WBEZ | Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chemotherapy strengthens child's positive outlook http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chemotherapy-strengthens-childs-positive-outlook-111481 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/150130 StoryCorps Ann Adams Katie Bostick.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Several years ago Ann Adams and her husband found themselves in the middle of every parent&rsquo;s nightmare: Their young daughter Katie was born with a disease that causes brain tumors and had the potential to blind her in one eye, if left untreated.</p><p>Adams and her husband had to make a decision &ndash; Katie could undergo more than a year of chemotherapy or run the risk of going blind in one eye.</p><p>They chose to go with chemotherapy and she endured fourteen months of treatment.</p><p>Adams recently joined Katie, 12, in the StoryCorps Booth at Chicago&rsquo;s Cultural Center.</p><p>&ldquo;If I had had chemotherapy as a 16-year-old that&rsquo;d be different, because I&rsquo;m older, I&rsquo;m more mature,&rdquo; Katie says, &ldquo;but as a pre-schooler, it&rsquo;s just kind of unimaginable.&rdquo;</p><p>Katie today is cheerful and happy. She survived the traumatizing experience but retained a positive outlook.</p><p>&ldquo;When I smile, other people smile, and it just makes me happy,&rdquo; Katie says.</p><p>When she was younger and she noticed her mom looking stressed, she told her, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to die.&rdquo;</p><p>Adams says that&rsquo;s like Katie, who is always looking out for other people. The hospital staff fought to care for Katie as a patient.</p><p>Adams and her daughter&rsquo;s memories focus on different details: Katie remembers putting anesthesia masks on her teddy bear and pretending she was the doctor.</p><p>Adams remembers changing Katie&rsquo;s bandages each week and distracting her with books-on-CD.</p><p>Recently, Adams offered her daughter a surgery to get rid of a scar on her thumb. But Katie wanted to keep it as a reminder.</p><p>She says she wants to remember what really happened so that when she&rsquo;s an adult, she won&rsquo;t be making any details up</p><p>&ldquo;A reminder so that if I do have children I don&rsquo;t want them to go through what I went through as a kid,&rdquo; Katie says.</p></p> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chemotherapy-strengthens-childs-positive-outlook-111481 A blast of soulful, grungy garage growl http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-01/blast-soulful-grungy-garage-growl-111474 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bama%20Lamas.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;The kind of raunch you can feel deep down in your soul,&rdquo; the Chicago sextet the Bama Lamas promise in their bio, and these veterans of local garage grunge deliver in spades on their new D.I.Y. album <em>Going Up?</em></p><p>These boys are not reinventing the wheel, but neither are they slaves to the dusties they clearly devour and worship. &ldquo;Our love for scratchy R&amp;B, soul, and rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll 45&rsquo;s brought us together&mdash;became our blueprint for saving our sorry souls,&rdquo; they also note. &ldquo;The records that make you want to jump out of your skin and hit the dance floor happy just to be alive!&rdquo;</p><p>That intense desire to live in the moment&mdash;and to make it as joyful and out of control as possible, in the timeless dance-your-butt-off way&mdash;puts the fez-sporting group in the proud tradition of the mighty Flesthtones. Witness the undeniable yawp of the guitar, piano, sax, and rhythm section grooves on build-your-own-dance-craze anthems such as <strong>&ldquo;</strong>(Do) the Hurt,&rdquo; &ldquo;(Do) the Crab,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Monkey Bump.&rdquo; But my favorite track here is the gloriously stoopid, mostly instrumental &ldquo;Sambuca.&rdquo;</p><p>No, the anise-flavored Italian liqueur doesn&rsquo;t have the same power for the systematic derangement of the senses as the distilled nectar of the blue agave. But I do believe that at long last a band has musically equalled <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdMTl9zHQ9Y">the Champs&rsquo; timeless 1958 classic &ldquo;Tequila</a>,&rdquo; and I think even Pee Wee Herman would agree.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe seamless="" src="http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2821576186/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=3983321159/transparent=true/" style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;"><a href="http://thebamalamas.bandcamp.com/album/going-up">Going Up? by The Bama Lamas</a></iframe></p><p><strong><em>The Bama Lamas host the 10<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Big C Jamboree rockabilly open mic at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/832557086801828/">Martyr&rsquo;s at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5</a>.</em></strong></p><p><strong>The Bama Lamas, <a href="http://thebamalamas.bandcamp.com"><em>Going Up? </em></a></strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-01/blast-soulful-grungy-garage-growl-111474 When will Chicago get its next supertall skyscraper? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-will-chicago-get-its-next-supertall-skyscraper-108531 <p><div><p>In 2013 Curious City took on a high-minded question from Minneapolis resident Andrew Wambach.</p><p>Wambach, now 30, had just moved to Minnesota and already missed the Chicago skyline. He wanted to know:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>When will Chicago get its next supertall skyscraper?</em></p><p>The last supertall skyscraper in Chicago was the Trump Tower, built in 2009. Before that the city hadn&rsquo;t reached such heights since 1990&rsquo;s Two Prudential Plaza, 16 years after the Willis (Sears) Tower became the world&rsquo;s tallest building. While the U.S. may be the birthplace of the form, for a while skyscraper construction had slowed at home &mdash; and soared abroad.</p><p>But that may be changing. In December 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted plans for a new tower in the Lakeshore East neighborhood that &mdash; if all goes according to plan &mdash; could reach 1,150 feet into the air by 2018. In 2013, New York City&rsquo;s One World Trade Center became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, at 1,776 feet. Even Wambach&rsquo;s Minneapolis <a href="http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/286630151.html" target="_blank">is considering a proposal to build an 80-story skyscraper</a> that would be the state&rsquo;s new tallest building, though not officially a supertall.</p><p>Wherever they are, massive developments are difficult to design and build. But when they do happen, it&rsquo;s generally because two important factors came together to make building up pay off: egos and economics.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">But first, just how tall is that?</span></p><p>Andrew didn&rsquo;t know this when he asked the question, but &ldquo;supertall&rdquo; is an objective term. Chicago&rsquo;s own Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat is the authority on such matters. They deem any building over 300 meters, or 984 feet, &ldquo;supertall.&rdquo; (<a href="http://www.ctbuh.org/HighRiseInfo/TallestDatabase/Criteria/HeightCalculator/tabid/1007/language/en-GB/Default.aspx" target="_blank">For a rough measurement</a>, that&rsquo;s about 75 stories.) Six buildings in Chicago qualify: The Trump Tower, Willis Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Center, AT&amp;T Corporate Center, and Two Prudential Plaza.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/FutureTallest20+(2).pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FutureTallest20-2.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 620px;" title="For context, here's a diagram of the predicted world's 20 tallest buildings in the year 2014. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat)" /></a></div><p>Walk into any major architectural office and you&rsquo;ll see plenty of renderings pinned to the wall, showing buildings reaching great heights. It&rsquo;s just that they&rsquo;re in Jeddah, Seoul, Abu Dhabi, Beijing &mdash; not Chicago.</p><p>In 2011 CTBUH even had to add a new category of tall building to reflect the explosive growth of tall buildings in recent years; so-called &ldquo;megatall&rdquo; buildings stand at least 600 meters (1,968 feet) tall. There are only two complete megatall buildings: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the Royal Hotel Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the Shanghai Tower opens in April of 2015, it will be the third, at 632 meters (2,074 feet) tall.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Chicago&rsquo;s latest contender</span></p><p>&ldquo;If there was a great location, a great site, a developer that really had the willpower to pull something off, it certainly could happen,&rdquo; said Rafael Carreira, a principal with <a href="http://tjbc.com/" target="_blank">The John Buck Company</a>. &ldquo;But the larger a project gets, the harder it is to finance, the harder it is to pre-sell or premarket ... and those are factors that make these supertalls hard to do.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wanda%20courtesy%20city%20of%20chicago.jpg" style="float: right;" title="A rendering of the proposed Wanda Vista development. (Courtesy City of Chicago)" />Supertalls can be risky investments. (<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/skyscrapers-that-predicted-financial-crises-2014-4#!GoEAm" target="_blank">Some economists even think bombastic skyscraper booms are an omen of economic collapse</a>.) But as one developer put it, the profession attracts risk-takers.</p><p>&ldquo;Where a normal person might be apprehensive,&rdquo; said Sean Linnane, &nbsp;a senior vice president for Magellan Development Group, &ldquo;developers are excited.&rdquo;</p><p>At the moment the most likely candidate for Chicago&rsquo;s next supertall is an 88-story, $900 million development proposed for<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/375+E+Upper+Wacker+Dr,+Chicago,+IL+60601/@41.8878616,-87.6209235,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e2ca900a2e77d:0x32e4f52fba2475d3" target="_blank"> 375 E. Wacker Dr., in the city&rsquo;s Lakeshore East neighborhood</a>. It would be 1,150 feet (350 meters) tall, and its developers &mdash; Beijing-based Dalian Wanda Group and local firm Magellan &mdash; hope to have it open in 2018. They&rsquo;ve hired two local design firms to sculpt the structure, which would become the city&rsquo;s third tallest building: Studio Gang Architects and bKL Architecture.</p><p>Lead designer Jeanne Gang&rsquo;s other <a href="http://www.studiogang.net/work/2004/aqua-tower" target="_blank">notable projects include the Aqua Tower</a> &mdash; a high-rise with undulating balconies that mimic wave patterns when viewed from an angle &mdash; and the lyrical WMS Boathouses at Clark Park. bKL designed the first tower in the Wolf Point development and a 45-story tower at 200 N. Michigan Ave., both of which are currently under construction.</p><p>Their preliminary designs for what&rsquo;s being called Wanda Vista show a cluster of three towers stepping down in height as they go east, each terminating in a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/green-roofs-check-101677">green roof</a>. The glassy high-rises, which are expected to house a five-star hotel, for-sale residential units and retail space, look like stacks of frustums, or cut-off pyramid shapes. The middle tower would meet the ground with a soaring glass atrium looking north over the Chicago River, while the structure itself would straddle North Field Boulevard running to the south.</p><p>So what are its prospect? Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there won&rsquo;t be any public funding involved, the project still needs city approval because its proposed height would exceed the maximum allowed in in the area&rsquo;s master plan.</p><p>Arguably more important is the economic challenge. Downtown Chicago is in the middle of a residential and hotel boom that signals high demand, but could mean the market is nearing saturation. Still, Sean Linnane of Magellan Development Group is confident they&rsquo;ll deliver on this supertall order.</p><p>&ldquo;The timing is right for this project. We&rsquo;re coming out of the doldrums we&#39;ve been in since arguably 2007,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&#39;s not like our Chinese partners said, &lsquo;Let&#39;s come to the U.S. and do a supertall.&rsquo; They were just trying to find a great investment opportunity to make their splash in the United States. And it&#39;s a credit to Chicago that they chose our development.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s market is warming up, but China&rsquo;s is burning across its borders. Wanda is owned by Wang Jianlin, the richest man in mainland China. Like many Chinese developers, he&rsquo;s looking for new markets overseas.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s crazy what&#39;s going on in China right now. There&#39;s just been explosive growth,&rdquo; Linnane says. &ldquo;They&#39;re looking all over the place, not just the U.S. It&#39;s a way to sustain their growth. They look at the U.S. as a very mature market.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="377" mozallowfullscreen="true" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1zOBXrWDC28PlZhqn_-F8bid5QLCQrKVDN2cKc47P9lw/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Renderings of the proposed Wanda Vista development. (Courtesy City of Chicago)</span></span></em></p><p>That explosive growth has gone on for a long time, but lately <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/24/china-property-prices-idUSL3N0SJ1DE20141024" target="_blank">Chinese home prices have slipped</a>. Tom Kerwin, principal of bKL Architecture, says the U.S. real estate market is a relatively stable place for global developers to invest.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there&#39;s a shift because, for one, the Chinese property market is down significantly. So these companies that develop as their core business are looking for other places to export their expertise in addition to their capital. You&#39;re seeing many Chinese developers coming to the U.S., and the biggest of the biggest are coming,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Not just Wanda.&rdquo;</p><p>Other major Chinese developers such as Greenland Group and ECADI have made their first U.S. moves in New York City and Los Angeles, but Wanda&rsquo;s debut is in Chicago. That&rsquo;s a vote of confidence in the city&rsquo;s real estate market, and it mirrors a larger trend: <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2015/The-New-China-Pipeline/" target="_blank">Between March 2013 and March 2014, the Chinese purchased $22 billion of U.S. residential property &mdash; the highest volume for any non-domestic group</a>.</p><p>Wanda&rsquo;s not the only Chinese developer interested in Chicago. In 2014 Beijing&rsquo;s Cinda International Holdings Limited <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelcole/2014/03/16/chinese-investors-discover-chicago-real-estate/" target="_blank">teamed up with Chicago-based Zeller Realty Group to buy the 65-story tower at 311 S. Wacker Dr. for $304 million</a>. That&rsquo;s the seventh tallest building in Chicago to date, a mere seven meters (23 feet) short of supertall status.</p><p>If it comes to fruition, the Wanda project could signal a new era of tall building investment in Chicago, says CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood.</p><p>&ldquo;Whilst New York is awash with foreign investment, especially from China, this is one of the first major skyscraper investments from overseas we have seen in Chicago during the current wave, which is sweeping the world,&rdquo; Wood said. &ldquo;Chicago will likely never accommodate the World&rsquo;s tallest building again, but it is a proud skyscraper city, as well as a major economic hub, and it is likely that we will see other supertall buildings proposed and built in the coming years &ndash; especially residential supertalls.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What about other recent contenders to be Chicago&rsquo;s next supertall?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/old%20post%20office%20wikimedia%20commons%20brianbobcat.jpg" title="The Old Main Post Office in downtown Chicago has been in redevelopment limbo since it closed in 1996. Previous plans included the construction of a 120-story building in its place. (Wikimedia Commons/Brianbobcat)" /></p><p>In 2013 Chicago City Council approved the first part of an audacious redevelopment plan for the massive Old Main Post Office downtown, which has loomed vacant over the Eisenhower Expressway since 1996. The plans came from British developer Bill Davies&rsquo; International Property Developers and local architects Antunovich Associates. They called first for a rehab of the existing 2.7 million square foot post office and the construction of a 1,000-foot tower, to be followed in a later phase by a 2,000-foot tower that would be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.</p><p>The first phase would take eight to 10 years, Joe Antunovich said, while the rest might take 20 years. But first they need to secure financing. The entire project could cost $3.5 billion. It would be an impressive feat, to be sure. But in that amount of time, Shanghai&rsquo;s Pudong district<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6600367" target="_blank"> went from mainly farmland to a part of a metropolis with more skyscrapers than New York City</a>.</p><p>In 2014, however, the project&rsquo;s developers <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/realestate/20141008/CRED03/141009835/old-post-office-owner-plots-next-move-after-breakup-with-sterling-bay" target="_blank">announced they were exploring alternative plans for the property</a>, possibly nixing the 120-story tower.</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/spire%20hole%20flickr%20Marcin%20Wichary.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="The ill-fated Chicago Spire was supposed to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere. (Flickr/Marcin Wichary)" /></div><p>If you want to see evidence of the recession&rsquo;s impact on skyscraper construction, you don&rsquo;t need to pore over spreadsheets or the architectural billings index: You just need to go to 400 N. Lake Shore Dr., where you&rsquo;ll find a pit about 100 ft. wide and 80 ft. deep. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-08/what-might-have-been-ill-fated-chicago-spire-101922" target="_blank">The ill-fated Chicago Spire</a> was supposed to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere. But the twisting 2,000-foot tower failed to attract enough financing and was hit with foreclosure lawsuits. Now it&rsquo;s the most-watched hole in the ground in Chicago real estate.</p><p>In 2013 real estate developer<a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/06/24/related-in-deal-to-buy-distressed-debt-on-stalled-chicago-spire-project/" target="_blank"> Related Cos. of New York reportedly entered talks to buy the Spire&#39;s discounted debt</a>, but in November 2014 a U.S. Bankruptcy Court forced the project&rsquo;s original developer, Garrett Kelleher, to hand the 2.2-acre site over. Related <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-spire-1105-biz-20141104-story.html">now controls the real estate</a> and has not yet announced plans for development.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Why the action has been outside Chicago</span></p><p>There are a few factors behind Asia&rsquo;s building boom that don&rsquo;t quite apply to Chicago. For one thing, said Wood, Chicago just doesn&rsquo;t need to make a statement with its skyline like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia did when its Petronas Towers unseated Willis Tower as the world&rsquo;s tallest in 1998.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s driving these tall buildings around the world is attention in a global market and population growth,&rdquo; Wood said. &ldquo;And, on the face of it, we&rsquo;re not seeing any of that in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/0,,contentMDK:23272497~pagePK:51123644~piPK:329829~theSitePK:29708,00.html?argument=value" target="_blank">The world gains more than 5 million city dwellers every month</a>, and the U.S. accounts for very little of that urbanization. It&rsquo;s happening in places like China, where<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/world/asia/chinas-great-uprooting-moving-250-million-into-cities.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank"> a government plan to move 250 million people into cities by 2025</a> helps generate huge demand for high-density, supertall buildings.</p><p>But even if Chicago isn&rsquo;t home to many new supertalls, it&rsquo;s still a nerve center of sorts for tall building architecture and engineering.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not many really significant tall buildings that are not happening with some Chicago expertise anywhere in the world &mdash; architectural, engineering, geotechnical, fa├žade &mdash; but some Chicago input,&rdquo; Wood said. &ldquo;However it is fair to say that there has been a major shift in almost all aspects of tall buildings.&rdquo;</p><p>If they pull it off, the Wanda Tower will change the Chicago skyline. But in China huge developments happen all the time. One of the tower&rsquo;s architects, bKL Principal Tom Kerwin, says China&rsquo;s economic and demographic booms have made massive projects part of the new urban culture.</p><p>&ldquo;Supertall buildings or large mixed-use complexes are kind of the norm in China,&rdquo; said Kerwin, who has worked on dozens of projects in the U.S. and Asia. &ldquo;The Chinese are very accustomed to these large-scale, multi-use buildings. So for them, it sounds kind of silly to say, but it&#39;s almost commonplace.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to moving to Asia, supertall towers have changed since Chicago&rsquo;s skyline rose decades ago. Tall towers today tend to have more retail and residential space than their counterparts from previous generations. They are often mixed-use &mdash; combining hotel, retail, office and/or residential space in one building &mdash; and use different structural systems, like concrete-steel composites as opposed to just steel. And rather than bearing corporate names such as Chrysler, Sears and Petronas, they&rsquo;re increasingly named to inspire civic pride: say, the Russia Tower or Chicago Spire. Burj Khalifa was originally called Burj Dubai.</p><p>Brian Lee, a design partner at Skidmore, Owings &amp; Merrill &mdash; the architectural offices behind thousands of skyscrapers around the world, including four of Chicago&rsquo;s six supertalls &mdash; has seen the effect of these projects first-hand.</p><p>&ldquo;We think that the tall building is not the only kind of building type that should be built, obviously. It has limitations,&rdquo; Lee said, &ldquo;but there&rsquo;s something exhilarating about a tall structure that makes a mark for a city and a region.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A supertall with a Chicago character?</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/riverpoint-courtesy-hines-and-pickard-chilton.jpg" style="height: 470px; width: 620px;" title="A park plan for the base of the River Point building, connects the property to the Chicago Riverwalk. (Courtesy of Hines and Pickard Chilton)" /></div><p>Our Curious Citizen, Andrew Wambach, raised another interesting question: If skyscrapers are a statement of their city&rsquo;s character, what should influence the design of Chicago&rsquo;s next supertall if it actually comes to be?</p><p>New skyscrapers at Wolf Point, River Point and 150 N. Riverside &mdash; three sites abutting the Chicago River at its confluence downtown &mdash; feature riverwalk connections and landscaped parks at their bases. Two of them actually have broader shoulders, as it were, than footprints. Landscape architect Ted Wolff said the Wolf Point project was the first where he&rsquo;d actually heard an architect tell him to expand his landscaping so far it would hem in the lobby.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/andrew wambach photo.jpeg" style="float: right; height: 303px; width: 200px;" title="Our question-asker, Andrew Wambach, is from Minneapolis but moved to Chicago for work between 2011-2013." />They may not be supertalls by the Council on Tall Buildings&rsquo; definition, but projects like these suggest Chicago&rsquo;s architectural legacy may be as much about Millennium Park as it is about Willis Tower.</p><p>Wanda&rsquo;s plans for a new supertall in Chicago are still preliminary, but its designers and developers have hinted at connections to neighborhood parks and the Chicago Riverwalk.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s no secret that the project site is on an important axis for connectivity to the river, the lake, the Lakeshore East park and other internal features of our development,&rdquo; said Magellan&rsquo;s Sean Linnane. &ldquo;Because of its location, by its nature it will have to address those.&rdquo;</p><p>After all, says architect Tom Kerwin, that&rsquo;s the critical challenge a design team faces with any new project &mdash; no matter its size or location.</p><p>&ldquo;In cities around the world, how do you create a prototype where something&#39;s so technically driven and make it of its place, make it part of the city where you&#39;re building it?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It definitely is a challenge. You want buildings to respond to their context, not just in a functional way but in an inspirational or an aesthetic way.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, to bring the skyscraper down to earth.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a writer with WBEZ and Midwest Editor for <a href="http://archpaper.com/" target="_blank">The Architect&rsquo;s Newspaper</a>. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@cementley</a>.</em></p></div><p>Correction: This story misstated the reporting year used for the&nbsp;CTBUH graphic that compares supertalls. The graphic represents data gathered up to November 2014.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-will-chicago-get-its-next-supertall-skyscraper-108531 Underground Korean-French dinner serves up mystery and music http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/underground-korean-french-dinner-serves-mystery-and-music-111470 <p><p>In mid-December I returned from vacation to find a handmade Christmas tree and card inviting me to dinner in a private suburban home hosted by &ldquo;a crazy hair stylist, a crazy dancer and crazy French Cuisine cooker.&rdquo;</p><p>It was from a man named David Cho, whom I interviewed more than 15 years ago about his nascent karaoke booth business.&nbsp; My first thought was, &ldquo;no way.&rdquo; But I figured I should at least call and decline. By the end of the call with Mr Cho, however, I told him I would go as long as my bosses OK&rsquo;d it, and I could pay for the meal.</p><p>When I told my friends on Facebook that I&rsquo;d been dining in the in the Northwest suburbs, Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel wrote back, &ldquo;10 minutes from the airport. You&#39;ll be over international waters before we know you&#39;re missing.&rdquo;</p><p>Sure, it was a risk but one I felt we are all too ready to avoid when it comes to meeting new people and checking out the workd of unknown culinary artists. Right? I invited my mom and 11-year-old daughter, to make sure I wasn&rsquo;t captured alone.</p><blockquote><p><a href="https://www.tumblr.com/reblog/109616767565/SaAaSRvg" target="_blank"><strong>Photos from Monica&#39;s 10-course meal</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>When we finally arrived, Mr. Cho met us in the parking lot of the very old condo complex. He led us up some stairs to a guy who looked like a Korean Harpo Marx dressed as a chef.&nbsp; As we entered the dining room/living room of his tiny place we found an elaborately decorated table, pink placemats, crystal. Loud French bistro music poured from the giant TV all night.</p><p>Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and other dolls filled the nearby shelves along with several more homemade Christmas trees. Other souvenirs included tiny chef dolls, Eiffel Tower replicas and pictures from chef James Hahn&rsquo;s many hair styling exhibitions.</p><p>I joined the other guests at the table and Hahn disappeared into the kitchen.</p><p>Within minutes, the first course was on the table. It was a purplish salad that Hahn said reflected his time in Nice, France.</p><p>Cho explained that Hahn was in Paris studying hairdressing when he first became fascinated with cooking. He said Hahn learned as much as he could about French food before returning to Korea to become a famous hairstylist. It has only been since his arrival in the States that he&rsquo;s started cooking for groups.&nbsp;</p><p>Hahn has hosted about 10 of these dinners, spending weeks planning and preparing the meals. Guests are invited from the from the ranks of Hahn&#39;s favorite customers at Gloria Hair Art beauty salon in Niles. They often donate money at the end of the meal to help cover food expenses. Hahn works completely alone, as prep cook, chef and server.</p><p>&ldquo;This is his secondary job or like a hobby,&rdquo; Cho said. &ldquo;So I don&rsquo;t know how many times he&rsquo;s going to do this in the future, making a 10-course meal by himself. He needs a lot of energy. So maybe he&rsquo;ll do two or three times more. As far as I know he&rsquo;s more than 40-years-old. I don&rsquo;t know how much more energy he&rsquo;s got left. Last time I was here he was even sweating a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>Even though I knew the meal would be a multi-course affair, I hadn&rsquo;t expected it to be so elaborate. By the 6th course of fried lobster in an apple garlic sauce I was ready to pop. But there was still steak, abalone, sashimi and dessert to come. (see full course list below)</p><p>As the meal progressed, I started to understand Hahn&rsquo;s prominence in the Korean community--if not exactly why I was called here tonight.</p><p>It seems that he had become a sort of dancing, hairdresser celebrity in Korea, appearing on talk shows and styling the hair of the stars.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s recognized as No. 1 hairstylist in the Korean community,&rdquo; Cho said, &ldquo;And he wants to be known for all of the United States. He is especially known for giving crazy haircuts in 10 minutes.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Can he give me a crazy haircut?&rdquo; I asked.</p><p>&ldquo;He can do whatever you want in 10 minutes,&rdquo; Cho said. &ldquo;He doesn&rsquo;t take long hours.&rdquo;</p><p>We finally finished the meal with a refreshing dragon fruit salad, and Cho announced that it was time to watch videos. These included Hahn&#39;s appearances on Korean talk shows, his dance performances and dancing haircutting acts. During some, his clients are even upside down. The final video showed him dancing and styling a red-haired client on stage at Chicago&rsquo;s Korean Festival on Bryn Mawr Avenue this past summer.</p><p>The clips from Korea showed elaborate headdresses that Hahn had created from his clients&#39; hair trimmings.&nbsp; Some took a year to produce. They have to be seen to be believed.</p><p>It was nearing midnight and my daughter was getting sleepy. So we left our donation, offered our deep thanks and we said our goodbyes. Despite my initial apprehension, it turned out that all Cho and Hahn wanted was to share their passion for food with a fellow foodie. And everyone left the experience alive.</p><p>As I told my daughter on the way out: this may have been a slightly risky move, but if you pass up every crazy invitation you get, you just may miss out on some magical experiences.</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/16202028940_84a71beaeb_z.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Course eight: Rare porterhouse steak slices in a garlic pepper salsa with microgreens. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p><strong>Full 10 course menu</strong></p><ol><li>Ten-vegetable salad in the style of Nice, France. (pineapple jam)</li><li>Kemasal soup featuring a seafood broth, broccoli florets and shredded crab</li><li>Roasted burdock over bok choy, ginger and scallions.</li><li>Scallops in a cauliflower puree</li><li>Boiled shrimp and lobster tail in a pink sauce.</li><li>Fried lobster in an apple sauce showered in garlic chips. A slice of smoked salmon in a pink horseradish sauce on the side.</li><li>Steamed whole abalone served in the shell with mushrooms and accompanied by a piece of rolled grilled prosciutto.</li><li>Rare porterhouse steak slices in a garlic pepper salsa with microgreens.Broiled garlic lobster tail, tuna sashimi and an asparagus spear.</li><li>Broiled garlic lobster tail, tuna sashimi and an asparagus spear.</li><li>Dragon fruit, pineapple, persimmon, candied citrus and grapefruit salad.</li></ol><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/underground-korean-french-dinner-serves-mystery-and-music-111470 Wildsounds: The conversation between a city and nature http://www.wbez.org/news/wildsounds-conversation-between-city-and-nature-111435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wildsounds.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When environmental science professor Liam Heneghan moved to Chicago, he noticed something surprising.</p><p>The farther he got away from the city, the harder it was to find interesting habitats to study, because there was just a lot of farmland.&nbsp; He found less of the protected forest preserves or even parks you see inside the city limits.</p><p>&ldquo;Strangely, Chicago is the place you go, that you deliberately seek out if you want to do conservation in the midwest.&rdquo; Heneghan said. &ldquo;That blows my mind.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />So when Heneghan discovered a project that set out to record nature sounds across the world, he wanted to make sure cities were a part of it.&nbsp; He has been recording, alongside his students, in Chicago for about a year.</p><p>By listening to nature sounds in the city, researchers have learned the complex way that human noise makes animals change the way they sound; from insects that shift their pitch to be heard over traffic, to birds that sing at different times of day.</p><p>But Heneghan does not want the message of the recordings to be that people sounds are bad. He wants this project to help the rest of Chicago have that same experience he did when he first moved here.</p><p>When they listen, he wants them to notice how much nature is right here &mdash; outside their apartments and office buildings, beside highways and train lines.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/wildsounds-conversation-between-city-and-nature-111435 When is Chicago-area traffic the worst? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374 <p><p>Traffic. It&rsquo;s something utterly mundane and expected, but when you&rsquo;re inching through a major city on a car or bus, road congestion can be a kind of personal hell.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like a terrible commute is only terrible to the person who&rsquo;s living it,&rdquo; observes our question-asker, Esther Bowen. She&rsquo;s a resident of Chicago&rsquo;s Bucktown neighborhood who commutes about 45 minutes each way to her job in suburban Lemont. That&rsquo;s provided plenty of time for her to formulate this question for Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What factors influence daily, weekly, and seasonal traffic patterns in the Chicagoland region?</em></p><p>If you can&rsquo;t sympathize with Esther, you should know that traffic affects you, even if you don&rsquo;t drive or ride the bus. All the congestion on Chicago-area roads sucked up more than $6 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011, according to the Texas A&amp;M Transportation Institute. That&rsquo;s third among the 101 metro areas they assessed.</p><p>Of course, a lot of that wasted time is in what commuters like Esther might consider &ldquo;typical&rdquo; traffic jams. And that&rsquo;s how we&rsquo;re going to help her: by laying out what the &ldquo;expected&rdquo; traffic patterns actually are. We&rsquo;ll then have officials and researchers account for these variations, as well as what contributes to road congestion in the first place.</p><p>We can&rsquo;t guarantee that this information will necessarily make Esther or any other commuter happy to be on the road, but maybe it can steer folks clear of any traffic-induced personal hell.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traffic pattern: A typical day, measured hour by hour </span></p><div class="image-insert-image ">It&rsquo;s no secret that the length of your commute can depend on what time you start it. Citing <a href="http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/congsymp/sld004.htm" target="_blank">data from the Federal Highway Administration and elsewhere</a>, the Texas Transportation Institute&rsquo;s Bill Eisele says bottlenecks &mdash; simply more drivers on the roads than the roads can accommodate &mdash; are responsible for about 40 percent of all traffic congestion nationwide.</div><p>But when it comes to a typical day in the Chicago area, when do drivers hit the heaviest traffic?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/transportation-system/Network-Overview/highway-system/illinois-travel-statistics" target="_blank">Figures from the Illinois Department of Transportation</a> show that on average, the hours ending at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m have the highest share of the day&rsquo;s traffic on Northeastern Illinois&rsquo; interstate highways. The worst morning hour, which is not as heavy as the afternoon peak, is from 7 to 8 a.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/traffic by hour2.png" title="This chart depicts the most congested travel times in Northeastern Illinois. Peak hours are between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., with afternoon rush hour being generally more congested than morning rush hour. AADT means annual average daily traffic, collected from 18 sites throughout the region between 2010 and 2013 by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Click to learn more about the data." /></div></div></div><p>Why is the morning rush hour generally lighter than the afternoon-evening rush hours? <a href="http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf" target="_blank">Citing data from the Federal Highway Administration</a>, Nebiyou Tilahun, an assistant professor of urban planning at the University of Illinois Chicago, says it&rsquo;s because people are doing more than just commuting in the afternoon.</p><p>&ldquo;In percentage terms, commuting dominates over other types of trips in the morning. In the afternoon, it is one of several trip types that congest the roadway. Family and personal trips as well as social/recreation trips are made with more or almost equal frequency,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traffic pattern: A typical week, measured day by day</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/traffic by day3.png" title="This chart depicts traffic trends by day in Northeastern Illinois. The red line indicates the annual average daily traffic, so any value higher than the bar represents higher than average travel times and vice versa. Click to learn more about the data." /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>The discrepancy between morning and evening rush hours is even most pronounced on Friday, which IDOT says is generally the heaviest traffic day of the week in the Chicago area.</p><p>&ldquo;Thursday and Friday tend to be our worst p.m. rush hours,&rdquo; says IDOT&rsquo;s Matt Daeda. &ldquo;Oddly enough, we&rsquo;ve noticed in the past few years during the summer months our a.m. [Friday] rush hour tends to be a lot lighter than the other days of the week.&rdquo;</p><p>They think that&rsquo;s due to people taking long weekends, working from home, or otherwise shifting toward a four-day work week in the summer months. IDOT Spokeswoman Carson Quinn says they&rsquo;re seeing this pattern start to emerge on summer Thursdays, too.</p><p>Seattle-based traffic data firm INRIX agrees that Friday evening&rsquo;s commute is the single worst of Chicago&rsquo;s week. But the Chicago area&rsquo;s worst commute day overall &ldquo;is a toss-up between Wednesday and Thursday,&rdquo; according to spokesman Jim Bak.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traffic pattern: A typical year, measured month by month</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/traffic by month3.png" title="This chart depicts traffic trends by day in Northeastern Illinois based on data collected between 2010 and 2013 by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Click to learn more about the data. " /></div><p>Summer is the worst season for Chicago-area traffic, in part because of the increase in construction work. According to Bill Eisele of the Texas Transportation Institute, construction is the fourth-leading cause of road congestion and is responsible for 10 percent of traffic jams nationwide.</p><p>IDOT says average weekday traffic increases on all of the Chicago area&rsquo;s major highways during the summer, but by different amounts. The Stevenson (I-55) sees the biggest jump, with as much as 12 percent more traffic, while traffic on the Eisenhower (I-290) only increases by 3 percent. The Kennedy and Edens (I-90 and I-94) get 8 and 11 percent more clogged, respectively.</p><p>But fall also sees a significant uptick in travel times. Jim Bak, a spokesman for INRIX, relays this office adage about seasonal traffic patterns: &ldquo;Back to school, back to work, back to traffic.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;On a seasonal basis, the biggest impact is school schedules,&rdquo; says Bak. &ldquo;Nationally, it can increase traffic congestion levels by up to 15 percent. In Chicago we see an annual lift of up to 10 percent.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What about reverse commutes?</span></p><p>As a city dweller who treks out to the suburbs during business hours, our question-asker, Esther, is a so-called reverse commuter. Suburban development and job growth has taken off in recent decades. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/10/29/241350699/reverse-commutes-now-often-a-daily-slog-too" target="_blank">That has created a surge in urbanites with suburban occupations</a>, like Esther. So, naturally, she wants to know if her increasingly common arrangement results in less traffic compared to the traditional commute from the suburbs to the city.</p><p>&ldquo;In general the traditional commute still is heaviest, more often than not,&rdquo; says IDOT&rsquo;s Carson Quinn. But that&rsquo;s not the case for all local expressways. On the Edens Expressway (I-94), for example, northbound traffic is heaviest in the morning while southbound is worst in the evening, suggesting a flow of traffic away from downtown for the workday. The Kennedy (I-90) is the same.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What contributes to traffic?</span></p><p>So that&rsquo;s the basic answer to Esther Bowen&rsquo;s questions about Chicago&rsquo;s worst hours, days and seasons for traffic. But what are the general factors that influence traffic patterns?</p><p>According to the Federal Highway Administration, the major contributors are what you might expect: Bottlenecks, or just the sheer number of cars on the road, make up 40 percent of congestion nationwide. Traffic accidents and related slow-downs cause about 25 percent, while bad weather is responsible for 15 percent of lurching road travel. Construction is the last major cause, at 10 percent. The remaining 10 percent is due to things like poor signal timing, special events (like sports games and festivals) and other lesser factors.</p><p>Chicago doesn&rsquo;t deviate much from that national average, according to Steve Travia &mdash; he&rsquo;s IDOT&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/about-idot/idot-regions/idot-region-1/index" target="_blank">District 1</a> bureau chief for traffic, responsible for overseeing traffic management and reporting in the six-county greater Chicago area. Traffic engineers at IDOT&rsquo;s District 1 headquarters monitor regional traffic on a bevy of video and computer monitors, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-do-reversible-lanes-kennedy-expressway-work-101384" target="_blank">switching the direction of express lanes</a> and dispatching crews to clear accidents.</p><p>Bottlenecks and the like are perennial leaders in causing congestion, a fact he says is due to some basic physics.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a break point. There&rsquo;s a capacity limit of how many cars will truly fit on a lane of pavement,&rdquo; says Travia. Depending on the types of vehicles, traffic signals, topography and other factors (beyond just the size of the road), that capacity can vary. But as you approach what IDOT calls &ldquo;saturation,&rdquo; traffic will begin to slow down. People can change their driving habits to a certain point but, Travia says, &ldquo;then you hit that magic number. ... And that&rsquo;s when it breaks down. That&rsquo;s when you start to get that accordion effect.&rdquo;</p><p>Traffic engineers call that &ldquo;disrupted flow&rdquo;, and it ripples out quickly. In fact, Travia says, every minute an accident blocks a lane of traffic adds roughly three minutes of congestion on that highway.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374#jindra"><strong>Related: Guide to decoding traffic reports</strong></a></p><p>What about weather? It seems, given our polar vortices and generally volatile weather, Chicagoans would see weather higher up in the relative breakdown of Chicago&rsquo;s traffic factors. But Kermit Wies, deputy executive director for research and analysis at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, says it appears only about 13 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s traffic congestion occurs when the weather is wet, snowy or icy. So while <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637">those long winters can be brutal</a>, and they do help to clog the roadways, they&rsquo;re not game-changers when it comes to the broadest traffic patterns.</p><p>There are also surprising forces behind traffic patterns.</p><p>&ldquo;If people have jobs, they have money to spend, resulting in not only more commuter traffic but also more traffic in general as people go out to have dinner, to shop, go to a movie or cultural event, etc.,&rdquo; says INRIX&rsquo;s Jim Bak. &ldquo;Even now when more people tend to shop online, the product eventually has to get to your house from a distribution center &mdash; that happens on a truck.&rdquo; &nbsp;That means more raw materials are being delivered to manufacturing plants, and more freight to stores as they replenish inventory to keep up with increased consumer demand.</p><p>Freight traffic also impacts Chicago&rsquo;s commuters directly. The Texas Transportation Institute&rsquo;s Bill Eisele put it optimistically: &ldquo;Chicago is an exciting, dynamic, multi-modal town.&rdquo; But that also means motorists in the Chicago area, which sees up to a quarter of the entire nation&rsquo;s freight traffic, have to deal with the added congestion of trucks and train crossings. TTI&rsquo;s Urban Mobility Report estimates truck congestion alone cost Chicago more than $1.7 billion in lost time and fuel in 2011, the most recent year for which they&rsquo;ve crunched the numbers.</p><p>Infrastructure improvements could help ease that pain, Eisele says, as could an increase in public transit ridership.</p><p>&ldquo;For critical high-volume routes (like expressways),&rdquo; says Kermit Wies, of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, &ldquo;traffic managers will use <a href="http://www.travelmidwest.com/lmiga/home.jsp" target="_blank">Intelligent Transportation Systems</a> (ITS) such as in-road sensors and cameras to make real-time decisions to close ramps and upstream lanes, issue signboard messages or media blasts in an effort to keep delays to a minimum.&rdquo;</p><p>That response is improving constantly, building on a general slump in miles driven per capita.</p><p>In Cook County,<a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/Assets/uploads/files/Transportation-System/Reports/OP&amp;P/Travel-Stats/Illinois%20Travel%20Statistics%202013.pdf#page=7" target="_blank"> annual vehicle miles traveled have declined</a> since 2009 (across the state, that figure peaked in 2004 at 108,910,000,000 miles.)</p><p>Probably better to focus on that than the time and money you&rsquo;re wasting the next time you&rsquo;re caught in a bad bout of congestion on Chicago-area highways.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/esther%20bowen.jpg" style="float: left; height: 300px; width: 300px;" title="Photo courtesy Esther Bowen" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Who asked our question?</span></p><p>Esther Bowen&rsquo;s curiosity is both personal and occupational. She commutes from Chicago&rsquo;s Bucktown neighborhood to Argonne National Laboratory, where she has worked as a scientist in the soil and groundwater sampling division for nearly three years. The trip usually takes about 45 minutes in the morning and an hour on the way back after work. That&rsquo;s plenty of time for her scientific mind to wade through the reasons that I-55 might flow freely one day and clog up the next.</p><p><a name="data"></a>&ldquo;I do kind of hate that I waste that much time in traffic,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I feel like &mdash; psychologically &mdash; if I can understand why it is, it would help to deal with it.&rdquo;</p><p>Esther and her husband, Aaron, moved to Bucktown from Chicago&rsquo;s Lakeview neighborhood in part to shave time off her commute. She remembers one trip back from work when they lived in Lakeview took two hours, thanks to rain showers and a Cubs game.</p><p>Esther&rsquo;s parents still live in her hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois &mdash; about 45 miles northwest of downtown Chicago &mdash; so substantial commutes factor into her personal life as well as her career.</p><p>Most of her friends live and work in the city, and she&rsquo;s not expecting sympathy from them. Instead, she says she just hopes to satisfy a personal curiosity.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like a terrible commute is only terrible to the person who&rsquo;s living it,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The data driving our presentation</span></p><p>Charts in our presentation use the term Annual Average Daily Traffic, or AADT, which means traffic engineers measured the total number of cars in a year on a given road and divided by 365 days. We followed the Illinois Department of Transportation&rsquo;s format, so when AADT is above 100 percent, it means that time period experiences greater than average traffic.</p><p>Now, a few words on how traffic is measured, generally speaking. Even if you&rsquo;ve never nerded out over traffic engineering, this will be relevant if you&rsquo;ve ever used your phone to navigate on the road.</p><p>A lot of the information gathered by the federal and local transportation agencies comes from inductive-loop traffic detectors &mdash; magnetic loops embedded in the pavement of highways and some smaller streets. The devices measure the number and size of vehicles passing over them. From this information, traffic engineers glean travel times using mathematical formulas.</p><p><a name="jindra"></a>Luckily for traffic geeks, there is a lot more data out there these days. Many of us travel with mobile devices and, while we do, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS components log data about our location at any given time. Google and other companies use that information to estimate the flow of traffic, and then deliver that data back through map programs and services.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance writer and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @cementley</a> and at <a href="http://cabentley.com" target="_blank">cabentley.com</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_75518" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/181823840/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em style="font-size: 10px;">The above guide was compiled by previous WBEZ traffic reporter Sarah Jindra. It details major highway routes around the city and could also help make sense of the traffic reports you hear on the radio.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374 What happens to people with autism when they age out of school? http://www.wbez.org/news/what-happens-people-autism-when-they-age-out-school-111326 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/artworks-000101028088-1nyuya-t500x500.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-2de977b6-abb8-ca6e-c072-bc877bdd2ffc">It&rsquo;s early in the morning. Josh Stern waits outside his house in Wilmette for a Pace van he calls every as his ride to work. The van arrives, Josh kisses his mom goodbye and pays his fare.</p><p dir="ltr">Stern is 25. He was diagnosed with autism when he was two. He has a photographic memory that allows him to sort through loan paperwork at great speed.</p><p dir="ltr">He takes one quick glance at the numbers, hits the calculator, files the forms in order and it&rsquo;s ready to go. It&rsquo;s a skill his co-worker Ricardo Ramos says he admires.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a computer almost,&rdquo; Ramos said. &ldquo;He literally just keeps on doing it and you know he doesn&rsquo;t miss a detail. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s great about him, once you train him, he&rsquo;ll just do it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Illinois has more than 19,000 minors who have autism. And that&rsquo;s just what the <a href="http://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-autism/2014_autism_illinois.pdf">schools</a> are identifying. When these kids&rsquo; services expire from the state, they face the same choice as most young adults: school or work? But the transition to either of those worlds can be difficult depending on the disability.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The day the bus doesn&#39;t come</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Josh&rsquo;s mom Linda Stern is all too familiar with what many parents refer to as &ldquo;the day the bus doesn&rsquo;t come.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They put so much effort and wonderful work into the school experience and for most people all that work all that effort all that wonderful enriching experience just disappears,&rdquo; Stern said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t even understand it, it&rsquo;s like how come I&rsquo;m not going to school and I&rsquo;m sitting at home with mom watching TV all day long.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The transitional period out of the school system in Illinois starts at age 14 &frac12;. During that time, families work with the school to create post graduation goals based on the child&rsquo;s interests and skills.</p><p dir="ltr">Though federal law requires that every child receive a transition plan, parents like Bill Casey feel the system can leave parents frustrated and confused.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Parents don&rsquo;t understand what&rsquo;s offered to them by the community service organizations,&rdquo; Casey said. &ldquo;You really have to start digging to figure what&rsquo;s available. You really need friends like Julie and Michael Tracy to help guide you in some ways to find the right avenues.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Julie and Michael Tracy run an urban farm that caters to young adults with autism. The farm harvests everything from collard greens to fresh tomatoes, and all of that goes to food pantries across the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re teaching them jobs skills, interviewing and resume, working with other people,&rdquo; said Gwenne Godwin, farm manager at the <a href="http://jmtf.org/portfolio/growing-solutions-farm/">Growing Solutions Farm</a>. &ldquo;We just happen to be using the medium of agriculture to do it in so that they can get a job in this industry or in any industry because they&rsquo;ve learned those vocational skills.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Casey&rsquo;s son Dan works at the farm. He feels it offers Dan an experience he didn&rsquo;t have in a school setting.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know kids with autism don&rsquo;t have all the victories that we all have growing up,&rdquo; Casey said. &ldquo;The baseball, the football, the debates and the like, this is something for them.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">We asked the Illinois Division of Developmental Disabilities for response to Bill Casey&rsquo;s claims about these programs, but they didn&rsquo;t provide one. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Now, the National Garden Bureau is behind the program and these young workers are able for the first time to take home a paycheck. The non-profit has generated nearly $30,000 in donations and continues to raise funds for the farm.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Opportunities in higher education</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/6/1042">More than half</a> of people with autism struggle to find work and often don&rsquo;t seek higher education opportunities.</p><p dir="ltr">For those who do, they can turn to Jennifer Gorski. Gorski runs the Autism Clinic and TAP Training Center at University of Illinois, Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are hearing about these needs from people in our community quite a bit,&rdquo; Gorski said. &ldquo;We formed the ASPiE group which is a support group geared toward supporting college students that are on the spectrum.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">ASPiE (Adults Spectrum People in Education) meet once a week to have frank conversations that every college kid has such as, what&rsquo;s in store after college, questions about careers and managing course load.</p><p dir="ltr">Since social interactions can be a big obstacle for individuals with autism, ASPiE members like Jasmin Khoshnood say it helps them interact with their peers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been really helpful to me in terms what do with with college and how to add to professional world,&rdquo; said Khoshnood. &ldquo;Meeting ASPiE college students has been good for me as well having a peer group that is more like me I can tell things that I couldn&#39;t tell to non-autistic, neuro-typical people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The program at UIC Khoshnood participates in is not the norm across the state.</p><p dir="ltr">United Cerebral Palsy <a href="http://cfi2014.ucp.org/data/">ranks</a> Illinois at the bottom for the way it handles its services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My perspective is that it all comes down to funding,&rdquo; said Gorski from UIC&rsquo;s Autism Clinic and TAP Training Center. &ldquo;I think that the adults are a little bit behind in terms of the allocation of resources.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Come January, that funding could get even <a href="http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=71009">tighter</a> when the current income tax hike rolls back.</p><p dir="ltr">Kevin Casey from Illinois&rsquo; Division of Developmental Disabilities said in a statement, &ldquo;the loss of any funding will limit and delay our ability to provide services.&rdquo;</p><p>Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has said he wants to roll back the income tax hike.</p><p>What that means for the autism community remains to be seen.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 11:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-happens-people-autism-when-they-age-out-school-111326 Durbin leaving Congressional roommates behind http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP602936696661.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For Senator Dick Durbin, the upcoming session of Congress marks the end of an era. And it&rsquo;s not because the Senate is turning from blue to red.</p><p>After more than 20 years, the number two Democrat will be forced to find a new place to live. Durbin has been sharing a Capitol Hill row house with two Democrats: New York Sen.Chuck Schumer, and Rep. George Miller of California, who is also the landlord. Other members of congress have stayed there through the years, including Marty Russo of Illinois, Leon Panetta of California, Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, and Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts.</p><p>But in 2015, their landlord won&rsquo;t be returning to the Hill. Representative Miller announced at the beginning of this year that he wasn&rsquo;t going to seek a 21st term in the House of Representatives, and so he decided to sell the now somewhat famous frat house.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the end of an era,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;And as I said to one of the other <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/us/after-decades-lawmakers-are-roommates-no-more.html" target="_blank">interviewers</a>, it&rsquo;s the end of America as I have known it. It is a new nation. I don&rsquo;t know, it&rsquo;ll be fine.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin says he went out and got himself a little apartment that he&rsquo;ll move into in a couple weeks when the new session starts.</p><p>But the Senator didn&rsquo;t seem too thrilled about the change of pace, as he says he&rsquo;ll miss his roommates.</p><p>&ldquo;Coming home at night, late at night, and just sitting around, on the couch, talking about what happens and how it&rsquo;s seen differently in the House than it is in the Senate. You know, I miss that. And plus, we became friends, family friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin has told stories in the past about the lack of cleanliness in the apartment. He says Miller would chide Schumer for leaving his bed unmade for &ldquo;7,000 nights.&rdquo; Durbin says his new Washington digs will be much cleaner than his last.</p><p>&ldquo;I am just an average clean up guy, and I stood out in this house as way above the rest,&rdquo; Durbin said.</p><p>If the vision of three, not just grown men, but powerful lawmakers, living together in a DC apartment sounds to you like the makings of a sitcom, you&rsquo;re not alone.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times people say, &lsquo;that would make a wonderful TV show.&rsquo; That story, I can just see it now,&rdquo; Durbin said, in a previous interview. &ldquo;And I said, understand there&rsquo;s no sex and violence here, so this is not likely to be very popular.&rdquo;</p><p>A few attempts at that show were made early on, including one by a then young comedian named Al Franken, but none were successful until last year, when Amazon produced a web series called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-HD/dp/B00CDBTQCW" target="_blank">Alpha House</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 Rules of the ramps: Surviving while homeless in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207 <p><p><em>Updated 1.5.15</em></p><p>The City of Chicago does a regular count of people who are homeless here. The most recent survey puts the count at more than 6,000 people at any given time&mdash;though advocates say that at some time over the course of a year more than 100,000 individual people are homeless. Many of them are visible as they sleep in parks or panhandle on the streets.&nbsp; But they&rsquo;re still mostly invisible and unknown.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Photos: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207#norma" target="_self">A tour of the hut where Norma lives</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>That changed for me over the past year, as I went out to meet some of the people who ask for money along Chicago&rsquo;s expressway exit ramps. I learned about their lives, and the &ldquo;rules of the ramp&rdquo; they survive by. We&#39;ve included the audio of some of their stories here.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div id="PictoBrowser150114175138">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Rules of the Ramp: Surviving while homeless in Chicago"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157650232737466"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser150114175138"); </script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I met Bud about a year ago. He used to be a forklift operator in Bolingbrook and after he lost that job, he tried to hold his family&rsquo;s finances together through various remodeling and temp jobs. He struck me as a very unlikely person to be out here working the ramps in Chicago. He panhandled at the Kennedy exit ramp near Diversey and Keeler. He lived in a sort of mini-tent city under the Kennedy expressway.</p><p>Bud told me that &ldquo;rarely a day goes by&rdquo; when someone didn&#39;t give him two pennies for his efforts. He politely says &ldquo;thank you&rdquo; he tells me, laughing. Sort of his way of one-upping them.</p><p>Some of his fellow ramp workers report that if they get pennies, they throw that &ldquo;sh&mdash;&quot; back at the driver. But Bud said that&rsquo;s bad strategy.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to cause a scene,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Others will see that and they won&rsquo;t want to give either.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, Bud didn&#39;t want other people in their cars to think he&rsquo;s ungrateful.</p><p>&ldquo;What am I going to say?&rdquo; Bud said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re not giving me enough money? I can&rsquo;t get mad at someone about their money.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">Rules of the ramps</span></p><p>I started hearing anecdotes like this about a year ago. That&rsquo;s when I noticed that there never seems to be more than one panhandler at a time at any given ramp&mdash;which seems to suggest a <em>system</em> of some sort. So I started asking if there are rules that govern what happens at the ramps.</p><p>There was no science behind my little investigation. But it turns out there is a system of sorts. If you listen to their stories, you&rsquo;ll hear the &ldquo;findings&rdquo; of my study within the context of their complex lives. The rules of the ramps are roughly the following:</p><ul><li>No one &ldquo;owns&rdquo; a spot, and it&rsquo;s basically &ldquo;first come, first served&rdquo; at the ramps. But if you&rsquo;ve worked there for weeks or months, you have earned &ldquo;dibs&rdquo; on that spot.</li><li>Even if you consider it to be &ldquo;your&rdquo; spot, if you&rsquo;ve earned some money and someone else is waiting &ndash; let them on the ramp. Because everyone needs to eat.</li><li>Don&rsquo;t walk right up to someone&rsquo;s car. Don&rsquo;t ever tap on someone&rsquo;s car window. Don&rsquo;t intimidate or harass people.</li><li>If someone gives you pennies, hold onto it. It all starts to add up.</li><li>Don&rsquo;t panhandle in the rain. Drivers don&rsquo;t want to roll down their windows and get wet. You won&rsquo;t earn much.</li><li>&nbsp;Give the ramp a &ldquo;rest.&rdquo; If drivers always see panhandlers at a given ramp, they become weary and won&rsquo;t donate. It&rsquo;s called &ldquo;burning up the spot.&rdquo;&nbsp; Note: This &ldquo;rule&rdquo; is contested. Many ramp workers think it&rsquo;s fine for a ramp to be &ldquo;staffed&rdquo; all the time.</li><li>Asking for money with a sign is not &quot;begging&quot;. When you walk up to someone and ask for money with words &ndash; that&rsquo;s &quot;begging&quot;. Note: This &ldquo;rule&rdquo; is contested too.</li><li>If you don&rsquo;t want to be judged&mdash;and even pre-judged &ndash; don&rsquo;t&nbsp;work the ramps.</li></ul><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">To give or not to give</span></p><p>Some experts on homelessness advise the public not to donate to panhandlers. Nonie Brennan is CEO at an organization called All Chicago, Making Homelessness History. She never gives to panhandlers.</p><p>&ldquo;And I strongly encourage people not to give money to panhandlers,&quot; Brennan said. &quot;If somebody is interested in helping with the issue of homelessness, there are a number of excellent organizations that could really benefit from a donation and you can get a tax receipt and then you know where your money is going. And you know that your money is actually helping something. If you&rsquo;re giving to panhandlers you don&rsquo;t know where your money&rsquo;s going and you don&rsquo;t know what it&rsquo;s doing.&rdquo;</p><p>Last winter I also talked to Jim LoBianco, former head of homeless services in the Daley administration and until recently, executive director at Streetwise, an organization probably best known for the newspaper it publishes and its ubiquitous newspaper vendors. Streetwise is also a full-scale social service agency.</p><p>LoBianco is also convinced that, in general, donating to panhandlers isn&rsquo;t a good idea. Though he says sometimes breaks his own rule and donates a sizable amount&mdash;$25 or more&mdash;if he thinks the person is in real crisis and needs to immediately get off the street.</p><p>LoBianco says at a shelter, someone who is homeless might get access to other services.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The difference between begging on an expressway ramp and getting enough money to go into a McDonalds and buy yourself a hamburger, versus picking yourself up and going to a local soup kitchen run by charity, is that when you walk into that soup kitchen you&rsquo;re not only going to get the meal&mdash;you&rsquo;re going to be engaged by someone who has some basic case management experience,&quot; LoBianco said. &quot;And you&rsquo;re going to be engaged by somebody who could actually say, &lsquo;What&rsquo;s the bigger picture going on in your life? Why are you forced to beg on the streets? Why are you in such crisis? How do we solve that problem?&rsquo; No one is walking into a soup kitchen in this city without being engaged at that level.&rdquo;</p><p>But a number of panhandlers told me this is not their experience.&nbsp;</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/tony.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Tony has tried using resources from social service agencies but says he has never been offered access to job training. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Take Tony. He has an associate&rsquo;s degree in business hospitality and worked for eight years as a sous chef for Marriott Hotels in Detroit, he says.&nbsp;He regularly stays at an emergency shelter and I ask if he&rsquo;s ever tried to get help from an&nbsp;actual social service agency in Chicago?</div><div><p>&quot;Yeah, I have,&rdquo; Tony tells me. &quot;But actually, all they do is refer you to a shelter. That&rsquo;s the feedback I done got from &lsquo;em. &#39;Well, this shelter here&mdash;&nbsp;have you tried this shelter?&rsquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;Like far as trying to find low-income housing and stuff like that &ndash; they don&rsquo;t do that. If they do, they put you on a lottery waiting list. And for some reason, my name never got pulled..&rdquo;</p><p>Okay, social service agencies &nbsp;have not, thus far, found you permanent housing, I told him. But have they ever tried to hook you up with job training&nbsp;&mdash; or an actual job?</p><p>&ldquo;I ain&rsquo;t never heard social service say anything about job training. Never.&rdquo; Tony says.</p><p>&nbsp;And he asks if the people who told me this know I&rsquo;m a reporter?</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Basically they&#39;re probably telling you what you want to hear. When one of us go up there, it&rsquo;s something totally different,&rdquo; he advises me. &nbsp;</p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/deedeecrop.jpg" style="float: right; height: 401px; width: 300px;" title="Dee-Dee panhandles in Chicago. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />Dee-Dee panhandles on the expressway ramps too. She&#39;s gone to a social service agency and says she knows very nice people there.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;[But] for you to get a place to stay, or any kinda help, it could be two or three years down the road,&quot; she said. &quot;And that ain&rsquo;t gonna help me right now.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />She says social service agencies are well-meaning and they&rsquo;ll put you on a list for help.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;But in the meantime, what you gonna do? You gotta get out there and hustle&mdash;or fall by the wayside. I mean we can&rsquo;t live with no money in our pocket. I mean you get into emergency situations. I&rsquo;m a woman, like, I get my monthly like... what am I gonna do? Like try and run and find a service agency &ndash; &#39;Oh I need tampons right now!&#39; No. If I can&rsquo;t get no money out here, I&rsquo;m gonna go to Walgreens and steal me some tampons&hellip;. So I gotta do, what I gotta do. If I&rsquo;m hungry, I gotta eat.&rdquo;<p>Many of the ramp workers I talked to acknowledged that there are lots of panhandlers who are mentally ill, strung out on drugs or alcoholics. Or all of the above. And most of them also acknowledged they themselves had a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. But several insisted that was no longer the case. Now they were simply down on their luck.</p><p>Were they lying? Probably some were&mdash;and some weren&rsquo;t.</p><p>But I know this for sure: I met some pretty high-functioning people on the ramps, many who had held jobs and hope to again.</p><p><em>Updated audio for this story reflects new information on Bud&#39;s childhood living alone and sometimes on the streets, not in group homes run by the state.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Audio production of Norma, Ed, Bud and Steven&#39;s stories by Ken Davis</em></p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Follow along this week as WBEZ digs deeper into the issue of homelessness in Chicago.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">A photo tour of Norma&#39;s hut<a name="norma"></a></span></p><div id="PictoBrowser150114172903">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "600", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Rules of the Ramp: Surviving while homeless in Chicago"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157647964780674"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser150114172903"); </script><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207 Criminal probe after gas evacuates 'furries' event http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-probe-after-gas-evacuates-furries-event-111203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap369870749900-6cb6149372bd01c6980713a5a664451b31a557e3-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>ROSEMONT, Ill. &mdash; Authorities are investigating the release of a gas that sickened several hotel guests and forced thousands of people &mdash; many dressed as cartoon animals &mdash; to evacuate the building.</p><p>Although some participants at the Midwest FurFest convention thought the mass evacuation early Sunday was just part of the fun, investigators are treating it as a criminal matter.</p><p>Nineteen people who became nauseous or dizzy were treated at local hospitals. Within hours, emergency workers decontaminated the Hyatt Regency O&#39;Hare and allowed people back inside.</p><p>The Rosemont Public Safety Department said someone apparently intentionally left a powder that appeared to contain chlorine in a ninth-floor hotel stairway, causing the gas to spread. On Monday, the department would only say that the investigation was continuing and declined further comment.</p><p>Organizers tried to reassure the participants that the evacuation would not overshadow the FurFest event, in which attendees celebrate animals that are anthropomorphic &mdash; meaning they&#39;ve been given human characteristics &mdash; through art, literature and performance. Many of the costumed attendees refer to themselves as &quot;furries.&quot;</p><p>&quot;In walk all these people dressed like dogs and foxes,&quot; said Pieter Van Hiel, a 40-year-old technical writer from Hamilton, Canada, chuckling as he recalled the crowd being herded into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, where a dog show was taking place over the weekend.</p><p>Kit McCreedy, a 28-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, said he didn&#39;t think the incident would further disrupt Midwest FurFest, which was in its final day.</p><p>&quot;I think we&#39;ll recover from this,&quot; said McCreedy, his fox tail swinging behind him as he headed back inside. &quot;People are tired but they&#39;re still full of energy.&quot;</p><p>Others said they didn&#39;t know why anyone would try to upset the convention that includes dance contests and panel discussions on making the costumes. Some pointed out that the brightly colored outfits are made from fake fur and foam.</p><p>&quot;Nobody uses real fur,&quot; said Frederic Cesbron, a 35-year-old forklift operator who flew to Chicago from his home in France. He attended the convention dressed in a fox outfit that he said is worth about $3,000.</p><p>&quot;Everyone is from a different background,&quot; said Michael Lynch, a 25-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, who, like his buddy, McCreedy, dressed as a fox. &quot;Nobody judges anybody. It&#39;s nice to come to a place like that.&quot;</p><p>Or, as Van Hiel put it, &quot;It&#39;s kind of weird, but it&#39;s not weird here.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-probe-after-gas-evacuates-furries-event-111203