WBEZ | class http://www.wbez.org/tags/class Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Divvy blues: Bike-share program leaves some behind http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 <p><p>Chicago on Friday morning launched a new component of its storied transit system. <a href="http://divvybikes.com/" target="_blank">Divvy</a>, the city&rsquo;s first bike-share program, kicked off with 65 solar-powered docking stations. The plan is to add hundreds more by next spring. With a fleet of 700 powder-blue bikes, the system will be one of the largest bike-sharing operations in the world.</p><p>But most of the stations will stand within a couple miles of the lakefront, clustered mainly in the Loop and densely populated neighborhoods along transit lines. This in a city that has a checkered history of providing low-income residents equal access to public infrastructure. It begs the question: Who gets to share the benefits of Chicago&rsquo;s new bike share?</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Divvy’s first fleet of bikes, set up at the station at Daley Plaza. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /><strong>Bike share basics</strong></h2><p>The Divvy bikes themselves are heavy-duty commuter bikes with fenders, chain guards, built-in-lights and a small front basket, big enough for a purse or briefcase &mdash; but not a load of groceries. The bikes are painted the same sky blue as the stripes on the Chicago flag.</p><p>Users will be able to pick up a bike at any of 400 docking stations the city plans to install by next spring. After a ride, users will be able to return the bike to any other station.</p><p>Divvy&rsquo;s startup financing include $22 million in federal funds and $5.5 million in local funds.</p><p>The day-to-day operations will be up to Portland-based <a href="http://www.altabicycleshare.com/" target="_blank">Alta Bicycle Share</a>, which also runs bike-share programs in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein once consulted for Alta and received criticism when Chicago chose the company for the city&rsquo;s program. Klein said he recused himself from the selection process.</p><h2><strong>Who is Divvy for?</strong></h2><p>Divvy&rsquo;s Web site describes the program&rsquo;s participants as &ldquo;everyone 16 years and older with a credit or debit card.&rdquo;</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t take into account the proximity of stations or some residents&rsquo; limited access to bank cards (more on that below). Divvy is designed for short trips under 30 minutes. After that, <a href="http://divvybikes.com/pricing" target="_blank">late fees kick in</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Divvy’s first station appears at the corner of Dearborn and Washington streets in the Loop. Stations will be clustered in high density areas, leaving parts of the city unserved. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Planners say that the system was primarily designed to address what they call the &ldquo;last two miles&rdquo; problem of commuting. Namely, how to get people to work or home after they&rsquo;ve stepped off the train or bus. Divvy is not optimized for recreational riding or long treks across town.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The stations are concentrated in high-density parts of town &mdash; in and near the Loop and along some major transit lines. The further from the city&rsquo;s center, the fewer stations there are.</div><p>This program stems partly from the city&rsquo;s desire to spur economic development. Mayor Rahm Emanuel often touts the connection between building better bike infrastructure and attracting high tech companies to Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,&rdquo; he <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16810704-418/mayor-defends-protected-bike-lanes-along-dearborn.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> </a>last December. &ldquo;It is not an accident that, where we put our first protected bike lane is also where we have the most concentration of digital companies and digital employees. Every time you speak to entrepreneurs and people in the start-up economy and high-tech industry, one of the key things they talk about in recruiting workers is, can they have more bike lanes.&rdquo;</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_1_Bell.JPG" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Cynthia Bell of the Active Transportation Alliance says the city could do a lot for West Side cycling apart from bike sharing. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /><strong>Few stations on West Side, far South Side</strong></h2><p>But this strategy, putting the first stations where the demand is already highest, means that from the outset, some of Chicago&rsquo;s poorest neighborhoods have been left behind.</p><p>There are no stations south of 63rd Street or west of Central Park Avenue. Altogether, black West Side neighborhoods like North Lawndale, East and West Garfield Park, Austin, and West Humboldt Park will have just two of the 400 planned bike-sharing stations.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation said that one-third of its planned bike-sharing stations will be in census tracts below the city&rsquo;s median income. That proportion is higher than comparable systems in either Boston or Washington, D.C.</p><p>The city set up <a href="http://share.chicagobikes.org/" target="_blank">a Web portal for suggestions</a> about where to put the stations. The city received about 1,000 suggestions and another 10,000 &ldquo;likes&rdquo; on those suggestions. But suggested station locations for the West Side were few and far in between.</p><p>The city also held five community-input meetings last fall. Three were downtown, one was at a library in Roscoe Village, and just one was in a neighborhood with a high minority population. That was in Bronzeville, which is getting a handful of stations.</p><p>&ldquo;The location of the public meetings is in large part driven by our initial service area,&rdquo; says Scott Kubly, Chicago&rsquo;s deputy transportation commissioner. Kubly says CDOT has applied for additional grants that would be used to build stations beyond the 400 already planned. If and when that money comes through, Kubly said Divvy would go through a another public planning process to site those new stations.</p><p>But some West Side residents aren&rsquo;t content to wait.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price lives in North Lawndale and teaches high school there. She bikes to work, as does her husband, who takes Ogden everyday to get to his job as a barber in River North.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s easy for the city to say, &lsquo;A community like North Lawndale is not interested in biking.&rsquo; It doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; Childress Prices said. &ldquo;Neighborhoods like this are often overlooked and, when asked why, it&rsquo;s that we&rsquo;re just not interested.&rdquo;</p><p>But Childress Price says people like her and her husband prove otherwise. The problem isn&rsquo;t a lack of interest but, rather, a lack of education and infrastructure, she said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to take city attention, maybe city investment &mdash; time and resources into education,&rdquo; she said.</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_2_Hawkins%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: left; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="As Chicago’s West Side awaits more Divvy stations, resident Eboni Hawkins says the city ought to encourage bike-related businesses, from repair shops to bike-driven food carts. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></h2><h2><strong>More Black and Latino cyclists on the road</strong></h2><p>As it turns out, though, the number of black and Latino cyclists has increased dramatically in recent years. In May, <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/" target="_blank">the Sierra Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/" target="_blank">League of American Bicyclists</a> released <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/content/report-new-majority-pedaling-toward-equity" target="_blank">a study</a> that showed rates of minority ridership up all over the country.</p><p>Planners often measure cycling by the number of trips made by bike. While non-white riders still account for only 23 percent of trips made by bike, according to the Sierra Club study, between 2001 and 2009, the number of trips African Americans made by bike increased by 100 percent. Those made by Latinos increased by 50 percent.</p><p>In addition, 60 percent of people of color surveyed said &ldquo;more bike facilities&rdquo; would encourage them to ride, and there&rsquo;s a lot at stake. According to the study, crash fatality rates are 30 percent higher for African Americans and 23 percent higher for Hispanics than they are for white riders.</p><p>&ldquo;For too long, many of these diverse populations have been overlooked by traditional organizations and transportation planners,&rdquo; the study authors write. &ldquo;In too many instances, people of color have been largely left out of transportation decision making processes that have dramatically impacted their neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>CDOT, meanwhile, has asked the city to be patient when it comes to expanding Divvy into more minority neighborhoods.</p><p>Gabe Klein, Chicago&rsquo;s transportation commissioner, acknowledged the dearth of stations on Chicago&rsquo;s black West Side and far South Side, but emphasized the need to concentrate stations in areas with more commerce and residents.</p><p>&ldquo;People ask you a lot, &lsquo;How do you make sure you have access for everybody?&rsquo; It&rsquo;s always a challenge, because they are nodal systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really put a station out by Midway Airport and not have [another station] two blocks away or doesn&rsquo;t work as a network.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein compared the nascent bike-share program to the early years of the &ldquo;L&rdquo; system before it radiated miles out from the city center.</p><p>&ldquo;Imagine when CTA started 100 years ago,&rdquo; Klein said, describing a system with few stations but plans for growth. &ldquo;Now look at the CTA. It&rsquo;s ubiquitous, it&rsquo;s everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether the CTA is truly &ldquo;everywhere&rdquo; is a matter of debate, but for now CDOT is holding off on the placement of 20 stations until after next spring. Officials want to assess unanticipated demand, and make some data-driven decisions about where to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;It could very well be there,&rdquo; Klein said, pointing to the West Side on a city map. &ldquo;And 20 stations is a lot of stations.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><h2><strong>Access to biking harder for the poor and unbanked</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes3.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A prospective Divvy member tries out one of the new bikes. Some black Chicagoans want more more stations on the South and West sides. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Even if the city expanded Divvy&rsquo;s bike stations and led a huge public-education campaign, there are still other potential barriers to entry.</div><p>First, there&rsquo;s the cost of membership.</p><p>CDOT officials claim the program&rsquo;s membership cost as a success. &ldquo;This will be the lowest cost form of transit available &mdash; probably less expensive than walking,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;If you walked everywhere you&rsquo;d probably have to buy a couple pairs of shoes per year.&rdquo;</p><p>And while $75 a year is far cheaper than the cost of an annual CTA pass, the up-front cost could be prohibitive for some low-income users. The bike-share system in Washington, D.C., offers an $84 annual membership that can be paid for in monthly installments of $7.</p><p><a href="http://www.thehubway.com/" target="_blank">Boston&rsquo;s Hubway bikeshare</a>, meanwhile, offers steeply discounted $5 annual memberships to anyone on public assistance living within 400 percent of the poverty line. They&rsquo;ve funded this through the <a href="http://www.bphc.org/Pages/Home.aspx" target="_blank">Boston Public Health Commission</a>. So far, the Hubway has sold 650 such discounted memberships in a system of 14,000 members.</p><p>Boston&rsquo;s bike share grew out of multiple initiatives from the mayor&rsquo;s office &mdash; one focused on health and obesity, another focused on the environment and sustainability and another on economic development.</p><p>&ldquo;In many ways, biking is really at the nexus of all three of those,&rdquo; said Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs for Boston. She said that subsidized memberships were &ldquo;a very targeted effort to reach residents that tend to have more health and obesity issues.&rdquo;</p><p>While CDOT officials said they were excited about the public-health benefits of cycling, Chicago won&rsquo;t be offering either discounted memberships or the option of a monthly payment program to low-income residents here.&nbsp;</p><p>Equally complicated is the issue of liability.</p><p>With a few exceptions, in Chicago, you will need a credit or debit card to join Divvy or to rent a bike for the day. The system won&rsquo;t accept cash. This is about protecting the bikes, CDOT says. If you lose or steal one, Divvy will charge you $1,200 to replace it.</p><p>If you don&rsquo;t have a bank account or credit card, if you&rsquo;re living paycheck-to-paycheck or stuffing your savings under your mattress, you&rsquo;re what experts call &ldquo;unbanked.&rdquo; And if you&rsquo;re unbanked, you can&rsquo;t be charged for a replacement bike as easily.</p><p>Chris Holben, program manager of <a href="http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/" target="_blank">Capital Bikeshare</a> in Washington, D.C., said his program had faced that issue. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be tabling at an event,&rdquo; Holben said, &ldquo;and people will say to us, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t have a credit card but I really want to join.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes, the hurdles to bike sharing go far beyond banking. &ldquo;Perhaps these people don&rsquo;t have access to the Internet or, if they do, they have to go to the library. Or the banks, there are a number of locations, but maybe not where they live,&rdquo; Holben said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re unbanked already they&rsquo;re already struggling to have access to some of the things that would make it easier.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Divvy%20map%202.jpg" style="float: left; height: 338px; width: 300px;" title="A map of Divvy’s proposed stations. The initial crop of stations won’t extend past 63rd Street on the South Side, or past Central Park Avenue on the West Side. (Courtesy of Divvy)" />So what are the unbanked to do?&nbsp;</p><p>Divvy and CDOT are planning a unique approach, one that takes banking out of the equation. They plan to partner with community groups including churches and job-training programs.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The community-based organizations [will set] up the rules that work for their members, in terms of how many hours or time they&rsquo;ll allow members, or how they want to handle the rules around usage,&rdquo; Kubly said.</p><p>Then, the $1,200 liability will be shared between the community organization, the city and Divvy &mdash; not the user.</p><p>&ldquo;And, hopefully, when you get all those things pulled together,&rdquo; Kubly said, &ldquo;it actually takes the banking question out of it for those folks, and lets anybody have access.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city isn&rsquo;t specifying a date when it will launch the community partnership program.</p><h2><strong>Beyond bike sharing: Thinking in terms of infrastructure</strong></h2><p>Cynthia Bell, a lifelong West Sider who works for the Active Transportation Alliance, says the city could do more to encourage low-income biking, with or without Divvy.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of our people now are going to Walmart or Target, buying those bikes, which are low quality,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;They break down within five months and, before you know it, people haven&rsquo;t been on their bike all summer just because of a flat. A flat kept them from riding their bike the whole summer.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bell says the city could do more to help set up bike-repair shops and safe places to park.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price, a North Lawndale teacher and avid biker, says the reasons for bringing bike-sharing to low-income neighborhoods go beyond economic development and convenience.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the highest childhood obesity rates in the city so it seems like we&rsquo;d want to promote biking&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has made progress in laying down more bike lanes on the West Side. When it comes to the bike-share system, though, officials say most low-income neighborhoods will have to wait.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter/producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></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> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 Nailed it! The unique history of race and class in Chicago's nail art http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/nailed-it-unique-history-race-and-class-chicagos-nail-art-107697 <p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311"><img alt="&quot;Fluorescents on orange with sparkles&quot;" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/orangesilver.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Helen Maureen Cooper)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span><a href="http://hmcooper.com/home.html" target="_blank">Helen Maureen Cooper</a> is next level, existing on a plane that few even know exists, let alone try to reach. Aesthetically-speaking, with her curly red hair, colorful apparel, and long acrylic tips, she stands proud and stands out. Her look is part youthful, all referential, yet decidedly personal. It is a reflection of all that she knows and an indication that what she wants to know still exists, if she is willing to find it. </span></p><p>It is her tips that distinguish Cooper from the women around her both in the art world and in the world at large. Cooper wears acrylics with traditional Chicago artistry. It is this love of nail art &ndash; less traditionally accepted forms of nail art, specifically &ndash; that serves as the inspiration for her latest solo exhibition, <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/nailed.html" target="_blank"><em>Nailed</em></a>, opening June 21 at the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/city_gallery_in_thehistoricwatertower.html" target="_blank">City Gallery at the Historic Water Tower Place</a>. Nailed includes photographs from her ongoing <em>Hard Candy</em> series featuring close-ups of nails posed on top of and within piles of items such as glitter, frosting, and dice.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">The exhibition will also include a new body of work. For her series of large-scale photographs titled <em>Jazzy Nails</em> (named after a now-defunct shop from the 90s), Cooper photographed patrons and nail techs of the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Naughty-Nailz/302553103738" target="_blank">Naughty Nail&#39;z</a>&nbsp;shop. Her entrance into the world of nail art was not easy. The acrylic nail art community in general and the Chicago community in particular is not so much exclusive as it is reflective. In Chicago, we see a community that speaks to the diversity of the landscape. The vastness of the city means neighborhoods and sub-neighborhoods, groups and scenes develop before most are even aware they exist.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">Throughout her photographic career, Cooper has found inspiration in the physical and the performative. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;Hands are particularly expressive to me,&rdquo; she said. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Upon moving to Chicago from Philadelphia for graduate school at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, Cooper&#39;s interest in nail art grew. She frequented the now-closed Bottom, a popular shop for women in the know on the West Side of the city. Soon, she realized that the nail art stakes were raised in terms of artistry, commonality and frequency. In Chicago, paint is used in a way that is not global. Nail artists here work with acrylic paints, not nail polish. In their work, we find distinguishing styles &ndash; thin and light drags, stripes and lines &ndash; that creates a uniform look for the city. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;I can tell who goes to what salon based on what is done,&rdquo; Cooper said.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Untitled%20drawing%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 422px; width: 620px;" title="('Vogue' and 'Rocker'/Helen Maureen Cooper)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">In addition to style, Chicago also provided a change in business ownership, diversity of nail artists, and divisions within the scene. Whereas Philadelphia was largely serviced by a Vietnamese community of nail artists, Chicago&rsquo;s nail artists vary by race in correspondence to the type of designs they create. Black and hispanic women largely work in acrylics.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">Local acrylic nail artists are protective of their work and the amount of access they provide to their community. When approached by Cooper, many nail techs expressed their concerns over competition with shops employing Asian women. Cooper herself was an outsider as a white artist. In order to find women to photograph, Cooper began to talk to women on street and on the bus.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">Women from a variety of different backgrounds inhabit shops like Naughty Nail&#39;z, but a majority are racial minorities of working or middle class. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;All sorts of women who are not similar go there with weird sorts of racial/cultural tensions with each other, and yet it works,&rdquo; Cooper said. </span></p><p>&ldquo;I fell in love with the shop and the type of women that came in,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Her love of the shop however did not make others agreeable to her artistic pursuits. Her original requests to photograph the space and its inhabitants was denied.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Junk with marble and gold glitter&quot;" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Image1_2.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Helen Maureen Cooper)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">&ldquo;There were so many possibilities for being skeptical of an outsider,&rdquo; Cooper said. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>In the end, there was no way that she was signifying that she knew what nail language the women were speaking. There is a rightful fear that white artists creating work that showcases or reflects non-mainstream communities are out to exploit these lived experiences. Cooper&rsquo;s aim as a creator and general fan then was to become a part of the community that she was interested in documenting. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;Until it was something I was doing and that was a part of my life, it would look like cultural tourism,&rdquo; she said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">Her only true &ldquo;in&rdquo; to the space was to get acrylics of her own. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;I just knew that I had to get my own nails done to get to the community,&rdquo; she said enthusiastically. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Eventually, Cooper was allowed to photograph in the space, first in a documentarian style and later, in portraiture. Allowed to bring in backdrops in January, Coopers photographs became a collaborative performance project exploring how Naughty Nail&#39;z&rsquo; customers look and what they are communicating with their look. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m interested in photographing any woman with a sense of presence,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m interested in any woman who is owning who she is.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">The end result is a series of photographs that are loving, positive, and rich with humanity. The women (and children) photographed are not subjects, but her fellow enthusiasts in the community.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-105427ad-40d1-4f7b-8d8e-7bc515cf8311">Fashion and style are not one in the same. If fashion is the clothes themselves, then style is the expression through those same clothes. In extension, style too is the way one plays with their hair, their accessories of demure or extravagant accoutrement, the way everything is put together to form not a look, but the truest reflection of self. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m interested in how everything that adorns the person expresses something about what their character is,&rdquo;&nbsp;</span>Cooper said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span>A caring glance reveals far more about a person than the first thing they say. Cooper&rsquo;s own look reflected this ethos. And for the artist, hands reveal the largest truth. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;You learn a lot about a person by seeing what their hands look like,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Everyone is their own character.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious blogs about 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> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/nailed-it-unique-history-race-and-class-chicagos-nail-art-107697 Reporter's Notebook: Life in public housing vs. the fanciest downtown apartment http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-life-public-housing-vs-fanciest-downtown-apartment-107103 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tanveer and realtor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0AgYZnhF-8PafdGJhci1aV2Q3YlhXb0JOREg5LVNXVWc&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=650" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above.</p><p>Curious Citizen Heather Radke asked about the relationship between where we live and our everyday lives, and she wants the answer to be based on real experience. If you have leads or a point for us to consider, please comment below, or hit us at any of the social media outlets listed above!&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-life-public-housing-vs-fanciest-downtown-apartment-107103 Neighborhood divisions laid bare, in the span of a block http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neighborhood-divisions-laid-bare-span-block-106299 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20diptych%201.jpg" style="height: 210px; width: 620px;" title="These two South Shore homes exist within the span of one block. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F85223529&amp;color=00a8ff&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>For urban dwellers and fans of cliché Hollywood flicks alike, you&rsquo;ve probably encountered the &ldquo;wrong side of the tracks&rdquo; motif.</p><p>It goes like this: A neighborhood changes for the worse on the &ldquo;other side&rdquo; of the tracks or one must be careful of the people who live on the &ldquo;wrong&rdquo; side. The warning isn&rsquo;t always about railroad tracks, of course. Instead, it&rsquo;s a veiled admonition about which streets to cross or avoid in a particular neighborhood.</p><p>This was the case for Marya Lucas, who asked Curious City this:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why do neighborhoods sometimes change from really good to really bad in the span of a block?</em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB marya portrait 2.jpg" style="height: 147px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="Curious citizen Marya Lucas on location for our story in South Shore. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>The question, she says, was partly inspired by her move to Chicago&rsquo;s Old Town neighborhood not long ago. There, she couldn&rsquo;t help but notice how different life was on either side of North Avenue, around Sedgwick Street.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not a simple question, nor is there an easy answer. There&rsquo;s ample <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Black-Block-Politics-Race-Class/dp/0226649326/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1364246135&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=mary+pattillo" target="_blank">scholarly </a><a href="http://www.amazon.com/American-Apartheid-Segregation-Making-Underclass/dp/0674018214/ref=pd_sim_b_8">work </a>about <a href="http://www.amazon.com/There-Goes-Neighborhood-Tensions-Neighborhoods/dp/0679724184/ref=pd_sim_b_1" target="_blank">neighborhood space</a> in Chicago and how it&rsquo;s polarized. The bottom line is that any full, honest answer must grapple with some unseemly history: racist real estate policies, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Family-Properties-Struggle-Transformed-Chicago/dp/0805091424/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top" target="_blank">the creation of ghettos</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Boss-Richard-J-Daley-Chicago/dp/0452261678/ref=pd_sim_b_2" target="_blank">local political power</a>.</p><p>I&rsquo;m <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud" target="_blank">never one to shy away from race</a>, but in taking up this Curious City question I didn&rsquo;t want the issue to dominate an explanation of why there are &ldquo;good&rdquo; versus &ldquo;bad&rdquo; blocks. My editor and I thought seasoned experts (e.g. people who wrote the aforementioned hyperlinked books and academics such as Northwestern University&rsquo;s Albert Hunter) should take on that heavy lifting, but we could offer some on-the-ground observations and other perspectives to round out Marya&rsquo;s question.</p><p dir="ltr">First, a practical question: Where could Marya and I head to see and hear about block-by-block neighborhood change? We could&rsquo;ve harkened back to Studs Terkel&rsquo;s book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Division-Street-America-Studs-Terkel/dp/1595580727/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1364246270&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=studs+division+street" target="_blank">&ldquo;Division Street&rdquo;</a> for modern-day inspiration, focused on areas around <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/cabrini-green-life-and-after-high-rises-99819" target="_blank">public housing</a>, visited Canaryville, compared Hyde Park (home to the University of Chicago) to Woodlawn (too easy) or pulled the microphone out in <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1293.html" target="_blank">Uptown</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Neighborhood disinvestment is hard enough to explain without the white side being the so-called more desirable one and people of color living on the &ldquo;other&rdquo; side. Hence, Marya and I headed to a majority black South Side neighborhood, where the gulfs between people and space are surprising and visible.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Social division along the lake</strong></p><p dir="ltr">On South Coles Avenue, between 75th and 71st Streets, boarded-up apartment buildings and houses stand out as eyesores. Residents complain about loitering at one of the corner stores. At one point residents say the Chicago Police Department designated one of the corners a hot spot for drug and gang activity.</p><p dir="ltr">But just one block over, on South Shore Drive, high rises face Lake Michigan. On the dead-end side streets, oversized bungalows with well-kept lawns have direct access to the beach. One sleek modern home looks like it got lost on its way to South Beach.</p><p dir="ltr">Several blocks away in the same neighborhood, homes in the Jackson Park Highlands are stately and splendid. The homes&rsquo; diversity in architecture reinforces the pleasing aesthetic.</p><p dir="ltr">Car access is blocked on either side of the Highlands by uninviting pedestrian malls. There, multi-unit apartment buildings &mdash; many boarded-up &mdash; are crammed together in high density.</p><p dir="ltr">Welcome to South Shore.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Hover over the map below to view more images of the neighborhood.&nbsp;</em></p><p><img class="alwaysThinglink" src="//cdn.thinglink.me/api/image/373188659299483649/1024/10/scaletowidth#tl-373188659299483649;626328886" style="width: 620px; height: 406px;" /><script async charset="utf-8" src="//cdn.thinglink.me/jse/embed.js"></script></p><p><strong>Between South Shore Drive and Coles</strong></p><p dir="ltr">South Shore is truly mixed-income. Approximately 2,700 housing vouchers are in use there, meaning that Section 8 subsidized housing is more present here than in any other Chicago neighborhood. I happen to believe the best skyline city views are in South Shore (and I&rsquo;ve got company in that opinion). There&rsquo;s a modicum of commercial activity, Obama&rsquo;s <a href="http://italianfiestapizzeria.com/" target="_blank">favorite pizza place</a> and large homes with lots of hardwood character and detail. There&rsquo;s also crime, and it&#39;s home to the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-27/news/chi-authorities-20-years-for-highranking-terror-town-gangster-20130227_1_chicago-police-street-gang-black-p-stone-nation" target="_blank">Terror Town </a>faction of the Black P Stone Nation.</p><p dir="ltr">And all of this is in plain sight.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20natalie%20interview_edited-1.jpg" style="height: 186px; width: 275px; float: right;" title="Natalie Moore interviews Lawrence Wilder, a landscaper and maintenance man who has lived on 74th Street and Coles Avenue. for most of his life. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Lawrence Wilder, a landscaper and maintenance man, has lived on 74th and Coles Ave. for most of his life. He said families have struggled to pay property taxes and utilities when senior citizen homeowners pass down their houses to their children.</p><p dir="ltr">Wilder notices the differences between South Shore Drive and Coles Avenue.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;About 10 years ago, maybe more than that, it was like a murder on every corner within a five-block radius,&rdquo; Wilder said. &ldquo;Because once they started moving people out the projects, putting them over there in them buildings, them transient spots and stuff, it gets wild. So they eventually move out or lose their Section 8 voucher and it dies down. Or when someone get out jail, now he wanna be, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m gonna take over and all this kind of stuff.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The day Marya and I ventured out, we brought along <a href="http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/upp/faculty/smith.html" target="_blank">Janet Smith</a>, an urban policy professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. At one point, while sitting in the car and admiring the vista of the lake while parked on one of those South Shore Drive cul de sacs, Smith weighed in on what distinguishes this area from Coles Avenue.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[People] are connected to that space of the view of the lake, view of the city. They&rsquo;re holding onto the piece of land. It&rsquo;s a foothold to the beach. They can literally have their back to change around them &mdash; good or bad,&rdquo; Smith told us.</p><p dir="ltr">Further west, there&rsquo;s another desirable section of South Shore &mdash; the Jackson Park Highlands &mdash; with borders at 67th to 71st, Cregier Avenue to Euclid Avenue. There&rsquo;s no access to the Highlands from 71st Street, and inside the four-block radius lies a mini-labyrinth of one-way streets and cul de sacs. (I was told if criminals are confused, they&rsquo;re less likely to enter.) Every new homeowner receives a welcome basket of food and pays $50 annually to the neighborhood association, which funds mosquito abatement, holiday events and summer functions. The housing stock is similar to a Hyde Park or Kenwood but at a much lower price point.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20highlands%20screen%20capture.png" style="width: 620px;" title="The Highlands neighborhood as seen from above. The area, with its swath of landscaped greenery and single-family homes, is clearly distinct from the apartment buildings nearby.(Source: Google)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Yvonne Webb and her husband moved to the Highlands almost 40 years ago. If an ambulance pulls up to a neighbor&rsquo;s home, the phone rings. They let each other know when they travel out of town. They have phone trees to call the police.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We try to get to know our neighbors,&rdquo; Webb said. &ldquo;We all have a vested interest. People want a certain quality of life. I think it&rsquo;s because it&rsquo;s an ownership aspect because it&rsquo;s not so transient here and we&rsquo;re all looking for the same thing &mdash; a high-quality of life. Without being elitist. I have to say that because I think that&rsquo;s something very important. I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s an elitist thing; I think it&rsquo;s a sense of community.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">There are just a few apartment buildings within the Highlands. But on the margins of that community lie huge multi-unit apartments. Tammye Coleman, a nine-year Highland resident, said apartment dwellers aren&rsquo;t afforded the same type of community-building opportunities.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If landlords had that same mentality, or [if] someone could organize fun things to do. You rarely see block club parties on a block that&rsquo;s all apartment buildings because then who coordinates it? You never get a chance to meet your neighbors,&rdquo; Coleman said.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FORWEB%20changing%20cars_edited-1.jpg" style="height: 247px; width: 370px; float: left;" title="A study in contrasts on Coles Avenue is evident in other kinds of property, too. Here two cars tell two very different stories. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Smith said renters aren&rsquo;t inherently problematic.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I raised a lot of questions about who owns the properties, the multifamily properties. What their intentions were. Were they there to milk the property? So buy it cheap, just put a little bit in, maintain it so it meets the code? Have tenants in there but charge higher rents than they need to. It felt like it was about real estate investment first and not about community,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>A takeway</strong></p><p dir="ltr">It was clear from our visit that South Shore residents think about the space they live in, and they see it connected to internal and external forces, too. The physicality &mdash; the impact of the lakefront, the cul de sacs, the pedestrian malls and the street restrictions &mdash; plays a major role. And, as we heard from both residents and Smith, economics and ownership contribute to how different one block can feel from the next.</p><p dir="ltr">The sections of South Shore with strong community associations fare better when it comes to keeping their blocks safe and pretty. No one Marya and I spoke to suggested that there were too many apartment buildings in South Shore, but it&rsquo;s clear those residents &mdash; many of them low-income or lower-middle class &mdash; don&rsquo;t have similar safety nets of phone trees and block clubs. Their landlords don&rsquo;t invest in those efforts. And it makes some sense; they&rsquo;re investing in beachfront property, perhaps waiting for paydirt. Put enough of these different incentives close together, and you build a small, but real, division &mdash; one that&rsquo;s apparent to neighborhood natives and newcomers alike.</p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 17:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neighborhood-divisions-laid-bare-span-block-106299 Porkapalooza part 2: going whole hog at Vie http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-04-11/porkapalooza-part-2-going-whole-hog-vie-85000 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22209191?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;color=c40215" width="500" frameborder="0" height="281"></iframe></p><p>Please don't tell my mom about today's two posts, she'll kill me. This morning we talked about the 2nd Annual <a href="http://baconfestchicago.com/">Baconfest</a> over the weekend, and we mentioned that Nathan Sears from Vie in Western Springs took home the "Golden Rasher" for the best bacon dish. Well yesterday, as Sears was basking in the glory of his porcine victory, he also led an enthusiastic group of about 15 people through his regular series of <a href="http://www.vierestaurant.com/events.html">"Whole Hog"</a> classes at the restaurant.</p><p>I stopped by for awhile to see how the class is constructed, and was surprised to see only two women. The dudes in attendance were all stoked to not only see how a whole pig is taken apart, but they also got a tenderloin Milanese lunch, and will be able to take home sausage, bacon and in about two weeks, some homemade pancetta. See my video above for more details. Nathan's next class is in May (but it's sold out). Check the restaurant's <a href="http://www.vierestaurant.com/events.html">website</a> for details on their future "whole hog" classes.</p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-04-11/porkapalooza-part-2-going-whole-hog-vie-85000