The 21st Show

Senator Dick Durbin; Age-Friendly Cities And Towns; When There Are Too Many Tourists


Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., left, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, to discuss their bipartisan Dream Act, which would allow young immigrants who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Eighteen years ago, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin introduced the DREAM Act. And last week, the Democratically controlled House passed the latest version of that bill. We talk about that and other issues facing Congress. And, Americans older than 65 will become our largest age group within 20 years. Advocates say that means it’s time to rethink the way we design our local communities. Plus, have you heard of the idea of overtourism? That’s when too many people are visiting the same spots. We'll be speaking about what you can do about it.

We’re about halfway through the first year of this Congress with a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. Very few major bills — if any — are making it through both chambers. There’s also no shortage of national headlines, whether it’s the House holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt, or the latest in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Here in Illinois, though, we’re facing major challenges - including flooding that’s affecting our farmers and towns near the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Yesterday on the floor, Senator Dick Durbin showed his colleagues a picture of a flooded grain elevator in Alton, IL.

We had a chance to catch up with him earlier this morning to talk about that issue and more.


Our country’s demographics are always changing. And one big change that’s coming? There will be more and more older people in the U.S.

In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that people age 65 and older will be the largest age group in the country by 2035.

With that in mind, how well are our communities actually designed for older people? Several cities and towns across Illinois have decided that it’s important to commit, publicly, to making their communities “age-friendly.”

Wendy Bartlo is an outreach specialist with the University of Illinois’ College of Applied Health Sciences. Kathleen Holden is a retired associate chancellor with the U of I. They’re both part of a group called “Age-Friendly CU” that aims to make the Champaign-Urbana area a better place to live for older adults. They were here with us in our Urbana studios.

And from our partner station NPR Illinois in Springfield, Ryan Gruenenfelder is the director of advocacy and outreach with AARP Illinois.


Are you headed out for a vacation this summer? Perhaps you’ve already started your travels and are listening to us via podcast or app.

If you’re concerned about big crowds, there’s good reason. Last year, Millennium Park in Chicago became the Midwest’s top visited destination with a tally of 13 million. Then take a place like the Louvre in Paris. While not free, it had around 10 million visitors last year. Perhaps so many that the museum quote “suffocates,” according to the workers union in a statement. They walked out just last month over the management’s handling of overcrowding.

And they’re not alone.

Overcrowding, overusing and overstaying, in other words, overtourism — the kind that’s not only harming special destinations, but the environment and life for locals.

Hannah Sampson has been reporting on this for the Washington Post’s new By the Way travel section. She was on the line with us from DC. Robert Channick is also with us from Chicago. He’s the Business reporter for the Chicago Tribune and recently wrote about the state’s investment in tourism and our own infrastructure woes.

Story source: WILL