Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rob Breymaier

Rob Breymaier, Social Activist, Fair Housing Advocate , Oak Parker

"We're a small, unique community situated in the fifth most segregated region in the country. Earlier generations have provided us with a great place to live. Now, our generation must play the role of affirming our diversity. Otherwise, we could lose the very thing we moved here for in the first place."

taken from an article by Rob about why so many of us choose Oak Park as our home, and what we should do to preserve it.

Rob's name first came to my attention in July when he returned his Eagle Scout Medal, the highest rank, to the Boy Scouts of America after their decision to continue its ban against homosexual Scouts and leaders. He didn't stop with returning his medal, he has an 8 year old son who did not re-enroll in scouts this year but instead they started their own local group that can impart Boy Scout values without excluding anyone.

Here is a man who stands up for what he believes in. For the past six years as executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center he re-educates people about living in a diverse community. For the past five years he has been an Oak Parker.

If like me you moved to Oak Park because of the sidewalks, parks, small businesses and diversity you may not have realized what a concentrated effort went into making Oak Park what it is today. I'm learning a lot from my Oak Parkers; about the towns reputation for clean government, about groups like the Oak Park Regional Housing Center set up in 1972 to promote fair housing for all people in Oak Park when all around them there were municipal powers opposed to integration and "white flight" and block-by-block "steering" was rampant. The work continues 40 years later and is just as important today as it was then. Unfortunately we don't have to travel very far from OP to expierence segragrtion at its worst.

Trough this project I'm meeting the people and seeing the faces dedicated to preserving the values of Oak Park. The people who are Oak Park.

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