The January Drinks and Discourse event was hosted by Chicago Progress and took place at the Fireside Inn, a cozy neighborhood place that served as the perfect venue for the night’s activity of making resolutions for the new year and getting to know each other better. Reclaim and Chicago Progress leaders as well as those in attendance declared their resolutions and the reasons for choosing them. The night’s message was about learning and gaining strength from past experiences and using this information as inspiration for the future.
Jessica Creery was the first to explain her choice of resolution for the new year, reflecting back on a year marked with positives like the forming of the Reclaim North Chapter, but one that was also marked by many setbacks and disappointments since Trump was elected. “There have been many times that I’ve felt like giving up on organizing, like the problems were too big and there was nothing I could do to solve them. But the thing that keeps me going is the understanding that the only thing that will save us is forming deeper relationships through face to face conversations and organizing in our communities.”
Through her work this past year to pass a Fair Elections Ordinance in Chicago and volunteering on campaigns, she formed this understanding of the political process: “The one thing I’ve learned with absolute certainty: There are no savior candidates; there are only candidates that will work with us and those who will not. I look at democracy as a constant struggle, whether Trump was elected or not. We can only see this more clearly now.”
Creery added, “This fight is for the long haul and our commitment to this work is a promise to have each other’s backs. We must be disciplined and committed if we want to win. This year, I commit to making space in my current organizing to lift up and support other leaders and work together to realize our vision of the world. So with that resolution in mind, I’d like to pass the torch of Lead of Drinks and Discourse along to Rory Beckett as she realizes her vision of this community through it.”
On that note, the torch was passed on to Rory Beckett, who will now be the Lead for the Drinks and Discourse monthly events. Beckett provided her reasons for her choice of resolution: “I grew up in what was viewed as a charmed life, but I let that idea of privilege pull me down. I wasn’t diagnosed until recently that I had ADHD. So when I was young, the people around me bought into the narrative that I was lazy, that I just didn’t want to work hard, even with all the privilege provided to me. When I failed, these narratives were used as weapons against me. So I became afraid to try because I was afraid to fail.”
Her resolution was based on this awareness: “I know I have people who will catch me now, so I don’t have to buy into that narrative any longer, that you are your achievement, thus your failure. So I resolve this year to fail more because I know that means that I’m trying more.”
Andre Vasquez chose his resolution based on his increasingly busy schedule campaigning for Alderman of the 40th Ward: “I’m really an introvert pretending that I’m not. I know what you’re supposed to do, smile and shake hands, but in reality it’s really a constant effort for me to be like that, and it’s only going to intensify going forward. But what helps me is knowing people have my back and seeing all the work that everyone has done, getting voters registered, getting candidates elected, none of this occurs without all of the pieces in play. So my resolution is to learn to balance my life better and to not be embarrassed to ask for help.”
The crowd was then asked to write down their own resolutions for the new year and post them on a bulletin board to be shared with the crowd. Brendan Alexandre said his resolution was committing to increasing his Reclaim base to at least fifty people from his Lakeview neighborhood. Rita McMahon’s resolution was to “redirect my anger at the present administration to actions supporting the 99%.” Geoffrey Cubbage, who is running as an Illinois Green Party write-in candidate for the MWRD Board, said his resolution involved knocking on doors and getting more people registered to vote.
Danielle Taylor concluded the night’s event encouraging everyone to put their “principles to the test” and the “need to build power” by volunteering for one or more of the activities on the Reclaim commitment cards. The following volunteer opportunities are listed on the cards: Canvassing and phone banking for candidates; attending the Police Accountability Council’s first monthly meeting in the 40th ward; and helping Andre Vasquez’ campaign for Alderman of the 40th.
Vasquez added, “I want to convey the importance of people making that first step to help out, even if it’s a half hour of your time it’s commendable. I am in amazement of all the people coming out to events like this and how organizations like Reclaim are growing.”
Reclaim and Chicago Progress hold monthly Drinks and Discourse events to provide a casual atmosphere to get acquainted and to share thoughts on the issues of the day. The next Drinks and Discourse event is titled, “Beyond Allyship: Finding True Solidarity Under Racial Capitalism” and will take place on February 15 at The Atlantic Bar & Grill.