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WINTER/SPRING 2012 41.88°N 87.63°W



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Powering up the old-school game scene

They’re here They’re queer They’re Republican

Preserving the Underground Railroad

BROKEN FINANCIAL SCENE Young people survive bankruptcy 12/15/11 5:45 PM

On the cover: Work by Kevin Benishek Logo Tucker Phillips

Winter/Spring 2012



Art & Design



Managing Editor Kelsey Herron

Stand Point Sydney Corryn Chloe Riley

Art Directors Kady Dennell Kevin Benishek

Web Editor Chloe Riley

General Manager Chris Richert

Dating & Mating Tony Merevick

Assistant Art Directors Larayne Dumlao Ryan Janeczko

Web Designer Tony Merevick

Advertising & Business Manager Ren Lahvic

Production Manager Madalyn Hoerr Rewind Editor Erin Edwards Features Editor Tony Merevick Fast Forward Editor Luke Wilusz Copy Editing Chief Molly Keith Fact Checking Chief Amanda Wilt Writers Meredith Hoffmann Brian Gray Courtney Clark Evan Darst Lauren Tinerella Rachael Tsuji Joyce Sparks Crystal Ramirez

Easy Eats Joanna Wesoly Ask Echo Matt Watson Geek Speak Luke Wilusz Lori Moody Get the ‘L’ Out Siobhan Lally Madalyn Hoerr

Photo Editor Amethyst Anderson Illustration Editor Tucker Phillips Typography Editors Mary Sutton Martha Bartels Designers Kelly Geisel Julius Elders James Noyes Morgan Huneck Scott Zareski Gene Zak

COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO—an urban institution committed to access, opportunity and innovative excellence in higher education—provides innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to nearly 12,000 students in more than 120 undergraduate and graduate concentrations—all within a liberal arts context. Columbia is the largest arts and media college in the nation.

Social Media Managers Joanna Wesoly Madalyn Hoerr

Photographers Lauren Rady Vladimir Zaytsev Michael Gallagher Maxwell Arnold Nick Salzwedel Kris Wade-Matthews

Illustrators Kevin Budnik Chas Appleby Tucker Phillips Kim Le Eric Lunquist Ryan Janeczko Kady Dennell Mary Sutton

Senior Account Representative Sean Campbell Sales Designers Jonathan Allen Edward Kang Zach Stemerick Heidi Unkefer

Administration Faculty Advisors Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin Zach Dodson Sarah Klein Computer Specialist Omar Castillo Department Chair Nancy Day

Writers and editors must enroll in the College Magazine Workshop or Writing for Echo courses. For permission, contact Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin at or 312.369.8918. Designers can enroll in Publication Design. For more information, contact Zach Dodson at; photographers and illustrators can work on a freelance basis.

Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Echo magazine is published twice a year by the Columbia College Chicago Journalism Department. Echo is a Colleges and Schools. The college is accredited as a teacher training institution by the Illinois State Board of Education. student-produced publication of Columbia College Chicago and does not necessarily represent, in whole or in part, the views of college administrators, faculty or the student body. For further information visit


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12/22/11 10:24 PM


14 15 16 16 17

Roll Again The enduring attraction of board games amanda wilt

With This Ring Heirlooms evoke fond momories crystal ramirez

Vintage With a Twist Recycled jewelery becomes wearable art rachael tsuji

How Disney Princesses Spend Their Time erin edwards Did Video Kill the Radio Star? Why the airwaves still aren’t silent siobhan lally

18 19 20 20 21

The Vinyl Frontier Val Camilletti continues to be at the forefront kelsey herron

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A former football player finds truth in codes evan darst

Living in Fear Our main concerns at the start and end of schooling madalyn hoerr

Transactions in Transition A look at how we spend now madalyn hoerr siobahn lally

Odd Couples Hybrid businesses fueled by creativity courtney clark

Get Wheel Food trucks are so 2011 lauren tinerella

63 65 65 66 69

Like it or not, our childhood favorites have changed joanna wesoly

Old Tech, New Music Innovative musicians synthesize tunes from toys luke wilusz

Watch My Feet Two generations of moving to music sydney corryn

Old School, New School Say farewell to these education essentials sydney corryn

I Remember Chicago When... Reminiscences from life-long residents sydney corryn

FAST FORWARD By the Numbers


Toy Story

BACK TO THE PRESENT How accurate were the predictions of sci-fi flicks? brian gray

Naughty by Nature XXX doesn’t always mark the spot madalyn hoerr luke wilusz

72 76

Columbia’s Footprint: The college aims to tread lightly on the Earth lauren tinerella

Second Life: Give your cast-offs another chance madalyn hoerr

Dirty Little Apps I’ve got something in my pocket for you tony merevick

The Future of Food matt watson The Martian Trail NASA and DARPA make no small plans molly keith

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Arcade Revival Powering up the old-school game scene lori moody


Young and Bankrupt Lessons from 20-somethings who have survived financial meltdowns rachael tsuji



A neighborhood’s demise doesn’t deter a community joyce sparks


42 47 52

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The LGBTGOP Queer Republicans in their own words tony merevick kelsey herron evan darst


Follow the Drinking Gourd Chicago’s essential role in the Underground Railroad meredith hoffman

Urban Treasure Hunting Geocaching provides a different view of the familiar city meredith hoffman


12/15/11 5:00 PM

From the Editor This semester was one of monumental change for Echo magazine. It marks the first time that a team of editors, designers and writers collaborated to create a cohesive body of work. Everything you see, from the front cover to our newly launched website, reflects our editorial vision. In keeping with our wily ways, I chose to tell the story of how the magazine made it into your hands numerically.

Try to say it in one breath.

Photo by Lori Moody

13 editors 17 designers 8 writers 3 instructors 90 hours of lost sleep per person plus an all-nighter or two 8 rounds of story pitches 30 headaches 230 cups of coffee 300 beers 2 smelly seafood lunches (thanks to our Ask Echo editor) 4 vegetarians (made rather ill by the smelly seafood lunches) 17 missed lunch breaks 2 meals we ate together 10 nights spent snoozing on my keyboard 92.6% filled Dropbox space $30 spent on a new WordPress template 45 failed cover lines (The phrase “Let Me See That Pong” almost made it in the book) 6 hours spent in the editorial room each week 1,800 ‘L’ disruptions 87 rewrites 787 obscenities

all of which helped create: 1 brand new website 6 blogs 3 editorial sections 29 stories 30+ photos 60+ illustrations 72 pages made up of… 40% white space and 0 influence from advertising, totaling 18,000+ words in each of the 29,999 other copies of this magazine in circulation We’ve put a semester’s worth of ardent dedication into the magazine, so please enjoy your copy and share it with others.


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What we miss from the ‘90s Illustrations by Chas Appleby

Chloe Riley I miss: Pogs, that fun disc-flipping game that drove your parents nuts. Because: It brought me unmatched togetherness with neighborhood friends and bullies alike. What I replaced it with: Probably my Mac. Madalyn Hoerr I miss: “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus. Because: It was my first favorite country song-and my last favorite country song. Yikes. What I replaced it with: An iTunes library full of new pop music I will laugh about in 10 years. Joanna Wesoly I miss: Giga Pets Because: Although they were my only responsibility, keeping them alive was not the easiest. Reset Button. What I replaced it with: My smartphone. Erin Edwards I miss: Daria Because: It remains one of the smartest and funniest shows ever on television and it should claim full responsibility for my sarcastic and sardonic disposition. What I replaced it with: Watching episodes on DVD and wearing my Sick Sad World T-shirt. Luke Wilusz I miss: My Super Nintendo. Because: I played my first-ever video game on that system, and Mario and I went through a lot together. What I replaced it with: A PS2, a Dreamcast, and N64, and an Xbox 360. I’m sort of a game hoarder.


Siobhan Lally I miss: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Because: TMNT was a combination of mutant misfits, crime fighting and pizza, not to mention Master Splinter, the mentor who in some ways resembles Mr. Miyagi. What’s not to love? What I replaced it with: Action movies that also feature misfit crime-fighting heroes. Sydney Corryn I miss: The Rugrats Because: Who doesn’t love adorable, rebellious babies with crazy imaginations who go on awesome adventures? Plus, Susie was my homegirl. What I replaced it with: The Boondocks because I love intellectual sarcastic kids with afros.

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Matt Watson I miss: Bill Clinton Because: He was, by far, the most badass president in modern history. What I replaced it with: Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, John Ensign, David Vitter...need I go on? Kelsey Herron I miss: Lisa Frank stuff Because: Who doesn’t want to live in a world where painting panda bears, golden retrievers and penguins give each other hugs on glaciers? What I replaced it with: Basically, Googling pictures of unicorns riding rainbows in my free time. Tony Merevick I miss: Flat Stanley the 1964 book by Jeff Brown and The Flat Stanley Project by Dale Hubert Because: He was my first boy toy. What I replaced it with: More and more similarly flat (and I’m being nice) guys. Amanda Wilt I miss: Girl Power! Because: Buffy learned way before Bella that vampires do not make good boyfriends and we defined ourselves by which Spice Girl we were most like. What I replaced it with: Watching Britney Spears make a comeback every six months. Lori Moody I miss: ‘90s house parties. Because: Those were the days when people got down and danced without drama. Remember when dances like the running man and the Humpty and moves by MC Hammer and Milli Vanilli were still cool? What I replaced it with: Rewatching the movie House Party and listening to ‘90s playlists on Pandora. Molly Keith I miss: Mystery Science Theater 3000 Because: There’s nothing like sharing laughs with two sardonic robots while watching terrible old movies. What I replaced it with: By surrounding myself with sarcastic friends who always have witty commentaries up their sleeves.

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Sara Bradstreet

Recycled jewelry becomes wearable art By Rachael Tsuji Photo by Vladimir Zaytsev


The dainty pink petals of a rose emerge from gold leaves studded with rhinestones. A 1954 Beacon Dixie pocket watch dangles from an antique chain. These handcrafted accessories are created from vintage and repurposed materials by local designer Sara Bradstreet. Bradstreet creates ornate jewelry using antique objects and precious stones for her line, called Broad Street. Her business idea emerged four years ago when she worked for a consignment shop in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I just started taking things apart and putting them back together,” Bradstreet says. “I’ll just go to antique stores and rummage through the bags of discarded stuff that

“...I do feel our body is a temple. We should adorn it and love it and make it beautiful.”

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nobody wants. I feel a little bit like I have an orphanage of old jewelry.” Many vintage items are missing parts. “If things aren’t perfect, I don’t care,” she says. “But if it’s just going to sit there, why not make it useful?” Bradstreet pays attention to composition, balance, repetition and color palette when she reworks old jewelry. She sells her finished pieces at fairs, shops in Evanston and Chicago, and on Bradstreet finds inspiration in mythology, art history and religious imagery. “I really love the paintings of Mary and the baby and Jesus on the cross,” she says. “There is something really deep and saturated I love about it.” She incorporates these influences into her work. “I always try to emulate a little of a history behind the piece and who would have worn it,” says Bradstreet. “I like to tell a story about it.” Stella, a boutique in Evanston, began carrying Broad Street jewelry when shop owner Rachel Hershinow discovered Bradstreet’s online store on Etsy. “She is a really important part of my merchandise mix. She has a customer following here,” Hershinow says—a following that includes her. Whenever Bradstreet comes in with new pieces, Hershinow has first dibs. “Her stuff is killer.” Elizabeth Brown, a freelance artist and coordinator of Allyu Spa in Chicago, now owns 16 pieces from the Broad Street line, including several custom pieces like a distressed pocket knife necklace adorned with mismatched chains and rosary beads. “I love that it’s such a dainty little charm that’s actually a weapon,” Brown says. Bradstreet is currently working on a new piece for Brown, incorporating trinkets Brown found while travelling. “I brought her a jumble of oddities I picked up at flea markets in Paris, including some doll eyes from the 1800s,” says Brown. “She’s very inclusive in her process.” Bradstreet has sold more than 400 pieces since she started her business in 2007, and enjoys the fact that her work is out in public, not hung on a wall. “I’ve always known I was a wearable artist,” says Bradstreet. “I have a hard time making something and putting it on the wall because I do feel our body is a temple. We should adorn it and love it and make it beautiful.”

Sara Bradstreet, local jewelry designer

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Heirlooms evoke fond memories By Crystal Ramirez Photos by Lauren Rady Andrea Smola, 21, cherishes her simple sapphire ring with a single diamond. It’s not only beautiful; it connects her to an uncle who passed away long before she was born. Smola’s mother, Felicia Dechter, gave her the 38-yearold ring four years ago. “My mom knew how much I liked it, and she always says that I remind her of her brother,” says Smola. They share the same stubborn attitude and smartmouthed comments that amused Dechter, who had three brothers. Her youngest brother was also her best friend; he gave her the ring when she was 16. Three years later, he was murdered, leaving her with only loving memories and her precious ring. “I never really knew my uncle, so it means a lot,” Smola says of the ring. “My mom likes to see me wear it because it reminds her of her brother, and she’s just happy that someone wears it.” Smola hopes to give the ring to her daughter one day, if she has one. Until then, she loves looking at it in the light when the sapphire shines, projecting a star that seems to represent the uncle she never met. Andrea Smola

Megan Dwyer Galo Lozada, 23, keeps a shiny 14-karat gold ring flourished by 12 little diamonds on his key ring. It was given to Lozada by his grandfather, after whom he was named. “It means a lot,” Lozada says. “I wear it only on special occasions.” Lozada’s grandfather purchased the ring in Italy in the early 1950s, during one of his many trips out of the country. He gave it to Lozada as a high school graduation present in Ecuador. He quickly put it on his finger, where it remained for years. When Lozada was 18, he left Ecuador to study in the United States. His grandfather passed away while he was gone, and the ring is all he has to remind him of the special bond they always had. When Megan Dwyer was a young girl, she loved browsing through her mother’s jewelry box. The rings once owned by her grandmother, Anne Gillespie, enchanted her. Gillespie and her husband died one day apart when Dwyer was one year old. “At least they died together, so [they] didn’t have to miss each other too much,” she says. Recently, Dwyer’s mother gave her Gillespie’s platinum engagement ring and wedding band. Both rings hang around Dwyer’s neck on a delicate silver chain. “It is really hard to grow up never knowing someone who was so important to your family,” she says. She is told she looks and acts like her grandmother, a former dancer who became a teacher. Dwyer is considering getting her teaching certificate now and feels her grandmother’s presence. “I guess wearing the rings makes me feel like she is a part of me.”


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Roll Again The enduring attraction of board games By Amanda Wilt Illustration by Kelly Geisel As children, we scaled Gum Drop Mountain and exclaimed “Sorry!” for knocking another player’s piece out of a spot. Board games were a part of our childhood, and despite the prevalence of digital games, those cardboard game boards still have a place in the world of play. Board game sales totaled $794 million in the U.S. in 2008, up 6 percent from 2007, despite a 3 percent drop in toy sales, according to NPD Group, which tracks retail information. Classic games like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble continue to lead the pack, but thousands of other games continue to captivate players and designers in the computer and video age. Designer Sen-Foong Lim (Train of Thought, Belfort) produces board games part-time with his partner, Jay Cormier. Lim credits his love of games to his being “not exactly physically gifted.” He doesn’t have to be tall, fast or strong to win at board games, he says, because they “allow for a relatively even playing field compared to most sports.” Strategy and chance rule board games. Chicagoland Games, located in Edgewater, has shelves piled high with a wide range of board games for all ages, which customers can test

before purchasing. And purchase they do. “Games are how we learn as children, how we ‘chill out’ as adolescents, and how we socialize as adults,” Lim says. Rob Bartel (Two by Two) has designed both video and board games. Even though his full-time job is at BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts, he finds the low-tech games compelling and connected to his high-tech work. “I find I’m a better board game designer because of my experiences designing video games,” he says. Bartel begins all his game designs with a theme, experience or emotion he hopes to evoke in the player. From that idea, he comes up with a context and builds an initial prototype. Whether on a board or a screen, the process is the same. Bartel has seen considerable growth and innovation in the game industry during his 13 years as a designer. Games that start with niche audiences often find broader acceptance over time, he says. “The games themselves keep getting better and more diverse,” he says. “The playing field is leveling.” And board games? They’re here to stay.

How Disney Princesses Spend Their Time


By Erin Edwards

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Cinderella 50% Cleaning 20% Raging too hard and leaving her shoes at parties 20% Being locked in an attic 10% Letting animals dress her

Jasmine 40% Not recognizing her boyfriend when he’s in a different outfit 25% Disobeying her father 25% Pretending to not be a princess 10% Traveling through Arabia, Egypt, Greece and China in the span of two and a half minutes

Ariel 25% Disobeying her father 20% Complaining about being a beautiful mermaid princess 20% Wishing she had legs 10% Singing about wishing she had legs 10% Hoarding junk 10% Singing about hoarding junk 5% Trading her voice for legs

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Did Video Kill the Radio Star? Why the airwaves still aren’t silent By Siobhan Lally Illustration by Gene Zak The claims: “Radio has no future.”—Sir William Thomson, Scottish mathematician and physicist,1897. “I have anticipated radio’s complete disappearance…confi dent that the unfortunate people, who must now subdue themselves to listening in, will soon fi nd a better pastime for their leisure.”—H.G. Wells, 1928. “We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far/ Pictures came and broke your heart/Put the blame on VTR”—The Buggles, 1979. “AM/FM radio has about fi ve good years left, if that. What we consider to be radio today will soon be on the Internet.”—Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, 2009. The reality: Radio is doing surprisingly well as a platform for news distribution, music and talk shows. According to the 2011 RADAR@ 110 National Radio Listening Report by Arbitron Inc., an international media, marketing and research firm, radio broadcasters have added approximately 1.7 million weekly listeners in the U.S. since 2010. An estimated 241.4

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snOW WHiTe 40% Being the fairest of them all 30% Cooking and cleaning for seven very strange, very small men 10% Accepting poisoned food from shady strangers 10% Breaking into other people’s houses & claiming them as her own 10% Getting kissed by the prince who may or may not be a necrophiliac

sleePinG BeAUTY 100% Sleeping


Belle 30% Hanging out with inanimate objects 20% Rejecting the advances of the best looking & most popular man in town 20% Falling in love with the Beast & slowly developing Stockholm Syndrome 10% Living in a French town where no one is actually French 10% Being an outcast in town because she is literate 10% Going places she’s specifically told not to go

million people 12 and older listen to radio weekly—approximately 93 percent of the 12-and-up population. “Every time there’s been a threat of killing radio, it’s morphed itself and figured it out,” says Dave Berner, news reporter and anchor on WBBM Newsradio 780 in Chicago, and professor at Columbia College Chicago. “It’s sort of in that process right now.”

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“Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I was getting every nickel people had short of a pair of jeans and hit of pot.”

Val Camilletti continues to be at the forefront

Val Camilletti, Val’s Halla

Your shop has been around since 1972 and has withstood various changes in the vinyl industry. What characteristics allow a record store to be so enduring? Location is a factor. Oak Park is an incredibly progressive community that has made us survive where we might not have otherwise. We’ve also accumulated a vast amount of trivia. We can talk classical; we can talk R&B; we can talk house.

By Kelsey Herron Illustration by Tucker Phillips How has the landscape of record shops in Chicago changed since you first opened Val’s? Val Camilletti, owner of Val’s Halla Records It’s just a different world. It takes me a month in Oak Park, has been a neighborhood icon and a half to make what I could’ve made in since the early 70s when she opened her four hours at an anniversary sale 20 years shop. An unending index of music knowledge, ago. I’m of an ancient generation, though. Camilletti, 73, is boisterous and verbose. [Vinyl] doesn’t mean the same thing to the She’s met just about everyone in the music same number of people. Back in the ‘60s and industry, from Billy Bragg to Brian Wilson, ‘70s, I was getting every nickel people had and has helped raise generations of music- short of a pair of jeans and hit of pot. obsessed teenagers. Today, Val’s Halla carries new and used What’s next for Val’s Halla? CDs along with its extensive vinyl collection, 2012 is a momentous year for us. It’ll be 50 and Camilletti still maintains a shrine to Elvis years since starting at Capitol Records and 40 Presley in the store bathroom. Echo spoke years since the shop opened at its original with Val about some of the changes she has location. We’re having “Hallapalooza” in July to celebrate. seen over the decades.

Val’s Top Six Musical Memories:


1 The Neville Brothers at Fitzgeralds 2 Bo Diddley 3 Bob Dylan in 1961 at Orchestra Hall 4 David Bowie as the White Duke 5 David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust 6 Judy Garland

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Visit Val at Val’s Halla: 239 Harrison St. Oak Park, IL 60304 Sun 11am–5pm Mon-Sat 11am–7pm 708-524-1004,

ONLINE EXTRA For a comprehensive list of all of Chicago’s record stores, visit

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Innovative musicians synthesize tunes from toys By Luke Wilusz Illustration by Kady Dennell Plenty of musicians play traditional instruments. Then there are the guys who play hacked Tickle Me Elmos and Barbie phones or use their old Game Boys and Nintendos as synthesizers. Performances resemble public surgeries by mad scientists dissecting Furbies and Speak & Spells, manipulating their innards to create strange, eerie compositions. Electronic musicians view old technology as a means of making new music. Patrick McCarthy, half of Chicago-based circuit bending duo Roth Mobot, says anyone can learn to do it. “You don’t have to know anything about electronics to be a circuit bender,” McCarthy says. “All you need is a screwdriver.” Open up any battery-powered device that makes noise and poke around with your fingers, he says, “ smearing the electricity around in there.” Michael Una, another local circuit bender, has taught workshops with McCarthy in the past. Kids pick it up quickly, he says. “If you can teach an eight-year-old kid to do it, certainly everyone else can as well.” McCarthy hosts a free weekly symposium every Saturday at Lizard’s Liquid Lounge in Chicago, where participants can try hacking, soldering and enjoying what McCarty calls “the world’s only regular circuit-bent open mic.” While circuit benders tamper with the hardware in old toys to make new instruments, chiptune artists program the sound cards in old video game consoles to create synthesizers. “Circuit bending sort of changes the intended purpose of the hardware, and chiptune, for the most part, is using the hardware in its intended purpose, just making new music on it,” says Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons, a band that combines geeky pop rock with chiptunes programmed on a Game Boy and a Nintendo.

Chiptune artists run software like Little Sound DJ and Nanoloop on customized game cartridges to access the sound chips in retro consoles. This allows them to manipulate, recreate and rearrange all the bleeps and bloops into original compositions. Online communities like 8bitcollective (8bc. org) and offer tutorials and instructions for newcomers interested in learning the software. Mazzaferri says experience writing music or playing instruments isn’t essential. “It’s not like a typical MIDI instrument where you have to know all the notes and play a keyboard. “If you can teach an eightYou can just screw year-old kid to do it, certainly around with it and plug in notes and it’ll everyone else can as well.” take care of knowing Michael Una, circuit bender the rhythm and other stuff.” Mazzaferri appreciates the creative challenge of using decades-old hardware in his songwriting process. “It’s a very, very limited sound palette,” he says. “So it’s fun to see how you can push those limitations and make different sounds and different patterns.” Hear it here: Lizard’s Liquid Lounge 3058 W. Irving Park Rd. 773.463.7599 Circuit bending every Saturday I Fight Dragons Chiptunes band


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Watch My Feet R E P L AC

Two generations of moving to the music


By Sydney Corryn Illustration by Kelly Geisel

Rappers MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice created The Running Man in the mid ‘80s.


In 1994, 69 Boyz’s single “Tootsee Roll” put this dance on the map.

The Stanky Legg was created by the GS Boys in 2009. Circle your legs inward for the Tootsee Roll or outward for the Stanky Legg.

Lil’ Will taught the Dougie to hip-hop group Cali Swag District, which popularized it with their single “Teach Me How to Dougie” in 2010.

Jerkin’ gained popularity in L.A. in 2008 when rap group New Boyz created the hit song, “You’re a Jerk.” Both require strong knees and rhythm.


The Harlem Shake was born in Harlem in the ‘80s, a successor to the Ethiopian tribal dance Eskita.

Old School, New School Say farewell to these education essentials By Chloe Riley & Siobhon Lally


Handwrite, Handwrong Remember how difficult it was to master the cursive “S” when you were seven years old? How about the cursive “Z”? Today’s kids won’t share our struggle. Neither the Chicago Public Schools nor the Illinois State Board of Education require instruction in cursive writing, which has long been a standard part of elementary education. So in today’s climate of standards-based teaching, cursive instruction has been all but erased. Sandy Purvis, owner of HandWRITEing Ink, a penmanship program in Pennsylvania, says printing isn’t best for everyone. “Cursive is much easier to use because it’s more proprioceptive,” she says, which means that people whose dominant learning style involves movement rather than hearing or seeing can excel at it. Cursive has long been regarded as faster than printing, too. Shorthand, anyone? Blackboards, Whiteboards For the past decade, schools have been making the transition from dusty chalkboards to whiteboards. Chalkboards are being dismissed from class for being messy, and the dust is potentially hazardous to electronic equipment, as well as to the health of teachers and students with allergies.

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“I was really sad about it,” says Ellen Hoffman, a fourth-grade teacher at Onahan Elementary School on Chicago’s Northwest Side. But she soon learned to love her new whiteboards, which allow her to use a variety of colors, doubles as a projector screen and leaves her clothing chalk-free. There are downsides, however. Sometimes the lights cause a glare on the board, making it more difficult to read, particularly from the back of the room. And whereas she once recycled the occasional cardboard chalk box, she now disposes of countless plastic markers. Pencil Pushers Classroom pencil sharpeners have undergone a transition, too. Fewer students can go the back of the room and crank a handle to sharpen their pencils, expending some energy of their own in the process. They’re more likely to walk to the teacher’s desk and place their pencils in an electronic sharpener that does the work for them. Sales of hand-crank sharpeners are way down at Blick Art Supplies, which caters to the school market, while electric pencil sharpener sales are proportionately rising. This despite the fact that “Teacher Pro,” the electric version, costs $53, while the traditional hand-crank costs only $21. Kids today will just have to get some in-class exercise the old-fashioned way: pulling ponytails and slinging spitballs.

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I Remember Chicago When... Reminiscences from life-long residents By Sydney Corryn


Kathleen Heraty, 59 Born: Humboldt Park Raised: Logan Square Stayed: Lincoln Square “John F. Kennedy came to Chicago to get Daley’s blessing to run for president [in 1960]. Essentially, Daley promised JFK the White House. I’m not sure what Daley got in return, but I’m sure it was plenty.” Winning Chicago was crucial for securing Illinois’ electoral votes. Kennedy won Illinois by a margin of 0.2 percent, thanks to his 10 percent victory margin in Cook County. Republicans quickly cried vote fraud.


Cynthia Lawrence, 46 Born: Bronzeville Raised: South Shore Stayed: Logan Square “I remember buying every newspaper and clipping out the coupons to vote for the court for the Bud Billiken Parade.” The Bud Billiken Parade, started in 1929, was created by Robert Sengstacke Abbot, founder of the legendary Chicago Defender newspaper, and is the oldest and largest African-American parade in the country. Voters would clip “vote coupons” from the Defender and mail in their picks for King and Queen of the parade.


Karen Coruther, 39 Born: Pill Hill Raised: Hyde Park Stayed: South Shore “I remember when the AIDS scare came on the news and put everyone in panic mode.” The AIDS Foundation of Chicago was formed in 1985, four years after the Centers for Disease Control first reported on a pneumonia epidemic spreading among gay men. By 1992, AIDS was the primary cause of death among men ages 25 to 44. AFC has campaigned for awareness, treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Today, more than 20,000 people in Chicago are living with HIV/AIDS.


Fannie Medina, 32 Born: Little Village Raised: Brighton Park Stayed: South Park Forest “I remember Chicago when police started arresting push-cart peddlers who sold fruit and corn in areas like Little Village and Humboldt Park back in ’95 or ’96.”

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Photo by Dan Celvi/In These Times

Street peddlers are required to have a city license, which costs $165 ($88 for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities) and has to be renewed every two years. Peddlers caught selling without a license can be fined $50 to $200.

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Toy Story Like it or not, our childhood favorites have changed By Joanna Wesoly Illustrations by Kevin Budnik In the ‘90s, toys were merely playthings. Today, they’re becoming more lifelike, complete with real-life prices. Baby Dolls Strollers are so ‘90s. These days, baby dolls come with food, diapers, bottles and more in an attempt to create as real an experience as possible, and for a hefty price. The controversial Bebe Gloton Breastfeeding Doll sells for up to a whopping $100. Little Tikes Cozy Coupe In 1979 when this plastic car was introduced, it looked like a cross between a plastic wagon and a canopy bed. For 10 years, the coupe kept its original look and sales averaged 500,000 per year. Today, kids can drive battery-operated Mercedes, Cadillac Escalades, convertibles and Jeeps, helping them develop Cadillac tastes in jalopy times.

Easy-Bake Oven The original 1963 Easy-Bake Oven cooked round cakes with a 100-watt bulb. Now, this National Toy Hall of Fame inductee has a modern heating element (thanks to the phase-out of incandescent bulbs) and a price tag twice as high as last year’s model. Monopoly Perhaps the role of Banker has become too overwhelming. Modern versions of Monopoly have nixed paper bills and turned to credit cards; new game pieces include Segways and flat screen TVs. We miss the irons and wheelbarrows.


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THE LGBTGOP Queer Republicans in their own words By Tony Merevick, Kelsey Herron and Evan Darst Illustrations by Scott J Zareski


Some call them traitors. Unnatural. Bent in an abnormal way. They make people uncomfortable in social situations. They walk on the other side of the street. They just like to use their votes in a “different” way, that’s all. They value small government, big business and equal rights. Sometimes, they have to hide their political identity in the closet to avoid confrontation and harassment from their peers. Often misunderstood, they are queer Republicans.

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When the words “gay” and “Republican” come up together in the news, the context is often conservative legislation and measures to limit the rights of LGBT Americans. Lately, GOP presidential candidates have been making strong political statements that offend many in the LGBT community. On the campaign trail, Rick Santorum called the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “tragic.” Michele Bachmann declared that gays and lesbians absolutely have the right to get married—to someone of the opposite sex. Nevertheless, some in the LGBT community agree with the domestic and foreign policy stance of the Republican party. CNN exit polls from the 2008 general elections painted a different kind of rainbow, revealing that the

LGBT community is mostly blue but includes a visible red minority. Approximately 27 percent of self-identified LGBT voters chose the Republican ticket that year, and about 31 percent followed suit two years later in the midterms. The LGBTGOP, if you will, is a growing political force. Chicago is the home of the nation’s third largest LGBT community, behind New York and Los Angeles. Here, the Democratic party is allied with most of the LGBT organizations. Republican politics and organizations are often the targets of street protests by LGBT groups. In this context, queer Republicans find themselves, once again, in the minority. And yet, they are proud of their sexuality and their politics, as told here in their own words.

Photo courtesy of the Karger 2012 campaign

FRED KARGER Republican presidential candidate, 61, Gay, from Glencoe, Ill. The Republican Party has treated me well. New Hampshire treated me well. It’s been kind of a bumpy road at times. The debate organizers shut me out, which have been the networks, FOX partly. I understand it’s hard to have 11 or 12 people at the same time have their voice heard in two hours during a debate.

I’m not running from it. I’m very proud of it. That’s one of the reasons I’m in the party, to change the hearts and minds of Republicans and people in the LGBT community. The election of the first out gay president would send a powerful message to the rest of the world: The LGBT community is equal and has arrived. Don’t look at me as a gay candidate, but as a man who wants to bring back some optimism and the great American spirit, some of the Reagan qualities that we lost.

But they did single me out. I hand-delivered a 158-page complaint to Rupert Murdoch personally.

I do at times have to drop the “gay bomb.” It’s part of me.

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This is a classic case of making exceptions. It shouldn’t be if they were truly Republicans; we would come together to keep government out of our private lives.


There have been stumbling blocks like Iowa.

I would love a debate with Michele Bachmann or Newt Gingrich, who, you know, claim to be great conservatives.

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ZAC KRAEMER Student at the Illinois Institute of Art, 20, Gay, from New London, Wisc. I think it’s a bit odd that we want to be equal, yet we have special things like Pride. If we want to be equal, then why should we have our own celebration?

Photo courtesy of Zac Kraemer

I do not necessarily think that the stances of the many members of the LGBT community would be similar enough to reach an agreeable decision on many defining issues that unite a political party. I think many members of our community do feel like they are not accepted, so they join the Democratic Party in hopes that they will attain that equality they strive for. I don’t feel that either of the parties has done anything huge for the LGBT community. In my opinion our country has bigger fish to fry. I do care about myself and my rights, but I also take into account that it’s not always about me, me, me; there are other priorities that need to be met. You have to work hard to play hard, and I think this sums up the Republican Party quite well.


I honestly don’t really talk about politics a lot.

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I don’t like very many people in my community.

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NICHOLAS SAWATZKI Student at Loyola University Chicago, 21, Gay, from Chicago, Ill. I may be out of the closet with my sexuality, but there are times I feel in the closet about my politics. There are many times when I bite my tongue or just refrain from making a political comment around members of the LGBT community. This year at Market Days, I was about to go up to the Log Cabin Republican tent, but stopped when I saw a lady from the LGBT community yelling and getting in the face of one of the Log Cabin Republican members in the tent. It’s hard to hear that I’m “wrong” or “misled,” because I’m not. I’m not some redneck backwards Republican from the hills like many people describe them. If anything I’m more of a libertarian who supports social equality and fiscal responsibility. When you say “Well, I’m a Republican,” or, “I’m more conservative on this issue,” people can look at you like you’re diseased. I’ve talked to various queer people on the subject of political ideology and not many have a clear explanation for their allegiance to their party. The greatest challenge for queer Republicans may not be acceptance within the GOP, but acceptance within the LGBT community. Gay Republicans are among us, and we have a voice too.

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Photo by Kady Dennell

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CAITLIN HUXLEY President of Log Cabin Republicans of Illinois, 25, Lesbian, from Fresno, Calif. The Republican Party is responsible for the lawsuit that ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Log Cabin Republicans v. United States.

*Caitlin Huxley declined to be photographed.

In past years the Democratic Party has done the best job of representing the best interests of the LGBT community. Since most young LGBTs are one-issue voters, they’ve attached themselves to the party that’s done the best job of being LGBT inclusive. No community shows so little variation that they can be completely represented by one party. Most young people, within the LGBT community or not, are still developing their political beliefs and find it hard to clearly explain why they adhere to one party or the other. The government should not interfere in the private lives of its citizens. Each person is responsible for their own success and well-being, and their own pursuit of happiness. Within the Republican Party, out-of-control spending and the printing of money are the most talked about issues right now. People are worried about the United States becoming the next Greece or Italy.


I’ve been yelled at, sworn at and just walked away from. It feels a lot like coming out as a lesbian in the straight community. Amusingly enough, the Republicans I encounter have not shown any animosity towards me for being gay.

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Chicago’s essential role in the Underground Railroad By Meredith Hoffman Photos by Nick Salzwedel Illustrations by Alex Manella


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The date is March 23, 1847. A cold wind slices through a wooden box as it makes its way to Philadelphia, its final destination. James Miller McKim, an abolitionist Presbyterian minister, heaves the crate inside his home and breaks it open to reveal the slave who would come to be known as Henry “Box” Brown. The nearly 27-hour trip from Virginia did not seem to faze Brown, who hopped out of his vessel singing a spiritual hymn in honor of his newfound freedom. Although it is an exceptional case, Brown’s journey illustrates the risks and ingenuity of an estimated 100,000 freedom seekers who escaped the slavery and oppression of the South in the 1840s and 1850s. More typically, slaves seeking freedom in northern states and Canada used the Underground Railroad, a network of routes from the South to the North that were dotted with “stops,” or safe houses, set up by abolitionists to provide the freedom seekers shelter and food along the way. Chicago, which was a burgeoning city at that time, with population of roughly 30,000, was a central hub for freedom seekers because it provided access to Canada via ferry and to Detroit via an actual freight train. “Chicago was kind of the end of the line for the railroad before Canada,” says Gary Smith, a professor of African-American literature at DePaul University in Chicago. Many slaves who traveled the Underground Railroad had nothing but the tattered clothing on their backs.

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They relied heavily on the mills, barns and homes that served as safe houses. McKim allowed slaves to stay in his home. In the Chicago area, Sheldon Peck, John Jones and John Coe, among others, aided freedom seekers with food and shelter. The safe houses were coded—sometimes with a lantern in the uppermost window or the whistle of a hymn—to help freedom seekers recognize them as they drew close to the property. Some freed slaves served as guides, helping others find the railroad and passing along stories of the people they would meet on the long, dangerous trek. Many were simply instructed to run at an opportune moment and “follow the drinking gourd,” a reference to the Big Dipper, which served as a pathfinder pointing north. Finding trustworthy people along the route was always a challenge, says Sandy Brubaker, the museum director of Graue Mill in Oak Brook, which was used as a safe house. Frederick Graue, the mill’s owner at the time, helped freedom seekers by stowing them on wagons and hiding them among the equipment in the building. But as many freedom seekers discovered, not everyone who claimed to be an abolitionist was like Miller. “It could have been someone who just wanted to get the reward for returning them home,” says Brubaker. Brubaker is one of a handful of area residents who are spearheading efforts to preserve the memory of Chicago’s

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Blanchard Hall

Sheldon Peck Homestead

role in the Underground Railroad through research, lectures and preservation efforts. Cataloging the sites has become a mission for Glennette Tilley Turner, a historian who has produced multiple books and maps. In 1986, Turner’s first book on this subject, The Underground Railroad in DuPage County, Illinois, was published. Since then she continues to write and speak on this topic. She says Chicago was one of the more favorable cities to stop in due to its welcoming community. “There was cooperation across financial lines and religious and racial [lines],” says Turner. “People really worked together, and really it was almost like a symphony in that everyone brought to the work their own strengths or areas of expertise.” Brubaker and Turner’s efforts are aided by Larry McClellan, a retired sociology professor at Governors State University in University Park, Ill., who formed the Chicago Historical Underground Railroad Network (CHURN). The group’s website gathers information about different sites and the preservation efforts related to them. These dedicated few hope to keep the memory of the Underground Railroad alive, even though the safe houses have been steadily disappearing. Some of the sites were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871; others vanished more recently to make way for new businesses and homes. The Ten Mile House in Maywood is one example. Named for its location 10 miles west of Chicago, it was a popular meeting place for abolitionists who gathered to transport freedom seekers, as well as a safe house to hide refugees. The building was demolished in 1927, and a McDonald’s now stands on the site. In 2000, a memorial was erected—a symbolic portion of railroad track and a plaque explaining the site’s historical importance. At the bottom of the plaque is a quote from Harriet Tubman: “If ya’ wanna be free, keep a goin’.” While the Ten Mile House is gone, other safe houses remain. One is the Sheldon Peck Homestead. Located right off the railroad tracks in Lombard, the small white building surrounded by trees is now a museum. Sheldon Peck, a painter and radical abolitionist, slipped key information into his paintings. (One depicts the patriarch of a well-


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known family holding a copy of the Western Citizen, an abolitionist newspaper.) According to state records, folklore and a painting displayed in the house, a slave named “Old Charlie” stayed with the Peck family, befriended Sheldon’s son, Frank, and taught him spiritual slave songs. Allen Mertz, the great-grandson of Sheldon Peck, gave the house to the Lombard Historical Society after his mother’s death in 1996; it has since been maintained by Jeanne Schultz Angel, Sheldon Peck Homestead’s museum director, whose research helps the freedom seekers’ journeys come alive for visitors. The Peck museum, which opened in 2000, features an exhibit, entitled, “The People, The Places, The Movement.” It describes the anti-slavery movement as well as the lives of Sheldon Peck and his family. Angel says although many northerners were opposed to slavery, very few were abolitionists who helped freedom seekers. “A lot of people wanted slavery gone, but they also wanted the colored population gone, too,” says Angel. “Some were for colonization, a movement which says ‘Let’s ship them all back to Africa,’ which is inherently racist in itself.” In the mid-19th century, the plight of freedom seekers in Chicago and the surrounding areas drew a lot of attention, but that attention dissipated with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Soon after, many buildings including an unknown number of safe houses were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, Turner says, and the topic eventually faded into the background completely. “I think it would be so good if there were markers at some of the sites,” Turner says. One site that disappeared is the Quinn Chapel in Chicago, originally located where the Monadnock Building on Jackson Boulevard now stands. Many people in the congregation were former freedom seekers themselves, which made the church a hot spot for the Underground Railroad, says Turner. She says the people from the church harbored freedom seekers in people’s homes and in the chapel itself, allowing them to rest before the next leg of their journey. “There was a group called the Liberty Association [whose members] would act as night watchmen,” says Turner. “If they saw any signs of

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slave catchers approaching, they would alert the sleeping residents.” The chapel was destroyed in the 1871 fire. Quinn Chapel was rebuilt in 1892 at 2401 S. Wabash Ave., where it still stands today. Graue Mill in Oak Brook, where Brubaker works, has been very well preserved. A path takes visitors around and underneath a bridge where ducks rest on the rocks of Salt Creek. Visitors who continue along discover a large red building that seems to tower over the landscape. A water wheel slowly turns in place, taking visitors back in time. It is believed that the freedom seekers were transported to the mill and then hidden among the machinery on the second and third levels of the building until they could be transported to Chicago. “There were always wagons coming to and from the mill,” Brubaker says. “So they could have been hidden in the wagons.” In the basement, visitors can see actual photos of slaves, including one of a young boy with scars covering his back from being whipped repeatedly. Wheaton College in the western suburbs is another rumored haven for freedom seekers, according to the diary of Ezra Cook, a student of the school, which was then named the Illinois Institute. Cook joined the army during the Civil War and came back decades later to write, in explicit detail, about his mingling with the refugees who were hiding in what is now Blanchard Hall, a castle-like structure that housed the entire college at that time. These accounts are based solely on his personal entries. David Maas, a history professor at Wheaton College who has written about that period, says historians at the school are “95 percent certain that we can celebrate Wheaton College as a beacon of hope and safety for runaway slaves.” The band of local Underground Railroad preservationists hopes other sites will continue to be celebrated as well. Right now, they are hosting tour groups from schools and a lot of older couples. “But we don’t see many young families coming through,” says Brubaker. The preservationists find this troubling. “We need to bring more awareness to the Chicago community or we will lose our history to the future,” Angel says.

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Graue Mill

Underground no more Wheaton College- Blanchard Hall 501 College Ave. Wheaton, IL

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Sheldon Peck Homestead 355 E. Parkside Lombard, IL Admission: free (donations welcome) Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 1-4 p.m.

Graue Mill 3800 York Rd. Oak Brook, IL Admission: $3.50 Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

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Geocaching provides a different view of the familiar city


By Meredith Hoffman Photos by Chris Wade-Matthews

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As I fumble along the grimy walls of an alley, overthinking the cryptic clue, “It’s not wet behind,” I wonder how others like me are spending their day. It’s early Sunday afternoon and Chicago is at its finest. The sun is beaming down on the South Loop while residents and tourists revel in one of the few remaining fall weekends. I am engaged in a different sort of activity. No, I am not responding to a ransom note. I’m geocaching.

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Geocaching is like a high-tech treasure hunt that allows people who never got over the game of hide-andseek to hunt for small treasures that fellow players have hidden throughout world. Some caches are as small as a magnetic key box; others are as large as those plastic tubs your mom uses to store holiday décor. Geocachers use the coordinates and clues available on geocaching websites to find the objects, which can be hidden anywhere and are often of little value. One clue I find is the message “Red Eye,” which suggests the treasure is in or near one of the newspaper’s display boxes. I set out with the compass app on my smartphone to find it. The first coordinates take me to the Monadnock building on Jackson Boulevard. The clue says the cache is located on the northwest corner. I spend five minutes reaching into the holes of lampposts and dusting above parking signs. Feeling like a child who just can’t figure out why a square peg doesn’t fit through a round hole, I give up and walk to the next one. According to the official website, this cache was listed at the lowest difficulty rating, though my experience and

epic fail would beg to differ. The ratings are determined by expert geocachers, who provide the estimated five million treasure hunters around the world with a sense of how difficult it will be to find one the nearly 1.6 million caches hidden worldwide. I find the challenge and the rush of adrenaline it produces addictive. The game’s convenience doesn’t hurt the cause, either. Over the past few years, the mass production of smartphones has contributed to geocaching’s growing popularity. “It doesn’t take a lot of technical knowledge; it just takes downloading an app on your phone and you’re good to go,” says Eric Schudiske, public relations and social media manager for Groundspeak, a Seattle-based company founded to organize geocaching. Schudiske says the website gains thousands of new members every year, all of whom are looking for the opportunity to find new places and new caches. There are so many people searching, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon fellow cachers while out looking for caches yourself, says Walt Grogan, an Arlington Heights-based geocacher. He and fellow geocacher Scott Berks record

Learn the lingo

Key geocaching terms that will help you keep up with the cachers: LNTN Left Nothing, Took Nothing. As it sounds, this notation indicates the geocacher did not take or leave any items.

Muggle A slang term for non-geocachers that stems from the Harry Potter reference to non-magical people.

BYOP Bring Your Own Pen. A warning that the cache may be too small to contain a writing utensil.

TFTF Thanks For The Find. When a cacher finds a particularly interesting cache, he or she may write TFTF in the log to thank the person who hid it.

DNF Did Not Find. This notation on the website indicates that the geocacher did not find the cache. This may be due to inaccurate coordinates, or the cache may have been taken or vandalized by a muggle.

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FTF First To Find. When a cache is posted on the website, the first to find it will identify himself or herself as the FTF

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the bi-weekly Chicago Geocacher Podcast, which captures locals’ experiences on the hunt and has listeners as far away as Australia. I don’t need that kind of fame. I just want to find a cache. I resume searching with a renewed spirit and hope for success. The second cache is hidden in a more crowded area littered with men in skinny jeans and women with bare shoulders. There’s talk of the great barbecue down the street from so-and-so’s apartment. I read the clue. It’s a quote from an episode of “Seinfeld,” the one in which George thought Elaine’s boyfriend was a communist. Why didn’t I ever take the time to watch that show? I rack my brain for the answer, and then I remember Google. The answer is a play on words that seems fitting for an adjacent literary location. (I can’t give too much away or I’ll spoil the fun.) I set off toward my new destination. There, I open the newspaper dispenser and squat down, level with its creaky, loosened door. I have never gotten so well acquainted with one of these boxes before. As I reach my hand inside, I feel a lot of trash and papers from weeks past. I stand up, utterly defeated, and hit my hand on the top of the inside. I feel something metal move between my fingers. Looking inside again, I see the magnetic key box! I have to resist the urge to jump up and down like a lottery prizewinner. I sign my shaky signature and the date in the log book that is kept with every cache and put it back inside, hiding it as quickly as possible. I look around to see if anyone has noticed me. I wonder if people do this all the time. They must, since the last three entries were from the day before. How do they not get caught? It’s pretty amazing what is hiding in such an open space. The Chicago geocaching community is close-knit, says Gary Jones, a traveling vegetable salesperson and geocaching enthusiast. He recently attended a flash mob event with fellow geocachers at the Hinsdale Oasis to celebrate 11/11/11. He says the geocachers of the Chicago area frequently host get-togethers at pancake houses and pubs to swap stories of treasures past and decide

Get Started

Where can you meet other geocachers and get into the action? Online, that’s where! Start: Create a free profile, search for caches in your area and get hunting.


Listen: Walt and Scott’s geocaching podcast offers good, bad and eccentric stories of cache finds.

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Meet: Increase your number of finds and connect with other geocachers in northeastern Illinois. Read: Geocacher Magazine offers tips and tricks of the trade.

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where the next event will take place. The face-to-face meetings help keep the spirit of geocaching alive within the community, Jones says. After my first cache victory of the day, I decide to try one located in an alley. Alleys have a bad reputation for being the sites of gross, deplorable activities, but the broad daylight gives me courage; and I am still flying high after my recent find. I am a real detective now: the sleuth of the South Loop, the pirate of Plymouth Street, looking for my lost treasure. After a few more minutes and a search of every imaginable place, I head back to the streets for a breather. This search reminds me of playing Super Nintendo games. Each level is attainable, but getting that special power or that last coin is where the frustration sets in. In the video games, you get 10 feet from where you need to go, and your character falls into the lava pit. This happens so many times in a row that you have to take a break or risk throwing the controller through the television screen. But you come back more relaxed, even slightly indifferent, and you beat it within the first few tries.  You celebrate and go back to playing, only to be slowed down at the next level. I pause and review the past few minutes, then decide to give the alley another go. Hey, it isn’t the alley’s fault I can’t find what I need in there. I look across to see a lone water pipe I hadn’t noticed the first time. Closing my eyes, I reach behind it, bringing the cache out with me. At long last! The clue was accurate after all. The back of the pipe wasn’t wet. But at this point, the important thing is that I found the cache. I dance for a second, sign the log and

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carefully nestle the key box in its spot before I exit the alley to become just another Windy City pedestrian. I’m starting to feel like a bold marauder, going forth to conquer. I also feel like I need some sort of flag or crest to show my pride in finding these crazy geocaches. The level of difficulty listed on the site was only a one. It felt a lot higher. Can you imagine hiking or climbing to reach some of the more dangerous caches? Gary Jones, the vegetable salesman, can. He is an adrenaline seeker who recently found his 3,000th cache. To do so, he had to climb Turtle Head Peak in the Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas—a strenuous, bush-whacking trail with an elevation change of 2,075 feet over two and a half miles. “It took me four and a half hours,” he says. “There’s snow up there now, so I don’t think it’ll be found again for a long time.” I ended up finding a few more caches that day, mixed with a second dud that I will have to reserve for later. There are at least 20 of these hidden in the South Loop alone, and many more in the surrounding neighborhoods. The hobby gets people to try new things and see their local areas in a different way, Jones says. It certainly made me think about what people were really doing crawling around on the ground or looking a little too closely at a metal post on the street corner. Maybe they weren’t so strange after all.

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Powering up the old-school game scene By Lori Moody Photos by Michael Gallagher

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It’s Saturday night at the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield. and Ms. Pac Man. Kabooms and karpows compete from More than 50 people claim gaming machines in this former behind the door with the music playing in the front of the pool hall. The familiar bleeps and bloops float in the air; neon shop. Logan Hardware may be the last place in Chicago with a room full of classic arcade games. Galloping Ghost machine signs cut through the dim lighting. The walls are lined with Street Fighter, Tekken and is one of the few standalone arcades in the Chicago area, King of Fighters XIII machines screaming their battle cries. along with Nickel City in Waukegan, Star Worlds in DeKalb Electronic gunshots reverberate in the back where rifles (the oldest in the Chicago area), and a few remnant arcades in the back of local malls. itch to take down zombies It wasn’t always so. The late in The House of the Dead or “We were walking into arcades in 1970s and early 1980s were the the cyborgs in Terminator 2 malls and there would be nobody peak of coin-operated gaming. Judgement Day. Rows and brought their rows of classic games like on service. Machines were always Enthusiasts quarters to independently owned Tetris and Tron fill the air with down and broken.” arcades across the country and the sounds of arcades past. Doc Mack, Galloping Ghost played until their pockets were In Chicago, dozens of empty. They were found in malls, patrons light up the arcade cabinets in a back room of Logan Hardware, a record shop restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores and even at the corner of Fullerton and Western avenues. The store’s gas stations in the middle of nowhere. Jim Zespy, co-owner massive record selection is the main attraction for most of Logan Hardware, remembers growing up and going to customers, but the arcade museum in the back is the a hole-in-the-wall arcade called Save-A-Buck between the borders of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We’d bike all crown jewel. On busy nights, Logan Hardware looks and sounds like day to go to this really ugly gas station and then you went a grand reunion of Lou Reed, the Mario brothers, Queen through to what used to be the service bay. You go to

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the left and it was full of games. It was totally unmarked. Nothing said arcade, and it was our favorite place.” In 1980, the arcades’ most profitable year, there were at least 10,000 arcades in operation across the nation. There were only 2,620 arcades left in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau business report. Chicago witnessed the demise of Dennis’s Place, the Black Hole, Aladdin’s Castle and many others. Fans began to wonder if classic arcades were going the way of the dinosaurs. Today, most people associate arcade games with huge entertainment chains like GameWorks, Dave & Buster’s or Chuck. E. Cheese’s—places with restaurants and bars,

A brief history of gaming By Luke Wilusz


Online video host and game historian Norm Caruso takes Echo on a neon-lit, quarter-munching trip down memory lane.

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live shows and bowling alleys, rides and prizes. Classic arcade cabinets are rare in these places, removed in favor of more profitable, modern attractions. The classic arcade is much simpler. Instead of winning tickets and cashing them in for prizes, the whole point of the arcade is the gaming. Gaming on your own, gaming with a friend, gaming fanatically until you’ve reached level 32 of Super Mario Bros. and have won some serious bragging rights. That remains the appeal for diehard retro gamers. Galloping Ghost owners Doc Mack and Gerry Cantu would not let the days of Atari, Pacman and Donkey Kong go down for the count without pressing the replay button. They opened their arcade in the summer of 2010 with 100 games; it has since grown into the second largest arcade in North America, with 302 playable machines. It attracts more than 1,000 customers a month and has an international online fan base. If opening an arcade doesn’t sound like a savvy business move, considering the state of the classic

Late 1800s – early 1900s Arcades emerge as homes for mechanical games such as pinball. They gain a reputation as shady establishments frequented by criminals and hooligans. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York bans pinball machines in 1939, alleging that they are a form of gambling.

1971 The men who will go on to found Atari release the first commercial arcade video game, Computer Space. It doesn’t sell very well.

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accomplishment. It had a big impact on me. Then when I played the Nintendo, that’s when I knew I really wanted to do it as a career.” He teamed up with Cantu, who owned a medical records company, to open Galloping Ghost. “It was basically for me, getting dressed up every day and being professional,” Cantu recalls of his former career. “Not that we’re not professional here, but it’s just a different type of professional,” he says. And now his four kids can come to work with him. The arcade crowd, too, is multi-generational—a feature that is helped by the $15 unlimited daily play fee. “When a kid walks in, they might play Ghouls and Ghosts, which is a pretty difficult game,” Cantu says. In a coin-operated arcade, “You’ll get on it, put a quarter in, fifty cents in and die within 30 seconds and go, you know, screw this I’m going to the next thing because it’s too hard. But with the actual $15 fee, they can just keep on playing.” By 8 p.m. every night, the place is packed. People crowd around the backlit screens and watch each other play, then take the controls on a game of their own. Logan Hardware takes a different approach; the business is built on nostalgia. Co-owners Zespy and John Ciba opened the independent record store in January 2010 because they didn’t buy into the idea that the things of their childhoods were dead. The walls of the store and the checkout counter are lined with records, vintage vinyl players, Pac Man shaped mints and Japanese trinkets. Spend $10 on merchandise, and you can play on the arcade machines all day. Ciba and Zespy don’t believe a standalone arcade can succeed in the long run. “You can survive, but you can’t flourish just doing one thing anymore in any one business,” Zespy says. “You can’t be the place that just does oil changes unless you have one dude and he’s being paid horse shit. You’re selling filters. You’re doing brake arcade industry, don’t tell that to Mack and Cantu. They jobs. It’s the same sort of thing for us. We don’t just sell now intend to expand their business to a mall in west records; we sell organs, records, CDs, DVDs, whatever, and we’re an arcade and we’re a record distributor and we’re suburban St. Charles. “We have people who drive for five hours to get a label.” But at the Galloping Ghost, Mack and Cantu are here, and they’re here first as soon as we open up those convinced that maintaining doors,” Cantu says. “There They are just gaming machines, the machines and fostering is definitely a demand.” the gaming community Mack, 35, is a selfbut to Mack and Cantu, they are will prove profitable, proclaimed “arcade junky.” time machines to the glory days and not only for their He has owned a gaming own business. As part production company of gaming—the days when players of “Support Your Local called The Galloping Ghost competed face to face and in the Arcade” campaign, Mack Productions since 1994, but and his staff at Galloping his obsession goes back to process created community. Ghost Productions visited his childhood. Since the 80 places with classic arcade machines. “We were walking days of the Atari 2600, Mack says he was born to play. “My brother and father bet me that I couldn’t flip into arcades in malls and there would be nobody on the score in Pong, and it took me seven, eight hours to service. Machines were always down and broken,” he actually do it of just straight playing. I think I was like five says. What was missing was the passion, “the very basics years old then,” he recalls. “It was my first video game of keeping machines very well maintained, getting new

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1977 Atari founder Nolan Bushnell starts the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant chain, the first hybrid arcade franchise, to provide a consumer-friendly place to profit from his games. Standalone arcades are still largely regarded as disreputable establishments. The Atari 2600 is released. While not the first home game console, it is one of the most popular, and many people realize they can play many of the games they love at home rather than going out to arcades.


1972 Atari releases Pong, which is an instant hit. It is distributed mainly in bars and other commercial businesses, and its success inspires other companies to begin manufacturing arcade games. “Pong was what really got the arcade business going,” Caruso says.

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games in and talking to people.” That’s how he and Cantu run their arcade, where there isn’t an out-of-order sign in sight. Mack labors over buttons, wires and circuit boards every day to maintain these throwback arcade cabinets; only the vintage logos and paint jobs give away their age. For some people, these are just gaming machines, but to Mack and Cantu, these are time machines to the glory days of gaming—the days when players competed face-toface and in the process created community. Regular customers agree. Matt Rocco, 35, is a first grade teacher by day, and one of Galloping Ghost’s regulars by night. With his thick black glasses, mousy hair and black hoodie, he blends in with the others, punching away at the pads on Crack Down.

1978 Taito releases Space Invaders, which becomes such a blockbuster that it inspires people to begin opening standalone arcades in spite of the negative reputation they still have. It also inspires a slew of similar space-based games, including Galaga, Galaxian, Asteroids and Defender.

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Rocco bought a $375 annual pass as soon as it was offered. With more than 45 high scores at Galloping Ghost, his dedication to gaming is written all over the leader boards. He comes to the arcade at least five days a week. “Sure, I got my Xbox at home, but you know, I’m here, I’m hanging out.” Rocco appreciates the social nature of the arcade. “I’ll come in here and I’ll usually just talk to people for 20 minutes before I even hop on a game machine,” he says. “You create this giant family,” adds Tiffany Nickels, 20, who has worked at Galloping Ghost ever since it opened its doors. “People treat you with respect and shake your hand after a game.”

1980 Namco releases Pac-Man, which becomes a cultural phenomenon and spawns numerous sequels, imitators, a hit pop song and a popular cartoon series. “That completely changed video games,” Caruso says. “Suddenly it was part of pop culture now.”

1981 Nintendo enters the North American market with Donkey Kong, one of the first games to feature a story and identifiable characters.

1983 As a result of creative stagnation in the industry and the market being flooded with poor-quality games trying to cash in on the success of hits like Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, the U.S. video game market suffers a catastrophic crash.

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List of classic arcades to check out

Aladdin’s Castle 3423 Quincy Mall Quincy, IL 62301 217.222.5074

CP Pinball 115 Sinclair Ave. Roxana, IL 62087 618.251.6337 Enchanted Castle 1103 S. Main St. Lombard, IL 60148 630.953.7860 Galloping Ghost Arcade 9415 Ogden Ave. Brookfield, IL 60513 708.485.4700

Hollywood Fun Park 5051 Cal-Sag Rd. Crestwood, IL 60445 708.389.7275 Haunted Trails 7759 S. Harlem Ave. Burbank, IL 60459 708.598.8580 1423 N. Broadway St. (Rt. 53) Joliet, IL 60435 815.722.7800 Logan Hardware 2410 W. Fullerton Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 773.235.5030

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1991 Capcom releases Street Fighter II, which starts a competitive fighting game boom and creates a slight resurgence of popularity for arcades, at least for a niche group of fighting game fans.

Nickel World 3321 N. Main St. Rockford, IL 61103 815.877.2771 Rink Side @Gurnee Mall 6152 W. Grand Ave. Gurnee IL, 60031 847.856.1064 Sinbad’s Castle Video Arcade 9010 S. Harlem Ave. Oak Lawn, IL 60455 708.430.4806 Star Worlds 1234 E. Lincoln Highway DeKalb, IL 60115 815.787.4599

Times Square Arcade 1225 E. Main St. Carbondale, IL 62901 618.457.8940

Tilt at Ford City Mall 7601 S. Cicero Ave. Chicago, IL 60652 773.582.9209 Tilt at Market Place Shopping Center 2000 N. Neil St., Suite 510 Champaign, IL 61820 217.359.0052 Tilt at Joliet Mall 3340 Mall Loop Dr., Suite 1168 Joliet, IL 60431 815.230.3941

Late ’90s—Present Arcades continue to decline in mainstream popularity and profitability. Most standalone arcades close, although arcade games can still be found in hybrid entertainment businesses such as Dave and Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s and GameWorks, as well as occasionally tucked away in bars or restaurants.


1985 Nintendo releases the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which is widely credited for bringing the video game industry from the brink of collapse. Home video game consoles become more mainstream while the popularity of arcades continues to diminish.

Nickel City Games 555 Waukegan Rd. Northbrook, IL 60062 847.559.8727

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Lessons from 20-somethings who have survived financial meltdowns


By Rachael Tsuji Illustrations by Tucker Phillips In September 2010, Shereen Mohammad was driving her sister and cousin to a bowling alley when they were hit head-on by a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by a drunk driver. Her relatives suffered cuts where their seat belts ripped into their skin. Mohammad, a 20-year-old Columbia College student, had to be cut free from the wreckage. With her right leg crushed and her left wrist broken, she was taken to Loyola University Health System by helicopter. Surgeons placed a steel rod in her leg and repaired her wrist; Mohammad spent a month in the hospital recuperating from her surgeries. Once released, she underwent seven months of physical therapy to learn how to walk again with her right leg. Soon after she left the hospital, the bills started to fill her mailbox and creditors began calling. Mohammad’s father, who was unemployed, couldn’t help, and the family no longer had insurance. Mohammad didn’t have money to pay the bills, which added up to more than $200,000.

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The $100,000 Mohammad and her relatives received after filing a lawsuit against the driver was split among the three women and their lawyers. Her $8.25-per-hour job at L.A. Tan was on hold because of her injuries. “It all became overwhelming,” she says. After looking over Mohammad’s escalating medical debt, her lawyers suggested she file for bankruptcy. She wasn’t happy about the idea but didn’t see any way around it. Mohammad was one of 1.5 million Americans who filed for bankruptcy in 2010, according to the U.S. Trustee Program, which oversees the administration of bankruptcy filings nationwide. Three out of four were Chapter 7 filings, or so-called liquidations, in which a debtor’s assets are sold to pay creditors. Mohammad was one of that year’s Chapter 7 filers. A Chapter 13 filing allows debtors with income to retain some assets while they work out a courtsupervised repayment plan with creditors.

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The average age of people filing for bankruptcy is 38 at the Chicago-based law firm Quarles & Brady. Many don’t according to the Bankruptcy Law Information website. have a regular income but “they often have credit cards,” Mohammad, now 22, feels the drawbacks of being a Combest says. Rachel Rodeghiero filed for bankruptcy in 2007 because young filer. Unlike an older person who may have a long history of paying a mortgage or a car loan on time, most of her mounting credit card debt. She moved to Chicago young people don’t have a reliable credit history, which to attend the Illinois Institute of Art and didn’t have a job. “I lived off of loans and credit makes re-establishing credit after bankruptcy more difficult. After looking over Mohammad’s cards. I even used my credit card as cash payment to pay If they are able to get a credit escalating medical debt, her my rent,” she says. card or a new car, their interest lawyers suggested she At one point, Rodeghiero rates may be very high. Others was approved for a credit card may have a hard time getting file for bankruptcy. from Nordstrom that carried a their first apartment, much less a home, as they start their path to adulthood with a black $10,000 line of credit. She also had $7,500 in credit from Bank of America and credit cards from Old Navy, Victoria’s mark on their credit report. Many young people who file for bankruptcy do so Secret, Best Buy and Home Depot. After racking up $18,000 because they are overwhelmed with credit card debt, says in charges, she couldn’t get student loans to pay for Christopher Combest, a bankruptcy attorney and partner school without a co-signer. “I asked [my parents] if they FEATURES 33

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would sign a loan for me and they said no,” she says. at his carpet-cleaning job and unable to find work, the But they were willing to take out a small loan to help get couple decided to file for bankruptcy. “We surrendered our condo,” Mallory says. She got to keep her car, a 2007 Rodeghiero’s creditors off her back. Her parents encouraged her to get a bankruptcy Chevrolet Aveo. Andrew had to return his Dodge Neon lawyer, who discovered she had 16 lines of open credit. SRT4 to the bank that provided the car loan. Andrew’s “They literally lay your life out in front of you in black grandfather paid the couple’s $2,000 in legal fees. Mohammad, Rodeghiero and the Stevenses will have and white and make you realize what you have and don’t have,” says Rodeghiero, who is now 29. “It makes you feel a mark on their credit for 10 years. (For those filing for Chapter 13, the notation remains on their report for only really small. I felt really insignificant, actually.” After filing for Chapter 7, Rodeghiero hasn’t applied seven years.) To prevent a reoccurrence, lawyers often counsel clients to reflect on for any new credit cards and they ended up in financial she feels uncomfortable having “They literally lay your life out how trouble. “If you don’t change a tarnished credit report. “I in front of you in black and the behavior that has led you actually got a new apartment to have to file in the first place, last week and right there on white and make you realize that filing is not going to do you the lease was, ‘Have you dealt with bankruptcy?’ I hated what you have and don’t have.” any good because you’re just going to end up in the same [saying] yes,” she says. Luckily, Rachel Rodeghiero place again,” Combest says. the landlord didn’t require a Rodeghiero has learned to rein in her spending. If she cosigner. Job loss is another cause for bankruptcy among young wants a new pair of shoes, “I’ll buy cheaper groceries for a people. “Most people, frankly, live paycheck-to-paycheck,” while,” she says. “I’ll sacrifice other purchases to get one Combest says. “Suddenly you don’t get that paycheck in good thing.” The Stevenses no longer use credit cards and don’t and it doesn’t take long before you’re in trouble.” Mallory and Andrew Stevens* filed for bankruptcy in plan to take on additional debt. They were able to buy 2009 after Andrew, now 26, lost his job at a carpet cleaning a new condo after Andrew’s workers’ compensation case company, a job he held for five years. At the time, the was settled in his favor. They paid for their new home in couple was living in a condo in Richmond and paying the cash. That’s how they plan to pay for everything now. Mohammad doesn’t plan to get credit cards any time mortgage using Andrew’s salary. After he lost his job, the income from Mallory’s job as a hairdresser wasn’t enough soon, but she has been able to obtain student loans to cover expenses, including $20,000 in credit card debt. without a cosigner. She remains upbeat. “I feel like it’s a “It was scary to only have my income to provide for both test from God to see how you react and cope or deal with of us,” says Mallory, 24. “We went to the food pantry to certain situations,” she says. get our food.” With Andrew recovering from an injury sustained *Not their real last name.

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36 ECHO MAGAZINE EchoFA11_FT2.indd 36

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A neighborhood’s demise doesn’t deter a community By Joyce Sparks Photos by Kady Dennell On the first Saturday of every month, a group of senior citizens gathers at the Toolbox Lounge on Chicago’s West Side to reminisce about the neighborhood they grew up in. Chatting over a shared meal of fried chicken and potato salad, they recall the days in the 1940s and ‘50s when you could leave your back door open and neighbors kept an eye on one another’s children. In a time before modern day distractions like Facebook and smartphones, the girls would spend warm summer days playing hopscotch and jumping rope, while the boys pitched pennies down the street. Between 1998 and 2000, the neighborhood, which they refer to as Washburne, was incorporated into the Illinois Medical District (IMD), a zone earmarked for education, research, technology and healthcare. The

Illinois Medical District Commission, a group appointed by leaders in the county, city and state to encourage West Side development, purchased properties south of the Eisenhower Expressway to enable expansion of the district. Today it includes Cook County Hospital, Rush-PresbyterianSt. Luke’s Medical Center, the Institute of Forensic Medicine, Chicago Child Advocacy Center, Veteran’s Benefits Administration, the University of Illinois Medical School, the Chicago Technology Park and the Chicago headquarters of the FBI. Losing the neighborhood wasn’t easy for the residents, especially those whose homes were razed. Gatherings at the Toolbox Lounge and an annual block party coordinated by former Washburne residents allow them to catch up on one another’s lives and


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share memories as though they were still sitting on the front porches of their now demolished homes. “All the young gentlemen worked in Ben’s Shoe Shop, the place where the men and women who lived in Washburne got their shoes shined,” recalls Freddie Johnson, 73, whose gray hair peaks out beneath his worn black Kangol cap. “Even people from outside of the neighborhood, or people that moved to different parts of Chicago, they still came back to get their shoes shined at Ben’s. Nobody shines shoes like that anymore.” “You know what I remember?” asks Freddie’s wife, Loretta Johnson, 70. “We had neighborhood grocery “A few days after they stores that had meat better (what you could get demolished my house... than by) going to a fancy meat I went over there to see market. And you knew the for myself. I just stood people who owned the grocery stores. You got a


The intersection of Washburne and Leavitt. Fifty years ago this block was filled with homes. They were razed to make way for expansion of the Illinois Medical District.

there and cried and cried like a baby.” Tommy Hunter

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bill on Friday when your parents got paid and you went and paid your bill.” The store she remembers best belonged to Mickey and Ernie Gay, who lived behind the store. “I mean that meat tasted like meat, didn’t it?” Loretta asks the others. They all nod in agreement. Loretta and Freddie were high school sweethearts who had gone their separate ways and married other people. Years later, both were widowed; they met again at one of the Washburne reunions and remarried. Freddie, one of the last to leave the neighborhood, has long served as the group’s organizer, a role he fell into when people from the old neighborhood came back to see how he was doing. He was the thread that tied them together. He estimates he kept in touch with 85 of the former residents of the neighborhood, often by calling to share news of births and funerals. Since then, he’s gotten to know their children and grandchildren.

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During those conversations, someone suggested meeting at the Toolbox Lounge at California and Arthington avenues; word of the meetings soon spread. Jean Scott, 67, who was a childhood friend of Freddie and Loretta, frequently attends these gatherings. “My daddy was one of the parents who coached (softball),” says Scott, 67, one of the youngest in the group. She remembers playing the game with a 16-inch ball—a Chicago tradition. “As I was playing one day—I forget who we were up against—but anyway, I slid into second base. Once I got up, my leg and foot was aching. My dad shouted, ‘Girl, good job! You’re OK. Keep playing.’ When I got home, I was limping all over the place. My mom wasn’t there, so my dad went next door and got our neighbor, Mrs. Hunter. She took me to the hospital and they had to cut my left shoe off. My foot had swollen up so bad! But, I still played in the next game. The girls in our neighborhood were pretty damn good at softball.”

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Photos courtesy of Washburne residents.

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Two Washburne residents in the Gladstone Elementary Schoolyard.

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“Yeah,” says Loretta, “I remember those girls from Douglas Park who were supposed to be good. Man, they only played with a 12-inch ball, so when they played against us, they didn’t know what to do.” The demolition of the neighborhood began in 1999 and was completed by 2002. Many residents still find it hard to believe their neighborhood completely disappeared. “I mean, we had a candy company, a casket company, a few different factories, Mary’s Sweet Shop where we would buy malts and candy, playgrounds, schools, just everything. Now all of that is gone,” Loretta says. In their place are several nonprofit and government buildings, including the extension of the Cook County Juvenile Court. What was once Gladstone Elementary School is now UIC College Preparatory School. Some members of the group are upset about not having been given input on the plan. “We, the community, the people from Washburne, were supposed to be the first people they asked, ‘What would you prefer us to turn your land into? Schools or something else?’ They didn’t ask us,” says Freddie. But Mark Jamil, Chief Legal Counsel of the Illinois Medical District Commission

(IMDC), notes that such input would be unprecedented. He adds that in addition to the purchase prices of their homes, owners were given a $10,000 allowance and additional money to offset moving expenses. Renters were given $4,500 and moving expenses. “We treated these people very well and we also compensated them quite well,” he says. The IMDC paid residents according to appraisals of their property. Mary Tuff, 73, feels some former residents sold for too little. “I remember the descendants of the neighbor who lived next door to my family. It had to be their grandchildren who owned the property in the ‘90s,” she says. “When they sold, they only got $83,000. Can you believe that?” Her parents, she said, received $180,000 for a home on Roosevelt Road and $140,000 for a two-flat on Washburne Avenue. But the price residents were paid didn’t take care of the loss. The demolition was deeply troubling to some, including Tommy Hunter, 64. “A few days after they demolished my house, I’d heard about it, so I went over there to see for myself. When I got out of the car, I just stood there and cried and cried like a baby. I couldn’t believe it was gone.” The group’s annual block party offsets the loss. “Every year we go back and we host a block party right there where our old neighborhood once was. It serves as a reunion for everyone that attends,” Loretta says. Now in its fifth year, the block party attracts more than 400 people, representing four generations. To help people identify the new faces, the group prints family names on the front of event t-shirts. Funerals also serve as a time to commemorate the neighborhood. “When someone passes away, the majority of the residents make sure they attend, not only to comfort the family but also to comfort one another,” Loretta says. “In recent years, it seems like we go to a funeral twice a month, but it has slowed down a bit. I can say that is one thing we miss—all of our friends.” “I remember your mom’s funeral, Tommy,” Scott says. “I felt so bad that Mrs. Hunter had died. But once I got to the funeral and saw all my old friends and partners in crime, it was just like a huge reunion all over again. We mourned about your mother that day, but we remembered the good times that we all shared in Washburne. Man, we just had a good time.”

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Fast Forward


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By the Numbers A former football player finds truth in codes By Evan Darst Illustration by Tucker Phillips Phillip Clark, who hails from the small Kentucky town of Rabbit Hash, played football for Northwestern University before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. He later played for the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots. Today, he is a numerologist. Echo sat down with Clark to better understand his journey from pro football to a life of finding the hidden meanings in numbers.

What happened after football? Phillip Clark: At Northwestern, I majored in finance, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was in sales, then management, then training. After I went through a divorce, one of my best friends took me to a doctor, because I had headaches, chest pains, neck pains every day. The doctor gave me the most powerful exam I’ve had in my life and said, “If all my patients were as healthy as you, I’d be out of business.” He painted the picture of my ego being damaged because of the divorce.

So you tried it. Did it work? PC: Within 13 months, I was off the medication. I was introduced to numerology because his partner was an intuitive.

Intuitive numerology is the study of codes. What codes did she crack? PC: We had given our name and birth date. First thing she said when she came to the class was, “Who’s Phillip Clark?” She looked like the psychic from Poltergeist. I’m towering over her, and I said, “You’re psychic, aren’t you?” and she said “Yes.” I ran out to my car, drove to two libraries--the first was closed—and asked for books on numbers, numerology. Found two books that day, spent the next seven years trying to disprove it. I was reading, reading, reading, and now I’m a numerologist.

And then what?

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PC: When my mother died, it really helped me understand that we become what our parents and society tell us we are. As a result, it’s hard to make any changes. Right after the doctor put me on hypertension medication for the rest of my life, one of my clients was a detective. We were at a party thrown by a mutual friend, and he comes over and shows me a card that said “Stress relief through meditation.”

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Living In Fear Our main concerns at the start and end of schooling By Madalyn Hoerr Illustration by Kim Le

Public urination Writing the best resume Learning the alphabet Losing my shit Getting fired Getting a time out Not having sex The opposite sex Living with Mom and Dad Leaving Mom and Dad Getting stuck in a comfortable routine Adjusting to a new environment

Transactions in Transition A look at how we spend now By Siobhan Lally & Madalyn Hoerr Do you remember when you always had exact change somewhere in your pocket? The days when parking meters accepted quarters, and “cash only” was a common practice? Today, debit cards have displaced cash in many







18% 39% DEBIT CASH






OTHER 5 % 7%










42% 19%





SOURCE: 2010 BAI2 Hitachi Study of Consumer Payment Preferences. Charts reflect consumer payment preferences for in-store transactions. Others include gift certificates, prepaid cards and “other.”

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wallets, and cell phones may soon replace wallets altogether. But after the backlash in response to the recent debit card fee fiasco, it’s anyone’s guess what the 2020 chart will look like.

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Odd Couples

Hybrid hall of fame

Hybrid businesses fueled by creativity By Courtney Clark Photo by Maxwell Arnold Gallery and toys, spyware and writing lessons—what may seem like odd pairings were savvy business moves for Rotofugi and The Boring Store. Rotofugi, designer toy store and art gallery in Lincoln Park, features a display of toys from across the U.S. and Asia along with an art gallery exhibition every month. “So much of our lives are mass produced,” explains co-owner Whitney Kerr. “The really great thing about designer toys is that they’re so limited.” But obtaining them is a challenge, requiring “a lot of late-night phone calls to Hong Kong.” Seven years ago, The Boring Store opened in Wicker Park. Its wooden shelves are stocked with emergency bow ties, bacon wallets, toupées and “The World’s Largest Beard.” Beside the novelty and spy items, The Boring Store sells a collection of short stories written by students in the writing center housed in the back of the store. The Boring Store works with 4,000 students per year in its writing center workshops at the store and in Chicago classrooms. “I’ve met thousands of awesome people who I’ve been able to talk to about education in the world, social issues, creativity and the importance of the written word,” says Patrick Shaffner, The Boring Store’s director of outreach and communications. Customers who wander into The Boring Store sometimes ask about the space in the back, which is filled with desks, chairs and computers. Shaffner says this conversation often ends with offers to volunteer, donate, or even enroll a child in the writing program. “It’s exciting to see this working,” Shaffner says.

The Boring Store Tutoring center and secret agent supply store 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago 773.772.8108 Rotofugi Toy store and gallery 2780 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago 773.868.3308 Logan Hardware Record store and vintage arcade museum 2410 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago 773.235.5030 Broadway Video Cafe Café, video store and adult movie store 3916 N. Broadway St., Chicago 773.244.9777 Ahlgrim Family Funeral Services Funeral home and mini-golf course 201 N. Northwest Highway, Palatine 847.358.7411 415 S. Buesching Road, Lake Zurich 847.540.8871 Tommy’s Guitar and Café Guitar and sandwich shop 2548 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago 773.486.6768

Get Wheel Food trucks are so 2011


By Lauren Tinerella Illustration by Eric Lundquist

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Young children know the deeper meaning of the tune “Turkey in the Straw.” When it echoes down the block, it means the ice cream truck is nearby, and they better start running. Business owners in Chicago have adopted this mobile business model. In recent years, food trucks have become familiar features on Chicago’s streets, particularly in the Loop during lunch hour. But sandwiches and smoothies don’t own the road. Residents can

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How accurate were the predictions of sci-fi flicks? By Brian Gray Illustrations by Marieke McClendon Old movies set in the future—our present day—predicted novelties that are now commonplace. Today we can video chat on our phones as in Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, but as far as we know, off-Earth clone colonies like those in Blade Runner aren’t posing any immediate threat to civilization. If all the predictions from films of the past are correct, our planet will eventually be over run by intelligent apes or an army of surrogates. But hey, if the films are accurate, we can just use 3-D glasses for protection.

Bicentennial Man- 1999, set in 2005 Personal assistant robots: No, but we do have robotic vacuum cleaners.

Metropolis- 1927, set in the distant future Elevated train system: Does the ‘L’ count? Evil robots disguised as humans: Not exactly, but I’m sure there’s a fetish meetup group for that somewhere. A highly urbanized and developed city skyline: Yes, today, a city’s skyscrapers play a significant role in its identity.

Back to the Future Part II- 1989, set in 2015 Slamball: In 2002, Spike TV debuted the sport mixing basketball and trampolines, though it never really took off. Jaws 19: Not yet, although we are up to Now That’s What I Call Music: 80! in the U.K. Chicago Cubs winning the World Series: No, but the prediction is for 2015, so they still have time. Self-tying shoes: Nike auctioned off 1,500 pairs of these sneakers to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Twelve Monkeys- 1995, set mostly in 1996 Virus that will kill off the majority of the population: SARS, AIDS and H1N1 threatened in recent years, but we’ve been resilient as a species so far.

RoboCop- 1987, set in the indeterminate future Detroit as an industrial wasteland overrun with gang-related violence: Sounds about right. In 2010, the metropolitan area recorded 345 criminal homicides.

Here’s a look at what these movie predictions got right and wrong:

With this in mind, Echo asked local residents what they’d like to see become truck-based businesses:

A nap truck

A water bottle refill truck

An umbrella truck

A bicycle repair truck

A beauty truck with hair straighteners, blow dryers, curling irons and brushes

An after-hours wine/alcohol truck that’s open after all the liquor stores close

An express charging truck for phones and other electronics


also buy treats for their pets from Lick Lick food truck, get their dogs groomed on the Pooch Caboose, or visit Truck Farm Chicago, a biodiesel-fueled truck with a minifarm planted in the bed to teach children about growing and eating healthy foods. Andreana Droz, owner of Lick Lick Designer dog treats, appreciates the affordability of a truck-based business. She’s not alone. According to Changing Gears, a website that “explores the economic transformation of the midwest,” street truck vendors don’t have to worry about paying rent and have lower licensing costs than brick-and-mortar businesses. And customers like the convenience of having goods and services come to them.

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2001: A Space Odyssey- 1969, set in 2001 Trip to Jupiter: No, but in August 2011, NASA sent spacecraft Juno on a six-year mission to Jupiter, so we’re technically getting closer. Homicidal artificial intelligence: Not exactly. In February 2011, IBM’s Watson won $1 million on Jeopardy! after beating the game’s most notable winners, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. They’re getting smarter; they just don’t want to kill us yet.

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Dirty Little Apps I’ve got something in my pocket for you By Tony Merevick You’ve probably seen your gay best friends on it before. You know, the app with all the shirtless torsos and salacious descriptions to lure you into a chat. They belong to people looking for friends, dates, conversation or a hook-up to do the dirty. Call it anonymous sexting on steroids. Grindr is the app where gay and bisexual men can find one another based on geolocation data from their phones. More than half a million people appeared on Grindr last year, according to the app’s developer, and now there’s an app for straight users to partake in this somewhat creepy, equally awesome new dating landscape. They call it Blendr. Is this the future of finding love? “What ever happened to dating, talking and getting to know someone?” asks Adam Rudesill, 27, who works at Cheetah Gym in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. “Don’t let the app fool you stating that it is a social networking app. It is definitely an app to make it easier for guys who don’t want to put in any effort to hook up.” Most dating apps require that users be at least 17 years old. Creating a profile is as easy as creating a user name, uploading a picture and including personal details

Naughty by Nature XXX doesn’t always mark the spot By Luke Wilusz & Madalyn Hoerr

such as age, weight, height and ethnicity. After the photo is approved, it’s time to Grindr. Yes, that is a verb now. Several other free apps like this already exist, including GROWLr (Grindr for “bears”), GuySpy and mobile apps by and Casey Bishop, 24, downloaded Grindr two years ago when he got an iPhone and uses the app on a regular basis. “I have used Grindr for just about everything from amusing myself and passing time when I’m traveling to the rare casual hook-up or meeting some great friends and dating,” Bishop says. “I’m pretty selective and picky with whom I meet up with, and screen pretty heavily before ‘meet up’ ever enters the conversation,” says Bishop, who has a knack for excusing himself from awkward, Grindr-initiated coffee dates. Bishop is skeptical about how interested women will be in Blendr. “It might work for dating but quite frankly, I don’t think most girls are going to buy into it,” he says. “My straight guy friends are the ones who are constantly saying, ‘I wish there was a Grindr for straight people.’” But will they admit it publicly? Rudesill says that apps like Grindr are often a “dirty little secret” even though the dating scene is moving to the Internet and mobile apps. “It’s not for everyone,” Bishop agrees. “I have friends that have horror stories that are probably too graphic for print. But I don’t think you should judge someone for using it. They are probably getting way more booty than you are.”

From parental controls to keyword blockers, sultry-minded searchers are often faced with the challenge of satisfying their adult-oriented cravings. If you have an imagination stuck in the gutter and savvy search engine skills, try matching these wholesome websites with the content excerpts to find your next innocuous indulgence.

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Flash Forward Kitchens that double as laboratories


By Matt Watson

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With a puff of smoke and the flash of a blowtorch, a chef can turn something as simple as an egg into an edible masterpiece. The technique, called molecular gastronomy, combines the worlds of physics and culinary art into an avant-garde dining experience; Homaro Cantu, of Moto in Chicago, turns a traditional Cuban sandwich into a cigar, served in an ashtray with edible ash. Nothing is off the table as chefs oneup each other with ever more creative concoctions. To do this, they must understand each food’s chemical composition and how it will interact with other foods and outside stimuli, such as dry ice or liquid nitrogen. Carbon dioxide, for example, can be infused into a food to create foam, or a syringe can be used to inject an unexpected filling. Molecular gastronomy is not new; French chemist Hervé This, who is regarded as the founder of this form of food science, was collecting cooking tricks in the early 1980s. But it has found a welcome reception in Chicago, where high-end restaurants Alinea, Moto and iNG specialize in manipulating the basic properties of food and emphasize the experience along with the eating. “Everyone’s looking for the newest and best thing,” says Edward Leonard, corporate executive chef for North America at Le Cordon Bleu. “This is really about the cutting edge and stepping out there to try something new. I’m sure there’s times people come out of these places and they don’t know what they’ve eaten, but they know they had a good time.” Thomas Bowman, executive chef at iNG Restaurant, says enrollment in food science programs has doubled since 2004. “I’ve always said we’re half kitchen, half science lab,” Bowman says. “You have to know the physics behind it and how things work and why you get that certain outcome.” Diners are

demanding more than a decent dish, he notes. “For these self-proclaimed foodies, you have to deliver. The more educated the clientele, the more we have to push it a step further.” For now, molecular gastronomy is out of the price range for most casual diners, but Bowman hopes that will change as the practices become more widespread. “Food hadn’t changed much except in the last 50 years,” Bowman says. “As technology advances, so will food, and molecular gastronomy will be an integral part of that step.”

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Flash Back Urban gardens as a cure for food deserts Illustration by Alex Manella Far from the gleaming towers and polished lawns of Chicago’s lakefront, blighted swathes of territory known as food deserts dot the city like scars. In these poor neighborhoods, which mostly lie on the city’s South and West Sides, apples and oranges are scarce and golden arches reign supreme. Last fall, a city ordinance greatly expanded opportunities for urban agriculture by increasing size limits on gardens, relaxing regulation for fences and allowing hydroponic and aquaponic systems. This measure will allow hundreds of

A study done by the Advocates for Urban Agriculture found that local farms can help alleviate poverty and nutrition-related diseases...

acres of empty lots to be transformed into urban oases that bear nutritious fruits and veggies for local residents. Erika Allen, Chicago project manager at the not-for-profit Growing Power Inc., says the ordinance will open the door for Chicago’s urban agriculture movement. “We’re far behind, but we’re moving in the right direction,” she says. The ordinance is by no means perfect; many urban agriculture advocates would have preferred to see money put into kick-starting farms. But it may make a large difference in long-neglected neighborhoods. A study done by the Advocates for Urban Agriculture found that local farms can help alleviate poverty and nutrition-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, by providing jobs for residents as well as affordable produce. Gardens have other advantages over grocery stores, too. “There’s a lot of advantage to having young people who are working in these farms instead of sitting around eating and playing video games,” says Les Kniskern, owner of the not-for-profit Neighborhood Nutrition Center in Ravenswood. “There are studies that have been done that indicate people who do gardening are happier as well. “There are a lot of health problems in Chicago and the U.S. that are based on the types of foods we’re putting into our bodies,” Kniskern says. “The more we can train kids at a younger age that food comes out of the ground, not a package, the better off we’re going to be.”


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NASA and DARPA make no small plans By Molly Keith Illustration by Alex Manella The 100 Year Starship Study Public Symposium, held in Orlando this past fall, focused on research and development for long-distance manned flight. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it is focusing on a one-way interstellar mission to colonize Mars and nearby stars with humans within the next 100 years. David Weiss, Vice President of Engineering at Eck Industries and presenter at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, spoke with Echo about how this might work.

How long will the trek to Mars and the stars take? David Weiss: It depends. With the current technology that we are using now, it is going to be a couple-year trip.

Can you describe what the shuttle will look like? DW: It will not be a big spacious ship like people are familiar with when they look at Star Trek because of the difficulty of launching that much mass into space. Initially, these [ships] are going to be small and relatively cramped vehicles.

What type of materials will be used for building such a star ship? DW: The materials have to be as light as possible and as strong as possible. That’s really the kind of research that my company and I are involved in.

What kind of fuel will it use? DW: We think nuclear-powered propulsion systems might work, as well as very unique untested systems like solar cells, which are a slow way to travel but at the same time, they don’t really need any fuel because you are just using the light of the sun [and] the natural photons in space to bounce against the cells and give you propulsion.

Because the trip is going to be so long, what kind of support will be on board for the astronauts? DW: There will be a lot of food, or a way to produce food. We really don’t know in long-distance space travel how much gravity you need for your body to function properly. Astronauts will also require a lot of psychological support because [when] you’ve got a group of people in a room not much bigger than a college dorm room traveling together for years, it could exact a psychological toll.

Why was this symposium focusing on colonizing the stars instead of building an intermediate staging area on the moon? DW: We’ve been there already.


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Columbia’s Footprint

The College aims to tread lightly on the Earth


By Lauren Tinerella Photo by Nick Salzwedel Like many of us, Columbia College has taken steps to reduce its impact on the environment: placing recycling bins far and wide, installing motion sensor light switches, and replacing rolls of paper towels with hand dryers. Bigger plans are yet to come. In 2012, the college will unveil a roadmap for eliminating or offsetting all of its greenhouse gas emissions. It’s an ambitious goal shared by more than 600 U.S. colleges and universities that stand to benefit by reducing energy costs and appealing to students who care passionately about the environment. Caro Griffin, an interdisciplinary major in interactive arts and media and creative nonfiction, is one such student. At Columbia, Griffin works on the Sustainable Swap, a weeklong event that allows students to recycle their old cell phones, ink cartridges and batteries. She believes students can have even more impact. “All we need is for [them] to stand up and say, ‘This is important to me. I care about the environment and my school should, too.’ That is what’s going to make the biggest difference on campus.”

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Columbia hasn’t yet set a deadline for becoming carbon neutral. “We have carbon neutrality as an ultimate, long-term goal, but we must be pragmatic regarding the limitations of budget and the existence and costeffectiveness of alternative energy solutions,” says Alicia Berg, Columbia’s Vice President of Campus Environment. The college is already incorporating the concepts of sustainability into 50 different courses, including “Global Change: Earth and Life in the Past, Present and Future,” which teaches students about the impact of U.S. energy use on the planet. “By teaching students about sustainability, the school is preparing students for the jobs and careers of the future as well as [teaching them] to find solutions to the environmental and social challenges society is facing,” says D. John Mascarenhas, partner at Sustainametrics, a Chicago-based consulting firm that provided Columbia with advice on cutting its energy use.

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2016 2016 2016

2016 2015

2015 2014 2014


Carbon Timeline The school hopes to ensure that 90 percent of students and faculty commute using trains, buses and bicycles. The school will increase its purchase of renewable energy certificates, which enable the school to offset its energy use by supporting renewable energy production elsewhere. The school will complete a greenhouse gas inventory. All computers will have energy-saving functions, including a power-save mode. Paper consumption is cut by 35 percent, in part by encouraging staff and students to store and share information in electronic files. Fifty percent of the information on the school’s computer servers is transferred to “virtual servers” shared with other businesses. Deliveries to the school are reduced by consolidating orders. Half of nonessential paper items, including wall calendars and appointment books, are converted to electronic form, saving the energy required to produce them. Columbia will set a target date for achieving carbon neutrality. SOURCE:

Things you may not know about recycling: The adhesive used to bind books disqualifies them for recycling. Used clothing can be added to curbside recyclables in some municipalities.


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Throwing cups and bottles containing liquids into recycling bins turns all of the otherwise recyclable material into garbage. FAST FORWARD 73

Plastic bags are rarely collected in curbside programs, but some grocery stores will take clean plastic bags and plastic wrap.

Regardless of the color, glass is one of the few items that can be reused over and over again without sacrificing durability or quality.

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Second Life

Give your cast-offs another chance By Madalyn Hoerr Illustration by Mary Sutton Whether you are preparing for your next move in life or are simply inspired to do some spring sprucing, avoid a lazy trip to the dumpster with your unwanted items. In 2009, more than 54 percent of municipal solid waste (packaging, food, furniture, computers, etc.) was sent to perish in a landfill, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report released in December 2010. The EPA estimates more than half of this waste was generated in homes and apartments.


Living Room Kitchen



Call a student-centered art program. They often rebuild or reuse broken items for props.

not in use

Fraternite Notre Dame


really heavy

read it



watch it

Donation Town


not so heavy


502 N. Central Ave. 773.261.0101 The nuns accept donations of prepared and perishable food. sooner

Brown Elephant



furniture/decor Check to see which charities will pick up from your zip code.


Lake View Pantry

826CHI 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773.772.1808 Wish list: Nonfiction books, school supplies, current maps, software.


3831 N. Broadway St. 773.525.1777 1414 W. Oakdale Ave. 773.404.6333 Wish list: nonperishable food, in-season clothing, office supplies and personal hygiene products.


3651 N. Halsted St. 5404 N. Clark St. 773.388.1600 Wish list: clothes, furniture, cookware, and framed art.




Blackstone Bicycle Works 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. 773.241.5458

Free Geek television


Orphans of the Storm 2200 Riverwoods Rd. Deerfield, IL 847.945.0235 Wish list: blankets, towels, newspaper, pet toys, and treats.

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3411 W. Diversey 773.342.6205 Wish list: computers, laptops, software, and computer hardware.

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Echo Winter/Spring 2012  
Echo Winter/Spring 2012