“Community is not bound by physical space..”

On Friday, CM/Chi partnered with chapters in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Toronto to come together and speak to this month’s theme of Transit, chosen by CM/Cle. Dubbed CM/Great Lakes, it was a morning of poetry, music, art, and thoughtful conversation with dynamic speakers, proving the community is not bound by physical space. 

Attendees heard a stirring poem by Julio Montalvo Valentin and a song by Jan & Greg Thompson of The Human-Kind Quest, written especially for the CM/Great Lakes event, celebrating and referencing the beauty of the Great Lakes Region.

Dr. Chris Bobko shared his thoughts on hyperloop technology, introduced by Elon Musk. With his team at Hyperloop TT, he is focusing on bringing this new mode of transportation to life. “We can shrink distance measured by time… Techonolgy can help bridge the gap.” Chris shared how hyperloop technology can completely re-imaging the passenger experience, eliminating travel delays we see today journeying by car, airplane, railroad. The Midwest region is the perfect testing ground for hyperloop technology after the Great Lakes Feasibility Study showed current modes of transportation are outdated and inefficient. This technology would introduce high speed rail with point-to-point travel and would be environmentally friendly. 

Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, spoke with passion on her belief that now is the time to engage in city building and take ownership of our shared future. “We should use transit as a tool to evaluate what we are doing… in our best moments we need to make sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive.” Drawing from the documentary, The Social Dilemma, Jennifer said it influenced her to be aware that something invented for positive impact and use can turn into disastrous catalysts of division. She encouraged the audience to stand your ground and do what you can for your own community and be an advocate, especially in this time of pandemic. “Governance, inclusion, and human lives… make sure all voices are heard.” 

Musician Ernie Adams, an international touring drummer and professor, shared that his life and career are always in transit. “I am in constant transit…constantly moving, even as an infant.” Constantly surrounded by music, thanks to his father, Ernie got his first musical gig at age 15 and immediately found his calling. “[Music] gave me new opportunities and musical connections… and I felt like I started to belong.” For Ernie, transit also meant travel, locally and internationally, touring with some of the biggest names in music. He encouraged the audience, “When it is safe to do so, travel and explore. Get lost. See different parts of the world, as we explore, we also explore ourselves. Embrace those differences.” He closed by encouraging the audience to stay grateful and inspired. 

Digital Illustrator Kiyomi Negi-Tran (@letskeepdrawing) created beautiful live sketches as Dr. Chris Bobko, Jennifer Keesmaat, and Ernie Adams spoke to our audience.

We would like to thank EVERYONE who made this inaugural event possible:

  1. Deaf Access Services for providing ASL interpretation for this event. 
  2. The Great Lakes CM Chapters and their AMAZING hosts: Kelly Atkinson (CM/Buf), Marlene Paez Dukes (CM/Chi), Thomas Fox (CM/Cle), Anne Marie Sumner (CM/Det), Emily Scholl (CM/GR), Paul Oemig (CM/Mke), Mar Reyes and Ivan Wanis Ruiz (CM/To)
  3. Our amazing speakers: Dr. Chris Bobko, Jennifer Keesmaat, and Ernie Adams
  4. Michelle O’Sullivan and the team at Trope for allowing CM/Chi to utilize the beautiful gallery space located in the Wildman Boiler & Tank Co. building on Chicago’s West Side.
  5. All of our incredible sponsors!