WBEZ | Washington Park http://www.wbez.org/tags/washington-park Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en South Side ‘forward operating base’ serves more than just veterans http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-%E2%80%98forward-operating-base%E2%80%99-serves-more-just-veterans-113739 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV2-Doc.JPG" style="height: 405px; width: 540px;" title="Daniel “Doc” Habeel with a picture of his father William George II, who served as a lieutenant in World War II. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Just inside the doors of the <a href="http://www.rtwvetcenter.org/">RTW Veterans Center</a> on S. Martin Luther King Dr. a long hallway is lined with a dozen framed pictures.</p><p>Ranging from abolitionist Frederick Douglas to Henry Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, to General Colin Powell, it&rsquo;s literally a hall of fame of black servicemen throughout history.</p><p>That history includes RTW&rsquo;s founder Daniel &ldquo;Doc&rdquo; Habeel who served in Vietnam as well as his father, grandfather and other relatives who carried on a military tradition. It also now includes two of Habeel&#39;s children who&rsquo;ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan.</p><p>Habeel decided to open an outpost of the Muslim American Veterans Association several years ago. It was during a MAVA fish fry fundraiser in 2011 that he noticed something.</p><p>&ldquo;Some of the people that came to the fish fry they really didn&rsquo;t have the money that we were looking for $10 a plate all you can eat,&rdquo; said Habeel. &ldquo;What they came with was some change. But we fed them anyway.&rdquo;</p><p>Habeel says some of the same people came back the following day.</p><p>&ldquo;And they wanted to know if there was any fish left,&rdquo; remembered Habeel. &ldquo;And there was and we fed them again.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV1-building.JPG" style="height: 385px; width: 320px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="RTW has been in the community since 2011. Habeel says they’ve served at least 2,000 people since opening. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Then some showed up on the <em>third </em>day.</p><p>&ldquo;And that day we made a commitment that if anyone comes to this door hungry, they would never leave hungry,&rdquo; said Habeel.</p><p>Shortly afterward, he and his wife Arnetha started the RTW, which stands for Remaking the World. They originally intended to help needy veterans find food, clothing and a place to get out of the cold.</p><p>But they soon realized the needs of the neighborhood were much greater. Habeel said he began to think of their sturdy, three-story graystone as a &quot;forward operating base&quot; in a war zone.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to go in and rescue our neighborhoods,&rdquo; said Habeel. &ldquo;From poverty, gangs, drugs, crime, violence and urban terrorism.&rdquo;</p><p>Hazel Parker comes for lunch everyday at 1 p.m sharp. On this day, she&rsquo;s getting a plate of b-b-q chicken to go. Parker says she spent a year in the Army, not long enough to rack up benefits. Injured in a motorcycle accident in the 1980s, a stroke permanently slurred her speech. Now Parker says fluid behind her knees has forced her to use a wheelchair.</p><p>&ldquo;My leg hurts like hell, said Parker. &ldquo;I need two knee replacement surgeries.&rdquo;</p><p>Parker lives around the corner from the RTW and says it helps everyone in the neighborhood &mdash; no questions asked. There&rsquo;s a community garden on the vacant lot next door. Inside the greystone, one converted bedroom holds canned goods and another has long racks of clothing. On the third floor there&rsquo;s a computer lab for anyone who needs help finding a job.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV3-Hazel.JPG" style="text-align: center; height: 551px; width: 540px;" title="Hazel Parker gets free meals from RTW every day. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Gwendolyn Washington, a former Army lieutenant, says the staff prepares anywhere from 75 to 150 meals a day for those in need.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re grateful they&rsquo;re here. Especially the little kids after school. They get pastries&rdquo;, said Washington, who recalled passing out hams a few weeks ago. &ldquo;A little boy came up and said &lsquo;could I take one?&rsquo; I said &lsquo;what are you going to do with that ham?&rsquo; He said &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to take it to my mother.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Habeel says they rely on volunteers and donations from the community to keep the pantry full.</p><p>In the meantime, he&rsquo;s also keeping an eye on what&rsquo;s brewing across the street. If Washington Park is chosen as the site of the new Obama Presidential Center, future commercial development could be built steps away. Habeel isn&rsquo;t opposed to the idea but worries it could displace the RTW and those it serves.</p><p>Habeel says it wouldn&rsquo;t be his first battle for survival. And he promised to follow the old Army Creed ... to never leave a fallen comrade.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 11:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-%E2%80%98forward-operating-base%E2%80%99-serves-more-just-veterans-113739 Dyett high school hunger strike ends after 34 days http://www.wbez.org/news/dyett-high-school-hunger-strike-ends-after-34-days-113000 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.24.46 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Sept. 22, 10:42 a.m.</em></p><p>Protesters demanding Dyett High School reopen as a neighborhood school with a green technology curriculum have ended their hunger strike after 34 days. The end of the strike comes after protesters won a number of key demands but never declared victory.</p><p>A news conference with the hunger strikers and their supporters is set for Monday afternoon at Rainbow P.U.S.H. headquarters.</p><p>On August 17, a group of 12 parents and school activists began a liquids-only diet to protest what they said is the destruction of neighborhood schools, especially in African American neighborhoods, and the &ldquo;privatization of public education.&rdquo; The group and supporters gathered daily on the grounds of Dyett High School on the city&rsquo;s south side. They also took their protest to Chicago Public Schools headquarters, City Hall, President Barack Obama&rsquo;s home in Kenwood, U.S. Education Secretary and former CPS CEO Arne Duncan, and a town hall budget meeting in which their protest forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/923198/emanuel-meets-dyett-hunger-strikers-town-hall-budget-session">whisked from the stage</a>.</p><p>On September 3 &mdash; Day 18 of the hunger strike &mdash; CPS announced it would reopen Dyett as a district-run school with an arts curriculum, a move that would honor the school&rsquo;s namesake, music teacher Walter H. Dyett. The CPS plan ceded to a number of demands made by the hunger strikers. First, Dyett would reopen as a school, which was not initially contemplated. It would have a neighborhood boundary, meaning all children in the attendance-area could attend without having to first meet minimum test-score requirements or go through a lottery (nearly all Chicago high schools opened in the past decade have had citywide boundaries and require students to apply; no one is guaranteed admission). And it would include a technology component, which hunger strikers had demanded.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:</strong>&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/who-was-walter-h-dyett">Who was Walter Dyett?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>CPS billed the plan as a &ldquo;<a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/932146/dyett-compromise-reaction-rejected-praised">compromise</a>,&rdquo; but it reached the agreement not with the hunger strikers or KOCO (Kenwood Oakland Community Organization) but with a separate set of community leaders. The protesters declared their hunger strike would continue.</p><p>While the hunger strike began about a month ago, the roots of the fight began years ago, when CPS shook up the local schools in the Bronzeville-Kenwood-Washington Park area by turning the high school, King, into a test-in school. Dyett became the default attendance-area high school for the area--it had been a middle school until then--and activists say it was never properly funded. The school board voted in 2012 to <a href="http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3258">phase Dyett out</a>; the <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/06/10/end-of-an-era-at-dyett-high-school/">last class graduated in June with 13 students</a>.</p><p>KOCO pushed for a new high school to replace Dyett as it was being phased out, and the district eventually agreed to ask for proposals. Three were submitted: one for an arts school to be run by nonprofit Little Black Pearl Arts and Design Center; one for a sports school submitted by Dyett&rsquo;s last principal; and a KOCO proposal for a &ldquo;Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School.&rdquo; A vote on the proposals was slated for August. When CPS leadership changes put off the vote, the hunger strike began.</p><p>The hunger strikers received local and national support from aldermen, state lawmakers, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.</p><p>As the weeks went on, the stress of going without solid food began to take its toll. At least two hunger strikers required medical attention, one was hospitalized and another was carried out of a CPS meeting by paramedics. Last week, four dropped out, citing health concerns. The group says five new people offered and began to take their places in the hunger strike.</p><p>Flanked by hunger strikers and their supporters, &nbsp;the Reverend Jesse Jackson congratulated the group&rsquo;s efforts at Rainbow P.U.S.H headquarters, about a mile away from Dyett High School. He said the group accomplished a great deal. The Reverend Janette Wilson of Rainbow P.U.S.H. is talking to CPS on behalf of the hunger strikers.</p><p>&ldquo;We were not negotiating in a labor sense,&rdquo; said Wilson. &ldquo;The school is going to be open enrollment. It&rsquo;s a neighborhood school, it&rsquo;s a community school. We&rsquo;re trying to celebrate that victory right now. And as we continue conversations going forward, more things will be agreed to.&rdquo;</p><p>Another person who&rsquo;s had conversations with CPS is Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D). &ldquo;Certainly one in person and a little bit on the phone,&rdquo; said Raoul. &ldquo; I don&rsquo;t want to pump it up to be more than it is. As community stakeholders, we&rsquo;re concerned with all parties involved, not just the coalition.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown says they&rsquo;re not finished and as they plan for another phase, they have a list of demands to be fulfilled. Some include using the words &ldquo;green technology&rdquo; in the school name, appointing ex-CPS teacher Duane Turner as principal, and keeping the name &ldquo;Dyett.&rdquo; Walter Dyett, the famed Chicago public schools music director, taught high school music to future jazz greats Gene Ammons, Von Freeman, Dinah Washington and Nat &ldquo;King&rdquo; Cole.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Linda Lutton contributed to this story.</em></p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews"><em>@yolandanews</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Sep 2015 11:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dyett-high-school-hunger-strike-ends-after-34-days-113000 Smooth growth: A challenge to traditional urban redevelopment http://www.wbez.org/news/smooth-growth-challenge-traditional-urban-redevelopment-109053 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/wash park_131101_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On the corner of 57th and Lafayette, an old green house displays a certain charm, despite the fact that the porch sags, and wildflowers and tall grass fill the yard. The surrounding blocks have wide lots of open land.</p><p>This portion of the South Side&rsquo;s Washington Park neighborhood is a textbook target for conventional redevelopment strategies: moving houses, invoking eminent domain or wholesale urban removal (dubbed &lsquo;negro removal&rsquo; in black communities).</p><p>But those are not the preferred tools of architect <a href="http://www.marshallbrownprojects.com/" target="_blank">Marshall Brown</a>, who shows me around Washington Park during a brisk fall day. Instead, he says, we should imagine country living being possible in the middle of the Chicago. That kind of vision is an outgrowth of his urban planning brainchild: a development strategy called smooth growth.</p><p>Brown&rsquo;s idea is to move beyond just refilling empty space or razing entire urban grids. Instead, he says, we should also consider reorganizing streetscapes or adding layers. For example, it could involve bundling abandoned lots on a block so residents could collectively manage them &mdash; in exchange for tax abatements or other incentives. Right now, residents have to pay taxes on properties transferred to them, and that&rsquo;s enough to make people say &ldquo;Forget it!&rdquo; and accept a garbage-strewn lot.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not talking about ruralizing the city or suburbanizing the city,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about trying to create some sort of hybrid in which we can have some of the best aspects of city, country, suburb together.&rdquo;</p><p>The terms &ldquo;blight, &ldquo;empty&rdquo; and &ldquo;vacant&rdquo; are often ascribed to Washington Park, but Brown chafes at their use. After all, he said, vacant space isn&rsquo;t always negative &mdash; at least in the suburbs. There, it&rsquo;s called <em>open space</em>.</p><p>Washington Park, which sits between a lush park of the same name and the Dan Ryan Expressway, is considered a candidate for smooth growth principles. It was a wealthy enclave in the 1800s. During the Great Migration, Southern African-Americans moved in. Over the past four decades the neighborhood&rsquo;s population declined from a high of 46,000 to fewer than 12,000.</p><p>Brown challenges the idea that places like Washington Park necessarily need to repopulate.</p><p>&ldquo;In cities all across America, all around the world, you have challenges of uneven development. ... &nbsp;Especially in a democratic, free market society where people ideally can choose where they want to live,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Smooth growth, then, is about quality, not quantity.</p><p>The physical changes are supposed to accommodate lower density, make the land less of a burden and look less empty. This collective stewardship is radical compared to traditional redevelopment strategies, but consider this: block clubs, condo associations, subdivisions in the burbs also participate in communal living and management.</p><p>Brown&rsquo;s idea has caught the attention of Bridget Gainer, a Cook County Commissioner who also acts as the point person with the new <a href="http://www.cookcountylandbank.org/" target="_blank">Cook County Land Bank</a>, which was created to find creative uses for abandoned land and clear away red tape associated with nuisances such as title transfers.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When he came in and I saw what his vision for Washington Park could look like, I was totally blown away,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It was the visual representation of why are we stuck on what the past is, let&rsquo;s look at what the future could be.&rdquo;</p><p>She says a smooth growth approach could change our view of vacant lots.</p><p>&ldquo;Instead of just looking at these things as liabilities, let&rsquo;s flip it around and say this is the opportunity,&rdquo; Gainer said. &ldquo;If you had all this open space, what would you do with it? And just ask people what they want.&rdquo;</p><p>Smooth growth is still probably some years out. Next steps include corralling local support &mdash; in particular, finding a specific city block to act as a model.</p><p>Sara Thomas, who owns a home on Lafayette Street, lives around unkempt land. She says it attracts homeless men.</p><p>&ldquo;The city owns the property but they haven&rsquo;t come down to tear down any of the trees. So now they&rsquo;ve grown to the fact where they&rsquo;re absolutely just a forest,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>When introduced to some core smooth growth concepts, Thomas says she has some ideas.</p><p>&ldquo;From 58th all the way to 57th Street, these are mostly senior citizens. We would be more interested in sidewalks available because as you can see the sidewalks haven&rsquo;t been taken care of as well as clearing the brushes and the forestry so if seniors would want to walk around the block, they would feel safe enough in doing that,&rdquo; Thomas said.</p><p>But until then,Thomas will continue to complain to the city about how it isn&rsquo;t being a good steward of the surrounding land.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Contact at <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 31 Oct 2013 18:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/smooth-growth-challenge-traditional-urban-redevelopment-109053 Chicago speed cameras catch 234K leadfoots in opening weeks http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-speed-cameras-catch-234k-leadfoots-opening-weeks-108893 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5f27a295-a526-eab2-207c-4398f3e0b89b">New data show Chicago&rsquo;s nascent speed camera system is already lightening the city&rsquo;s lead feet, but the numbers are also prompting critics to wonder whether City Hall is in for a massive revenue windfall at taxpayers&rsquo; expense.</p><p dir="ltr">Cameras in nine so-called &ldquo;safety zones&rdquo; near four Chicago parks logged 233,886 speeding violations between Aug. 26 and Oct. 9, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request.</p><p>The cameras are not yet churning out actual tickets, but had they been, those nine alone would have generated nearly $13.9 million worth of citations in just 45 days, according to WBEZ&rsquo;s analysis. For now, the cameras are generating only warnings to give drivers time to learn where the cameras are - and tap the brakes - before getting walloped with fines.</p><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-speed-cameras-catch-205k-leadfoots-opening-weeks-108893#map"><strong>MAP: Where are the new speed cameras?</strong></a></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">And Chicagoans already seem to be riding the steep learning curve city transportation officials had hoped for: Speeding violations have dropped an average of 50 percent at the four sites since Aug. 26, data show.</p><p dir="ltr">Those numbers surprised even Scott Kubly, the Chicago Department of Transportation official who&rsquo;s in charge of the fledgling speed camera program.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The fact that there&rsquo;s that many warnings that have gone out is an indication of how big a speeding problem that we actually have in Chicago,&rdquo; Kubly told WBEZ Thursday.</p><p dir="ltr">Some drivers could begin finding speed camera tickets in their mailboxes after Oct. 16, when the 30-day grace period for the Gompers Park cameras on the North Side runs out. Tickets for the other three speed camera sites - at Marquette, Mckinley Garfield Parks - hit the mail Oct. 21. Drivers photographed going between six and 10 mph over the posted limit will get a $35 fine. Get caught cruising any faster than that, and the fine jumps to $100.</p><p dir="ltr">In order to &quot;ease the transition,&quot; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s administration said in a Friday press release that the city would only issue tickets to drivers caught going faster than 10 mph over the speed limit. It&#39;s unclear how long that will last.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration estimates the city will make between $40 million and $60 million from speed camera tickets next year, when Chicago government is facing a nearly $339 million budget shortfall. But the high number of speed violations so far - and the big potential for revenue - has reignited criticisms that the program is more about making money than protecting kids.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I can not deny that, if those cameras are there, people are gonna slow down,&rdquo; said 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston, who voted against allowing the speed cameras. &ldquo;But call it what it is. Don&rsquo;t try to sell us on the safety of children and parks and schools.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">If speed camera violations continue at their current rate, the city&rsquo;s take could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars a year. And dozens more cameras are on the way: The city is aiming to have a total of 105 installed at 50 locations by early 2014, Kubly said.</p><p dir="ltr">Alderman John Arena, 45th Ward, who voted against the original speed camera plan, suggests the administration is low-balling its revenue projections, while overestimating the deterrent effect on drivers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re still gonna get caught in the net,&rdquo; Arena said. &ldquo;I think $100 million is easy for the system.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But Emanuel&rsquo;s administration is sticking to its earlier projections as it bets on a dramatic dropoff in speeding - between 75 and 90 percent - as drivers begin finding tickets in their mailboxes.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our number one goal is to slow traffic down, so if we never collect a dime on this, it&rsquo;s successful,&rdquo; Kubly said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s absolutely not a cash grab. It&rsquo;s all about making our roads safer.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Each new camera the city installs will have a month-long grace period before it starts churning out tickets, and afterward, drivers get one freebie written warning after the cameras are online. The city also plans to put up 20 so-called &ldquo;speed indicator signs&rdquo; that tell drivers in real time how fast they&#39;re going, which also slows down traffic, Kubly said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We wanna make sure that, no matter where you are in the city, if you&rsquo;re near a school or a park, that you feel like there could be a camera there,&rdquo; Kubly said. &ldquo;And the idea is to create a culture in which abiding by the speed limit is the understood way to drive and the norm.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kubly said the program is already having &ldquo;amazing&rdquo; success: Speed cameras photographed 7,397 violations on Sept. 10, the first day all nine cameras were up and running. By Oct. 3, violations had already fallen to 3,833.</p><p dir="ltr">Since then, the city has installed more cameras at Douglas, Legion, Washington, Humboldt and Major Taylor parks, as well as Prosser Vocational High School, according to a CDOT spokesman.</p><p dir="ltr">Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Note: Calculations and figures in this story have been corrected and updated to reflect new data and information provided by the City of Chicago.</em></p><p><strong><a name="map"></a>Map of locations of Chicago&#39;s new speed cameras&nbsp; </strong><em>(Updated Oct. 10, 2013)</em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/legend.PNG" style="float: left;" title="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div> <style type="text/css"> #map-canvas { width:620px; height:900px; } .layer-wizard-search-label { font-family: sans-serif };</style> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/api/js?sensor=false"> </script><script type="text/javascript"> var map; var layer_0; function initialize() { map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById('map-canvas'), { center: new google.maps.LatLng(41.83188268689178, -87.721698912207), zoom: 11 }); var style = [ { featureType: 'all', elementType: 'all', stylers: [ { saturation: -99 } ] } ]; var styledMapType = new google.maps.StyledMapType(style, { map: map, name: 'Styled Map' }); map.mapTypes.set('map-style', styledMapType); map.setMapTypeId('map-style'); layer_0 = new google.maps.FusionTablesLayer({ query: { select: "col1", from: "1jB8zYONZanMZHu5gGMIb9vJKtm-LRSrG7lSyXlY" }, map: map, styleId: 2, templateId: 2 }); } google.maps.event.addDomListener(window, 'load', initialize); </script><div id="map-canvas">&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-speed-cameras-catch-234k-leadfoots-opening-weeks-108893 Searching for Chicago’s parrots http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/searching-chicago%E2%80%99s-parrots-108444 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/BIRD THUMBNAIL.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="500" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PbRPXM3HHNM?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>We heard the rumors.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s wild parrots are known to flock around the South Side&rsquo;s Washington Park. So, we didn&rsquo;t just wander to the place with a video camera in hand. We went there to answer this question from Leanne Roddy from Chicago&rsquo;s Avondale neighborhood:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s the story with the wild parrot population in the Chicago area?</em></p><p>While WBEZ web producer Tricia Bobeda waited for key interviews with Chicago&rsquo;s parrot experts (yes, there&rsquo;s at least one), we set out to find the birds on our own. We&rsquo;d never promised Leanne a literal search, but she did agree to one during a weekend jaunt in Washington Park.</p><p>But first, we had to narrow down our search. If you haven&rsquo;t been to Washington Park, you should know it&rsquo;s huge. The &quot;parrots&quot; (technically, they&#39;re monk parakeets) could be anywhere. So, we started asking people around the park if they&rsquo;d ever seen these elusive, crafty parrots and how we could see some, too.</p><p>They showed us there&rsquo;s a rich history of local parrot sightings and, like any good legend, no one&rsquo;s quite sure of the birds&rsquo; origins. Regardless, the fact that there are a variety of stories and suspicions plays into the larger question we hope to answer.</p><p>Have you ever seen these birds?</p><p>Remember: Our parrot hotline is up and running and ready for your call. If you see any of these little, green birds, please call us at 1-888-789-7752. Leave your name, phone number and where you saw them and we&rsquo;ll add you to our<a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=210525372542852493607.0004e1dfcb308d0ee1264&amp;msa=0&amp;ll=41.79454,-87.605892&amp;spn=0.003579,0.008256" target="_blank"> parrot-sightings map</a>:</p><p><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="350" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=210525372542852493607.0004e1dfcb308d0ee1264&amp;msa=0&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=41.79454,-87.605892&amp;spn=0.003579,0.008256&amp;t=h&amp;output=embed" width="425"></iframe></p><p>So, if you see any curious-looking reporters with binoculars in your neighborhood, don&rsquo;t be alarmed. Just tell us where the parrots are, and we&rsquo;ll tell you what their story is in a couple weeks. Until then, be sure to flip through our reporter&rsquo;s notebook to learn how this story&rsquo;s played out from the start:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="750" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0AgYZnhF-8PafdG5ueGNYeHhIb0hXTkxMajNuam5Cc1E&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;hash_bookmark=true&amp;width=620&amp;height=750" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is a web and multimedia producer for Curious City and WBEZ. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 16 Aug 2013 15:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/searching-chicago%E2%80%99s-parrots-108444 The story of Jesse Binga, an early black entrepreneur with social motives http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-02-28/story-jesse-binga-early-black-entrepreneur-social-motives-96623 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-27/Jesse Binga_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to John Schmidt discuss Jesse Binga on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332738642-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/848_2-28-12_John.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div></div><p>Today the street where Jesse Binga lived is named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That's appropriate. When the street was called South Park Avenue and Binga lived at number 5922, the house became a symbol of the civil rights struggle.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-23/02-28--Jesse Binga.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 357px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jesse Binga was an early 20th century entrepreneur who started Chicago's first black-owned bank. (Collection of John Schmidt)">Jesse Binga was a go-getter. Born in Detroit in 1865, he started out to be a barber like his father. He moved through a number of jobs before settling in Chicago at the time of the 1893 World's Fair. A few years later he entered the real estate business.</p><p>Chicago's African-American population was small at the turn of the 20th Century, but that was about to change. Here Binga saw his opportunity.</p><p>During the first decades of the new century, Southern blacks began moving north. Chicago's neighborhoods were segregated, like most northern cities. The newcomers settled into a narrow section of the South Side. but as more people arrived, they began to burst the boundaries of the "Black Belt."</p><p>Jesse Binga became the main agent of racial succession. He bought property from whites who wanted to move out, fixed it up, then resold to blacks who needed a place to live. He helped his people--and he got rich.</p><p>From real estate he moved into banking. He took over a failed bank at State and 36th and reopened it as the Binga Bank, the city's first black-owned financial institution. In 1910 he ran for the County Board as a Republican, but lost. After that he steered clear of politics.</p><p>Binga moved to South Park Avenue in 1917. The Washington Park neighborhood was then all-white. He received death threats and the house was repeatedly bombed. He had to hire 24-hour security guards.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-23/02-28--Binga Home.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 289px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Binga's home at 5922 S. King Dr. is now a landmark. (WBEZ/John Schmidt)">Binga defiantly refused to move. He was an American citizen and could live where he pleased. Years passed before the violence finally stopped.</p><p>The Binga business empire reached its peak during the 1920s. He rechartered the bank as the Binga State Bank and erected a new building at the northwest corner of State and 35th. Next to it he constructed a five-story office building called the Binga Arcade. He announced plans to open another, federally-chartered bank.</p><p>Then the stock market crashed. The Depression followed, the Binga State Bank failed and thousands of African-American depositors were wiped out.</p><p>Binga was wiped out, too. He served a prison sentence for embezzlement, though many thought the charges were trumped up and he was later pardoned by the governor. He spent his last years working as a janitor at St. Anselm Church, for $15 a week.</p><p>Jesse Binga died in 1950. His home is a registered Chicago Landmark, and is privately owned.</p></p> Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-02-28/story-jesse-binga-early-black-entrepreneur-social-motives-96623 South Side Aldermanic Races http://www.wbez.org/story/3rd-ward/south-side-aldermanic-races <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//4704712869_eaf3ca8414_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated At: 11:35&nbsp; </em>Among the Election Day highlights on the city's South Side: Ald. Freddrenna Lyle will face challenger Roderick Sawyer in an April runoff in Chicago's 6th Ward, while&nbsp;Grammy-award winning rapper Che &quot;Rhymefest&quot; Smith has made it into a runoff race for a Chicago City Council seat. With all precincts reporting, the rapper had 20 percent of the vote, trailing incumbent Alderman Willie Cochran, who had 46 percent.&nbsp; There will also be runoffs in the 15th and 16th wards.</p><p><strong>Alderman Ward 2</strong></p><p>55 of 56 precincts - 98 percent</p><p>Bob Fioretti, (i) 7,836 - 55 percent</p><p>Genita Robinson, 4,442 - 31 percent</p><p>Enrique Perez, 640 - 4 percent</p><p>Melissa Callahan, 634 - 4 percent</p><p>Federico Sciammarella, 616 - 4 percent</p><p>James Bosco, 157 - 1 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 3</strong></p><p>47 of 50 precincts - 94 percent</p><p>Pat Dowell, (i) 5,758 - 68 percent</p><p>Ebony Tillman, 2,756 - 32 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 4</strong></p><p>46 of 52 precincts - 88 percent</p><p>Will Burns, 7,456 - 65 percent</p><p>Lori Yokoyama, 1,104 - 10 percent</p><p>Norman Bolden, 1,077 - 9 percent</p><p>Brian Scott, 803 - 7 percent</p><p>George Rumsey, 576 - 5 percent</p><p>Adam Miguest, 348 - 3 percent</p><p>James Williams, 161 - 1 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 5</strong></p><p>55 of 55 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Leslie Hairston, (i) 7,217 - 62 percent</p><p>Anne Marie Miles, 2,489 - 21 percent</p><p>Glenn Ross, 826 - 7 percent</p><p>Carol Hightower Chalmers, 701 - 6 percent</p><p>Michele Tankersley, 451 - 4 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 6</strong></p><p>63 of 64 precincts - 98 percent</p><p>Freddrenna Lyle, (i) 6,573 - 45 percent</p><p>Roderick Sawyer, 3,689 - 25 percent</p><p>Richard Wooten, 2,893 - 20 percent</p><p>Cassandra Goodrum-Burton, 940 - 6 percent</p><p>Sekum Walker, 337 - 2 percent</p><p>Brian Sleet, 303 - 2 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 7</strong></p><p>61 of 61 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Sandi Jackson, (i) 6,506 - 53 percent</p><p>Darcel Beavers, 3,223 - 26 percent</p><p>Gregory Mitchell, 1,542 - 13 percent</p><p>Lionell Martin, 467 - 4 percent</p><p>Deborah Washington, 334 - 3 percent</p><p>Sidney Brooks, 179 - 1 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 8</strong></p><p>66 of 70 precincts - 94 percent</p><p>Michelle Harris, (i) 9,789 - 68 percent</p><p>Faheem Shabazz, 2,082 - 15 percent</p><p>James Daniels, 1,752 - 12 percent</p><p>Bertha Starks, 682 - 5 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 9</strong></p><p>52 of 53 precincts - 98 percent</p><p>Anthony Beale, (i) 6,201 - 58 percent</p><p>Harold Ward, 1,946 - 18 percent</p><p>Sandra Walters, 1,751 - 16 percent</p><p>Eddie Reed, 780 - 7 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 10</strong></p><p>48 of 48 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>John Pope, (i) 6,298 - 59 percent</p><p>Richard Martinez, 3,801 - 36 percent</p><p>Joseph Nasella, 421 - 4 percent</p><p>Jose Leon, 110 - 1 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 11</strong></p><p>50 of 50 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>James Balcer, (i) 6,712 - 61 percent</p><p>John Kozlar, 2,449 - 22 percent</p><p>Carl Segvich, 1,787 - 16 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 12</strong></p><p>24 of 24 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>George Cardenas, (i) 2,680 - 55 percent</p><p>Jose Guereca, 911 - 19 percent</p><p>Jesse Iniguez, 796 - 16 percent</p><p>Alberto Bocanegra, 321 - 7 percent</p><p>Maria Ortiz, 137 - 3 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 15</strong></p><p>52 of 52 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Toni Foulkes, (i) 3,088 - 44 percent</p><p>Raymond Lopez, 1,042 - 15 percent</p><p>Harold Bailey, 765 - 11 percent</p><p>Sammy Pack, 730 - 10 percent</p><p>Felicia Simmons-Stovall, 573 - 8 percent</p><p>Syron Smith, 415 - 6 percent</p><p>Sandra Mallory, 368 - 5 percent</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Alderman Ward 16</strong></p><p>44 of 44 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>JoAnn Thompson, (i) 2,626 - 43 percent</p><p>Hal Baskin, 1,367 - 23 percent</p><p>Eric Hermosillo, 957 - 16 percent</p><p>Javier Diaz, 269 - 4 percent</p><p>Eddie Johnson, 211 - 3 percent</p><p>Tameka Gavin, 204 - 3 percent</p><p>Ronald Mitchell, 196 - 3 percent</p><p>Jonathan Stamps, 128 - 2 percent</p><p>Jeffrey Lewis, 93 - 2 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 17</strong></p><p>57 of 64 precincts - 89 percent</p><p>Latasha Thomas, (i) 4,380 - 49 percent</p><p>David Moore, 1,696 - 19 percent</p><p>Antoine Members, 1,002 - 11 percent</p><p>Ronald Carter, 518 - 6 percent</p><p>Michael Daniels, 442 - 5 percent</p><p>Twaundella Taylor, 349 - 4 percent</p><p>Paulette Coleman, 273 - 3 percent</p><p>Virgil Means, 219 - 2 percent</p><p><br /><strong>Alderman Ward 18</strong></p><p>62 of 62 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Lona Lane, (i) 7,774 - 51 percent</p><p>Chuks Onyezia, 2,450 - 16 percent</p><p>Joseph Ziegler, 2,255 - 15 percent</p><p>Michael Davis, 2,163 - 14 percent</p><p>Manny Roman, 711 - 5 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 19</strong></p><p>63 of 63 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Matthew O'Shea, 14,426 - 61 percent</p><p>Anne Schaible, 6,526 - 28 percent</p><p>Phillip Sherlock, 1,315 - 6 percent</p><p>George Newell, 725 - 3 percent</p><p>Ray Coronado, 592 - 3 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 20</strong></p><p>50 of 50 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Willie Cochran, (i) 3,403 - 46 percent</p><p>Che Smith, 1,469 - 20 percent</p><p>George Davis, 1,201 - 16 percent</p><p>Andre Smith, 1,079 - 15 percent</p><p>Sid Shelton, 241 - 3 percent</p><p><strong><br />Alderman Ward 21</strong></p><p>70 of 74 precincts - 95 percent</p><p>Howard Brookins, (i) 8,004 - 56 percent</p><p>Sheldon Sherman, 2,797 - 19 percent</p><p>Patricia Foster, 1,706 - 12 percent</p><p>Sylvia Jones, 1,537 - 11 percent</p><p>Jerome Maddox, 309 - 2 percent</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Alderman Ward 23</strong></p><p>54 of 54 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Michael Zalewski, (i) 8,581 - 53 percent</p><p>Anna Goral, 5,511 - 34 percent</p><p>Chuck Maida, 2,231 - 14 percent</p><p><strong><br /></strong></p><p><strong>Alderman Ward 34</strong></p><p>61 of 61 precincts - 100 percent</p><p>Carrie Austin, (i) 9,170 - 65 percent</p><p>Henry Moses, 2,123 - 15 percent</p><p>Shirley White, 1,533 - 11 percent</p><p>Burl McQueen, 659 - 5 percent</p><p>Michael Mayden, 618 - 4 percent</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Updated At: 9:35 p.m.&nbsp; </em>Grammy-winning hip-hopper Che &ldquo;Rhymefest&rdquo; Smith appears to have forced a runoff in the 20th Ward. Incumbent Ald. Willie Cochran has a substantial lead, but he has so far drawn less than 50 percent of the vote. Here's the latest look at numbers from South Side aldermanic races:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Updated At 8:30 p.m.&nbsp;&nbsp;</em>A runoff appears likely in Chicago's 6th Ward. Here are the numbers in that race, with 91 percent of precincts reporting:</p><p>Here's a look at some of the races WBEZ is focusing on:</p><p><strong>3rd Ward</strong><br />Ald. Pat Dowell was elected in 2007, replacing longtime Ald. Dorothy Tillman. Tillman&rsquo;s daughter Ebony tried is trying to best Dowell. Many in the ward saw the contest between Dowell and the younger Tillman as a revenge race. In 2007 Dowell, who is a former urban planner, had the support of many young professionals in the ward who are eager for development in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood. But the economy plummeted during Dowell&rsquo;s term and development stalled. In this election season, she landed endorsements from The Service Employees International Union, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and For A Better Chicago PAC. Ebony Tillman did not return phone calls from WBEZ about her candidacy. Her website said she wants to bring big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, etc. to the ward.<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>4th Ward</strong><br />The 4th Ward includes the neighborhood of Hyde Park&ndash; a progressive, politically independent part of the city. The ward had been led by Toni Preckwinkle, who relinquished her seat after winning the presidency of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.&nbsp; Illinois State Rep. Will Burns was the likely heir apparent to Preckwinkle&rsquo;s former seat, and he scored her endorsement early in the race. The SEIU, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and For A Better Chicago PAC also endorsed Burns. Burns has an extensive public policy background that resonated with residents in the ward. He campaigned on bringing more retail shopping options to the area.<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>6th Ward</strong><br />Roderick Sawyer ran against incumbent Freddrenna Lyle. Sawyer is the son of the late Eugene Sawyer, former 6th Ward alderman and mayor of Chicago. Sawyer argued the ward was neglected with blight. He benefitted from deep community connections and name recognition. The SEIU-backed Lyle struck a chord with seniors. The 6th ward covers Chatham and Park Manor &ndash; black middle-class neighborhoods that tend to be politically mobilized. Chatham has seen an uptick in crime, which has made residents nervous.</p><p><strong>7th Ward</strong><br />The race for 7th Ward alderman featured two women with deep political ties.&nbsp;Ald. Sandi Jackson is the wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., whose father is the Rev. Jesse Jackson. She took this South Side ward four years ago by beating Darcel Beavers, who was appointed to finish the term of her father, William Beavers. He left the office in 2006, after serving as alderman for 23 years.</p><p>Sandi Jackson ran on a platform of economic revitalization. Specifics included development of a large retail and housing complex on the site of the former USX steel plant.</p><p><strong>10th Ward</strong></p><p>The 10th ward comprises portions of several Southeast Side neighborhoods: South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side and Hegewisch. The area was once an industrial powerhouse but as manufacturers left, the ward&rsquo;s struggled with crime, unemployment and the question of how to make use of large tracts of former factory space.</p><p>The two front runners differed in how they approached economic development.&nbsp;The incumbent, John Pope, ran on a platform that included attracting clean industrial jobs. Richard Martinez campaigned on moving the ward away from reliance on heavy industry.</p><p>Two other candidates, Joseph NaSella and Jose Leon, made little impact during the aldermanic contest.</p><p><strong>19th Ward</strong></p><p>The aldermanic race in this Southwest side ward began when Ald. Ginger Rugai, announced she would retire.&nbsp;The five candidates that vied for her seat included Rugai&rsquo;s longtime aid and ward committeeman Matt O&rsquo;Shea.&nbsp;His opponents included Ray Coronado, George Newell, Anne Schaible, Phil Sherlock and Diane Phillips.&nbsp;O&rsquo;Shea and Schaible dominated the race during the campaign.</p><p>The ward includes portions of the Morgan Park and Beverly neighborhoods. Top campaign issues include how best to revitalize retail strips along 95th Street and Western Avenue.</p><p><strong>20th Ward</strong><br />Grammy-winning hip-hopper Che &ldquo;Rhymefest&rdquo; Smith challenged first-term Ald. Willie Cochran. Smith enlisted help from fellow hip-hoppers and intellectuals, including Cornel West. Smith brought energy and youthfulness&nbsp; - and of course, celebrity &ndash; to the race. Cochran is regarded relatively well in the ward for bringing some affordable housing and commercial development. Since the last aldermanic election the ward&rsquo;s taken a hit from foreclosures and stalled economic options.&nbsp; The ward includes the Washington Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore and Michael Puente contributed to this story.</em></p></p> Tue, 22 Feb 2011 21:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/3rd-ward/south-side-aldermanic-races Are mayoral candidates ignoring racial issues? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-09/are-mayoral-candidates-ignoring-racial-issues-82030 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Flickr Washington Park.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Earlier this week, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-07/mayor-monday-race-relations-and-what-next-mayor-can-expect-81897"><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> discussed the current state of race relations in Chicago</a> and what the next mayor should do to address prejudice and segregation. This week&rsquo;s cover story in the <em>Chicago Reader</em> argues that the candidates are spending little to no time on the persistent racial divides in our city.<br /><br />Political editor Steve Bogira took an <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-politics-segregation-african-american-black-white-hispanic-latino-population-census-community/Content?oid=3221712">in-depth look</a> at race and class differences across neighborhoods, from Chicago's far South to far North side. He especially zoned in on two neighborhoods&mdash;Edison Park and Washington Park. Bogira joined host Alison Cuddy in studio to share more about what he learned in his reporting.</p><p><em>Music Button: Liftoff, &quot;The Collector&quot;, from the CD&nbsp; Dubbed Out In DC, (ESL)&nbsp; </em></p></p> Wed, 09 Feb 2011 14:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-09/are-mayoral-candidates-ignoring-racial-issues-82030