Monday, May 07, 2007

Welcome Back to the Beaches!

"The month of May not only brings proverbial flowers, but it also brings back the sun worshippers, dog owners, baby jogger owners, sightseers and, unfortunately. . .trash.

My husband and I volunteer for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and I serve as a beach captain for North Avenue Beach. We organize clean-ups five times a year. Our kick-off clean-up was on April 14 to coincide with Earth Day.

It was a sunny day, but gloves and hats were the preferred attire as the wind was whipping across the beach, pulling in the cool winter air from Lake Michigan. We organized a small group of volunteers to comb the beach for trash."

This is an excerpt from an article by Ann Hopkins Avery, who warmly ushered me into the realm of beach stewardship at North Avenue. She wrote it for the Great Lakes Town Hall. Read her full article here.

I was among that small group of volunteers with her in April. The beach was disgusting, filled with cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, and plastic bottle parts as she has described. I personally removed a queen-sized bed sheet from the sand. Someone else carried up a wooden boat ladder.

Our lakes need a lot of TLC. I had never heard about the Great Lakes Town Hall before I learned of Ann's article, but it's a meaningful meeting place to start learning more if you're interested and want to help.

[Another good place, of course, is the Alliance for the Great Lakes.]

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How many People Died in the Chicago Fire?

I often find myself asking this question whenever the topic of the fire comes up.

You hear about the devastation, the rebirth, the cow, but rarely do you ever hear about victims. That omission just doesn't fit with how Americans tend to relate to disasters, including historic ones.

For instance, doesn't it seem like there would have been some notable memorial for the victims of the fire erected by now given the great standing this event has in our city's history?

Or, if there were no victims, isn't that a remarkable aspect of the fire that's worthy of greater attention?

The Newberry Library took a stab at answering the question in 2003. Basically, they don't know how many. Maybe about 300. Their remains were probably left and built over. You can find the full explanation here.

[I just stumbled across this photo of a recent memorial statue erected at the site of the (supposed) start of the fire.]

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Landmarks Commission here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

No Parade This Saturday

The artist and Old Town resident Jenny Roberts (whom I've blogged about before here and here) throws a No Parade tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, as part of the Lumpen Version 07 Festival. Read more about the No Parade here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lincoln Park Community Organizations - What are the Benefits?

Vi Daley's run-off election seemed to reveal a lot of issues with our community's organizations. If you check in with the comments still blazing on this blog's recent "Vi Daley" post, you'll see some of it.

In my pre-election comments, I complained that I thought our community was sliced and diced into so many different groups and organizations that it didn't help foster a sense of community, build consensus, or allow us any collecctive voice or power to address situations that affect us all (e.g., zoning, Children's Memorial Hospital).

Others think the organizations lack financial transparency.

On the other hand, the community groups do contribute a lot -- the festivals, like the Sheffield Garden Walk and Old Town Art Affair, are arguably very enjoyable events with long histories and wide participation.

Here's a list of community organizations in Lincoln Park* that represent neighbors and residents.

Diversey Harbor Lakeview Assn
Gold Coast Neighbors
Lincoln Central Assocation
Near North Property Owners
Mid-North Asscociation
North Dearborn Association
Old Town Merchants & Residents
Old Town Triangle Association
Park West Community Assocation
Ranch Triangle Assocation
Sheffield Neighborhood Assn
Wrightwood Neighbors

What are the positive things and benefits these organizations bring to our community? Please comment.

Here are the ground rules of this forum:

  1. I will do a follow-up post for debating the organizations' drawbacks, so I will delete negative comments left on this post.
  2. Whenever possible, please mention the community group by name.
  3. You may be anonymous, but please choose a "handle" like "ChicagoABC" or "JohnDoe45" to post under, so we may better follow the debate among anonymous commenters.

    So, what do you really appreciate about these community organizatons?

*The only place I could find this list was on Alderman Vi Daley's website, to her credit.

The Artist Project: New Scenes from Chicago's Urban Landscape

I've got Band-aids on both big toes from walking the remarkable ArtChicago on Monday. What a visual feast!

The Artist Project offered independent artists a seat at this sprawling art market's table.

Many of them explored Chicago's urban and natural landscape as their subject matter. Here are two.

William Dolan
William Dolan's work is at right. The first painting is called "Blue Caprice. "The second one is titled "The Corner Revisited."

I love the way Dolan captures the edgier sides of the city with croppy, up-close compositions and vibrant colors.

You can find out more about him at his website here.

Hiroshi Ariyama
Hiroshi Ariyama is a printmaker. He displayed images from a series he's been working on called "Our City, Our Neighborhood."

This one below is called "Distant Storm." I really enjoyed the way his graphics reduced Chicago scenes to their essence. He isn't just capturing moments, he's making them seem captured and held still, sort of like postcards do.

You can find Hiroshi at the Ariyama Studio online here.