Chicago vs. Bed Bugs

Advocating policy to control the spread of bed bugs in the City of Chicago

Activism

Phase One: The Plan

1.  Disseminate good information to and engage City of Chicago residents in conversation about bed bugs:

  • Introduce members and readers to the  The Toronto Bed Bug Project— which has recently been updated– and the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Joint Bed Bug Task Force Strategic Plan in detailed, informative posts.
  • Add discussion forums to website and eliminate Discuss page.

2.  Disseminate good information about pest management protocol to and engage Chicago pest management companies in conversation about bed bugs.

  • Encourage readers/members to engage in conversation with their pest management professionals about treatment procedures and protocol.
  • Contact the Illinois Department of Health to find out if and/or what protocol is mandated to pest management professionals by the state.

3.  Get CitizenSpeak letter writing campaign up and running.

  • Encourage readers and visitors to write letters through CitizenSpeak.
  • Post sample letters for readers and visitors to download and use if they wish to compose their own letters to public officials.

4.  Contact and engage our city officials and our city departments in conversation about bed bugs.

  • Contact Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward), who was interviewed in Larry Yellen’s Fox News Chicago report about a Chicago bed bug infestation and request a meeting.
    • Update: We sent an email to Alderman Moore and the 49th Ward, in which we introduced our organization, commended them for their efforts to address bed bug infestations in the 49th Ward, offered our assistance in their future efforts, and said we’d love to interview and write about them here on our website.  We hope we hear back from them! (Posted 11/18/08 at around 2:15 PM)
    • Another one (!): We heard back from Alderman Moore’s office almost immediately; our email is being forwarded to the appropriate staff member and to Alderman Moore.  Wow.  That was FAST. (Posted 11/18/08 at around 2:45 PM)
    • Result Update: Oh, what I wouldn’t give to live in the 49th Ward.  These people are incredible, they really are.  I just spoke with Alderman Moore’s assistant in charge of landlord/tenant issues for almost thirty minutes, and I am impressed, to say the least.  She filled me in on some things I wasn’t aware of, gave me some great resources to contact and link, and basically validated the mission of Chicago vs Bed Bugs by telling me all the ways in which she and her office are working to accomplish the same goals as we are. I offered the assistance of our organization– including physical labor like disributing fliers — so if they call on us, I hope readers will join me in helping in any way we can.  (Posted on 11/18/08 at 4:57 PM)
    • Update: Well, friends, it appears that this task may not be not entirely complete.  I’m smiling from ear to ear.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress when I have more details.  11/28/08.
    • Update: Still waiting; details to follow as soon as possible.  01/26/09.

5.  Contact and engage our Chicago resources in conversation about bed bugs.

  • Research local universities to find entomologists/entomology students with expertise in the subject; contact them to introduce our organization, ask that they consider sharing good information with our organization so that we can distribute it to the public, and ask that they consider an advisory and/or affiliate relationship with our organization to help us advocate good bed bug policy in the City of Chicago.
  • Contact Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) to introduce our organization, discuss a potential affiliate relationship of some sort, and offer the help of our organization in any way we can provide it.
  • Inform members and readers in a post on the blog about our recent contact with and the developing relationship between Chicago vs. Bed Bugs and another local non-profit organization that has similar concerns and hopes for the City of Chicago.  To be completed as soon as details are finalized.

6.  Consider methods of obtaining funding for organizational costs.

  • Create a web page on which reputable, credible, trustworthy businesses and/or organizations can advertise in exchange for organizational funding.

Completed Tasks

  • Get Chicago vs Bed Bugs website up and running.
  • Engage in ongoing conversation with readers on the Discussion page.
  • Invite readers to become members of our organization and join us in our mission.
  • Create blog page and regularly post relevant news articles; encourage members and readers to comment about and discuss relevant bed bug news coverage.
  • Assemble advisory committee of pest management professionals, entomologists, researchers, scientists, and other experts in the field to guide us and help us disseminate good information.
    • Result: We now have a total of three advisers, with two more in the works, so we’re scratching this one off our list.  It’s an ongoing task, though, so check out our Join page to see an updated list of our advisers.
  • Continue to take and post neighborhood photos which validate our mission, and encourage readers to do so as well.
  • Contact a (second) reputable, licensed, trained, qualified local pest management company, introduce our organization, ask that they consider sharing good information with our organization so that we can distribute it to the public, and ask that they consider an advisory and/or affiliate relationship with our organization to help us advocate good bed bug policy in the City of Chicago.
    • Result: We finally got in touch with the pest management company we originally contacted, and they are happy to meet with us and talk about bed bugs. We’re scheduling an interview, so hopefully we’ll be able to post some good information– and candid conversation– soon. 01/15/09
    • Result: Bed Bug Q & A With Smithereen Pest Management posted 01/26/09.
  • Contact the City of Chicago Department of Public Health to find out how bed bug infestations should be reported; what happens when they are reported; how infestations are tracked; and what information/help is available to Chicago residents.
    • Update: Since we hit quite a roadblock with 311 and DPH when we asked about how bed bug infestations should be reported, we’re going to try again with a different approach.  We’re going to find out how complaints about other pests, like roaches and rats, are reported, tracked, and managed.  We’ve added this task to our list below.
  • Write summary of phone call we placed to 311 and subsequent call to DPH on Founder’s Blog.
  • Create budget of anticipated organizational costs, primarily for the creation and publication of informational brochures, flyers and business cards.
  • Coerce some business-savvy, civic-minded, trustworthy, and selfless acquaintance (or member/reader) to voluntarily manage our efforts to obtain funding for our organization.

Tasks on Hold

1.  Disseminate good information to and engage City of Chicago residents in conversation about bed bugs.

  • Engage in conversation with community groups, particularly those with online discussion boards, and invite their readers to visit Chicago vs Bed Bugs.

2.  Disseminate good information to and engage City of Chicago landlords and property managers in conversation about bed bugs: We need help with this one.  Any readers who are also landlords, property managers, or otherwise qualified to give advice, please do so by leaving a comment on this page.

  • Contact other local aldermen and request meetings.
  • Contact Fox News Chicago reporter Larry Yellen, who investigated and reported about a bed bug-related landlord-tenant dispute in August of this year and request a meeting.

4. Disseminate good information to and engage Chicago businesses in conversation about bed bugs.

5. Create literature to publish and distribute.

  • Create and publish short but informative informational brochure containing:
    • Evidence that indicates Chicago bed bug infestations are on the rise
    • Information about how other cities are addressing bed bug infestations with strategic, coordinated plans involving multiple city departments, industry professionals, community organizations, landlords, and tenants
    • A call for a unified effort to address bed bug infestations in the City of Chicago through ongoing dialogue between city departments, industry professionals, community organizations, landlords, and tenants.
    • An invitation for everyone to visit our website and use our organization as a tool for help in whatever way we are able to provide it.
  • Create an informative flyer about bed bug infestations that includes evidence that indicates Chicago bed bug infestations are on the rise and provides information about our organization, its mission, and how to find and join us.
  • Create business cards for our founder, advisers (if applicable), and members to distribute when appropriate.

6.  Contact the City of Chicago Department of Public Health to find out

  • How and which pests are classified as “vermin”
  • How vermin complaints are tracked and managed
  • Who to contact/what to do to encourage the city to classify bed bugs as vermin and/or track/manage bed bug complaints in the city in a manner similar to vermin complaints
  • Contact the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation to find out how discarded mattresses are handled.
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