2022 is just around the corner and with it, new opportunities to make good choices. After reflecting on 2021 two weeks ago, this week we’d like to set some collective intentions and share our wishes for 2022 in hopes that we can roll up our collective sleeves and work together to make C-U a safe, happier, healthier community.
Our first wish is to finish what we started when vaccines became widely available in our community this year. In 2022 we’d like to see every member of our community over the age of five (who is able to do so) get vaccinated. We want to see infection rates and death rates go down, and we want to return to a world where we can safely attend indoor events or gatherings.
Speaking of safety, our concerns about the epidemic of gun violence in our community have been well-documented. In 2022 we’d like to see real, meaningful action by our local politicians to address this issue. If we had our way, legislation restricting the barely-fettered access to guns and ammunition would be on the table. Barring that, we’d like to see full funding and support for the already existing community outreach programs that address the economic and social issues underpinning the outbreak in violence. Certainly we’d like to see more than tepid hand-wringing and proposals to invest in surveillance technologies that disproportionately target and harm our Black and Brown neighbors.
C-U’s infrastructure could also use some sprucing up in 2022. The list of infrastructure improvements we’d like to see is lengthy, but better roadway maintenance, improved drainage in neighborhoods such as Garden Hills to prevent flooding, and continued expansion of bike lanes are at the top of the list. If we want to really dream big, how about infrastructure projects that emphasize sustainability and fight climate change, like the bus stop pollinator garden project that made the news in the Netherlands?
We’d also like to see an emphasis on hiring quality contractors to do this work — hiring the cheapest bid often means the work has to be redone later. We’re looking at you, Windsor Road, where once again extensive, expensive repairs seemingly weren’t meant to last. Hopefully, our officials will be able make good use of opportunities available via the Build Back Better Framework bill, assuming it’s able to work through the usual partisan posturing in the Senate.
Partisan posturing and tomfoolery are a local issue as well. It looks like 2022 will be the year IL-13 finally rids itself of Rodney Davis, a partisan hack who, among other things, very recently supported the use of hateful rhetoric targeting his Democrat colleagues. Along with seeing a Democrat elected to represent our district on the federal level in the House, we’re also hoping J.B. Pritzker gets elected to a second term. We might have been snarky about the 2018 candidates being a pack of billionaires back in 2018, but we think he’s done an admirable job in steering our state through the pandemic, and we don’t want another Bruce Rauner or Trump lackey.
Having gotten through our usual litany of concerns about the pandemic, gun violence, infrastructure, and politics, what else do we want for 2022? We want local restaurants to be able to come back in full force! Our local restaurants have not been immune to economic pressures and staffing shortages brought on by the pandemic. As a result many have reduced their menus, services, and hours of operation. We’d love for conditions to improve such that they can open back up and thrive. While we’re at it: Let’s keep the extended outdoor dining patios and social spaces in summer 2022.
There are opportunities for improvement in Urbana, too. Next year would be a good time to reimagine the Farmer’s Market in Lincoln Square Mall. There’s no denying it’s a popular weekly event, so why not extend the hours or consider moving to Race and Main in Downtown Urbana? It would bring more foot traffic (and revenue) to Downtown Urbana businesses. Plus, Urbana street fests like this year’s Pride event are so fun and breathe life into our little town.
We want to conclude with a very personal wish for 2022 which is to diversify our Editorial Board to better reflect the composition of our community. Specifically, our current board is missing the perspective of our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community members. We don’t just want a token representative; we want an engaged collaborator who is as passionate about our community as we are, and shares our commitment to holding ourselves and our neighbors accountable towards being our best selves. If you’re that person, feel free to introduce yourself to us via email.
As always, we are so grateful for your continued support and readership. Happy holidays, and here’s to working toward a more inclusive and just C-U in 2022.
The Editorial Board is Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, Patrick Singer, and Mara Thacker.