WBEZ | Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Why apartments are the blind spot in Chicago's recycling program http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-apartments-are-blind-spot-chicagos-recycling-program-111883 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201003191&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Our question asker Quetzalli Castro grew up in a Logan Square two-flat. Her parents still live in that house on Kedzie Avenue. Among the many fond memories she remembers from growing up there is the day they got curbside recycling.</p><p>&ldquo;My parents were very happy about that,&rdquo; says Castro, 26. &ldquo;I remember grabbing jars and throwing them in there and seeing a big, blue truck come and take it away on I think it was Wednesdays.&rdquo;</p><p>Since then she&rsquo;s lived in several larger apartment buildings, but none of them has had recycling.</p><p>&ldquo;So I&#39;ve been caught trying to put my recycling into other people&#39;s recycling bins and they&#39;re like &lsquo;Put it in your own!&rsquo; I don&#39;t have one. I wish I did! I have all this recycling and nowhere to go,&rdquo; Castro says.</p><p>She&rsquo;s even called the city to ask about getting a blue cart, but says she didn&rsquo;t get a straight answer. So she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why is recycling not available to apartment buildings and certain parts of the city?</em></p><p>The short answer is that the city has a two-pronged system for recycling: Small buildings with four or fewer units get one system (the blue carts and bins Castro remembers) and buildings with five or more units are supposed to set up their own systems through private contractors.</p><p>But the real reason why Castro and perhaps hundreds of thousands of apartment dwellers like her end up throwing their recyclables in the dumpster is more complicated: It has to do with city politics, landfill economics and a toothless ordinance that has struggled to buoy recycling rates in large apartment buildings for 22 years.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Waste piling up</span></p><p>Quetzalli Castro is not alone. In January Claire Micklin left an <a href="http://opengovhacknight.org/">Open Government Hack Night</a> with an interactive website designed to identify and shame owners of large apartment buildings without recycling. She called it <a href="http://www.mybuildingdoesntrecycle.com/">MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ve lived in Chicago 10 years and I&#39;ve never been in a building that has recycling,&rdquo; says Micklin, who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and now lives in an apartment building in the Edgewater neighborhood. &ldquo;I noticed the blue bins from next door, a four-flat, were overflowing because people from my building kept putting their recycling in there.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Castro, Micklin reached out to the city only to find herself more confused &mdash; there was no recourse for building residents like her who wanted to recycle, but whose landlords wouldn&rsquo;t provide the service.</p><p>Micklin did a little more research and learned the city passed a law in 1993 called <a href="http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/sustainability-new/pdfs/REcycling%20Ordinance%20Chicago%2011%20%205.pdf">the Chicago High Density Residential and Commercial Source Reduction and Recycling Ordinance</a> (more commonly referred to as the Burke-Hansen ordinance, for the aldermen who drafted it). The ordinance made owners of large apartment buildings (defined as having at least five units) responsible for their own recycling, because the existing requirements for garbage pick-up made the same distinction. The city gave multi-unit building owners until 1995 to establish programs that would collect at least two kinds of recyclables. By 1996 they were all supposed to collect at least three. If they didn&rsquo;t, Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation could issue fines to the building owners for $25 to $100 per day.</p><p>But 22 years later it&rsquo;s common to find large apartment buildings without any recycling service at all. Less than three months after her site launched, Micklin says nearly 1,300 people have reported 1,034 addresses through MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/website%20screenshot.PNG" style="height: 223px; width: 620px;" title="The website mybuildingdoesn'trecycle.com has gained about 1,300 reports since its launch in January 2015. " /></div><p>The overall success of Chicago&rsquo;s residential recycling program could depend on the participation of large apartment and condo buildings. More than 442,000 housing units (just slightly more than forty percent of the city&rsquo;s total) are supposed to have recycling provided by landlords or condo associations. And, according to 2007 data (the latest available), <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/doe/general/RecyclingAndWasteMgmt_PDFs/WasteAndDiversionStudy/WasteCharacterizationReport.pdf">these units account for more than a third of the solid waste collected from the residential sector.</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">No enforcement</span></p><p>A key reason why many building owners appear not to have complied with the Burke-Hansen ordinance is that the city rarely enforces it. Since 2010 records from Chicago&rsquo;s office of Business Affairs &amp; Consumer Protection show only 69 citations were issued for not recycling in commercial or residential establishments, and no warnings or fines have been issued since June 2011. We&rsquo;re currently waiting on numbers from other departments, but City Hall hasn&rsquo;t said they&rsquo;ve strengthened enforcement lately.</p><p>Why the lax enforcement? Burke-Hansen authorizes fines, but it doesn&rsquo;t compel the city to actually issue them.</p><p>&ldquo;Everything is a &lsquo;can&rsquo; and a &lsquo;may,&rsquo; and [the ordinance] has the authority but it doesn&#39;t say &lsquo;you must,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Helen Shiller, who represented the city&rsquo;s 46th Ward from 1987 until 2011. &ldquo;The issue with private haulers is that it&#39;s been left entirely to the market. To the extent that there&#39;s been people demanding more [recycling], that&#39;s pushed it along some. To the extent that there&#39;s more economic viability, it&#39;s increased. But the city has not changed its language to require anything.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shiller%20quote.png" style="height: 100px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Shiller says for condominiums and townhouses, it&rsquo;s a slightly different story. There was a rebate program in place for any condo association that presented the city with an affidavit declaring the building had recycling. <a href="http://committeeonfinance.org/condo/index.asp">It&#39;s currently being phased out</a>, and payments were typically delayed by as many as five years, but Shiller says that program once served as a &ldquo;carrot&rdquo; to complement Burke-Hansen&rsquo;s seldom-used &ldquo;stick&rdquo; of warnings and fines.</p><p>For apartment buildings, however, the regulatory environment is simpler. The city doesn&rsquo;t tax recycling pick-up like it does trash, but apartment building owners never benefitted from an incentive program like condos used to.</p><p>&ldquo;In this case there seems to be neither a carrot nor a stick,&rdquo; says Carter O&rsquo;Brien, the vice president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition, a volunteer advocacy group. The Coalition has been working with (and sometimes against) the city since the early 1990s to improve recycling rates in the Chicago area.</p><p>In some ways, O&rsquo;Brien says, the city&rsquo;s past efforts at recycling still haunt present-day operations. The first citywide recycling effort began in 1995, when Chicagoans were asked to buy special blue, plastic bags at the grocery store in which they&rsquo;d put their recycling before throwing the bag in the trash. Recyclables were supposed to get sifted out at sorting facilities after that, but little of it did. The city canned the program in 2008.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FLICKR%20jenn%20brandle%20blue%20bags.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The first citywide recycling program debuted in 1995, and required residents to throw their recycling in special blue, plastic bags before throwing the bags in the trash. (Flickr/Jennifer Brandel)" /></div><p>&ldquo;The blue bag was just such a catastrophe. It really set Chicago back quite a bit, because even people that did it religiously kind of suspected deep down that maybe it wasn&#39;t working so well,&rdquo; says O&rsquo;Brien. &ldquo;And for people that were kind of on the fence, they basically said, &#39;This is obviously not working. I see my blue bags go in a truck, I see them rip open, and this is a scam, a con and a joke, and I&rsquo;m not going to think about recycling ever again.&#39;&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Money in the trash</span></p><p>The irony for owners of multi-unit residential buildings is that recycling can be easy to implement. Sometimes it even saves building owners money.</p><p>Gordon Magill is president of Family Properties, a company his great grandfather started more than a century ago. Family Properties now owns 15 multi-unit buildings on the city&rsquo;s North Side and in the suburbs. Magill still has hundreds of blue bags stashed in a cupboard in his Edgewater office. He&rsquo;s an avid recycler &mdash; he picked up a few soda cans off the sidewalk on our way to the dumpsters behind one of his buildings &mdash; but said the Blue Bag program was doomed from the start. Undeterred by its failure, however, Magill reached out to the company that hauls waste from his buildings and set up a recycling program.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/magill1%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="Gordon Magill is president of Family Properties in Chicago. He says recycling is a net-positive for him financially. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>&ldquo;When the blue bag program ended, basically we weren&#39;t shocked. Let&#39;s just start with that,&rdquo; Magill says. &ldquo;We just picked up the phone, called up our salesperson for our scavenging service and asked them to put in the bins. It was as simple as that.&rdquo;</p><p>Magill says recycling is either a low-cost addition or a net positive for him financially, as he doesn&rsquo;t have to pay as often to empty his building&rsquo;s more expensive trash bins. He also cites recycling&rsquo;s &ldquo;commercial appeal to environmentally conscientious residents.&rdquo; In other words: His tenants want it.</p><p>Not all landlords are so zealous. Jim Thom, who owns a 14-unit building in Avondale, says he&rsquo;d like to offer recycling to his tenants but can&rsquo;t figure out how to make it work. His dumpster sits in a narrow gangway that runs all the alley, leaving little room for another bin; the trash bin already pinches circulation between the stairwell and the building&rsquo;s laundry room.</p><p>And, Thom says, when he looked into recycling, he found it could bump up his waste pick-up costs as much as 33 percent, from $3,000 to $4,000 a year.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s certainly something we think about,&rdquo; says Thom. &ldquo;We just haven&#39;t seen a solution that&#39;s made us jump and say, &#39;Let&#39;s do it.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s never been fined by the city for not providing recycling, and hasn&rsquo;t heard of any building owners or managers who have.</p><p>Josh Connell, a managing partner with Lakeshore Recycling Systems, says there are times when recycling just doesn&rsquo;t make sense.</p><p>&ldquo;Those are the small buildings &mdash; your six-unit, 10-unit, even up to 25-unit buildings depending on the logistics and the space &mdash; it&#39;s difficult to recycle,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Multi-unit residential buildings are a little less than half of Lakeshore&rsquo;s business, Connell says, and he estimates four out of five of them order recycling along with trash pick-up. Larger buildings enjoy an economy of scale that can make recycling revenue-neutral, or even a net positive. But even though waste hauling is typically a minor item on a building owner&rsquo;s balance sheet, any extra expense has to be justified.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/connell%20quote.png" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;If it&#39;s gonna cost money to recycle and the residents of these buildings aren&#39;t pushing for it, most building owners are not going to spend more money when people aren&#39;t clamoring for it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We have building owners that do pay for recycling because the residents want it.&rdquo;</p><p>As evinced by the popularity of MyBuildingDoesntRecycle.com, a lot of multi-unit building residents want it.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The trash is always greener on the other side</span></p><p>Recycling rates have been on the rise both nationally and in Chicago, and waste haulers like Connell say interest in their business is rising, even as the falling price of oil undercuts plastic recyclers&rsquo; bottom line. But is a more environmentally conscious public all it takes to forge a sterling recycling program?</p><p>Probably not. San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and even New York City come up often in discussions of successful recycling programs. In 2012 <a href="http://sfmayor.org/index.aspx?recordid=113&amp;page=846" target="_blank">San Francisco announced it had achieved 80 percent landfill diversion</a>, well on its way to a goal of &ldquo;zero waste&rdquo; by 2020. It even has curbside composting to collect food waste and other organic material alongside bins for trash and recycling. San Francisco&rsquo;s success is due to several factors &mdash; including a culture of conservation and clear, rigorously enforced regulations. But a simple number holds it all together: $151.47.</p><p><a href="http://www.recologysf.com/index.php/for-homes/transfer-station-residential">That&#39;s how much it costs</a> to dump one ton of waste in a landfill in the Bay Area. Figures are nearly as high on much of the West Coast. That number in Chicago is just $46, according to the city&rsquo;s Department of Streets &amp; Sanitation. In New York and along the East Coast it&rsquo;s somewhere between the two, around $100 per ton.</p><p>Connell says we should consider the dumping costs that are eventually passed onto building owners.</p><p>&ldquo;If they&#39;re paying twice as much to get rid of garbage, adding recycling could be an immediate positive impact on their bottom line,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Still, Connell says he sees a lot more Chicago landlords coming around to recycling these days, in part because their tenants are starting to demand it. And if more buildings set up recycling, the cost borne by each one could fall, as waste haulers compete for business and are able to travel fewer empty miles between each pick-up.</p><p>The societal benefits of cutting down on trash are myriad: Chicago trucks bound for the nearest landfill typically end up in Rockford or downstate Indiana, belching greenhouse gases all the way there and even <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/when-chicago-area-traffic-worst-111374">helping clog up already congested roads</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;I give it a C&rsquo;</span></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s poor reputation for recycling is no secret, even to those currently in charge of administering it. Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, calls the current program &ldquo;a work in progress.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re nowhere near the level that we should be. I give it a C right now,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We need to get better at it. We need to enforce better. And we need to educate a lot of constituents in the outer wards of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s wary of alienating landlords and businesses, but concedes that the owners of multi-unit residential buildings and small businesses have had more than 20 years to institute recycling since the Burke-Hansen ordinance passed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cardenas.png" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;I think we&#39;ve come full circle. We&rsquo;ve obviously given them ample time, and so I&#39;m at the point where I want to take more draconian efforts to make sure everyone&#39;s fully in compliance,&rdquo; Cardenas says. He can&rsquo;t point to any measure currently on the agenda for his committee or others in the City Council, but his assessment of the situation is blunt: &ldquo;The buildings are there. They should be doing it. Go check them, give them a citation, come into compliance. It&#39;s really that simple.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">How big is this blind spot in Chicago&rsquo;s recycling program? According to DSS data, smaller residential buildings recycle just over 11 percent of their waste. On paper, things appear better when it comes to larger buildings: <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NQ1JsVu4Ob_iYxKQJTYsw_oBW6pAspJpyah3uwL4yrw/pubhtml?gid=0&amp;single=true" target="_blank">Figures reported bi-annually to the city by private waste haulers </a>suggest that buildings the city is not responsible for recycled 38.7 percent of their waste. But, there&rsquo;s a problem with that comparison, since the private haulers serve industrial and commercial clients as well as large, multi-unit residential buildings. DSS has no data that separates out recycling for multi-unit residential buildings</p><p>In other words, we don&rsquo;t know if the situation our question-asker Quetzalli Castro asked about is getting better at all. And absent any plans to enforce the ordinance, she may be stuck in that situation, at the whim of her landlord.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 480px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Quetzalli Castro, our question-asker. " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Quetzalli Castro, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Quetzalli Castro, 26, is a determined recycler &mdash; she&rsquo;s already doing it even though her building manager doesn&rsquo;t provide the service. She says that impulse started young and hasn&rsquo;t dwindled, even if her options have.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ll admit to being sort of a judgey person and saying, &lsquo;Oh you don&#39;t recycle?&rsquo; and [people] say &lsquo;Well we used to back where I came from, but here in Chicago my apartment building doesn&#39;t offer it so I don&#39;t do it anymore.&rsquo; For me it&#39;s been a struggle, since I&#39;ve always had that habit and I don&#39;t want to lose that recycling habit.&rdquo;</p><p>A longtime Logan Square resident, Castro grew up in a two-flat on Kedzie boulevard and now lives in a multi-unit apartment building nearby. She was born in Mexico City, but moved to Chicago when she was just one year old.</p><p>Right now Castro is a graduate student at the University of Chicago in their Urban Teacher Education Program, pursuing a two-year degree focused on education in Chicago.</p><p>Castro is dismayed by the lack of recycling among many multi-unit apartment buildings. And she says learning about the city&rsquo;s lack of enforcement adds another dimension to neighborhood development.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&#39;s pretty surprising, especially now that there&#39;s a lot of reconstruction in Logan Square and lots of other areas that are being gentrified. There&#39;s bigger buildings going up. And that&#39;s kind of concerning because we&#39;re losing affordable housing, but also recycling, too,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I know there are plenty of people who wish to recycle, but don&#39;t or really can&#39;t because they don&#39;t have a blue bin offered to them. And I find that really sad.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> and reporter for Curious City. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-apartments-are-blind-spot-chicagos-recycling-program-111883 Homaro Cantu was more than a showman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 <p><p>To a lot of people, the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-famed-chef-homaro-cantu-owner-of-moto-found-dead-on-northwest-side-20150414-story.html">late chef Homaro Cantu</a> was all about showmanship, gadgets and tricks of molecular gastronomy.</p><p>He was famous for edible menus, a fish that would cook itself on your table and fruit that became a carbonated juice box.</p><p>But what a lot of people didn&rsquo;t understand was that this mad scientist chef was about something even bigger: Homaru Cantu&nbsp;wanted to save the&nbsp;world.</p><p>When WBEZ reporters <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chewingthefat/ctf-ep-27-future-food">visited his Moto kitchens last year</a>, we were greeted by typical Cantu. He was playful, warm, articulate and bursting with ideas to make the world a cleaner, healthier more delicious place.</p><p>He showed us his digitally monitored indoor farm that he said could grow produce with astonishing efficiency.</p><p>&ldquo;All of these products are grown to such a precise degree that this stuff will grow 50 percent faster than their genetically modified counterparts in their best season,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it will all be composted by stuff that comes right from the kitchen.&rdquo;</p><p>He told us about plans to put a beehive on the roof with a path down to the indoor farm, &ldquo;So bees can come down here, then pollinate and leave.&rdquo;</p><p>He explained his strategy for &ldquo;smart composting&rdquo; that would customize the raw composting materials to the plants they&rsquo;d nourish.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1792.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Chef Homaro Cantu at Moto with kitchen staff and Anthony Bourdain" /></p><p>&ldquo;Plants are like humans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t want the same diet&hellip;. When we start analyzing what plants really want and giving it to them, that&rsquo;s going to get us a more flavorful product, that&rsquo;s going to grow more efficiently without chemicals and genetic modification.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><div>He told us about his many ideas for saving energy and reducing food miles. And he shared his enthusiasm for the potential of the miracle berry (which makes sour things taste sweet) to help diabetics and cancer patients while improving overall public health.</div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been such a long road,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I think we are at a point where we can educate people about what they should be eating rather than what big companies want them to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>I realized I&rsquo;d had Cantu all wrong. Sure he was great at putting on a show. But his wild restaurants seemed to be just one way to showcase his plans to tackle some of the biggest problems our planet faces today.</p><p>Cantu stressed that, although he was patenting the research, he wanted it to be available to everyone.<br /><br />&ldquo;[After we file the initial patent] we want people to steal from us,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Food should not be owned. Food should be a collective effort for everyone, like open source software.&rdquo;</p><p>Like a lot of people in Chicago, I knew Cantu was facing a lawsuit from a former investor. But the news of his death Tuesday came as a great shock--and the suspected suicide even more so. Of all the chefs I&rsquo;ve known, few have had such ambitious technological plans, such a profound stake in the future and such visionary ideas for making the world a better place.&nbsp;</p><p>His cooking will be missed by diners. His heart and humor missed by his family and friends. But it&rsquo;s almost impossible to say what society will miss with the loss of Cantu&rsquo;s ideas and innovations, which he aimed at helping all of us.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 StoryCorps Chicago: High school friends help navigate family relationships http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/storycorps-chicago-high-school-friends-help-navigate-family-relationships <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150320 Brittany Imani bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Imani and Brittany are seniors at the same suburban Chicago high school. The two girls shared a class together freshman year, but didn&#39;t become close until earlier this school year.</p><p>They&rsquo;re on track to graduate soon: Brittany plans to go into the military, while Imani plans to study nursing. In this week&#39;s StoryCorps, they trade stories about their rocky relationships with their parents and how their friendship has helped them navigate life thus far.</p><p>&ldquo;When my mom had me, she didn&rsquo;t know she was pregnant with me,&rdquo; Brittany said, &ldquo;She was in jail because she got busted with a lot of drugs and they took us away from her.&rdquo;</p><p>Brittany doesn&rsquo;t remember her dad, even though she has photographs with him. When asked by Imani how she feels about that, Brittany responds by saying it would be nice to find out more about him. &ldquo;But then I kind of really don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Imani grew up with her mom but her dad wasn&rsquo;t always present. When she was four or five years old, her dad said he would take her to a movie. She sat on the porch and waited, but he never came. Eventually Imani&rsquo;s mom brought her inside, kicking and screaming. She cried herself to sleep that night, and she says it was the first time her dad ever let her down.</p><p>The two girls have learned to protect themselves from the emotional pain caused by others. They show signs of emotional maturity far beyond their years. And they look to each other for comfort: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just nice to know that somebody has your back,&rdquo; Imani says. Brittany agrees, saying, &ldquo;It feels good to hear the truth from somebody.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/storycorps-chicago-high-school-friends-help-navigate-family-relationships Tight-knit family remembers their mom http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/tight-knit-family-remembers-their-mom-111859 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150409 Moran Family bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Susan Moran couldn&rsquo;t leave the country to go to her mother&rsquo;s funeral in England.</p><p>Moran moved to the United States in the mid-nineties with her husband and kids. They tried to get a green card at that time, but when her mom died, Moran still didn&rsquo;t have the&nbsp; paperwork necessary to leave the U.S.</p><p>In May 2013, she was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer. Four rounds of chemotherapy didn&rsquo;t eliminate it and it spread. She was given four months to live.</p><p>When Susan Moran visited the StoryCorps booth in 2013, her son Sean asked her how she wanted to spend the remainder of her life. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve got an amazing family,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;that won&rsquo;t let me go anywhere easily. That&rsquo;s for sure.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to go,&rdquo; Susan continued. &ldquo;Too many things to see.&rdquo;</p><p>At the time of the 2013 interview, Moran had just received a temporary green card, which enabled her to leave the country for the first time in 20 years, to travel to England to see her father, and her mother&rsquo;s grave.</p><p>As soon as she got back from that trip and touched down at the airport, she was in immense pain. She was driven straight from the airport to the hospital.</p><p>Susan Moran died January 28, 2014.</p><p>A little over a year after her death, her kids came back to the StoryCorps booth with their dad - Kailey Povier, 35, Liam Moran, 30, and Sean Moran, 32.</p><p>&ldquo;She had a very sweet voice,&rdquo; Sean Moran says, after re-listening to their earlier interview.</p><p>Liam says their mom didn&rsquo;t consider her own feelings enough. She was always too concerned with everyone else, and not worried enough about her own well-being, he says.</p><p>Sean Moran remembers the parties the family used to throw at their house. One time, in particular stood out in his mind: His mom&rsquo;s sister Jenny was visiting and they put &ldquo;Crazy&rdquo; by Cee-Lo Green on repeat. They&rsquo;d dance like mad and when it was over, they&rsquo;d hit repeat and start dancing again, trying to get others to dance with them the whole while.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;d think that it would be quiet,&rdquo; Kailey says, about her mom&rsquo;s last days. &ldquo;But it was a full house of family and friends.&rdquo; Kailey remembers a few days before her mom died, they were passing around a box of chocolates. Her mom could barely communicate, but she managed to lift a finger and point at the nurse. Everyone agrees: That was there mother&rsquo;s way of making sure her family offered the nurse some chocolate too.</p><p>&ldquo;She was always thinking of other people,&rdquo; Kailey says. &ldquo;We need mom here to help get us through this.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/tight-knit-family-remembers-their-mom-111859 "I thought it was my job to protect you and to fix you" http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/i-thought-it-was-my-job-protect-you-and-fix-you-111820 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150403 John and Jonah Holm bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jonah Holm, who prefers to use the gender-neutral pronoun they and their, was isolated and addicted to drugs as a teenager. Jonah&rsquo;s father, John, was a pastor who thought he&rsquo;d done everything possible to fix his child.</p><p>In this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps we hear from Jonah and John Holm as they talk about getting to know and love each other.</p><p>&ldquo;It was clear that you had checked out,&rdquo; John tells Jonah. Jonah spent a lot of time isolated from their family.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought it was my job to protect you and to fix you,&rdquo; John says. He gave Jonah lots of advice. And when it didn&rsquo;t stick, John gave more, and louder, advice.</p><p>&ldquo;It was the only thing I knew to do,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And that just pushed you away more.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You were my dad, and you were a good dad, but I didn&rsquo;t think you liked me,&rdquo; Jonah says. Jonah believed the more John tried, the bigger the wedge between them.</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t until father and child went to family counseling that John realized he couldn&rsquo;t fix Jonah.</p><p>&ldquo;I can only change myself,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Indeed, I needed to change, regardless of what you were going to do.&rdquo;</p><p>That understanding broke open their relationship.</p><p>&ldquo;For you to step out and stop trying to fix me,&rdquo; Jonah says, &ldquo;and then address your stuff, then I could just be a member of the family, instead of be the thing that was wrong with us.&rdquo;</p><p>Jonah told their family they were addicted to heroin and needed to drop out of college to go to rehab.</p><p>Their family was immediately supportive, and Jonah says, &ldquo;At that moment it stopped being important that you liked me, because loving me meant something else.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 10:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/i-thought-it-was-my-job-protect-you-and-fix-you-111820 The legacy of Michael Jordan in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/legacy-michael-jordan-chicago-111803 <p><p>Everyone from superfans to the casual office bracket pool participant follows NCAA March Madness. We rally around underdogs. We&rsquo;re suckers for Cinderella stories. It&rsquo;s as much about these journeys as the sport itself. So as teams compete for the championship title, let&rsquo;s look at Chicago&rsquo;s biggest basketball legend. Our tall tale. Michael Jordan.</p><p>Jordan came to Chicago in the 1980s, and went on to have one of the most memorable careers in basketball. Briefly, Chicago had the best sports team in the country. <a href="http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998/06/22/244166/index.htm" target="_blank">We were known around the world</a> as the home of Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He brought home six NBA championship trophies in the &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Jordan&rsquo;s lasting fame in Chicago is what prompted a seventh-grader working on a history project to ask this question about him. (The student chose to remain anonymous.)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was Michael Jordan&rsquo;s impact on Chicago?</em></p><p>Jordan wondered about his local legacy too. In 1993, he said this to a crowd at the opening of the Michael Jordan Restaurant:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I want to say to the Chicago people, thank you for your support. Ever since I came to this city in 1984, you have taken me in like one of your own, and I&rsquo;ve tried to reciprocate that in my talents and playing the game of basketball. Hopefully the two is going to be a relationship that&rsquo;s going to last a lot longer than me just playing basketball.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>MJ did indeed leave the Bulls and the city in 1999. So, what did MJ leave behind? We consider possible economic impacts as well as his cultural &mdash; even spiritual &mdash; contributions, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Timeline: A brief history of Jordan</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve never been a Jordan fan, just need a refresher, or are too young to remember, here&rsquo;s a timeline of how Jordan&rsquo;s career intersects with Chicago history.<a name="timeline"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdEczczVJNzlKNFlUakM0bW1MQlZvOEE&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="95%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Jordan&rsquo;s economic impact: A windfall for the Windy City?</span></p><p>In the 1990s, the Bulls were on fire. They won championships. More people bought tickets to games and wanted Bulls memorabilia. However, according to sports economists we talked to, it&rsquo;s difficult to find measurable economic impact on the city.</p><p>Allen Sanderson, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and editorial board member of the <a href="http://jse.sagepub.com/" target="_blank">Journal for Sports Economics</a>, says pro sports teams typically draw in-person audiences within a 25-mile radius. He argues that when all those Chicagoans and suburbanites bought tickets to basketball games, that very same ticket cash likely would have just gone elsewhere &mdash; say, to Chicago restaurants, malls, etc.</p><p>Economics and Business Professor Rob Baade of Lake Forest University agrees that during Jordan&rsquo;s time in Chicago, it was likely that local fans just shifted some of their spending from one entertainment choice to another. Bulls are on a hot streak? Spend Saturday night in the arena. Lackluster season? Go out to dinner instead.</p><p>These kinds of arguments, he says, continue beyond Chicago and Michael Jordan. Consider a more <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/17/lebron-james-economic-impact-cleveland-we-expect-too-much" target="_blank">contemporary debate about economic influence and famous athletes: LeBron James and the city of Cleveland, Ohio</a>. Sports celebrities have some effect, Baade says, but it&rsquo;s often modest.</p><p>&ldquo;If you make the argument that Cleveland&rsquo;s economy has ramped up during LeBron&rsquo;s return, you&rsquo;d have to look at the entire Ohio economy,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Whatever modest effect Jordan did have, though, likely got a bump from the fact that he got the Bulls into the playoffs, effectively lengthening the local playing season, and creating several more games.</p><p>&ldquo;You can make the argument that more people are coming in to watch playoffs. But that&rsquo;s not lasting,&rdquo; Baade said.</p><p>But what about Jordan&rsquo;s own spending? After all, by the mid-90s he was one of the world&rsquo;s highest-paid athletes.</p><p>Sanderson says the success didn&rsquo;t put money back into Chicago because that money was spent elsewhere. Jordan went on trips to Jamaica and other places that took him &mdash; and his wallet &mdash; outside of the city.</p><p>Jordan does still have a home in north suburban Highland Park. The mansion, complete with entrance gates adorned with the number 23, is for sale. Though he left the city more than 10 years ago, the house is still on the market. (Any takers? <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2700-Point-Dr-Highland-Park-IL-60035/4902463_zpid/" target="_blank">There&rsquo;s a gym and a basketball court (duh), and it&rsquo;s only $16 million.</a>)</p><p>What about the Michael Jordan Restaurant? It&rsquo;s closed (<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-01-14/entertainment/9401150342_1_waiter-plate-iced" target="_blank">possibly because of bad reviews such as this one</a>), but the Michael Jordan Steak House, which opened in 2011, still stands. The restaurant employs about 150 people. According to manager Myron Markewycz, the operation&rsquo;s doing well. Markewycz estimates that during the first few years it was open, Jordan visited the restaurant about 30 times. That was before Jordan divided his time between residences in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Florida. Now, while Markewycz can&rsquo;t give a specific number, he says they see much less of Jordan.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The United Center: The house that Jordan built?</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s tempting for an armchair historian to credit the United Center&rsquo;s construction to Jordan and the Bulls&rsquo; success. After all, you can&rsquo;t miss the statue of Jordan that dominates one of the center&rsquo;s main entrances. And, a surface reading of the timeline lends some evidence: Jordan arrived in 1984 and the United Center opened for business in 1994, replacing the Chicago Stadium.</p><p>But actually, the United Center was a joint venture designed to house both the Bulls and the Blackhawks hockey team. And it was first planned in 1988, years before the Bulls&rsquo; first championship in 1991.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/UnitedCenter.jpg" style="height: 338px; width: 450px;" title="Chicago's United Center was opened in 1994. (Flickr/Esparta)" /></div><p>Sanderson says it&rsquo;s likely Jordan was just in the right place at the right time. Yes, Jordan excelled at the United Center, but basketball&rsquo;s popularity was the draw, not Jordan.</p><p>Jordan&rsquo;s rookie season was 1984, just as the NBA&rsquo;s popularity began to snowball. Until then, not many Americans watched basketball at the stadium or on TV. According to Sanderson, the playoffs were taped and aired later because not enough people wanted to watch them live. The sport gained momentum throughout the &lsquo;80s. Jordan and the Bulls, he says, rode the wave.</p><p>Sam Smith, a sports reporter who covered Jordan for the Chicago Tribune and authored two books about the star, says this rising tide compelled the NBA to push all teams &mdash; including the Bulls &mdash; to build new stadiums, fill seats and boost revenue.</p><p>&ldquo;They committed all of the franchises to have to get new buildings,&rdquo; he said, adding that if teams couldn&rsquo;t pull it off financially or politically, they were pressured to look for new cities to play in.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20united%20center%20statue%20for%20united%20center%20section_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 361px; width: 250px; margin: 5px;" title="Chicago Bulls' star Michael Jordan stands next to a 12-foot bronze statue of himself unveiled outside the United Center in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 1, 1994, during a salute to Jordan by the Bulls. At left is Jordan's mother Deloris. (AP Photo/John Zich)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was put onto this,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why Seattle&rsquo;s team moved to Oklahoma City, as an example.&rdquo;</p><p>But Charles Johnson, the CEO of Johnson Consulting (a firm that works on stadium projects, among other things) gives Jordan more credit.</p><p>Johnson helped supervise the development of the United Center for Stein and Company. He says the previous venue, the Chicago Stadium, had become obsolete and that there &ldquo;was no doubt&rdquo; that the United Center would have been built at some point. Still, he says, Jordan &ldquo;absolutely&rdquo; drove the timing.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it is safe to say that this is the building that Michael built,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I do not think this can be said anywhere else, so emphatically.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson, Sanderson and Smith agree that Jordan had a definite impact on the new stadium&rsquo;s capacity and other amenities &mdash; in particular, the high number of suites.</p><p>&ldquo;If MJ was not in the picture, that many suites would never have happened,&rdquo; Johnson said, adding that the decision to create additional luxury seating turned into an excellent revenue stream for the construction project.</p><p>Smith goes further, saying that the NBA pointed to Jordan&rsquo;s track record and crowd appeal as an argument to expand suites and other accommodations. He says the franchises listened.</p><p>&ldquo;You can make a case with Michael that he influenced all of these buildings everywhere,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Charitable impact</span></p><p>Throughout the 1990s, Michael Jordan was the richest athlete in the world, raking in $78.3 million in 1997 alone. Even if Chicago felt little economic impact from the Bulls&rsquo; success, you might suspect that Jordan&rsquo;s personal wealth &mdash; and fundraising in his name &mdash; had potential to leave a more measurable mark on the city.</p><p>In 1989 Jordan and his mother, Deloris, created the Michael Jordan Foundation, a Chicago-based charity that focused on improving education on a national scale. It had two offices and twelve people on staff. Student who participated in Jordan&rsquo;s Education Club could earn a weekend trip to Chicago if their grades and school attendance improved.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20econ%20impact%20AP_1.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 450px;" title="Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan gestures during a news conference at Bercy stadium in Paris Wednesday Oct. 15, 1997. Michael Jordan is the richest athlete in the world, regaining the top spot on the Forbes magazine list for the fifth time in six years. Jordan will earn dlrs 78.3 million in 1997. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)" /></div><p>But in 1996, seven years after the foundation&rsquo;s start (and shortly after Jordan made his <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/basketball/7/71/450458/michael-jordan-proclaimed-im-back-20-years-ago-today" target="_blank">famous Bulls comeback</a>), he<a href="http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1996/Michael-Jordan-Pulls-Plug-on-Charitable-Foundation/id-0c0db7ac6126eb83ad42762939677c11" target="_blank"> pulled the plug</a>. Jordan told the press he wanted to take a &ldquo;more personal and less institutional&rdquo; approach to financial giving, and that he&rsquo;d rather &ldquo;pick and choose to whom I give my donation.&rdquo;</p><p>And, aside from a substantial <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=9999200019825" target="_blank">$5 million donation</a> to Chicago&rsquo;s Hales Franciscan High School in 2007, Jordan doesn&rsquo;t seem to have picked or chosen much else when it comes to local donations.</p><p>One Chicago charity to which MJ does still contribute is the James R. Jordan Foundation, an evolution of the Michael Jordan Foundation named in honor of his father. Deloris Jordan (Michael&rsquo;s mother) is the founder. Michael has little administrative involvement, a fact quickly asserted by the foundation.</p><p>&ldquo;He hasn&rsquo;t been here in how many years?&rdquo; said Samuel Bain, the foundation&rsquo;s director of development. &ldquo;[MJ] hasn&rsquo;t lived here, hasn&rsquo;t played here.&rdquo;</p><p>Bain says it&rsquo;s challenging to quantify the impact of the James R. Jordan Foundation on the city itself, but suspects it&rsquo;s benefited more local children and families than MJ&rsquo;s efforts in the early &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Under Deloris&rsquo; direction, the James R. Jordan Foundation partners with three Chicago K-8 schools, two of which are on either side of the United Center. Every student enrolled in these schools is part of a program called the <a href="http://www.jamesjordanfoundation.com/a-team-scholars.html" target="_blank">A-Team Scholars</a>, which awards scholarship money to students based on the letter improvements of their grades each semester.</p><p>Bain says the program has helped Chicago kids make it to high school and college. Some students have become <a href="https://www.gmsp.org/" target="_blank">Gates Millennium Scholars</a>, and a number of graduates from the James R. Jordan Schools have returned to Chicago as program mentors.</p><p>&ldquo;The impact shows in actual neighborhoods, in kids who are making it,&rdquo; Bain said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the result of making it to college.&rdquo;</p><p>As far as MJ&rsquo;s contributions?</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s a supporter like our other supporters,&rdquo; Bain said. &ldquo;We are not the Michael Jordan Foundation. We don&rsquo;t want the focus to be on Michael.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Second to none</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20need%20you%20back%20pride%20section_0.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 5px; height: 381px; width: 250px;" title="(AP Photo) " />For a while, everyone wanted to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0AGiq9j_Ak" target="_blank">&lsquo;Be Like Mike.&rsquo;</a> Which means Chicago&rsquo;s identity got a bit of a makeover, too.</p><p>Before MJ came along &ldquo;if you were traveling and told someone you were from Chicago, people would say, &lsquo;Oh, Chicago. Al Capone!&rsquo; Now, it&rsquo;s &lsquo;Chicago? Michael Jordan!&rdquo; said Sanderson.</p><p>Sam Smith says that the city experienced a sense of pride that it hadn&rsquo;t had before.</p><p>For a long time, he points out, Chicago was the &ldquo;Second City&rdquo; to New York or Los Angeles.</p><p>&ldquo;Here in Chicago, sports teams have traditionally been unsuccessful. They were associated with losing and being made fun of,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That sentiment turned around. The United Center&rsquo;s Michael Jordan statue, entitled &quot;The Spirit&quot; and completed in 1994, has these words emblazoned on it: &ldquo;The best there ever was. The best there ever will be.&rdquo; It was as if, when Jordan was playing for the Bulls in the &lsquo;90s, everyone was proud to be from Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be the best forever,&rdquo; Smith said, &ldquo;but for a while we were number one.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/legacy-michael-jordan-chicago-111803 Three decades as a Chicago policewoman http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/three-decades-chicago-policewoman-111781 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150327 PatHayes bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2001-02-16/news/0102160213_1_policewoman-policewomen-chicago-police-force">Pat Hays started with the Chicago Police in the 1960s</a>, her uniform was a skirt with a box jacket and &ldquo;a ridiculous hat shaped like a sugar scoop. And it didn&rsquo;t matter how many bobby pins you used, that damned hat would lift up in the wind and go trailing down the street. So if you got a choice of losing your hat or losing your prisoner, the hats were $40 apiece and there weren&rsquo;t that many available. It was a one-of-a-kind deal. You couldn&rsquo;t even find a hat to replace the hat that belonged to you. So of course we held on to the hat. You could always get the prisoner later.&rdquo;</p><p>StoryCorps producer Maya Millett interviewed Hays at home and they talked about Hays&rsquo; three decades on the force. When she started, the belief that you were a policewoman because you serviced all of the bosses was common, Hays said.</p><p>Once, Hays was part of a new unit, and the man she was working with asked how she got the job. She didn&rsquo;t say anything and after about ten minutes he kept at it. He accused her of sleeping with one of the bosses. She kept quiet.</p><p>He kept pestering her and finally asked, &ldquo;Which one are you sleeping with?&rdquo;</p><p>Hays says he looked him right in the eye and said, &ldquo;<em>All</em> of them.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I won the pissing contest,&rdquo; Hays said. &ldquo;A lot of times it was just brains over brawn.&rdquo;</p><p>The job took a toll on Hays&rsquo; marriage. She says she wouldn&rsquo;t want her daughters to follow in her footsteps. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want them to put up with the things I did,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want them to see the things that I saw.&rdquo;</p><p>In spite of the negatives, Hays said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of a calling. Nobody&rsquo;s gonna tell you you did a good job. Your sergeant&rsquo;s not going to tell you how great you are&hellip;but you have to be able to go home knowing that you did some good, you helped somebody along the way, or the person that you talked to today is in a better situation than when you dealt with her.&rdquo;</p><p>Hays says when she finally retired, it wasn&rsquo;t because she was tired of the job or that she was tired of talking to people.</p><p>&ldquo;It was because I couldn&rsquo;t stand all of the nonsense that the bosses were going through,&ldquo; she said, &ldquo;I still like solving people&rsquo;s problems. I would have done it forever. It was the paramilitary mindset that I had the most trouble with.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/three-decades-chicago-policewoman-111781 In addressing food allergies, some Chicago schools fall through the cracks http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/addressing-food-allergies-some-chicago-schools-fall-through-cracks-111728 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ravenswood-lunch.jpg" title="Students during lunch period at Ravenswood Elementary chow down on Doritos, nacho cheese and sunflower butter. The new nut-free policy means peanut butter isn’t allowed. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>It&rsquo;s a typical day in the Ravenswood Elementary cafeteria on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. Middle schoolers catch up with friends, make jokes and chow down on a mishmosh of cafeteria food and brown bag lunches.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a Subway meatball sub,&rdquo; one says.</p><p>&ldquo;I have homemade soup with some rice,&rdquo; chirps another.</p><p>&ldquo;And I have some Doritos with peanut butter, I mean sunflower butter,&rdquo; their friend adds, catching himself as he remembers the school&rsquo;s new nut-free policy.</p><p>Starting in 2015, Ravenswood joined a small cadre of schools that have passed nut-free guidelines that go above and beyond the more common nut-free tables and nut-free menus.</p><p>That means no PBJs, no nutty granola bars, and no Snickers.</p><p>&ldquo;We are asking families and staff to make sure that no foods that have any nuts at all come into the building,&rdquo; says Principal Nate Menaen. And by nuts, he means, &ldquo;Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts of course.&rdquo;</p><p>In recent decades childhood food allergies have skyrocketed from 1 in 50 American children in 1990 to 1 in 13 today. That works out to about two kids in every American classroom &mdash; and that number is growing.</p><p>So how many schools are taking a hard stance against food allergies like Ravenswood?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Food-Allergy-thumb.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Ravenswood Elementary is one of only a handful of CPS schools to ban nuts in the entire building. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />Chicago Public School officials say they don&rsquo;t know. But the district does say it offers nut-free meals to about 200 schools (or roughly a third of the district). Most of them are located in more affluent areas or on the North Side.</p><p>But those aren&rsquo;t necessarily the schools with the greatest need.</p><p>Research shows that potential food allergies are actually higher among minorities. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182844/" target="_blank">One Children&rsquo;s Memorial Hospital study</a> showed that those with African ancestry have a higher-than-average nut sensitivity. &nbsp;</p><p>Beverly Horne is the lead nurse in the south region of Chicago Public Schools. She oversees more than 100 schools on the South Side, but says that none have adopted the same kind of nut-free guidelines as Ravenswood.</p><p>In order to be allowed medical accommodations, students need documentation along with a doctor&rsquo;s diagnosis. But for many of the families she serves, Horne says, simply getting to the doctor is hard enough. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It has a lot of do with access,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If you look at it, several of the clinics in those neighborhoods were closed and the parents have to travel.&rdquo;</p><p>She says nurses do what they can to fill in the gaps on the one to two days a week they can visit a particular school but it&rsquo;s often not enough. Plus, she says, many parents don&rsquo;t always know what to look for.</p><p>&ldquo;I recall one incident where the parent wasn&rsquo;t even aware that it was an allergic reaction she was seeing in her child,&rdquo; Horne says, &ldquo;and so we had to reach out to that parent. And actually it was a food allergy and those symptoms she was experiencing could have been very serious.&rdquo;</p><p>Just how serious?</p><p>In 2010 7th grader Catelyn Karlson died after eating peanut-tainted food that was brought to her Northwest Side school. &nbsp;Since then, CPS became the first large urban district to put epinephrine injectors (or EpiPen) in every school.</p><p>There they can be used to treat anyone in anaphylactic shock &mdash; a severe allergic reaction that can stop a victim from breathing.</p><p>Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a pediatric allergist at Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital, helped lead the effort. <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/10/emergency-epinephrine-used-38-times-in-chicago-public-schools.html" target="_blank">In a report on its first year of progress</a>, she noted that 38 students and staff were treated with the injectors. More than half of them didn&rsquo;t even know they had a food allergy.</p><p>This lack of knowledge worries Gupta, who says policy makers need to ask more questions. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Why don&rsquo;t we we see [more allergy diagnoses] on the South or West Side and in predominantly African American or Hispanic populations?&rdquo; she wonders. &ldquo;Now, do they have more and is it as severe? Unfortunately, until now we have not truly been able to classify who is going to have what kind of reaction when they eat the food. So some kids may just break out in a couple of hives or have a little mouth tingling but other kids could have full blown anaphylaxis that could lead to death.&rdquo;</p><p>Minority students may be more vulnerable to food allergies, but Gupta says other factors contribute to how schools decide whether to implement nut-free policies.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason you see policies more on the North Side is probably because of the parents advocating for it so much,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This gets the principal, school staff and teachers on board that this is a serious problem and we need to do something about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Most of these policies, she notes, are driven by parents in Local School Councils, which is exactly how Ravenswood ended up &ldquo;nut-free&rdquo; this year. Ravenswood principal Manaen says there was some push back as he worked to get his whole school community on board with the guidelines.&nbsp;</p><p>But, it&rsquo;s one thing to say you&rsquo;re nut-free, it&rsquo;s another to make it a reality. It&rsquo;s not as if you can install nut detectors at the door.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s [just] a guideline,&rdquo; Principal Menaen says. &ldquo;Because at the end of the day, maybe I brought in my leftovers from a restaurant I went to that cooked in products that also touched peanut product. And so it&rsquo;s never 100 percent safe.&rdquo;</p><p>It is, however, one step toward making schools a little more safe &mdash; at least in some parts of the city. &nbsp;</p><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 meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 07:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/addressing-food-allergies-some-chicago-schools-fall-through-cracks-111728 Garcia, Emanuel battle in heated first debate of runoff http://www.wbez.org/news/garcia-emanuel-battle-heated-first-debate-runoff-111708 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmchuydebate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>UPDATED: 1:32 PM 3/17/2015</em></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s two mayoral hopefuls turned up the heat for their first one-on-one debate Monday night.</p><p>In the first of three live, televised events before the April 7 runoff election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia hit each other in the same spots as usual during the NBC and Telemundo debate: Emanuel criticized Garcia for not giving specifics, and Garcia called out Emanuel for paying too much attention to downtown, rather than the neighborhoods.</p><p>The two went back and forth on a number of topics that are familiar to the campaign trail, like public safety, schools, city finances and red light cameras. On finances, Emanuel said a property tax hike was not on the table, despite comments to the contrary from a top ally last week, as well as a warning from Emanuel himself last Friday that property tax bills would &ldquo;explode&rdquo; if Springfield didn&rsquo;t help reform pensions. Campaign staff later said that property taxes are the &ldquo;very last resort&rdquo; and any increase would &ldquo;protect middle-class homeowners and seniors.&rdquo; The city of Chicago faces a looming $550 million dollar state-mandated payment toward police and fire retirement funds.</p><p>&ldquo;Every effort going forward on police and fire is to avoid a property tax. I&rsquo;ve laid out a specific plan before the election. You&rsquo;ve laid out a commission,&rdquo; Emanuel said to Garcia.</p><p>The mayor says he&rsquo;d ask employees &ldquo;to help us a little&rdquo; to stabilize pensions, and that he&rsquo;d lobby Springfield for reforms to the sales tax and a Chicago-run casino that would be &ldquo;fully dedicated&rdquo; to pensions.</p><p>Meanwhile, Garcia sought to further define himself as the &ldquo;neighborhood guy,&rdquo; taking many opportunities to try and convince viewers not only that his experience in the community will drive his decisions, but that Emanuel focuses too much on the &ldquo;rich and wealthy&rdquo; or on downtown interests.</p><p>&ldquo;The mayor doesn&rsquo;t mind taxing low-income people and working people,&rdquo; Garcia said, referring to the city&rsquo;s red light camera program. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why on day one I will get rid of all those cameras.&rdquo;</p><p>The two candidates also sought to blame the other for the city&rsquo;s financial crisis. Emanuel took a new swipe at his opponent where he maintained that Garcia, as a state senator, voted in 1997 to create a holiday for Chicago Public Schools teacher pension payments. Garcia continued to accuse Emanuel of not following through on his campaign promise to put the city&rsquo;s financial house in order.</p><p>On public safety, Emanuel contended the city was &ldquo;safer than it was before, but not safe enough where people from all parts of the city can enjoy it.&rdquo; Garcia repeated his push for more police officers, and said he&rsquo;d start hiring them with half of what the city spends now on police overtime.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/garcia-emanuel-battle-heated-first-debate-runoff-111708 Pi Day makes math delicious http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/pi-day-makes-math-delicious-111699 <p><p>Every circle, no matter if it&rsquo;s a pea or a planet, has the same circumference-diameter ratio. That ratio is pi.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a number. One that&rsquo;s not easy to quantify. Its digits go on and on and on&mdash;forever.</p><p>Pi has some interesting real-world applications: sound waves, global navigation, even rainbows have connections to pi.</p><p>Most people say pi equals about 3.14.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Pi Day is celebrated by math geeks around the world on the March 14.</p><p>This year is especially exciting because it&rsquo;s Pi Day to the fourth decimal point: 3.1415.&nbsp;</p><p>That won&rsquo;t happen again for a hundred years.</p><p>In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives jumped onto the math party wagon and issued <a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hres224eh/pdf/BILLS-111hres224eh.pdf">House Resolution 224</a>, designating March 14 as Pi Day.</p><p>Amid a dozen whereases was concern that American students were lagging behind in math and science compared to kids in other countries.</p><p>Lots of math teachers didn&rsquo;t need a House resolution to get their kids excited about math. That&rsquo;s true for Mara Lewis, who teaches 7th grade math at Catalyst Maria charter school in Chicago.</p><p>She remembers celebrating Pi Day when she was a kid.</p><p>&ldquo;I specifically remember we used to have this contest of who could find these hidden shirts that had pi, 3.14, all over it,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And I still have a shirt that I won because I found it. So I&rsquo;ve been talking to them about this before I introduced what pi was to them.&rdquo;</p><p>Sofia Salazar, one of Lewis&rsquo; students, is catching on.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s interesting because it&rsquo;s one whole number with so many digits behind it,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And you can use it for so many different things.&rdquo;</p><p>When asked what she already knows about pi, she offers a nuanced answer:</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it depends which one you&rsquo;re talking about. But pi would be 3.14 or the delicious dessert, which is my favorite.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s no real connection between mathematical pi and food pie, and math teachers aren&rsquo;t the only ones buying into the fun.</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/150313%20pie.jpg" title="Employees at Hoosier Mama pie shop in Evanston prepare for this year’s Epic Pi Day. (WBEZ/Greta Johnsen)" /></div><p>Paula Haney runs Hoosier Mama pie shop.</p><p>&ldquo;Pi Day is probably third after Christmas and Thanksgiving,&quot; Haney said. &quot;It&rsquo;d be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then Pi Day.&rdquo;</p><p>As she slices and squeezes tiny key limes, she says she and her husband opened their first pie shop on March 14, 2009, the first unofficial official Pi Day.</p><p>Since then, they&rsquo;ve learned just what a big deal Pi Day is. Last year, their shop in Evanston exceeded expectations.</p><p>&ldquo;Rachel, who was managing the front that day, was on a step stool yelling out what pies we had and what pies we didn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Haney said. &ldquo;We couldn&rsquo;t keep the menu board written fast enough.&rdquo;</p><p>Haney says on a typical Saturday, she makes about 170 pies. This year, she&rsquo;s prepping for more than 400.</p><p>All the attention may be igniting enthusiasm among students, but so far, Pi Day hasn&rsquo;t done much to change how American kids rank in math compared to the rest of the world. But teacher Mara Lewis thinks it&rsquo;s fun to keep trying.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a nice way to make math relevant and see, you know, 3.14, we use numbers in everyday life, March 14th. It could definitely be incorporated into standardized testing and also used as a break from it&hellip;the kids are very excited about it, so it&rsquo;s exciting for me as a teacher.&rdquo;</p><p>And after all, Pi Day is really about making math as delicious as possible.</p></p> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/pi-day-makes-math-delicious-111699