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Outside the Cermak-Chinatown stop, the closest "L" stop to McCormick Place, many are unaware of how the G-8 and NATO summits coming to town will affect their daily routines.

G-what? Some residents haven’t heard who’s coming to town

by Dana Ballout
Jan 12, 2012

G8 Twitter2

Dana Ballout/MEDILL

The G8 NATO summit's official Twitter page has yet to reach out to the public through digital media.

Dorothy Campbell has no idea what’s about to hit her.

On Wednesday, Campbell, 68, was waiting for her bus outside McCormick Place as she does every week, to visit her mother, who is in a nursing home.

In a few short months – four, to be exact – Campbell’s lonely bus stop will be swarming with more than 20,000 journalists, hundreds of international diplomats, Secret Service agents, thousands of police officers and other security personnel for the meetings of the G-8 and NATO. And that doesn’t even include the tens of thousands of protesters who are expected to dominate the streets of her neighborhood.

Campbell, who lives nearby, said she has been given no notification about the event. In fact, like many who live in the neighborhood, she had never heard of the G-8 or NATO.

“I bet if you ask people around here, they’d be like all G-what?” she said.

Hosting the two international summits in the same city, back to back, has not happened in more than 30 years – and never in Chicago.

Issues such transportation and security will inevitably affect Chicago commuters and residents. Yet, like Campbell, few are aware of this historical event and its impact on Chicago.

A CTA bus driver who picked up Campbell from her stop also confirmed she had not heard of the G-8 or NATO, nor has she been briefed yet about changes in transportation.

But some Chicago residents are aware of what’s coming.

An Occupy Chicago protester has a plan for dealing with it: “I’m going to leave town. I think it’s going to be crazy.”

World Business Chicago,  a group of business leaders working to attract global corporations to the city, announced in October that it would coordinate the May summits.

Efforts to spread awareness on the summits are planned in the near future, said Jennifer Martinez, a press officer of the group’s G-8 and NATO host committee.

 “The Host Committee is hosting a series of briefings at the end of the month with key organizations and the media to help inform the public,” Martinez said. More information on street closures and transit reroutes will also be available for the public in the upcoming weeks.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase Chicago to the world,” she added.

 However, the official website of G-8 and NATO summits has little information on who will attend the summit, the agendas, related press releases, relevance to Chicago or how the summits will affect transportation and security.

In addition to the sparse website, the official Twitter profile of the summits has only three followers and zero tweets as of Jan. 11.

 As for the residents, like Campbell, some information still needs to trickle down.

"This is where I live," Campbell said. "I'd like a least a couple of months notice to keep it in mind."

The G-8 summit,  scheduled for May 19-21, will feature leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and the US to discuss the world’s most pressing social, economic and security issues.

The NATO summit, occurring almost simultaneously, will also gather European and American officials. According to a NATO press release, the war in Afghanistan will be a priority topic.