Posts Tagged 'NATO'

NATO-Chicago Wrap Up

5/22/12–Post-NATO Update: A return to normalcy. One byproduct of NATO-Chicago, we got a new street sign, where none existed before (I guess that means we’re now on the map). Also, here are some other thoughts about Chicago winners & losers. Again, we’d like to hear what you think? Let us know w/ your comments & questions.

5/21/12–So much of NATO-Chicago was staked on positive coverage of the city by foreign journalists. With more than 2,500 overseas journalists covering NATO & Chicago, how has that fared? Here’s one report.

And a few observations from other journalists, in passing.

We’d like you to share more stories. What have you read?

–Whatever the long-term benefit of the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012, it will not have been without its short-term costs. The most immediate impact, a substantial loss of business in downtown & surrounding areas, including the South & West Loop. At mid-day on Monday, in addition to the numerous downtown businesses that opted to close for the day, streets surrounding downtown looked like ghost towns, save for a few people waiting on buses and clusters or police officers or private security, with not much to do.

It’s clear that when the public relations of having NATO here starts to wind down, some of the first reports will focus on the loss of commerce for downtown & neighborhood businesses. You name it—from McDonalds to Jewel Food Stores to Starbucks, to physicians’ offices and local cleaners, local gardening centers and even car dealerships—all in this area have clearly felt a negative business impact, starting from at least the Friday before. It’ll be curious to see the numbers when they come in. In the meantime, we can only hope NATO wraps up fairly incident free, and has some big payoff down the line.

A Final Note—It was a unique and memorable experience to reside within the world’s safest 10-mile radius, for at least a few days. Kudos to all those who worked to make it so. Also, at least two clear winners emerged from several days of NATO planning & events: Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who commanded his officers from the front lines, and First Lady & Chicago native, Michelle Obama, who brought wives of several world leaders to an often-troubled South Side community, Auburn-Gresham, where they interacted with young people who rarely even get a chance to see the local power-brokers of Chicago.

P.S.-Now that the numbers have started coming in, we add this post to keep you update: Metra commuter rail service estimate NATO loss at $800,000:

Countdown to NATO-Continued

5/20/12-Update:  It didn’t take long after our latest post for the Occupy protests to literally cross our front door. After finally dispersing off Cermak & Michigan following a stand-off w/ police, they were headed our way in droves, followed by a phalanx of police. (The photos don’t really do the crowds justice; they caught us by surprise and we missed a bit of the action.) Nonetheless, there was a sizable residual left from the standoff, and police came on foot, on bicycles & by the busloads (@ least three busloads). Once again things have died down w/out incident. If this is the worst it gets–for the rest of tonight & tomorrow–we can all feel relieved.

5/19/12-One day before: Business as usual—hardly. The neighborhoods just south of McCormick Place were eerily quiet this morning, even beyond weekend standards. More like a July 4th, where everyone went out of town. Virtually no pedestrian traffic & streets traveled only by a few cars.  Signs of normal weekend life—shopping, walking & browsing, running errands—weren’t evident until early afternoon. Residents of one Near  South community did, however, wake up to a new reality: during the overnight, barricades surrounding the community turned into a near-encampment …an occupied territory where private becomes public. Private streets become controlled access camps.

Oddly, in one area, one end of the community has been turned into a bivouac of police & security; 

the other end, a temporary camp of a small, but growing group of out-of-town protesters. We’re sandwiched somewhere in between.

 More companies board up along Michigan.

Newspapers today report on conspiracies to attack President Obama’s downtown headquarters, yet, even before reports, downtown residents & visitors clearly were moved to “lay low.” At Roosevelt Road & Michigan, usually a hotbed of daily activity, even by mid-day, crowds remained scarce.  The neighborhood Starbucks & Jewel food store, nearly always bustling, begged for a few customers. As everyone now knows, much of Lake Shore Drive near downtown is off limits. What will tomorrow bring?

Michigan Ave. at Roosevelt Road, Downtown Chicago5/20/12–Summit Day

–The day began extraordinarily tranquil and continued much the same throughout the afternoon.  By tranquil, we mean permeating an air of calm & stillness that, while welcome, leaves one w/ angst in anticipation for the unexpected. Nevertheless, that has now changed. As I write this, scheduled marches have completed and police are currently @ an impasse w/ a hard line of fewer than 100 protesters who refuse to leave the McCormick area. We’re no more than five blocks away, & all is still quasi-normal here, except for the drone of helicopters & planes. No real hint that just several blocks away, police are in a moderate-level confrontation with the hardest line of protesters. From what we’re hearing & seeing, there’s been little to no damage reported, but the evening’s not over & who knows what the night will bring. Nonetheless, it’s clear that all levels of police presence–Chicago police, IL State Police, Secret Service, & I would imagine Cook County Police, as well as the FBI–have prepared for everything they’re encountering. What’s also clear is that most “Occupiers” were intent to make a point about human rights & civic engagement, and having done so, they’ve retreated. The dichotomy between the two protester camps is palpable, but so goes democracy in America. Let’s all pray for the best. To this point, Chicago has shown itself well.

Countdown to NATO-Chicago

With hundreds of heads of more than 28 member nations gathering just a couple of blocks away, the PRDoctor has a near birds-eye view of preparations & events from Chicago. We offer this chronology of activities from just outside the Red Zone–a few blocks from McCormick Place–where NATO leaders will be meeting, & within striking distance of planned demonstrations as well as protester encampments at a nearby church. What’s it like? We’ll try to bring you there w/ real grassroots, local updates.

5/16/17–Chicago Sun-Times provided a great service to all those interested in the who’s who behind NATO. Beyond security prep & disruptions to business, here’s a close-up look at the people we’re  hosting in Chicago.

5/17/12–No real PR implications yet, although I just got a note from the Chicago Tribune that my newspaper delivery might be disrupted. They’ll save the papers for later delivery. I don’t think so. Talked to them about that. Who wants a barrage of 2-3-day-old papers. Bought them on the run.

–Three days before, & we’re already enveloped by security. Some companies/business owners have already taken precautions recommended by private security. It’s easy to feel closed in … but at least secure.

5/18/12 — Getting used to the drone of F-16 fighter planes overhead. With all the activity, visible & unseen, things take on a Disney-esque quality. But when I ran into EPA installing air quality monitors around McCormick Place, everything became deadly serious.




–New surprise to homeowners just beyond the Red Zone near McCormick Place: new barricades & unexpected towing. No Parking signs magically appeared, & just as quickly, the towing began. This may be a PR issue if enough owners contest towing.

 Private street Friday morning, after unannounced towing. Shades of things to come: more barricades await placement by PM.

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