WBEZ | M(apps) & Data http://www.wbez.org/tags/mapps-data Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Where are Chicago's poor white neighborhoods? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-are-chicagos-poor-white-neighborhoods-112639 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/whitepovertythumb3.png" alt="" /><p><div><em>Editor&#39;s note: We&#39;re considering additional coverage for this story and we&#39;d like to know which follow-up questions about concentrated white poverty most interest you. Examples: How does Chicago compare to other Midwestern cities? How does this apply to the suburbs? What additional implications does this have for life in our region? If you like one of these or have your own, please place it in the comment section below. Thanks for considering it!</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Martha Victoria Diaz, a lawyer who grew up in Lake View during the late &lsquo;70s and &lsquo;80s, remembers the Chicago neighborhood as being fairly integrated. She remembers many Latino families like her own living on the block, as well as white households. But once the neighborhood began to gentrify, working class people of all races were displaced.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Martha says that got her thinking: It was easy to identify areas of Chicago where low-income Latinos live and, for that matter, where low-income African-Americans live, too. But where had all the white people gone? She followed up by asking:</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><em>Where are all the poor white neighborhoods?</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Diaz was especially curious because she knows that nationally, most beneficiaries of some poverty programs are white. (We&rsquo;re talking <a href="http://kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/distribution-by-raceethnicity-4/">Medicaid</a> and the <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Characteristics2013.pdf">Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program</a>, aka food stamps.)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So in Chicago, where are all those people living? We found answers in the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reveal striking differences in concentrated poverty between Chicago&rsquo;s three largest racial/ethnic groups. We then called experts to explain how the disparate pictures of poverty in Chicago came to be. They also offered some big takeaways about how our attitudes about poverty and race may be shaped by housing patterns &mdash; and what that means for public policy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><span style="font-size:24px;">First, the data. Where are Chicago&rsquo;s poor white neighborhoods?</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We began with U.S. Census data, which allowed us to drill down to individual census tracts across Chicago. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-are-chicagos-poor-white-neighborhoods-112639#data">After deciding on a methodology</a>, we generated a map showing areas of high-poverty for each of the races.</div><div><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/poverty/" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/mapstillFORWEB4.png" style="width: 620px; height: 395px;" /></a></div><div><div><a name="graph"></a>The data are striking. While it&rsquo;s easy to identify swaths of African-American poverty, and to a lesser extent Latino poverty, Chicago has just two isolated census tracts of white poverty, both of which are tucked away near the lake in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Looking closer, you might notice that those two tracts are in the area adjoining Loyola University&rsquo;s lakeshore campus. We might expect to see this in an area populated by college and graduate students!</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p data-pym-src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/white-poverty/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/white-poverty/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script>This is not to say there&rsquo;s no white poverty in Chicago. Indeed, Census Bureau data from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey show 90,328 white Chicagoans living at or below the federal poverty level. But Martha&rsquo;s question is about concentrated white poverty. Our conclusion is that &mdash; those two North Side census tracts notwithstanding &mdash; there really is no concentrated white poverty in Chicago.<p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Why doesn&rsquo;t Chicago have concentrated white poverty?</span></p><p>This follow-up question is a logical one, given that <a href="https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.pdf">whites represent the largest group of poor people in the United States</a>. For answers, we first spoke with Janet Smith, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois Chicago and co-director of the Natalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement.</p><p><strong>Janet Smith:&nbsp;</strong><em>If I look back 40 years ago, I might have turned to a few communities that I can think of where you had more working poor people. But even then ... Hegwisch for example, you think of the far South Side of Chicago, close to the steel mills. Those were actually good-paying jobs. Even then you had white working class people ... but they weren&#39;t poor necessarily.&nbsp;I don&rsquo;t know if we ever really had concentrated white poverty in Chicago, and part of that is because whites, as opposed to blacks and Latinos, have been able to live just about anywhere. And so part of it is more of a diffusion of poverty among white folks, compared to blacks and Latinos.</em></p><p><em>What we&rsquo;ve seen since the 1970s ... is a shrinking of the white middle-income and lower-income families in the city of Chicago. So where we think they&rsquo;ve gone &mdash; and this is based on data that we get from the U.S. Census &mdash; is that they&rsquo;ve relocated probably outside the city and are living more in suburban areas.</em></p><p><em>I think that part of [why Chicago doesn&#39;t have concentrated white poverty] has to get back to a larger history of structural racism in the United States. And what I mean by that is the ability for different races to move to different places. So whites have long had an ability to move around the country and to move to different places. African-Americans have historically just not had as many choices. And Chicago &mdash; and I can think of a couple other Midwestern cities &mdash; has had a really strong history of race relations that have not been positive for African-Americans. So staying in these neighborhoods is probably a result of having limited opportunities to move elsewhere.</em></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Why does Chicago have so much concentrated black poverty?</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s clear from the data that different factors are at play within the black and Latino communities. To unpack some of the reasons that have contributed to Chicago&rsquo;s extensive areas of concentrated black poverty, we spoke with Mary Pattillo, the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Northwestern University.</p><p><strong>Mary Pattillo:</strong><em> So the answer to the question of why there isn&rsquo;t concentrated white poverty in Chicago &mdash; and many other cities, Chicago is not alone in this &mdash; rests on two big points. One is racial residential segregation, and the other is the different poverty rates in the various race/ethnic groups. So when you combine those two together, you get concentrated black and Latino poverty, and pretty much no concentrated white poverty.</em></p><p><em>Racial residential segregation ... Let&rsquo;s begin with the fact that Chicago is an old city, much of which was built before the Fair Housing Act of 1968 [and] a lot of which [was] built during a time when we had what were called racial restrictive covenants. [These] were agreements ... that white homeowners entered amongst each other to exclude mostly blacks, but in some cities and in some times they also excluded Jewish people. They also excluded Chinese people, depending on what city and what was the marginalized group at the time.</em></p><p><em>The federal government is not at all innocent in this. The federal government very much underwrote the suburbanization of whites and the concentration of blacks in the city. So the building of the suburbs was very much supported by the federal government&rsquo;s insuring of mortgages, and that allowed the banks to give a lot more mortgages, but they only insured those mortgages in neighborhoods that, as they said, didn&rsquo;t house &ldquo;inharmonious racial groups&rdquo; ... which basically meant if there were any prospect of black people moving in, they wouldn&rsquo;t support the mortgage. So this very much created residential racial segregation, not just in the city of Chicago but also in the metropolitan area, by supporting the suburbanization of whites and the concentration of blacks in the city in &mdash; what the federal government also built &mdash; which were public housing projects.</em></p><p><strong>WBEZ: Do any of these factors still play out today, or have new ones crept in?</strong></p><p><strong>Mary Pattillo: </strong><em>The research today still finds housing discrimination. Sometimes it&rsquo;s the blatant discrimination: A black person calls and the realtor says that apartment&rsquo;s been rented. ... So black folks have to work extra hard to see the same number of units as whites. ... But there is something to preferences and knowledge. What neighborhoods do people know about? And, how do you know about neighborhoods? You know about the neighborhoods where your friends live. And if our friendship patterns are racially segregated, then we know about the neighborhoods where other black people live if we&rsquo;re black, or the neighborhoods where other Latinos live if we&rsquo;re Latino. So there&rsquo;s knowledge, and there&rsquo;s preferences and comfort.</em></p><p><strong>WBEZ: Are we seeing higher-income blacks mix up the incomes in some of these high-poverty neighborhoods?</strong></p><p><strong>Mary Pattillo:</strong> <em>That&rsquo;s an excellent question. Let&rsquo;s say you had complete racial residential segregation &mdash; which we don&rsquo;t have, but in Chicago, we almost do &mdash; so that if the black poverty rate is 30 percent, that means all black neighborhoods should have a 30 percent poverty rate, if everybody is kind of shuffled around. But that&rsquo;s not the case. You have class segregation within race. Class segregation among blacks is higher than among both whites and Latinos. So when you measure, as you mentioned, the evenness of the classes within the predominantly black, Latino or white neighborhoods, you find that there is greater pull-away between poor blacks and upper income blacks than there is between poor whites and upper income whites and poor Latinos and upper income Latinos.</em></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-are-chicagos-poor-white-neighborhoods-112639#graph"><strong><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Chart: Comparison of Chicago residents living in poverty, by race</span></strong></a></em></p><p><strong>WBEZ: Can we account for the psychology, in any way, behind that high level of class segregation among blacks?</strong></p><p><strong>Mary Pattillo:</strong> <em>It is both that many populations don&rsquo;t want to live around poor people (it&rsquo;s a reflection on them, they think) and because what goes along with neighborhoods that have high poverty rates are things like fewer services, schools that are less well invested. ... I think for many reasons people see high-poverty neighborhoods as lacking in the kind of resources and amenities that they want for themselves and for their kids.</em></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Why is there concentrated Latino poverty in Chicago?</span></p><p>Our experts told us that some of the factors behind concentrated black poverty in Chicago also apply to the question of why we see some areas of concentrated Latino poverty. Researchers have conducted studies where &ldquo;testers&rdquo; of different races and ethnic backgrounds are deployed to inquire about available housing in cities across the U.S. These studies have exposed disparate treatment of Latinos and whites, just as they have found disparate treatment between African-Americans and whites.</p><p>However, many Latino neighborhoods are also landing spots for new immigrants, so we spoke with Sylvia Puente, Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum. We asked her how immigration, and other unique explanations, might lie behind the data.</p><p><strong>Sylvia Puente: </strong><em>So Latino poverty, to a large extent, you&rsquo;re really going to see families, you&rsquo;re going to see two-parent households &mdash; a married mom and dad with kids &mdash; but they&rsquo;re only able to earn a wage which doesn&rsquo;t take them past the poverty level.</em></p><p><em>A significant number of adults are working in low-wage labor markets. ... That&rsquo;s among all Latinos, but especially for those who are undocumented or unauthorized in this country. They&rsquo;re living in a shadow economy that sometimes doesn&rsquo;t even pay minimum wage. ... A significant number of Latinos are low-wage workers for a variety of reasons, and then people choose to live where they have friends and family. Where they go to church and Mass is in the language that they&rsquo;re most comfortable in, and they can go grocery shopping and know people from their home communities.</em></p><p><em>It&rsquo;s always, I think, an interesting question to say, &ldquo;Are these ethnic enclaves, or are they ghettos?&rdquo; And I think that a community can be both, and I don&rsquo;t mean ghetto in a negative way. But [with ghettos], we see large concentrations of poverty. We don&rsquo;t see a lot of economic activity. We see large concentrations of people in the same ethnic group living there who don&rsquo;t have a way out. [Whereas] ethnic enclaves have, maybe, a lot of those same characteristics. ... Ethnic enclaves are [where] people are choosing to live in these communities, because certainly with Latinos, they can go to the store in Spanish. They can go to the grocery store and find products from their home country, they can cook meals that are familiar to them. A lot of what we&rsquo;ve seen in terms of Latino concentration are people literally coming from the same village in Mexico or in another country, so you go where you know people. And ethnic enclaves also [are] people choosing to live with people who are like them because it&rsquo;s home, it&rsquo;s familiar. There&rsquo;s a certain comfort in that.</em></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What does it mean if, when we talk about concentrated poverty in Chicago, we really are only talking about communities of color?</span></p><p><strong>Sylvia Puente:</strong> <em>One of the concerns that I have around it is that we have two Chicagos. We have a thriving white middle class Chicago who largely lives along the lakefront and on the Northwest Side of the city, and Chicago is big enough that you don&rsquo;t have to go into a South Side neighborhood ever in your whole life. And I&rsquo;m certainly of the belief that to have compassion, to really address all the social challenges that we have in our state, you&rsquo;ve got to get out of your comfort zone and understand how people live.</em></p><p><strong>Mary Pattillo:</strong> &nbsp;<em>I think that that contributes to our misunderstanding of poverty in general, our misunderstanding of welfare and social services, and I think it contributes to a kind of political conservatism because we can point to those &ldquo;other people.&rdquo; If we&rsquo;re white, we can point to those other people (and think) &ldquo;Something&rsquo;s wrong with black people, something&rsquo;s wrong with Latinos. White people &mdash; look, you don&rsquo;t see any poor white neighborhoods.&rdquo; But there are poor white people, there are lots of poor white people. But because they&rsquo;re not visibly located in a single place, it doesn&rsquo;t lend itself to our stigmatizing them.</em></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Martha&rsquo;s conclusions</span></p><p><a name="data"></a>After hearing input from our three experts, we asked our questioner, Martha Diaz, to reflect on what resonated with her, as a Latina who grew up in a working-class background but attained a college education and lives in today&rsquo;s gentrified Lake View neighborhood.</p><p><strong>Martha Diaz:</strong> <em>Well, I suppose much of the outcome of your life depends on circumstances that are really beyond your control. My parents bought the three-flat that we have in Lake View not because they were speculating, not because they thought that Lake View was going to be the next big thing, but because it was cheaper than the house near the brickyard mall that they had originally been scoping out. And as a result of that, they put themselves and our family in the middle of a community that was about to gentrify. And, as a result of that, my brothers and I had access to better schools probably than our peers did in other parts of the city. And it was serendipitous and wonderful in the example of our family because it made everything for us possible, it made my life possible. But that&rsquo;s obviously not the case for a lot of people in this city.</em></p><hr /><p><strong>How we worked with data</strong></p><p>To get to the bottom of Martha Diaz&rsquo;s question, we had to decide whether a geographic area can be associated with a single, predominant race. We also had to define &ldquo;concentrated poverty.&rdquo; There are lots of ways that one could slice and dice the data, and we took just one approach.</p><p>We started with the 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, and examined racial breakdowns within each census tract in Chicago. We decided on a generous definition, characterizing a census tract as predominantly of a single race &mdash; Latino, African-American or white &mdash; if a plurality of people in the tract were of that race.</p><p>Next, we looked at incomes of the predominant races in those census tracts. We used the commonly-accepted definition of &ldquo;high-poverty areas,&rdquo; which are census tracts where the poverty rate (the percentage of people living at or below the federal poverty level) is at or exceeds 40 percent. To find tracts of concentrated white poverty, for example, we looked at the &ldquo;white tracts&rdquo; and asked whether more than 40 percent of those whites are living in poverty. We also disqualified tracts with population counts low enough to raise concerns about statistical confidence. (See &quot;Coefficient of variation&quot; and related listings in the Census Bureau&#39;s <a href="http://www.census.gov/about/policies/quality/standards/glossary.html#c" target="_blank">Glossary of Statistical Quality Standards</a>). &nbsp;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>. Chris Hagan analyzed Census data and generated maps for this story.</em></p><p><em>Chris Hagan is a data reporter for WBEZ. Follow him&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/chrishagan">@chrishagan</a>.</em></p><div><em>CORRECTION: A previous version of this story used a graphic that displayed incorrect figures regarding national poverty rates relative to those of Chicago&#39;s. The graphic has been corrected, suggesting a closer alignment between national poverty rates within white, black and Latino communities and their Chicago counterparts.</em></div></div><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/white-poverty/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script></p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-are-chicagos-poor-white-neighborhoods-112639 Shoes on a wire: Untangling an urban myth http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shoes-wire-untangling-urban-myth-112575 <p><p>The curiosity about shoes hanging on power lines is practically ubiquitous. Our questioner, Matt Latourette, saw them all the time growing up in the &lsquo;70s and &lsquo;80s in Chicago&rsquo;s Belmont Central neighborhood. And even though he doesn&rsquo;t see as many dangling shoes around neighborhoods today, that didn&rsquo;t stop him from tapping into a sort of collective curious-consciousness and asking about one of the biggest urban mysteries that lurks in the minds of city-dwellers and suburbanites alike:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s with all the gym shoes hanging from power lines?</em></p><p>Strangely enough, the city actually keeps track of how many pairs of Chicago shoes get hauled over electric or telephone wires. We learned that in the last seven years, city workers have received at least 6,000 requests to remove shoes hanging from telephone or electrical wires. (Similar requests, by the way, have sought to remove everything from a pair of hanging cowboy boots to a stranded rubber ducky.)</p><p>Clearly, gym-shoes hanging on a wire is something that happens. But getting to the bottom of why &mdash; that proved difficult. Despite Reddit threads, a <a href="http://www.snopes.com/crime/gangs/sneakers.asp">Snopes article citing &ldquo;no one definitive answer&rdquo;</a> to shoe-throwing, and <a href="https://vimeo.com/71867019">even a mini-documentary about shoe tossing across the globe</a>, at first all we found were whole lot of theories. But, we were able to turn up enough first-hand accounts and interviews with community leaders, gang members and sociologists to tease out some of the basic theories.</p><p>Among those theories: Shoes are tossed on account of losing a bet or taunting a victim or, from kids just being silly. In a more serious vein, people said the shoes signify where to buy drugs; they memorialize victims of gun violence; or they represent a crew marking their block.</p><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/THEORY%201.png" style="float: left; width: 492px; height: 69px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Let&rsquo;s start with a theory confirmed by an unidentified WBEZ listener who dialed the Curious City hotline and told his own story of shoe-throwing in his youth, which was spent in Cleveland, Ohio.</div><blockquote><div>I think I was 14. It was about 1970, and I was wearing my gym shoes around my neck tied together by the laces. A friend of mine, who was perhaps not the best friend in the world, liked to taunt me to some extent. And he was throwing my shoes up in the air pretending, I think, that he was going to throw them over the wire across the street. But then he succeeded. And there they hung. Eventually, some time later that month, the shoestring broke and I got my shoes back.</div></blockquote><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/theory%202.png" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The wager theory is common across the Internet, too. WBEZ listener Juan Molina dialed us, saying that&rsquo;s how he encountered the phenomenon.</p><blockquote><p>I lost a bet and my buddies throw my shoes up there. So, pretty much what they did was climb it &mdash; &nbsp;a pole &mdash; and threw it up there. Other times we threw it from the street until they got caught. ... We tied the laces together and threw it up.</p></blockquote><p>On his message, Molina gave us another reason: spite.</p><blockquote><p>I did it once because I survived soccer camp. &hellip; I did not want to go to soccer. It was something my parents forced and I ended up throwing it up there. Those were just regular Nike cleats.</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/theory%203.png" style="width: 100%; float: left;" title="" />So what about the gang and urban violence angle?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For that I asked my friend Patrick Starr, a guy I&rsquo;ve known for years who is serving a life sentence in a Missouri state prison. He was a high-ranking member of the Bloods gang back in the 1990s in Kansas City, Missouri. Today, he coaches other inmates on cutting ties with their gang. I figured he might be able to help me get to the bottom of whether shoe-tossing was associated with gangs or urban violence. He said that when he was young, he&rsquo;d throw shoes up on the power lines to let folks know his crew, the 57th Street Rogue Dogs, ran that block.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;To us in Kansas City it was about your crew and y&rsquo;all marking your neighborhood,&rdquo; he said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">With that, he told me he&rsquo;d ask around the prison yard and get back to me.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The next day I got a call. He&rsquo;d asked fellow inmates and gotten some interesting responses.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;The Chicago guys, and a lot of the St. Louis guys, they said that represented guys who were killed from each neighborhood &mdash; whether it is gang guys or just homeboys from the hood or the block,&rdquo; he said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When Starr asked other guys from Springfield and Columbia, Missouri, he said he got a very different response. Around those parts, he said, he was told shoes marked a &ldquo;kill&rdquo; and that &ldquo;everyone the OG [Original Gangster] kills, there is a pair of shoes up there that marks he&rsquo;s knocked one man out of his shoes.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Starr said there were so many inmates that had something to say on the subject, that word started to travel around.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;It kind of turned into a nice little yard topic to where guys were starting to run up and say, &lsquo;Oh, hey, man, this is what that meant in my city or my town.&rsquo; Or, &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t know nothing about that,&rsquo;&rdquo; Starr told me.</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/theory%204.png" style="float: left; width: 100%;" title="" />OK, so let&rsquo;s recap. So far we&rsquo;ve figured out that shoes on power lines mean most of what we originally thought: a memorial to a friend who passed, a crew repping their block, a bully, and kids being bored. But we&rsquo;d yet to hear anyone tell us that they sold or bought drugs under a pair of sneaks.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">We talked to Chicago police but they declined to comment.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">So we asked some more people &mdash; kids around the neighborhoods, sociologists, a South Side priest and Cobe Williams, a community outreach worker who has spent years working in troubled neighborhoods in Chicago. When they did have a theory, it was that the shoes were a memorial to someone who died. Not one said they linked it to drugs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;To me it&rsquo;s like an urban legend, especially the drug spot thing,&rdquo; said Robert Aspholm, a social worker, childhood shoe-tosser and a doctoral student at University of Illinois at Chicago working on a dissertation on African American gang dynamics in Chicago. He was highly skeptical of the drug theory because, as he put it, &ldquo;No one is going to put what they&rsquo;re doing out there in that type of way to set themselves up to be arrested.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Another sociologist I corresponded with, Randol Contreras, grew up in the South Bronx and had his own fun tossing his shoes up on power lines. He now works at the University of Toronto and is the author of <em>The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream</em>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">He said that when he was growing up, sneakers hung from wires in every single neighborhood he lived in.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;I even threw an old, worn pair of my own sneakers up to hang,&rdquo; Contreras wrote in an email. &ldquo;However, as I got older, I saw it happening less often.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;I remember doing it because that&#39;s what the guys did sometimes with an old pair sneakers to have a laugh. So I never knew &lsquo;why&rsquo; it was originally done; it was just a tradition that produced laughs in the moment.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Aspholm feels the same way. For him, throwing his shoes on the power lines was the pastime of a bored kid who spent a lot of time outdoors.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;As kids you want to make your mark or have some type of impact on your environment,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So that&rsquo;s just throwing your shoes up on the telephone wires is one way to do that. Like graffiti or tagging something.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:24px;">A disappearing mystery?<a name="graphic"></a></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/shoe%20tossing%20infographic%208.png" style="height: 498px; width: 620px;" title="The number of reported shoe-tossings has decreased since 2008. Data source: City of Chicago" /></div><div>Along with the myriad stories about exactly what shoes on power lines mean, we uncovered some interesting data. According to Mike Claffey, a City of Chicago spokesman, requests for removing shoes from power lines have dropped by 71 percent between 2008 and 2014. This year, as of June, the city has received only 111 requests to remove shoes from power lines, compared to more than 1,100 in 2008. When we pulled similar data from all the 311 calls requesting to have shoes removed, it showed the same trend, with the concentration of the requests coming from the South and West sides with a pocket in the far northeast of the city, around Rogers Park.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I also spoke with ComEd, who maintains power lines in Chicago alleys. (The city maintains the streets.) A spokeswoman, Liz Keating, told me that while ComEd doesn&rsquo;t keep records of the shoes they take down, anecdotally their technicians notice few on the North Side of the city and far more one the South Side.<a name="map"></a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><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/shoe%20tossing%20heatmap.png" style="height: 472px; width: 620px;" title="Visualization based on more than 7,00 records obtained from the city of Chicago, then filtered to 5,918 entries relevant to hanging shoes. Map graphic created via CartoDB. © OpenStreetMapcontributors © CartoDB" /></div></div><div>It&rsquo;s worth noting that Aspholm said he believes the reason theories around shoe-throwing so often veer toward gangs and drugs and territory issues, are because there is overlap.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;A lot of times these types of activities take place in marginalized urban areas,&rdquo; Aspholm said. He added that these neighborhoods are often host to &ldquo;open air drug markets, people being killed and shoes going up on telephone wires. &hellip;I think it&rsquo;s within that wider urban milieu that these types of events take place.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Maybe Aspholm is right. Maybe the reason behind shoe-tossing is just this simple: a coming of age story of inner city youth, colored by its own regional quirks and mixed up in the larger urban milieu of gangs, drugs and violence. Any particular pair of shoes could be up there for a variety of reasons, though it&rsquo;s probably <em>not </em>a place to buy drugs.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And so, we may keep trying to explain sneakers hanging from power lines. But if the data proves anything, this looming question, the mystery of why and how sneakers arrive on power lines, is becoming a mystery of the past.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Matt1.jpg" style="float: left; height: 387px; width: 270px;" title="" /><span style="font-size:24px;">About the Questioner</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Matt Latourette, 43, was shocked when we read him the raw numbers of shoe removals: more than 6,000 over the past seven years. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s amazing that there were that many taken down!&rdquo; he exclaimed. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Still, as a kid, he said he saw them all over the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Today, Matt lives in Aurora, and rarely sees shoes hanging anywhere since their power lines are underground.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know if I am just not there enough or they are actively taking them down. Or if it&rsquo;s an old thing that just isn&rsquo;t done anymore,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just interesting that everyone is aware of it.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But back in his old neighborhood, it was a different story.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I noticed it all over the city and it was just something that was stuck in my mind. I was always wondering why,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He, too, had heard all rumors about what the shoes meant: drug dealing, bullying, kids being bored. But since he had never tossed his shoes, and didn&rsquo;t know anyone who had, he never learned firsthand why people had done it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was always a looming question, he said, shrouded in urban legends.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Meribah Knight is a freelance journalist in Chicago and reports for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow her at <a href="http://meribahknight.com" target="_blank">meribahknight.com</a> and on Twitter at&nbsp;<a href="https://www.twitter.com/meribah" target="_blank">@meribah</a>.</em></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 17:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shoes-wire-untangling-urban-myth-112575 What really happens to Chicago's blue cart recycling? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-really-happens-chicagos-blue-cart-recycling-112302 <p><p>Sara Bibik waited years for her blue cart. In February 2014, Chicago finished rolling out the curbside or alleyway recycling containers to every small residential building in the city, fulfilling a promise first made seven years earlier.</p><p>&ldquo;We were one of the last wards to get blue bins, so we had Blue Bags for a long time,&rdquo; says Bibik, referring to <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-05-03/news/0805020335_1_blue-bag-program-blue-bags-cart">the city&rsquo;s previous, unsuccessful recycling program</a>. The city&rsquo;s Blue Bag system was notoriously expensive and ineffective, and after 13 years of trying to launch a citywide recycling campaign, Chicago ditched the program.</p><p>Despite the distrust many had for Chicago&rsquo;s blue bags, Bibik and her family had kept using them.</p><p>&ldquo;You felt like it was working. We still did it,&rdquo; she said. She&rsquo;s glad to have a blue cart now, but fears all her work recycling might be for nothing.</p><p>Like many Chicagoans, Bibik, a dance teacher who lives in the Edison Park neighborhood, remains skeptical about her local government&rsquo;s ability to recycle effectively:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>I want to know if our city&rsquo;s blue bin recycling actually gets recycled.</em></p><p>&ldquo;I hope it&#39;s true,&rdquo; says Bibik, 47. &ldquo;I have two kids, 14 and 11. They do love to recycle and they get angry if they see recycling in the garbage. I&#39;ve trained them well.&rdquo;</p><p>But, she asks, is it all going to the landfill anyway? Is recycling all a sham?</p><p>To answer her question we&rsquo;re going to follow the trash from Chicago alleyways all the way through the elaborate sorting facilities where recycled stuff gets prepped for its second act. We&rsquo;ll find out how much of that stuff gets thrown out by the many hands that handle it along the way. And we&rsquo;ll learn how recycling connects average recyclers like Bibik to bauxite miners on the other side of the planet.</p><p>When it comes to recyclables ending up in the landfill, things are a lot less bleak than Bibik secretly suspects &mdash; recycling in Chicago is not a sham &mdash; but there are reasons to wonder if the city underestimates how much of its &ldquo;recycled&rdquo; products actually end up as garbage.</p><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/thealleywayfinal.png" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/zenia)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Not everything makes it out of the alleyway. If garbagemen open the lid of a blue recycling bin and see trash, they slap an orange sticker on that cart, flagging it for the next garbage truck. The city then sends a letter to the bin&rsquo;s owner.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people put bags in there, you know, The Jewel[-Osco] bags, Glad bags that are not supposed to be in the recycling,&rdquo; says Ken Baran, a worker for Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation. Other common recycling mistakes, he says: styrofoam and number six plastic. (<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/supp_info/recycling1/blue_cart_residentialrecyclingacceptedmaterials.html">DSS posts a guide to accepted recyclables online,</a> and on top of its blue carts.)</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tolandfillorangesticker.png" style="float: right; height: 188px; width: 200px;" title="About 4.5 percent of blue cart users received an orange sticker from the City in 2014. That means all that potentially recyclable material is sent to a landfill. " /></div><p>&ldquo;We have good parts of city and bad parts of the city,&rdquo; says Baran.</p><p>Baran sees clunkier contaminants, too: soccer balls, garden hoses, yard waste. Workers will sometimes remove any obvious items from the top of a blue cart and dump the rest onto the truck to be recycled. Otherwise, they leave the load with an orange sticker.</p><p>Last year 27,199 households got at least one of those stickers, or about 4.5 percent of blue cart users. About 1 percent of blue cart homes continued to mistakenly (or purposefully) recycle garbage, and ended up with three or more stickers by the end of 2014.</p><p>Chicagoans sent off almost 103,845 tons of stuff into their blue carts last year, and about eight times as much into their black garbage bins. That&rsquo;s an all-time high, and about 90,600 tons more than in 2007, the program&rsquo;s launch year.</p><p>When their truck is full, Baran and his colleagues drive to one of the city&rsquo;s transfer stations, preparing Chicago&rsquo;s trash for its potentially global odyssey.</p><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/transferstation.png" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Seagulls cruise over two house-sized mounds of refuse in an empty warehouse. If it&rsquo;s carrying garbage, Baran&rsquo;s truck will dump its contents into a pile on the east side of the room, or in the western pile if it&rsquo;s carrying recycled material. First he&rsquo;ll have his truck weighed.</p><p>This transfer station is at 34th Street &amp; South Lawndale Avenue, next door to the defunct Crawford coal plant. Chicago owns three such facilities, but they are privately operated. Put another way: The transfer stations are where Chicago&rsquo;s recycling becomes someone else&rsquo;s stuff. The city sells its recyclables to two private companies: Waste Management and Resource Management. (Waste Management buys about twice as much as Resource Management.)</p><p>&ldquo;There&#39;s not much that occurs in terms of any sort of processing here &mdash; it&#39;s like materials dumped out on the floor and it&rsquo;s hauled out of here to some other location,&rdquo; says Chris Sauve, recycling director for the city&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation.</p><p>At this point, almost everything from Chicago&rsquo;s blue bins is still destined for recycling, except for whatever&rsquo;s left in the alley with orange contamination stickers. Almost two-thirds of Chicago&rsquo;s blue cart recycling is paper, however, and if it&rsquo;s soaked with enough rainwater the whole load has to be landfilled. Sauve says this is so rare that they don&rsquo;t keep numbers on it.</p><p>Under five-year contracts that go through 2018, Waste Management and Resource Management agree to buy Chicago&rsquo;s goods at a price that the city adjusts every quarter based on global commodity markets. To account for the costs associated with buying the city&rsquo;s trash, such as hauling and dealing with contamination, Waste Management and Resource Management get to buy at a slight discount, in a sense &mdash; in fact, Resource Management essentially gets paid to take the city&rsquo;s glass.</p><p>Since all the recycling is mixed together in what&rsquo;s called a &ldquo;single-stream&rdquo; program, the city multiplies the quarterly price of each commodity by its proportion in Chicago&rsquo;s waste stream, based on <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/supp_info/zero_waste/2009_chicago_wastecharacterizationstudyandwastediversionstudyres.html">the city&#39;s 2009 waste characterization study</a>. As mentioned, paper and cardboard make up 68 percent of the average ton of blue cart material by weight. Glass is about 11 percent, plastic 4 percent, and metal 3.2 percent.</p><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/sortingcenter.png" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div><p>After they send trucks to scoop up recyclables from the giant piles at transfer stations, Waste Management and Resource Management send them through an elaborate industrial process to separate out the goods by material.</p><p>I visit one of these sorting facilities, operated by Waste Management, on the far Southeast Side of the city. It&rsquo;s just on the other side of highway from Beaubien Forest Preserve. There I meet Mike Tunney, Waste Management&rsquo;s area director of recycling. Between this and their other Chicago-area facility, Waste Management processes approximately 24,000 tons of recycling every month (only about 5,000 tons comes from the blue cart program).</p><p>About 600 hundred tons of recycled material pile up here each working day, Tunney says &mdash; a fact that&rsquo;s evident from the ceiling-high mountains of trash and heavy truck traffic. To get it ready for its customers, Waste Management sends the mixed-up waste through a labyrinth of conveyor belts, high-tech machines, and actual people who &ldquo;manually recover&rdquo; certain items as they roll by with the rest of the trash.</p><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/tolandfill2.png" style="float: right;" title="Between 18 to 20 percent of material that arrives at Waste Management's sorting facilities is not recyclable. That includes items caked with too much food waste, as well as wet paper and strange items such as garden hoses and basketballs." /></div></div></div><p>&ldquo;In the first step of the process ... we have employees in front of a mechanical screens pulling out these large bulk items so that they don&#39;t get caught in the screens,&rdquo; Tunney says. &ldquo;Swimming pools, tarps, or kids&#39; toys, miscellaneous metals.&rdquo;</p><p>Humans also sift through paper goods on conveyor belts in the facility&rsquo;s &ldquo;fiber sorting room,&rdquo; and perform quality control at several other points. But most of the work is automated. Giant blowers waft paper over a sieve for heavier materials like metal. A row of spinning wheels bounces plastic containers along &mdash; as long as plastic bags and food waste haven&rsquo;t gummed up the gears.</p><p>Sorting through trash is surprisingly high-tech. Several types of electromagnetic filters &mdash; fiber magnets, eddy currents &mdash; recover more valuables. There&rsquo;s even an optical sorter that discerns different types of plastic using a laser.</p><p>But what about the stuff that doesn&rsquo;t make it past this step? Tunney says 18 to 20 percent of what goes into their facility doesn&rsquo;t make it out because they can&rsquo;t recycle it. It&rsquo;s &ldquo;contamination&rdquo; like we see with the orange stickers in the alley. A few examples are laid out on the factory floor: a basketball, a garden hose, even a Listerine bottle full of hypodermic needles. I see dozens of plastic bags stretched and wrapped around gears in a dormant machine &mdash;&nbsp;garbage, and a costly hassle for Waste Management. Paper that&rsquo;s too wet won&rsquo;t make the cut, and neither will anything too caked with food waste. The needles go to biohazard disposal. The rest? It all ends up in a landfill.</p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/supp_info/zero_waste/2009_chicago_wastecharacterizationstudyandwastediversionstudyres.html">The 2009 waste characterization study</a> is also where the city gets its estimate of contamination in the waste stream, or how much of the blue cart material Waste Management and Resource Management will have to eventually throw out because it can&rsquo;t be recycled. According to the city, that number is 13.8 percent, or about 14,330 tons in 2014.</p><p>Resource Management and Waste Management say that number, which was based on 2007 data, is actually much higher now. Greg Maxwell, senior vice president at Resource Management, said it can be as high as 30 percent. Waste Management&rsquo;s Mike Tunney quoted their contamination rate at 18 to 20 percent. If those numbers are correct, the city&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation could be underestimating the amount of &ldquo;recycled&rdquo; blue cart material that ultimately ends up in a landfill by 4,361 to 16,822 tons.</p><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/globaljourney.png" style="height: 347px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Where do the bales of bundled recyclables go? All over the world. A lot of paper and plastic goes overseas, often to China. <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304444604577337702024537204">By number of cargo containers, the leading U.S. export to China is scrap</a>. (Actually in recent years <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-18/chinas-green-fence-cleaning-americas-dirty-recycling">China has turned away barges of trash and recycling from the U.S., </a>deeming it too dirty or low-value.)</p><p>Coca-Cola or Anheuser-Busch might buy bales of old aluminum cans to cut the raw material costs of making new cans from scratch. International Paper might buy up recycled paper. Or local companies like Pure Metal Recycling might buy bales of bulk metal, segregate the materials by chemical purity, and sell those new bales to smelters and steel mills.</p><p>Kyle Witter shows me around Pure Metal Recycling&rsquo;s scrap yard in the McKinley Park neighborhood. They sift through all types of metal waste &mdash; curly shavings of aluminum, empty beer cans, I even glimpse a piece of an old CTA bus &mdash; and send it to manufacturers. They say all their steel ends up at steel mills within 200 miles of the city. There, it&rsquo;s melted down and made into everything from steel tubes to components for power tools.</p><p>But only a small portion of this material starts in your blue carts or curbside bins &mdash; less than 2 percent, according to chief administrative officer Dennis Schalliol. Most of what I see is car parts, the innards of thousands of automobiles. By some measures automobile recycling rakes in $22 billion annually.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="377" mozallowfullscreen="true" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/15gZvU91wYz4-UkKpabe598VBBxzlM8PTn1ZsBPEGg8c/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>PHOTOS:</strong> The scrapyard at Pure Metal Recycling in Chicago&#39;s McKinley Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)</span></span></em></p><p>Forklifts stack cubes of compressed aluminum two stories high. Witter points out a row of aluminum 6111 alloy cubes, which Ford will buy to use in its all-aluminum body Ford F-150 pickup trucks.</p><p>I do see daunting mounds of aluminum cans that likely started in the blue carts of people like our question asker Sara Bibik. But according to <a href="http://shanghaiscrap.com/">Adam Minter</a>, who wrote a book about the global recycling trade called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Junkyard-Planet-Travels-Billion-Dollar-Trash/dp/1608197913">Junkyard Planet</a>, commercial and industrial recycling operations dwarf municipal programs like Chicago&rsquo;s blue cart.</p><p>&ldquo;We all as Americans think of recycling as putting something in the blue bin. But the blue bin only represents somewhere in the range of 5 to 15 percent of what&#39;s recycled in the United States,&rdquo; Minter says. &ldquo;It&#39;s a very very small piece of the pie. And it&#39;s a very expensive piece of the pie.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Markets squeezed</span></p><p>Someone has to be making money after all this, right?</p><p>&ldquo;With respect to the value of the materials we know that we&#39;re in a commodities business and sometimes that value is up and sometimes the value is down,&rdquo; says Waste Management&rsquo;s Mike Tunney. &ldquo;And we&#39;re hopeful that the markets will return to their five-year averages, but right now it&#39;s a difficult proposition, no question.&rdquo;</p><p>How&rsquo;s the market treating Chris Sauve, the city&rsquo;s recycling director?</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s not a money losing operation,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;we&#39;re just not receiving any reimbursement that would help pay enough to offset the cost of the operations.&rdquo;</p><p>That might be par for the course. Like a lot of cities, Chicago got into a low-margin business when commodity prices were up. In 2007, when the city&rsquo;s blue cart program got started, commodities markets were soaring through what&rsquo;s called a &ldquo;supercycle,&rdquo; and arguably into a bubble.</p><p>According to author and journalist Adam Minter that market is cyclical.</p><p>&ldquo;There&#39;s really nothing unusual. It&#39;s just that your municipality, Chicago, has gotten involved in the commodity business, and commodities go up and they go down. You&#39;ve gotta ride it out,&rdquo; Minter says.</p><p>The thing is, recycling is not an easy business &mdash; especially for a municipality compelled to provide it as a public service.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&#39;re starting a business the first thing you think isn&#39;t &lsquo;How much stuff can I make.&rsquo; It&#39;s &lsquo;How much stuff can I sell&rsquo;. In other words you&#39;re thinking about &lsquo;Is there a demand for my product.&rsquo; But the way municipal recycling programs work is they start from the other end. They say &lsquo;We need to collect as much recycling as possible then we&#39;ll figure out where to sell it.&rsquo; Well that&#39;s not a very good business model, you know.&rdquo;</p><p>But it may not be as bad questioner Sara Bibik fears. Remember, she wonders if recycling in Chicago was just a feel-good sham.</p><p>&ldquo;Recycling isn&#39;t a sham. It&#39;s a half-trillion dollar industry globally,&rdquo; says Minter. &ldquo;What you put in your recycling bin is put there so somebody else can consume it. You&#39;re doing an environmental good deed, but you&#39;re also competing directly with, say, a bauxite miner who is pulling bauxite out of the ground to be made into aluminum cans. You&#39;re competing against an iron ore miner or you&#39;re competing against a logger &mdash; you&#39;re part of a commodity business.&rdquo;</p><p>Sara Bibik might not have realized her recycling was feeding into this giant, global trade, or that for the last several years that that business has ebbed and flowed largely with demand from manufacturers in China. But she&rsquo;s just happy to know it&rsquo;s getting recycled at all. Even if at least 20 percent of it is &ldquo;contaminated&rdquo; and ends up in the landfill anyway.</p><p>&ldquo;That&#39;s a lot better than 100 percent. I mean I voted for both Mayor Daley and Mayor Emanuel, but I quite honestly didn&#39;t have confidence that that the contract was really being done on this recycling. Well, that&#39;s great to hear that it&#39;s even you know let&#39;s say worst case scenario it&#39;s 80 percent [recovered]. That&#39;s pretty exciting to me,&rdquo; says Bibik. &ldquo;Hopefully the trash piles are not getting filled as quickly and we&#39;re not building new ones. And that&#39;s also really exciting.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bibbik.jpg" style="float: left; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Questioner Sara Bibik." /><span style="font-size:22px;">Meet the question asker</span></p><p>Sara Bibik grew up in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, but moved to Chicago when she was 18. For the last 15 years she&rsquo;s been raising two kids with her husband, Jeff, in the Edison Park neighborhood. And she&rsquo;s been teaching those kids, 14-year-old Zoe and 11-year-old Jake, how to recycle.</p><p>&ldquo;We just had a party, so there were some soda cans in the trash and the kids are all like, &lsquo;Oh! They should be in the recycling!&rsquo;&rdquo; says Bibik, 47. The family started recycling when the city began offering Blue Bags in 1995 and kept up with it until the program was discontinued in 2008.</p><p>Between the Blue Bag and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/supp_info/recycling1/blue_cart_recycling.html">blue cart program</a>s, Bibik even took her recycling to a dropoff center in a nearby forest preserve rather than throw it out.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a little annoying but not terrible,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You still did it.&rdquo;</p><p>Bibik says she waited years for a blue cart, and now that she has one she wants to know more about what actually happens to all the stuff her family dutifully throws in there.</p><p>She says now she&rsquo;ll make sure the paper in her recycling bin stays dry so less of it gets thrown out as &ldquo;contamination.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&#39;s important for our Earth. I think it&#39;s important that we don&#39;t contaminate the water in the soil and the air with our burning of trash,&rdquo; says Bibik. &ldquo;It seems we&#39;re supposed to be good stewards of this Earth.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">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">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-really-happens-chicagos-blue-cart-recycling-112302 Charters might move into closed CPS schools http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 <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/panorama.jpg" style="height: 219px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><em>A LEARN charter school (right) rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school (left). Chicago Public Schools paid $67,151 in utilities for Calhoun North from Sept. 2013 to July 2014, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request. At the same time, CPS pays LEARN $750 per student to offset rent and other facility costs. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)</em></p><p>There are 40 school buildings <a href="http://cps.edu/Pages/schoolrepurposing.aspx">still sitting vacant</a> across Chicago since the mass closings of 2013. Just two have been sold and the rest cost Chicagoans $2 million annually to maintain.</p><p>These schools are slow to sell for a number of reasons. Many <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-closures-only-add-blight-some-chicago-neighborhoods-107345">aren&rsquo;t in thriving neighborhoods</a>. The buildings are old. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of obvious alternate uses.</p><p>But one big reason the empty schools continue to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-shuttered-chicago-school-shows-all-that%E2%80%99s-left-behind-108419">collect dust</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/vacant-schools-philadelphia-cautionary-tale-chicago-105570">fall into disrepair</a> is this: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-training-academy-cooperating-federal-investigation-district-111891">currently on leave</a>, made a promise that eliminated a whole group of potential buyers.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063#map" target="_blank">How close are charter schools to vacant CPS buildings?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;We currently cannot sell any of the properties to a charter school,&rdquo; said Mike Nardini, the district&rsquo;s real estate agent. &ldquo;Does it limit our buyers? Only to the extent that it can&rsquo;t be a charter any more than it could be a nightclub.&rdquo;</p><p>The promise made sense at the time considering one of the main arguments for shutting down 50 schools was to downsize the district. CPS officials argued the school system was operating inefficiently with too many schools and not enough students enrolled.</p><p>But the Chicago Board of Education <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558">continues to authorize new charter schools</a>. In the past, charters often <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/mapping-10-years-school-closures">moved into closed school buildings</a>, but that upset many community people, who saw the publicly financed, privately operated charters as replacing traditional neighborhood schools.</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Wednesday the Board could be convinced to change its mind.</p><p>&ldquo;If a community were to determine that they do want a charter school in that closed site, then that is something that we would consider,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McCaffrey was very careful to say officials would break the promise only if the community supports it, not because it might save money.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first consideration isn&rsquo;t the financial implication,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>But saving money is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cps-budget-crisis-met-20150422-story.html#page=1">the biggest problem</a> CPS has right now, and the &lsquo;no-charter&rsquo; promise complicates things. Charter schools that are in private buildings currently get $750 per student from CPS to offset rent and other maintenance costs. This is commonly known as a &ldquo;facilities reimbursement.&rdquo; &nbsp;And while these real estate deals can be complicated, the bottom line is that Chicago taxpayers end up paying extra to charter schools who are forced to rent on the private market. &nbsp;And those same taxpayers also are paying to maintain buildings the city already owns, but isn&rsquo;t using.</p><p>&ldquo;These are assets that we have in our city that are paid for typically and what we don&rsquo;t need are more vacant buildings,&rdquo; said Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>In many cases, the charters and the vacant buildings are just blocks away from one another. In Garfield Park, a LEARN charter school rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school. In Woodlawn, a University of Chicago Charter School is planning to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/03/09/u-of-c-planning-new-building-for-woodlawn-charter-school/">build a brand new school</a> on a plot of land right next to a CPS-owned building where it currently operates.</p><p>It all speaks to a very basic and fundamental question that no one&mdash;CPS, the mayor, city aldermen&mdash;has grappled with: Exactly how many public schools does Chicago need? And where should they be?</p><p>When asked after Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s not his job.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something CPS will do based on the student population, patterns of growth,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a fair question, but not the only question. Are the schools that are open achieving educational excellence?&rdquo;</p><p>CPS is holding public hearings Thursday night on <a href="http://cps.edu/Calendar/Documents/05212015_MMAPublicHearing.pdf">new requests</a> by charter schools to move to different locations. Most have plans to move into private buildings, but at least one, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-charter-school-closed-building-met-20150520-story.html">The Chicago Tribune reports</a>, wants to move into the closed Peabody Elementary school on the West Side. Peabody <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-school-closing-brief-met-20141022-story.html">was sold last fall</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.<a name="map"></a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/charterbuildings" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 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 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 Afternoon Shift: Vegan cuisine in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-04-28/afternoon-shift-vegan-cuisine-chicago-111956 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1439560469_e77b8fe621_z.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/Galant" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203015039&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><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago&#39;s best spots for vegan cuisine</span></font></p><p dir="ltr">How much do you know about Chicago&rsquo;s vegan scene? <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/veganfood/">We take a tour of Chicago&rsquo;s vegan scene, and tell you about some the city&#39;s lesser-known vegan gems</a>. Joining us to talk about the growing industry in Chicago is Karyn Calabrese, owner of Karyn&rsquo;s Raw and Karyn&rsquo;s Cooked, Marla Rose, founder of VeganMania festival and Elhamahd Bin Israeli, co-owner of Soul Vegan, which distributes fresh vegan food to eateries and stores on the South Side.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><a href="http://www.karynraw.com/about-karyn">Karyn Calabrese</a> is owner of Karyn&rsquo;s Raw and Karyn&rsquo;s Cooked.</em></li><li><em><a href="http://www.marlarose.com/bio.html">Marla Rose</a> is founder of VeganMania festival.</em></li><li><em>Elhamahd Bin Israeli is co-owner of <a href="http://www.soulveganfoods.com/home">Soul Vegan</a>.</em></li></ul><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203015337&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">State budget cuts will affect sickle cell patients</span></p><p dir="ltr">The proposed state budget cuts all funding, roughly $500,000, for the Acute Care Sickle Cell Center at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago starting July 1. It&rsquo;s the only outpatient and comprehensive care center in the Midwest focused on treating adults with sickle cell that is mainly diagnosed in African Americans.</p><p dir="ltr">The center is designed to help patients avoid lengthy emergency room visits by providing emergency pain treatment. More than 800 people were treated at the center during the last fiscal year. Joining us to discuss sickle cell anemia and the proposed budget cut to the center is Ronisha Edwards, a 22-year-old patient at the Acute Care Center, Robert Mackey III, founder and president of the Lydia Smith Sickle Cell Foundation and Dr. Michael Gowhari from the University of Illinois Hospital &amp; Health Sciences System&rsquo;s Acute Care Center.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em>Ronisha Edwards is a sickle cell anemia patient.</em></li><li><em><a href="https://twitter.com/mysicklefund">Robert Mackey III</a> is the founder and president of the Lydia Smith Sickle Cell Foundation.</em></li><li><em><a href="http://hospital.uillinois.edu/Find_a_Doctor/Michel_Gowhari.html">Dr. Michael Gowhari</a> is a doctor at the University of Illinois Hospital &amp; Health Sciences System&rsquo;s Acute Care Center.</em></li></ul><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017219&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><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Report finds U of I was wrong for rescinding Steven Salaita&#39;s job offer</span></font></p><p dir="ltr">A report from a national professors group says the University of Illinois wrongly rescinded a job offer for a professor after he made critical and profane comments about Israel on Twitter. Steven Salaita had been offered a position at the school&#39;s Champaign-Urbana campus to teach American Indian studies, but the offer was withdrawn last year.</p><p dir="ltr">The report released today by the American Association of University Professors says the school violated principles of academic freedom by withdrawing the job offer. Dr. Joerg Tiede is professor and chair of computer science at Illinois Wesleyan University and co-authored the AAUP&rsquo;s investigative report of U-of-I. He talks about the effect of this decision on the university&#39;s reputation.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://sites.google.com/a/iwu.edu/hans-joerg-tiede/">Hans-Joerg Tiede</a> is professor and chair of computer science at Illinois Wesleyan University.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017121&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Balancing microbes in hospitals could reduce infection rates</span></p><p dir="ltr">More than half of infections that occur in hospitals are caused by the bacteria that live there, and that can make health care facilities a dangerous place for the people who need them most. The Hospital Microbiome Project is hoping to change that by analyzing the different elements that cause infections in hospital settings. Environmental microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory Jack Gilbert joins us to talk about the team researching hospital bacteria.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/gilbertjacka">Jack Gilbert</a> is an environmental microbiologist at the Argonne National Laboratory.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203016720&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">The NFL is giving up its tax-exempt status</span></p><p dir="ltr">Two big stories in sports this afternoon. The NFL is following in Major League Baseball&rsquo;s footsteps: It&rsquo;s dropping its controversial not-for-profit tax-exempt status. After several cancellations due to the unrest in Baltimore, tomorrow&rsquo;s White Sox game against the Orioles at Camden Yards will go on. But the game is not open to the public. WBEZ&rsquo;s Cheryl Raye-Stout joins us to explain.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">Cheryl Raye-Stout</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s sports contributor.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017794&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Tech Shift: Analyzing the spread of viral digital content</span></p><p dir="ltr">Yesterday at the Digital Content NewFronts presentations, BuzzFeed introduced Pound, a new program that analyzes the spread of digital content across social media platforms. Justin Ellis wrote about Pound for the Nieman Journalism Lab and he joins us to talk about what it means for publishers and advertisers.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://twitter.com/justinnxt">Justin Ellis</a> is a writer for Nieman Journalism Lab.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203017740&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Method soap factory opens in Pullman</span></p><p dir="ltr">Tuesday marks the grand opening of the Method soap factory in the Pullman Historic District on the south side. The community has been on an economic climb in the past few years, and this is the latest boost for the once-thriving manufacturing hub. WBEZ&rsquo;s Susie An has more.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">Susie An</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203016930&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Method soap factory features eco-friendly design</span></p><p dir="ltr">The Method soap plant in Pullman had its grand opening today. The building has solar panels, a greenhouse and is LEED Platinum. That means it has the highest rating for energy efficiency and environmental design. Joining us to discuss this very green factory is Roger Schickedantz, an architect with William McDonough and Partners who helped design the building.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em>Roger Schickedantz is an architect at <a href="http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/">William McDonough and Partners</a>.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202892253&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><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget</span></font></p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ has learned Chicago Public Schools is spending millions more dollars than it expected on janitorial services. The district last year decided to privatize the management of all janitors. It was a controversial decision, but CPS said it would save the district millions of dollars. Documents obtained by WBEZ now show that contract has run way over budget. WBEZ&#39;s Becky Vevea has the details.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/bvevea">Becky Vevea</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-04-28/afternoon-shift-vegan-cuisine-chicago-111956 Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-cleaning-contract-millions-over-budget-111949 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_1798.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The promise of cleaner schools at a lower price has turned out to be just that -- a promise.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; three-year contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark to manage all school cleaning services is $22 million over budget, according to procurement and finance records obtained by WBEZ.</span></p><p dir="ltr">Aramark has billed Chicago Public Schools $86 million for the first 11 months of its three-year contract. The first year price tag was initially set at $64 million.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That&rsquo;s pretty astonishing,&rdquo; said Dave Belanger, principal of Hanson Park Elementary in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. &ldquo;If you have a signed contract that says &lsquo;X&rsquo; numbers of dollars, that&rsquo;s what it should be and it should be up to Aramark to absorb those other costs.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley denied the contract was over budget.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;No, we know we&rsquo;re saving money now,&rdquo; Cawley said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no question about that.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">District officials said they may not end up paying some of the bills owed to Aramark. Still, records show, the payments made through the end of December that have been officially closed out total $71 million.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cawley admitted the contract is more than the district initially thought because Aramark did not end up laying off 468 janitors, as had been planned. After complaints about cleanliness, the company </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870" target="_blank">kept 178 on the job</a> for the rest of the school year and allowed another 290 to work through the end of October. That cost $7.4 million extra, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">CPS officials also forgot about entire buildings when they calculated the square footage of the district&rsquo;s more than 600 schools. The mistake added another $7 million, McCaffrey said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Hanson Park was one such school with missing square footage, Belanger said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;I know initially Aramark said they&rsquo;d be able to clean our three buildings&mdash;the branch building, the module and this main building, which is just a sprawling giant&mdash;they&rsquo;d be able to clean it with three and a half employees, which is just not realistic in any way, shape or form,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Hanson Park ended up getting six janitors for the rest of the school year.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Karen Cutler, a spokeswoman for Aramark, said the company also billed CPS for fill-in work done by Aramark janitors when the board failed to hire 100 of the 825 custodial positions it promised to provide. McCaffrey said that cost $4.5 million extra.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Both Cutler and Cawley said they still anticipate $12 million in savings in the second and third year of the contract.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">But Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, is hoping there won&rsquo;t be a second and third year.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;Aramark and Sodexo should pack their bags because they need to leave town,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There is no way we&rsquo;re not going to continue to fight this.&rdquo; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Big contract, broken promises</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">CPS has had </span><a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-05-05/news/0305050177_1_privatizing-custodians-school-districts" target="_blank">privatized janitors</a> for <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-07-22/news/9607220172_1_chicago-public-schools-new-schools-schools-chief-paul-vallas" target="_blank">more than a decade</a> &ndash; but last April, the Board of Education <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes" target="_blank">awarded contracts</a> worth a total of $340 million to two companies&mdash;Aramark and Sodexo MAGIC&mdash;to manage all of the cleaning services at more than 600 schools. Aramark secured a three-year deal, not to exceed $260 million, according to board reports.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">At the time, Cawley said the new system would be like &ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&quot; the sandwich chain that uses the tagline &ldquo;Freaky Fast Delivery&rdquo;. Instead of assigning a janitor to deal with an issue, principals would call a hotline and the problem would be taken care of immediately.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;Like, the guy is showing up before the principal hangs up the phone,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">That did not happen.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Principals <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">complained of disorganization</a> and a lack of responsiveness from Aramark employees assigned to manage their schools. Many school janitors were reassigned or laid off. The annual summer cleaning blitz left many teachers and principals scrambling to re-clean classrooms and hallways ahead of the first day of school.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, the Chicago Teachers Union and the parent group Raise Your Hand surveyed their memberships and found overwhelming dissatisfaction with the level of cleanliness.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cawley was grilled by Board of Education members shortly after the </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">controversy came to light</a><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">.</a> He told board members there were three reasons to outsource the management of janitors to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;Number one was to have cleaner schools,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Number two was to realize savings and number three was to actually simplify life for principals.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">At the time, Cawley admitted Aramark wasn&rsquo;t delivering on two of those, but he went on to insist the savings were there.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;We know we&rsquo;ve realized the savings and in fact, we&rsquo;ve already reinvested that in more student based budgeting on a per pupil basis,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But we don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;ve been successful on getting enough schools cleaner. Nor have we been successful in making life easier for principals.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Budget documents released in August of last year claim the Aramark deal would save $18 million this school year, meaning the total cost of cleaning before the outsourcing was around $82 million. That&rsquo;s $4 million less than what CPS is now being billed for.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cutting ties unlikely</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">In March, the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association called on the board </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735" target="_blank">to end the custodial contract</a>. The call came after 90 percent of principals surveyed by the group said their schools were still dirtier that last year.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">&ldquo;There is no negotiating with us anymore,&rdquo; CPAA&#39;s Berry said at the time. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not listening to any more promises. We&rsquo;re not waiting anymore. You can not staff a school with 1,200 kids with two custodian workers and think it&rsquo;s going to work. Ever.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">A few weeks later, at the March Board of Education meeting, janitors with the Service Employees International Union Local 1 protested against any future layoffs outside CPS headquarters. Tom Balanoff, president of the SEIU Local 1, cautioned that Aramark should not reduce staffing any further or else schools will be dangeriously unclean.</p><p dir="ltr">That same day, CPS released the results of an independent audit, conducted by a group called Premier Facilities Solutions, that showed all but a dozen schools met the industry standard for cleanliness outlined in Aramark&rsquo;s contract.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Cawley said he is still &ldquo;very confident&rdquo; that Aramark has delivered cleaner schools at a lower price. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-4995192d-fde7-cc83-4b50-71f678506cc4">Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </span><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the cost of fill-in work. It was $4.5 million, according to CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey.</em></p></p> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 21:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-cleaning-contract-millions-over-budget-111949 Method factory opens in Pullman http://www.wbez.org/news/method-factory-opens-pullman-111947 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pullman_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The new Method soap plant marks its official grand opening Tuesday in Chicago&rsquo;s Pullman neighborhood. The community has been on an economic climb in the past few years. This is the latest boost for the once-thriving manufacturing hub on the city&rsquo;s far South Side.</p><p>Earlier this year, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Pullman to designate the neighborhood&rsquo;s factory district a national monument.</p><p>&ldquo;This site is at the heart of what would become America&rsquo;s labor movement. And as a consequence what would become America&rsquo;s middle class,&rdquo; the President said before an audience in February at Pullman.</p><p>Pullman&rsquo;s history started in the late 1800s when George Pullman founded a community centered around the manufacturing of luxury sleeping railcars. People worked at the factory and lived in nearby row houses constructed by Pullman. The site is key to the nation&rsquo;s labor movement and civil rights. One of the most powerful African-American unions got its start here, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.</p><p>But business eventually started to dwindle and all production ceased in the late 1960s.&nbsp;High unemployment rates, crime and lack of amenities became Pullman&rsquo;s image.</p><p>&ldquo;When anybody talks about Pullman, they always talk about the past. And what we&rsquo;re trying to do with our neighbors around here is try to create a future for Pullman that&rsquo;s worth talking about,&rdquo; said Adam Lowry, co-founder of Method.</p><p>The company makes eco-friendly cleaning products, like biodegradable dish soap and foaming hand wash. Method&rsquo;s new facility is located on the old Ryerson Steel site along the Bishop Ford Expressway. It&rsquo;s flanked by green space and decorated with solar panels over the parking lot. A big wind turbine is on the land.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I like seeing things like Canada geese walking around our property because, believe me a year ago, there was nothing alive on this site at all,&rdquo; said Lowry.</p><p>The $30 million facility is a Platinum LEED building, the highest certification for green construction. It uses renewable energy and 100 percent recycled plastic for its bottles. A greenhouse covers the roof. The company does this while aiming to be socially responsible by investing in an underserved urban area. That&rsquo;s why it chose to set up its first ever manufacturing plant in Pullman.</p><p>Andrea Reed is with the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce. It&rsquo;s provided service to both Pullman and Roseland, where the unemployment rate is high, around 20 to 25 percent. Chicago&rsquo;s is just over 6 percent. Reed says the chamber has been looking for companies like Method.</p><p>&ldquo;Currently, we have a lot of businesses that commute here. We have a slogan. &lsquo;They come for the day, get their pay and go their way,&rsquo;&rdquo; Reed said.</p><p>Method and other companies that have recently set up shop have agreed to hire mostly from within the community. They&rsquo;ve added several hundred jobs, which might not seem like much, but Reed hopes it&rsquo;ll spur hiring amongst the local small businesses.</p><p>She also thinks the national designation will make a difference.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re looking to attract 300,000 tourists each year. So people are going to be looking for nice places to eat and places to shop. And the spillage will be people coming over into our business corridor,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Community development group, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives helped bring Wal-Mart, Ross and Planet Fitness to Pullman. David Doig with CNI says it&rsquo;s serendipitous, but it&rsquo;s been years in the making.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got 200 acres here at Pullman Park, and we&rsquo;ve developed about 70 of that. So if you kind of project that out, we probably have another 8-10 years of work to do,&rdquo; Doig said.</p><p>Back at the Method plant, Roseland resident Barbara Hardaman is taking inventory of shower cleaner coming down the conveyer belt.&nbsp; Before this, she worked at her local church. It&rsquo;s only been a few months and Hardaman says she loves her job.</p><p>She thinks companies like Method will have a lasting impact on the area.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;With people having jobs, they&rsquo;re not out in the streets trying to rob people and hurt people,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Pullman is following the city&rsquo;s trend of a decreasing crime rate. The community&rsquo;s rate dropped by 14 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. Hardaman&rsquo;s seen signs of the neighborhood moving up, and thinks people, soon, will want to move in.</p><p>&ldquo;I had two houses across the street from me that were boarded up, but now they&rsquo;re refurbishing them,&rdquo; Hardaman said.</p></p> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/method-factory-opens-pullman-111947 Changes in taxi industry leave cab owners underwater http://www.wbez.org/news/changes-taxi-industry-leave-cab-owners-underwater-111920 <p><p>If you were looking for a good return on investment in the last few years, it was hard to beat a Chicago taxi medallion. Medallions, which are city-issued licenses to operate cabs, increased in value at least fivefold between 2006 and 2013. But now after huge shifts in the industry, many owners are deep underwater on their medallion loans, and some say they&rsquo;re nearly worthless.</p><p>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t written a new taxi loan in well over nine months? Ten months?&rdquo; said Charlie Goodbar, an attorney and taxi fleet owner. &ldquo;The access to capital&rsquo;s disappeared.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago limits the number of medallions to roughly 7,000. Without those metal plates affixed to the hood, a taxi cannot operate in the city. Goodbar has facilitated hundreds of medallion sales over the years. But today, would-be buyers are finding it nearly impossible to find loans to purchase medallions.</p><p>&ldquo;I probably have put together at least 20-30 percent of all transfers, at some point probably more than half,&rdquo; said Goodbar. &ldquo;And as a market-maker, and as a license broker, and as an attorney, and someone who&rsquo;s in the lending business, how in good faith can I make a market when I can&rsquo;t value the asset or value cash flow?&rdquo;</p><p>Disruption in Chicago&rsquo;s taxi industry &mdash; both from the entry of competing rideshare services, and changes to city policies affecting medallion owners &mdash; have turned the business model on its head in just two years. At one time, investing or lending in a medallion purchase was a sound business decision, because cab owners could make a good living.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a way for an immigrant family to move up the social ladder and economic ladder through the use&nbsp; of leveraged financing in the taxi industry, and a lot of hard work,&rdquo; said Goodbar.</p><p>But today, Goodbar said it&rsquo;s nearly impossible to find a bank willing to lend money for a medallion purchase, and so the avenue that many immigrants once took is increasingly closed off.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="233" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Taxi%20medallions%202.0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" width="350" /></div><p>You can tell by looking at the numbers. Between 2011 and 2013, when the market was robust, an average of 30-40 medallions changed hands monthly. But starting in February of 2014, that number dropped sharply, and never recovered. In 2015, only seven medallions were transferred in the first three months.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no buyer in the market,&rdquo; said Shyam Arora, a medallion owner. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s a piece of garbage.&rdquo;</p><div id="responsive-embed-taximedallions">&nbsp;</div><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/taximedallions/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-taximedallions', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/taximedallions/child.html', {} ); }); </script><p>Arora is one of those immigrants who found success in the taxi industry. He came from India in 2002 and bought a medallion a few years later. Today, he has three. He and his son drive two of the cabs during the day, and he leases the third. At one time, he had as many as four drivers for his small fleet &mdash; but those days seem long ago.</p><p>On a recent early morning, he took one of his cabs to a city-owned site on the South Side for an annual taxi inspection.</p><p>&ldquo;This inspection process is stressful, very stressful,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This day, he was especially nervous. The car is a 2010 Toyota Prius with a whopping 313,000 miles on it. Arora knew inspectors would be looking for even the smallest flaw to take it out of operation.</p><p>&ldquo;Yesterday I spent $200 to the mechanic and the day before yesterday I paid $100 for detailing,&rdquo; he recounted.</p><p>He also got the engine cleaned, and drove an hour out to the suburbs just to pick up a small paint marker that he could use to cover minor exterior nicks. Altogether, he estimated spending $500 to get the car in tip-top shape &mdash; about three days&rsquo; earnings.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m losing nowadays, every day, in my business,&rdquo; said Arora. Three months ago, he fell behind on his mortgage and medallion loan.</p><p>Arora explained that most of his income comes from leasing his taxis to other drivers, rather than driving his own cab. But amid a shortage of taxi drivers in Chicago, he&rsquo;s struggled to find people to use his taxis. That&rsquo;s meant his vehicles sit empty about one-third of the time, while he still foots the bill for their medallion loans, the car payments, taxi affiliation fees and other expenses.</p><p>Even when Arora does have drivers, he said it&rsquo;s gotten much more difficult for them to find passengers. He blamed rideshare companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar for stealing business.</p><p>&ldquo;When you don&rsquo;t get a customer for an hour, the [taxi] driver gets so frustrated, he goes to Starbucks or he goes home,&rdquo; explained Arora.</p><p>Arora would love to sell his medallions and be done with it. But he knows he won&rsquo;t find a buyer at a good price. Plus, he&rsquo;s facing the same dilemma that homeowners once did during the recent housing crisis. Many borrowed significant sums of money against their homes as housing values increased, only to find themselves underwater on those loans once the market settled.</p><p>Similarly, Arora and many other owners borrowed heavily against their medallions while they increased in value. Arora said that helped his family get through the recession.</p><p>&ldquo;Medallions were the source of feeding everybody &mdash; every expense we have,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>But now, he owes $600,000 against his medallions, and he knows that nobody will buy them for anything close to that amount.</p><p>Arora believes his only way out may be a loan modification. Goodbar says medallion lenders have every reason to cooperate.</p><p>&ldquo;There will be shakeout in the market, the lenders will have to work with the borrowers,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;because I think the last thing a large medallion lender wants is a bunch of medallions sitting in a drawer.&rdquo;</p><p>Arora hopes that&rsquo;ll be true in his case, because he wants to stay in the taxi business.&nbsp; Otherwise, he&rsquo;s looking at filing for bankruptcy.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/changes-taxi-industry-leave-cab-owners-underwater-111920