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.

Water department to install new mains soon

(Published May 14, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, managing editor

This May, the Department of Water Management and Reliable Contracting and Equipment Company will begin the work to install 1,056 feet of new 12-inch water main along Fairbanks Court, between Chicago Avenue and Ontario Street. Also, the water main will be replaced on a portion of Superior Street stretching 125 feet to the west of Fairbanks Court.

The old water main dates back to 1914 and needs to be replaced. All work is expected to be completed by mid-August 2019, which would include full street restoration. Dates may change depending on weather and other factors. 

Streeterville stories get told in new podcast

(Published May 7, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Managing Edito

A new podcast network will launch this summer to tell the stories of Streeterville, and other areas. A podcast is an audio file that can be downloaded onto a phone or other device.

Happenstance, a hyperlocal podcast app, will deliver short stories about little known subjects in various neighborhoods. When users enter an area, the app will geotag users and alert them to local stories.

Stephanie Chopris, the co-founder and managing editor, said the idea started as a class project several years ago when she was a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism. Years later, she said her project is set to launch.

“We’re shooting to launch in a few neighborhood this summer,” Copris said. “The neighborhoods are River North, Streeterville and Gold Coast. We might wrap another neighborhood into that, but those are the three target neighborhoods right now.”

At present Chopris is producing stories and seeking new stories to tell.

“We primarily focus on four editorial pillars of food, art, landmarks and sports and games,” she said. “All of our categories are flexible and we still want to cover it even if it doesn’t fall into one of those categories.”

She said sports and games can include things like yachting, darts and arcade games and the landmarks don’t need to be historic.

“They can just be places that people appreciate an have been in the area for a while,” Chopris said.  

So far, Chopris said she has Streeterville stories about Coco Pazzo Café and the Gold Star Sardine Bar, though more are coming.

Anyone interesting in suggesting a story can email Chopris at stephanie@happenstanceapp.com and the website is happenstanceapp.com.

The Langham offers calligraphy courses with brunch

(Published April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The Langham is hosting a calligraphy workshop at the restaurant Travelle, 330 N. Wabash Ave.

The brunch course is $65 and includes food, a glass of champagne and all calligraphy supplies.

The course premiered in April and student Aimee Gaspari said she attended the workshop because she’s getting married and wanted to hand-letter wedding invitations.

It’s also a hobby for her.

“I’ve been doing it for about a year,” Gaspari said. “And I thought it would be fun to take a course from someone with more experience than me.”

Workshop instructor Ricki DiCola said the class is geared toward the novice. She believes anyone can learn to write in calligraphy both for fun or to use it as a skill.

“A lot of brides like to DIY their weddings and so that’s how they begin doing calligraphy,” she said.

DiCola, a middle school teacher, said the art form can be appreciated by anyone, even if they don’t have a wedding approaching.

“This is what I do for fun,” she said.

The next class is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18  and there is a workshop June 1 as well. To register, call 312-923-7705.

Besides the calligraphy workshop, the Langham is also offering a pastry dessert plating brunch workshop July 29 and a phone photography class with food photographer Huge Galdones Aug. 17. Both classes are from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Peregrine falcons find a home in Chicago

(Published April 29, 2019)

Abhinanda Datta, Staff Writer

If you spot a mid-sized raptor swoop in at incredible speed and catch another bird in flight, don’t be surprised—it is just a peregrine falcon.

Found throughout the world, these birds have found a home in the Midwest, with more than 20 American peregrine falcons in the Chicagoland area.

With a body length of 15 – 20 inches, the peregrines can attain a speed of 200 mph when diving on their prey.

According to Mary Hennen, collections assistant in the Bird Division at the Field Museum, an estimated 400-500 pairs of Peregrines once nested in the Midwest and eastern United States. But by the 1960s, the species had been wiped out regionally.

“The primary cause was the buildup of DDT and its byproducts in the birds,” she said. “These accumulated chemicals caused abnormal reproductive behavior in adults and thinning of shells, which led to egg breakage.”

The Chicago Peregrine Program began in 1985 as a cooperative effort between the Chicago Academy of Sciences, Lincoln Park Zoo, Illinois Department of Conservation and the Illinois Audubon Society, with the aim of restoring the population.

From a single breeding pair at a Chicago-Wacker site in 1988, Illinois had 12 breeding pairs in over 23 different territories by 2011.

“Although Peregrines still remain endangered in some states, in Illinois, the population has rebounded. In fact, our Peregrine status has been upgraded from endangered to threatened,” Hennen said.

In May, eggs that were laid during March-April, are incubated for about 30-32 days. The male and the female take turns looking after the eggs. Hatching begins in mid-May or around Mother’s Day.

“This is also the time period where the adults are most defensive of the nest site. Males will spend most of their time hunting in order to feed the female and chicks,” Hennen said.

In the coming months, especially around mid-June to July, people can see the peregrine fledglings’ first flight as they glide down from the nest site. People can also observe the birds through the Illinois Peregrine Webcams found on the Field Museum website. For more information, visit fieldmuseum.com.

A peregrine falcon from a 2018 webcam in Rockford. Photo courtesy the Field Museum

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