I am pleased that in recent weeks people from around the community have allowed me to post their articles, essays or their reflections onto this website.

Last week, on the historic tenth anniversary of 9/11, a friend of mine, community resident Elissa Jones, emailed a bunch of friends, including me, a copy of an essay that she had written nine years ago in which she reminisced about her experience waiting for her flight to take off, only to learn that it was delayed for unexplained reasons.

She replied with great enthusiasm when I called her and asked permission to post it.

“I would love it if you could," she replied. “I submitted it years ago, but the publisher (unnamed local paper) never replied."

Learning that Elissa enjoys writing (and seeing that she writes quite well), I asked her if she would submit more articles. She is now planning to submit one about a talented Peruvian classical guitarist who resides locally. (We hope to arrange for him to perform some night soon at Duke's.)

Those of you who read my blogs know about my enthusiasm for a new dance troupe that four young adults have recently formed in the North of Howard community, called 808s: Youth Empowerment thru Dance. Its been exciting to see how these young residents have stepped forward in the past six weeks to create something special for 30 or so youth in that neighborhood. Not only is their enthusiasm about dance special, but so is the way that this group, youth lead, focuses on character building traits.

Last week, one of the co-founders, Dominique Johns, who moved to this neighborhood only six months ago, handed me a two-page hand written essay.

“Mike," she said. “I've been thinking a lot about integrity lately, and I decided to write this essay. Can you put it on your website?"

A few days later, Dominique and I briefly edited her essay, and just now I posted her thoughtful work.

Her words clearly are honest and thoughtful - and I hope that it reveals that many young adults in the neighborhood cope and deal with how to be a good person, even though so many face such struggles brought on by their environment. How encouraging to see that a youth lead dance program that she helped start is helping her come to terms with the complexity of her life and her surroundings.

I would feel honored if more folks in the community opt to use this website to express themselves: writing articles about people or events, submitting restaurant reviews, or offering commentary or perspective. I cannot promise that we can post everything that you submit, but Charlie (who is presently in the midst of his three week bike riding adventure) and I will consider any submission - and please include a photo (.jpg) as well. We will try to post as many as we can on the left hand margin of the Home Page.

Of course, if writing is not your forte, we also continue to welcome photos (use our Flickr account), or send us links to interesting YouTube videos you've created.

Perhaps this website can better reflect the array of talented and creative people who live or work in Rogers Park and offer residents an outlet to express themselves.