How would you define progress?

By on February 12, 2009

by Susan O’Neill

Ask someone what progress means to them, and most will include the concept of “moving forward” and/or making things better in some way.

Progress as improvement
For many local residents, the concept of growth and development comes to mind when they think of progress. Some, such as Maple Park resident Julie Bauman, pre-school teacher at the Kaneville Child Community Center, see progress as furthering economic development for the surrounding areas, especially in these tough financial times.

Elburn resident Cathy Shaver said progress means making her life easier. Having a Jewel-Osco in town does that for her. She counts improvements in technology, such as cars with navigation tools, as examples of progress that help to improve people’s quality of life.

Mechanical improvements that make life easier, as well as medical discoveries that make everyone healthier, come to mind for Elburn resident Margaret Ritchie.

Sugar Grove veterinarian Craig Zabel said his definition of progress is similar to one he heard recently for success: getting closer to something one thinks is important or to a type of lifestyle one thinks is desirable.

Being a business owner in town, Zabel said he enjoys seeing growth as a sign of progress. On the other hand, he likes the small-town atmosphere that exists in Sugar Grove. Still, when he sees a development going up, he can’t help but wonder if the new residents have pets.

More services for the community mean progress for people such as Sugar Grove resident Rebecca Fritz. Additional offerings through the Park District, services for the elderly, computer services and other resources offered by the library would be progress for her.

Kaneville Library Director Ray Christiansen said he considers improving what is already in the community or an organization as progress. He said progress at the Kaneville Public Library is making sure that the services are up-to-date, with the newest books, better automation, more computers and on-line services.

Progress as a negative
Some people, such as Maple Park resident Heidi Espino, have a negative reaction when they think of progress.

“Progress means more traffic, more stores, more people,” she said. “I like things plain and simple; that’s why we moved out here.”

Espino said she and her family keep trying to stay ahead of progress. They moved to Maple Park from Geneva 15 years ago.

“Then again, I love the progress in Elburn,” she said. “I love the new library, the McDonald’s and the Jewel.”

When Kaneville resident and Hill’s Country Store owner Pat Hill thinks of progress, she thinks of highways, tons of houses, shopping centers and supermarkets, more clutter, more cars and more trouble.

Hill said she moved to Kaneville to get away from what she saw as the negative effects of progress in West Chicago. She said she does not even like driving on Randall Road because everyone is rushing to get somewhere. She said she can’t wait to get back to the slower pace in Kaneville.

“Everybody has to have a Wal-Mart in their back yard,” she said. “Everybody’s on top of each other and you can’t breathe. I found a happy place and I’m content.”

Progress as emotional growth
Several people said they think of progress in emotional, spiritual or moral terms.

Robert Allen Beauty Salon owner Allen Robert said he sees progress as a common goal that a community, family or other group of people work toward together. For example, he said a family might have goals around religious or personal moral issues.

Steel worker David Baie, who is working on the new Kaneland middle school building on Harter Road, said he sees moving in the direction of equality for women and minorities a sign of progress.

To Elburn librarian Liz Graves, progress would mean that millions of people would not be starving in Sudan and everyone would have a better quality of life, not just those with money. For her, progress is not about having better technology.

“Progress would be if we weren’t so selfish with everything we have and want,” she said.