WBEZ | Berwyn http://www.wbez.org/tags/berwyn Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Berwyn relaxes towing policy that hit immigrants especially hard http://www.wbez.org/news/berwyn-relaxes-towing-policy-hit-immigrants-especially-hard-106888 <p><p>A suburb west of Chicago is relaxing a tough car-towing policy because of its effects on immigrants.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CimagliaCROP.jpg" style="float: right; height: 371px; width: 250px;" title="Michael Cimaglia, a Berwyn police commander, met with immigrant advocates to hammer out the new policy. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An order signed by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/beyond-bungalows-berwyn%E2%80%99s-creative-side-105351">Berwyn</a> Police Chief James D. Ritz says the &ldquo;towing, impounding and seizing of a vehicle&rdquo; operated by an unlicensed driver &ldquo;may be decided by the use of officer discretion unless the vehicle is uninsured.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn officials say the order softens enforcement of a 2007 ordinance that allows the city to charge the unlicensed motorists $500, not including towing and storage costs, to recover impounded vehicles.</p><p>Berwyn was among several heavily immigrant Chicago suburbs that enacted strict towing measures before proposals to overhaul the nation&rsquo;s immigration laws stalled in Congress in 2007. The ordinances hurt immigrants who, because of their unlawful presence in the country, didn&rsquo;t qualify for an Illinois license.</p><p>&ldquo;We still don&rsquo;t condone people [breaking] the law and driving without a license,&rdquo; said Michael Cimaglia, a Berwyn police commander who met with immigrant advocates to hammer out a policy. &ldquo;However, we&rsquo;ve modified the policy so it&rsquo;s not as hard on some of the residents.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn now allows unlicensed motorists to turn over the car to a licensed driver or park it.</p><p>Immigrant advocates said Berwyn officials heard a message from Latino residents. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re here to stay,&rdquo; said Julie O&rsquo;Reilly Castillo of the Interfaith Leadership Project, which pressed for the policy. &ldquo;Respect us and be a little bit flexible because there are things beyond our control that leave people vulnerable.&rdquo;</p><p>Under an agreement with the advocates, Berwyn is also putting its entire police department &mdash; nearly 200 employees &mdash; through a three-hour training session focused on ethnic sensitivity. Cimaglia says the goal is more compassion for the city&rsquo;s immigrants.</p><p>About 60 percent of Berwyn&rsquo;s 56,657 residents are Latino, according to U.S. census figures. That population includes thousands &mdash; the exact number is unknown &mdash; who lack authorization to be in the United States.</p><p>The state of Illinois, meanwhile, is planning to begin issuing <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-allow-immigrants-get-licenses-105171">temporary driver&rsquo;s licenses</a> to unauthorized immigrants this fall.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/berwyn-relaxes-towing-policy-hit-immigrants-especially-hard-106888 Berwyn's Jolly Green Giant (Laundromat) and local theater http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/berwyns-jolly-green-giant-laundromat-and-local-theater-105355 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/laundromat.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>We&#39;re exploring Chicago suburbs and put out calls via <a href="http://twitter.com/wbez">Twitter</a>, <a href="http://www.facebook.com/wbez915?fref=ts">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/wbezchicago">Instagram</a> to get your ideas for our day looking for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/day-berwyn-105207">stories in Berwyn</a>. And you gave us <a href="http://www.facebook.com/wbez915/posts/10151457987906000">so many ideas</a>, we had to enlist the help of some of our bloggers to answer your questions.</em></p><p><em>We have a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/diversity-spawns-creativity-berwyn-105351">story about the World&#39;s Largest Laundromat</a> and the unconventional ways it&#39;s building community in Berwyn. But it&#39;s also an interesting test case in using green technology to cut energy costs. WBEZ Environmental blogger <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley">Chris Bentley</a> talked with Tom Benson, the owner, about his solar-powered laundromat:</em></p><h2><strong>Solar-powered suds</strong></h2><p>World&#39;s Largest Laundromat owner Tom Benton first installed solar panels in 2002 after <a href="http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/natgas/chapter1.html">an unprecedented spike</a> in natural gas prices.</p><p>These are solar thermal panels, not photovoltaics, so they make hot water, not electricity. Depending on the season, his 36 solar panels can shave as much as 15 percent off his natural gas bill. That is one of his main expenses &mdash; all those washers use a lot of hot water.</p><p>The laundromat burned down in 2004, and Benson rebuilt the $175,000 solar panel system along with the rest of the building, receiving a minor contribution from the state for the renewable energy.</p><p>(The first time around, a state grant kicked in nearly half of the solar panel&#39;s costs). Interestingly that price signal that drove Benson to look at solar in the first place has not only subsided &mdash; natural gas is now one sixth the price it was in the early 2000s. Thanks to unconventional extraction techniques like fracking, massive domestic reserves of the fossil fuel have been discovered, which have prolonged Benson&#39;s payback period.</p><p>Though the solar panels still haven&#39;t paid for themselves, despite next to no maintenance costs, he is still glad he has them. Given the new economics of natural gas, he said he would have to think long and hard about whether he&#39;d install them again if asked to start over today.</p><p>They are scouting a new location in Chicago, which Benson said would likely include solar photovoltaic. It might also include efficient LED lighting, at least for the building&#39;s exterior. He isn&#39;t the only solar laundromat &mdash; in fact, he said one nearby on Ogden Ave. had solar panels &mdash; but he is one of few. Crain&#39;s <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20071117/ISSUE02/100028874/worlds-largest-green-laundromat">reported</a> that fewer than 5 percent of the 35,000 laundries nationwide use solar power, according to the Coin Laundry Association.</p><h2><strong>Theater in Berwyn</strong></h2><p><em>Lots of folks on Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/wbez915/posts/10151457987906000">suggested</a> we explore the <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/scripts/now_at_16thstreet.asp">16th Street Theater</a> in Berwyn. WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dueling-critics">Dueling Critic</a> Kelly Kleiman offered her two cents about the budding theater scene:</em></p><p>Ann Filmer founded 16th Street Theater to bring not just professional theater but new plays to Berwyn. It&#39;s becoming the affordable alternative to Oak Park for literate parents. Filmer has worked with other theaters (Teatro Luna) and with visiting artists</p><p>(Michael Fosberg, who performed his own compelling monologue about discovering in his mid-30s that he was black) but her real strong suit is discovering new plays with believable protagonists dealing with contemporary issues. &quot;Contemporary&quot; can be a pretty broad category--16th Street&#39;s production of The Beats focused on poets of the 1950s--but don&#39;t expect any costume dramas.</p><p>Right now 16th Street is working with visiting artist Lance Baker as he presents Mike Daisey&#39;s monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a &quot;J&#39;Accuse!&quot; about Apple&#39;s manufacturing partners in China and their mistreatment of their workers. Daisey originally presented the monologue on This American Life as reportage, but was soon forced to admit that it contained significant elements of fiction, and Ira Glass and his crew <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction">retracted the story</a>.</p><p>Baker is presenting what purports to be a de-fictionalized version of the piece, but the shadow of Daisey&#39;s deception hangs over it. Interestingly, though, that makes the piece more resonant instead of less--obviously some portions of it are true, and the effort of trying to decide which those are makes the audience more engaged in--and, sad to say, more complicit with--the business decisions which produce our affordable iThings.</p></p> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 12:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/berwyns-jolly-green-giant-laundromat-and-local-theater-105355 Beyond the bungalows: Berwyn’s creative side http://www.wbez.org/news/beyond-bungalows-berwyn%E2%80%99s-creative-side-105351 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tattoo_berwyn.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 350px; width: 350px;" title="Berwyn, Illinois, is full of juxtapositions like this one. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p>We got an unusual assignment the other day: Choose any western suburb, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/day-berwyn-105207">spend a day there</a>&nbsp;and find some news stories.</p><p>We quickly chose Berwyn. Surely there could be no place in the Chicago area with more possibilities for quirky stories than this city of 56,657 residents.</p><p>What did we find? Berwyn delivers plenty of comical idiosyncrasies, yes, but also a lesson for other Chicago suburbs full of immigrants.</p><p>Some background. <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/place?ftid=0x880e346c055c7543:0xd47aee82eb6f7ed7&amp;q=Berwyn&amp;hl=en&amp;ved=0CBMQ3g0&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=h1kRUbviKqn-wQGN64GoBA">Berwyn</a> occupies less than 4 square miles just south of Oak Park, birthplace of Ernest Hemingway and site of the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes. What genius has Berwyn spawned? The city&rsquo;s closest equivalent to a Hemingway novel might be the&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/post/41862593108/exploring-berwyn-illinois-today-were-about-four">Spindle</a>, a 50-foot-tall spike that impaled eight 1970s-era cars in a shopping-center parking lot until its 2008 demolition. Instead of Wright&rsquo;s architectural gems, Berwyn has an estimated 200 blocks of <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/post/41872281257/berwyn-illinois-is-sometimes-called-the-city-of">aging bungalows</a>.</p><p>Berwyn has had its share of corruption scandals too but, if notoriety is the measure, the city still falls short. Just east stands Cicero, the town made famous by Al Capone. If anyone has made Berwyn famous, it&rsquo;s Rich Koz, the Me-TV horror host known as Svengoolie, who refers to &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AchkTcnE5Jw">beautiful Berwyn</a>&rdquo; the way Johnny Carson once mocked &ldquo;beautiful downtown Burbank.&rdquo;</p><p>Humble as it may be, there&rsquo;s something special about Berwyn. That something is a creative spirit, and it goes far beyond a fledgling arts scene that <a href="http://whyberwyn.com/">city boosters talk up</a>. On our daytrip to Berwyn, we felt the creativity at mom-and-pop businesses and nonprofit organizations. We suspect it has something to do with an immigrant entrepreneurial culture &mdash; Berwyn is now 60 percent Latino &mdash; and a willingness on the part of many to embrace the city&rsquo;s newcomers.</p><p>To see what we mean, consider just three Berwyn treasures.</p><h2><strong>Laundromat doubles as immigration information center</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6995_IMG_7717-scr.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 218px; width: 300px;" title="The World's Largest Laundromat is a hub for Berwyn's Latino population. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p>The <a href="http://www.worldslargestlaundry.com/" target="_blank">World&rsquo;s Largest Laundromat</a> has no shortage of things to brag about. And its manager, Mark Benson, has no qualms about doing the bragging.</p><p>Benson says the laundromat, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/26/national/26laundry.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">rebuilt after a 2004 fire</a>, has 157 washers and 144 dryers. It provides entertainment with 16 flat-screen televisions, an eight-foot-tall bird aviary, a children&rsquo;s play area, an Internet café, and free performances by clowns and magicians. It feeds its customers with a deli-style vending area and, on some evenings, free pizza. It heats its water with 36 rooftop solar panels.</p><p>And now Benson can boast about something else. He has started helping his customers, most of whom have roots in Mexico, get answers to questions about U.S. legal status and the ever-changing U.S. immigration enforcement landscape.</p><p>Last fall Benson contacted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which agreed to dispatch agents to run an information table during peak laundromat hours. The agents have now done so on three occasions.</p><p>The questions have ranged from how to get a tourist visa for loved ones back home, to the application process for getting work papers under President Barack Obama&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals" target="_blank">Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals</a>&rdquo; policy.</p><p>&ldquo;We advertised it but we saw it as a service to our customers,&rdquo; Benson said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re here on a Saturday for two hours doing your laundry, and you can get those questions answered while you&rsquo;re here.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn&rsquo;s version of Ellis Island, in other words, is a laundromat.</p><h2><strong>War between Mexican ice-cream parlors leads to more flavors</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6994_IMG_7738-scr.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 218px; width: 300px;" title="Ice cream at Flamingo's in Berwyn. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p>When Guadalupe López expanded her tiny Chicago-based business to a Berwyn site in 2003, it seemed like she had the city&rsquo;s main drag all to herself.</p><p>And, when competitors sprang up, her Flamingo&rsquo;s 2 Ice Cream Parlor at 6733 W. Cermak Road kept humming along &mdash; and kept expanding its already-dizzying array of <em>nieves</em>, as Mexicans call their ice creams.</p><p>Many of the flavors are fruit-based. Most of them are highly unusual if not unique. All of them, López says,&nbsp;are hand-stirred by members of her family.</p><p>We couldn&rsquo;t count all the flavors but López says her Berwyn shop now offers 130. It didn&rsquo;t take much arm-twisting to convince us to sample a few. We started with a spicy treat called &ldquo;Devil&rsquo;s Pineapple.&rdquo;</p><p>Then it was a sweet granular creation called &ldquo;Parmesan.&rdquo; Next we tried &ldquo;Guanábana,&rdquo; made with a melon-like tropical fruit that is nearly the size of a basketball. Then it was &ldquo;Chango Zamorano,&rdquo; named after a cheese typical of a western Mexican town. Then &ldquo;Roasted Coconut,&rdquo; &ldquo;Golden Dates,&rdquo; &ldquo;Granola&rdquo; and on from there.</p><p>Our editors didn&rsquo;t promise we&rsquo;d lose weight on this assignment.</p><p>With so many unique offerings, it&rsquo;s hard to believe López&rsquo;s business could be fighting for its life. But she says Flamingo&rsquo;s has taken two big blows. The first was the economic downturn. The second was a new competitor just a couple blocks down the road. La Michoacana, a chain of bigger and brighter ice-cream shops, opened up last spring.</p><p>How does López plan to survive? &ldquo;What we have to do is just add more flavors!&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We have to find more rare fruits!&rdquo;</p><p>That had us wondering where she could possibly squeeze in flavors beyond the 130.</p><p>&ldquo;I have freezers in the back,&rdquo; López assured. &ldquo;If you want to taste a flavor that I don&rsquo;t have in front, I&rsquo;ll just go and get a little scoop and you can taste it.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;But I&rsquo;m going to stay with fruits,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to stay with everything that is natural. I want the children to have the same thing as the grownups but just a little bit more colorful. In a couple days, I just go to sleep and come up with another flavor.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>Midwives forge first out-of-hospital birthing center in Illinois</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/midwifery.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 350px; width: 350px;" title="Art in Cecelia Bacom's office at the PCC Community Wellness Center in Berwyn. (Tricia Bobeda/WBEZ)" /></div><p>Cecelia Bacom has all sorts of small sculptures and paintings in her office. Some you might find at a Hallmark store. Others look handmade. But each seems to have a common theme: strong mothers.</p><p>Bacom, who heads the midwifery program at PCC Community Wellness Center, is celebrating the results of a hearing that could be the final bureaucratic hurdle in the way of Illinois&rsquo;s first birth center outside a hospital.</p><p>A PCC proposal for the birth center went before the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board, an agency that regulates medical construction. That board voted unanimously for the project Tuesday afternoon.</p><p>PCC, a nonprofit chain of federally funded clinics in neighborhoods of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and nearby suburbs, is planning the birth center to be part of its clinic at 6201 W. Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.</p><p>&ldquo;Hospitals are not necessarily the best, safest or cheapest place for women to have babies,&rdquo; said Bacom, who lives just a few blocks from the clinic.</p><p>The facility would give women who cannot afford a home birth another option for a homelike setting and reduced chances of medical interventions such as cesarean sections.</p><p>Bacom says each birthing mother would get a pair of midwives devoted fully to her during shifts of at least 24 hours. The care would be much more intense and personal than what a maternity operation such as Prentice Women&rsquo;s Hospital typically provides. The PCC center would serve women with low-risk pregnancies and refer others to a hospital nearby.</p><p>The PCC birth center would be the first fruit from 25 years of lobbying and organizing by Chicago-area midwives and their allies.</p><p>&ldquo;For the midwifery community, this is a landmark,&rdquo; Bacom said.</p><p>They pushed for a 2007 state law that allows up to 10 birth centers in the state. They spent years longer hammering out the administrative rules.</p><p>They overcame stiff opposition from groups representing Illinois physicians and hospitals, including the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Hospital Association. Those groups did not fight the Berwyn proposal.</p></p> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 10:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/beyond-bungalows-berwyn%E2%80%99s-creative-side-105351 A day in Berwyn http://www.wbez.org/news/day-berwyn-105207 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 8.11.36 PM.png" alt="" /><p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/a-day-in-berwyn.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/a-day-in-berwyn" target="_blank">View the story "A day in Berwyn, Illinois" on Storify</a>]<h1>A day in Berwyn, Illinois</h1><h2>WBEZ's Chip Mitchell and Tricia Bobeda are exploring the Western suburb of Berwyn, Illinois on Jan. 30. </h2><p>Storified by <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ"></a>&middot; Tue, Jan 29 2013 18:38:32</p><div>Multimedia maestro @triciabobeda and I are heading to #Berwyn tomorrow to look for stories. Any tips? Drop me a line: cmitchell@wbez.orgChip Mitchell</div><div>Tomorrow WBEZ's Chip Mitchell and I will explore the suburb of Berwyn, IL (not to be confused with the CTA Red Line stop of the same name I'm passing on my rainy commute). Any tips for us? -Tricia #berwyn #chicagowbezchicago</div></noscript></p> Tue, 29 Jan 2013 20:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/day-berwyn-105207 Dueling Critics unite in praise for 'The Crowd You're In With' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-15/dueling-critics-unite-praise-crowd-youre-89204 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-15/CROWD 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Friends and neighbors often influence one's choices--in big and small ways. Sometimes its eager advice on restaurants or vacations. Other times, opinions creep toward the bigger questions - like whether or not to have a child. That's the reality for two couples at the center of Rebecca Gilman's <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/seasonfour/thecrowdyourinwith.html" target="_blank"><em>The Crowd You're In With</em></a>. Berwyn’s <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/" target="_blank">16<sup>th</sup> Street Theater</a> is revisiting the play, which opened at the Goodman in 2009. <em>Dueling Critics</em>, Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>to share what to expect from the production.</p><p><em>The Crowd You're In With</em> runs at the <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/" target="_blank">16<sup>th</sup> Street Theater</a> through August 13.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 14:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-15/dueling-critics-unite-praise-crowd-youre-89204