

One of the "Givers" in our community is Joe Barry, shown here on February 9, 2016 accepting the "Citizen of the Year" award from  the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. Shown on the right is Ken Grooms, outgoing Chamber President.

One of the “Givers” in our community is Joe Barry, shown here on February 9, 2016 accepting the “Citizen of the Year” award from the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. Shown on the right is Ken Grooms, outgoing Chamber President.

Over the past three and a half years, the job of Village President has kept me so busy that it leaves hardly any spare time to devote to one of my favorite activities–reading. But earlier this year, a fellow volunteer recommended a book that was so intriguing I sacrificed sleep to finish it; in fact this book continues to resonate. Called “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success,” by Adam Grant, it was an enlightening read for anyone in a leadership role such as mine. Using concrete examples, it offered insights into the way we interact with others in the workplace, either as Givers, Takers, or Matchers, and how this can have a profound impact not only on our personal success, but also on the success of our organization.

The examples and ideas in this book have given me much food for thought. The author makes the point that the happiest, most likely to be promoted people, are givers. The individuals who fall into this category make others’ needs a priority. They intuitively help and mentor others, are excellent communicators, and bring out the best in people by recognizing and appreciating their strengths and contributions. As a result, givers are most successful because they garner a network of support over time from others that they’ve helped. However, here’s the catch…givers can also be the least successful people if they allow themselves to be exploited by the takers, those who give strategically.  Givers burn out if they do not see some sort of result from their efforts, some sense of contribution to the greater good. The key, Grant writes, is to engage in “otherish giving,” which ultimately separates successful from unsuccessful givers. Give, but make sure it is to people and things that you care about, where you receive a larger sense of purpose. Give, but not when it comes at the expense of your own health, or personal and work satisfaction. Many of our commitments in life, professional and civic, involve the push and pull of giving and receiving. To be a good citizen, or a good worker, we often extend ourselves to help or serve others with the hopes that down the road we will all be better off for it. It’s not motivated by a selfish quest for success; the givers among us have simply evolved to be really good at cooperation and empathy. A favorite passage:  “This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

It is exciting to ponder what new opportunities might be waiting for me as I round the corner into 2017. I hope you share a similar sense of anticipation for the New Year ahead, and that in this holiday season, the spirit of giving brings much happiness into your own life.

Coffee + Cooperation = Community Success



I would like to share with you something that I learned today, something that warmed my heart. First a little background:

Ethel and Tim Berger are Long Grove residents and the owners of our independent, “mom & pop” coffee spot, Beans & Leaves. For many of us here in town, this is our local place to hang out or meet up with friends, and I often joke that it serves as my unofficial “office” since I don’t have a dedicated space at Village Hall and I regularly use Beans & Leaves as a place to meet with residents or others who request a one-on-one with me. Besides serving great coffee and tea drinks, Ethel and Tim host free music nights for the residents every month, featuring local talent. Another way I know that they serve the community is by supporting and sponsoring activities at the Montessori School of Long Grove.

Arboria is a newly constructed residence and business here in our Village. Expected to open early in 2017, it will provide assisted living and memory care to new and existing members of our community. As with any new development that presents change, particularly in a community that values native trees and open space, this sparked lively discussions. Our Village Staff, plan commissioners, and elected officials worked together with the property owners and developers and after several public hearings the project was granted approval. I feel that when a new neighbor comes in, it is always in the best interest of the entire community to welcome them graciously and partner together to make as many benefits and good relationships come forward as possible.

Recently, Ethel was invited by the executive staff and owners of Arboria to present a “coffee tasting seminar,” in an effort by the new development to engage with the Long Grove business community. According to representative Jordan Glazov, Arboria has already partnered with Joanie’s Pizza and the Grove Country Club to host and cater events leading up to the grand opening. When I stopped in for my latte this morning, Ethel was beaming as she shared her excitement at being recently asked to supply Arboria with custom “Arboria Blend” coffee beans, created especially for their residents to be featured during meals and available at their in-house bistro-patisserie. This is a welcome new opportunity to grow her business, and a great example of a collaborative relationship that benefits everybody in the community–merchants and residents alike. It’s a win-win-win in my book:  Arboria gets high-quality custom coffee, a downtown Long Grove business flourishes, and the residents are gifted with a merchant who serves and supports the community. Seeing positive efforts like these, by those willing to work together in a spirit of mutual support, shows me that things are moving in the right direction. It is possible that by cooperating, we will ALL succeed. Today, Long Grove, you made me smile!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Decorated Christmas trees are popping up all over our historic downtown!

Decorated Christmas trees are popping up all over our historic downtown.

If you need some inspiration to get in the holiday mood, look no further than downtown Long Grove! The elves have been busy decorating 80 fresh evergreen trees scattered throughout our historic crossroads. Jump-start your Christmas cheer at two special events tonight only–both of which are FREE! Santa himself will be making a visit to Beans & Leaves coffee shop from 3-5, and he will be taking gift requests from both the naughty and the nice. Enjoy the beautiful lights and decorations as you shop till 7:00 this evening as the stores have extended hours. As a special holiday treat, from 5:00 till 7:00 the merchants are sponsoring free lighted wagon rides of our downtown, pulled by a vintage tractor. Top the night off with dinner or drinks at one of our Long Grove restaurants or gathering spots. Even the Grinch could not resist this much seasonal spirit!

Long Grove is charming any day of the year, but at Christmastime it really shines. For the next three weekends strolling carolers and complimentary carriage rides are available from 1 to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Happy Holidays!

 A festive holiday scene awaits in Long Grove!

A festive holiday scene awaits in Long Grove.