To our Readers:
A week ago, we joined thousands of community leaders from across the Chicago area who got together in small groups to break bread and talk about improving the community.
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The On the Table conversations were the brainchild of the Chicago Community Trust, which promoted them as meaningful observances of the organization's founding almost 100 years ago.
We didn't really know what we were getting into. But the idea of serving as a vehicle for people to get together for the common good seemed like such an affirmation of why the newspaper exists that we couldn't help but sign on.
All told, we hosted five events -- a breakfast at Bennigan's in Elgin, a lunch at Riccardo's Ristorante in Schaumburg, and dinners at Dover Straits in Mundelein and Carlucci's in Downers Grove, along with a Reflejos dinner at Indulge Buffet at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.
What will come out of these conversations? Frankly, it's still a little too early to tell.
But it's not too early to be inspired.
To all those participants who gave of their time, their ideas and especially their enthusiasm, all we can say is thanks. The commitment they show, well, it energizes the rest of us to do our part.
Likewise, we thank the restaurant operators who provided such warm hospitality.
It's obvious that they believe that doing good is part of doing good business.
As you might imagine, the participants at these conversations identified several challenges facing the suburbs, and those insights ran the gamut.
Some were narrow, focused ideas; some were much broader. At least a couple of groups plan to meet again to pursue some of these things.
But it's hard to say just yet what civic initiatives might be undertaken.
This much is certain, however: As the editor, I can tell you many of these issues will receive renewed attention in our newspaper coverage.
There were, as I said, a lot of ideas. But several became common themes across most if not all of the On the Table conversations.
As we noted in an editorial this past Sunday, the need to respond to at-risk youths was a particularly compelling argument at many of the conversations.
Let there be no doubt: We will be taking that on with energetic reporting in the days ahead.
Other recurring themes: The need to encourage greater volunteerism; improving public-private partnerships; responding to mental health challenges.
The discussion may prod some practical initiatives on these and other things. Regardless, they'll prod coverage initiatives on our part.
Thanks to all our participants.
And thanks, as always, to you for reading.