WBEZ | Curious City http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The unsung hero of urban planning who made it easy to get around Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 <p><p>Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben are engaged to be married this fall. But before the two new arrivals to Chicago start a new life in a new home, they want to solve a mystery with roots in the city&rsquo;s early history.</p><p>Toben and Fisch bought a house in the Edgewater neighborhood last year, and they&rsquo;ve been fixing it up since. But they discovered something odd about the address displayed on their siding.</p><p>&ldquo;It was underneath the vinyl siding that was here before and it shows our current house number, which is very visible,&rdquo; says Toben, pointing to metal numbers nailed into the wood slat. It spells out 1761. &ldquo;But then two boards below, there&#39;s a sort of ghosted, painted-over paint.&rdquo;</p><p>That number, barely visible in the 110-year-old wood, reads 615.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to know when we went from 615 to 1761,&rdquo; says Fisch. She and Toben asked Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Where did the old number come from? When and why did they renumber the streets?&rdquo;</em></p><p>Fisch and Toben aren&rsquo;t the only Chicagoans with two house numbers &mdash; in fact, any building in the city built before 1909 probably had a different number than it does now.</p><p>These are the result of a massive shift in how the city handles street names and addresses. Today Chicago is known for having one of the simplest street systems of any big city in the world, with every address emanating out from a central origin point at the intersection of State &amp; Madison Streets. It wasn&rsquo;t always going to be that way, though, and many people fought the change. But Edward Paul Brennan, an unsung hero of urban planning, spent much of his life taming the navigational chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s adolescence, and his legacy lives on more than a century later &mdash; even if few people know his name.</p><p>So answering the &ldquo;when&rdquo; of our questioners&rsquo; inquiry is easy: September 1, 1909. But to answer &ldquo;why,&rdquo; we need to go back to some early Chicago history, when a map of the city looked very different.</p><p><strong>The expanding city</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">Chicago was booming in the late 19th century, gobbling up neighboring towns and annexing them as new neighborhoods of the city</a>. Hundreds of thousands of European immigrants poured into the city, helping triple the city&rsquo;s population between 1880 and 1910. It ballooned in both population and physical size, quadrupling in area in 1889 alone.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20grow%20graphic.jpg" style="height: 356px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago's population grew tremendously throughout the mid-to-late 19th century. There was hardly an effort to standardize street names and addresses until Edward Paul Brennan came up with a plan. (Click to watch animation of how Chicago grew)." /></a></div><p>&ldquo;That was great for those communities because they got the promise of a good infrastructure, but it also created logistical problems obviously for managing a city that size,&rdquo; says Andrew Oleksiuk, secretary of the Illinois Postal History Society.</p><p>Every town that folded into Chicago, from Lake View to Hyde Park, had its own system for naming and numbering streets. Some towns counted out addresses starting from the Chicago River, while others started from Lake Michigan. Some placed even numbers on the north side of the street, others put them on the south. Some even let developers choose their own street names or numbers if there wasn&rsquo;t a lot of local opposition.</p><p>Oleksiuk says the topsy-turvy numbering system contributed to mailmen&rsquo;s struggle to keep up with changing tech, such as the telegraph, streetcars and a new entrant: the telephone.</p><p>&ldquo;The post office really did see itself as being challenged by these new technologies,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So doing something like straightening out the numbering system and making it more efficient for mail delivery made them able to compete better in this world of new technologies.&rdquo;</p><p>As city limits swallowed up existing towns, no one bothered to standardize street names and addresses. Not surprisingly, this system frustrated Colonel LeRoy D. Steward, superintendent of city delivery for the Chicago post office, who spoke at an Industrial Club meeting in April 1908.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Chicago is suffering from improper mail delivery because of improper street arrangement. ... At present there are 125 towns within the city limits, and all have local street names and numbers. At present there are 511 streets of practically duplicate names. No one knows how many duplicate street numbers there are.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>In a later speech Steward asked: &ldquo;What is the use of spending large sums in beautifying the city when one cannot find one&rsquo;s way about it?&rdquo;</p><p>Such critiques emerged alongside the so-called <a href="http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/citybeautiful/city.html" target="_blank">City Beautiful movement</a>, whose proponents believed societal ills would evaporate with the development of rationally designed cities. Private groups like the <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/290.html" target="_blank">City Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.commercialclubchicago.org/" target="_blank">Commercial Club</a> banded together to improve the city, promoting ideas like <a href="http://burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu/history_future/plan_of_chicago/" target="_blank">Daniel Burnham&rsquo;s famous Plan of Chicago</a>, which was published in 1909 &mdash; the same year Brennan&rsquo;s system for rationalizing city addresses first took effect. Celebrated architects and engineers built the Loop, standardized the city&rsquo;s cable car system and carved out green spaces that we still use today. But the elegance of our street system is taken for granted.</p><p><strong>New solutions from a man with a plan</strong></p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t a postal worker or even an urban planner that smoothed out the system. It was a man named Edward Paul Brennan.</p><p>Brennan was a delivery boy for his father&rsquo;s grocery store, and later a bill collector for the music company Lyon &amp; Healy. He was so frustrated with the chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s address system that in 1901 he came up with his own. But it would take him years to get it implemented.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brennan 1910 courtesy Adelaide Brennan.jpg" style="height: 385px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Edward Paul Brennan in 1910, who devoted his life to crafting a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature. (Photo courtesy Adelaide Brennan)" /></div><p>Brennan wasn&rsquo;t the first person to recognize the problem, but he was the most persistent at arguing for a solution. As early as 1879, the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> reported on an ordinance for renumbering South Side streets based on Philadelphia&rsquo;s plan, where addresses increased by 100 with every block. It didn&rsquo;t pass.</p><p>&ldquo;His daughter told me that when he was delivering groceries for his father. Before he was even a bill collector, he was running into this problem,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon, an author and journalist who has researched the history of Chicago&rsquo;s street grid. &ldquo;So this was not something that Brennan uncovered &mdash; it was what everybody lived with. It was like snow in the winter &mdash; it was just part of the nature of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>But Brennan wouldn&rsquo;t accept the status quo. Beginning in the 1890s he started a scrapbook, collecting newspaper articles about problems with city navigation or delays due to address confusion. Articles had headlines like &ldquo;Streets in a Tangle. Visitors Lost.&rdquo; One report tells about a doctor who couldn&rsquo;t find a patient during a house call emergency. Brennan lobbied business leaders and newspaper editors for decades, needling them with letters that began like this one:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Dear Sir, Do you think a city should have two streets with the same name? Do you think a city should have one street with two or three, or even ten names? You agree that such naming of streets is ridiculous and an insult to the intelligence of any city. Yet Chicago, your city, has hundreds of such streets. This confusion costs you and the other citizens of Chicago hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. &hellip;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Like many Progressive Era activists, Brennan was motivated by the spirit of the time, devoting his life to crafting &ldquo;a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So let us go forward with the spirit that built the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&rsquo;s Fair</a>, correct our error and present the people of Chicago with a perfect house numbering plan,&rdquo; he said in one of many letters lobbying Chicago aldermen and local business leaders.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Thompson_Chicago_plat_1830.jpg" style="height: 491px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="James Thompson's plat map of Chicago, 1830. (Wikimedia Commons)" />Brennan&rsquo;s plan benefitted from the grid system laid out by James Thompson&rsquo;s official plat map for the city in 1830. Because of the regular spacing of Chicago&rsquo;s city blocks, the continuation of the grid despite any geographic features, and the absence of curved roads, Brennan&rsquo;s 1901 plan could be highly logical and mathematical. &ldquo;In this way,&rdquo; Brennan wrote, &ldquo;the numbers will indicate the locality at a glance.&rdquo;</p><p>With the help of an independent alderman named Charlie Byrne (who happened to be Brennan&rsquo;s cousin) he presented his &ldquo;Street Nomenclature Plan&rdquo; to the City Council in 1901. It included four big ideas: All addresses would be centered around a 0,0 point at State and Madison Streets; street names would include the direction; even-numbered addresses would always be on the west and north sides of any street, with odd numbers on the east and south sides; house numbers would increase by 800 (or 8 blocks) every mile, although Brennan had originally proposed 1000 addresses per mile.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s plan would also involve renaming many streets in order to cut confusion caused by duplication and other problems.</p><p>After his initial proposal, Brennan argued that Kinzie and State should instead be the new 0,0 baseline street, in honor of early settler John Kinzie. Alternate plans from other map enthusiasts proposed Western and Madison, because of its proximity to the geographic center of the growing city.</p><p><strong>A new address for every house in town</strong></p><p>After more than seven years of petitioning, the City Council passed Brennan&rsquo;s house numbering plan in 1908 and it went into effect on September 1, 1909. Businesses within the Loop fought the change early on, arguing that &mdash; among other things &mdash; it would cost too much to reprint their stationery. They received an extra two years to adopt the same system as the rest of the city.</p><p>The process of converting the address of nearly every household in Chicago was a daunting task. Newspaper accounts in the days and weeks leading up to the mandatory changes indicate confusion, resignation, and also humor. City directories published maps and thick new guides that residents and businesses could purchase, listing every old address and its new equivalent. Residents sent illustrated postcards with poems or cartoons to friends, notifying them of the change.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had your Aunt Matilda in Kansas who&#39;s sending you a letter, she doesn&#39;t necessarily know about the re-numbering system,&rdquo; says Oleksiuk. &ldquo;You have to write her a letter to tell her, &lsquo;My new address is such and such.&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh you moved?&rsquo; &lsquo;No I didn&#39;t. They&#39;re just re-numbering the streets.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Trouble lived beyond the initial confusion, though, as some people actively fought the change.</p><p>&ldquo;There were people who saw what [Brennan] was doing and what the city was doing in changing street names as meddling with the historic nature of their streets,&rdquo; says Reardon. &ldquo;So it was not a simple or an uncontroversial thing.&rdquo;</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/1.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/old_residence_1_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/5.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mailman_newspaperclip_6_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/3.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/town_5_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/2.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/newhomenumber_3_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/4.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sameoldhammock_4_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/6.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mayor_newspaperclip_7_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td></tr></tbody></table><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Postcards and newspaper clippings show the humor and confusion the city felt after the house number changes. Click on an image for large view.</span></span></p><p>Some residents banded together, lobbied their aldermen, and fought the city&rsquo;s proposed street name changes.</p><p>Under Brennan&rsquo;s plan, the tiny streets of Arlington Place and Deming Place in Lincoln Park should have been renamed as Montana Street and Lill Avenue, because they aligned east to west with those longer streets, despite not having a continuous block of streets.</p><p>&ldquo;Deming Place and Arlington Place residents joined Bellevue Place residents yesterday in expressing indignation at the cold-bloodedness of the council committee on street nomenclature which has threatened to rob them all of their euphonious titles.&rdquo; &mdash; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em>, Dec. 19, 1908</p><p>Others in the city were upset that they were losing a familiar house number. Mrs. Charles E. Pope, a resident along Chicago&rsquo;s Lake Shore Drive, wrote to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> in early 1909:</p><p>&ldquo;Really, I don&rsquo;t see how we shall be able to bear the burden of four numbers after being used to only two. Besides, most of us have lived here many years, and we don&rsquo;t like to see things changed.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.chsmedia.org/househistory/1909snc/start.PDF" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map%20showing%20house%20number%20cutout.PNG" style="height: 153px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="Click for full document of Chicago's 1909 street name and number changes." /></a>But even after the city-wide address renumbering, Brennan&rsquo;s work wasn&rsquo;t done. For the next 30 years he rooted out duplicate street names and inconsistencies, lobbying incessantly as part of the City Club&rsquo;s two-man Street Nomenclature Committee.</p><p>Brennan didn&rsquo;t get everything he wanted. He publicly lamented when aldermen wouldn&rsquo;t take his suggestions for new street names, all of which he said should reference &ldquo;meaningful&rdquo; things like art, literature, history, poetry, and &ldquo;illustrious names from many foreign lands.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is for us of the present day to continue the work so well begun by the pioneers of Chicago instead of being looked upon as iconoclasts by future generations,&rdquo; he said in 1913. &quot;With a history rich in meaningful names there will be no need of our innocent thoroughfares being rechristened Hinton, Dunmore, Dennison, Empire, or Limerick.&quot;</p><p>As always for Brennan, it was a matter of historic importance.</p><p>&quot;We are about to do something which will last as long as Chicago does,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p><strong>Brennan&rsquo;s legacy</strong></p><p>After the initial disruption caused by the changes, Chicagoans eventually appreciated the relative simplicity of the city&#39;s new street names and addresses. But Brennan&rsquo;s name was largely forgotten in the years after his death in 1942. His daughters wrote to newspaper editors and the city&rsquo;s map department attempting to have their father&rsquo;s work recognized.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Five years later, City Council named a South Side street in his honor: South Brennan Avenue runs from 96th Street south to 98th Street in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood. At the time the city publicly acknowledged the elegance of Brennan&rsquo;s system, noting &ldquo;There are now fewer street names in Chicago than in any other city in the country of even one-half the area of Chicago.&quot; Chicago had 3,629 miles of streets with just 1,370 names &mdash; far fewer than other cities with smaller geographical footprints at the time: New York (5,003), Baltimore (3,929), or Cleveland (2,199).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/honorary%20brennan.jpg" title="Today, Brennan's got an honorary street named after him at the intersection of State and Madison Streets, the city's 0,0 point. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><p>Every time Chicagoans navigate the 227 square miles of their city, they&rsquo;re unwittingly perpetuating Brennan&rsquo;s legacy. But until recently one of the only explicit reminders of the man himself was a collection of weathered scrapbooks he carefully collected, which was placed in the care of the Chicago History Museum by Mary Brennan, one of his daughters.</p><p>Another daughter, Adelaide, lived to the age of 99 and was able <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-08-25/opinion/ct-perspec-0825-madison-20130825_1_south-branch-north-branch-chicago-river" target="_blank">to see Ald. Brendan Reilly dedicate the northwest corner of State and Madison as Edward Brennan Way</a> in 2013.</p><p>Still, few people recognize the name of the man instrumental in rationalizing Chicago&rsquo;s streets. Compare that to the fate of Daniel Burnham.</p><p>&ldquo;Edward Paul Brennan was the man who, in my mind, is comparable to Daniel Burnham,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon. &ldquo;Burnham had the Plan of Chicago, which was set up to change the landscape, the physical landscape of the city. Edward Brennan changed the mental landscape of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>And that mental landscape persists today. Since Brennan&rsquo;s system is universal across the city, with 800 numbers to a mile, Chicagoans still use that same mental landscape to get around their city.</p><p>Raphael Nash was born in the West Side&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, but has lived all over the city. He had to learn Brennan&rsquo;s system, even if he didn&rsquo;t know it was Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>And even though most people today use a GPS to get around, Nash says it&rsquo;s useful to have a mental map as precise as Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I&#39;m driving and I don&#39;t need to be fumbling with the phone or anything so I just look up and pay attention to the number,&rdquo; Nash says.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s system is so simple that Nash and several other Chicagoans interviewed for this story say it has ruined them for other cities.</p><p>&ldquo;When I spent time on the East Coast I learned cities like Boston, which is just a mess. I was like OK, we had order,&rdquo; says Nash. &ldquo;And when I came back home was I was like, &lsquo;wow this is really easy.&rsquo; I don&rsquo;t know why I never paid attention to it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now Nash knows who to thank for that.</p><p>&ldquo;Thank you, Mr. Brennan,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>Who inspired our question?</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/toben%20_%20fisch1%20%281%29%202.jpg" style="height: 434px; width: 620px;" title="Paul Toben, left, and Jessica Fisch, right, discovered their old house number while fixing up the place they recently bought in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>We have several questioners to thank for inspiring this look into the city&rsquo;s rational street-numbering system. Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben started us off, but so did Marina Post, a Chicago homeowner.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/post6%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 484px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Marina Post asked us a similar question about her home in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Post wondered why her 1890s home in Wicker Park (today 2146 W. Caton St.) was one of several homes in the neighborhood with stained glass windows displaying lower, outdated address numbers. Post&rsquo;s is 51.</p><p>&ldquo;I can imagine it would feel somewhat demeaning to go from 51, which feels kind of exclusive,&rdquo; Post says, &ldquo;to 2146, which just makes you feel like you&#39;re one of the masses somehow. I could imagine if I were living at that time I would feel attached to my number.&rdquo;</p><p>She may as well have been talking about Mrs. Charles E. Pope, who complained about &ldquo;the burden of four numbers&rdquo; to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> during the address change. In fact we might owe our questioners&rsquo; curiosity to those stubborn homeowners from the early 20th century who kept their old house numbers beside the new, standardized addresses under Brennan&rsquo;s plan. Without them we wouldn&rsquo;t have the physical evidence of the pre-1909 system &mdash; or lack thereof &mdash; that piqued the interest of people like Paul Toben, Jessica Fisch and Marina Post.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> who reports regularly for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at <a href="http://cabentley.com/">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank">@jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 12:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 Were Chicago's public schools ever good? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025 <p><p>Our questioner Julie had completely forgotten she asked this when we reached out to her. She lives in Chicago&rsquo;s North Center neighborhood and didn&rsquo;t want to say much more about herself. But here&rsquo;s what she wanted to know:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>There is reporting about how Chicago Public Schools is slowly getting better. Was there ever a time when they were <strong>good</strong>?</em></p><p>As an education reporter, I&rsquo;ve heard many versions of this question during <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/bvevea" target="_blank">my time covering Chicago Public Schools</a>, and that&rsquo;s partly why I wanted to take a stab at answering it. But I also wanted to tackle this question because it asks us to think about our relationship with the public schools and what we expect them to do.</p><p>Measuring a school or school district&rsquo;s success or failure is no easy feat, and it&rsquo;s even harder to measure over time because the standards and metrics have changed significantly. <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Trends_CPS_Full_Report.pdf" target="_blank">A recent study from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> stated that &ldquo;discrepancies are due to myriad issues with publicly reported data &mdash; including changes in test content and scoring &mdash; that make year-over-year comparisons nearly impossible without complex statistical analyses.&rdquo;</p><p>Because the definition of &ldquo;good&rdquo; is subjective,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/good-school-bad-school-how-should-we-measure-111736" target="_blank"> we solicited your help</a> in defining how to use it while reporting this story. Some of you suggested using standardized test scores, which go back decades. (Schools haven&rsquo;t used the same test over time, making comparisons difficult.) Others suggested we consider grades or safety.</p><p>Ultimately, we decided to look at when CPS did a good job preparing students for successful careers; that is: When did the district best prepare people to be productive, taxpaying citizens? Career readiness is a consistent expectation, and it&rsquo;s possible to compare one era to another.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The 1940s, a Golden Era?</span></p><p>Based on this measurement and what historians and other experts suggested, the 1940s would seem the best contender for the district&rsquo;s golden era of public education. Schools provided valuable workforce training that was needed in the local industries, like steel and iron work, retail and office or clerical jobs.</p><p>The 1940s saw the culmination of a series of unprecedented investments in public education, mostly from the federal government. The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 funneled millions of dollars into vocational training. Chicago schools set up programs in accounting, drafting, welding, and even &ldquo;household arts.&rdquo;</p><p>After a lag during the Great Depression, the war effort and New Deal programs brought even more vocational programs. One example: In 1939, the city built <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-05/school-architecture-look-sprawling-chicago-vocational-99372">Chicago Vocational High School</a>, and quickly turned it over to the U.S. Navy to train young men in aviation mechanics. (By the late 1940s, control of the school returned to the Chicago Board of Education.)</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Another example to point to: More than a dozen local unions collaborated with and supported the programs at Washburne Trade School to train future electricians and carpenters.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lane tech automobile dept.JPG" style="height: 389px; width: 620px;" title="New Deal programs of the 1940s brought more vocational programs to public education, like this automobile shop class at Albert Grannis Lane Manual Training High School, now named Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago's North Center Neighborhood. (Courtesy Chuckman's nostalgia and memorabilia website) " /></div></div><p>But Dionne Danns, an education historian at Indiana University, provides a fast reality check when it comes to assessing the era. She points out that, at the turn of the century, and into the 1940s, people did not even need a high school diploma. In fact, most people weren&rsquo;t even finishing elementary school.</p><p>&ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t have to go to school for a job,&rdquo; Danns says. &ldquo;You went to school because they wanted you to go. They were opening more schools because they wanted immigrants to go to school and learn what it meant to be American.&rdquo;</p><p>And more importantly, Danns says, the 1940s can&rsquo;t count as a golden era of public schooling because schools were not providing education to all children; African Americans, Latinos and other minority groups did not have access to the same public schools as whites.</p><p>Women were just beginning to gain access to colleges and careers. Many attended the Lucy Flower Vocational School, which offered a home economics program and some two-year programs in sewing, dressmaking and millinery (hat-making).</p><p>A <a href="http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1770&amp;context=luc_diss">study</a> out of Loyola University pegged Chicago Vocational High School enrollment in 1946 at 2,721 students. Just 204 were girls. Another all-girls school opened that year. Richards Vocational High School had an enrollment of 230 women and offered curriculum in home arts, dressmaking, beauty culture, and bookkeeping among other things.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t underestimate the role schools played in maintaining inequalities in society,&rdquo; Danns says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1964%20map.jpg" style="float: right; height: 502px; width: 350px;" title="Locations of integrated and segregated elementary schools in Chicago, 1964. (Source: Board of Education)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Better schools, more students</span></p><p>What about looking for the CPS golden era of career readiness just a bit later, perhaps sometime in the &lsquo;50s or &lsquo;60s? It&rsquo;s tempting, because the inequalities we saw in the 1940s were challenged in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are &ldquo;inherently unequal&rdquo; and therefore, unconstitutional.</p><p>By the 1960s, African Americans were enrolling in public schools that had been historically all white. And for a while, schools were integrating.</p><p>In 1964 Paul Goren (today, the Superintendent of District 65 in Evanston) was in kindergarten in the city&rsquo;s Avalon Park neighborhood. Hanging on his office wall are three class photos: one each from 1964, 1967 and 1968. In the 1964 photo, half of the smiling children are white, the other half are African American. The 1968 picture, though, shows just three white students.</p><p>Goren says that in his class of about thirty or so, those last three white children were the last three white children left in the entire school.</p><p>&ldquo;What I remember very distinctly, and again, it&rsquo;s characterized in the pictures up above, was arguments kids were making saying, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re moving!&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh, why are you moving?&rsquo; And the answer was because the schools are not good,&rdquo; Goren recalls. &ldquo;That sort of confused me, because the schools didn&rsquo;t seem to be any different than they were when they were frankly, all white.&rdquo;</p><p>That same year, an advisory panel on integration warned the Chicago Board of Education that whites were fleeing the district in mass numbers.</p><p>The board dragged its feet and did little to prevent white flight during the 1960s, but by 1970 the board started systematic attempts to integrate the schools.</p><p>It created the first generation of magnet schools, many of which are still successful today: Whitney Young, Disney, and Inter-American, among others. They were endowed with special programs and extra resources that would attract white students and African Americans. Students applied from all over the city and their names were essentially, picked out of a hat.</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/metro%20high%20school%20yearbook%201978.PNG" style="height: 457px; width: 620px;" title="Metro High School's curriculum was built on the idea of the city being a classroom, and held classes at places like the Shedd Aquarium and Second City. (Source: Metro High School yearbook, 1978)" /></div><p>Goren went to one such school, called Metro High (or, Chicago Public High School for Metropolitan Studies). Not only was it an experiment in diversity, the school had a <a href="http://www.metrohschicago.com/bonus/Cycle3catalog1973.pdf">unique curriculum</a>. Goren took classes across the city: marine biology at Shedd Aquarium, animal behavior at Lincoln Park Zoo, and public speaking at Second City.</p><p>&ldquo;For me the golden era was my time at Metro High School,&rdquo; Goren says. The school closed in 1991.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goren.PNG" style="height: 235px; width: 275px; float: right;" title="Paul Goren, right, at Metro High School in 1975. " /></p><p>Goren says many of the kids who attended Metro and other magnet schools were propelled into good careers in law and medicine. He has several friends who are now teachers in the area, as well.</p><p>But a lot of Chicago kids weren&rsquo;t that lucky. Magnet schools became isolated islands of success, but if you didn&rsquo;t get into one, public education was a mixed bag. &nbsp;</p><p>Among other problems, inequalities persisted. Danns says when schools started to integrate, local trade unions pulled support from Washburne Trade School. An <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-11-27/news/8603290329_1_apprenticeship-public-schools-board">article</a> from the Chicago Tribune in 1986, mentioned that in 1963 fewer than 2 percent of apprentices at Washburne were black.</p><p>In other words, even with years of effort on the part of the district, a career-ready curriculum remained out of reach for large swaths of CPS students.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&#39;Worst in the nation&#39;</span></p><p>There are few reasons to argue that CPS was at its best in the &lsquo;80s, because (among other reasons), CPS ran into financial troubles throughout the decade. Also, between 1979 to 1987, Chicago teachers went on strike nine times. Districts started measuring achievement and looking at dropout rates, and in Chicago, things did not look great.</p><p>In 1987, then-U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett famously characterized Chicago schools as &ldquo;the worst&rdquo; in the nation. More than half of all students were dropping out of high school at the same time the value of a high school degree was increasing. Factory jobs had all but disappeared and the country was still recovering from the 1982 recession.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VC8dPdPo9Tg?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: A short video recollection from a CPS teacher about the 1980s strike. (YouTube/Chicago Teachers Union)</span></span></p><p>Susan Lofton was a teacher in the early 1990s and vividly remembers being locked out because CPS couldn&rsquo;t make payroll.</p><p>&ldquo;All of a sudden was told don&rsquo;t go to work on Monday,&rdquo; Lofton says. &ldquo;I remember going to an unemployment office where there was literally a roped off area for teachers to go be processed.&rdquo;</p><p>In 1988, the Illinois General Assembly passed the first Chicago School Reform Act, creating local school councils at each individual school. Many schools improved under this model, but others did not.</p><p>In 1995, the state gave total control of CPS to mayor Richard M. Daley. This started the last era we&rsquo;re going to consider. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">More success than we realize</span></p><p>I&rsquo;m going to suggest something that might surprise you. Maybe, just maybe, we&rsquo;re living in CPS&rsquo; golden era right now.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a growing body of evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s schools are improving quickly and &mdash; for certain populations of students &mdash; doing better than other districts. <em>U.S. News and World Report</em> just released its annual rankings of the nation&rsquo;s best high schools: <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2015/may/six-chicago-public-high-schools-among-top-ten-in-the-state--u-s-.html">Six of the top 10 in Illinois are in CPS and another three in the top 20.</a></p><p>&ldquo;When the state&rsquo;s not doing well or not making great progress, there&rsquo;s always some number of people who say, &lsquo;Well maybe that&rsquo;s just because Chicago&rsquo;s not doing well. Maybe they&rsquo;re just dragging down the rest of the state,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Robin Steans, executive director of <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois, a bipartisan group focused on improving the state&rsquo;s education policy</a>. &ldquo;What we found is that&rsquo;s not true. Chicago has made steady gains both academically and in terms of some critical outcomes, like graduation.&rdquo;</p><p>Steans&rsquo; group looked at scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, from 2003 to 2013 and found Chicago students grew 11 points on the 8th grade math test and 7 points on the 4th grade reading test. The state grew just 7 points and 3 points, respectively.</p><p>Advance Illinois also compiled state graduation data from 2014 to compare Chicago with other districts for certain subgroups of students. They found that Latino students enrolled in CPS are more likely to graduate high school than their counterparts in many suburban districts, including Maine Township High Schools and Evanston Township High School.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so counterintuitive to what they think they know about Chicago that they just disregard it,&rdquo; Steans says of the data. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s been so much noise, with the teachers strike and the school closings. The political heat and noise tends to crowd out what&rsquo;s actually beneath and behind that.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://urbanedleadership.org/about-us/people/paul-zavitkovsky/" target="_blank">Paul Zavitkovsky</a>, a&nbsp;leadership coach and assessment specialist&nbsp;at the Urban Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois - Chicago, may be able to help. In a forthcoming study, Zavitkovsky&rsquo;s findings mirror what Advance Illinois found.</p><p>&ldquo;On an apples-for-apples basis, if you compare yourself with your counterparts based on race and socioeconomic status in other parts of the state, you have a higher probability of having a better educational experience in Chicago,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>But Zavitkovsky goes further. He shared a preliminary version of the report with WBEZ that showed students in the 75th percentile for 4th grade math achievement grew 20 points between 2003 and 2013. The performance of that subgroup in the rest of the state grew only 3 points in the same amount of time.</p><p>However, he&rsquo;s not convinced CPS is in a &ldquo;golden era&rdquo; because of all this data. From Zavitkovsky&rsquo;s vantage, the real win is that we have more information than we&rsquo;ve ever had before,and that can better inform the national conversation about public schools.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re better positioned now than we&rsquo;ve ever been to know what we have to do in order to be able to get that kind of stuff into the hands and into the heads of more than just a small percentage of kids, coming primarily from the most privileged families in America,&rdquo; Zavitowsky says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s no easy way to measure job readiness and whether these improvements translate into more successful alumni. Short of picking up the phone and calling all the former students, CPS does not follow students into employment.</p><p>The closest indicator available is college persistence, and CPS also made gains in it during the last decade. A <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/publications/educational-attainment-chicago-public-schools-students-focus-four-year-college-degrees">report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> found that between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of CPS students earning a bachelor&rsquo;s degree within 6 years of high school graduation jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. The national rate is 18 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Greater Expectations</span></p><p>I&rsquo;ve been reporting on CPS for more than four years and I&rsquo;ve covered a lot of the noise and dysfunction Steans mentioned. But I&rsquo;ve also reported on schools that are trying everything to improve.</p><p>They include schools like Senn High School in Edgewater. Susan Lofton, the teacher who remembers being in the unemployment line back in the 1990s, is now the principal at Senn. When she took over in 2010, the school had a bad name.</p><p>&ldquo;A-B-S,&rdquo; Lofton says, &ldquo;Anywhere But Senn.&rdquo;</p><p>Lofton created the Senn Arts magnet program and expanded the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-25/chicagos-middle-class-not-interested-hidden-gem-high-schools-98519">rigorous International Baccalaureate program</a>, which had long been a hidden gem.</p><p>She also recruited drama teacher Joel Ewing away from Walter Payton College Prep, a prestigious selective enrollment school.</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/ewing.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Joel Ewing teaches a drama class at Senn High School. Previously a teacher at Walter Payton College Prep, Ewing says he accepted the position at Senn because he saw a void that needed to be filled. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /></div><p>&ldquo;When I took the job at Senn Arts, I got crooked heads,&rdquo; Ewing says. &ldquo;&lsquo;Why would you leave Walter Payton? That&#39;s clearly one of the best schools, in the city, state.&rsquo; ... I thought there was a void that needed to be filled. Payton is going to be alright.&rdquo;</p><p>Senn chose to become a little like a magnet school but still focus on neighborhood students &mdash; a strategy that lots of CPS schools are trying. But Lofton says the biggest hurdle to changing Senn&rsquo;s reputation has nothing to do with academics.</p><p>&ldquo;The first day I got here, I took the Red Line,&rdquo; Lofton recalls. &ldquo;I, myself, could barely get through the station to get myself to school. There were a lot of my kids there that were just loitering because, &lsquo;Hey! We don&rsquo;t go to school on time here.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Now, she and the other administrators start every morning at the Thorndale Red Line stop, shuffling students along and calling the cops on anyone else who, as she says, had no business being there.</p><p>Senn is not alone: Schools across the city worry about safety, sometimes even before academics. It&rsquo;s a big departure from past decades.Today, we expect schools to do more than we ever have. Making the local train stop safe? Since when is that in the job description of a principal or teacher? If Lofton and Senn staff want their students to be prepared for college and careers, they don&rsquo;t really have a choice not to.</p><p>The latest trends tempt me to say that the time we&rsquo;re looking for, when CPS schools were good ... is right now. The district&rsquo;s serving more students than ever and it&rsquo;s still making incremental progress, despite the noise and dysfunction that sometimes overshadow much of it. (As an education reporter, I know I share the blame for that.)</p><p>But I&#39;m not convinced this is the golden era; there&rsquo;s a lot of work to be done and that bad stuff I report on? It does really happen.</p><p>So, even if there was never a &ldquo;golden age&rdquo; and even if the idea itself is impossible, I think we have to keep asking questions, looking at what works and what doesn&rsquo;t and never stop highlighting those who are not being served.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 May 2015 17:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025 What does the Lincoln Park Zoo do with all its poo? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/curious-city-secrets-lincoln-park-zoos-poo-100260 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204249224&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This report expands on reporting we started when we first visited this question in 2012. The audio story includes interview excerpts from the Curious City Fecal Matters! live event of March 2015.&nbsp;</em></p><p>There&rsquo;s a natural cycle to urban life that can&rsquo;t be ignored; as the snow melts away and the citizenry emerges from winter burrows, residents spend more time outdoors, and with that, there&rsquo;s more opportunity to ponder the animals&rsquo; rhythms and cycles, including the less seamly ones.</p><p>Chicagoan Kelley Clink reflected on life&rsquo;s natural processes, particularly as she potty-trained her pup two springtimes ago. She wondered how poop management worked on a larger (Ok, institutional) scale, and she then sent us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/question/33">What happens to all the, um, &#39;animal waste&#39; from the Lincoln Park Zoo?</a></em></p><p>&ldquo;My dog at the time was pooping in various places,&rdquo; Clink said. &ldquo;Sometimes I&rsquo;d pick it up and throw it in a dumpster, and sometimes if he pooped on my rug I&rsquo;d take some toilet paper and flush it inside. So it made me think, &lsquo;Gosh, with all these animals are they flushing it? Putting it in the dumpster? Where is it going?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Well, the answer can be summed up like this: Lincoln Park Zoo tosses the poo, it studies the poo, and it stores the poo (in the hopes of studying the poo even more someday). That may not be returning poo to &ldquo;the great cycle of life,&rdquo; but it&rsquo;s how the stuff is dealt with, regardless. If you can hold your nose for a short bit, here are the details.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Toss it</span></p><p>The first thing to note is that zoo poop is not so easy for journalists to access, so you&rsquo;re spared first-hand accounts of the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes scraping, shoveling and the like. The Lincoln Park Zoo tells us raw animal waste is considered biohazardous, so we could not actually go anywhere near it to follow its journey.</p><p>But, the Lincoln Park Zoo confirms that the bulk of the animal waste is pretty much handled like garbage; it&#39;s hand-removed by staff, thrown into dumpsters or bags, and compacted along with all the other garbage, according to General Curator Dave Bernier. He says the zoo uses a waste management company to cart everything away.</p><p>Some zoos have opted to<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjfNVEvRI3w"> use the feces for composting</a>, even <a href="http://www.zoo.org/page.aspx?pid=2001">selling the material as fertilizer</a> in their gift shops for use in home gardening. Bernier said he&#39;s heard talk of doing similar things at Lincoln Park, but he says there are some considerable barriers to doing so. He said it would require hiring staff and the park currently doesn&#39;t have space or a back-lot for such an operation. Besides, Bernier said, &quot;We have a hard time getting people to like the smell of our aardvark, I can&#39;t imagine they&#39;d like this feces brewing somewhere.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What can you do with zoo poo? Study it!</span></p><p>But the old heave-ho doesn&rsquo;t apply to the zoo&rsquo;s entire supply of animal feces. Dave Bernier says a portion of the poo is studied for insights into the animals&rsquo; physical and emotional well-being. In some respects, Bernier says, the zoo treats feces as a &quot;management tool&quot; to monitor animal health. For example, zoo keepers look for obvious changes in the consistency, color or amount of feces animals produce.</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/8%20CAMELS.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Normal Bactrian Camel waste should look like chocolate-glazed donut holes, explains Bernier. When one of the camels had a loose stool, the zoo studied its fecal matter and learned it was eating too much of the free-growing plant foliage. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe) " /></div><p>Bernier says that a few years ago the zoo &quot;had a camel that had loose stool. Normally they&#39;re well-formed pellets of stool &mdash; just think of chocolate-glazed donut holes.&quot; He explains that staff looked into that camel&#39;s diet and realized it was eating too much of the free-growing plant material in its space.</p><p>&quot;So we ended up cutting back some of the plants they could reach in their exhibit and then their stool normalized again,&quot; he said.</p><p>But the zoo keepers take an even closer look at feces, too, performing diagnostic tests in an on-site laboratory.</p><p>Rachel Santymire, director of the zoo&rsquo;s Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, oversees and studies about 10,000 poop samples a year from about 50 animal species at the zoo. Santymire says each sample is a clue into an animal&rsquo;s emotional health.</p><p>&ldquo;Animals can hide certain behaviors,&rdquo; Santymire said. &ldquo;I can look inside the animal &mdash; they can&rsquo;t lie to me! &mdash; and I know exactly how they&rsquo;re reacting to whatever they&rsquo;re encountering &hellip; all from poop.&rdquo;</p><p>For example, Santymire can tell whether an animal is pregnant by detecting changes in its hormonal levels. She can also get a sense of whether an animal feels stressed out &mdash; all by looking for the hormone cortisol.</p><p>Bernier says those fecal tests can be used to make important decisions, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10888705.2011.576968">such as changing an animal&#39;s living situation</a>.</p><p>&quot;I had a singly-housed female antelope which normally lives in groups and she seemed perfectly fine. But she was alone because her cage-mate had recently passed away,&quot; Bernier said.</p><p>He wondered if introducing another antelope to her cage would ultimately be a positive change, or if it would stress her out. They tested the theory by slowly introducing a new antelope friend. All the while, staff collected and tested samples of both animals&rsquo; feces &mdash; before the introduction and after it. Bernier said the cortisol levels spiked and then dipped after the introduction.</p><p>&quot;But ultimately both of their stress hormone levels went down below their baselines when they were together,&quot; Bernier said. He adds that, without this kind of testing, staff could not have known whether it was a positive or negative change because the animals showed no outward signs of stress.</p><p>&quot;Animals are meant to mask any kinds of injuries illnesses or deficiencies because a lot of them are prey animals or have to survive in a social setting,&rdquo; Bernier said.</p><p>But, as zoo staff often say: Hormones don&rsquo;t lie.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Institutional poo hoarders</span></p><p>With about 10,000 poop samples a year making their way through Santymire&rsquo;s lab, you&rsquo;d suspect she has a complex storage system for all that waste; however, Santymire says the setup&rsquo;s quite simple. It involves refrigeration. And lots of it.</p><p>First, the animal care staff collects samples from the animals like you might pick up after a dog, using sealed, plastic bags. The staff puts those samples in refrigerators all around the zoo, and Santymire collects the new material every month. She then weighs out portions of the poop, shoves them into test tubes, and then places the tubes into carefully labeled boxes, according to species. Santymire says each box holds 100 poop samples, and she&rsquo;s got 10 standard, 21-cubic-foot freezers full of poo boxes.</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/lpzoo%20strorage.jpeg" style="height: 278px; width: 620px;" title="The zoo's endocrinology lab studies about 10,000 poop samples a year and stores them in 10 freezers throughout the grounds. (Photo courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)" /></div><p>Why keep all that poop at the ready? Well, Santymire says, it stays fresh for a long time, making the samples good material for follow-up questions she comes up with.</p><p>&ldquo;Instead of throwing away samples when we&rsquo;ve published our results, I look at the tubes and say, &lsquo;Wow, I can ask and answer another question with these poop samples. I cannot throw them away. I admit it,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The kicker: What are the grossest offenders?</span></p><p>Questioner Kelley Clink wasn&rsquo;t just interested in the Lincoln Park Zoo poo&rsquo;s ultimate destination. She tossed us a quick follow-up that we couldn&rsquo;t resist: Which animal is the worst to clean up after?</p><p>We put the question to both Santymire and Bernier.</p><p><strong>Santymire&rsquo;s nominee: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishing_cat" target="_blank">The Fishing Cat</a></strong></p><p>&ldquo;Imagine a cat that eats mostly fish. If you boil the feces you can clear out the fecal lab,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;No one wants to be around when you&rsquo;re working on fishing cat poop.&rdquo;</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/fishing%20cat.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Attis1979)" /></div><p><strong>Bernier&rsquo;s pick: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_hippopotamus" target="_blank">The Pygmy Hippo</a></strong></p><p>&ldquo;Special note on the hippos ... They&rsquo;re the messiest of all animals,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Because our hippos here are a river species &mdash; they&rsquo;re pygmy hippos. So they advertise their territory with feces. But instead of just dropping the feces, they use their tails like a propeller and they spray it all over the place.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://i.imgur.com/LPGeFb1.gifv#embed" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: right;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jXMeo4a4k" target="_blank"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:10px;">(Shawn O&#39;Dell/YouTube)</span></span></a></p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>. Jennifer Brandel founded Curious City, and is now expanding the project as <a href="https://twitter.com/Curious_Nation" target="_blank">Curious Nation</a>. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/jnnbrndl" target="_blank">@jnnbrndl</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 06 May 2015 18:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/curious-city-secrets-lincoln-park-zoos-poo-100260 Uptown's moment as a 'Hillbilly Heaven' http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/uptowns-moment-hillbilly-heaven-111964 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203187587&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Hillbilly Heaven. That was a common nickname for Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. For about twenty years, the neighborhood, which sits between Lakeview and Rogers Park, was locally famous for being home to thousands of white Southern migrants, many of whom came from the Appalachian region. And while many migrants lived in other neighborhoods on the North Side, Uptown had the greatest concentration of Southerners and, not coincidentally, it was where the poorest members of that community lived.</p><p>The Southern influence stuck around through the &lsquo;70s, but by the &lsquo;90s, it was difficult to find many Southerners in Uptown. The history fascinated questioner Matthew Byrd, a college student originally from Chicago. Byrd is descended from Southern migrants (both of his mother&rsquo;s parents were born in West Virginia), and he grew up visiting his extended family in the South and asking his grandparents about Uptown in the &ldquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rdquo; days.</p><p>&ldquo;I always asked them why they came to Uptown &hellip; and they never gave me a definitive answer. I wanted to know why they all came to that neighborhood. &hellip; Like, why didn&rsquo;t they come to like Bridgeport or Humboldt Park. Why was it Uptown?&rdquo;</p><p>His question for Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why did so many migrants from Appalachia end up in Chicago&#39;s Uptown neighborhood during the &#39;50s and &#39;60s? Why did so many leave?</em></p><p>With help from Byrd&rsquo;s own family, historians and others, we&rsquo;re able to provide a quick account of how the neighborhood transformed from a swank, Midwestern urban neighborhood to one where, according to sociologist Todd Gitlin: &ldquo;You&rsquo;d walk down the street [and] you&rsquo;d hear some country western song coming down the window, and as you proceeded down the street, you&rsquo;d hear the same song coming out of other windows. You heard a lot of Southern accents. You saw a lot of Southern license plates.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Great (White) Migration</span></p><p>It doesn&rsquo;t take a great mental leap to grasp why so many white Southerners came to Chicago when they did. Like most migrant groups, they came because there were abundant jobs. While we might be more familiar with <a href="http://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/020/">&ldquo;The Second Great Migration&rdquo;</a> (1940 - 1970) &nbsp;of African Americans from the South, to the North, Midwest, and West, more white migrants than black made the trek to the North after World War II.</p><p>Chad Berry, a historian at Berea College, takes up the phenomenon in <em>Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles</em>: &ldquo;Anyone familiar with the history of especially the Upland South will immediately ask not so much why southerners left their region in droves in the twentieth century, but why it took them so long to pack their bags. ...&rdquo; The Upland South, a region that includes most of Appalachia as well as places farther west such as Western Kentucky and Arkansas, had been in an economic slump since before the Civil War, and it offered few economies apart from subsistence farming and coal mining.</p><p>But before 1920, Southerners hoping to leave had few choices. Large Northern industries could largely satisfy their hunger for cheap labor by recruiting immigrants from other countries. Chicago&rsquo;s Polish, Irish, Italian, and many other European populations all have their roots in the late 19th century. But in the 1920s, the U.S., still reeling from World War I, clamped down on immigration with a series of federal laws that drastically restricted the immigrant labor pool. This meant big industry had to turn inward for cheap labor. Berry says &ldquo;They look in three places: whites, blacks, and domestic-born Latino people.&rdquo;</p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_27083" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/263449521/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: A 1967 pamphlet for The Chicago Southern Center, an organization that helped Southern migrants adjust to urban living. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum)</span></p><p>Southern whites and blacks began to come north, but just as the migration started, the Great Depression slowed down industry so much that jobs became scarce. The migration was put on hold until 1941. &ldquo;And then during and after World War II, there&rsquo;s an amazing demand for manufacturing,&rdquo; says Berry. &ldquo;Chicago was a real magnet for workers, just as Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland and other countless places were in the Midwest.&rdquo;</p><p>In the late 1940s (a bit earlier than Matthew Byrd had ventured), white Southerners began travelling north again, lured by stories of abundant jobs. Roger Guy, a sociologist who interviewed Southerners in Uptown during the 1990s says &ldquo;Migrants spoke about being able to leave a job, and being able to walk across the street and get another one.&rdquo;</p><p>Southerners worked in light industrial factories such as Polaroid and Zenith. Some performed more brutal and less lucrative day labor in the steel mills. Others found work in carpentry, or in the city&rsquo;s prominent candy industry, or even as handymen or shade tree mechanics.</p><p>The jobs brought changes to the traditional order of Southern life. First off, women often performed the same work that men did. And, the Southerners now worked in the same workplaces as African Americans, Latinos, and recent European immigrants. Southern migrants who hailed from the more isolated Appalachian region had never even met Catholics or Jews before coming North.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Uptown: A neighborhood ready for migrants</span></p><p>The new arrivals needed a place to arrive within the city &mdash; a neighborhood that was near industrial work but also offered affordable rents. They found Uptown. While we don&rsquo;t know which Southern migrant first settled there, or precisely when that happened, a series of events primed Uptown as a suitable port of entry.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uptown%20in%20the%201920s.jpg" style="float: right; height: 296px; width: 320px;" title="Uptown's Chelsea Hotel, on the left, opened in 1923 and required its first residents to rent rooms on a monthly basis to ensure no 'transients' stayed in the building. (Photo courtesy jontrott.com) " /></p><p>According to Roger Guy, Uptown in the 1920s rivaled The Loop as the premier shopping and entertainment destination in Chicago. It was the heart of Chicago&rsquo;s silent film industry, and there were several monolithic brick residential hotels where professionals could stay for weeks, months or longer, depending on their busy and shifting schedules.Young single people could live in fancy Art-Deco apartments and enjoy an active nightlife. The Uptown Theater &mdash; &nbsp;at the time, Chicago&rsquo;s second-largest entertainment venue &mdash; showed movies and stage shows, and contained a nightclub and several shops. The &ldquo;Moorish&rdquo;-looking Aragon theater featured highbrow jazz music, while the Green Mill Gardens and the Arcadia Ballroom catered to younger, wilder patrons.</p><p>The depressed economy of the 1930s saw the neighborhood change significantly. The film industry went to Hollywood, the nightlife became seedier and many of the wealthier tenants left. To save money, landlords deferred maintenance, and to keep their units profitable, they began subdividing large luxury apartments into single- and double-room units to rent to a less wealthy clientele. Many residential hotel rooms were similarly converted to small studios. By the 1950s, Uptown was full of cheap, formerly fancy apartments.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rsquo;</span></p><p>As a port of entry, many Southerners came to Uptown because they knew somebody there, and knew they could find cheap rent. Those who could find good jobs often moved to other, quieter neighborhoods, but those who couldn&rsquo;t tended to stay in Uptown. That meant it became the locus of Southern white poverty in Chicago.</p><p>Many Southerners who lived there remember the neighborhood fondly. They enjoyed the opportunity to hear country music, or even familiar accents. But our questioner&rsquo;s grandmother, Linda Lambert, says her family was in for a shock when they arrived from West Virginia in 1965.</p><p>&ldquo;There were many Southern people,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;but they weren&#39;t the Southern people we were used to being around. They were a little rough around the edges. If I was getting ready to go to the store, my dad would watch me walk down the block. Somebody would be whistling at me, and it was kind of upsetting.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//slides.com/loganjaffe-1/deck-2/embed?token=y7n404tH" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="576"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Photos of Appalachian migrants in Uptown taken by Bob Rehak, who documented the neighborhood throughout the 1970s. See his photo book: <a href="http://bobrehak.com/wordpress/uptown-portrait-of-a-chicago-neighborhood-in-the-mid-1970s-by-robert-rehak/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago&#39;s Uptown: 1973-77</em></a> for more.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p>Southerners developed a bad reputation among some Chicagoans. In the 1950s, The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> ran a series of articles about Southerners in Uptown, featuring reporter Norma Lee Browning. Although she developed a reputation as a tough investigative reporter, Browning&rsquo;s articles were loaded with stereotypes about rural Southerners. Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from the series&rsquo; first article, entitled &ldquo;<a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1957/03/03/page/1/article/girl-reporter-visits-jungles-of-hillbillies" target="_blank">Girl Reporter Visits Jungles of Hillbillies</a>&rdquo;:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Authorities are reluctant to point a finger at any one segment of the population or nationality group, but they agree that the southern hillbilly migrants, who have descended on Chicago like a plague of locusts in the last few years, have the lowest standard of living and moral code [if any] of all, the biggest capacity for liquor, and the most savage and vicious tactics when drunk, which is most of the time.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Another article purported to document the newcomers&rsquo; family life: &ldquo;They get married one day, unmarried the next, and in the confusion of common law marriages many children never know who their parents are &mdash; and nobody cares.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the apparent gross exaggerations and fabrications from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>&rsquo;s reporting, it appears there <em>were</em> some unsavory characters in Uptown. Roger Guy explains Uptown had some of the characteristics of an oil boomtown, where young single men would work for a few weeks, and then use their wages to party.</p><p>Migrant Linda Lambert says, &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s like any other culture, you got your good and you got your bad. There was a lot of poverty. That is true. But a lot of people who lived there lived there until they could do better. It was just a stop in the road.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Displacement</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uptown%20demolition%20area.jpg" style="height: 328px; width: 620px;" title="An evaluation of the condition of a block of housing in Uptown by the city's Department of Urban Renewal, 1967. (Flickr/Devin Hunter)" /></p><p>If some Uptown Southerners represented a rougher element, others just struggled to survive in a city that was not always hospitable. Virginia Bowers, a former resident who originally came from West Virginia, says that tenants in Uptown often had to deal with unscrupulous landlords. She had worked managing property. During interviews with Roger Guy she&rsquo;d said: &ldquo;I lost my first job as a manager in a building because I stuck up for a couple that had been bitten by a rat. The owner wanted me to lie about it. I told [the housing inspector] that I couldn&rsquo;t lie to him. I was a mother myself and I couldn&rsquo;t lie.&rdquo;</p><p>There were numerous reports of landlords cutting corners to save money. According to tenants and local activists, owners turned off the heat, electricity, or water in buildings. They deferred maintenance to save money, and harassed or evicted tenants who complained. Activists including scholar Todd Gitlin and Helen Shiller (who became the area&rsquo;s alderman in 1987) organized tenants to resist unsanitary conditions through rent strikes, public protest and other tactics. In some cases, they were able to bring about better housing conditions.</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/uptown%20apartment%20interior.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="An Uptown apartment kitchen in 1967. (Flickr/Devin Hunter)" /></div><p>But even as Southerners in Uptown sought to improve housing conditions for the poor in Uptown, the city and developers had other plans. By the late 1960s, abundant jobs were scarce, and Uptown&rsquo;s reputation as a rough place with substandard housing grew worse. The city instituted a series of public works projects, including razing several square blocks to relocate Harry S. Truman City College. A group called the &ldquo;Uptown Area People&rsquo;s Planning Organization&rdquo; organized under the leadership of Chuck Geary. Geary was a migrant himself &mdash; a Korean War veteran, erstwhile hitchhiker, father of eight and a preacher. He worked with architect Rodney Wright to develop an alternative to the Truman College plan called <a href="http://www.thecyberhood.net/documents/papers/guy.pdf" target="_blank">Hank Williams Village</a>, named after the famous country singer. According to Roger Guy, the village would be a &ldquo;planned community with subsidized apartments, a pharmacy, and an employment agency.&rdquo; It was never built.</p><p>After the Truman College relocation effort won out, the area saw a series of developments. The city and developers argued urban renewal was necessary to replace substandard housing and rid Uptown of blight. Helen Shiller argues the poor in Uptown, who also included Native Americans, Japanese-American migrants, Latinos, and a handful of other groups, were seen as undesirable by the city and business community. &ldquo;The city&rsquo;s policy, in the North Side at least, was to create public works projects in specific communities where they wanted to remove people,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/williams site from guy paper.PNG" style="float: right; height: 304px; width: 300px;" title="(Source: 'Hank Williams Village and the Legacy of Advocacy Planning' by Roger Guy)" />City officials and developers responded that they were not trying to remove anybody, but the neighborhood needed improvement, and if that meant some people were displaced, it was an unfortunate necessity.</p><p>Shiller argues that planning for Uptown could have been more inclusive, preserving housing for the poor, including white Southerners. But, she says, that didn&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>&ldquo;A handful of developers were redefining the community in real estate terms and claiming parts of it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They had deep pockets and built up large tracts of family housing, kicked people out wholesale, rehabbed the buildings, and tripled and even quadrupled the rent.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether or not the city and developers actively targeted poor white Southerners for removal, the evictions and rising rents seem to have driven thousands, if not tens of thousands out of Uptown, and likely out of Chicago. The way demographic data was collected makes it difficult to say, but Roger Guy feels that by the 1990s there were few signs left that Uptown had ever housed tens of thousands of Southerners. He says in 1994 and 1995, he volunteered to register voters.</p><p>&ldquo;I walked along those streets in the heart of Uptown and went in buildings knocking on doors,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t remember encountering a Southerner.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Into the fabric of Chicago</span></p><p>According to historian Chad Berry, many Southerners left Uptown on their own terms before urban renewal and gentrification ever took place. He says academics and journalists found they could document the once-high concentration of Southerners in Uptown, but it proved more difficult to document the lives of those who were successful and left the neighborhood.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Byrd%2011.jpeg" style="height: 356px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Linda Hensley Lambert and Glen Lambert, our question-asker's grandparents, who moved to Ravenswood in 1978. (Photo courtesy the Lambert family)" />&ldquo;People who did find the economic dream they were looking for, might have moved on and, when they moved on, they might have bought a little brick tiny house in the suburbs,&rdquo; Berry says. &ldquo;And on one side was a Polish-American family, on the other side was a Lithuanian-American family, and right in the middle there was a Southern or Appalachian family.&rdquo;</p><p>Matthew Byrd&rsquo;s grandparents, Glen and Linda Lambert, are among the Southerners who did well for themselves. Glen landed a job at S&amp;C Electric on his first full day in Chicago in 1969 and the couple lived north of Uptown, in Rogers Park. He worked at the company forty-three years and that stable, well-paying job (along with supplemental work from Linda) allowed them to move to a shady street in nearby Ravenswood in 1978, raise kids, and eventually retire to Kentucky.</p><p>Byrd is proud his home city provided opportunity and a better life to his grandparents and other Southerners, as it has for migrants and immigrants from countless places. But he thinks it&rsquo;s important to remember the <em>full</em> history, and believes the Chicago let down the thousands of white Southerners who were pushed out of Uptown by eviction and rising rents.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s success and there&rsquo;s failure,&rdquo; Byrd says. &ldquo;I think the failure means the next time a large group of people from another part of the country or world that&rsquo;s kind of maligned comes here, just do better by them than we did people from Appalachia or people Poland, Africa, Vietnam. Do better by them.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker_2.jpg" style="height: 291px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Question-asker Matthew Byrd outside of the S&amp;C Electric Company, where his grandfather worked. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">About our questioner</span></p><p>Matthew Byrd has always been close to his grandparents, Glen and Linda Lambert. He grew up visiting extended family in West Virginia whenever possible, and pumping both of his grandparents for stories of what it was like coming to Chicago. He&rsquo;s a student at the University of Iowa, and already<a href="http://littlevillagemag.com/a-community-divided-racial-segregation-on-the-rise-in-iowa-city/"> working as a journalist</a> in Iowa City.</p><p>Byrd is well aware that he&rsquo;s probably in the last generation of his family to hear his grandparents&rsquo; stories of childhoods in West Virginia, or Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rdquo; of the 1960s.</p><p>&ldquo;My kids aren&rsquo;t going to have the same access to memories I had,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no physical remnants. &hellip; There&rsquo;s very few. The story is going to die soon, and I just wish more people could know about it.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a name="reading"></a>Jesse Dukes is Curious City&rsquo;s audio producer. He doesn&rsquo;t tweet, but follow <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a> (Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer) for occasional #IfJesseTweeted tweets.</em></p><hr /><p dir="ltr">Further reading on the topic of Appalachian migrants to Uptown:</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33518.Uptown_Poor_Whites_In_Chicago" target="_blank">Gitlin, Todd, and Nanci Hollander. <em>Uptown; Poor Whites in Chicago</em>. New York: Harper &amp; Row, 1970.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11036817-hillbilly-nationalists-urban-race-rebels-and-black-power?from_search=true&amp;search_version=service" target="_blank">Sonnie, Amy, and James Donald Tracy. <em>Hillbilly Nationalists Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: The Rise of Community Organizing in America</em>. New York: Melville House, 2011..</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6036088-from-diversity-to-unity?from_search=true&amp;search_version=service" target="_blank">Guy, Roger. <em>From Diversity to Unity: Southern and Appalachian Migrants in Uptown Chicago, 1950-1970</em>. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2007.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3522944-southern-migrants-northern-exiles" target="_blank">Berry, Chad.&nbsp;<em>Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles</em>. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2000.</a></p></p> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/uptowns-moment-hillbilly-heaven-111964 The art and science behind the glow of Chicago's skyline http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202093663&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On a clear night in the summer of 2014, Mike Mesterharm hopped in his car and hit a southbound expressway toward downtown Chicago. He was happy to be back home; he&rsquo;d left the city at 18, for college and some other shenanigans. During that drive, eight years later, he was gazing at the Chicago skyline &mdash; his skyline. And he was thinking it looked different somehow. Brighter.</p><p>After careful consideration of whether something in him had changed, Mike decided, No, it&rsquo;s not just that he had been looking on the bright side lately &mdash; it must be something with the lights. So he sent Curious City this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How has energy efficient lighting affected the view of the Chicago skyline?</em></p><p>We found an answer for Mike, but the &ldquo;green energy angle&rdquo; is just a part of it. Expert after expert suggested that that story would not do justice to the big picture: Chicago&rsquo;s skyline&rsquo;s evolved over the years, and that Mike&rsquo;s question is born from a short snippet of that fascinating history, one that has affected how we see &mdash; and feel &mdash; one evening to the next. We&rsquo;ll run through the highlights of how that&rsquo;s been captured in art, of all places, and deal with Mike&rsquo;s question in the most recent timeframe.</p><p>And at the end of it all, we arrive at a crossroads that illuminates a big decision we&rsquo;ll soon have to make: What does Chicago <em>want </em>its skyline to look like?</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A brief history of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline palette</span></p><p>The impact of city lights on city dwellers has affected Chicago&rsquo;s culture, too; to get the broad picture of change in the skyline, you can survey the city&rsquo;s literature and visual art.</p><p>Note the skyline&rsquo;s yellow tinge in this excerpt from &lsquo;<a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.poetryfoundation.org%2Fpoem%2F239566&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHiSA3B9-DNGydvoEkEKVs8tK-62g" target="_blank">The Windy City</a>&rsquo; [sections 1 and 6], penned by Chicago poet Carl Sandburg in 1916.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">So between the Great Lakes, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The Grand De Tour, and the Grand Prairie, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The living lighted skyscrapers stand,</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Spotting the blue dusk with checkers of yellow,</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;streamers of smoke and silver, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;parallelograms of night-gray watchmen, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Singing a soft moaning song: I am a child, a belonging. &nbsp;</span></p></blockquote><div><span style="line-height: 1.38;">Compare that to the light-polluted sky found in this excerpt from &lsquo;<a href="http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/239566" target="_blank">The Waste Land&rsquo;</a> (2010) by John Beer.</span></div><blockquote><p><span style="font-size:12px;">Orpheus walked down Milwaukee Avenue toward the Flatiron Building. He passed bodegas, taquerias, vintage stores. He met a hustler with a gas can. He walked past the anarchist kids. And he walked, and he walked, and he walked past the cabdrivers trading insults in Urdu, and he walked past convenience stores, and he walked past Latin Kings, and he walked past waitresses getting off night shifts, and he walked past jazz stars that nobody recognized, he walked past the students, the teachers, the cops. And the sky was the color of eggplant and tire fires, the sky was the field that resisted exhaustion.</span></p></blockquote><p>Lynne Warren, a curator at Chicago&rsquo;s Museum of Contemporary Art, says you can track Chicago&rsquo;s changing city lights in paintings, too.</p><p>In<em> Bronzeville At Night</em> (1949), Chicago artist Archibald Motley depicted the yellow incandescent street lights used across the city at the time. The lamps were sparse and dim enough that on clear nights, you could make out stars across the skyline.</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/bronzeville%20at%20night%20archibald%20motley.png" style="height: 494px; width: 620px;" title="A painting by Archibald J. Motley Jr. of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood lit by moonlight and incandescent street lights." /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Warren notes, too, that the warmth of incandescent light enhanced the &ldquo;natural&rdquo; colors of Chicago&rsquo;s nightscapes. For example, the red of the classic, Chicago brick on the building in the background is actually drawn out by the light. The tops of the cars on the left also reflect the &ldquo;truer blue&rdquo; of the Chicago night sky.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/richard-florsheim-jet-landings.jpg" style="float: right; height: 262px; width: 350px;" title="Richard Florsheim's 'Jet Landings' pictures the blue-green glow of Chicago street lights in the 1960s (Courtesy artnet.com)" />A decade or so after Motley&rsquo;s Bronzeville painting was complete, though, the city swapped out incandescents for brighter bulbs that gave off a green cast. The 1960s were the era of mercury vapor lights, and, <a href="https://chicagohistorytoday.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/old-street-lights/" target="_blank">by some accounts</a>, they cast a sci-fi feel across the city.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">By the end of the 1970s, just about all of Chicago&rsquo;s streetlights were replaced yet again, but this time with sodium vapor lights, which glow with a deep orange. Or, like orbs the color of tire fires, if you will.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicago&rsquo;s still got a lot of these lamps, and they dominated the city during the &#39;90s, when our question-asker, Mike Mesterharm, was a kid.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Warren says that gold glow repeats over and over in depictions of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline by Roger Brown, an influential painter during the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Imagists" target="_blank">Chicago Imagists movement</a>. His piece <em>Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976</em> (1976) depicts the Hancock Tower, the Aon Center and the Sears Tower (today&rsquo;s Willis Tower) being set against a light-polluted, sodium vapor sky.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brown-jesus.jpg" style="height: 347px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Imagists painter Roger Brown's depiction of the Chicago skyline, titled 'The Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976.' (Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>All that&rsquo;s to say, Mike Mesterharm&rsquo;s question comes at a bit of a well-lit crossroads; recent changes to Chicago&rsquo;s lit environment are again affecting its color palette. Warren says she&rsquo;s beginning to consider Brown&rsquo;s work as historical &mdash; like she would <a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111628" target="_blank">Edward Hopper&rsquo;s <em>Nighthawks</em></a> or Motley&rsquo;s <em>Bronzeville At Night</em> &mdash; because, like Mike, she&rsquo;s noticed the gradual visual exodus of the sodium vapor light.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Out with the gold, in with the blue</span></p><p>George Malek, director of ComEd&rsquo;s energy efficiency program, confirms sodium vapor lighting &mdash; and its tell-tale gold glow &mdash; is on its way out. And, he says, the transformation is driven by a city-wide movement toward efficient lighting, something that Mike had suspected when he pitched us his question.</p><p>Malek says during the &lsquo;90s, manufacturers and engineers developed ways to wring the same amount of light (if not more of it) from the same amount of power. The improvements, he says, came with indoor fluorescent lights used in office buildings and commercial businesses. Previously, fluorescents ran on magnetic ballasts (the things that make a lamp turn on), but newer, electronic ballasts could run on 60 percent of the energy previously needed. Over time, Malek says, the standard width of fluorescent tubes got thinner and thinner, but they emitted more and more light.</p><p>With these successes in hand, Malek says, companies like ComEd saw potential for energy efficiency on a larger scale.</p><p>In 2008 ComEd launched <a href="https://www.comed.com/business-savings/programs-incentives/Pages/lighting.aspx" target="_blank">a series of initiatives</a> to help businesses and residents cut their energy consumption &mdash; and costs &mdash; across the board. Malek says the vast majority of requests from commercial businesses were for replacing lighting systems. He says that&rsquo;s still the case.</p><p>Malek thinks our question-asker, Mike Mesterharm, is on to something when it comes to the Chicago skyline getting brighter.</p><p>&ldquo;I bet you there&rsquo;s more lumens at this point in the skyline,&rdquo; Malek says. &ldquo;I would think it&rsquo;s brighter.&rdquo;</p><p>Malek points out, though, that while the skyline&rsquo;s getting brighter in terms of lumens (a measurement of visible light), it&rsquo;s also getting brighter where you actually <em>need</em> it to be bright. That&rsquo;s because of the increasing accessibility of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), a lighting technology that&rsquo;s more directional and brighter than their sodium vapor predecessors.</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/19ejvmq0elq8gjpg%20led%20lights%20hoover%20street%20courtesy.jpg" style="height: 352px; width: 620px;" title="An example of the color differences in sodium vapor lighting, left, versus LED lighting, right, on a residential street in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting) " /></div><p>LEDs are also &ldquo;cooler&rdquo; on the color spectrum &nbsp;than sodium vapor lights, so they give off a bluer hue, unless they&rsquo;re somehow manipulated. <a href="http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/why-blue-led-worth-nobel-prize" target="_blank">Advancements in LED color rendering</a> are happening quickly, though, Malek points out. So while the skyline may be brighter overall because of them, it&rsquo;s hard to predict long-term changes in the skyline&rsquo;s color.</p><p>Malek says ComEd&rsquo;s already experimenting with 800 LED streetlights in the Chicago suburbs of Lombard and Bensenville. The lights are not only more energy efficient, he says, but they&rsquo;re also equipped with &ldquo;smart technology.&rdquo; Applications could include dimming lights in sync with sunrise and sunset, or turning them off completely when people want to better appreciate Fourth of July fireworks displays. In emergency situations, they could be isolated to flash in areas that need attention by police or medics. (For better or for worse, it&rsquo;s possible that in the near future, your alderman or other local rep could control your neighborhood&rsquo;s street lights from an iPad.)</p><p>Malek can&rsquo;t say for sure whether Chicago will adopt the same fixture technology, but he predicts it will arrive someday, regardless of energy savings.</p><p>And if you think that&rsquo;s going to change the view of a skyline, we&rsquo;ve only scratched the surface.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">New creative powers</span></p><p>Light as a utility is one thing, but light as an aesthetic or artistic choice is another. And as LED technology swarms the light market, Chicago, like other cities, will have more choices about what kind of lights to buy and how to use them. That&rsquo;s true for your home, your neighborhood, and the entire Chicago skyline.</p><p>Changes in the skyline could be hard to ignore.</p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" mozallowfullscreen="" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/62936054?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe><p>Take what&rsquo;s happened at the Intercontinental Miami. In 2013 the hotel installed a 19-story LED installation of a silhouetted woman dancing on the side of its building (and then offered <a href="http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2013/01/11/intercontinental-hotel.php" target="_blank">this explanation</a>). The 47-floor iconic Miami Tower in the heart of downtown is now also a <a href="http://www.ledsource.com/project/miami-tower/" target="_blank">slate for light displays that look like neon fish</a> &mdash; with the capability of 16 million color combinations.</p><p>In 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dps/ContractAdministration/Specs/2014/Spec124831Exhibit1_Part1.pdf" target="_blank"> launched an international call for proposals</a> to have designers rethink the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;Lighting Framework Plan.&rdquo; According to the invitation, the city wants &ldquo;unique and revolutionary&rdquo; lighting concepts to decorate some of the most &ldquo;important and visible public places in Chicago.&rdquo; An invitation for proposals provides designers with suggestions, including photo displays cast onto the Merchandise Mart:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dps/ContractAdministration/Specs/2014/Spec124831Exhibit1_Part1.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/proposal screenshot.PNG" style="height: 401px; width: 620px;" title="(Source: City of Chicago.)" /></a></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.schulershook.com/" target="_blank">Schuler Shook</a> lighting designer Jim Baney points out that LEDs can be used in subtle ways, but he&rsquo;s seen projects get carried away, too. From his vantage, lighting in Chicago should accompany presentation of architecture.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Just because we have the ability with LEDs to select from any number of different colors and to mix those colors to make other colors, doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that we should all the time do that,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I think with control comes responsibility and comes the need for somebody to really have knowledge.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:22px;">Another choice: The case to be made for stars</span></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/audrey.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Audrey Fischer, President of Chicago's Astronomical Society. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">With this much power in our hands to light &nbsp;the world as much as we want (and however we want), there is a case to made for a different strategy for Chicago&rsquo;s future skyline: restraint.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Audrey Fischer, President of Chicago&rsquo;s Astronomical Society and an advocate for dark skies, wants the city to invest in light fixtures that only shine downward, and bulbs that don&rsquo;t burn quite so bright, or so blue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;In my mind a &lsquo;green&rsquo; city like Chicago ... ought to have a midnight blue sky, star-studded with the milky way,&rdquo; she says.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If the case for starlight&rsquo;s natural beauty doesn&rsquo;t move you, Fischer points to a litany of problems associated with irresponsible lighting (aka, light pollution). For starters, it <a href="http://www.birdmonitors.net/LightsOut.php" target="_blank">screws up bird migratory paths</a> and <a href="http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html" target="_blank">disrupts roosting by local bat populations</a>. Even the eco-friendliest of lights can <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side" target="_blank">screw up our own internal clocks</a> as well. And that&rsquo;s apart from evidence that the wrong lighting can <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002207/" target="_blank">increase the risk of breast cancer</a>, <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/29/aje.kwu117.short" target="_blank">obesity</a>, and <a href="http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep" target="_blank">sleep disorders</a>. (For an extensive look on issues regarding blue-rich, white outdoor lighting, see <a href="http://www.darksky.org/assets/documents/Reports/IDA-Blue-Rich-Light-White-Paper.pdf" target="_blank">this report by the International Dark-Sky Association</a>).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Fischer says Chicago is the most light-polluted city in the world, referencing <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/ngeo_1300_NOV11_auproof2.pdf" target="_blank">a study by researcher Harald Stark at the University of Colorado</a>. This is kind of ironic, given that in the early 20th century Edwin Hubble (of Hubble telescope fame) made some of <a href="https://cosmology.carnegiescience.edu/timeline/1929" target="_blank">his most important scientific discoveries</a> (like the fact that the universe is expanding) with a degree in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Chicago. Now, you can hardly even see starlight if you&#39;re gazing within the city limits.</div><div><p><a href="http://www.nps.gov/grba/learn/nature/lightscape.htm" target="_blank">A study by the National Park Service estimates</a> that by 2025, dark skies will be an &ldquo;extinct phenomena&rdquo; in the continental United States due to light pollution.</p><p>To people like Fischer, that&rsquo;s a pretty high cost.</p><p>&ldquo;Starlight is the one thing that connects all nationalities across this planet,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Theres a chance that we&rsquo;re going to lose that forever.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s a taste of what we&rsquo;re missing.</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/Chi1h5.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 620px;" title="The Chicago sky as it could be without light pollution showing the Milky Way and numerous stars. (Composite image by Adler photographer, Craig Stillwell, and Adler astronomer, Larry Ciupik, based on images by Craig Stillwell and Wei-Hao Wang)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mike_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 213px; width: 300px;" title="(WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">About our question-asker</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Mike Mesterharm is from Chicago, but he left the city at 18 to attend college. He says he didn&rsquo;t pay much attention to things like street lights or skyline changes. But come to think of it, he says, he didn&rsquo;t pay much attention to <em>anything</em> at 18.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now, at 28, Mike says he&rsquo;s a bit more observant about his environment. In fact, he says his whole concept of the environment has expanded.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Our environment isn&rsquo;t simply the hard matter,&rdquo; Mike says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the things that exist around that. It&rsquo;s the light, it&rsquo;s the sound.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;You know, I wouldn&rsquo;t have asked this question at 18. If anything, I find it reassuring that maybe if the skyline&rsquo;s changed and I&rsquo;m noticing it, that&rsquo;s a good thing. And if it hasn&rsquo;t changed &hellip; now I&rsquo;m paying attention.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928 Why apartments are the blind spot in Chicago's recycling program http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-apartments-are-blind-spot-chicagos-recycling-program-111883 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201003191&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Our question asker Quetzalli Castro grew up in a Logan Square two-flat. Her parents still live in that house on Kedzie Avenue. Among the many fond memories she remembers from growing up there is the day they got curbside recycling.</p><p>&ldquo;My parents were very happy about that,&rdquo; says Castro, 26. &ldquo;I remember grabbing jars and throwing them in there and seeing a big, blue truck come and take it away on I think it was Wednesdays.&rdquo;</p><p>Since then she&rsquo;s lived in several larger apartment buildings, but none of them has had recycling.</p><p>&ldquo;So I&#39;ve been caught trying to put my recycling into other people&#39;s recycling bins and they&#39;re like &lsquo;Put it in your own!&rsquo; I don&#39;t have one. I wish I did! I have all this recycling and nowhere to go,&rdquo; Castro says.</p><p>She&rsquo;s even called the city to ask about getting a blue cart, but says she didn&rsquo;t get a straight answer. So she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why is recycling not available to apartment buildings and certain parts of the city?</em></p><p>The short answer is that the city has a two-pronged system for recycling: Small buildings with four or fewer units get one system (the blue carts and bins Castro remembers) and buildings with five or more units are supposed to set up their own systems through private contractors.</p><p>But the real reason why Castro and perhaps hundreds of thousands of apartment dwellers like her end up throwing their recyclables in the dumpster is more complicated: It has to do with city politics, landfill economics and a toothless ordinance that has struggled to buoy recycling rates in large apartment buildings for 22 years.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Waste piling up</span></p><p>Quetzalli Castro is not alone. In January Claire Micklin left an <a href="http://opengovhacknight.org/">Open Government Hack Night</a> with an interactive website designed to identify and shame owners of large apartment buildings without recycling. She called it <a href="http://www.mybuildingdoesntrecycle.com/">MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ve lived in Chicago 10 years and I&#39;ve never been in a building that has recycling,&rdquo; says Micklin, who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and now lives in an apartment building in the Edgewater neighborhood. &ldquo;I noticed the blue bins from next door, a four-flat, were overflowing because people from my building kept putting their recycling in there.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Castro, Micklin reached out to the city only to find herself more confused &mdash; there was no recourse for building residents like her who wanted to recycle, but whose landlords wouldn&rsquo;t provide the service.</p><p>Micklin did a little more research and learned the city passed a law in 1993 called <a href="http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/sustainability-new/pdfs/REcycling%20Ordinance%20Chicago%2011%20%205.pdf">the Chicago High Density Residential and Commercial Source Reduction and Recycling Ordinance</a> (more commonly referred to as the Burke-Hansen ordinance, for the aldermen who drafted it). The ordinance made owners of large apartment buildings (defined as having at least five units) responsible for their own recycling, because the existing requirements for garbage pick-up made the same distinction. The city gave multi-unit building owners until 1995 to establish programs that would collect at least two kinds of recyclables. By 1996 they were all supposed to collect at least three. If they didn&rsquo;t, Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation could issue fines to the building owners for $25 to $100 per day.</p><p>But 22 years later it&rsquo;s common to find large apartment buildings without any recycling service at all. Less than three months after her site launched, Micklin says nearly 1,300 people have reported 1,034 addresses through MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://mybuildingdoesntrecycle.com/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/website%20screenshot.PNG" style="height: 223px; width: 620px;" title="The website mybuildingdoesn'trecycle.com has gained about 1,300 reports since its launch in January 2015. " /></a></div><p>The overall success of Chicago&rsquo;s residential recycling program could depend on the participation of large apartment and condo buildings. More than 442,000 housing units (just slightly more than forty percent of the city&rsquo;s total) are supposed to have recycling provided by landlords or condo associations. And, according to 2007 data (the latest available), <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/doe/general/RecyclingAndWasteMgmt_PDFs/WasteAndDiversionStudy/WasteCharacterizationReport.pdf">these units account for more than a third of the solid waste collected from the residential sector.</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="enforcement"></a>No enforcement</span></p><p>A key reason why many building owners appear not to have complied with the Burke-Hansen ordinance is that the city rarely enforces it. Records provided by Chicago&rsquo;s office of Business Affairs &amp; Consumer Protection and the Department of Administrative Hearings show that, since 2010, the city issued just 109 citations for not recycling in commercial or residential establishments.</p><p>Why the lax enforcement? Burke-Hansen authorizes fines, but it doesn&rsquo;t compel the city to actually issue them.</p><p>&ldquo;Everything is a &lsquo;can&rsquo; and a &lsquo;may,&rsquo; and [the ordinance] has the authority but it doesn&#39;t say &lsquo;you must,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Helen Shiller, who represented the city&rsquo;s 46th Ward from 1987 until 2011. &ldquo;The issue with private haulers is that it&#39;s been left entirely to the market. To the extent that there&#39;s been people demanding more [recycling], that&#39;s pushed it along some. To the extent that there&#39;s more economic viability, it&#39;s increased. But the city has not changed its language to require anything.&rdquo;</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/shiller%20quote.png" style="height: 100px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Shiller says for condominiums and townhouses, it&rsquo;s a slightly different story. There was a rebate program in place for any condo association that presented the city with an affidavit declaring the building had recycling. <a href="http://committeeonfinance.org/condo/index.asp">It&#39;s currently being phased out</a>, and payments were typically delayed by as many as five years, but Shiller says that program once served as a &ldquo;carrot&rdquo; to complement Burke-Hansen&rsquo;s seldom-used &ldquo;stick&rdquo; of warnings and fines.</p><p>For apartment buildings, however, the regulatory environment is simpler. The city doesn&rsquo;t tax recycling pick-up like it does trash, but apartment building owners never benefitted from an incentive program like condos used to.</p><p>&ldquo;In this case there seems to be neither a carrot nor a stick,&rdquo; says Carter O&rsquo;Brien, the vice president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition, a volunteer advocacy group. The Coalition has been working with (and sometimes against) the city since the early 1990s to improve recycling rates in the Chicago area.</p><p>In some ways, O&rsquo;Brien says, the city&rsquo;s past efforts at recycling still haunt present-day operations. The first citywide recycling effort began in 1995, when Chicagoans were asked to buy special blue, plastic bags at the grocery store in which they&rsquo;d put their recycling before throwing the bag in the trash. Recyclables were supposed to get sifted out at sorting facilities after that, but little of it did. The city canned the program in 2008.</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/FLICKR%20jenn%20brandle%20blue%20bags.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The first citywide recycling program debuted in 1995, and required residents to throw their recycling in special blue, plastic bags before throwing the bags in the trash. (Flickr/Jennifer Brandel)" /></div><p>&ldquo;The blue bag was just such a catastrophe. It really set Chicago back quite a bit, because even people that did it religiously kind of suspected deep down that maybe it wasn&#39;t working so well,&rdquo; says O&rsquo;Brien. &ldquo;And for people that were kind of on the fence, they basically said, &#39;This is obviously not working. I see my blue bags go in a truck, I see them rip open, and this is a scam, a con and a joke, and I&rsquo;m not going to think about recycling ever again.&#39;&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Money in the trash</span></p><p>The irony for owners of multi-unit residential buildings is that recycling can be easy to implement. Sometimes it even saves building owners money.</p><p>Gordon Magill is president of Family Properties, a company his great grandfather started more than a century ago. Family Properties now owns 15 multi-unit buildings on the city&rsquo;s North Side and in the suburbs. Magill still has hundreds of blue bags stashed in a cupboard in his Edgewater office. He&rsquo;s an avid recycler &mdash; he picked up a few soda cans off the sidewalk on our way to the dumpsters behind one of his buildings &mdash; but said the Blue Bag program was doomed from the start. Undeterred by its failure, however, Magill reached out to the company that hauls waste from his buildings and set up a recycling program.</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/magill1%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="Gordon Magill is president of Family Properties in Chicago. He says recycling is a net-positive for him financially. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>&ldquo;When the blue bag program ended, basically we weren&#39;t shocked. Let&#39;s just start with that,&rdquo; Magill says. &ldquo;We just picked up the phone, called up our salesperson for our scavenging service and asked them to put in the bins. It was as simple as that.&rdquo;</p><p>Magill says recycling is either a low-cost addition or a net positive for him financially, as he doesn&rsquo;t have to pay as often to empty his building&rsquo;s more expensive trash bins. He also cites recycling&rsquo;s &ldquo;commercial appeal to environmentally conscientious residents.&rdquo; In other words: His tenants want it.</p><p>Not all landlords are so zealous. Jim Thom, who owns a 14-unit building in Avondale, says he&rsquo;d like to offer recycling to his tenants but can&rsquo;t figure out how to make it work. His dumpster sits in a narrow gangway that runs all the way to the alley, leaving little room for another bin; the trash bin already pinches circulation between the stairwell and the building&rsquo;s laundry room.</p><p>And, Thom says, when he looked into recycling, he found it could bump up his waste pick-up costs as much as 33 percent, from $3,000 to $4,000 a year.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s certainly something we think about,&rdquo; says Thom. &ldquo;We just haven&#39;t seen a solution that&#39;s made us jump and say, &#39;Let&#39;s do it.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s never been fined by the city for not providing recycling, and hasn&rsquo;t heard of any building owners or managers who have.</p><p>Josh Connell, a managing partner with Lakeshore Recycling Systems, says there are times when recycling just doesn&rsquo;t make sense.</p><p>&ldquo;Those are the small buildings &mdash; your six-unit, 10-unit, even up to 25-unit buildings depending on the logistics and the space &mdash; it&#39;s difficult to recycle,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Multi-unit residential buildings are a little less than half of Lakeshore&rsquo;s business, Connell says, and he estimates four out of five of them order recycling along with trash pick-up. Larger buildings enjoy an economy of scale that can make recycling revenue-neutral, or even a net positive. But even though waste hauling is typically a minor item on a building owner&rsquo;s balance sheet, any extra expense has to be justified.</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/connell%20quote.png" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;If it&#39;s gonna cost money to recycle and the residents of these buildings aren&#39;t pushing for it, most building owners are not going to spend more money when people aren&#39;t clamoring for it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We have building owners that do pay for recycling because the residents want it.&rdquo;</p><p>As evinced by the popularity of MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com, a lot of multi-unit building residents want it.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The trash is always greener on the other side</span></p><p>Recycling rates have been on the rise both nationally and in Chicago, and waste haulers like Connell say interest in their business is rising, even as the falling price of oil undercuts plastic recyclers&rsquo; bottom line. But is a more environmentally conscious public all it takes to forge a sterling recycling program?</p><p>Probably not. San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and even New York City come up often in discussions of successful recycling programs. In 2012 <a href="http://sfmayor.org/index.aspx?recordid=113&amp;page=846" target="_blank">San Francisco announced it had achieved 80 percent landfill diversion</a>, well on its way to a goal of &ldquo;zero waste&rdquo; by 2020. It even has curbside composting to collect food waste and other organic material alongside bins for trash and recycling. San Francisco&rsquo;s success is due to several factors &mdash; including a culture of conservation and clear, rigorously enforced regulations. But a simple number holds it all together: $151.47.</p><p><a href="http://www.recologysf.com/index.php/for-homes/transfer-station-residential">That&#39;s how much it costs</a> to dump one ton of waste in a landfill in the Bay Area. Figures are nearly as high on much of the West Coast. That number in Chicago is just $46, according to the city&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation. In New York and along the East Coast it&rsquo;s somewhere between the two, around $100 per ton.</p><p>Connell says we should consider the dumping costs that are eventually passed onto building owners.</p><p>&ldquo;If they&#39;re paying twice as much to get rid of garbage, adding recycling could be an immediate positive impact on their bottom line,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Still, Connell says he sees a lot more Chicago landlords coming around to recycling these days, in part because their tenants are starting to demand it. And if more buildings set up recycling, the cost borne by each one could fall, as waste haulers compete for business and are able to travel fewer empty miles between each pick-up.</p><p>The societal benefits of cutting down on trash are myriad: Chicago trucks bound for the nearest landfill typically end up in Rockford or downstate Indiana, belching greenhouse gases all the way there and even <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374">helping clog up already congested roads</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;I give it a C&rsquo;</span></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s poor reputation for recycling is no secret, even to those currently in charge of administering it. Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, calls the current program &ldquo;a work in progress.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re nowhere near the level that we should be. I give it a C right now,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We need to get better at it. We need to enforce better. And we need to educate a lot of constituents in the outer wards of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s wary of alienating landlords and businesses, but concedes that the owners of multi-unit residential buildings and small businesses have had more than 20 years to institute recycling since the Burke-Hansen ordinance passed.</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/cardenas.png" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;I think we&#39;ve come full circle. We&rsquo;ve obviously given them ample time, and so I&#39;m at the point where I want to take more draconian efforts to make sure everyone&#39;s fully in compliance,&rdquo; Cardenas says. He can&rsquo;t point to any measure currently on the agenda for his committee or others in the City Council, but his assessment of the situation is blunt: &ldquo;The buildings are there. They should be doing it. Go check them, give them a citation, come into compliance. It&#39;s really that simple.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">How big is this blind spot in Chicago&rsquo;s recycling program? According to DSS data, smaller residential buildings recycle just over 11 percent of their waste. On paper, things appear better when it comes to larger buildings: <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NQ1JsVu4Ob_iYxKQJTYsw_oBW6pAspJpyah3uwL4yrw/pubhtml?gid=0&amp;single=true" target="_blank">Figures reported bi-annually to the city by private waste haulers </a>suggest that buildings the city is not responsible for recycled 38.7 percent of their waste. But, there&rsquo;s a problem with that comparison, since the private haulers serve industrial and commercial clients as well as large, multi-unit residential buildings. DSS has no data that separates out recycling for multi-unit residential buildings</p><p>In other words, we don&rsquo;t know if the situation our question-asker Quetzalli Castro asked about is getting better at all. And absent any plans to enforce the ordinance, she may be stuck in that situation, at the whim of her landlord.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 480px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Quetzalli Castro, our question-asker. " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Quetzalli Castro, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Quetzalli Castro, 26, is a determined recycler &mdash; she&rsquo;s already doing it even though her building manager doesn&rsquo;t provide the service. She says that impulse started young and hasn&rsquo;t dwindled, even if her options have.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ll admit to being sort of a judgey person and saying, &lsquo;Oh you don&#39;t recycle?&rsquo; and [people] say &lsquo;Well we used to back where I came from, but here in Chicago my apartment building doesn&#39;t offer it so I don&#39;t do it anymore.&rsquo; For me it&#39;s been a struggle, since I&#39;ve always had that habit and I don&#39;t want to lose that recycling habit.&rdquo;</p><p>A longtime Logan Square resident, Castro grew up in a two-flat on Kedzie boulevard and now lives in a multi-unit apartment building nearby. She was born in Mexico City, but moved to Chicago when she was just one year old.</p><p>Right now Castro is a graduate student at the University of Chicago in their Urban Teacher Education Program, pursuing a two-year degree focused on education in Chicago.</p><p>Castro is dismayed by the lack of recycling among many multi-unit apartment buildings. And she says learning about the city&rsquo;s lack of enforcement adds another dimension to neighborhood development.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&#39;s pretty surprising, especially now that there&#39;s a lot of reconstruction in Logan Square and lots of other areas that are being gentrified. There&#39;s bigger buildings going up. And that&#39;s kind of concerning because we&#39;re losing affordable housing, but also recycling, too,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I know there are plenty of people who wish to recycle, but don&#39;t or really can&#39;t because they don&#39;t have a blue bin offered to them. And I find that really sad.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> and reporter for Curious City. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-apartments-are-blind-spot-chicagos-recycling-program-111883 Drumming for dollars as a Chicago bucket boy http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/drumming-dollars-chicago-bucket-boy-111845 <p><p><a name="top"></a><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/199910706%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-oyHw5&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>(Editor&#39;s note: The promo photograph for this story was selected from a <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lindsayfotos/sets/72157621838161974" target="_blank">set profile pictures produced by lindsaybayley</a>.)&nbsp;</em></p><p>If you work or visit Chicago&#39;s Loop or use the exits along the South Side&rsquo;s Dan Ryan Expressway, there&#39;s a good chance you&#39;ve experienced a fixture of the city known as the bucket boys. And if you haven&#39;t seen them directly, maybe you&rsquo;ve heard them from afar, mostly young men drumming on buckets and asking for a donation in return.</p><p>That was how Annie Dieleman became curious about the bucket boys. It started with her morning commute from Bridgeport to Englewood, where she was working. As a social worker at Thresholds, a large social service agency in Chicago, Annie, 28, was always seeing and hearing bucket boys on her drive. Plus, social work is a stressful job, and seeing the smile on the faces of the guys performing next to her window helped make her day that much better.</p><p>&ldquo;It was always nice to be around happy, pleasant people who are super positive and charming,&rdquo; Annie says.</p><p>So she asked Curious City to find out more:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>My Curious City question was about the bucket boys and I was curious how they get into the job of being a bucket boy. How they train, if they have territories. Just ... what the deal is.</em></p><p>Turns out, bucket boys treat their gig like any other job: They put in the hours, save up the cash and take care of their customers. What&rsquo;s more, for many of the young men out there, beating buckets is not just a way to make a living; it&rsquo;s a way to avoid gangs and make their mark in a positive way.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Our guides</span></p><p>For this question, we enlisted the help of Jerome and Jarrell Lucas, 29-year-old twin brothers who grew up in the Roseland neighborhood. A couple of years ago they started filming the bucket boys. Their interest grew and soon they embarked on a documentary film project titled &ldquo;Bucket.&rdquo;</p><p>These guys have been steeped in the world of Chicago bucket boys, and they know it better than most outsiders. And for that reason, it was sort of a no-brainer to provide you with the twins&rsquo; birds-eye view, as well as an audio story where you can hear directly from one of Chicago&rsquo;s bucket boys.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/drumming-dollars-chicago-bucket-boy-111845#top"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: sans-serif; line-height: 24px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">►</span></span><em>Take a listen to the audio story</em></a></p><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size: 22px;">How did the bucket boys start?</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Jerome Lucas:</strong> It started in the mid-90s in the <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2478.html">Robert Taylor buildings</a>. And they innovated a way to find a way to make money. They grabbed a 5-gallon bucket and drumsticks and took it to the streets and seen if it worked. I am assuming that they saw the other street performers and they were like, &ldquo;Well, we could do something, too. And they make music, we make music.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB lucas bros screenshot1.png" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcEcQR5iBNc" target="_blank"><em><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: Jarrell Lucas, left, and Jerome Lucas, right, are twin brothers who are shooting a documentary about the bucket boys. To see some snippets of their work, click here.&nbsp;</span></span></em></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Why the Dan Ryan Expressway?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> I think they choose the expressway because it&rsquo;s more convenient &mdash; you know, traffic moving fast. They look at it as a quicker way to monetize playing the bucket. They can get you in and get you out. It&rsquo;s kind of like a fast food restaurant. I think that is why they choose the expressway over the average corner. I think they would like to choose the CTA, but the reason why they don&rsquo;t choose the CTA is because [of] that sound; it echoes. And that would bring, like, the police, and bring so much attention that way. ... They have to choose their spots wisely of where they&rsquo;re going to be at.</p><p><strong>Jarrell Lucas: </strong>They get to perform for about, 5, 6, 7 seconds. And then if you want to donate you can donate, and if you don&rsquo;t want to donate, you don&rsquo;t have to.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What do they sound like?</span></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OokLXv4FApI?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: A Bucket Boy performance on Michigan Ave., across from Millennium Park in Chicago. (YouTube/JUSTCURI0US)</span></span></em></p><p><strong>Jarrell:</strong> A lot of drumming &mdash; different rhythms, different sounds. Different types of sounds, textures and beats. If you hear them you&rsquo;ll be downtown and you&rsquo;ll hear them from another whole block. So if you&rsquo;re on State [Street], you&rsquo;ll hear it on Randolph or another block, because it&rsquo;s so loud. A lot of people actually <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2009/06/city-council-swipes-at-bucket-boys-on-mag-mile.html" target="_blank">hate the sound</a>.</p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> How you can tell the more advanced bucket boys from the average bucket boys is because they got a song with it. They say something with it like, &ldquo;Hey pretty lady.&rdquo; And they are the only ones that have it. Certain groups have certain songs and certain chants they use. And some are beginners, so they just trying to catch the rhythm. They are all trying to get a rhythm together so they can make money.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fz8iwv5Sh6k?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Bucket boy Charles Chapman drums off the Dan Ryan on 55th Street. (WBEZ/Meribah Knight)</span></span></em></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">How does one become a bucket boy?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> It&rsquo;s like an initiation thing. Somebody usually brings you in, but if nobody brings you in you got to start from the bottom. You got to go to Home Depot, buy your bucket, buy your drumsticks and get out on the corner. Usually they everybody who is, like, real amateurs &mdash; they send them to 55th [Street]. And they be the only ones out there. By themselves, beating and drumming and that build confidence. You get good. If you stank, you go home and you continue to work on it. And after a minute you done built so much confidence and made so much money on your own they like, &ldquo;Who is that over there on 55th, making all that noise?&rdquo; &nbsp;It&rsquo;s kind of like the music business. It&rsquo;s like, &ldquo;Who is that guy we&rsquo;ve been hearing about? We need him with us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">How old are most bucket boys?</span></p><p><strong>Jarrell:</strong> Between the ages of 16 and 24. That would be the ages of a bucket boy. I don&rsquo;t know about 25. I haven&rsquo;t met that person yet. But around the ages 16 to 24, they all beat buckets around that age.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">How much money can a bucket boy make?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> [If you&rsquo;re experienced] $300 to $400 a day. But if you&rsquo;re a rookie you&rsquo;re going to make probably $30, $60, $40, and that&rsquo;s it for your day.</p><p><strong>Jarrell:</strong> My personal opinion: They actually use the money for what they want. They use their art to get to where they want to go in life.</p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> I had no idea they was getting cars. &hellip; And I heard $300, but I was like, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think kids be that responsible with the money. They take it and go blow it.&rdquo; But it was like, naw, they actually like, &ldquo;We going to get a car. We thinking about getting an apartment.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Are there territories?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> They usually on 87th, 79th, 63rd and downtown &mdash; but not downtown for long. They get in and out of downtown. Because that&rsquo;s where the most money can be made really, downtown Chicago. But they have to move in and out because <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/general/Street_Peddler-Performer_Fact_Sheet_4_10_14.pdf">they have to have permits </a>or they could be moved. For some reason they never want to get a permit.</p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> It&rsquo;s like a first come, first serve basis. Whoever gets to that corner first. I think it&rsquo;s a respectful thing to not just be, like, all on one corner. They all know each other but they each got a set they work with.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400px" src="https://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v4/curiouscity.lm075e9o.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiY3VyaW91c2NpdHkiLCJhIjoibGM3MUJZdyJ9.8oAw072QHl4POJ3fRQAItQ" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em><span style="font-size:10px;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4180fbf2-9b3e-2c33-93be-976dfa077b8b"><span style="font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: rgb(248, 248, 248);">Above: Chicago&rsquo;s bucket boys drum at various locations around the city, depending on the season and time of day. Here&rsquo;s a map of common spots, provided by </span><span style="font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Jerome and Jarrell Lucas as well as other sources.</span></span></span></em></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What is the trick to success?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> They have to be humble and they have to be confident to do that. ... If you&rsquo;re too confident,you come off as arrogant. And if you&rsquo;re too, how can I say ... If you have the charm turned on, people think, &ldquo;You just trying to hustle me. You&rsquo;re a panhandler.&rdquo; So I think you need a little bit of all to get a perfect bucket boy.</p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> They travel to stadiums. Because they know Chicago can be like, they done got used to seeing them. But other states are amazed by [the bucket boys]. They like, &ldquo;Out of a bucket?&rdquo; So I guess they capitalize off it. They go to other states and make lots of money at stadiums and arenas. ... They do to music concerts. ... They set up outside in the parking lot exits and entries to the stadiums.</p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> When they really want some money from somebody, they&rsquo;ll go to your window, they&rsquo;ll put it between their legs and they&rsquo;ll beat it. And when they do that it&rsquo;s like ... I guess it makes a person feel like they are performing just for them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Is beating a bucket a good option for some of the bucket boys?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> It&rsquo;s hard to find a job on the South Side of Chicago. And at the end of the day I think people want to be creative and be paid to be creative at what the do. So, I think this is more like their first option ... to avoid being involved in gang violence and other things of that nature. It&rsquo;s like, if you&rsquo;re not beating a bucket then you&rsquo;re involved in some type of gang violence, or you&rsquo;re becoming a victim of gang violence. So like I said, they choose wisely. I think they are good decision-makers, very good decision makers.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">You&rsquo;ve spent two years making this film, what is something you learned that surprised you?</span></p><p><strong>Jerome:</strong> How they get different sounds from the bucket? I didn&rsquo;t know that hitting the side of the bucket make a different sound than the top. And different, like ... How can I say? Different corners on the bucket give out different sounds. So when they are trying to come up with their little symphony together, some will hit the sides. Some will hit the top. Some hit the bottom. Some hit the top. You never knew a bucket could make so many sounds. But if you listen to bucket boys you&rsquo;ll find out they can make a bucket make so many sounds that you wouldn&rsquo;t even thought was possible.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB annie and meribah for qasker photo.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Reporter Meribah Knight, left, and question-asker Annie Dieleman. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question asker</span></p><p>Annie Dieleman is a social worker in Chicago residing in Bridgeport. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, she moved to Chicago a decade ago for college.</p><p>She says she first started wondering about who the bucket boys were when she was commuting to her social work job in Englewood. She would see them on the Dan Ryan exit ramps.</p><p>She particularly admired one young man who was always drumming as she exited the Dan Ryan at 63rd street. Finally, instead of giving him her usual wave, she rolled down her window and asked:</p><p>&lsquo;You&rsquo;re really talented.How did you get into this?&rdquo;</p><p>His answer struck a chord with Annie: It was a positive way to make money and stay out of trouble. He was building something for himself in a neighborhood that offered few job options.</p><p>&ldquo;He seemed like he had a really positive message,&rdquo; Annie says. &ldquo;It made me curious about everyone.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Meribah Knight is a freelance journalist in Chicago and reports for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow her at meribahknight.com and on Twitter at <a href="https://www.twitter.com/meribah" target="_blank">@meribah</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 17:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/drumming-dollars-chicago-bucket-boy-111845 The legacy of Michael Jordan in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/legacy-michael-jordan-chicago-111803 <p><p>Everyone from superfans to the casual office bracket pool participant follows NCAA March Madness. We rally around underdogs. We&rsquo;re suckers for Cinderella stories. It&rsquo;s as much about these journeys as the sport itself. So as teams compete for the championship title, let&rsquo;s look at Chicago&rsquo;s biggest basketball legend. Our tall tale. Michael Jordan.</p><p>Jordan came to Chicago in the 1980s, and went on to have one of the most memorable careers in basketball. Briefly, Chicago had the best sports team in the country. <a href="http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998/06/22/244166/index.htm" target="_blank">We were known around the world</a> as the home of Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He brought home six NBA championship trophies in the &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Jordan&rsquo;s lasting fame in Chicago is what prompted a seventh-grader working on a history project to ask this question about him. (The student chose to remain anonymous.)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was Michael Jordan&rsquo;s impact on Chicago?</em></p><p>Jordan wondered about his local legacy too. In 1993, he said this to a crowd at the opening of the Michael Jordan Restaurant:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I want to say to the Chicago people, thank you for your support. Ever since I came to this city in 1984, you have taken me in like one of your own, and I&rsquo;ve tried to reciprocate that in my talents and playing the game of basketball. Hopefully the two is going to be a relationship that&rsquo;s going to last a lot longer than me just playing basketball.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>MJ did indeed leave the Bulls and the city in 1999. So, what did MJ leave behind? We consider possible economic impacts as well as his cultural &mdash; even spiritual &mdash; contributions, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Timeline: A brief history of Jordan</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve never been a Jordan fan, just need a refresher, or are too young to remember, here&rsquo;s a timeline of how Jordan&rsquo;s career intersects with Chicago history.<a name="timeline"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdEczczVJNzlKNFlUakM0bW1MQlZvOEE&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="95%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Jordan&rsquo;s economic impact: A windfall for the Windy City?</span></p><p>In the 1990s, the Bulls were on fire. They won championships. More people bought tickets to games and wanted Bulls memorabilia. However, according to sports economists we talked to, it&rsquo;s difficult to find measurable economic impact on the city.</p><p>Allen Sanderson, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and editorial board member of the <a href="http://jse.sagepub.com/" target="_blank">Journal for Sports Economics</a>, says pro sports teams typically draw in-person audiences within a 25-mile radius. He argues that when all those Chicagoans and suburbanites bought tickets to basketball games, that very same ticket cash likely would have just gone elsewhere &mdash; say, to Chicago restaurants, malls, etc.</p><p>Economics and Business Professor Rob Baade of Lake Forest University agrees that during Jordan&rsquo;s time in Chicago, it was likely that local fans just shifted some of their spending from one entertainment choice to another. Bulls are on a hot streak? Spend Saturday night in the arena. Lackluster season? Go out to dinner instead.</p><p>These kinds of arguments, he says, continue beyond Chicago and Michael Jordan. Consider a more <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/17/lebron-james-economic-impact-cleveland-we-expect-too-much" target="_blank">contemporary debate about economic influence and famous athletes: LeBron James and the city of Cleveland, Ohio</a>. Sports celebrities have some effect, Baade says, but it&rsquo;s often modest.</p><p>&ldquo;If you make the argument that Cleveland&rsquo;s economy has ramped up during LeBron&rsquo;s return, you&rsquo;d have to look at the entire Ohio economy,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Whatever modest effect Jordan did have, though, likely got a bump from the fact that he got the Bulls into the playoffs, effectively lengthening the local playing season, and creating several more games.</p><p>&ldquo;You can make the argument that more people are coming in to watch playoffs. But that&rsquo;s not lasting,&rdquo; Baade said.</p><p>But what about Jordan&rsquo;s own spending? After all, by the mid-90s he was one of the world&rsquo;s highest-paid athletes.</p><p>Sanderson says the success didn&rsquo;t put money back into Chicago because that money was spent elsewhere. Jordan went on trips to Jamaica and other places that took him &mdash; and his wallet &mdash; outside of the city.</p><p>Jordan does still have a home in north suburban Highland Park. The mansion, complete with entrance gates adorned with the number 23, is for sale. Though he left the city more than 10 years ago, the house is still on the market. (Any takers? <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2700-Point-Dr-Highland-Park-IL-60035/4902463_zpid/" target="_blank">There&rsquo;s a gym and a basketball court (duh), and it&rsquo;s only $16 million.</a>)</p><p>What about the Michael Jordan Restaurant? It&rsquo;s closed (<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-01-14/entertainment/9401150342_1_waiter-plate-iced" target="_blank">possibly because of bad reviews such as this one</a>), but the Michael Jordan Steak House, which opened in 2011, still stands. The restaurant employs about 150 people. According to manager Myron Markewycz, the operation&rsquo;s doing well. Markewycz estimates that during the first few years it was open, Jordan visited the restaurant about 30 times. That was before Jordan divided his time between residences in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Florida. Now, while Markewycz can&rsquo;t give a specific number, he says they see much less of Jordan.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The United Center: The house that Jordan built?</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s tempting for an armchair historian to credit the United Center&rsquo;s construction to Jordan and the Bulls&rsquo; success. After all, you can&rsquo;t miss the statue of Jordan that dominates one of the center&rsquo;s main entrances. And, a surface reading of the timeline lends some evidence: Jordan arrived in 1984 and the United Center opened for business in 1994, replacing the Chicago Stadium.</p><p>But actually, the United Center was a joint venture designed to house both the Bulls and the Blackhawks hockey team. And it was first planned in 1988, years before the Bulls&rsquo; first championship in 1991.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/UnitedCenter.jpg" style="height: 338px; width: 450px;" title="Chicago's United Center was opened in 1994. (Flickr/Esparta)" /></div><p>Sanderson says it&rsquo;s likely Jordan was just in the right place at the right time. Yes, Jordan excelled at the United Center, but basketball&rsquo;s popularity was the draw, not Jordan.</p><p>Jordan&rsquo;s rookie season was 1984, just as the NBA&rsquo;s popularity began to snowball. Until then, not many Americans watched basketball at the stadium or on TV. According to Sanderson, the playoffs were taped and aired later because not enough people wanted to watch them live. The sport gained momentum throughout the &lsquo;80s. Jordan and the Bulls, he says, rode the wave.</p><p>Sam Smith, a sports reporter who covered Jordan for the Chicago Tribune and authored two books about the star, says this rising tide compelled the NBA to push all teams &mdash; including the Bulls &mdash; to build new stadiums, fill seats and boost revenue.</p><p>&ldquo;They committed all of the franchises to have to get new buildings,&rdquo; he said, adding that if teams couldn&rsquo;t pull it off financially or politically, they were pressured to look for new cities to play in.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20united%20center%20statue%20for%20united%20center%20section_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 361px; width: 250px; margin: 5px;" title="Chicago Bulls' star Michael Jordan stands next to a 12-foot bronze statue of himself unveiled outside the United Center in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 1, 1994, during a salute to Jordan by the Bulls. At left is Jordan's mother Deloris. (AP Photo/John Zich)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was put onto this,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why Seattle&rsquo;s team moved to Oklahoma City, as an example.&rdquo;</p><p>But Charles Johnson, the CEO of Johnson Consulting (a firm that works on stadium projects, among other things) gives Jordan more credit.</p><p>Johnson helped supervise the development of the United Center for Stein and Company. He says the previous venue, the Chicago Stadium, had become obsolete and that there &ldquo;was no doubt&rdquo; that the United Center would have been built at some point. Still, he says, Jordan &ldquo;absolutely&rdquo; drove the timing.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it is safe to say that this is the building that Michael built,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I do not think this can be said anywhere else, so emphatically.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson, Sanderson and Smith agree that Jordan had a definite impact on the new stadium&rsquo;s capacity and other amenities &mdash; in particular, the high number of suites.</p><p>&ldquo;If MJ was not in the picture, that many suites would never have happened,&rdquo; Johnson said, adding that the decision to create additional luxury seating turned into an excellent revenue stream for the construction project.</p><p>Smith goes further, saying that the NBA pointed to Jordan&rsquo;s track record and crowd appeal as an argument to expand suites and other accommodations. He says the franchises listened.</p><p>&ldquo;You can make a case with Michael that he influenced all of these buildings everywhere,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Charitable impact</span></p><p>Throughout the 1990s, Michael Jordan was the richest athlete in the world, raking in $78.3 million in 1997 alone. Even if Chicago felt little economic impact from the Bulls&rsquo; success, you might suspect that Jordan&rsquo;s personal wealth &mdash; and fundraising in his name &mdash; had potential to leave a more measurable mark on the city.</p><p>In 1989 Jordan and his mother, Deloris, created the Michael Jordan Foundation, a Chicago-based charity that focused on improving education on a national scale. It had two offices and twelve people on staff. Student who participated in Jordan&rsquo;s Education Club could earn a weekend trip to Chicago if their grades and school attendance improved.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20econ%20impact%20AP_1.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 450px;" title="Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan gestures during a news conference at Bercy stadium in Paris Wednesday Oct. 15, 1997. Michael Jordan is the richest athlete in the world, regaining the top spot on the Forbes magazine list for the fifth time in six years. Jordan will earn dlrs 78.3 million in 1997. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)" /></div><p>But in 1996, seven years after the foundation&rsquo;s start (and shortly after Jordan made his <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/basketball/7/71/450458/michael-jordan-proclaimed-im-back-20-years-ago-today" target="_blank">famous Bulls comeback</a>), he<a href="http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1996/Michael-Jordan-Pulls-Plug-on-Charitable-Foundation/id-0c0db7ac6126eb83ad42762939677c11" target="_blank"> pulled the plug</a>. Jordan told the press he wanted to take a &ldquo;more personal and less institutional&rdquo; approach to financial giving, and that he&rsquo;d rather &ldquo;pick and choose to whom I give my donation.&rdquo;</p><p>And, aside from a substantial <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=9999200019825" target="_blank">$5 million donation</a> to Chicago&rsquo;s Hales Franciscan High School in 2007, Jordan doesn&rsquo;t seem to have picked or chosen much else when it comes to local donations.</p><p>One Chicago charity to which MJ does still contribute is the James R. Jordan Foundation, an evolution of the Michael Jordan Foundation named in honor of his father. Deloris Jordan (Michael&rsquo;s mother) is the founder. Michael has little administrative involvement, a fact quickly asserted by the foundation.</p><p>&ldquo;He hasn&rsquo;t been here in how many years?&rdquo; said Samuel Bain, the foundation&rsquo;s director of development. &ldquo;[MJ] hasn&rsquo;t lived here, hasn&rsquo;t played here.&rdquo;</p><p>Bain says it&rsquo;s challenging to quantify the impact of the James R. Jordan Foundation on the city itself, but suspects it&rsquo;s benefited more local children and families than MJ&rsquo;s efforts in the early &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Under Deloris&rsquo; direction, the James R. Jordan Foundation partners with three Chicago K-8 schools, two of which are on either side of the United Center. Every student enrolled in these schools is part of a program called the <a href="http://www.jamesjordanfoundation.com/a-team-scholars.html" target="_blank">A-Team Scholars</a>, which awards scholarship money to students based on the letter improvements of their grades each semester.</p><p>Bain says the program has helped Chicago kids make it to high school and college. Some students have become <a href="https://www.gmsp.org/" target="_blank">Gates Millennium Scholars</a>, and a number of graduates from the James R. Jordan Schools have returned to Chicago as program mentors.</p><p>&ldquo;The impact shows in actual neighborhoods, in kids who are making it,&rdquo; Bain said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the result of making it to college.&rdquo;</p><p>As far as MJ&rsquo;s contributions?</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s a supporter like our other supporters,&rdquo; Bain said. &ldquo;We are not the Michael Jordan Foundation. We don&rsquo;t want the focus to be on Michael.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Second to none</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20need%20you%20back%20pride%20section_0.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 5px; height: 381px; width: 250px;" title="(AP Photo) " />For a while, everyone wanted to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0AGiq9j_Ak" target="_blank">&lsquo;Be Like Mike.&rsquo;</a> Which means Chicago&rsquo;s identity got a bit of a makeover, too.</p><p>Before MJ came along &ldquo;if you were traveling and told someone you were from Chicago, people would say, &lsquo;Oh, Chicago. Al Capone!&rsquo; Now, it&rsquo;s &lsquo;Chicago? Michael Jordan!&rdquo; said Sanderson.</p><p>Sam Smith says that the city experienced a sense of pride that it hadn&rsquo;t had before.</p><p>For a long time, he points out, Chicago was the &ldquo;Second City&rdquo; to New York or Los Angeles.</p><p>&ldquo;Here in Chicago, sports teams have traditionally been unsuccessful. They were associated with losing and being made fun of,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That sentiment turned around. The United Center&rsquo;s Michael Jordan statue, entitled &quot;The Spirit&quot; and completed in 1994, has these words emblazoned on it: &ldquo;The best there ever was. The best there ever will be.&rdquo; It was as if, when Jordan was playing for the Bulls in the &lsquo;90s, everyone was proud to be from Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be the best forever,&rdquo; Smith said, &ldquo;but for a while we were number one.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/legacy-michael-jordan-chicago-111803 The Chicago rabbit: The unofficial face of wildlife is right under your nose http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-rabbit-unofficial-face-wildlife-right-under-your-nose-111770 <p><p>Our question about rabbits comes from Curious Citizen Jennifer Gadda, who says when she lived in San Francisco and New York, she hardly ever saw rabbits. Not so with her time in The Second City; the little guys were all over the parks or springing between grass and gravel.</p><p>&ldquo;If I wasn&rsquo;t hearing someone complain about their garden, I was seeing them everywhere,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I wondered if they truly were &lsquo;the other pigeon&rsquo; of the city. It was like <em>The Twilight Zone</em>.&rdquo;</p><p>With this in mind, Jennifer sent us a two-parter about these urban hoppers:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What&#39;s the deal with all the bunny rabbits that inhabit the urban areas of Chicago? Most importantly, where do they go for the long winter?</em></p><p>Well, Jennifer, looking into this question has made us realize something: There&rsquo;s a case to be made that the lowly rabbit should be considered as iconically &ldquo;Chicagoan&rdquo; as celery salt on hot dogs or pronouncing basketball as &ldquo;b-ea-sketball.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The Eastern Cottontail</span></p><p>According to our sources, it&rsquo;s likely that Jennifer&rsquo;s fine, four-legged friends are members of our region&rsquo;s dominant species, the Eastern Cottontail. It&rsquo;s difficult to estimate how many actually inhabit the city, but the The Urban Wildlife Institute at Lincoln Park Zoo has made a go of it, having set up 118 camera &ldquo;traps&rdquo; across the city to catch rabbits doing their thing. The heat-sensitive cameras take a photo every 30 seconds or whenever they&rsquo;re triggered by motion.</p><p>Mason Fidino, who spearheads the Institute&rsquo;s ongoing<a href="http://www.lpzoo.org/blog/nature-boardwalk-lincoln-park-zoo/what-do-rabbits-do-winter" target="_blank"> research</a> on the species&rsquo; behavior, estimates there are 200 or so wild rabbits on the zoo grounds alone, which translates to a density of about 30 rabbits per hectare.</p><p>&ldquo;This implies that our density of rabbits in this area is far greater than reported estimates of rabbit densities in natural areas of this region (from other people&rsquo;s work),&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Translation: Chicago&rsquo;s likely full of rabbits, or at least more rabbits per hectare (or acre) than nearby suburbs or natural areas.</p><p>One reason they&rsquo;re so common in the city is because the heart of downtown is an &ldquo;urban heat island,&rdquo; meaning the city is warmer than the &lsquo;burbs. (Wouldn&rsquo;t <em>you </em>hang out where it&rsquo;s warmer?)</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSCF1013.JPG" style="height: 380px; width: 450px;" title="An Eastern Cottontail hides under bushes at the Lincoln Park Zoo entrance. It is uncommon for a rabbit to be out during the day. (WBEZ/Gabrielle Wright)" /></div><p>If the rabbits had to pick a neighborhood, it would definitely be Lincoln Park and the real estate around Museum Campus, where the little fugitives have had quite an effect. They eat shrubs and bark, so it&rsquo;s common to find their bucktooth prints on trees. The Chicago Park District estimates that, in 2002, more than $50,000 worth of Grant Park&rsquo;s plants and trees ended up in rabbit bellies. The Horticulture Department at Lincoln Park Zoo estimates that rabbits chowed $15,000 worth of landscaping during a recent winter season.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-510-2.jpg" style="height: 338px; width: 450px;" title="The Urban Wildlife Institute uses cameras to spot rabbits, both day and night. (WBEZ/Gabrielle Wright)" /></div><p>If you don&rsquo;t buy Findino&rsquo;s take on the rabbit population, consider another one. In his book <em>Rats</em>, Robert Sullivan equates the long-eared mammal&rsquo;s bold presence across Chicago with the commonality of rats in New York City&rsquo;s subways.</p><p>&quot;I also noticed that in addition to a rat problem, Chicago public parks appear to have a bit of a rabbit problem,&rdquo; writes Sullivan. &ldquo;Rabbits were hopping all over the place, believe it or not. It was a little scary.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">It&rsquo;s a hard life for a Chicago rabbit</span></p><p>Regarding Jennifer&#39;s follow-up question about the fate of the rabbits during winter, Fidino says the answer&rsquo;s straightforward: Most rabbits die over the winter. A Lincoln Park Zoo study estimates a winter mortality rate of about 70 percent.</p><p>The critters compensate for this dismal figure by mating like ... rabbits. One female rabbit may have up to 25 babies each year. In frigid temps, many of those babies don&rsquo;t survive. Those that do? They hide.</p><p>During the winter, many will make homes in warm places right under your nose. How you interact with your environment determines how many you&rsquo;ll see. Fidino says if you have a garden covered by a fresh layer of snow, rabbits are probably there. When asked where <em>he </em>would hide if he were a rabbit, Fidino says he&rsquo;d join the bounty of bunnies storming the Lincoln Park Zoo. He also said he would hide behind a large waste bin.</p><p>&ldquo;Rabbits are pretty creative,&rdquo; Fidino says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s actually quite funny where you might find them. In the city, they might be hiding right under something near your feet and you wouldn&rsquo;t even know it. It&rsquo;s their job to hide.&rdquo;</p><p>The Eastern Cottontail is qualified for the job, as it&rsquo;s a crepuscular species (meaning it comes out of hiding only at dawn and dusk to forage food). Hopping around during the dusty twinge of the violet hours makes it easier to avoid predators.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-498-3.jpg" style="height: 338px; width: 450px;" title="Camera 'traps' capture night-time images of rabbits in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo/Urban Wildlife Institute)" /></div><p>Still, there are more obstacles to staying alive. According to the Illinois Department of Natural History&cedil; there are about 2,000 coyotes hanging out in our<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-part-chicago-has-most-biodiversity-103725" target="_blank"> diverse urban jungle</a>, along with other predators. Cottontails are toward the bottom of the food chain, making the struggle to find food harder. What&rsquo;s more, they are susceptible to Tularemia, or &ldquo;rabbit fever,&rdquo; an infectious disease that spreads quickly, just as bubonic plague can. The disease wiped out between <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-20/news/ct-met-kass-0320-20130320_1_rabbit-dark-shadows-coyotes" target="_blank">40 to 60 percent of the city&#39;s rabbit population in 2013</a>. In 1930, plans to relocate rabbits from the city to a local forest preserve were halted due to the disease.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Chicago&rsquo;s <em>other </em>bunnies</span></p><p>If you spot the brown creatures during daylight, there&rsquo;s a chance they could be in in danger. Red Door Shelter, an animal rescue center on the city&rsquo;s North Side, has created an up-and-at-&lsquo;em community that snaps pictures of the furballs as they huddle near car tires or under porches. Members post pics to the shelter&rsquo;s Facebook Page and assign search parties to follow up on &ldquo;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/reddoorshelter/photos/a.180540025330317.50697.180526168665036/888798757837770/?type=1" target="_blank">bunny action alerts</a>&rdquo; when necessary.</p><p>&ldquo;They happen quite often,&rdquo; says Toni Greetis, Vice President of the Red Door Shelter. &ldquo;If a bunny is on the loose we get together and go look for them.&rdquo;</p><p>Search parties determine whether the rabbit in question is wild or a domesticated breed. Greetis says there&rsquo;s a peculiar rise in the number of rabbits that are let loose in the winter. The group&rsquo;s rescued 54 since Easter of 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;Domestic rabbits often get mistaken for the wild Eastern Cottontails but don&rsquo;t have the genetic makeup to survive the winter,&rdquo; Greetis says. &ldquo;They will die if left out in the cold.&rdquo;</p><p>Following rescue, the shelter will search for the bunny&rsquo;s owners or put it up for adoption.</p><p>If you find some wild rabbits hopping along the side of building or nestled under your deck, they&rsquo;re probably okay. Dawn Keller is the Executive Director and wildlife ecologist at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, the city&rsquo;s only wildlife hospital. She<a href="http://www.flintcreekwildlife.org/found_an_animal/bunnies/" target="_blank"> advises you to leave wild rabbits alone</a> if you find one.</p><p>&ldquo;Believe me, even if you don&rsquo;t see them, they&rsquo;re here&rdquo; Keller says. &ldquo;This is their city too.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Jennifer Gadda, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Jennifer is no stranger to wildlife, having grown up in a semi-rural section of Boise, Idaho. She&rsquo;s lived in bustling cities across the country, as well Oxford, England. She says she&rsquo;s never seen so many urban rabbits as she has in Chicago&rsquo;s Ravenswood neighborhood.</p><p>In Fall of 2003, the theater professional (she manages production at Court Theater) landed in Chicago. She says she immediately took in two &ldquo;Candy Land-like surprises&rdquo;: a superb chocolatey smell wafting in the air and ... rabbits. Everywhere.</p><p>&ldquo;Isn&#39;t it unusual to have wildlife in the middle of a city?&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;Or are rabbits really just cuter versions of rats and pigeons?&rdquo;</p><p>Jennifer&#39;s lived here for 10 years, long enough to have lived through 2013-2014&rsquo;s &ldquo;Snowmageddon&rdquo; season. Like many Chicagoans, she worried about people who didn&rsquo;t have adequate cold-weather shelter, but the fate of the rabbits sprang to mind, too.</p><p>Knowing most of them actually do die off, she says the rabbits&rsquo; reproductive rate makes perfect sense.</p><p>&ldquo;I guess this is how nature keeps things in balance,&rdquo; Jennifer says.</p><p>But ... she&rsquo;s still curious to know if they are just cuter versions of rats.</p><p><em>Gabrielle Wright is an intern for Curious City. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/@GabiAWright" target="_blank">@GabiAWright</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-rabbit-unofficial-face-wildlife-right-under-your-nose-111770 Good school, bad school: How should we measure? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/good-school-bad-school-how-should-we-measure-111736 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/good schools thumb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: Reporter Becky Vevea has finished answering this question, and her final report is here:&nbsp;</em><a href="http://wbez.is/1IB3XTW" target="_blank">http://wbez.is/1IB3XTW</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;W<em>e&#39;re currently closing discussion on this earlier post, which proved useful in helping her and the Curious City team focus Becky&#39;s reporting. Thanks to everyone who contributed, both here and on social media!&nbsp;</em></p><p>Recently, a listener submitted a question that WBEZ&rsquo;s education reporters hear pretty often.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s a version that Julie from North Center sent Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>There is reporting about how Chicago Public Schools are slowly getting better. Was there ever a time when they were <strong>good</strong>?</em></p><p>The short answer is: <em>It depends</em>.</p><p>Not only do families have different values and ideas of &ldquo;good&rdquo; or &ldquo;successful,&rdquo; but society as a whole has placed value on different things over time. At one point, vocational education was essential to train the next generation of residents, workers, and citizens. Today, value&rsquo;s placed in college placement and readiness.</p><p>This post is just step one in answering Julie&rsquo;s question. We&rsquo;re going to lay out several ways that &ldquo;good&rdquo; has been defined and ask you to do a little homework. Take a look at what we&rsquo;ve compiled below and let us know on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezcuriouscity" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject?ref=hl" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, or in the comment section which of these, if any, we should use to answer Julie&rsquo;s question. What do you think matters the most for determining a school&rsquo;s success?</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Standardized tests scores</span></p><p>The most popular tool for measuring a school is to measure how its students perform academically, specifically how they perform on standardized tests.</p><p>Illinois students <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-ends-standoff-agrees-give-new-state-test-111644" target="_blank">started taking a new test called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Careers, or PARCC</a>. Some high school students take the PARCC and many also take the <a href="http://www.actstudent.org/" target="_blank">ACT</a>. Up until last year, all juniors in Illinois took the ACT.</p><p>Those tests have changed dramatically over time and the scores needed to be considered good or bad are moving targets. <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/" target="_blank">The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> analyzed Chicago Public Schools performance from 1988 to 2009, running sophisticated statistical analysis on the standardized tests used throughout that time.</p><p>&ldquo;The publicly reported statistics used to hold schools and districts accountable for making academic progress are not accurate measures of progress,&rdquo; <a href="http://ccsr.uchicago.edu/downloads/3030threeerasfullreportwithsearleacknowledgment.pdf" target="_blank">the report concluded</a>. &ldquo;The indicators have changed frequently &mdash; due to policies at the local, state, and federal levels; changes made by test makers; and changes in the types and numbers of students included in the statistics.&rdquo;</p><p>The report looked at Chicago Public Schools reading and math performance across two separate tests, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or ITBS, and the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT. It found math performance inched up, while reading performance stayed nearly the same for almost two decades.</p><p>The average ACT score of a high school is often used in conjunction with graduation rates to determine if it is a &ldquo;good&rdquo; school or not. The average ACT score in CPS has remained relatively flat over the past decade and a WBEZ analysis showed many of the best high schools in the city are <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/schools/the-big-sort.html" target="_blank">enrolling freshman who already perform well</a> on standardized tests.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Academics</span></p><p>Standardized test scores can reflect the performance of a school, but academic reputation is usually defined by a combination of things.</p><p>Anne Kremer, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at DePaul University, said colleges first look at a student&rsquo;s transcript.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re looking at the rigor of your curriculum, that you are taking not just the bare minimum,&rdquo; Kremer said, though she added that colleges evaluate students based on what&rsquo;s available at their school. For example, if Advance Placement classes aren&rsquo;t offered, that won&rsquo;t be held against an applicant.</p><p>There are a host of schools in Chicago that tout rigorous college prep curriculums, including selective enrollment schools that require test scores for admission. Many charter schools, like those in the <a href="http://noblenetwork.org/" target="_blank">Noble Street Network</a>, offer AP classes and tout a long list of alumni at prestigious public universities, and even some Ivy league schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to expand rigorous <a href="http://www.ibo.org/" target="_blank">International Baccalaureate</a> programs within CPS high schools, as well.</p><p>Beyond what schools advertise about curriculum and notable alumni, there&rsquo;s word of mouth reputation, as well as the following data:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>Curriculum</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Attendance rates</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Graduation rates</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Academic awards, such as the &ldquo;Blue Ribbon School&rdquo; award, <a href="http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools" target="_blank">U.S. News &amp; World Report </a>rankings, etc.</p></li></ul><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Safety </span></p><p>When Chicago Public Schools decided to shut down 50 schools in 2013, it became clear that some parents don&rsquo;t choose schools based only on academics; they often choose a school based on how safe it is &mdash; or appears to be.</p><p>Illinois and Chicago school officials started collecting data on safety in recent years, in order to identify schools where violence is an issue and figure out how to shield schools from it. There are two ways to talk about the safety: what happens <em>inside</em> the school and what happens <em>outside</em> the school. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Inside, schools can struggle with fighting, poor classroom management, and bad behavior. As an outsider, the best way to figure out how unruly a school might be on the inside would be by looking at the following data points:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>Total number of infractions</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Level or severity of those infractions</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Suspensions and expulsions</p></li></ul><p>What happens outside a school is another matter. Even the best, most orderly school can struggle to be considered &ldquo;good&rdquo; because of the neighborhood it sits in. Data points we could look at to determine the safety of the school&rsquo;s surroundings:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>Neighborhood crimes</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Vacant lots and buildings</p></li></ul><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Proximity</span></p><p>In the same way parents don&rsquo;t want to send their children to unsafe schools, many don&rsquo;t want to travel long distances to send their children to school. In Chicago, many do in order to attend magnet schools, charter schools and, frankly, other neighborhood schools that are safer than their own. But many parents say they want a good school within walking distance of their home.</p><p>CPS has a <a href="http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Find_a_school/Pages/findaschool.aspx" target="_blank">school-finder which allows searches by ZIP code or address</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;Soft-skills&rsquo;</span></p><p>Ask anyone what they remember most about high school and they probably won&rsquo;t say the standardized tests or fights in the hall. Most of what people remember about their school-aged years is the overall experience &mdash; playing sports, performing in music and drama clubs, or participating in student government. So one way to define &ldquo;good&rdquo; relates to the reputation the school has in areas unrelated to academics.</p><p>Recent research out of the University of Chicago shows &ldquo;soft skills&rdquo; are the key to long-term success in life. Tim Kautz, a researcher at the Center for the Economics of Human Development, <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo17116615.html">recently wrote a book about non-cognitive skills </a>in high school graduates.</p><p>&ldquo;Cognitive skills, that is what&rsquo;s measured by test scores, becomes relatively fixed by age 10,&rdquo; Kautz said. &ldquo;So, that sort of completely changes what a good education system should do.&rdquo;</p><p>The state&rsquo;s best schools don&rsquo;t just focus on academics; they also provide robust extracurricular experiences. Whitney Young, while known for its academics, is a basketball powerhouse in Chicago&rsquo;s Public League, and the school&rsquo;s chess team won the state championship. Another school, Simeon High School, also draws students because of its basketball program, despite low scores on standardized tests.</p><p><a href="http://www.chiarts.org/">ChiArts</a>, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAkQuis2STg">modeled after the high school in the musical Fame</a>, attracts students interested in pursuing careers in fine arts such as drama, music, and dance. Comprehensive suburban high schools in Evanston and Oak Park River Forest draw families who want their children in diverse schools.</p><p>Kautz said most of that is not measured by districts and states in part because it&rsquo;s really hard to capture.</p><p>&ldquo;What you learned on the soccer team probably isn&rsquo;t going to help you all that much with your ACT scores, but may actually help you with your job or getting through college,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>It may be hard to gather empirical data to correlate the amount of time spent in soccer with success in careers, but there are ways to gauge whether students have opportunities to develop &ldquo;soft-skills&rdquo;. They are:</p><ul><li><p>Racial and ethnic diversity in enrollment data</p></li><li><p>Non-core classes, sports, and clubs offered</p></li><li><p>Budgets and grants for extra-curricular programs</p></li><li><p>Attendance</p></li><li><p>Class size</p></li></ul><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Beyond School</span></p><p>One common phrase used by everyone from President Obama to your child&rsquo;s teacher in recent years is &ldquo;College and Career Readiness.&rdquo;</p><p>No one argues with it, but hard to nail down exactly what someone means when they use the phrase.</p><p>Our question asker, Julie, touched on this issue when we first asked for her to explain what &ldquo;good&rdquo; meant.</p><p>&ldquo;I know an older gentleman who moved to Chicago as a teenager to escape WWII in the 1940s,&rdquo; she wrote. &ldquo;He arrived here knowing no English. He graduated from a North Side public school, got a job at a department store, and went on to have a successful career as an entrepreneur.&rdquo;</p><p>Julie pointed to Senn High School in Rogers Park as a school that&rsquo;s trying hard to change its reputation.</p><p>&ldquo;Just a few years ago, it was one of those schools that one would say &lsquo;No way is my child going to go there.&rsquo;&rdquo; She went on: &ldquo;Was Senn once a &lsquo;good&rsquo; school decades ago? Did it do its job of helping a mostly immigrant population to learn English and a few vocational skills to assimilate into American culture? Were expectations lower?&rdquo;</p><p>The latest push of education reform, in part, comes because the American economy is dramatically different than it was decades ago: factory jobs are gone; technology and information jobs are abundant; and policymakers worry our school system doesn&rsquo;t align with the skills needed to get a job in today&rsquo;s world.</p><p>There&rsquo;s not as much data to measure success in this and the data one would need would require patience. Tying a student&rsquo;s success in life to a school and the education it offers requires tracking beyond graduation, something some public schools have just started collecting on a systematic basis.</p><p>There are two measurements that Chicago uses to measure success in college. They are:</p><ul><li><p>College enrollment</p></li><li><p>College persistence</p></li></ul><p>There are no official measurements for tracking career success district wide. But many schools with vocational programs can typically say how many students earn a certification in the trades available at their school. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/good-school-bad-school-how-should-we-measure-111736