Know Your Chicago Ushers in 68th Season with Engaging and Illuminating Symposium Ida Noyes Hall | September 7, 2016

Know Your Chicago (KYC) commenced its 68th season with a symposium highlighting five diverse fall tours spanning the city, covering topics ranging from the partnership between the Chicago Public Library and its foundation to the challenges facing the city’s police force. Speakers included Emmy award-winning public television writer, producer and WTTW program host Geoffrey Baer—an authority on all things Chicago, including Navy Pier’s 100-year history—and William Cope Moyers, Vice President of Public Affairs and Community Relations for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, a New York Times best-selling author and former CNN journalist.

KYC Chair Gay-Young Cho opened the symposium. “We are particularly excited and proud to present this year’s programs,” said Cho. “We hope you will find our topics are timely and of great substance and variety. Today’s symposium brings together distinguished speakers who address important issues relevant to each of our five tour topics of this season.”

“The ideas of learning being beyond the campus walls and that learning is lifelong, are what Know Your Chicago is all about.”

Mark Nemec, the Dean of the University of Chicago Graham School, followed Cho’s remarks, detailing the partnership and highlighting their shared purpose to promote ongoing educational programs and civic awareness. “From its founding, this program embodied the very principles which the University of Chicago was founded upon,” said Nemec. “The ideas of learning being beyond the campus walls and that learning is lifelong, are what Know Your Chicago is all about.”

Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Chicago Public Library Foundation Chairman Robert Wislow echoed Nemec’s sentiment, highlighting the vast array of programming available to Chicagoans of all ages at the library’s 80 community branches. The programs made possible by this 30-year partnership include early learning centers, teachers in the library, and manufacturing/maker labs.

“A really important point to underscore is the ability for government and private philanthropy to collaborate on something that neither can do on their own,” said Bannon. “It’s a really special thing and something we have worked very hard on in Chicago and continue to work to make the partnership strong.” The Architects of Global Knowledge Tour illuminates why this is considered America’s most prestigious urban library system, revealing some of the Special Collections’ rare treasures and offering opportunities to meet library and foundation dignitaries and Chicago authors.

Dr. David Miller, one of the only physicians in the U.S. who is dually board certified in Pediatrics and Chinese medicine, spoke about integrated medicine and the ways in which modern, western medicine and old, Asian medical practices work together as a prelude to the East Meets West in Medicine: Collision or Coalition Tour. “I see a lot of conditions where an expanded medicine bag really gives me more options for people; everything from headaches and arthritis, to anxiety, sleep disruption, and pain. There are holistic approaches that can be used with or instead of certain mainstream approaches. I feel passionately that the consumer should be aware of these and should have these as an option for their medical care,” said Miller.

For the morning’s final talk, as an introduction to the Navy Pier at 100: Reimagining the People’s Pier Tour, Baer traced the history of Chicago’s iconic landmark, its many uses and the transformations that brought it to its current form. Baer also touched on plans for future development, including a new boutique hotel slated to open in 2018.

Architect's rendering of future development at Navy Pier

“Navy Pier has a century long identity crisis, which is to say that its entire life has been a search for self-actualization since it celebrates its 100th birthday this year,” said Baer, adding later, “[the development] gives me real hope that, as more of the pier is improved, we can reclaim it as a destination for Chicagoans and not just for tourists—that it will truly and at long last find its identity as envisioned so long ago by Daniel Burnham: the People’s Pier.”

After lunch, the talks turned to more serious but no less riveting subject matter.

Lori Lightfoot, partner at Mayer Brown LLP’s Chicago Office, chair of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and president of the Chicago Police Board spoke from her vast experience about policing in Chicago. Lightfoot touched on the history of policing in the city and some of the more recent incidents that shape public perception of the police force, the challenges the force faces today and some potential solutions.

“It’s so important to bring the community into the process of policing, not just as a side issue but as an integral partner in fighting crime and addressing what is happening on the blocks day in and day out,” said Lightfoot.

Rounding out the symposium, Cope Moyer gave an emotionally charged accounting of his final moments before moving into a 22-year recovery from addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol and the issues Chicago and the rest of the country face dealing with epidemic opiate addiction. “I’m here to talk today about the power of addiction and the promise and possibility of recovery,” said Cope Moyer, later adding, “I am proof that addiction does not discriminate but I’m also proof that recovery does. For the most part those of us who get access to care more than once are those who have insurance or money in our pockets and come from families who don’t give up on us…yet addiction impacts all of us in Chicago whether you’re from one of the [poorest] communities or live on the Gold Coast.” The Heroin HIGHway: Road to Recover Tour delves into the epidemic, covering everything from how heroin is produced and distributed to treatment center recovery programs and resources.

“[T]our participants gain a greater knowledge of these topics, have a chance to hear those who are making a difference in their field, and [become] actively involved in addressing the challenges and opportunities present in our city and in their own lives.”

Cho summed up the event by saying, “Our 2016 season tours reflect the diversity of civic, social, political, artistic, historical, and medical issues that are not only directly relevant to citizens of Chicago, but that also have statewide, national, and even international impact.” Cho went on to add that she hopes, “tour participants gain a greater knowledge of these topics, have a chance to hear those who are making a difference in their field, and becoming actively involved in addressing the challenges and opportunities present in our city and in their own lives.”

Please visit knowyourchicago.org/tours or call 773-702-1727 to register for the upcoming tours.

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