WBEZ | everyblock http://www.wbez.org/tags/everyblock Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: The music of legendary jazz pianist Henry Butler http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-23/morning-shift-music-legendary-jazz-pianist-henry <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Henry Butler Flickr - Turismo Emilia Romagna.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We hear the stories and music of New Orleans pianist Henry Butler. We also delve into the slow demise of Chicago retail icon Sears after the announcement that it is closing the flagship store on State Street.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-music-of-legendary-jazz-singer-a/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-music-of-legendary-jazz-singer-a.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-music-of-legendary-jazz-singer-a" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The music of legendary jazz pianist Henry Butler" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 08:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-23/morning-shift-music-legendary-jazz-pianist-henry Being here vs. living here: Why EveryBlock mattered http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/being-here-vs-living-here-why-everyblock-mattered-105550 <p><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/everyblock%203.jpg" title="(Flickr/Kirby Kerr)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">There is a lot of litter on my block. It is not all over the neighborhood or even in front of every house, but it is there and it grows seemingly uncontrollable as the temperature gets warmer. The temperature outside dipped down to seasonable levels and it snowed, covering the strewn papers, plastic bags, and occasional bottle that could be found curbside of the apartment building two doors down. But then it melted again and I was reminded of what was still there: a lot of trash just waiting to be put in its rightful place.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div><div>I thought about this when thinking about the demise of EveryBlock, a Chicago-born message board, aggregator, and news source. On January 7, a man posted to the Humboldt Park board asking for neighbors to participate in a clean-up. Although I can&rsquo;t access the thread anymore, one of the comments that stuck out to me was one that had stuck out to me time and again on other litter-related threads. A commenter noted that litter was also a problem &nbsp;where he or she lived and said that the people who rarely picked up what was in front of their homes were renters. These are not the &ldquo;real&rdquo; citizens of the neighborhood, he implied. I couldn&rsquo;t totally disagree with him.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Much like the renters who lived in the commenter&rsquo;s neighborhood, I often neglected the neighborhood I was trying to call my own. I left work and came straight home. I knew the women and families living in my building, but did I know the people living next door? If I saw them on the street, would I even recognize them? Trash often blew into the area surrounding my apartment and yet I did nothing about it. <em>Someone else will get that</em>, I often thought. <em>That&rsquo;s not &ldquo;my&rdquo; trash.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Part of being a renter is knowing that where you live is not truly yours. I have painted the walls in my apartment, I have fixed leaks or clogged drains, I have hammered and pulled and shaped my space. But this apartment is not mine. I do not own this building. It does not yet feel like home. I don&rsquo;t know if it ever will.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What does it mean to be a part of a neighborhood? In many ways, EveryBlock informed and shaped my understanding of community and place.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>My friend Arianna first told me about the site. She was looking to move apartments and wanted to know more about where she lived. I bridged our conversation with an air of confidence of choosing my neighborhood, feeling &ldquo;safe&rdquo; and secure with my decisions, and yet I quickly logged on to the site to gather as much information about where I lived as I could. I had yet to spend any significant amount of time getting to know the space and the people around me and my first time on the site left me both informed and horrified.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ukrainian Village and West Town were a lot more violent and dangerous than I imagined. But there were a lot of small restaurants I missed when taking new friends around on the weekend. There was a gallery that had opened two and a half blocks away from my apartment featuring affordable works by local artists I loved. The dive bar down the block? Disgustingly cheap and apparently full of friendly locals.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I previously chose my neighborhood based on other factors that hold little weight in my day-to-day life. I wanted people young and shops new and nightlife energy in abundance. But if I was to describe the neighborhood &ndash; its legacy, its troubles, its triumphs &ndash; I would not have had much to say. Arianna&rsquo;s introduction to the site gave me something important that had been missing from my experience living not just in that neighborhood, but in every neighborhood I&rsquo;d ever lived in as an adult: a sense of membership. It was important to know what was going on not just to stay safe, but to also stay active. There is a difference between being here and living here.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/everyblock%204.jpg" title="(Flickr/J. Mills)" /></div><div>EveryBlock turned me into an informed citizen, but more importanly, it also turned me into a participatory one. I was no longer &ldquo;allowed&rdquo; to just go to and from work and activities. My apartment was not just where I lived. It was where I chose to &ldquo;settle.&rdquo; I thought of the difference in one particular way. My building has a nice patio area in the back and I sometimes sat out there in the summer to try and read. Inevitably, the noise of the city was too much of a distraction. But feeling and behaving more like a true member of the neighborhood let me feel comfortable enough to sit on my stoop and observe the couples, the dog owners, the frantic workers living around me. It was an act of ownership, even if it was only minor.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>My use of EveryBlock developed into a new reading habit as soon as I woke up. The daily email usually arrived before 7 a.m. and I spent about ten minutes reading what was going on in my neighborhood, whether it was unuly pets or shootings or burglaries. It felt good to stay informed. Unlike the traditional newspaper, EveryBlock was hyperlocal, allowing me to focus on smaller stories that I would not have known about going on around me. It was a ritual that I could appreciate and find value in. It was the soaking up of the immediate world. It was knowing rather than not knowing. It felt important, even if it was just a way to selfishly feel better.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>EveryBlock said, &quot;This is what is going on. What are you going to do about it? Do you care enough to even read this?&quot; And as a sometimes passive consumer of the events around me, that was a good way to get my attention. This is the neighborhood you are living in! Did you know anything at all?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Early last summer, a man groped me on Division Street while riding his bike. It was a bizarre incident that occured in the middle of the day with no witnesses in sight. That&#39;s one particular thing about Chicago neighborhoods: They have a way of making you forget anyone else is even around. I talked about the incident on Twitter and my blog and did nothing else about it. I figured it was just a random incident with a stranger, one I had become familiar with as a young woman.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/everyblock%205.jpg" title="(Flickr/Fried Pod)" /></div><div>But then, another woman posted a nearly identical story: middle of the day, bike rider, groping. I quickly responded to her post and we exchanged details. She had already filed a police report. A few weeks later, the same incident occurred. What was going on? A serial assaulter. More importantly, we were not alone in this incident. It did not traumatize me because I had in many ways become immune to these kind of actions, but the other women were clearly bothered and angry. And who am I to deny their feelings? I felt them too at one point.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Reporting the incident on EveryBlock was a call for similar incidents. The responses? A way to show that she was not alone, that this was still a major problem, that one does not need to shove these incidents aside. And also, things do not just happen in a vacuum. This is not good, but this is your neighborhood too.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I am not naive enough to pretend that EveryBlock was the solution for everything. It was a welcome resource, but it was also an excuse to provide microaggressions. Many members just voiced complaints without doing anything tangible in real life. I understand this. Although there are alternatives &ndash; such as the Ukranian Village Neighborhood Watch Group, which I am also a part of &ndash;&nbsp;the loss of EveryBlock forces me to stay informed about where I live on my own. I must do the work. I must research and read and TALK to the people around me. But the desire to know this has not died with the site. It has shaped me into a better citizen and even if the site never comes back or no true alternative is found, its benefits will be felt long after.&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 15 Feb 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/being-here-vs-living-here-why-everyblock-mattered-105550 Hyperlocal news website Everyblock.com shut down http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/hyperlocal-news-website-everyblockcom-shut-down-105406 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://blog.everyblock.com/2013/feb/07/goodbye/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="314" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/everyblock.jpg" style="float: right;" title="" width="388" /></a></div><p>Community news website Everyblock.com shut down Thursday, to the surprise of its active user base. The decision was made by NBC News, the corporate owner of the site since 2009.</p><p>In <a href="http://blog.everyblock.com/2013/feb/07/goodbye/" target="_blank">a short blog post</a> &quot;increasing challenges to building a profitable business&quot; are cited as a reason for the shutdown. All ten current employees are laid off- seven in Chicago, one in Seattle and two in New York.</p><p>The site was founded in Chicago by Adrian Holovaty in 2007 with a grant from the Knight Foundation. In 2008 the site launched with a four person staff.</p><p>&quot;Adrian Holovaty was an early innovator in using data to drive community,&quot; said NBC News chief digital strategist Vivian Schiller Thursday.</p><p>Schiller answered WBEZ&#39;s questions about the shut down via email.</p><p>&quot;As we continue to grow and evolve the NBC News Digital portfolio, we are focused on investing in content, products and platforms that play to our core strengths,&quot; Schiller said. &quot;The decision to shut down the site was difficult, but in the end, we didn&#39;t see a strategic fit for EveryBlock within the portfolio.&quot;</p><p>Schiller said NBC News looked at various options both inside and outside the company to keep Everyblock running.</p><p>&quot;But sadly, none of them were viable,&quot; she said.</p><p>Msnbc.com bought the site in 2009 for an undisclosed sum, though the original computer code was <a href="http://blog.everyblock.com/2009/jun/30/source/" target="_blank">made available for free</a> in accordance with their Knight grant.</p><p>Holovaty left Everyblock in August 2012 and <a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/rip-everyblock/" target="_blank">says in a blog post on his personal site</a> that he had reason to believe the site&#39;s future was safe.</p><p>&quot;The last time I talked with an NBC News representative, at a conference a few months after I left EveryBlock, he indicated that NBC was optimistic about the site&#39;s future,&quot; the post reads.</p><p>Schiller declined to share any information about Everyblock&#39;s operating expenses or revenues.</p><p>Shocked users are airing their greivances in the comment section of Everyblock&#39;s final blog post. There were nearly 300 comments less than two hours after the article publishing.</p><p>Fans of the site are paying homage on Twitter. Dan Sinker, of @mayoremanuel and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews tweeted, &quot;Long live the huge legacy and hundreds of sites built in the space its founders singlehandedly created.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Everyblock had a small but very loyal set of consumers, particularly in Chicago,&quot; Schiller said. &quot;We hope Everyblock helped them be better neighbors and that they are able to carry that spirit forward on other platforms.&quot;</p><p>In <a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/goodbye-everyblock/" target="_blank">a post from August</a>, Holovaty reflected on his time with Everyblock. He claimed that Instagram founder Kevin Systrom learned much of the coding language that powers the billion dollar app from Everyblock&#39;s source code and personally thanked him.</p><p>Others have credited Everyblock with kick-starting a movement in data journalism. Chris Cast, a web developer from Seattle tweeted, &quot;Sad to hear about&nbsp;<a data-query-source="hashtag_click" dir="ltr" href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23everyblock&amp;src=hash"><s>#</s>everyblock</a>. They did more for open data than we realize.&quot;</p><p>Chicago&#39;s Chief Technology Officer John Tolva credited Holovaty with &quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/ChicagoCTO/status/144187469921910784" target="_blank">starting the fire</a>&quot; of government data transparency.</p><p>Alderman Joe Moore of Chicago&#39;s 49th Ward was an avid user as well. He said, &quot;I know some of my colleagues didn&#39;t always like it because it provided an opportunity to beat up on the alderman, but I thought the benefits outweighed the negatives.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m going to miss it for two reasons: one, it provided me another avenue to communicate with my constituents. And two it provided me a window into what my constituents were thinking. By finding out what my constituents were thinking, I was able to be a better alderman,&quot; Moore said.</p><p>The following statement was posted on the Everyblock blog:</p><blockquote><p>We&rsquo;re sorry to report that EveryBlock has closed its doors.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no secret that the news industry is in the midst of a massive change. Within the world of neighborhood news there&rsquo;s an exciting pace of innovation yet increasing challenges to building a profitable business. Though EveryBlock has been able to build an engaged community over the years, we&rsquo;re faced with the decision to wrap things up.</p><p>Thank you for having let us play a role in how you get your neighborhood news. Thanks for the contributions, for the questions, and for allowing us to connect you to each other, in many cases to make great things happen in your community. Along the way, we hope we&rsquo;ve helped you be a better neighbor.</p></blockquote><p>Adrian Holovaty posted the following statement <a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/rip-everyblock/" target="_blank">on his personal website, Holovaty.com</a>:</p><blockquote><p>I&#39;m very saddened by today&#39;s news that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.everyblock.com/">EveryBlock</a>&nbsp;has been shut down by NBC News.</p><p>I founded EveryBlock in 2007 after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/knight-foundation-grant/">receiving a grant from the Knight Foundation</a>. It was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/everyblock-launched/">launched in January 2008</a>&nbsp;by an original team of four (<a href="http://wilsonminer.com/">Wilson Miner</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.derivativeworks.com/">Dan O&#39;Neil</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://pauladamsmith.com/">Paul Smith</a>&nbsp;and me) and was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/everyblock-acquisition/">acquired by msnbc.com in 2009</a>. NBC News acquired msnbc.com last year and now has decided to shut down the site and let go all 10 employees.</p><p>The premise of EveryBlock was to offer you a custom site devoted to news in your neighborhood. We showed you nearby public records (crimes, building permits, restaurant inspections), pointed you to automatically indexed articles (newspapers, blogs, forums) and provided a sort of &quot;geo-forum&quot; that let you talk with people who lived near you. I&nbsp;<a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/goodbye-everyblock/">wrote a bit about the site&#39;s legacy</a>&nbsp;several months ago.</p><p>I&nbsp;<a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/goodbye-everyblock/">left EveryBlock in August</a>, after five years, as I was itching to make something new. I had no idea NBC News would be shutting it down (in fact, at the time,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/16/3245325/5-minutes-on-the-verge-with-adrian-holovaty-founder-of-everyblock">I said</a>&nbsp;I expected it would be around for a &quot;long, long time&quot;). The last time I talked with an NBC News representative, at a conference a few months after I left EveryBlock, he indicated that NBC was optimistic about the site&#39;s future.</p><p>I&#39;d like to thank all the EveryBlock employees past and present, along with the members of the EveryBlock community. It was a great site, beautifully designed and lovingly crafted. It made a difference for people, particularly in Chicago.</p><p>More than six years ago, I wrote a blog post that got some attention about how newspaper (and, really, journalism) sites&nbsp;<a href="http://www.holovaty.com/writing/fundamental-change/">needed to change</a>. EveryBlock was an attempt at that kind of change -- in my eyes, a successful attempt. EveryBlock was among the more innovative and ambitious journalism projects at a time when journalism desperately needed innovation and ambition. RIP.</p></blockquote><p><em>This story is developing and will be updated as more information is made available.</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 11:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/hyperlocal-news-website-everyblockcom-shut-down-105406