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Chicago Responds to the Disaster in Japan

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As we watch the images of devastation coming out of Japan, our hearts go out to all of those touched by last night's earthquake and tsunami there. Our thoughts are with the people of Japan and all those who have family, friends, or colleagues in Japan. For updates and information from the University, visit http://news.uchicago.edu/page/japan-earthquake-response.

In terms of local and national organizations, the WBEZ website is keeping a list.

Knowing your Neighbors

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You've eaten your first Garbage Pizza at the Med. You've ridden your bike down Halsted St. with Dean Boyer on the annual South Side Bike Tour. Now, the South Side Solidarity Network wants you to know Woodlawn.

Woodlawn, the low-income neighborhood just south of the University of Chicago campus, has a deep history of conflict and resolution with its ivory-tower neighbor. If you ask third-year graduate student Mark Hopwood, trying to understand this complicated relationship is exactly why students should venture south.  

Hopwood, a member of SSN, shared community lore about the 1893 World's Fair, legendary organizer Saul Alinsky, and the street gang the Blackstone Rangers, with a dozen students and other residents of Hyde Park on the SSN's annual tour of Woodlawn last Sunday afternoon. The tour began on 61st and Ellis Ave in front of the new South Campus dormitory, and proceeded West along 63rd St. to the Cottage Grove commercial district.

"Woodlawn was never a particularly upscale neighborhood," Hopwood said. "But it was a place where you would come to have fun, kind of like the Coney Island of Chicago"

As the group walked Hopwood traced the arc of Woodlawn's development, from a swampland settled by Dutch immigrants in the 1950s to the home of the sprawling Columbian Exposition of 1893, to its current status as a diverse, up-and-coming lakeside neighborhood.

Hopwood was joined by Wardell Lavendar, a community member who has called Woodlawn home for the past 53 years, and has the memories to prove it:

"This street used to be lined with businesses," he said, gesturing to the brick row houses lining 63rd St., once the South Side's commercial district. According to Wardell, commercial activity in the community dropped off substantially when the Green Line, which used to run East above 63rd St. from Cottage Grove to Kimbark, was torn down.

More to know about the University and Woodlawn:

*The University of Chicago made an agreement with the community activist group The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) that it will not develop the campus south of 63rd St.

*In the 1960s, Woodlawn was home to the Black P. Stone Rangers, Half a civil-rights organization and half cocaine-trafficking street gang, the Stones were the most powerful gang in Chicago until an FBI-led crackdown.

*Saul Alinsky, a community organizer famous for the mass power tactics he outlined in his book, "Rules for Radicals," organized in Woodlawn, Back of the Yards, and other Chicago neighborhoods around issues of race and tenants' rights.

How are you getting to know your neighbors?

Links to get you involved in Woodlawn:

Woodlawn Collaborative

UChicago's South Side Solidarity Network's website

STOP Chicago

TIME'S UP: Chicago bid loses in first round

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tBtW offers some UChicago-based links as well as some general links:

Your turn to weigh in:
The Olympic Bid has been controversial, especially here on the South Side. What do you think? What else should folks check out to learn more?

Swine flu mucking about in Chicago

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Click here for information from the University of Chicago on Swine Flu.

Concern about the H1N1 influenza strain known as swine flu has been steadily mounting over the last week. Confirmed cases had been mostly limited to California, Texas, and New York, but on Tuesday afternoon a Chicago student at Kilmer Elementary in Rogers Park was diagnosed with the infection. Kimberly Goff-Crews, Dean of Students in the University, reports that two hospital staff may be infected but are recovering at home. Several probable cases have been reported elsewhere in the city, in the suburbs, and in collar counties. What does this mean and what should Chicagoans be doing about it? According to the Center for Disease Control, normal hygiene practices should provide protection against infection, and individuals who believe they may be infected should seek medical treatment if symptoms become severe. In short, thinking of the outbreak like a particularly nasty strain of seasonal flu might well be better than the simmering panic beginning to erupt from various quarters.

Overblown or not, the situation has opened up some interesting discussions about public health.  The Big Money asks some interesting questions about the economic and business side effects of the outbreak, and Amanda Marcotte explores the links between factory farms and human health.

Chicago-area Inauguration Info

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The first place to go is the coverage College Students are providing from DC and Chicago at the Chicago Studies website.  The University's News Office is also a great place to find connections between "the life of the mind" and the swearing-in of our 44th President.

The Blog that Works has collected some links for Chicago-area Inauguration info:

Cloudy with a chance of freezing your nose off

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The Blog that Works is out of winter hibernation at just the wrong time-- today's subzero temperatures are making any activity that doesn't involve hot chocolate and my living room seem entirely unappealing.  This morning my car refused to budge out of its iced-in parking spot, giving me a personal snow day and lots of time to think about how to get around without it. Here's a roundup of Chicago transit and winter news, brought to you by my temporary homeboundedness.
Hyde Park Progress considers the pros and cons of adopting various parking meter rate schemes. Chicagoist analyzes last year's big increase in CTA ridership, but a commenter suggests an alternative interpretation. The Tribune documents some clever techniques for maintaining a parking space-- if only they'd published yesterday, I might have made it out of Hyde Park today!  A fourth-grader in Hammond fell victim to a triple-dog-dare and ended up with a tongue injury.  The Chicago Foundation for Women is honoring an important anniversary this week with a spoken word event.  And for a nice healthy dose of winter escapism, check out these nifty shots of fractal river deltas near the Mediterranean coast.

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