WBEZ | Pilsen http://www.wbez.org/tags/pilsen Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago man loses 200 pounds to give back to Little Village http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicago-man-loses-200-pounds-give-back-little-village-109972 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/storycorps.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Miguel Blancarte, Jr. is a proud resident of Chicago&#39;s Little Village neighborhood. A first generation college graduate from Brown University, he now works at a law firm specializing in immigration.</p><p>Miguel says the one thing he&rsquo;s always struggled with is his weight. It wasn&rsquo;t until his doctor warned him that he wouldn&rsquo;t live past his mid-40s that he knew something had to change:</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly the thought of losing anything more than 30 pounds was just not a reality to me,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Miguel managed to lose not just 30, but 200 pounds in all. He then ran his first ever 5k race to to raise money for Enlace, the local community center that provides health and social services in Little Village.</p><p>To hear how he lost all that weight so he could give back to his community, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.</em><br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicago-man-loses-200-pounds-give-back-little-village-109972 Metal shredder proposed for Pilsen clears zoning hurdle http://www.wbez.org/news/metal-shredder-proposed-pilsen-clears-zoning-hurdle-109755 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NuestroPilsenSCALED.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 212px; width: 300px;" title="Before a Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals hearing Friday, neighborhood residents in favor of the facility tout the jobs it would create and downplay environmental concerns. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />A proposed metal shredder near a high school on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side&nbsp;has cleared a key hurdle.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously Friday night to approve a special-use application for the project, according to Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, which provides the board&rsquo;s staffing.</p><p>Board chairman Jonathan Swain and members Catherine Budzinski and Sol Flores were present for the closed-door vote, Strazzabosco said.</p><p>The application came from Pure Metal Recycling, LLC, a company with ties to Acme Metal Refinery, a major contributor to a campaign fund controlled by Pilsen&rsquo;s alderman, Danny Solis (25th). Acme was in the public eye last August after the Internal Revenue Service raided the company&rsquo;s Bridgeport headquarters.</p><p>Solis endorsed the proposed Pilsen metal shredder in a letter presented to the zoning board Friday.</p><p>The board vote followed more than four hours of testimony. Rev. Emma Lozano, an immigrant-rights advocate and pastor of nearby Lincoln United Methodist, led neighborhood residents in favor of the metal shredder.</p><p>&ldquo;The residents of Pilsen, including the members of my church, want Pilsen to be a place where we can both live and work,&rdquo; Lozano told the board, noting the neighborhood&rsquo;s creeping gentrification. &ldquo;We want to live in a community which is mixed &mdash; residential and manufacturing.&rdquo;</p><p>Mark Swedlow, Pure Metal Recycling&rsquo;s president, last week signed a one-page &ldquo;covenant&rdquo; with Solis and community residents. In the document, the company vows to give &ldquo;first priority in hiring to Pilsen residents&rdquo; and to not discriminate against them &ldquo;because of immigration status or past criminal records.&rdquo;</p><p>The metal shredder would stand on a 15-acre industrial parcel along South Loomis Avenue just south of West Cermak Road. The land is across the road from Benito Juárez Community Academy, the neighborhood&rsquo;s biggest high school.</p><p>The project&rsquo;s opponents, including the Pilsen Alliance and the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), are complaining about Acme&rsquo;s record in Bridgeport and warning that metal shredders are known for pollution, fires and explosions. They are also voicing concerns about increased traffic and noise.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t want another Sims in the neighborhood,&rdquo; PERRO organizer Jerry Mead-Lucero said, referring to an existing Pilsen metal shredder owned by Australian-based Sims Metal Management.</p><p>Pilsen environmentalists led a campaign to close Fisk Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant that had operated in the neighborhood for more than a century. In 2012, California-based Edison International shut down Fisk and a coal-fired generator in nearby Little Village.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Sun, 23 Feb 2014 21:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/metal-shredder-proposed-pilsen-clears-zoning-hurdle-109755 Schoenhofen Brewery: Of suds and (unfounded) suspicions http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3228849121_80a727e9d1_o[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ted Land asked Curious City to clear up rumors about the old Schoenhofen Brewery in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood.</p><p>Besides wanting to get a snapshot of the brewery in its heyday, Land also wanted someone to get to the bottom of persistent hearsay about the facility.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s his entire request, in his own words:</p><blockquote><p><em>My brother lives next door to the old Schoenhofen Brewery on W. 18th st. near Pilsen. I&#39;ve often wondered about the now-shuttered facility -- how busy it was and what they produced there. A quick internet search reveals some websites stating that Schoenhofen was once one of the largest brewers in the Midwest, which even had its own spring supplying fresh water to the operation. Another site mentions something about how federal agents seized the brewery during WWI because members of the Schoenhofen family were broadcasting radio messages to Germany from the brewery&#39;s tower. Any truth to this?</em></p></blockquote><p>My own investigation didn&rsquo;t get far; I found many anecdotes about the brewery, but no definitive source could end the confusion for good.</p><p>But then I found a relevant story in Mash Tun Journal. Paul Durica, a recent University of Chicago Ph.D. and frequent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994">Curious City collaborator</a>, brought his immense research skills to bear on the Schoenhofen rumors &mdash; once and for all.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Durica shared his findings on an episode of the <a href="http://wbez.org/strangebrews">Strange Brews </a>podcast, joining Ted Land, me and my co-host, Alison Cuddy, for a taping in Pilsen, just a few blocks from the Schoenhofen Brewery. Among the points he took up:&nbsp;</div><ul><li class="image-insert-image ">Rumors of radio signals being broadcast to the German enemy during WWI.</li><li class="image-insert-image ">Claims about the brewery&#39;s water purity</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s appearance in the Blues Brother movie</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s creation of Green River soda pop</li></ul><p>After the conversation Land said, &ldquo;That&rsquo;s well more than I thought I&rsquo;d learn about this building. I still want to see the artesian springs, though.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Strange Brews is WBEZ&#39;s podcast covering craft beer and related culture. Hosted by Andrew Gill, Alison Cuddy and Tim Akimoff, episodes are recorded on location around the Midwest and include interesting guests including brewers, artists and craft beer lovers.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Follow web producer Andrew Gill on Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 17:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 Logan Square, Pilsen and Avondale: Is gentrification always a 'bad' thing? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/logan-square-pilsen-and-avondale-gentrification-always-bad-thing-108874 <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/2960672182_a048495950_z.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Heather Phillips)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">It all started with fried chicken.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">And $10 cocktails and doughnuts, too. Well, it is not just about the food and drinks, but often times, the things that drive us to certain neighborhoods now are not just the cost of living or its safety, but whether or not a new scene exists within it.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Two years ago, I once asked a friend why he was moving to Logan Square and he simply said, &ldquo;Well, everyone else is moving there.&rdquo; His favorite neighborhood was Ukrainian Village, but it felt necessary for him to move to Logan Square because the energy (the young and middle class and creative energy) was moving there as well. Simply put, &ldquo;everything&rdquo; someone within that small yet culturally-prevalent population could want was happening in one place.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Unlike Wicker Park before it, unlike many now established neighborhoods before it (like Old Town and Lakeview and Boystown), Logan Square&rsquo;s rise was seemingly quick and calculated. Those who have lived within the neighborhood since the beginning of its latest &ldquo;change&rdquo; from working class Latino neighborhood to its hybrid identity (part youth-built, part culinary-rich, part artistic-led, and part working class) would say the change was as slow as others, but from the outside, it appears swift.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Most gentrification is a multi-step process involving artists, creatives, those attracted to the pursuits of artists and creatives, and finally young, urban professionals. In <em>The Urbanist Chronicle</em>, DePaul University professor Dr. John Joe Schlichtman&nbsp;<a href="http://www.urbanistchronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=item&amp;id=2:schlichtman-response-to-confessions-of-a-harlem-gentrifier&amp;Itemid=148" target="_blank">describes</a> it as, &ldquo;</span>pulls of geographic centrality and the proximity of amenities, pulls of a social fabric in which one knows &ldquo;the friendly faces at the deli,&rdquo; pulls of the potential of extra square footage, and, yes, pulls of the romantic history-steeped &lsquo;authenticity&rsquo;.&rdquo; But in the case of Logan Square (and in smaller doses, neighborhoods like Avondale and Pilsen) more concerted efforts are underway to transform large swaths of the area in one fell swoop.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Jason Patch and Neil Brenner <a href="http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/uid=3/tocnode?id=g9781405124331_yr2012_chunk_g978140512433113_ss1-35" target="_blank">call</a></span>&nbsp;gentrification, &ldquo;the reinvestment of real estate capital into declining, inner-city neighborhoods to create a new residential infrastructure for middle and high-income inhabitants&rdquo; in the <em>Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology</em>. &nbsp;For Logan Square, that especially entails the South and East sections of the neighborhood surrounding the two major CTA Blue Line stops along Milwaukee Avenue.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">In a report of rapid changes to the area &ndash; and the 2300 block of North Milwaukee in particular &ndash; Eater Chicago editor Daniel Gerzina <a href="http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/05/14/six-hospitality-projects-to-remake-logan-square-block.php" target="_blank">noted</a></span>&nbsp;that it would be &ldquo;unrecognizable within months, changing the course of a street and a neighborhood in one swoop.&rdquo; At least six hospitality projects are already <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/logan-square-new-bars-analogue-robert-haynes-henry-prendergast/Content?oid=10746020" target="_blank">in the works</a>&nbsp;and will be open within the next year.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1520842241_9f409508dd_z.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Flickr/BWChicago)" />In Avondale, Honey Butter Fried Chicken joins an established array of decadent and delicious food options like Hot Doug&rsquo;s and Kuma&rsquo;s Corner. In Pilsen, Dusek&rsquo;s Board and Beer and Punch House both recently opened within the transformed historical Thalia Hall.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Each burgeoning new venture is unique, but in my head, I begin to check off visual and sensual similarities one can expect within the spaces: concept-driven cocktails, upscale small bites, and moody lighting. The crowd will probably look similar too upon first glance. It becomes difficult to distinguish one place from the next as each venue attempts to find the sort of success that has put certain neighborhood institutions on the map (Longman &amp; Eagle, The Whistler, Fat Rice).</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">However, gentrification should not solely be considered a &ldquo;bad&rdquo; thing. That sort of energy, prosperity, liveability, and inherent possibility should be viable and available for any neighborhood. </span></p><p>Many forgotten or derided places are desperate for the sort of vitality that is bringing a second (or third) life to neighborhoods previously mentioned. The Logan Square many know now is not the Logan Square of a decade ago. Certainly the same can be said for Pilsen or Avondale, too. It does not mean that these neighborhoods were &ldquo;bad,&rdquo; merely undiscovered and more representative of the racial, social, environmental, and economical diversity that make cities so unique and so complex.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">When my mother talks about the Austin neighborhood of her youth, she is talking about a place that was filled with shops lining major streets and boulevards. She is talking about the ability to walk up and down the street without fear of violence. For myself growing up in the neighborhood, I never truly experienced that version of Austin. But I too dream of that neighborhood returned to its fullest glory. Its beauty feels most times like a secret that can only be articulated in person.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Gentrification is both complicated and welcomed. To only present one side of the matter ignores the very real desire of many to diminish and eventually eradicate problems of many city neighborhoods. According to Schlictman, these are, &ldquo;</span>precisely what grassroots community organizers are fighting for in neighborhoods with deteriorating real estate, high crime rates, and disheartened residents.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">I am a middle class urbanite living in a gentrified neighborhood. I recognize my place in the system, how my choice of living, regardless of what I choose, will only reinforce the culture I am seeking to escape or join.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">But this is not about deciding which side is correct. In the end, both are correct. But only one can outlive the other.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">These bars and restaurants are success-driven ventures that seek to mimic the popularity of another place. And why shouldn&rsquo;t they?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Perhaps because change of this nature comes too quickly. Displacement (of bodies, of cultural identity) is not gradual, but forceful. It is a concerted effort to make something entirely &ldquo;new.&rdquo; It is an identity change that feels less like wearing a new top and more like a series of tattoos. Once they arrive, the change is nearly permanent. Their presence will forever alter the landscape of where they now exist. And as the buildings themselves change so too can the people moving within them. They are hinting at the desires of the neighborhoods current residents and establishing themselves as the &ldquo;right&rdquo; venue for its anticipated future residents. They are not waiting for the change. They are the change.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/logan-square-pilsen-and-avondale-gentrification-always-bad-thing-108874 What I See: Gary Eckstein http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-gary-eckstein-108522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/what i see thumbnail gary_edited-1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gary Eckstein is a Chicagoan who loves roaming around the city, photographing what he sees. Here, he takes us through a summer day from sampling &quot;dead body&quot; soup at a Korean Market in Chicago&#39;s Avondale neighborhood to visiting Pilsen&#39;s Fiesta Del Sol festival.</p><p>&quot;The things I try to emphasize when I take photos are love of place, people and culture and my attempt to capture the genuine character of a given location,&quot; Gary says. You can find more of his photos on <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyegarye/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/fWikv9f2SHA?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><strong>More from the What I See project</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-mimosa-shah-108384" target="_blank">Setting new roots with Mimosa Shah</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/what-i-see-katie-prout-108221" target="_blank">An afternoon run with Katie Prout</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-dmitry-samarov-107924" target="_blank">Painting, sketching and coffee-roasting with Dmitry Samarov</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-yolanda-perdomo-108041" target="_blank">The Illinois Railway Museum with Yolanda Perdomo</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/what-i-see-trainers-day-shedd-aquarium-107766" target="_blank">A trainer&#39;s day at the Shedd Aquarium with&nbsp;Jessica Whiton</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/what-i-see-bike-bee-107686" target="_blank">Bike-a-Bee with Jana Kinsman</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-early-morning-edition-107362" target="_blank">Early Morning Edition with Lauren Chooljian</a></p><p><em>&#39;What I See&#39; is a project which showcases photos from our community and what we&#39;re thinking when we take them. </em></p><p><em>Show us what your Chicago looks like! Email web producer Logan Jaffe ljaffe@wbez.org or tweet <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a> to find out more about how to make a What I See slideshow for WBEZ.</em></p></p> Mon, 26 Aug 2013 11:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-gary-eckstein-108522 Morning Shift: Community loses neighborhood field house and demands answers http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-19/morning-shift-community-loses-neighborhood-field <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/House - www.chicagonow.com_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Community members in the Pilsen nieghborhood protested the demolition of a field house at Whittier Elementary, but the building was still razed. Chicago Public Schools officials cited safety concerns for its closure. We learn about the fight to save it, and what&#39;s next for the community.</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-46/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-46.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-46" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Community loses neighborhood field house and demands answers" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-19/morning-shift-community-loses-neighborhood-field Two views of Pilsen, decades apart http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/two-views-pilsen-decades-apart-107755 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/02--1947--West.jpg" title="1947--18th Street near Wood Street, view east (author's collection)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/02--2013.JPG" title="2013--the same location" /></div></div></div></div><p>Chicago&#39;s Pilsen is named for a city of ancient Bohemia, what is now the Czech Republic. In the course of 66 years this neighborhood has changed from Czech to Mexican. Meanwhile, the streetcar has been replaced by a bus, the cars look different, and the &#39;L&#39; station has been renovated.</p><p>And yet all of the buildings are still in place. Film-makers searching for a 1940s streetscape would do well to consider this stretch of 18th Street.</p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/two-views-pilsen-decades-apart-107755 Architect’s Pilsen vision is green and fashion friendly http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/architect%E2%80%99s-pilsen-vision-green-and-fashion-friendly-107256 <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/urban%20works%20pilsen%202.jpg" style="height: 235px; width: 350px; float: right;" title=" Saldana Natke wants to transform an abandoned stretch of railway into an ultra-modern textile center and fashion incubator. (Courtesy of UrbanWorks)" /></div><p>Architect Patricia Saldaña Natke grew up on the 4800 block of South Marshfield Avenue, in Chicago&rsquo;s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico, worked in the Stockyards.</p><p>Some days after school, Saldaña Natke would take the bus away from her aging, blue collar neighborhood with its bungalows and smoke stacks, up to the Loop, and marvel at the sparkling skyscrapers and expansive public parks in the city&rsquo;s downtown.</p><p>&ldquo;I would look at the beautiful buildings and wonder why those kinds of spaces weren&rsquo;t in existence where I lived,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke recalled. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the reason I became an architect; I felt that public places should be the greatest in the area of most need.&rdquo;</p><p>Saldaña Natke channeled those beliefs into <a href="http://www.urbanworksarchitecture.com/" target="_blank">UrbanWorks</a>, the architecture and planning firm she founded, which specializes in socially and environmentally conscious planning and design work -- the kind she dreamed about as a kid. She&rsquo;s set her sights on one Chicago hood in particular: Pilsen.</p><p>&ldquo;[Pilsen] needs to be a place where people can move upward in mobility,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke said. &ldquo;The entire core of why I work in Pilsen comes to the fact that there are neighborhoods that need a lot of attention.&rdquo;</p><p>UrbanWorks&rsquo; previous Pilsen projects include a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/pilsen-community-leaders-say-neighborhood-college-dorm-will-help-more-kids-graduate-96994" target="_blank">college dormitory</a> intended to help keep <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-02/new-college-dorm-pilsen-gaining-attention-and-accolades-105573" target="_blank">students from the neighborhood</a> on the path to academic success, <a href="http://www.urbanworksarchitecture.com/projects/civic_2.html" target="_blank">a high school</a> designed to resemble the copper canyons of Mexico and Saldaña Natke&rsquo;s most ambitious project: a master plan for Pilsen.</p><p>In architecture and planning circles, a master plan is a grand vision for the future development of a neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s much more than a wish list,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke said. &ldquo;It may be implemented slightly different than the plan shows, but the core of it should remain intact.&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/Urbanworks%20pilsen%20plan.jpg" style="height: 247px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="UrbanWorks master plan for Pilsen aims to increase the neighborhood’s greenspace. (Courtesy of UrbanWorks)" />This plan isn&rsquo;t funded, but Saldaña Natke is working with 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis and the Department of Housing and Economic Development to assemble funds to inch her vision along.</div><p>Saldaña Natke consulted with Pilsen residents in a series of community meetings, including a neighborhood-wide meeting at Providence of God Catholic Church in 2004.&nbsp; The resulting plan aims to build on Pilsen&rsquo;s assets: its strong Mexican cultural heritage, its main commercial drag zoned for pedestrian use and&nbsp;its historic architecture.</p><p>&ldquo;The community says church steeples are its high rises,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke said.</p><p>The plan calls for greater access to the Chicago River and also addresses what Saldaña Natke says are the neighborhood&rsquo;s challenges: While the west side of Pilsen is served by the CTA&rsquo;s Pink, Green and Orange Lines, the east side has few transportation options, leaving the neighborhood disconnected.</p><p>And, there is a surprising lack of green space in Pilsen. According to Saldaña Natke, the city requires two acres of green space for every 1,000 Chicago residents.</p><p>&ldquo;But the Park District just said to us that the recommended amount is four acres of green space,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;[Pilsen] is over 18 acres short.&rdquo;</p><p>So, UrbanWorks&rsquo; master plan starts there. Saldaña Natke envisions more green space along the neighborhood&rsquo;s largely industrial waterfront, and the transformation of an abandoned, surface-level railway that runs along Sangamon Street into a stretch of park&mdash;something like New York&rsquo;s High Line or the Northwest Side&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/bloomingdale-trail-reveals-chicagos-idea-grand-city-planning-102655" target="_blank">Bloomingdale Trail</a>, only without the elevation. Then, she hopes to transform the abandoned buildings that line the railroad into a fashion and textile incubator.</p><p>A fashion incubator?</p><p>Yes, Saldaña Natke says.</p><p>&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t need to go to 900 North Michigan or Michigan Avenue to see all the high-end fashion shows. Why can&rsquo;t it be in the neighborhoods?&rdquo;</p><p>You can hear Saldaña Natke describe her dream in more detail in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range" id="docs-internal-guid-7ba7f574-b48a-af42-0b81-707797174770">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Patricia Saldana Natke spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in April of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 17 May 2013 16:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/architect%E2%80%99s-pilsen-vision-green-and-fashion-friendly-107256 Make Plans! Pilsen Sprints Forward http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182 <p><p>Pilsen is a neighborhood located in the residential Lower West Side community in Chicago. In the late 19th century it was inhabited by Germans, Irish, Czech, Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. Mexican immigrants and Latinos became a majority in 1970 as the neighborhood served as a port of entry. The legacy of uneven development throughout major cities, including Chicago, has left various neighborhoods vulnerable to uneven stabilization. Yet Pilsen sprints forward as a &ldquo;Think and Do&rdquo; community. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Patricia Saldana Natke</strong>, Principal of Urbanworks, &nbsp;presents an inspiring master plan and recent lasting changes made through Transit Oriented Development, a new student dormitory at the Pink Line Stop, planning visions for a &nbsp;Green Trail &ldquo; Paseo&rdquo;, &nbsp;proposed cultural &nbsp;anchors, and connectivity to the Chicago River.</p><div>This program is part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at 12:15pm at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Further information and resources on this topic are available on our website at <a href="http://www.architecture.org/lunch">www.architecture.org/LunchTalksOnline.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAF-webstory_6.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><br />Recorded live Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at the&nbsp;Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall.</div></p> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182 From the ground up: building new art communities in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/ground-building-new-art-communities-chicago-106218 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/_MG_2195.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Matt Austin)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Chicago turns something out of nothing. It is not the city itself that does this, but the people within it, homegrown or recently transplanted. Chicago gives artists and other creatives the opportunity to build from the ground up, allowing them to not only visualize their dreams but to actualize them. Although these artists are often lacking in the traditional market forces (as in a print and money-driven economy influencing who gets the media attention and higher-valued work), the size of the city and the abundant and underutilized spaces allow creatives to build projects with their own visions, usually with little to no financing involved.</p><p dir="ltr">This makes Chicago a fertile ground for creative projects such as <strong>Matt Austin</strong>&rsquo;s <a href="http://thechicagoperch.tumblr.com/">The Perch</a>. Part underground dinner party, part printing press, and part collaborative artistic social experiment, The Perch could only be born in a city like Chicago. <a href="http://mattaustinphoto.com/">Austin</a>&rsquo;s funds are considerably low. The project takes place in his own home. All of the furniture used for the project (a massive and beautifully constructed dining table, thick and hard-backed chairs and benches that guests can carve on) was built using salvaged materials from places like the ReBuilding Exchange or the Illinois Holocaust Museum &amp; Education Center.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This has zero revenue,&rdquo; Austin makes a point of clarifying. And yet, he continues, not deterred.</p><p dir="ltr">I recently spent an afternoon in the home of The Perch. Austin said that the space was &ldquo;way larger than necessary,&rdquo; but that he &ldquo;wouldn&#39;t be able to do this anywhere else.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Based in Pilsen, the space (everything from the windowsills to the blue and yellow walls) was renovated by Austin starting over a year ago when he moved in. Living in the space further incubated his idea to create something that fueled his artistic practice as a photographer, his interest in building, and his desire to meet and interact with creative and new people in the art world.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;It just helped me realize how much opportunity there was for people to engage with,&quot; he began. &quot;It came out of this interest of building things and repairing the place. It became this project of nurturing a space and turning it into something.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Austin teaches at the School of the Art Institute in its Early College Program and at Senn High School with an outreach program through the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Since beginning his project, Austin has hosted four dinners, about one per month, all attended by a variety of interesting thinkers. The first dinner was the most unique and included guests such as his boss at the Holocaust Museum, a former mentor from college, his brother&#39;s friend from school, and his first philosophy professor from Iowa.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-03-12%20at%201.42.29%20PM.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="(Matt Austin)" /></div></div><p>Each dinner is based on a prompt. One dinner asked guests to mark their creative progress and the discussion turned into one familiar for many working in creative fields: what they want to do versus what they actually do. The dinner serves as an in-between for people, asking relevant questions to their interests and artistic practices and challenging them to explore their work and interaction with the local and broader artistic communities.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;The benefit of challenges, although they&#39;ll make you uncomfortable sometimes, it&#39;s about working through them,&rdquo; Austin said. &ldquo;That&#39;s how I&#39;ve designed these dinners. I provide a challenge for people to work with.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">In addition to hosting dinners, Austin also aims to create books for various artists, turning the Perch into something of a printing press. Austin provides labor and materials for the project. The first artist chosen was <a href="http://www.beodddierich.com/">Todd Diederich</a>. The project for Diederich&rsquo;s &ldquo;Luminous Flux&rdquo; photography book has <a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/752279352/luminous-flux-photography-book">already surpassed its Kickstarter goal</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The book project was almost immediately successful, signaling not only the level of support surrounding Diederich&rsquo;s strong and charismatic work, but also the importance of the project as a whole. Who will provide these sorts of opportunities in this city unless the people within the city do it themselves? There is a reason why spaces like Austin&rsquo;s thrive in Chicago. More apparent than anything else, it is this drive to create something personal and real. These projects are tangible, even if their longevity is up in the air.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;The nature of Chicago is smallness, but it is still looked at as one of the more active and important cities,&rdquo; Austin said. &ldquo;It&#39;s that blend that makes this possible.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">This is the beauty of Chicago. Creative freedom is important. This is not just saying that the person could not have been creative without the city. They could be creative anywhere. Rather, the city allows those with a creative bent the opportunity to explore ideas in a way that is not possible almost anywhere else. Whether it is the extra time, space, or smaller market, by founding projects like The Perch, artists can work and explore on their own terms.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a> or on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 22 Mar 2013 07:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/ground-building-new-art-communities-chicago-106218