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Jamie Lynn Ferguson Is The Chicago Patron Saint Of No Dibs

By Lisa White in News on Jan 10, 2014 9:25PM

(Photo courtesy of Jamie Lynn Ferguson)

Everyone in Chicago talks until they are blue in the face about dibs during winter. For or against them, they are a constant during colder months. And especially this year, when numerous neighborhoods are reporting a lack in timely snow cleanup. One woman took matters into her own hands and decided she had enough with dibs and felt good deeds were in order instead.

Jamie Lynn Ferguson took a day off work to shovel her Humboldt Park neighborhood street into a dibs free territory. She started tweeting about her endeavors, which lead to a Sun-Times article about her which in turn inspired other folks to reach out on social media pledging to do the same in honor of her noble cause. It was a happy chain of events that all started with just one shovel.

I spoke to Ferguson this morning about her seemingly unexciting day of shoveling snow that has gained her a lot of attention. First, she did confirm that she is a little sore today. Not surprising given the amount of physical labor she put in yesterday. “I wasn’t expecting the story to get so much attention, so my excitement that other people are seeing that anyone can do simple, good things for their neighbors is taking precedence over that,” she joked with us.

She tweeted most of her progress throughout the day (including a soup lunch break to warm up) for her friends to follow along. “In total, I dug out about 20 spots. Some of them were totally untouched, others had been carved out a bit by tires, but I shoveled from 9 a.m. until around 4 p.m.” Ferguson said. I asked if anyone had reported her street to the city for being so poorly plowed, but she wasn’t sure. “I think most of us understand that the interior streets aren’t going to get much attention and we have to make our own way.”

Speaking of that neighborhood bond most of us feel during winter cleanup, I asked if any of her fellow neighbors pitched in. She did say that about five neighbors came out and asked what she was doing, but the problem was most of them do not own shovels are had to work since it was a weekday. “One of the guys offered to take my shovel and do some digging for awhile, which was really sweet,” she said. Since winter is far from over, I asked if she was planning on doing her dig out endeavor again this season, perhaps if some fellow neighbors bought some shovels to pitch in?

“I’d do it again if my neighbors were willing to join me! Mostly, I wanted to do this to present the idea that shoveling an extra spot or two is a simple thing we can do to make everybody’s winter a little easier, plus it was fun to be out there and meet my neighbors.”

The importance of helping your local community is something near and dear to Ferguson since her day job is working at the local non-profit Breakthrough. Breakthrough is a shelter and after school program serving the East Garfield Park neighborhood. Her work is part of what inspired her friendly neighborhood deed. “I’m surrounded by people at my job at Breakthrough who give themselves selflessly,” she said. “They don’t care about parking spots, they care about people being happy and people feeling loved. To be around that kind of energy five days a’s very contagious.”

Thankfully Ferguson is able to pass on that do gooder enthusiasm, since some people have already reached out online promising to do the same today (although it might be shoveling slush more than snow at this point) or sharing hopes of doing something similar in their own neighborhood. No matter how brutal winter can be in Chicago, people like Ferguson and simple acts of kindness can fight even the fiercest winds and snow to remind us why life in this city can be so grand.