Curiosity boxes on Navy Pier to promote ‘Carnival Row’

(Published Aug. 16, 2018)

Amazon promoters will install curiosity boxes along the the Polk Bros. Park promenade on Navy Pier to promote the Prime Original series “Carnival Row.”

The show, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, will premiere Aug. 31. Polk Bros. Park is at 600 Grand Ave.

The experience is free and will be live Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, coinciding with the show’s debut.

The large curiosity boxes will introduce pedestrians to some of the show’s mythical creatures. Centaurs, faeries and more will be on display as guests interact with the surprises each box has in store. In addition to plenty of photo moments and show-themed gifts will also be available for visitors after exploring the pop-ups. 

Set in a Victorian fantasy world filled with mythological immigrant creatures, “Carnival Row” explores how this growing population struggles to coexist with humans — forbidden to live, love, or fly with freedom. But even in darkness, hope lives, as a human detective, Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom), and a refugee faerie named Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne) rekindle a dangerous affair despite an increasingly intolerant society.

Meadows in the skies: A closer look at the growing, green rooftops in the city

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

High above the streets, there are fields through the city filled with wildflowers, grasses, trees and even crops.

A growing rooftop greening movement is transforming the downtown environment and, according to Molly Meyer, it’s also improving the buildings.

Meyer, CEO and founder of Omni Ecosystems, an organization that designs sustainable green infrastructure, said her firm has developed rooftop farms and prairies. She said the green trend gained steam about 15 years ago and it’s been going strong ever since.

“In the mid 2000s there were a huge number of green roofs developed,” she said.

Now, every neighborhood in the city has green roofs, mostly only observable from higher floors on neighboring buildings. But while they may be invisible to most people, they’re still important.

“The top of the McDonald’s headquarters in West Loop is a 20,000 square foot wildlife meadow,” Meyer said. “That’s an important habitat for native butterflies.”

Their green roof includes crops which the company hopes to deliver to the community. 

“At McDonald’s headquarters, as employees and visitors collaborate on the ninth floor open work space and outdoor terrace, they are standing directly under one of the premier sustainability features of the headquarters: the green roof,” McDonald’s spokesperson Anne Christensen said. “The green roof boasts a garden with food for harvest and is purifying the air in the West Loop. The garden includes buckwheat, carrots, wheat, radishes, as these items are good for promoting strong soil. Harvesting soon, we hope to partner with a community organization to help us share our crops.”

In Streeterville, Navy Pier got into the game a year ago, when it developed its new welcome center. The center, to the right of the entrance, near Polk Brother Park, features a roof sloping down to the sidewalk and as visitors walk along the south side of the building, the concrete facade gives way to a meadow, complete with two bee boxes, which are a permanent fixture in the meadow. 

Michael Thompson, an apiest and farm manager at Chicago Honey Co-op who manages the boxes for the pier, said in the few months since the boxes have been installed, the have already produced 30-40 pounds of honey. In just two bee boxes, Navy Pier is home to some 50,000 Italian bees. 

According to Savitha Chelladurai, the Navy Pier’s sustainability program manager, the pier will use the honey at various restaurants. She said the rooftop project makes good sense for the Pier. 

“The creation of a green roof at the People’s Energy Welcome Pavilion helps to mitigate heat island effects and create a cooler environment for our guests,” said Chelladurai. “In addition, the native plants used at the Pier lead to better storm-water management and require little fertilizer or chemical applicants.”

The Pier isn’t alone.

“Downtown we have nine bee locations and they’re all on roofs,” Thompson said. 

In addition to bees, Meyer said the greenspaces are habitats for birds and small insects like grasshoppers, likely dropped by birds. But the roofs offer more than an ecosystem. 

Green rooftops are growing in popularity because the city mandates new construction be “green” or energy efficient, she said, and rooftops help achieve that goal.

“There is a benefit to extending the life of the roof membrane and a green roof protects that,” she said. “And there’s the storm water benefit and energy saving benefit too.”

Besides the buildings, the rooftops also help the city. 

“It’s important to make sure the built environment gets more sustainable and resilient,” she said.

Over a dozen people wounded after panic when fireworks mistaken for gunshots at Navy Pier

(Published July 5, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

According to Chicago police, three people were stabbed outside of Navy Pier Thursday night and over a dozen others were trampled, fearing reports of gunfire during the Fourth of July Fireworks display.

Another victim, a 16-year-old-boy, suffered a puncture wound from an overturned table as he ran from the scene.

The three stabbing victims included a 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man.

All four people were stabilized at area hospitals.

According to Chicago Police Sgt. Rocco Alioto, the violence erupted sometime just after 10 p.m. when someone threw fireworks into the crowd at Navy Pier and the crowd mistook the fireworks for gunfire. Some 17 people were injured in the stampede, though no fatalities were reported.

No arrests have been made and police are still looking for two male suspects.

Artfest brings diversity and art to Streeterville

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger

Sixty-five artists from 19 states will be displaying and selling their works during the fourth annual artfest Michigan Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 19-20 at 435 N. Michigan Ave. This juried art show features artists of numerous disciplines, including traditional visual arts, photography, jewelry and ceramics.

Amdur Productions, who run the artfest along with the Millenium Art Festival, June 28-29 at Lake and Michigan, have been running art shows for more than 36 years.

Amy Amdur, of Amdur Productions, said they reached out to the Magnificent Mile Association after learning there was an opening to run the show. She had grown up seeing Michigan Avenue as “a magical street with all the beautiful stores and windows.” For Amdur Productions to run an art show on Michigan Avenue, she said “it was a full circle experience for me having grown up always idolizing Michigan Avenue.” 

Now in its fourth year, people expect beautiful art in Pioneer Court, next to Tribune Tower and the Apple store. Amdur explains, “It’s a spectacular setting with landmarks, but what makes the show really special this year is the artists,” Amdur said.

Mark Hersh, a Chicago based photographer, will be showcasing his work for the second time at Artfest. Hersh said his work “Time After Time” brings together the new and old in a single photograph. He finds 100-120 year old photographs of cities, such as Chicago and Boston, then recreates the shot exactly in the present day at the same angle. Then he merges the two photographs together. 

Hersh said he finds that the audience in areas such as Streeterville and Printer’s Row “like the history of those neighborhoods and tend to appreciate the history and preservation.”

Other artists at the fair include Ali Hasmut, a Chicago Portrait artist who has done quick portraits at past fairs; Todd Babb who creates 3-4 foot tall ballet dancer sculptures; and West Loop artist Heather Offord with giant paintings.

But the focus of the Artfest is the art itself, Amdur said. Visitors should expect to see great art and demonstrations by artists. ###

Grant Park Music Festival to celebrate July 4

(Published June 18, 2019)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

The Grant Park Musical Festival presents “Independence Day Salute” on July 4, at 6:30 p.m. in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion.

The orchestral presentation, performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and conducted by Christopher Bell, will feature classic patriotic music including “1812 Overture,” Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” the “Armed Forces Salute” and more. The performance will feature Grant Park Orchestra principal flute Mary Stolper and Grant Park Chorus baritone John Orduña.

Free seats are available on the lawn or in most of the seating bowl. For those who wish to purchase reserved seating, one night member passes are available. Call 312-742-7647 or go online at gpmf.org to get a pass.

Millennium Park requires extra security for all its Pritzker Pavilion concerts and bag checks will be conducted.. No outside alcohol is allowed at this performance, but beer and wine will be available for purchase at concession stands inside the park. Lines open at 3:30 p.m.

For those that cannot make the performance, it will be broadcast live on 98.7 WFMT and online at wfmt.com/streaming. Also, a free rehearsal performance will take place at the Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. on July 3.

State Rep. Kam Buckner to host ‘coffee talk’ at Dollop June 22

(Published June 13, 2019)

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, is asking residents to join him for a “Coffee Talk” on Saturday, June 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Dollop, located at 345 E. Ohio St. in Streeterville, to provide an update about the progress that has been made in Springfield during the legislative session.

“Over the past six months, the Illinois legislature made unprecedented strides toward progress for the people of Illinois,” Buckner said. “We implemented a balanced budget that invests more in schools and healthcare, passed a capital plan that will fund improvements to our crumbling infrastructure and ensured that women’s reproductive rights will be protected no matter what happens in Washington. I’m looking forward to discussing what all of this means for our community and hearing feedback about what needs to be done next session.”

Buckner’s 26th District contains all or parts of Bronzeville, Gold Coast, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Chicago, South Loop, South Shore, Streeterville and Woodlawn.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois remind residents to plan now for extreme weather


(Published June 4, 2019)

For the News

From tornadoes to hurricanes to floods, Illinois is now in extreme weather season and to be safe, it pays to prepare now for weather emergencies

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) would like to offer a few tips to help residents prepare for the weather.

First, follow this top 10 list of things to put in any weather preparedness kit.

1. Nonperishable food (three days’ worth for each person)

2. Water (one gallon per person, for at least three days)

3. First aid kit (include bandages, pain relievers, prescription medications)

4. Flashlights and/or lanterns, and extra batteries

5. Portable battery charger for devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets)

6. Tarps, waterproof tape

7. Multi-tool with wrench to turn off utilities

8. Cash

9. Copies of critical information (e.g. insurance cards, identification, bank account)

10.Any special supplies for children (diapers, games, etc.) and pets

It seems extreme weather is the new normal for our planet. With very little warning, families must face the devastating effects of floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. People may lose their homes, jobs, possessions, and even family members’ lives during these disasters. The last thing they should have to worry about is if they have their prescription medications, eyeglasses or insurance cards.

Fortunately, when Blue Cross Blue Shield members need them, the Seasons of Life team members are there to help. Blue Cross Blue Shield customer advocates proactively call members in declared disaster areas to check in and help them do the things they cannot easily do in times of crisis – replacing insurance ID cards, refilling lost prescriptions or accessing in-network doctors if the member or their doctor is displaced. They also can arrange for members to participate in a virtual visit with a health professional.

In 2018, the Seasons of Life  program reached out to 18,663 members during disasters. To find out more about the program, visit their website, bcbsil.com.

Urban Growers turn Chicago’s front yard into a garden

(Published on May 30, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, staff writer

It’s a farm on the front yard of Chicago.

That’s how Erika Allen, co-founder of Urban Growers Collective (UGC), explains Art on the Farm, located in Grant Park at the intersection of Congress and Columbus.

This urban farm grows over 150 varieties of edible flowers and vegetables, including swiss chard, leeks, edible pansies, celery, tiny peppers, sunflowers, and more. The produce is then loaded onto their Fresh Moves Mobile Market, city buses doubling as mobile farmers markets and sold around the city.

Besides farming, the UGC offer agriculture-related educational programs for high schoolers and Art on the Farm hosts afterschool and six-week summer programs for teenagers to work on the urban garden.

“It’s public land that we are using a portion of the city’s landscape budget to grow food,” Allen said. She pointed out that by being in the proverbial front yard of the city, the program signals to the world the importance of the garden program.

Residents and tourists stop by the farm and talk to UGC volunteers and staff and UGC offers tours. The farm is also visited by birds. Allen noted a regular visitor to the farm, a Kirtland’s Warbler, was making waves amongst Chicago’s birding community for its rarity.

Allen founded Art on the Farm in 2005 through her organization, Growing Power. Adam Schwerner, the past Director for the Department of Cultural and Natural Resources at the Chicago Park District, was instrumental in helping Allen make the project happen. When Growing Power closed in 2017, Allen and co-founder Laurell Sims opened Urban Growers Collective in 2017.

Allen said one challenge has been balancing the farm’s productivity with its beauty. The farm started with straight beds, though now the beds are arranged in various shapes and Allen said the best view is probably from above.

For more information about UGC, their tours, products and other programming, visit their website, urbangrowerscollective.org.

Streeterville residents get safety update at May meeting

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) held a safety forum in May that allowed nearly a hundred residents to get information from safety and security experts.

The forum included police commander Daniel O’Shea, computer security expert Andy Jaw and John Graeber, director of security at Navy Pier.

Residents mostly expressed concerns about  crime. Two women in the audience told O’Shea they or their families had been recent victims of violent crime. Others expressed concern over perceived crime in the area, including flash mobs, wherein large groups of young people have spilled out of the red line and onto Streeterville streets to wreak havoc and, in some cases, assault pedestrians.

O’Shea said police are handling those incidents.

“For large groups of kids that come down, we have a plan in place,” he said.

O’Shea said officers monitor social media looking for plans for a mob gathering, and then police will swarm downtown. In addition, O’Shea said if cameras catch a large group of young people jumping turnstiles to get on public transportation, the trains will stop and the police will order the group off.

“We’ll have that train stopped at the next station and have them all taken off,” he said.

O’Shea added that public school students get public transportation passes and some use those on the weekends to go downtown. And, he said, police do not want to profile people by age.

“We don’t want to arrest a bunch of kids,” O’Shea said. “We want them to come down and enjoy downtown just like everybody else. But we’re not going to allow criminal activity.”

O’Shea urged residents to remain alert when they’re in public and to report crime and file a complaint, if they are the victims. O’Shea said some robbers use weapons specifically because many retail stores have policies that forbid engagement with strong-arm robbers, meaning that store personnel won’t physically stop a thief with a weapon.

“The store employees will approach them to stop them and then they’ll pull out mace and it’s become a strong-arm robbery,” said O’Shea.

The commander encouraged residents to get involved with the CAPS program to stay abreast on local police issues and join the court advocacy program through CAPS.

Travelle to offer picnic baskets

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Travelle at The Langham launches picnic baskets for guests to enjoy outside the restaurant throughout the summer. Whether dining al fresco along the Chicago River, taking in a movie at Millennium Park, or traveling to Ravinia to enjoy a concert, these picnic baskets include everything needed for enjoying the warm weather in the great outdoors. With three different options to choose from, each picnic basket provides the perfect complement for savoring the beautiful summer days.

The contents of the picnic baskets range from stroll-worthy snacks and beverages to gourmet sandwiches and alcoholic pairings including wine and champagne.

  • City Tour Picnic Basket ($42 per person): The lightest of the baskets includes a variety of snacks and beverages for guests exploring the sights of Chicago during the day
  • Millennium Park Picnic Basket ($85 per person): Perfect for a sunny afternoon spent in the park, the standard package will include gourmet sandwiches and beverages with an option to add alcoholic beverages
  • Magnificent Mile Picnic Basket ($190 per person): Elevate an outdoor concert experience with an elaborate picnic basket including a delicious dinner for two complemented by wine or champagne

To order a picnic basket, please email Rachael at travelle@langhamhotels.com or call 312.923.7713; extension 4236.

1 2 3 15