Circle of Blue
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It’s just before 6 p.m. on a breezy Wednesday evening in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Department of Water Management staffers lift two tables out of the trunk of a minivan on the 3100 block of Ridgeway Ave. They drape them with blue tablecloths bearing DWM’s logo.
A small crowd gathers as the staffers, alternating between English and Spanish, explain that Chicago has embarked on a novel public health program. The city is offering to replace toxic lead water pipes leading to their homes — at no cost to the residents.
But the offer, unique among American municipalities, generates scant enthusiasm. In fact it sinks like a stone thrown into a pool. A man wearing a red ball cap is the first to speak up. “How many people have died of lead poisoning in Chicago in the past 100 years?” he asks in Spanish.
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