Jeremy Prach

Neighbor Spotlight • July 2008 • Jeremy Prach

By Jason Hart, Photo by Barbara Miner Jeremy Prach has a huge backyard. It’s grassy and   dotted with trees. There’s enough room here for   a dozen or more people to sit and talk. Prach   makes use of this space: he holds neighborhood   watch meetings here (he’s the block captain), here   is where planning takes place for the Riverwest 24-   hour bike race (he’s the main organizer), and most   importantly here is where he spends time with his   wife, children, and neighbors.   The native of the Northwest side moved to Riverwest   in 1993 because he “wanted to live where all the   punk rockers were.” As he grew older, he put down   roots, buying a house and becoming involved in   the community. He is a special education teacher   at Riverside High School. In 2001, when he got married to his wife Kara, they   had to face a decision about where they wanted to   live. They wanted to have kids, but the house they   lived in wasn’t big enough. They thought about   selling the house, bought when Riverwest real   estate prices were very low, and moving to Bay   View. They decided that Riverwest was where they   wanted to stay, and added two floors to the house.   “I can’t even imagine moving now,” he said.   “I can walk to the end of my fence and talk to   anyone. It’s like Sesame Street here, my son gets   to meet the barber, the junk store owner,” Prach   said. His son Merit is five, and his son Loyal is six   months.   Prach is interested in creating traditions. His first   taste of this came when he helped plan a Halloween   block party. He arranged to have the street shut   down so that the neighborhood kids could safely   trick-or-treat. After that initial success, he decided   to begin work on the upcoming Riverwest 24-hour   bike race, something he’d been thinking about for   two years.   “My friend Chris Fons had the idea,” he said, “I’m not taking any credit for the idea. I’m just the   energy behind making it happen.” See the related   story on page 1 of this issue for full details about the race, which pits individual riders and teams against each other in a   marathon race around Riverwest.   Alderman Nic Kovac will give a speech at the beginning of the race. “I asked him if it would be legal to do the race,” Prach   said, “He said, ‘They’re your streets.’ We’re saying, these are our streets, even at 3:00 am, even at 5:00 am. We hope that this   will be one night without crime, because we will have people on the streets.”   People are taking an interest in Prach’s work. A documentary film maker who is covering the formation of the race has been   following him around. “It’s humbling someone wants to make a movie about you. What a guilty pleasure.”   Humility is a constantly practiced virtue for Prach. A tattoo on his arm reads, “Let me be humble.” He said, “We choose   to live a humble lifestyle. We don’t have a car or anything valuable in the house.” For Prach, value cannot be found in   possessions. Value is created by investing in a community.  A tattoo on his arm reads,   “Let me be humble.”