I've been back in Springfield for almost two years now, and I know there are many good things about the city. They include the Coney Island restaurant; the Country Market store on Wabash Avenue, which carries lots of fresh produce and many other great things; the newly finished intersection replacing the Wabash curve; the (original) Lincoln Library, chock-full of books, CDs, and magazines; the slide on my parents' dock on the lake; and our attractive mayor, Tim Davlin, whom I saw in person for the first time at a GreenView Nursery reception (I'm happy to report he's even cuter in person).
But there's always room for improvement -- which is why I'm holding this Very Exciting Contest. I have ideas for making Springfield a better place, but I also want to hear from you, loyal readers. Please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to me in care of Illinois Times, telling me your best and most creative thoughts for improving our fair city.
The final date to send me your idea is Friday, April 30. I'll announce the contest winner three weeks from today, on May 6. I get to pick the winner because it's my contest. And here's the best part: The prize is an Illinois Times-sponsored free lunch with me, Ms. "Grace About Town."
Here are a couple of my own ideas:
• Mandatory naptime. Everyone in Springfield should be required to take a nap every weekday. There are so many benefits, on a wide variety of fronts, that I don't understand why napping isn't mandatory already.
Chiefly, we'd all be better rested. In any given women's magazine there is always at least one article about reducing stress or having a perfect complexion or being less moody. Invariably the reader is urged to "get enough sleep." I'm the only adult person I know who gets enough sleep -- but I still take naps whenever I can. Naps are good.
Being better rested, we'd be more cheerful to one another. Is this not one of the more fundamentally important things about living? If we were all nicer to one another, we'd be happier.
Springfield: a place full of cheerful people. Good, huh? I don't need to point out the fact that all these good feelings will generate cataclysmic repercussions; life will unilaterally improve.
Just think about it: In Mexico, there's the siesta. All over Europe, people are taking three-hour lunches, with time built in for an after-lunch nap. Clearly they know how to live. Napping improves your quality of life.
Also, there would be the huge increase in cot and blanket production. We'd have to build a factory, and many new jobs would be created: Factory builders. Cot and blanket makers. Cot and blanket testers. You need a cot and a blanket for a proper nap. What did you think, everybody would sleep on the floor?
• The abolishment of the end of Daylight Saving Timein Springfield. It's bad enough that the cold winter days get shorter and shorter; there's no reason to make things worse. Have you ever met anybody, in your whole life, who says, "I love it when it gets dark earlier." Of course not. We need the maximal amount of light to help us through the winter.
I realize it might be problematic if Springfield were in its own personal time zone for six months each year, but if we implemented it immediately, it would catch on quickly. First it'd be Chatham, then Petersburg, Jacksonville, and Farmersville; down to Litchfield; way down to Southern Illinois; over to those states all around us ... and soon the entire country would have converted. Don't you think something like that would get on CNN? You betcha. We'd have all kinds of media trucks descending on Springfield like a swarm of ... media, and they'd spread it all over the country and the world. Of course, while all of the media were buzzing about, we could point out the many charms of Springfield and get lots more tourists.
Changing the time zone: good for tourism -- and all of the businesses in Springfield.
Naturally we'd show the reporters the neat rows of cots all lined up for naptime, and they'd do stories on napping, and there would be scads of testimonials from people expressing the utmost contentment achieved from getting enough sleep.
Then Springfield would really be on the map: "Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, Mandatory Naps and the All-Year-Daylight Savings Time Plan." A town full of well-rested, fiscally sound, cheerful people.
This would, of course, bring all kinds of new residents into Springfield. More boom for the economy. Instead of flocking to California, where it's warm and beautiful all the time, they'd pack their bags and head to Springfield.
Please, send me your ideas. Tell me how you think Springfield could be improved, and then we'll start a movement or a rally or we'll take a proclamation to the mayor. Or, if you win, at least we'll go off and have a free lunch.
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