WBEZ | Culture http://www.wbez.org/news/culture Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago tech firms give workers 'sacred spaces' for quiet reflection http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-tech-firms-give-workers-sacred-spaces-quiet-reflection-110550 <p><p>At the Orbitz Worldwide headquarters in downtown Chicago, workers constantly monitor the online travel website. A huge wall of TV screens blinking with charts and graphs looks like mission control in a movie.</p><p>But tucked away in a tiny office, is a place that offers a break from all the hustle and bustle.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a prayer and meditation center, in calm shades of brown, that contains only prayer rugs, a stool and a kneeler. Frosted glass offers privacy, and special lighting dims the usual fluorescent glow.</p><p>When you walk inside, the peace and quiet are immediately noticeable.</p><p>Employees come here to pray, meditate or just reflect. There&rsquo;s even a Bible study.</p><p>&ldquo;The prayer room is one of our important pieces of our culture, given our diverse employee base, and we want to make sure our employees are focused, centered and energized at work,&rdquo; said &nbsp;Laura Jones, Orbitz&rsquo;s talent development director.</p><p><a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140517/ISSUE01/305179985/the-next-thing-in-tech-workplace-prayer-rooms">Orbitz is among a growing number of high-tech firms in Chicago</a> that are offering a benefit usually associated with religious institutions. They&rsquo;re creating sacred spaces.</p><p>Airports and hospitals have long had chapels or places to pray. And the<a href="http://www.wired.com/2013/06/meditation-mindfulness-silicon-valley/"> idea is nothing new in Silicon Valley</a>: Google, Facebook and Twitter offer things like meditation classes and mindful lunches.</p><p>Here in Chicago, Google, Centro and Gogo all said they plan to build quiet spaces or prayer rooms in offices that are planned or under construction. Officials from these companies said &nbsp;these sacred spaces are a perk, like yoga or ping pong tables, that give employees a break from the workday so they can return to their desks with new focus.</p><p>&ldquo;Having an environment where employees are comfortable and where they can can carry out not only their work, and have time for quiet and health, are really important to driving Gogo to being a company where people want to work,&rdquo; said Gogo&rsquo;s Vice President of Marketing Linda Ramsey.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it is a good opportunity to reset in the middle of your day, and you can go on and spend more time really doing work,&rdquo; said Zaki Sharabash, Orbitz&rsquo;s senior director of technology.</p><p>He&rsquo;s Muslim and must pray five times a day. A few of those prayers fall during the workday, so he seeks out the prayer room.</p><p>In previous jobs, he said, &ldquo;I have to look for conference rooms, and conference rooms are not always available.&rdquo; Then, he said, he had to just keep looking, which could take some time.</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/photo%201_1.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo%202.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo%203.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="" /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo 4.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Architect and sculptor Deirdre Colgan fills her home, which doubles as an office, with meaningful objects to help her reflect and refocus. She believes that creating sacred spaces can help people who work from home find work-life balance. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /></div></div><p>Federal law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee&rsquo;s religious beliefs, unless that causes undue hardship.</p><p>There have been several high-profile cases in other parts of the country where Muslims got fired over prayer breaks and sued, with mixed outcomes. But the Chicago Council on American-Islamic Relations reports it&rsquo;s received no formal complaints here.</p><p>In fact, in Chicago the number of prayer rooms and quiet spaces for reflection seems to be slowly growing.</p><p>Dominic LoGalbo, a partner with Chicago&rsquo;s Harding Partners, which specializes in religious institutions, welcomes the idea.</p><p>&ldquo;As people feel more and more pressures of work life, connected 24/7, they&rsquo;ll want more opportunities to pull out, even for a few minutes a day,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The design depends on the intent of the space, LoGalbo said. For instance, a meditation center would likely want to filter out distracting sounds. Comfortable seating is key, whether it&rsquo;s chairs or the floor. Religious institutions that want a strong connection to the physical environment may incorporate daylight, so that shadows and lines thrown by the sun change the space, too, he said.</p><p>Chicago architect and sculptor Deirdre Colgan said there are easy ways to turn a room into a sacred space. A company that uses bright colors in its decor might turn to more neutral tones in a prayer room. Certain materials help mute sound, while others highlight it. Dim lights can help too.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not just offices. Colgan thinks it goes deeper than that.</p><p>&ldquo;In society, we&rsquo;re encouraged to multitask and try to do a millions things at once, and that&rsquo;s not good for anyone. It&rsquo;s headache-inducing,&rdquo; said Colgan, who&rsquo;s the former executive director of Sacred Space International, a group dedicated to raising awareness of diverse religions and their gathering spaces. (It&rsquo;s since been transformed into <a href="http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/index.cfm?n=29&amp;sn=2">Sharing Sacred Spaces</a>, in partnership with the Council for a Parliament of the World&rsquo;s Religions.)</p><p>Colgan believes we should have places for reflection in all walks of life: &ldquo;Unless you get the opportunity to recharge and to quiet down, have a base for focusing and concentration, I think you&rsquo;ll just end up spinning wheels.&rdquo;</p><p>She thinks the idea of sacred space is just as important in the home, especially the home office. Colgan&rsquo;s a consultant and adjunct faculty, and she works out of her apartment. She&rsquo;s had to figure out how to make space and time for reflection while raising a toddler.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re at home and you&rsquo;re trying to get work done, it&rsquo;s sometimes really, really hard because there&rsquo;s are all of these life-work things to do as well,&rdquo; Colgan said. She&rsquo;ll find herself performing tasks she likes to call &ldquo;noble procrastination,&rdquo; like doing the dishes. &ldquo;So how do you separate between your work-work and life-work?&rdquo;</p><p>For Colgan, that&rsquo;s meant dividing her living room into two distinct spaces: At one end, is a simple desk and table. She&rsquo;s got a clock she can only see from that desk, to remind her she&rsquo;s on work time.</p><p>When she needs a break, she can look at another corner of the apartment, at a sculpture next to a piece of ornate molding, or to some carefully arranged rocks from her Irish homeland.</p><p>To Colgan, they&rsquo;re like tiny altars that carry her to another place and time, if even for a moment. Then she can return, she says, refreshed.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-tech-firms-give-workers-sacred-spaces-quiet-reflection-110550 Swept from their homes, Chicago's Latinos built new community http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160012330&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago is famous for its ethnic neighborhoods. And there&rsquo;s a funny thing about them. A neighborhood&rsquo;s identity can seem like it has been in place <em>forever</em>, even when big ethnic shifts took place just one or two generations ago. This is how many Chicagoans see Pilsen and Little Village, a corridor with the biggest concentration of Latinos in the Midwest. These neighborhoods have so much vitality &mdash; dense housing, bustling commercial strips, packed playgrounds &mdash; that it seems like Latinos must have been there for ages. A curious citizen named CM! Winters-Palacio was wondering how long, so she asked us:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why are Latinos concentrated in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods? When did it happen?</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LUCY%20FINAL.jpg" style="float: right; height: 328px; width: 400px;" title="Near West Side resident Rosie Valtierra holds her goddaughter there on the day of her baptism in the mid-1950s. City Hall has embarked on massive construction projects that will raze much of the area. Valtierra and many other displaced Latinos will end up in Pilsen. (Photo courtesy of Rosemarie Sierra)" />We answered the <em>when</em> part of the question just by looking at census numbers: Pilsen did not become mostly Latino until the 1960s; Little Village didn&rsquo;t until the 1970s. Answering <em>why</em> those changes happened took a little more work. We interviewed experts, searched newspaper archives, pounded Pilsen&rsquo;s pavement and tracked down some of the neighborhood&rsquo;s first Latino residents. For example, Lucy Gutiérrez, 87, told us about bringing her family to Pilsen when the place was still populated mainly by Central and Eastern European descendents &mdash; including the Bohemians whose forebears named it after Plzeň, a city in what is now the Czech Republic. Our research also led to these snapshots. They begin on Chicago&rsquo;s Near West Side, which included the city&rsquo;s largest Latino enclave just a few decades ago.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">In old neighborhood, the beginning of the end</span></strong></p><p><strong>FEBRUARY 15, 1949</strong>: A Chicago housing official complains about residents refusing to leave a 14-block stretch from Desplaines to Paulina streets to make way for a new superhighway along Chicago&rsquo;s Congress Street. The official, Detlef E. Mackelmann, says some would not go &ldquo;until the buildings next door were being torn down.&rdquo; The highway&rsquo;s first section, completed in 1955, will displace thousands of people. It will be among several massive construction projects that will raze much of the Near West Side, including a Mexican neighborhood that dates back to the 1920s. The projects will include three expressways, a university campus and public-housing developments. Some of those Mexicans will move to Pilsen, a neighborhood just south. They will form the nucleus of what will become a much bigger Latino community. The Congress highway, for its part, will eventually be named the Eisenhower Expressway. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>1</strong></span></a></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/1%20TAYLOR%20STREET%20FINAL.jpg" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" title="" /></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/1%20TAYLOR%20STREET%20PIES%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">White exodus from Pilsen makes room for newcomers</span></strong></p><p><strong>OCTOBER 18, 1953</strong>: St. Procopius, a 72-year-old Czech parish in Pilsen, rededicates its school with a Sunday dinner. The meal includes turkey, dumplings, sauerkraut, rye bread and kolacky. The music includes the Czech anthem &quot;Kde domov můj?&quot; and an Antonín Dvořák composition. Although the school has begun to enroll some of Pilsen&rsquo;s first Latino children, today&rsquo;s program includes no hint of their cultures. And Rev. Peter Mizera, the St. Procopius priest, has been complaining to the archdiocese about &ldquo;the recent infiltration of the Mexicans.&rdquo; But Pilsen&rsquo;s white population is declining and growing older as young families head to suburbs. St. Procopius and other parishes will have to open their doors to Latinos. By 1955, six Pilsen parochial schools will be enrolling Mexican children. Over the next two decades, several Pilsen parishes will retool themselves, sending priests to learn Spanish in Mexico, building altars and shrines to the Virgin of Guadalupe, even bringing mariachi music into masses. Some other parishes, slow to adapt, will close. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>2</strong></span></a></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Campus construction pushes more Latinos into Pilsen</span></strong></p><p><strong>MARCH 19, 1961</strong>: Led by a mariachi band, hundreds of Mexican protesters march from St. Francis of Assisi Church and tie up Near West Side traffic. The protesters slam a City Hall plan to replace their neighborhood with a University of Illinois campus. They blame Mayor Richard J. Daley and shout, &ldquo;Down with Daley,&rdquo; &ldquo;Daley sold us out&rdquo; and &ldquo;Respeten nuestros hogares&rdquo; (Respect our homes). The protest is part of a much larger effort to derail the university plan. Italians, the area&rsquo;s biggest ethnic group, are leading the resistance but Mexicans are also visible. Roughly 4,800 of them live in the census tracts the city wants the university to take over. The resistance will fail. On May 10, the City Council will designate 106 acres for the campus. Some of the Mexicans will move a few blocks west, but campus expansions will displace them again. Many will end up in Pilsen. The University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus, meanwhile, will open in 1965. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>3</strong></span></a></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Chicano movement builds neighborhood&rsquo;s new identity</span></strong></p><p><strong>APRIL 24, 1969</strong>: More than 100 residents of Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood gather for a public meeting of the Latin American Alliance for Social Advancement, known by its Spanish acronym, ALAS. The meeting occurs at Howell House, a community center focused for decades on Czech immigrants. At the meeting, ALAS endorses Arthur Vázquez to lead Howell House; he will be its first Mexican-American director. The meeting also develops strategies to improve Pilsen schools, expose police brutality and publicize a national grape boycott. The organizing reflects two major changes in Pilsen. First, Mexicans have been pouring into the neighborhood for two decades. Along with the arrivals from the Near West Side, many have come from South Texas or various parts of Mexico. A smaller Latino group in Pilsen has roots in Puerto Rico. The 1970 census will record the neighborhood&rsquo;s first Latino majority. The other big change is the rise of the Chicano civil-rights movement. Reflecting that change, Howell House will get a new name: Casa Aztlán. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>4</strong></span></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2%20MEETING%20TONIGHT%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><strong style="font-size: 22px;">Latino community expands west to Little Village</strong></p><p><strong>OCTOBER 30, 1979</strong>: At the urging of Latinos and veterans, the Chicago Park District board agrees to a proposed memorial plaza honoring Manuel Pérez Jr., a World War II hero killed by enemy fire at age 22 and posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Pérez grew up on the city&rsquo;s Near West Side long before his neighborhood was razed and before many of its Mexican residents moved to Pilsen. The city will build the plaza in 1980 in Little Village, a Southwest Side neighborhood known as the &ldquo;Mexican suburb&rdquo; because of its proximity to Pilsen, its larger homes, and its fast-growing Latino population. Next year&rsquo;s census will show that Latinos constitute the majority of Little Village residents. The Pilsen and Little Village corridor now has the largest concentration of Latinos in the Midwest. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>5</strong></span></a><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3%20PLAZA%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Neighborhoods help put Latino in Congress</strong></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/web%20PilsenFoundGutierrez1crop_0.jpg" style="height: 242px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><strong>MARCH 17, 1992</strong>: In a Democratic primary election for U.S. House, Chicago Ald. Luis V. Gutiérrez (26th Ward) easily defeats his strongest challenger, Juan Soliz. A 1990 court order required a Chicago district with a Latino majority. Shaped like an earmuff, the district covers the Pilsen-Little Village corridor and Puerto Rican neighborhoods on the Northwest Side. Gutiérrez, who was an ally of the late Mayor Harold Washington, has Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s backing in the Congressional race. After the general election, Gutiérrez will become the first Midwest Latino in the House. Although his family is from Puerto Rico, whose residents are born with U.S. citizenship, Gutiérrez will champion immigrant political causes and maintain strong support in Pilsen and Little Village. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><strong><span style="font-size:11px;">6</span></strong></a></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Pilsen remains Latino, but for how long?</span></strong></p><p><strong>MAY 20, 1997</strong>: In the name of job creation, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) leads a rally for a plan that would extend the University of Illinois at Chicago southward to the edge of Pilsen. The Daley administration, meanwhile, is planning a tax-increment financing district to boost industry in Pilsen. Some residents are linking those efforts to gentrification on the neighborhood&rsquo;s east end. Those residents say the changes are threatening Pilsen&rsquo;s Mexican-American character and pushing rents and property taxes too high. This summer, artists led by Hector Duarte* will transform an outdoor wall at 1805 S. Bishop St. into a colorful mural called &ldquo;Stop Gentrification in Pilsen.&rdquo;&nbsp;The mural will depict United Farm Workers co-founder César Chávez and Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata flanking a multigenerational Pilsen family, a pushcart vendor and anti-gentrification protesters. Such efforts will not stop affluent newcomers from moving into Pilsen but, for years to come, the neighborhood will remain the cultural heart of the Chicago area&rsquo;s Mexican-American community. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources"><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>7</strong></span></a></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="color:red"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4%20MURAL%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: CM! Winters-Palacio</span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cm winters FINAL.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 185px; float: left;" title="" />African-Americans in Chicago cannot help but look at the city&rsquo;s most heavily Latino neighborhoods with some envy, according to WBEZ listener CM! Winters-Palacio, who lives in Auburn Gresham, a South Side neighborhood. &ldquo;If you drive through Little Village or Pilsen, they&rsquo;re thriving with little local stores,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;When you go on the South Side, it&rsquo;s a totally different experience.&rdquo;</p><p>Winters-Palacio chairs Malcolm X College&rsquo;s library department and tells us her interests include community development and racial segregation. So what does she think of our answer to her question? Pilsen&rsquo;s Latino identity is &ldquo;relatively new,&rdquo; Winters-Palacio says. &ldquo;It helps dispel one of the myths.&rdquo; Namely, that a strong community must have long historical roots. Winters-Palacio says Pilsen and Little Village provide hope for her part of town.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0" name="sources" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.&nbsp;</em><em>Illustrations by&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/ero_nel" target="_blank">Erik Nelson Rodrigue</a><a href="http://twitter.com/ero_nel" target="_blank">z</a>, an&nbsp;illustrator and graphic designer in Chicago.</em></p><p><em>*Editor&#39;s note: Duarte is married to WBEZ reporter Linda Lutton.</em></p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>1.</strong><em> Lilia Fernández,</em>&nbsp;Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago<em style="font-size: 10px;">&nbsp;(University of Chicago Press, 2012). &ldquo;City&rsquo;s &lsquo;DPs&rsquo; sit tight in path of big projects: Evacuation notices just a &lsquo;wolf cry&rsquo; to them,&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>Chicago Daily Tribune<em style="font-size: 10px;">&nbsp;(February 16, 1949). </em><strong>2.</strong>&nbsp;<em style="font-size: 10px;">Deborah Kanter, &ldquo;Making Mexican Parishes: Ethnic Succession in Chicago Churches, 1947-1977,&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>U.S. Catholic Historian<em style="font-size: 10px;">, Volume 301:1 (Catholic University of America Press, 2012). </em><strong>3<em style="font-size: 10px;">.&nbsp;</em></strong><em style="font-size: 10px;">&ldquo;Protest rally today against U. of I. campus,&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>Chicago Daily Tribune<em style="font-size: 10px;">&nbsp;(March 20, 1961). &ldquo;Council OKs W. Side U. of I. site, 41 to 3: Crowd in gallery boos action, vows fight,&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>Chicago Daily Tribune<em style="font-size: 10px;">&nbsp;(May 11, 1961). Fernández, op. cit.&nbsp;</em><strong>4</strong><em style="font-size: 10px;">. Fernández,&nbsp;</em>op. cit.<em style="font-size: 10px;">&nbsp;Administrative History, Bethlehem Howell Neighborhood Center collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago. </em><strong>5.</strong><em style="font-size: 10px;">&nbsp;</em><em>&ldquo;New post of Legion honors Mexican-American hero slain on Luzon,&rdquo;</em> Chicago Daily Tribune<em> (June 30, 1946). &ldquo;Slain vet who killed 75 Japs is honored in memorial service,&rdquo;</em> Chicago Daily Tribune<em> (February 14, 1949). &ldquo;Ordinance requesting the City of Chicago to convey the Manuel Pérez Jr. Plaza to the Chicago Park District,&rdquo;</em> Journal of the Proceedings of the Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District,<em> 1979-1980. </em><strong>6.</strong><em>&nbsp;John Kass, &ldquo;Gutiérrez picks up Daley&rsquo;s backing for Congress,&rdquo;</em> Chicago Tribune<em> (December 10, 1991). Lou Ortiz, &ldquo;Gutiérrez coasts toward big win in Hispanic district race,&rdquo;</em> Chicago Sun-Times<em> (March 18, 1992).&nbsp;</em><strong>7<em><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_271E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span>.&nbsp;</em></strong></span><em style="font-size: 10px;">Gary Marx, &ldquo;Opposition brewing to UIC expansion; proposal may drive out the poor, foes say,&rdquo;&nbsp;</em><span style="font-size: 11px;">Chicago Tribune</span><em> <span style="font-size:11px;">(March 12, 1997). Ernest Tucker, &ldquo;Latinos urge UIC to move forward with expansion,&rdquo; </span></em><span style="font-size:11px;">Chicago Sun-Times</span><em><span style="font-size:11px;"> (May 21, 1997). Teresa Puente, &ldquo;Pilsen fears upscale push may shove many out,&rdquo; </span></em><span style="font-size:11px;">Chicago Tribune</span><em><span style="font-size:11px;"> (November 4, 1997).</span></em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538 Minister haunted by decades-old domestic dispute http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/minister-haunted-decades-old-domestic-dispute-110524 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sc.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Carl Johnson&rsquo;s parents weren&rsquo;t around much when he was a kid.</p><p>He was an only child and he was very inquisitive. &ldquo;There were three things I said I wanted: I wanted peace. There was so much chaos in my life. I wanted hope. And I wanted love. And that&rsquo;s what I found in the church.&rdquo;</p><p>This year, Johnson celebrates 50 years as an ordained member of the Lutheran clergy.</p><p>He came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center with his children, Matthew Moy Johnson and Bethany Kaufmann, to talk about his experiences as a minister.</p><p>He was ordained in 1964 in Granite City, Illinois, near St. Louis. &ldquo;When I became a pastor I realized I had a responsibility and that I needed to be very much aware of what I said and how I lived my life,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The main thing was to find a deeper meaning.&rdquo;</p><p>As he reflects on his five decades as a clergy member, Johnson remembers small moments: Helping a husband and wife through the loss of their teenage son. Teaching people about God and watching them teach each other. Being an advocate for issues of social justice.</p><p>One experience that shaped him as a young pastor was talking to a couple going through a domestic dispute with a loaded gun. He&nbsp; felt like, as a minister, it was his responsibility to counsel them no matter what the circumstances.</p><p>Looking back, though, he says entering such a volatile fray - with an angry spouse and a loaded weapon - could almost be considered reckless. He successfully counseled the couple, but said, &ldquo;Today I would be more cautious.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson says he is humbled and grateful for everything that&rsquo;s happened in his life. But, he adds, I still have &ldquo;so much more to learn.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/minister-haunted-decades-old-domestic-dispute-110524 Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neil-whosis-what-you-dont-know-about-1969-moon-landing-110511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/krulwich.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Forty-five years ago, this week, 123 million of us watched Neil and Buzz step onto the moon. In 1969, we numbered about 200 million, so more than half of America was in the audience that day. Neil Armstrong instantly became a household name, an icon, a hero. And then &mdash; and this, I bet, you didn&#39;t know &mdash; just as quickly, he faded away.</p><p>&quot;Whatever Happened to Neil Whosis?&quot; asked the&nbsp;<em>Chicago Tribune</em>&nbsp;in 1974.</p><p>This is a missing chapter in the space exploration story. We like to think that after Apollo 11, the first duo on the moon became legendary. We know the names Aldrin and Armstrong now (or, at least many of us do), and we imagine they&#39;ve been honored and admired all this time, the way we honor our favorite presidents, athletes, and war heroes. But that&#39;s not what happened.</p><p>In his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/331366334/no-requiem-for-the-space-age-the-apollo-moon-landings-and-american-culture">new book</a>,&nbsp;<em>No Requiem for the Space Age</em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://history.uconn.edu/people/tribbe.php">Matthew Tribbe</a>&nbsp;describes how only a year after the landing, a vast majority of Americans couldn&#39;t remember Neil Armstrong&#39;s name.</p><p>&quot;One year ago his name was a household word,&quot; said the&nbsp;<em>Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin</em>. But when the&nbsp;<em>Bulletin</em>&nbsp;asked its readers in 1970 to name the first man on the moon, the guy who said, &quot;One giant step for man ... ,&quot; 70 percent of Philadelphians didn&#39;t know.</p><p>As Tribbe points out, the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;did a similar study around that time, asking the same question in an informal telephone poll, and in St. Louis, only 1 in 15 respondents got it right.</p><p>In Portland, Maine, it was 1 out of 12.</p><p>In Milwaukee, 5 out of 12.</p><p>In New York City, 8 out of 22.</p><p><em>The World Almanac&nbsp;</em>(a one volume, pre-Internet&nbsp;<a href="http://www.worldalmanac.com/">compendium</a>&nbsp;of everything you needed to know) had Armstrong&#39;s name in the index in 1970, but in 1971, Tribbe says, they took it out. You could still read about the moon landing; Armstrong was still mentioned in the text, but while early &#39;60s hero-astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard stayed in the index, Armstrong didn&#39;t. Readers, apparently, weren&#39;t looking him up.</p><p>Armstrong, of course, noticed. &quot;I had hoped, I think, that the impact would be more far-reaching than it has been,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>The Chicago Tribune</em>. &quot;The impact immediately was very great, but I was a little disappointed that it didn&#39;t seem to last longer.&quot;</p><p>Same&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106749753">for Buzz Aldrin</a>: &quot;I&#39;m certainly a little disappointed,&quot; he told&nbsp;the&nbsp;<em>Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin&nbsp;in 1970</em>. After a world tour, a White House dinner, countless ticker-tape parades, Aldrin had left the space program, divorced, skipped from job to job. By the late &#39;70s, he wrote in his 2010&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/331733791/magnificent-desolation-the-long-journey-home-from-the-moon">autobiography</a>,<em>&nbsp;Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon</em>, Aldrin was working at a Cadillac dealership in Beverly Hills &mdash; where he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenational.ae/news/the-dark-side-of-the-moon">failed</a>&nbsp;to sell even one car in six months.</p><p>What happened? The space program, so glamorous, so exciting for a short while, failed to keep the public interested once the moon was conquered. As&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/320780493/the-right-stuff">Tom Wolf writes</a>&nbsp;in his book&nbsp;<em>The Right Stuff</em>,&nbsp;by 1970, &quot;Things were grim. ... The public had become gloriously bored by space exploration.&quot;</p><p>Astronauts as a group seemed a little lonesome, directionless.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.harrynilsson.com/">Harry Nilsson</a>, the songwriter, wrote a tune in 1972 that went, &quot;I wanted to be a spaceman/ that&#39;s what I wanted to be/ But now that I am a spaceman/ nobody cares about me.&quot;</p><p>In his book, Matthew Tribbe explores some reasons for this falling off. He says the orderly, top-down, get-it-done, military/engineering style that created NASA (and was largely responsible for its success), bumped into a more skeptical, more mystical youth counterculture. Feats of engineering and technology didn&#39;t mesh with the campus kids&#39; enthusiasm for rebellion, self-expression, and a more open-minded approach to race, gender and drugs. NASA&#39;s engineers seemed like a tribe apart. They were widely admired &mdash; yet, over time, became defensive.</p><p>Tribbe also says the space race was basically a Cold War exercise, a USSR vs. America dash to the moon, and once the U.S. got there first, then second, then third, then fourth, the race was over. People asked, &quot;Why continue?&quot; And NASA didn&#39;t have a very good answer for that one.</p><p><strong>Fantastic, Beautiful, Fantastic, Beautiful</strong></p><p>But most intriguingly, Tribbe devotes a whole chapter of his book to, of all things, rhetoric. People, he thinks, were eager to hear what it was like to escape the Earth&#39;s atmosphere, to travel weightlessly, to touch down on an alien planet, to be the first explorers to leave &quot;home,&quot; and too often (much too often), the astronauts talked about these things using the same words &mdash; &quot;beautiful,&quot; &quot;fantastic&quot; &mdash; over and over. If space exploration was to be a grand adventure, it needed explorers who could take us there, tell us how it felt, explorers who could connect with those of us who can&#39;t (but want to) come along. Inarticulateness, Tribbe thinks, hurt the space program.</p><p>And yet, though Armstrong never got more eloquent, when he died last year his passing was widely mourned; his name, his image, his talents celebrated. He was a hero again. What changed? I think (and I&#39;ll talk about it in my next post) a lot of the change had to do with language. Stay tuned.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/07/16/331362649/neil-whosis-what-you-don-t-know-about-the-moon-landing-45-years-ago" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s Krulwich Wonders</a></em></p></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neil-whosis-what-you-dont-know-about-1969-moon-landing-110511 Harper Lee says new biography is unauthorized http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/harper-lee-says-new-biography-unauthorized-110510 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/harper-lee.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Former <em>Chicago Tribune</em> reporter Marja Mills says her just-released biography of Harper Lee, <em>The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee,</em> was written with &quot;the trust, support and encouragement&quot; of Lee and her older sister, Alice.</p><p>But in a statement this week, the 88-year-old Lee countered, &quot;Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.&quot;</p><p>In 2004, Mills moved next door in Monroeville, Ala., and befriended the sisters, who, according to the book&#39;s description, &quot;decided to let Mills tell their story.&quot;</p><p>Lee says that, in fact, she &quot;cut off all contact&quot; with Mills after realizing her intentions: &quot;It did not take long to discover Marja&#39;s true mission: another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised.&quot;</p><p>Mills points to a letter from Alice that &quot;makes clear that Nelle Harper Lee and Alice gave me their blessing.&quot;</p><p>In her statement, Lee notes that her sister &quot;would have been 100 years old&quot; when that letter was written.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/07/16/331941601/book-news-harper-lee-says-new-biography-is-unauthorized" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s <em>The Two-Way</em></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/harper-lee-says-new-biography-unauthorized-110510 'Post-atheists' experiencing a big tent revival, minus the preacher http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/post-atheists-experiencing-big-tent-revival-minus-preacher-110508 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/godless church.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>This past week a couple stood in front of a local congregation carefully lighting the Shabbat candles. The Friday night service followed many Jewish traditions: There was a gifted cantor to lead the singing and readings, with excerpts like, &ldquo;Illumination is not enough. To understand, we need enlightenment.&rdquo;</p><p>But there was one thing missing &ndash; any mention of a higher power.</p><p>These members at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Chicago&rsquo;s northern suburbs are part of a growing trend. Polls show the number of people in the U.S. who don&rsquo;t identify with any religion keeps increasing. So does the number searching for a sense of community, and shared values, outside of religious institutions.</p><p>Across Chicago, atheists, agnostics and humanists are finding each other with rituals that look a lot like church or temple&mdash;but without a God.</p><p>&ldquo;The need for community is a human need, it&rsquo;s not a religious need, it&rsquo;s not a secular need, it&rsquo;s a human need,&rdquo; said Rabbi Adam Chalom, who leads <a href="https://kolhadash.com/" target="_blank">Kol Hadash</a>. &ldquo;We need inspiration, we need beauty, we need community, fellowship, support through difficult moments, the chance to celebrate your family culture if that&rsquo;s the direction you&rsquo;re going.&rdquo;<br /><br />For some, this direction is far from new. All the way back in 1882, the <a href="http://ethicalhuman.org/" target="_blank">Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago</a> was founded to create a space for quote &ldquo;deed beyond creed.&rdquo;</p><p>What is new is the way this movement is now making a comeback. A group called Foundation Beyond Belief formed four years ago to increase charitable giving by non-church goers. This weekend, leaders from all over are coming to Chicago for what they&rsquo;re calling the <a href="http://humanismatwork.org/" target="_blank">first-ever conference</a> on the topic.<br /><br />&ldquo;As atheists, we don&rsquo;t believe in an afterlife, we don&rsquo;t believe we&rsquo;re going to heaven or hell for that matter after we die,&rdquo; said Hemant Mehta, who chairs the foundation and is the creator of a blog called the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/" target="_blank">Friendly Atheist</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;This is the only life we have, this is the only world we&rsquo;re ever going to live in. We might as well make it a great place to live in,&rdquo; Mehta said.</p><p>Rabbi Chalom likes to call it &lsquo;post-atheist&rsquo;: &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s say you come to a conclusion that there is no God. What&rsquo;s next? That doesn&rsquo;t tell you how to live your life.&rdquo;</p><p>One of his congregants has been struggling with that question since before his bar mitzvah. Mitch Gibbs started attending Kol Hadash three years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;For me, it&rsquo;s being able to have integrity with my beliefs,&rdquo; Gibbs said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m never asked to say anything I don&rsquo;t believe.&rdquo;</p><p>Gibbs said he loved the beauty he found in Jewish services as a kid. But early on, he said he would shut down when activities got religious. After he stopped going, he missed the sense of togetherness.</p><p>&ldquo;I like the diversity of a community where you, because everyone has something in common, the walls between people are not quite so high,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />On a recent Sunday in White Eagle Woods in Lyons, several people in their 20s and 30s played croquet in wet grass. This could have been a church picnic anywhere, just minus the church.</p><p>In fact, they were part of a godless church called <a href="http://sundayassembly.com/about/" target="_blank">Sunday Assembly</a> that&rsquo;s sprouting across the world. Their motto? Live better, help often, wonder more.</p><p>Jennifer Lyle came with her 16-month-old son to check it out.</p><p>&ldquo;I really like having the idea of having a cohesive group or community to belong to so that when he gets to be school age and all of his friends are going to church, and do you go to church? He&rsquo;s like, well, we go to Sunday Assembly.&rdquo;</p><p>Lyle said she tends to stay quiet about her beliefs, especially at work.</p><p>&ldquo;You might think that you&rsquo;re the only in your office, or you&rsquo;re the only one in your parent playgroup that is a non-believer,&rdquo; Lyle said. &ldquo;You feel very isolated, it becomes kind of like a secret, you don&rsquo;t really want to bring it up. When you find a community of like-minded people, you say, &lsquo;Oh, I&rsquo;m not alone.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>The post-atheist movement hopes to make it OK for people like Lyle to openly identify as a non-believer.</p><p>&ldquo;People are afraid of telling their family members or their colleagues at work,&rdquo; said Hemant Mehta. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s a problem because when you tell people you don&rsquo;t believe in God, they think you&rsquo;re immoral, they don&rsquo;t trust you anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Some members of the growing movement liken it to a big tent revival, just without the tent or the preacher.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes covers religion for WBEZ. Follow her<a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes"> @LynetteKalsnes.</a></em></p></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/post-atheists-experiencing-big-tent-revival-minus-preacher-110508 Sister cities: Chicago's international family http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sister-cities-chicagos-international-family-110498 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158996525&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We use the word &ldquo;sister&rdquo; when we talk about our siblings or sometimes our best friends, people who are so close they might as well be family. But what does it mean to call a <em>city</em> a sister?</p><p>Maybe you&#39;ve seen a TV news bite announce reps from a sister city are in Chicago to drum up business or support a new cultural venture. Or, maybe someone tipped you off that the showy row of flags at O&#39;Hare International Airport hail from Chicago&#39;s sister cities.</p><p>Chicagoan Kelly Pedersen has been wondering what this phenomenon&rsquo;s all about, so he converted his long-standing curiosity into this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago currently has 28 &quot;sister cities&quot; around the globe. What is the process of determining a &quot;sister city&quot;, and what are the benefits?</em></p><p>We looked into the nearly 60-year history of citizen diplomacy with Chicago&rsquo;s sister cities. It turns out Chicago has the most active sister city program in the country, and it receives at least one request every week from someone hoping to join its global family.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">How did the program start?</span></p><p>President Dwight D. Eisenhower kicked things off in 1956, when he developed a White House conference on citizen diplomacy. The idea was to help mend relationships among former combatants in WWII and the Korean War by creating people-to-people exchanges, says Leroy Allala, executive director of <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Sister Cities International</a>. The non-profit organization manages the sister city program for Chicago.</p><p>The city signed its first agreement with Warsaw, Poland, in 1960. Allala says it made sense &ldquo;that most of our early sister city partnerships were with cities in places like Europe and Japan, countries that had been impacted by World War II.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>With 28 agreements in hand, Chicago has the largest sister city program in the United States, Allala says. The city&rsquo;s network spans the globe from Accra, Ghana, to Milan, Italy. Los Angeles has 25 sister cities, but it doesn&rsquo;t run as many programs or exchanges as Chicago, Allala says. He adds that Laredo, Texas, has also challenged Chicago on its claim but that&rsquo;s because &ldquo;they are on the border with Mexico. Every time they send an ambulance to a border town, they sign a sister city agreement. That&rsquo;s not really what sister cities is about.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayors Richard J. Daley, Jane Byrne and Harold Washington all signed sister city agreements while they were in office, but the program really took off under Mayor Richard M. Daley, who signed 21 of Chicago&rsquo;s 28 sister city agreements.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/germany%20for%20WEB.jpg" title="Mayor Richard M. Daley and Hamburg, Germany Mayor Dr. Henning Voscherau sign a sister cities partnership in 1994. (Photo courtesy Chicago Sister Cities International)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Expanding Chicago&rsquo;s family: Who makes the cut?</span></p><p>Eileen Hubbell was the director of protocol and director of international relations under Mayor Richard M. Daley. As she recalls it, the organic process &ldquo;is really often compared &nbsp;to a marriage and every agreement has its own love story, if you will. And there are a number of factors that come into play. There have been times over the years when Chicago was pursued and other times when we were doing the pursuing.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>When Daley came into office there were seven sister cities and by the time he left office, there were 28. He also signed an executive order in 1990 to create a volunteer board of directors for Chicago Sister Cities International that would focus on expanding sister city relationships. Hubble says Daley felt strongly that the relationships should mean something, and he believed that &ldquo;you just don&rsquo;t sign a piece of paper and forget about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Hubble says Mayor Daley worked with the city&rsquo;s ethnic communities, business leaders and civic institutions to identify potential cities. &ldquo;He really made it known that Chicago was a global city, that we needed to build on that, and that everyone was welcome at the table to build on that initiative,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Cindy Mitchell was the first chair of the committee involved with Casablanca, Morocco. She agrees that Mayor Daley was eager to promote Chicago overseas and went after many potential sister cities. &ldquo;There were some turn-downs but not too many,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I truly believe &mdash; and I may be very naive &mdash; that it was not political, that he genuinely enjoyed these kind of relationships. I think he enjoyed visiting these countries and getting to know their mayors.&rdquo;</p><p>So at times Chicago approached a potential sister, but in some cases they approached Chicago. An example of the latter would be when the mayor of Hamburg, Germany, proposed a sister city agreement. His cause gained support from Alderman Gene Schulter, who was of German heritage. Chicago signed that partnership in 1994.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size:18px;">Map: Chicago&#39;s sister cities, 2014</span></em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2+from+19fE5LVOtn4N6CJvdv5FbFyplcy2f2vxPinw4Hvsi&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=32.83198545051575&amp;lng=51.75944563631526&amp;t=1&amp;z=2&amp;l=col2&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="250" scrolling="yes" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=CARD&amp;q=select+*+from+19fE5LVOtn4N6CJvdv5FbFyplcy2f2vxPinw4Hvsi&amp;tmplt=3&amp;cpr=3" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em style="font-size: 9px;">Source: <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/sister-cities/" target="_blank">Chicago Sister Cities International</a></em></p><p>In other instances, Chicago&rsquo;s ethnic communities took the initiative. In 1991 a group of leaders from Chicago&rsquo;s Ukrainian community wanted to demonstrate support for Ukraine, which had just gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.</p><p>Under the Iron Curtain, Ukrainians hadn&rsquo;t really been allowed to travel, but in the early &lsquo;90s they began visiting Chicago. At the same time, many Chicago-based companies were exploring investment in Ukraine, says Marta Farion. She was part of the group of Ukrainian Americans who felt the best way to support a newly-independent Ukraine would be through a sister city agreement.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought, &lsquo;Wouldn&rsquo;t it be wonderful to help give people some hope by making Kiev a sister city and open up a door for person-to-person exchange,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Farion.</p><p>The group presented the idea to Mayor Daley, who agreed. Farion&rsquo;s husband, Ihor, then hand-carried a letter to the mayor of Kiev asking to partner with Chicago. Kiev agreed later that year.</p><p>Chicago uses a loose set of criteria to determine whether a city would be a good fit as a sister city. Among them is the potential partner&rsquo;s size; Chicago, Allala says, would never partner with a small village of just 1,000 people, for example.</p><p>Another criterion: whether Chicago and the potential partner already have strong cultural connections. This came to play in the selection of Warsaw in 1960, says Allala. &ldquo;Chicago is known to have the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So we consider ourselves very much a Polish city and I&rsquo;m sure at that time considered Chicago and Warsaw to be a natural fit.&rdquo;</p><p>Through the years, Chicago has also considered cities that reside near a body of water or that are also viewed as &lsquo;second cities&rsquo; in their home country, Allala says.</p><p>Another factor taken into account is whether Chicago has a local community that will take ownership of the relationship and ensure that it won&rsquo;t just lay dormant. According to Sam Scott, the Board Chairman of Chicago Sister Cities International, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s very important that we have representation from a city or a country here.&rdquo;</p><p>The ultimate decision on whether to establish an agreement, however, rests with the mayors of both cities. When they agree, they sign a formal document and hold a special signing ceremony to mark the occasion.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SISTER cities flags for web dan xoneil.jpg" title="Flags representing Chicago's sister cities on display at Daley Plaza in 2013. (Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil)" /></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="termination"></a>Can a sister city agreement be terminated?</span></p><p>Chicago has never terminated a sister city agreement, but that&rsquo;s not to say things have always been tension-free. Farion says when the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy protesters in Beijing at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Sister Cities&rsquo; board considered ending Chicago&rsquo;s agreements with Shenyang and Shanghai as a sign of protest.</p><p>But ultimately, Farion says, the board decided to pull back because &ldquo;the whole role of the sister city program is to improve relations between people. It is not a government-to-government relationship; it is a people-to-people relationship.&rdquo;</p><p>Earlier this year, a City Council committee passed a resolution asking Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to suspend the sister city agreement with Moscow. Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposed that resolution, and aldermen approved a substitute resolution declaring the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;solidarity with the Ukrainian community.&rdquo;</p><p>Sam Scott testified before the city council supporting the continuation of the relationship with Moscow.</p><p>As Allala puts it: &ldquo;Signing a sister city agreement is like a marriage, but we don&rsquo;t have divorce in our world.&rdquo;</p><p>Other U.S. cities have terminated agreements, however. According to Megha Swamy, a public relations specialist for Sister Cities International, this doesn&#39;t happen very often. The group doesn&#39;t have official numbers, but it&#39;s aware of this happening at least once in the past five years. In 2013, the city council in Lansing, Michigan, voted 7-0 to adopt a resolution calling for an end to its sister city ties with St. Petersburg, Russia, because of legislation passed there which banning expressions of &ldquo;homosexual propaganda.&rdquo; The law criminalizes &ldquo;public action aimed at propagandising sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister Cities International says the organization <a href="http://www.sister-cities.org/sites/default/files/SCI%20Policy_Political%20Disputes.pdf">does not encourage termination </a>of agreements.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">What are the benefits?</span></p><p>Among the benefits of the Sister Cities program, according to Scott, is &ldquo;a pride in ownership of various immigrant communities in the city.&rdquo; He adds, &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very good for people to be able to stand up and say: I am whatever I happen to be, proud of it, and Sister Cities helps to promote that.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister cities committees organize numerous activities, including student exchange programs. Sullivan High School in the Rogers Park neighborhood has an ongoing &ldquo;sister school&rdquo; relationship with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gymaltona.de" target="_blank">Gymnasium Altona</a>, a high school in Hamburg, Germany. Sullivan Principal Chad Adams says that he wants to see the students&rsquo; worlds expand, and that travel benefits students. The school values this exchange program, Adams says, because of the long-term effect &ldquo;that kids&rsquo; minds are more global, and they&rsquo;re more thoughtful about humanity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB Justine Ogbevire at Sullivan - possible gang graffitti on piano.jpg" title="Justine Ogbevire recently visited Hamburg, Germany as part of the sister cities program. (Photo by Katie Klocksin) " /></p><p><span style="text-align: center;">Justine Ogbevire, a Sullivan student, was part of a student trip to Hamburg this May. &ldquo;I feel like it was a huge breather. ... &nbsp;I feel like my mind is open,&rdquo; she says. The overseas flight was her first time traveling on an airplane. She was nervous during takeoff but ultimately concluded &ldquo;airplanes are not that scary.&rdquo;</span></p><p>According to Sam Scott, a sister city relationship can also have economic benefits. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s amazing how well culture and education tie together with business,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You facilitate the dialogue around the business opportunity over some of the other issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Leroy Allala says partnerships have expanded economic development within Chicago&rsquo;s Sister Cities network, and have also promoted Chicago as a place to do business: &ldquo;In addition to the great culture, education, arts, and tourism, business is also happening. So that&rsquo;s another benefit of the program.&rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes the agreements have literally altered how the city looks. Case in point: the window sills of the Chicago Cultural Center. Mayor Daley got the idea for them after a visit to Hamburg. That German city&#39;s bridges are lined with flower boxes, says Rolf Achilles, a member of the Hamburg committee for Chicago Sister Cities International. He was on the trip with Daley when he got the idea to do something similar in Chicago. Achilles says a group of engineers worked for more than a year in Chicago, trying to find a way to put the flower boxes on Chicago&rsquo;s movable bridges. But, he says, they couldn&rsquo;t find a way to make them work when the bridges would be raised, so Daley settled on the windows of the city&rsquo;s buildings instead.</p><p>Eileen Hubbell says the reason Chinese is taught in some Chicago public schools is also because of our sister cities program. She says when Mayor Daley made a trip to visit Shenyang and Shanghai, where he saw Chinese kids studying English. She says Daley came to the conclusion that he didn&rsquo;t want &ldquo;our kids here to be left behind.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What&rsquo;s next?</span></p><p>No sister city agreement has been signed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel entered office in 2011. Chicago Sister Cities International is currently evaluating its selection process.</p><p>The program was recently moved out of the Department of Cultural Affairs and placed under the direction of World Business Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;World Business Chicago is very much business oriented. Sister Cities is more culturally and educationally oriented. The two work very very well together,&rdquo; says Scott. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;ve been working on a strategic plan. ... And we&rsquo;ll start looking at how we grow the Sister Cities program going forward to benefit both the cultural and educational piece as well as immigration and tourism for sister cities, tie that together with the growth of business opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re wondering which city is most likely to be Chicago&#39;s next partner, we couldn&rsquo;t get anyone to provide a specific name. However, Sam Scott says they are looking to grow in South America. Rumor has it that Sao Paolo, Brazil, has been hoping to become part of the Chicago family. We&rsquo;ll just have to wait and see. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pederson%205%20for%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 214px; width: 170px; float: left;" title="Kelly Pedersen, who asked Curious City about Chicago's sister cities. " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Kelly Pedersen</span></p><p>Kelly Pedersen of Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood has a long-standing interest in international relations. Although there&rsquo;s a lot of negative news in the international arena, Kelly says &ldquo;my interests lie in looking &nbsp;for instances where an outcome is positive, or some ground is gained toward cultural, or economic, or diplomatic resolutions.&rdquo; Naturally, the Sister Cities program caught Kelly&rsquo;s attention. He wondered, for example, how our sister cities are chosen. Kelly noticed that some of our Sister Cities were in countries with large immigrant populations in Chicago such as Warsaw, Poland; Galway, Ireland; and Milan, Italy.</p><p>Eventually, Kelly decided &ldquo;there has to be more to the process than just having a sizable cultural representation: I wonder what else is involved?&rdquo; So, he teamed up with Curious City to find some answers.</p><p><em>Corrections: An early draft of this story misspelled a source&#39;s name. The correct spelling is Eileen Hubbell. An early draft of this story suggested a major event would occur later this summer. The next major sister cities event, the Consular Ball, is set for December of this year.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Alexandra Salomon is a producer for Worldview, WBEZ&rsquo;s daily global affairs program. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexandraSalomo" target="_blank">@AlexandraSalomo</a>.</em></p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her: <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sister-cities-chicagos-international-family-110498 Meet the CTA's super-friendly conductor http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/meet-ctas-super-friendly-conductor-110466 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false; show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: The podcast episode available above includes two stories. The first looks at why Chicago is a transit hub for the Amish. The profile of CTA conductor Michael Powell begins at 7 minutes, 36 seconds.</em></p><p>The idea for Caroline Eichler&rsquo;s Curious City question first came to her in 2011, shortly after she had finished college and first arrived in Chicago. She didn&rsquo;t know anyone except her roommates and co-workers. &ldquo;And this is the first city I&rsquo;ve ever lived in, too,&rdquo; she says. It&rsquo;s little wonder that she felt &mdash; by her own admission &mdash; &ldquo;pretty terrified and overwhelmed.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>One of the first people Caroline came to recognize in the city was the voice of a certain chatty train conductor during her commute on the CTA&rsquo;s Red Line from Rogers Park to the Jackson stop downtown. She remembers the conductor reminding passengers to grab their umbrellas if it was raining, or he&rsquo;d jokingly advise passengers to take their children with them when they left the train. &ldquo;One time he said &lsquo;May the force be with you.&rsquo; That really cracked me up,&rdquo; she says. Since Caroline only knew a handful of people in the city, even the more reserved announcements such as &ldquo;I hope you&rsquo;re having a great day!&rdquo; were really nice, she says.</p><p>All of this interest in a comforting voice led Caroline to send us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Who is the super-friendly train conductor on the Red Line?</em></p><p>While tracking down an answer, we learned that the man behind the kind words used the daily commute to comfort himself, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;I just started talking&rsquo;</span></p><p>The conductor is Michael Powell, who began working for the CTA in 1978. Getting a job with the CTA was &ldquo;like a dream come true,&rdquo; Powell says. He&rsquo;s always loved trains, and he even had toy trains when he was growing up.</p><p>Talking over the train&rsquo;s PA system came naturally to Powell. &ldquo;I just started talking,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s spur of the moment, I really don&rsquo;t rehearse them. If it feels like I can say something silly or something half-serious, I&rsquo;ll say it.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell is not shy about sharing difficulties he had early in life. The oldest of four children, Powell says his mother &ldquo;had a rough time raising four children, not having a college degree or any education formally.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I could never make her happy,&rdquo; Powell remembers. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t like myself because I didn&rsquo;t get any compliments.&rdquo; Eventually Powell went to counseling. &ldquo;I just had to get over my fear or rejection, I think that&rsquo;s everybody&rsquo;s problem,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;When I started getting attention from the train it was like: Hey, I&rsquo;m getting the love or the attention that I didn&rsquo;t have growing up.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell&rsquo;s philosophy about relating to the passengers is straightforward. &ldquo;I just try to make everybody feel good,&rdquo; he says. Knowing people aren&rsquo;t always happy to be on their way to work, he would sometimes give a morning pep talk. &ldquo;Some people feel like they&rsquo;re down in the dumps. They&rsquo;re like &lsquo;Wow-wee, I had to come to work today.&rsquo; And I sometimes say, Yeah, you know, it would be nice to stay home today, but we have to work. What&rsquo;s for dinner tonight? Make sure you have everything with you! Just, you know, look on the bright side of life,&rdquo; he says.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MichaelPowell%20for%20WEB.jpg" title="Michael Powell, a CTA conductor for 36 years, was known by commuters for his cheerful quips. (Photo courtesy Katie Klocksin)" /></p><p>Over the years Powell has made an impact on his passengers, and he&rsquo;s been written about many times. When I first introduce him to Caroline, he presents a large binder full of his press clippings, print-outs of mostly-positive comment threads on articles featuring him, cards passengers had sent him, and comments people sent to the CTA. Caroline says she&rsquo;s impressed with how much Michael&rsquo;s comments resonated with people &mdash; enough that many people actually wrote to the CTA with positive feedback.</p><p>&ldquo;He brings out a good side of Chicago,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">End of an era</span></p><p>Fans of Powell and his conversational style as a train conductor may be disappointed to learn that he retired at the end of 2013. He still spends time with a group of friends he calls &ldquo;train club.&rdquo; They get together once a week for breakfast, and they also run model trains and watch train movies together. Michael also became a grandfather this May. He misses seeing his passengers every day, &ldquo;yet it&rsquo;s nice to be a grandfather. It&rsquo;s nice to spend more time at home,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Caroline asked Powell if he had a fantasy train he&rsquo;d like to drive. &nbsp;&ldquo;Not really,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I feel like I&rsquo;ve done enough driving in my life. Let someone else do the driving.&rdquo;</p><p>As their time together ends, Caroline tells him: &ldquo;The Red Line community of train riders will miss you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll miss them too,&rdquo; he replies. &ldquo;I had fun.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Caroline%20Re-Touch%20for%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 242px; width: 200px;" title="Caroline Eichler, who asked about the super-friendly Red Line conductor. (Photo courtesy Caroline Eichler)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Caroline Eichler</span></p><p>Caroline Eichler moved to Chicago in 2011, after graduating from Kenyon College. She quickly noticed Michael Powell&rsquo;s distinctive style on the Red Line&rsquo;s train announcements.</p><p>&ldquo;He was one of the first people in city I&rsquo;d recognize,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t even see him, I would just would know he was there from his voice.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell was a topic of conversation among her roommates as well. They would text each other when they caught Powell&rsquo;s train on their morning or evening commutes. &ldquo;I think I&rsquo;m the most excited about it, but we&rsquo;re all in on it together,&rdquo; Caroline says.</p><p>After three years, Caroline is more settled in the city; she&rsquo;s involved in several musical endeavors, including working as the Music Librarian for the <a href="http://cso.org/Institute/CivicOrchestra/Default.aspx" target="_blank">Civic Orchestra of Chicago</a>. She&rsquo;s also a violinist, and she sings with the vocal ensemble <a href="http://www.lacaccina.com/" target="_blank">La Caccina</a>.</p><p><em>A <a href="http://chirpradio.org/podcasts/person-of-interest-michael-powell" target="_blank">version of this story </a>originally aired on ChirpRadio.org. Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/meet-ctas-super-friendly-conductor-110466 NEIU expansion invokes eminent domain http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neiu-expansion-invokes-eminent-domain-110461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 6.17.23 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Northeastern Illinois University is taking a big gamble: that if it finally builds on-campus housing, it can reverse declining student enrollment. But the way the university&rsquo;s going about this has upset some neighbors. The university plans to acquire the properties through eminent domain, leaving owners on one block of W Bryn Mawr Ave. with little say in the matter.</p><p>Depending on who&rsquo;s speaking, the 3400 block of W Bryn Mawr Ave. could be described as &ldquo;sleepy,&rdquo; &ldquo;stagnant,&rdquo; or &ldquo;depressed.&rdquo; But nearly every storefront is occupied. On the south side sit a Chinese restaurant, dental clinic, hair salon, and hookah cafe. On the north side, a travel agency, real estate agency, bank, and 7-11.</p><p>On a recent morning, two surveyors were casing the street. They said they were there for &ldquo;the university,&rdquo; measuring the dimensions of the buildings and their properties. The information could go into an appraisal of the properties&rsquo; values.</p><p>&ldquo;My grandfather developed this building in 1954 and built it from the ground up,&rdquo; Dolly Tong said, about her family&rsquo;s property at 3411 W Bryn Mawr, which now houses a Chinese restaurant called Hunan Wok. Tong and her siblings were raised in the apartment above the restaurant space, and she still lives there with her elderly mother, whom she describes as severely disabled.</p><p>Tong said she and her siblings are only able to care for their mother with the rent they receive from leasing out the restaurant. So last winter, when they received a letter from NEIU stating that it intended to acquire the property for some compensation, she was devastated.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re already feeling now this impending doom that they&rsquo;re going to take away our family&rsquo;s legacy,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard.&rdquo;</p><p>Five other property owners are facing the same prospect, including the parents of John Boudouvas. His family owns the parcels just east of Tong&rsquo;s. Boudouvas said when his family received their letter from NEIU, he accompanied his parents to speak with a university lawyer about it. They told the lawyer they didn&rsquo;t want to sell.</p><p>&ldquo;And he goes, &lsquo;well, the university wants it, and they&rsquo;re going to eventually end up getting it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Boudouvas recalled. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s when I paused and I looked at him and I said, &lsquo;well, how can you guys use eminent domain?&rsquo; And as I said that I realized the university is owned by the state.&rdquo;</p><p>Eminent domain is the right of a government to take private property for its own use. It has to offer those property owners compensation. But Boudouvas, Tong, and other property owners say NEIU&rsquo;s offer was pitiful. And they all want to know the same thing: Why won&rsquo;t the university build on property it already owns?<br /><br />&ldquo;I think it is a really good question,&rdquo; said Dr. Sharon Hahs, President of NEIU. Hahs said a 2008 student housing feasibility study identified a second site for student housing, in addition to the block on Bryn Mawr Ave. It sits on Foster Ave., on the south end of the campus, by the athletic fields.</p><p>&ldquo;The answer lies somewhat in what is the most help to the community sooner,&rdquo; said Hahs.</p><p>The university is planning two large multi- use buildings -- one on each side of Bryn Mawr.&nbsp; The ground floor would feature new retail and restaurants.&nbsp; Above those, enough dorm rooms would be built to fit 500 beds. Hahs hopes the project will set off a domino effect of revitalization, extending east down Bryn Mawr.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to change the character of the neighborhood,&rdquo; Hahs said. &ldquo;It is economically depressed. And something will have to change for that to occur.&rdquo;</p><p>While the university frames its decision as a desire to inject some economic pep into the slumbering Hollywood-North Park neighborhood, it&rsquo;s also about the school&rsquo;s survival. Last fall, NEIU enrollment dipped below 11,000 for the first time since 2001. Hahs is focused on reversing that by recruiting a greater number of students from more than fifty miles away. But she said that won&rsquo;t work if the university does not offer housing for them to live in, or the amenities of a lively, young neighborhood.</p><p>The plan threatens to split the community into two camps. For Janita Tucker, who owns a home several blocks west of NEIU, this has been a long time coming.</p><p>&ldquo;My husband and I purchased the property here in part because it was so close to Northeastern and North Park University,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;and we wanted that university town vibe.&rdquo;</p><p>But many other residents, who live in closer proximity to the proposed development, fear student dorms could change the character of their neighborhood for the worse.</p><p>Both sides have hired lawyers, and Tong is spearheading a coalition of business and property owners against the property takeover. Litigation could mean it will be years before anything really happens. But quietly, many property owners concede that unless NEIU voluntarily backs off the plan, they suspect this will be a losing fight.</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> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neiu-expansion-invokes-eminent-domain-110461 Passing through: Chicago's Union Station as Amish transit hub http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: In producing this story, producer Katie Klocksin quotes several people of Amish background. In a deviation from most journalistic practice, Klocksin and editor Shawn Allee chose not to publish the sources&rsquo; names out of respect for the Amish culture&#39;s longstanding premium on humility, as well as possible social consequences for participants. The decision was made in consideration of comments on the issue made by Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish.</em></p><p>Paul Vaccarello of LaGrange, Illinois, sees Amish people when he passes through downtown Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station &mdash; the nexus of several Amtrak and Metra commuter rail lines.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve just always been curious about where they&rsquo;re going, why they&rsquo;re here, if they&rsquo;re actually coming to Chicago or if this is a stop on their way to somewhere else,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This led him to ask Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is Chicago a large transportation hub for Amish travelers?</em></p><p>Reporting an answer provided Paul an opportunity to hear from people that Chicagoans and suburbanites don&rsquo;t ordinarily cross paths with. Members of the religious group seek to maintain a close-knit rural lifestyle and, though there are Amish settlements sprinkled throughout the Midwest, the nearest one lies 90 miles from downtown Chicago. As we approached an answer &mdash; by checking in with experts and Amish travelers themselves &mdash; we couldn&rsquo;t help but feel we were meeting our regional neighbors for the first time.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A separate pattern of life</span></p><p>Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish, reminded us that adherents belong to a Protestant religious community that is &ldquo;sometimes referred to as &lsquo;the old order Amish,&rsquo; which means they have tried to maintain what they consider the old patterns of life.&rdquo; Typically, they limit their use of modern technology and their communities tend to be in rural areas. These &ldquo;old patterns of life,&rdquo; Nolt said, &ldquo;would be things that encourage community and cooperation and collaboration.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt noted, though, that there are few technologies that the Amish consider wholly bad. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s their attempt to try to control technology or engage technology on their own terms,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p>Relevant to Paul&rsquo;s question, Amish people generally don&rsquo;t own or drive cars, although some will hire a vehicle and driver for transportation. It&rsquo;s common for the Amish to travel on trains or buses. &ldquo;The problem isn&rsquo;t the <em>thing</em>,&rdquo; Nolt said. &ldquo;The problem is when we own and control something, then, that heightens our sense of individual autonomy.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt described an aspect of Amish life that posed a problem for reporting this story: &ldquo;Amish people, when speaking to members of the media, almost always decline to be identified by name or photographed in ways that would highlight them as an individual. Their concern there is one of humility, of not appearing to present oneself as a spokesperson for the whole group, not wanting to call attention to themselves.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traveling by train<a name="map"></a></span></p><p>Paul and I made several trips to Union Station and found Amish people each time. Most were happy to talk with us, provided my large microphone was turned off. Most people, as predicted, declined to give their names. Everyone we talked to confirmed our theory: Chicago <em>is</em> a hub for transportation among the Amish. The people we interviewed at Union Station were all waiting to switch trains. One woman put it succinctly: &ldquo;A lot of Amish travel from one state to the other on Amtrak. &hellip;Every train comes into Chicago and leaves Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Our map can clarify this: There, you can see how Amtrak lines cross near or through midwestern Amish communities. Nolt added, too, that more than 60 percent of the Amish live in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania: states with Amtrak lines. So Paul was onto something: Amish people, by avoiding cars, travel by train throughout the Midwest and the country. Many Amtrak trains converge in Chicago, thus Amish regularly wait for trains and transfers at Union Station.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/amish/index.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><em><strong>Map: U.S. counties with extant Amish settlements as of 2010, overlaid with unofficial map of Amtrak rail system lines.</strong> Amish population data: <a href="http://www.rcms2010.org/index.php" target="_blank">Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies</a>.&nbsp;Rough Amtrak line map: <a href="https://www.blogger.com/profile/17241478144408980328" target="_blank">Rakshith Krishnappa</a>.</em></span></p><p>Nolt points out that Amish people aren&rsquo;t likely to use the word &ldquo;vacation.&rdquo; Instead, he says, they talk about trips. &ldquo;I think on one level it&rsquo;s because &lsquo;vacation&rsquo; suggests leisure type activity that doesn&rsquo;t fit with their rural way of life,&rdquo; he said, adding, &ldquo;Their worlds are not as neatly divided as many of the rest of ours are between work and leisure, home and work. There&rsquo;s much more fluidity and overlap between the domains of their life.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt says it is common for a long-distance trip to be centered around business travel. There are all-Amish trade shows, for example, which are similar to standard trade shows except they are hosted by a local community and attendees stay with local families. &quot;Most people bring their whole family and it kind of turns into a reunion of visiting,&quot; he said.</p><p>For the most part, though, Paul and I met people traveling to visit family members in other states. We met a large family returning home to Kansas from a wedding in Indiana. An Amish woman from Ohio was traveling with several of her grandchildren to visit her cousin and see the Grand Canyon.</p><p>A few Amish people we met were seeking medical care, including a man from Kentucky. &ldquo;We were in Mexico for medical purposes,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to see it, but medical expenses in the States anymore are so phenomenal that an ordinary person cannot afford it.&rdquo; He was returning from Tijuana after a successful operation.</p><p>Another medical traveler, an Amish man with a salt-and-pepper beard and a constant grin, cracked jokes with us for a while. After we parted ways with him, though, we ran into him throughout our stay at Union Station. It&rsquo;s not an exaggeration to say he seemed to know every Amish person there that day, which perhaps reveals a benefit of Union Station&rsquo;s being a hub: For the Amish, it provides a space to serendipitously meet far-flung neighbors.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Paul%20Vaccarello%20-%20courtesy%20of%20Paul%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 254px; width: 190px;" title="Paul Vaccarello asked Curious City about the Amish at Union Station. (Photo courtesy Paul Vaccarello)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Our question comes from: Paul Vaccarello</span></p><p>Paul Vaccarello told Curious City he visits Union Station about twice a month, adding that &ldquo;pretty much every time, I see groups of Amish people.&rdquo; While he was curious about whether the Amish travel by train, he also wondered if Chicago was ever the destination for Amish people on the road. &ldquo;It was interesting to hear they sometimes stop in Chicago to sightsee, go to the Sears Tower and John Hancock building,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Paul said he&rsquo;s not someone who would normally talk to strangers in the train station, and striking up a conversation with someone from a clearly different background can feel like crossing a barrier.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s cool to see they&rsquo;re so willing to talk, and that they don&rsquo;t even really see the barrier,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453