In a moment when it is extraordinarily hard to speak and harder still to listen to varied voices on the war in Israel and Gaza, our communities are represented in the Illinois legislature, in part, by State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid, the first Palestinian American elected to state office in Illinois.

Rashid was at the White House last week, invited for his leadership on AI issues in Illinois, to the signing of an executive order by President Biden to put some guardrails around this technology.

While there, he told the Landmark, he spoke to White House officials — he did not share names — about his view that Biden must call for a cease-fire in this war. While Biden has called for “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza and has urged Israel to be more cautious in its air and ground war to protect civilians in Gaza, he has not called for a cease-fire.

We have no fully formed opinion on this remarkably complex issue. We agree with Rashid and many others that there is not a military solution in this quagmire. And we believe that Hamas is a scourge that leveled an unconscionable attack on Israeli citizens while simultaneously adding to the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza.

Our point today is simple: We benefit from having diverse and thoughtful voices representing us. Rashid, who spent part of his childhood living in a Palestinian village in the Israeli-controlled West Bank, is such a voice. Let’s listen. Let’s learn. Let’s discuss in ways that move us closer, and not to hardened and extreme takes.

Collins’ urban forest

When considering the virtues of Riverside, do you start with Olmsted’s initial vision of open spaces and winding paths? Or with the wonderful homes that followed along those paths? 

We’d suggest a third wonder of Riverside: Its urban forest. 

Caring for the village’s 10,000 trees for two decades has been Michael Collins, the village forester. This is no passive process. Managing an urban forest is an active endeavor and one at which Collins has excelled.

As we report this week, Collins will join the board of the Illinois Arborist Association this week at its annual conference. He will fill a role as a municipal director focused on the particular challenges of growing trees in an urban/suburban environment. Over his decades in Riverside, Collins has faced the challenges of the decimation of ash trees by the intrusive emerald ash borer, and the resulting push to diversify tree species. He has done an excellent job in welcoming resident participation in many aspects of his job and in that way spread an appreciation and respect for this forest.

Riverside is fortunate to have Collins’ leadership, and it is satisfying to see his talent recognized at the state level.