On the Endangered List

Speaking at a press conference in Springfield on April 6th with Ryan Messner.

Speaking at a press conference in Springfield on April 6th with Ryan Messner.

Every year, the nonprofit organization Landmarks Illinois creates a list of the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. This is done to provide a focus for the organization’s statewide advocacy efforts. Over the last 22 years, a third of all properties and sites included on the annual Most Endangered list have been saved. This year the spotlight involved Long Grove, as our covered bridge was featured as one of the historic bridges on the list to be saved. Landmarks Illinois made the announcement of the list during a press conference in Springfield earlier this week, and a group of nine residents and merchants traveled to our state capital to participate. Ryan Messner, President of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association, and I were both asked to speak at the press conference about our local efforts to save the bridge. We are grateful for the public awareness that being on this annual list generates, as well as the help provided by Landmarks Illinois going forward as we advocate together for national historic register status and restoration funds.

While in town, I met with our State Representative Nick Sauer in his Springfield office to discuss the covered bridge and other local issues. After the press conference our group of nine visited with State Senator Dan McConchie, who graciously gave us a personal tour of the senate floor and posed for pictures. I even had the opportunity to stand at the podium in the senate chamber, hold the gavel, and pretend to break a tie. Personally, I was dreaming of bringing down the gavel to accept an Illinois budget, but alas….not my jurisdiction.

With only two weeks to go in my term, this trip to Springfield will be remembered as one of my last and best experiences as Village President. We even caught a glimpse of Governor Rauner as he passed across the rotunda in front of us! At dinner the night before, I had the chance to talk with State Senator Melinda Bush about a bill that I am following, and she offered to introduce me, Village Clerk Amy Gayton, and Amy’s two daughters Alex and Nikki to the sponsor of the bill (who happened to be eating in the same restaurant) so that we could thank her. The female legislators took the opportunity to encourage the young girls to run for office themselves one day. Truly, it was inspiring.

Our Long Grove contingent surrounding State Senator Dan McConchie in the senate chamber (L to R): Jim Unzler, Aaron and Angie Underwood, Dana and Ryan Messner, Amy, Alex, Nikki and David Gayton.

Our Long Grove contingent surrounding State Senator Dan McConchie in the senate chamber (L to R): Jim Uszler, Aaron and Angie Underwood, Dana and Ryan Messner, Amy, Alex, Nikki and David Gayton.

The Full Moon Effect

Photo of the September 27th, 2015 "Orange Moon" Lunar Eclipse taken in Long Grove by Aaron Underwood

Photo of the September 27th, 2015 “Orange Moon” Lunar Eclipse taken in Long Grove by Aaron Underwood

Tonight I am fortunate to be sitting outside on my patio in Arizona, basking in the glow of a brightly illuminated full moon and listening to the coyotes howl. According to my husband’s quick google search, coyotes are more active during a full moon because it provides better hunting conditions, so more activity leads to more howling. I have often wondered if the full moon also causes changes in human behavior? According to our Village Staff, they think there is a correlation.

Psychology Today reports that in a University of New Orleans study, 81% of mental health professionals believe that lunar cycles affect human behavior. In his 1978 best seller, “How the Moon Affects You,” psychiatrist Arnold Lieber argued that because our human bodies are 65% water, the moon has an effect on us similar to its pull on the ocean’s tides. Everything from increases in violent crime and psychotic behavior to stock market fluctuations has been blamed on the fully illuminated moon. And while these superstitions are widely held by the general population and some professionals, scientists who have investigated the connection have come up empty handed. University of Sydney researchers have found no link to the moon’s cycle in two separate studies, and a University of Saskatchewan review of over 100 studies of lunar cycles and behavior found nothing to suggest that humans are affected by the Earth’s moon.

No doubt our ancestors used the moon for both a calendar and a night-light. A bright moon has been shown to disrupt sleep, and this can lead to more irritability. Could this be why our Village staff report getting more complaints during a full moon? Many of the more numerous complaints this time of year deal with animals:  raccoons nesting and having babies in attics, neighbors feeding the raccoons, skunks acting “crazy” and possibly rabid, dead deer on private property mysteriously moving themselves into the right of way overnight, deer breaking their legs because of leaping over untrimmed tree stumps. These are but a few of the actual phone calls received at Village Hall during a recent full moon. I know for certain that the coyotes are acting up tonight in Tucson. Maybe the wildlife in Long Grove is feeling a bit “luney” tonight as well?


“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Heeding the feminist rally cry at Beans & Leaves Coffee (L to R): Angie Underwood, Amy Gayton, Diane Trickey, Myra Buettner, and Marie Roth.

Heeding the feminist rally cry at Beans & Leaves Coffee (L to R): Angie Underwood, Amy Gayton, Diane Trickey, Myra Buettner, and Marie Roth.

The “huddle” of Long Grove residents pictured above may appear ladylike and well-mannered. And we are. Some of us are artists, educators, humanitarians, leaders, elected officials, and excellent cooks and hostesses. All of us share a love for history. A few of us participated in the Women’s Marches held last month throughout our country. Most of us have written, called, or talked in person to our State and National representatives in the last few weeks. Some of us have been at this a long time, and others have been motivated by more recent national headlines. We are diverse but united in our desire to see a more tolerant, respectful, and inclusive community here in Long Grove and in our county, state and country.  We have many ideas on how to channel our positive energy and will be joining with others in the months ahead to put those ideas into action.

We have been warned. We have been given an explanation. And we will persist.

Peaceful Transition of Power

10th District Congressman Brad Schneider is one of many newly elected officials taking office this month.

10th District Congressman Brad Schneider is one of many newly elected officials taking office this month. This past summer I had the honor of meeting with Brad when he paid a visit to Long Grove to talk to me about our local concerns.

This week our country will be celebrating an inauguration, one in which I know many Americans have mixed emotions. I have no doubt that we will have a hard time escaping the hoopla in all aspects of the media and our personal social networks. What I am keeping forefront in my mind is the fact that we as citizens have traditionally placed a high value on the peaceful transition of power in our democracy. Many national, state, and county representatives have taken the oath this month and are already collaborating to make progress in various ways for the betterment of all. Take a deep breath—and let’s continue to work together with hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

In the words of a famous American, who is honored today with a national holiday in his name:

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

Camp CEO: Mentoring with a side of S’mores

Happy Campers: Arriving at Camp CEO and being greeted by my mentee, Trinity.

Happy Campers: Arriving at Camp CEO and being greeted by my mentee, Trinity.

Last week I participated in what will surely be remembered as one of the highlights of my summer–camping with the Girl Scouts! In it’s tenth year, Camp CEO is a premier leadership camp for teen girls and high-level professionals held at Camp Butternut Springs in Valparaiso, Indiana. I was invited to attend as one of the 25 female “CEOs” along with 40 high-achieving Girl Scouts selected from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council who applied and wrote essays to participate. I had not been camping since my days as a leader with my daughter’s troop 20 years ago, and it was incredible fun to be hiking, swimming, and singing songs around the campfire once again.

In addition to these traditional camp activities, what made Camp CEO so special was the opportunity to mentor the girls one-on-one and share stories, life experiences, advice and inspiration. I was fortunate to be paired with Trinity, an impressively smart and sweet girl from Chicago who aspires to be a doctor. I really enjoyed spending time with my mentee as well as all the girls at camp and I was continually amazed by the thoughtful questions the girls asked. They were truly focused on learning and absorbing as much as possible from their time with the adult mentors. Women were present from a wide variety of professions such as science, technology, law, government, finance, communications, entrepreneurs, and more. I was asked to lead a workshop on networking and social etiquette in politics, which challenged me to step out of my box a bit to design a seminar. But I had a ball doing it, and the girls really seemed to enjoy discussing the role of women in elected office particularly in light of the history being made this year in our U. S. Presidential race.

One activity that seemed to really resonate with adults and girls alike was the “Dreaming Your Future” tradition. A couple of times each day, everyone would gather around the fireplace or campfire, and listen as three or four of the CEOs took center stage and shared their own life story and pathway to leadership. As usual, the girls had intriguing questions to ask. I found it so interesting that every woman’s story showcased the fact that most of us are not doing what we thought our careers would be when we were in high school or college–in most cases our journey has taken twists and turns to lead us to a place we never dreamed possible. I know that I never planned on becoming a Village President when I was majoring in Foods-Nutrition/Dietetics during my college days!

As luck would have it, the day I chose to arrive at camp, August 10th,  just happened to be National S’mores Day–score!! Who knew it was a thing? But I cannot imagine a better place on earth to be on National S’mores Day than at Girl Scout Camp! We celebrated with a fabulous bonfire, singalong, marshmallows toasted on sticks, and a few mosquitoes to complete the woodsy atmosphere.  I discovered a new taste sensation–using a peanut butter cup sandwiched between the graham crackers and marshmallow, in place of the traditional plain chocolate bar. I am still thinking about how delicious that tasted–maybe the fresh air and female empowerment are enhancing the memory?

Camp CEO was an all-around wonderful experience. I’m grateful that we have organizations such as Girl Scouts to provide opportunities like this, which bond women and girls together to inspire the next generation of leaders. But the inspiration works both ways, because I came home uplifted by Trinity and all the other young women I now know who give me hope for a bright future for us all.

Adding our hopes and wishes to the "Dreaming Your Future" dream-catcher at Camp CEO.

Adding our hopes and wishes to the “Dreaming Your Future” dream-catcher at Camp CEO.

Glorious Garden Walk

Just a small portion of the beautiful gardens created by Jo and Harry Moser of Kildeer.

Just a small portion of the beautiful gardens created by Jo and Harry Moser of Kildeer.

Today the members of the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club brought a little bit of beauty and joy into the lives of others. Five area private gardens were open to the public for tours this morning, to share the wonders of nature and raise a bit of money in the process. Whenever I attend this event I invariably come away with creative ideas and inspiration, and also a healthy dose of garden-envy. We have some seriously talented (and hard working) gardeners in our corner of Lake County! The gardens featured this year in the annual Garden Walk were quite diverse and unique:  vegetable gardens, unusual flowers, water features, a serene Japanese garden, fruit trees and berries, wildflowers, orchids, cactus, a garden shed to die for and even a couple of fairy gardens–we saw it all. Thankfully, Mother Nature set a perfect scene today for the gardens in all their glory.

By volunteering and participating in this event I was once again reminded of the best things our Village has to offer. Neighbors working together for a common goal were raising money for scholarships and stewardship work in our public Woodland and open spaces. And in the process, showcasing some outstanding gardens and those who create them; providing beauty and inspiration to fellow green thumbs in our community. Our local garden club is a real asset to Long Grove all year round, but in the summer it truly shines the brightest.

Colorful Bridges Express Pride and Love

Starting at the American flag and moving right: Cindy Brown, Marie Roth, Rachel Perkal, Carolyn Denaro, Angie Underwood.

Starting at the American flag and moving right: Cindy Brown, Marie Roth, Rachel Perkal, Carolyn Denaro, Angie Underwood.

Many residents and merchants are proud of our Village, and have been showing their love for Long Grove by creating decorative mini bridges. In the past month, these little works of art have been slowly appearing in our historic downtown crossroads. I’m impressed by the efforts and artistic talent on display, and for the vibrant designs and rainbow of colors our merchants and residents have used to liven up the community for the summer.

One of my favorite bridges is pictured above. I love it for the especially fitting message of peace, hope, and respect. Regardless of ideology, politics, race, religion, creed, color, or whom we choose to love in this world, “All Lives Matter Here.” Bravo to Rachel Perkal and her staff at Epilogue, a lovely store here in Long Grove that features beautiful and unique works of art. It is one of my go-to spots when needing a special and memorable gift. Resident and artist Marie Roth was featured in a show this weekend of her one-of a kind American flags, created from reclaimed barn wood.

Art has a healing power, and love for one another is what truly matters.

Birthday Wishes For Some Leading Ladies

Some of the women attending the recent WINGS celebration: (seated L to R) Cheri Neal, Zion Township Supervisor and current WINGS President, and

Some of the women attending the recent WINGS 30th Birthday celebration: (seated L to R) Cheri Neal, Zion Township Supervisor and current WINGS President, and Evelyn Alexander, Founding Member. (Back row L to R) Cynthia Alexander, Mara Grujanac, Village of Lincolnshire Trustee, Nancy Rotering, City of Highland Park Mayor, Alyssa Knobel, Highland Park Trustee, and Angie Underwood, Village of Long Grove Village President.

This past week marked a milestone in history as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to secure major party support to be placed on the November ballot for President of the United States. Being raised in nearby Park Ridge, Hillary has her roots in Illinois and we do seem to have a heritage of strong women leaders here in our neck of the woods. Today I want to celebrate the birthdays of just a couple of examples.

Having a chat with Barbara Turner

Having a chat with Barbara Turner in December of 2014

All of us in Long Grove are delighted to send our best wishes to Barbara Turner today, June 13, 2016, as she celebrates her 97th birthday! Barbara and her family have been instrumental in preserving and sharing some of our high-quality open spaces and natural areas in the Village, as well as advocating for conservation efforts throughout Lake County. Barbara has been a resident of Long Grove since her youth, and has served the community in many capacities over the years. She is well known to a generation of students as the librarian at Kildeer Countryside School, and was one of the founders of the Long Grove Historical Society, serving as curator and co-authoring a book about our local history. These days Barbara is less able to get out in her beloved nature preserve and battle back the invasive species, but we all know if she could be alongside the interns at Reed-Turner pulling garlic mustard today, she would be! Happy Birthday, Barbara.

Another happy milestone was the 30th Birthday Celebration that I recently attended for a group know as WINGS (Women Interested/In Government Service). This Lake County organization was created to encourage women to seek elected office and offer support and education for those women in leadership roles and interested in the political process. This group meets three times a year and offers inspiring speakers and valuable networking, as well as sponsoring an annual college scholarship. The birthday celebration featured a panel discussion with founding members of WINGS discussing their original dream for the organization back in 1986, and their hopes as we move forward. As we saw in the national events of last week, the contributions of women as leaders in America is a story that continues to be told.

Stevenson Foundation: Empowering Patriot Futures


Shown L to R: Me, Sara Knight, President of the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer & Hawthorn Woods, and Breann Whitford, Stevenson to College Program Manager.

I have recently had the opportunity to participate in several events with the Stevenson High School Foundation, and I would like to highlight two programs that I feel are just outstanding. Last week I attended the Local Scholars Reception, and had the pleasure of presenting a scholarship on behalf of the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club, of which I am a member of the Board. Stevenson Foundation helps connect the community and school by organizing this evening and coordinating between the many private foundations and organizations who fund scholarships, and the students who are selected as the recipients. During the reception 43 students were honored with scholarships, and it was so impressive to hear of their individual stories, accomplishments, and plans for the future. Our Garden Club recipient, Gwendolyn Heidkamp is an exceptional young woman planning to attend the University of Illinois this fall majoring in civil engineering with environmental emphasis. Her inspiration for this career choice comes from living near and volunteering at Ryerson Woods Forest Preserve, and from working alongside her Dad who was an avid gardener and shared his love of nature. It was an honor to meet Gwen and her mom Shannon and I wish her the best of success in her studies!

Presenting the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club Scholarship to Gwendolyn Heidkamp on May 19, 2016.

Presenting the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club Scholarship to Gwendolyn Heidkamp on May 19, 2016.

Another initiative of the Stevenson Foundation is the new S2C program, Stevenson to College. In it’s pilot year, this program has been established to help identify and provide mentors to Stevenson students who might not otherwise attend college and then work with them from junior year of high school through college graduation. These students typically fall into one or more of the following categories: first generation in the family to attend college, financial hardship, under-represented population in college, or in need of supplemental support. While the communities that attend Stevenson are often viewed as affluent, it is estimated that we have between 100 and 200 students that fit one or more of these categories. As a former volunteer in the school nurses office, I have seem firsthand that this “hidden” need exists at our high school. With five students in this initial year, the S2C program is providing individualized mentoring, coaching and tutoring, help with the college search and selection, essays, scholarship and financial aid applications, tuition assistance, and other college necessities such as laptops. Through the six years of the mentoring experience, the relationship with the students is designed to continue through college to provide long-term support towards achieving their degrees.

I think this new program is ambitious, exciting, and one that our community has the potential and resources to make succeed. Besides donations, the Stevenson Foundation is also looking for community members to serve as volunteer mentors. Program Manager Breann Whitford gave a presentation in March to the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer and Hawthorn Woods, which is where I first became acquainted with the idea. Last week I attended a private gathering with many of the Stevenson Foundation Board members, administrators, and mentors who are already working with the current students in the program. It has certainly motivated me to consider becoming a mentor! If you would like to find out more about this program or others please visit their website at www.StevensonFoundation.org.