Blurbs | Education

A Case for Public Schools

Christopher and Sarah Lubienski’s “The Public School Advantage”

As schools have closed and teachers have gone on strike,  the Chicago Public Schools seems to trend ever faster toward privatization. In December, after closing fifty “underutilized” public schools, CPS announced a proposal to open twenty-one new charter schools—publically funded but privately run—over the next few years. Continue reading

Blurbs | Lit | University Village

Three Chrises

A visit to Bad Grammar Theater at the reading series’ new home

This past Friday, the back room of the Powell’s Bookstore at UIC campus served as the new home for Bad Grammar Theater, a monthly event described on its website as a “reading series featuring Chicago’s rising and established authors.” It used to take place a good deal further south, in the Chicago Arts District, but just changed locations earlier this year, and may be suffering from some attendance problems as a result. On this particular night, Brendan Detzner, the organizer, makes it clear that readings must proceed apace, since each writer only has fifteen minutes in which to perform. Continue reading

Blurbs | Englewood

Out in the Cold

Though its struggle for donations continues, Clara's Place marches on



During the penultimate week of October, temperatures in Chicago fell to unseasonable lows, sending many of the city’s residents into the heated refuge of their homes. Nineteen women and twenty-three children in Englewood, however, were afforded no such luxury. Save for a few spare blankets and space heaters, the residents of Clara’s Place, a thirteen-unit housing complex for homeless women and children, endured the week without heat.  Continue reading

Back of the Yards | Blurbs | Englewood | Woodlawn

Farms in the City

Remedies for Chicago eats and neighborhood streets

PLANT CHICAGO, NFP/RACHEL SWENIE. Mayor Rahm Emanuel tours the growing system at The Plant, an urban agriculture organization in Back of the Yards.

PLANT CHICAGO, NFP/RACHEL SWENIE. Mayor Rahm Emanuel tours the growing system at The Plant, an urban agriculture organization in Back of the Yards.

We believe that if you have a whole system problem, only a whole system solution can transform it,” announced Naomi Davis, founder and president of the grassroots community development organization Blacks in Green, to an auditorium full of Chicago Humanities Festival patrons on Sunday afternoon. Continue reading

Blurbs | Food | Pilsen

Beer Memories

Beer Hoptacular comes to Pilsen

COURTESY OF BEER HOPTACULAR. The Beer of the Year winners, as voted on by attendees: "Fallen Angel" by Lucky Monk Brewery (first place), "Not Your Father's Root Beer" by Small Town Brewery (second), and "Hey Careful Man, There's a Beverage Here" by Chicago's own Pipeworks Brewing Company (third).

COURTESY OF BEER HOPTACULAR. The Beer of the Year winners, as voted on by attendees: “Fallen Angel” by Lucky Monk Brewery (first place), “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” by Small Town Brewery (second), and “Hey Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here” by Chicago’s own Pipeworks Brewing Company (third).

“This one is badass,” said the man behind the counter of the Goose Island station, slapping down the handle of a beer that had been infused in a barrel of Dark Matter coffee beans. The brew was dark brown, bold, and, yes, pretty badass. But it was just one of the many standout craft beers available at the multiday Beer Hoptacular festival this weekend, which made its home in Pilsen for the first time at the Lacuna Artist Loft. Continue reading

Blurbs | Hyde Park

Anywhere Town

Harper Court Kicks Off

Under more than a few new lights, Hyde Park residents descended for an evening onto 53rd Street. Some wandered the street, perusing storefronts and casually chatting with neighbors, friends, and family, while the core of the crowd congregated under a sprawling white tent where DJ Dave Henry was blaring house music mixed with some golden oldies. The line at Chipotle could barely be contained within the store; others huddled around the Ja’Grill and Porkchop food trucks for a taste of Jamaican jerk chicken and sandwiches stuffed with savory pulled pork. Harper Court, the new development district in east Hyde Park, had officially kicked off. Continue reading

Blurbs | Hyde Park

Come One, Come All

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was a product of giddy enthusiasm. Charles Darwin had recently released “On the Origin of Species,” a groundbreaking book prompting its readers to reexamine the natural world around them. Electricity lit up the dark night like never before, and the telephone was newly facilitating quick and personal communication. Archaeologists, botanists, and sociologists were almost tripping over new findings, many of them in far-flung countries. The passenger pigeon still flitted from building to building in America’s growing metropolises. The Western world was unburdened, intact, and ready to show off, an enthusiasm that manifested itself in the fair erected in Jackson Park and along the Hyde Park Midway.  Continue reading

Blurbs | Pilsen

Life and Death

The longest-running Día de los Muertos celebration in Pilsen



In the late afternoon on November 1st, Dvorak Park looks bleak. A boy walks briskly across the playground and quickly disappears out of sight, but otherwise the Pilsen park is empty. Inside its East Gym, however, volunteers are carefully applying paint to kids’ faces. With white paint as a base, the end product resembles a kind of Jack Skellington, though kids request hearts, flowers, mustaches, whiskers, and other creative designs on their cheeks and foreheads. Painted like whimsical calaveras, “skulls,” they’re celebrating Día de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that remembers and honors the deceased. Continue reading

Blurbs | South Shore

Deep Roots

In South Shore, a few hundred yards from Lake Michigan, is a secret garden. Its fences are overgrown with trumpet vines and morning glories, sheltering dozens of individual plots from the noise of the nearby roads. This is the Rainbow Beach Victory Garden, over sixty years old and, as such, Chicago’s oldest community garden.

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