Monday, April 15, 2013

Art Reflects Life: 100 Years Later? Post 2

These are my own unsolicited and uncompensated opinions. I do not have a relationship with NPR, the BBC, the city, college, or anybody else mentioned in this post.

This is the second post in a series inspired by the television series, Downton Abbey. Find the first post on college here.

Post 1 questioned whether or not college (the bridge of access for suburban families) really equals the greater opportunity. These questions lead us to the next stop on Jefferson Avenue, the downtown retail and restaurant nexus. In DA, the future job market comes up frequently. Will people in domestic service still be needed in 40 years? Who will replace aging farmers and crofters? Can a woman run a farm or a jelly business for herself, without a husband? Who can vote? In the town I grew up in, change has mirrored national trends. Local businesses have closed, decentralized, or become exclusively online since 1996. Farms have sold out to developers, decreasing from 45% undeveloped land in 1983 to almost completely developed after 2000.
photo courtesy of

Some retailers have moved.
Oswald's family-run pharmacy? Now 1.5 mi south of downtown.
City Meat Market? 1.5 mi north, and new owners
Wilma's Cafe? 2.5 mi west, and new owners
Trudy's flowers? 6.4 mi south
Arbor Vitae Java and Juice? 2.9 mi north

Thankfully, some independent retailers hold on. Compelling reasons beyond sentimentality must exist for supporting independent retailers. These do a great job.
Gotskind's shoes
Anderson's Bookstore
Roseland Drapery
Dean's Clothing
Casey's Foods
And more ice-cream, cake, and sweet shops, too.
There are organized business alliances, and market groups specific to Naperville.

Local farms? Incredibly, some have grown and adapted in the changing population shifts.
McDonald Farm/Green Earth Institute, an organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Mayneland Farm and farmstand, who donates end of day produce to food pantries
Wagner Farms
Keller's Farmstand

The reality of supporting local businesses really challenges my family. As a family of 4 on one income, we don't even approach that 2008 self-sufficient income level ($50,000+ for DuPage county). We make hard choices weekly and try to make birthday and Christmas presents count beyond the dollar amount. As much as we can, we buy those from local, fair trade, or direct trade businesses. For us, it's not about finding a cheap deal but rather, we look for gifts that give more to all involved behind the transaction. And we're so excited that part of my tutoring income allowed us to purchase a CSA share for the 2012 growing season!
West Jefferson Avenue,
Green pins are warehouses, yellow are car dealerships, purple is a factory

Mixing Money and Working Class
So, at the east end of Jefferson Avenue, we find a downtown that has bloomed with growth and become helped? enslaved? by national chains. At the west end, we find warehouses for big-box retailers and large corporate offices. In DA, the titled Crawley family became mixed when American heiress Cora married Robert - but it was a case of upper class money marrying old nobility. Even the New York Times has published an article on class mobility and DA. A much more interesting mixing results when the heir turns out to be a middle class cousin and then the youngest daughter marries a working class Irish chauffeur.

What does this have to do with Jefferson Avenue? Well, I'm thinking of a family member who works for T.arget: "Expect More", one of the big box retailers along the street (although he works at a different Naperville location). He unloads, stocks, shelves, and creates displays. He works the night shift. His handling of the inventory and interaction with managers has given me a different perspective on the brand image a store chain tries to present, and the actual experience for employees. The contrast between Tar.get and my own and friends' experiences working at local businesses during college and high school seems so opposite. If the lowest employees on the chain wouldn't willingly return to work for a business each season, is it worth supporting? My family member's experience has shifted how I consider Ta.rget and where I spend money. Expect more.

photo courtesy of

Faithfulness, Forbearance, and Light
In DA, loyalty to the noble family, loyalty to the estate, and loyalty to one's work friends keep some characters working almost a full lifetime in the same job, or the same type of job. Millennials today view fidelity as a curiosity. We're notoriously self-interested, feel entitled, and job hop. For the Christian, spiritual fruit is the result of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God creating a new heart within us. Relationship with God bears spiritual fruit, and that is one proof that our second birth is genuine. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23. There's hope for Millennials who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and we serve as light to the world. What matters is the 'why' and 'how' of my actions, anywhere and with anyone. It's never 'just a job.'

I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.
I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
No one should seek their own good, but the good of others...
For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 33

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