Monthly Archives: September 2007

Why Stone Soup is a Key Ingredient in Sustaining Future Prosperity for Naperville

Perhaps it’s the fresh crisp Autumn air of Salt Lake City, but my business trip to Utah’s famous urban outpost has me thinking allot about how our community can navigate an even more prosperous future.  How will we manage our success?  How will we respond to adversity?  How will we foster community and economic growth?  

As I slowly walked back to my hotel this evening, after an ironically excellent seafood dinner at Market Street Grill here in downtown Salt Lake City, the legendary childhood tale of Stone Soup came to mind as I further contemplated future scenarios, both good and bad, for our community.

To summarize the tale, Stone Soup is essentially about hungry travelers who come across a small village and decide to take a rest.  With little food to eat, they light a fire and place a pot full of water upon the flames and drop in a single stone.  Curious villagers eventually approach the travelers to determine what’s going on.  The travelers explain they’re making stone soup.  Upon learning of the bland recipe, one-by-one the villagers bring ingredients ranging from potatoes and carrots to salt and pepper.  Eventually, a hearty stew emerges as a result of the cooperative efforts of villagers working together in collaboration with the travelers.  Everyone dined together and the villagers learned that no matter how difficult times got, they knew how to come together to make stone soup.

To me, Stone Soup provides a vital moral for community growth as there are no singular points of origin for the many ingredients which must be assembled to manage growth and elevate prosperity.  It’s more like effective supply-chain economics or what one might call integrated community development.  Success requires the coordinated efforts of many local and non-local stakeholders who possess the key ingredients which can be contributed towards the recipe for achieving and, more importantly, sustaining community prosperity.  

Had the travelers been left alone to their stone soup, they may have ultimately starved.  As for the villagers, if they had not been united to work together, they would never have enjoyed the delicious stew nor would they have realized the powerful value of cooperation.

How does one apply the value of cooperation to Naperville you ask?  The answer resides in understanding the vital, yet not always obvious, inter-relationship between vital community assets/stakeholders.  The degree to which key community stakeholders are able to join together in pursuit and promotion of mutually beneficial community goals will determine ultimate success or failure. 

For example, the business community depends on a high quality system of education to cultivate a highly-skilled workforce which is a key component to a sustaining economic environment which also depends upon a strong tax base to ensure ample funds are available to be appropriated by governmental bodies for transportation and infrastructure which enables civic organizations both the audience and resources to stage events which spur residential and visitor participation in commerce which feeds back into the business community. 

It’s not whether the “chicken comes before the egg”, but rather the chicken working in cooperation with the egg to coordinate a productive chain-of-events.  Put yet another way, and to borrow from my home state’s motto, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. 

The hard part comes in trying to build success upon a foundation of success, as success unfortunately tends to breed complacency and insularity.  Perhaps the ultimate remedy is to get back to the basics of making a new and improved batch of stone soup before the existing stew spoils.  “Hunger” is a tremendous motivational force and as a community we must stay hungry in order to sustain the momentum of our success.

Politics, in all forms, is the art of compromise.  Compromise is a result of setting aside divisive differences and focusing on mutually shared interests.  As we move forward in pursuit of a brighter future for Naperville, we must focus less energy on our differences and realize the power of working cooperatively toward mutually beneficial interests.

Who’s ready to make some stone soup?        

Honor the Past – Imagine the Future

Though it’s hard to believe the formal millenium celebration of 2000 is now seven years behind us, the theme of the former White House Millenium Communities Program, “Honor the Past – Imagine the Future”, will forever ring within our hearts here in Naperville.

My youngest son and I recently participated in the full Millenium Carillon tour experience and while I plan to write a full account of our visit very soon (tune back in soon to learn whether or not a three year-old can climb that many steps) this theme, which is incorporated into the visitor center exhibit, suddenly came to life. 

In my mind, few words could better describe the true spirit of Naperville.  Our community’s relenteless preservation of it’s history is rivaled only by a strong devotion toward imagining an even greater future.  Preservation, imagination and visionary progress can only be achieved through the minds and hearts of passionate residents, leaders and volunteers alike. 

The differentiating factor in Naperville is the cooperative and visionary spirit of it’s people.  Any hand can paint a picture but only the heart can make it a masterpiece.

As we imagine our future, it’s important that we continue to work together in shared interest to ensure the preservation of our masterpiece for present and future generations.

World of Naperville Achieves 10,000 Visit Mark

I am pleased to announce that as of today, the World of Naperville has humbly reached the 10,000 visit mark and continues to grow at a strong pace. 

To the residents, countless Google searchers and the curious, I would like to extend my personal thanks for the opportunity to share with you a deeper insight into the community that I and so many others are extremely proud to call home. 

As a result of reaching this milestone, I’ve been reflecting recently upon my initial inspiration for starting the World of Naperville blog.  Though I’ve pursued a number of community involvement opportunities, including participation in the Naperville Citizen Academy and other excellent causes, I’ve unfortunately been quite limited in my activities mainly because I commute to Des Plaines each day for work.  The reality of commuting a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes a day is a lack of availability to attend community meetings which take place at all hours of the day.  Regretably, I’ve been forced to turn down many meeting invitations. 

Nonetheless, given my strong desire to participate in some form of community leadership role, I decided to take advantage of the emerging world of online social media to launch this blog as a way to make a contribution to our community in the form of promotion and insight.  The results-to-date have not only yielded an opportunity to contribute but also has fostered many connections/conversations with community leaders, residents and non-residents alike. 

Steadily, average daily and weekly hits continue to grow and the 10,000 visit mark is a mere starting point for the momentum which the World of Naperville is experiencing.  With your support and interest, we’ll be reaching the 100,000 visit mark in no time at all.

As always, I invite you share your comments and own unique perspectives pertaining to Naperville.  Thanks again!  SM 



Naperville Art League’s 2007 Riverwalk Fine Art Fair Shines


One could not begin to ask or dream of a more glorious weekend to stage the annual Riverwalk Fine Art Fine, which is sponsored by the Naperville Art League (  The reasonably crisp Autumn temperatures combined with cloudless sunny skies had us all wanting to avoid being indoors. 

We’ve devoted allot of time and attention to the interior of our house this summer and among the finishing touches has been the expansion of our original art collection.  As you can imagine, given my deep love and passion for the arts, this weekend arrived with great anticipation.

Aside from stopping off for a delicious lunch at Tessa’s (review to come), we ended up spending a total of four hours browsing back-and-forth along the Riverwalk and Jackson Ave narrowing our selections while navigating crowded narrow passage ways.  Since my wife drove the selection of the piece we purchased earlier in the summer at the Naperville Fine Art Fair, it was my turn to take the wheel in the selection process.

As it may come as no surprise to my loyal readers, I love paintings rooted somewhere between realism and impressionism with a focus on architecture and life in small towns and big cities.  My favorite artist of all time is Edward Hopper (1882-1967) who was best known for his soul-searching depictions of contemporary American life.  For anyone who has visited the Chicago Art Institute, you will likely recognize perhaps his most famous piece “Nighthawks”.  Thus, for me I always have my eye out for artists that venture somewhere in the general direction of Hopper.

This year, I found two artists which I admire greatly.  The first was Milwaukee-based artist Shelby Keefe ( who focuses on oil paintings and identifies herself as a contemporary impressionist.  I must admit that her entire collection was love at first sight for me and I hope to eventually own a couple of her pieces, which at the present time were just a bit beyond our budget.  Nonetheless, please visit Shelby Keefe’s website and please support her considerable artistic talent.  Below is a good example of her work which I found on her website.


Though we came very close to making Shelby’s “Corner Store” piece our official selection, we also discovered the work of Rolling Meadows-based artist Joe Ruck who uses a brayer (roller) to create his unique style of art which consists of (and sometimes combines) paintings, sculpture and drawings.  As Joe may recall, we made many trips back and forth to visit his booth as we were very drawn to an alluring piece entitled “Street Theater” (first image above) inspired by the Goodman Theatre in downtown Chicago. 

The piece itself was painted diagonal on the canvas which really adds an interesting perspective to what was already an engaging painting.  I’m  thrilled to report that we purchased “Street Theater” and it’s vibrant amber hues are already gracing our family room wall.  Even more, we are amazed by how the painting seems to almost come alive once the sun goes down.

Though the work of Shelby Keefe and Joe Ruck were my favorites, there were a multitude of extremely talented arists from all over the country displaying and selling their work.  To each of them, I hope that it was a successful weekend. 

In addition, perhaps saving the best for last, there was a strong showing of local Naperville artists in the Naperville Art League’s booth and at some point I look forward to getting over to the Art League’s local gallery at 508 N. Center Street for a future selection ( 

To the leaders and artists of the Naperville Art League, my deepest appreciation for your vision, passion and support for advancing the beauty of art in Naperville.  Be inspired by the work you have shared with us, keep focusing on your artistic passion and know that each of you bring immense beauty to our world.  SM   

Councilman Fieseler Comments on Downtown Parking Issue at the World of Naperville – Seeks Our Thoughts

  1. Bob Fieseler, Nville City Councilman Says:
    It’s seems to me that the question of how to pay for downtown parking, at least the portion to be paid by those patronizing our downtown, boils down to this: At what point should they be charged?? Should it be at a meter located in the parking deck or even on the street?? Or should it be via a percentage add-on to their meal charges (1% if 75% of the downtown restaurant property owners agree to the new downtown food & beverage tax)?? The parking meter option would be arguably less convenient in that it involves fumbling around with cash or credit cards, but it would assess a parking fee based upon actual use. The 1% add-on would be more convenient to administer, especially because we’re already collecting a 1% Special Events & Cultural Amenities tax on restaurant meals city-wide, but the new 1% add-on would be assessed against even those who don’t park in our decks while dining downtown. I’d be interested in hearing which which way of assessing a parking fee is most appealing to readers of your blog. ~Bob Fieseler, Nville City Councilman.
  2. naperville Says:
    My thanks to Councilman Fieseler for framing the parking issue so well. Even more, it’s great to see him seeking the opinion of Napervillians proactively. As I mentioned in my post above, I would love to put the question to visitors and residents alike as to what they would prefer as well as whether or not parking meters might deter their trips downtown.  Personally, given the amount of time my family and I spend downtown, I would hate to see two hour meters that require constant trips back to the car to refresh the meter. It would take part of the enjoyment of spending so much time downtown. I would be happy to pay an additional 1% tax on food & beverage to preserve free parking for Naperville. Eventually, everyone who comes downtown eats or drinks something. Further, if I lived downtown or did not a need a car to get downtown, I would not mind paying the extra 1% f&b tax. Let’s keep the downtown Naperville experience as unobstructed as possible and eliminate the stress over expired parking meters when you find yourself at the opposite end of the Riverwalk.  We should keep in mind, 1% of a $100 restaurant check would only be $1 extra. A much better deal than paying what would certainly be more for a parking meter not to speak of not having to worry as much over an expired meter vs. chalked tires.

Why Fall in Naperville is So Special

As I’ve grown older, Fall has become my official favorite season of the year.  While the weather in Kentucky is at is best during the springtime, Illinois is at its peak during the Fall.  The crisp weather today really has me reflecting upon the season ahead.

With young children and a soft place in my heart for college football, Naperville is a great place to be during the Fall.  One might look no further than this upcoming weekend when the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair and the Naperville Wine Festival will take place in downtown and up at Naper Settlement.

The North Central College football team will also be taking the field at home this weekend, which I’m in hopes my oldest son and I might be able to catch.  My earliest memories of childhood are rooted in the many trips to see the University of Kentucky football play.  My parents were season ticket holders and die hard tailgaters my entire life.  Though I don’t get down to Lexington that often anymore, a North Central game would fill the void.  Having played high school ball, at some point I’d also like to take in some of the local high school football action.  Which team does one choose when the high school our boys will be attending has yet to break ground?     

In our household, nothing says Fall like apple picking and we have made the pilgrimage for the past three years straight.  Last year we went up to a place near Huntley which had wonderful orchards as well as fresh apple doughnuts to enjoy.

Of course, our thoughts will quickly be turning toward Halloween very soon.  While the spooktacular holiday has died out in many areas of the country, it’s very safe to say Halloween and trick-or-treating is alive and well in Naperville.  There’s the Naper Settlement party as well as trick-or-treating at Safety Town in addition to the big night itself.  I can hear my little goblin’s teeth decaying already.

With November comes the biggest holiday on my wife’s side of the family… Thanksgiving.  While we’ve managed to host the out-of-towners for the past two years in a row, we must return this year to the family rotation which will take us to the D.C. area.  I’ll need to launch another clever Naperville PR campaign to regain the big celebration soon.

After Thanksgiving, the Christmas season goes into full swing and I can’t say enough wonderful things about downtown Naperville, the holiday lights, Santa’s house and plenty of fun activities.  

Nonetheless, you won’t find me wishing it all away at once as I can’t bear the thought of the frozen winter months of January and February.  Here are some useful links for Naperville Fall Planning: (Fall Napervill Parks District Activities) (Riverwalk Fine Art Fair) (Naperville Wine Festival) (North Central College Football) (Illinois Apple Orchards)

I invite you to share your own Fall traditions by posting a comment below.     

In My Eyes, The Millenium Carillon Has Finally Become a True Landmark


I will be the first to admit, I have not always been a big fan of the Carillon.  Partially, it has to do with the years in which the instrument and missle-like structure sat incomplete and seemingly abandoned.  Then there were the days of intense public debate over the future of this most visible community feature which at one point placed into question whether or not the instrument and structure should be dismantled given financial difficulties.  Finally, as a musician/composer who explores a myriad of music genres and plays a number of instruments in creating music for independent film, I’ve struggled to develop an appreciation for the tonal qualities of the instrument.

Today, I’m pleased to report the Carillon has finally touched my soul.  After a morning of baseball, football and soccer at Rotary Hill with my three-year old, we walked over to the base of the tower.  As he glanced upward at the intimidating structure, I explained to him the aspects of the instrument pointing out the larger outer bells resting within the tower.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stick around for tour hours, but I certainly plan to take the boys to tour the Carillon soon. 

I must confess today was the closest I had gotten to the Carillon since the final phase of construction was completed, despite the fact we make many trips to Rotary Hill.  Nonetheless, I must say the finished product is truly magnificent and now a complete landmark reflecting the uniqueness of our community.  Even more, I am actually finding some of the music to be rather pleasant.  I guess the reason I’ve struggled to enjoy the sound of the instrument is the fact it’s overall tonal range seems to be stuck in a minor key which places a strain on pieces of music written in a major key.  Clearly, certain pieces of music sound better than others and I find myself enjoying performances of songs that are well-suited for the instrument.

Regardless of whether or not you care for the sound of the instrument, it’s hard not to appreciate the uniqueness and scale of this particular Carillon.  According to the official Millenium Carillon website (, it stands at 14 stories (160 ft.) and is slightly taller than the Statue of Liberty (151 ft.).  With a total of 72 bells, the Millenium Carillon is among the largest of its kind in the world.  Admission is $3.00 (kids under 5 are free) and you climb from bottom to top via a staircase.  The Carillon is equipped with an elevator which will take you half way to the top, but still requires a few more flights to ascend to the top observation deck.   

In the near future, I plan to go up for a visit and take some photographs as well as shoot some video of the view from the top which I plan to post. 

Kudos to the many Naperville residents and leaders who worked tirelessly and transcended plenty of adversity over the past 9 years to see their vision become a reality for our community.  Your hard work and conviction has truly paid off and future generations of Naperville residents are indebted to you for the gift of this proud icon. 

If you would like to learn more about the Millenium Carillon, visit the website at:

Join the Naperville Memory Walk to Raise Awareness and Funds for Alzheimer’s Programs on September 30th

On Sunday, September 30, 2007, come walk with the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Illinois, along with your friends, family, and colleagues in the Naperville Memory Walk to raise dollars and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.  Memory Walk is the Alzheimer Association’s national fundraiser for programs and services to help people with Alzheimer’s, their families and caregivers. The Greater Illinois Chaptergoal is to raise more than $1.4 million this year to benefit 210,000 people in Illinois who have Alzheimer’s, plus hundreds of thousands of family members and caregivers.

Memory Walk festivities include: entertainment and face-painting for kids (and kids at heart). We also serve breakfast snacks and post-walk refreshments.  The route is wheelchair and stroller accessible.  Dogs on leashes are welcome.

Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Naperville Riverwalk, Grand Pavilion

736 W. Jackson Avenue

Check in starts at 8 am; Walk starts at 9 am

To register and donate online – and – for dates for all Walks sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Illinois Chapter, visit

Questions?  Please call 847.933.2413

Boston Blackie’s Shows Promise Amidst the Confusion of Opening Night in Naperville

UPDATE: 9/29/10 – Boston Blackie’s has closed down its Naperville location; however, continues to operate in Chicago.

I’ve never participated in the famed running of the bulls in Pampalona, Spain but tonight my family and I got a taste of what it might be like as we weathered the crowded confusion of opening night at Naperville’s newest restaurant, Boston Blackie’s (Rt. 59 just north of Ogden).  Granted, anyone who ventures to a new restaurant on opening night should probably be required to sign an assumption of risk waiver.  For those of us who decide to bring along our young family… well, assumption of risk and mental duress is implied.  Nonetheless, we were up for the challenge tonight and, in the end, experienced signs of great promise for Boston Blackie’s once they hit their stride in terms of operations and service.

I must confess, I used to eat at the well-known Grand Avenue Boston Blackie’s periodically when I used to work in the other downtown.  Though they have other menu items, Blackie’s is perhaps best known for their burgers.  Their Naperville installment is no exception, but also includes an expanded menu to cater to the suburban dinner crowd.

When we arrived, we crowded into the small waiting area just inside the door in front of the hostess station.  There is not a great deal of room to stand and almost no seating other than the large bar area just a few steps away.  In my mind, this will be a problem for the Naperville Blackie’s once the cold weather sets in.  Chaos would be the best word I could use to describe the scene as my wife and I worked diligently to keep the boys occupied, at first having them sit on the floor against a wall partition eating a small box of raisins until finally graduating to a small stone fireplace seating area (which holds about five adults) for some coloring.  Others were being asked to move back outside to wait as the area was too crowded.  Nonetheless, the staff was working very hard and we all took the situation in stride as confusion is to be expected.

There are large flat screen TVs in just about every direction you look, which is great to keep track of the big or not-so-big game.  The combination of the dining area and bar seemed a bit smaller than I had expected when I observed the construction taking place but it should ultimately be about right.  Be sure to check out the cool twin oscillating ceiling fan in the dining area.  The space is mainly booths and tables with a number of high tops in the bar.  Blackie’s also offers a full take-out menu as well.

Our eletronic coaster finally sent us a flashing jolt just a few minutes over our quoted wait time.  We were ushered to our booth with booster seats in tow for our two little men-in-training.  Before I even had a chance to sit down, our waitress arrived and was already asking for drink orders even before we were settled.  The drinks arrived in large old-fashioned glass Coca-Cola glasses which were great for my wife and I, but not so great for our three year-old.  Our apologetic waitress was more than happy to bring us a kids cup.

Onto the real reason we were there…. dinner.  Blackie’s cuisine is definitively American.  In addition to a number of burgers offered, there are also steaks, broaster chicken, chicken sandwiches, salads, a couple of seafood offerings and Carson’s ribs.  Anyone who has dined at the Grand Avenue location will see a big difference in the menu.

Be sure not to consult your physician first, but you have to try the Frings, which is a combination of fresh onion straws in mini fryer basket surrounded by our choice of steak fries or house chips (go for the house chips).  We all shared an order of Frings with our dinner.

With it’s inexpensive kids menu, Blackie’s will be a big hit with the family crowd.  My oldest had a grilled cheese with house chips and my youngest a standard bowl of pasta, no butter no sauce.

My wife had the Mushroom Burger and I opted for the Boston Blackie’s Burger.  The Boston Blackie’s Burger comes with a pile of grilled onions and the most flavorful and perfectly cooked hickory smoked bacon I’ve had in a long time.  Unfortunately, the onions were a bit tough a chewy.

The burger itself was a delicious half-pound of fresh beef seared tight with juices.  While I prefer chargrilled burgers, such the heavenly aroma and taste of Paradise Pup in Des Plaines, the Blackie’s burger has great flavor for what I believe is a burger fried on a grill.  My wife, the official resident cheeseburger afficiando, thoroughly enjoyed the burger and is also a fan of the Grand Avenue Blackie’s.

In fairness to Blackie’s, despite rough service, we will return in a couple of weeks for a check-up.  One big postive is there seemed to be at least two layers of staff checking up on our table and covering our waitress which enabled us to get our food despite a slammed kitchen, albeit incomplete and a little less than warm.  Nothing but trouble can follow when everyone recieves their food except for the three year-old clamoring for his bowl of pasta, no butter no sauce.  Nonetheless, I am confident service will continue to improve.

All in all, I’m pleased to report our check was under $40 for consistently high quality food and we will definitely be back just as soon as our arteries clear.  Of course, Blackie’s offers plenty of healthier alternatives.  Regardless of your craving, I would definitely recommend trying the new Naperville Blackie’s… perhaps once the opening week jitters have diminished.

Check out their website at

A Banner Year for Naperville Jaycee’s Annual Last Fling Festival

Once again I find myself amazed that another summer is coming to a close.  The best solace I find each year is the Naperville Jaycee’s Last Fling festival which is currently underway during its usual Labor Day Weekend run.  It’s always amazing to see how different the Riverwalk and downtown looks when Last Fling is in full motion. 

First of all, if you are reading this posting and there is still time to get downtown to experience Last Fling, stop reading immediately and go take advantage of this year’s end-of-summer celebration.  The weather is an absolute blessing and the options are plentiful regardless of whether you enjoy entertainment, food, rides, entertainment or entertainment.

My family and I just arrived back home from our first day at Last Fling.  My sister-in-law is in town from New York City and she had such a good time that she purchased a souvenir Last Fling shirt which she is presently wearing as she sits in the other room winding down with the boys. 

I always take in at least one concert and my dream Last Fling band, Cheap Trick, is playing tomorrow night on Rotary Hill.  My very first 45 rpm record was Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” which I wore out on my record player as a kid.  While downtown today I was able to secure tickets not only for the grown ups, but thanks to the nice volunteer at the volunteer booth, I also grabbed a couple of limited quantity free tickets for the pint-size members of our party. 

It is no coincidence that our visit to Last Fling today began around lunchtime.  We found a table over in the beer tent and set out to hunt down the perfect festival food fare.  In typical fashion, our selections were the double corn dogs, Italian sausage, ribbon potato chips and fresh squeezed lemonade.  Even though I’m not a big drinker, I’ll have to admit I had a rare draft beer that totally hit the spot under today’s hot sun. 

The kids could hardly eat due to their unbridled excitement about the midway rides.  However, they did manage to find a momentary distraction as the buffetesque Mr. Myer’s band played latitude-changing music.  My youngest participated in the limbo portion of the set as Mr Myer’s band played the overly familiar theme song to one of my son’s favorite cartoons, Dragontales.

Once we were disgustingly full from the indulgent midway fare, we were off to the rides.  Along the way, we stopped at a couple of games to try our luck.  I’m pleased to report my three-year old with a little minor help from his dad won the big prize at the water gun balloon busing game. 

Quickly, my six year-old’s luck ran out which resulted in the voluntary parting of the four dollars he brought with him from his piggy bank.  Thus, we purchased some ride tickets and headed to the midway.  Though it was a bit hot with the sun sizzling overhead, I would never complain about the clear and rain-free weather which has blessed this farewell weekend to summer.  Race cars, jet skis, frog hops, slides and dragon rollercoasters left plastered smiles of delight on my sons’ faces.  It certainly had me recollecting my own childhood and the magic of those familiar carnival rides.  

My sister-in-law and I dared each other to ride the big spinning twin pod attraction, but we arrived at the ride site to discover a line that was a bit too long.  Eventually the boys ran out of ride tickets and plowed through two additional large lemonades and we all decided to call it a day.  We headed back to the car with the knowledge that we would be returning tomorrow for the big Cheap Trick concert. 

All I can say is we have already forgotten about the sun-soaked sweat and are already talking about these newest long-lasting memories of sharing these fleeting days of childhood with the boys.  My personal thanks to the Naperville Jaycees for all the work they do and the experiences and memories they are responsible for creating.  Every single volunteer is part of what makes the world of Naperville so wonderful for us all.