Name: Julie Siedband
Where she lives: Northcenter
Where we saw her: Sitting with her baby girl in the Starbucks at the intersection of West Irving Park, North Damen Avenue, and North Lincoln Avenue.
What issue with the neighborhood most concerns you right now?
I’m always interested when new places move into the neighborhood. There’s a new place that just opened on Irving Park, but there are still a lot of empty old restaurants and businesses [in the area]. I’d like to see those rejuvenated. It would be nice if new things came into the neighborhood and attracted new business and new people.
What do you like about the neighborhood?
I like that there is access to a bunch of different neighborhoods from [here]. We’re close to Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village, and Lakeview, so I kind of feel like we’re in the center of a bunch of different neighborhoods, and I feel like I use all of those. I go to the park in Lincoln Square. I go to the library there with her. My brother-in-law lives by Southport, so we go by there for dinner and to just walk around. I also like [Northcenter's] diversity: It’s not just one type of person or income; I feel like I see lots of different types of people in the neighborhood.
Where type of work do you do?
I’m a former teacher, and I’m going back to work in August. I’ve taught second grade and fifth grade, and I’m going back as a reading coach.
Illinois is in a budget crisis and will likely have to make cuts in education. Does that make you nervous coming back as a teacher?
Yeah. I had a position in my district that was cut due to cutbacks, so it does make me nervous, especially with this new position, since I know they try to cut corners when they can to make up for a lack of money. Whether it’s ‘We need a new social worker so we have to cut this program,’ or ‘We need new math programs,’ [schools] have to find ways to cut corners based on the need and the changing population.
Do you feel optimistic it will sort itself out?
Not right now. I don’t know. I just feel the need is never-ending. There’s never enough money for all the changes that need to be made. I’m hopeful, but I don’t know if I would say I’m overly optimistic. I still think good things are happening in the schools, despite the budget cutbacks.
What are you most excited in about your personal life right now?
My daughter is pretty neat. She’s an easy choice.