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Mayor Names Ciere Boatright to Planning Post
Mayor Brandon Johnson filled the vacancy created with the departure of Maurice Cox by appointing real estate executive Ciere Boatright as Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. “Boatright will come to City Hall after serving as vice president of real estate and community development for CRG, the investment arm of Chicago-based Clayco construction firm,” writes the Sun-Times. “She has been involved in what the firm called ‘high-impact real-estate projects’ plus philanthropy in markets where it has investments. She also started a program to mentor and support commercial developers of color. She previously worked at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a firm known for leading redevelopment in Pullman.”
In perhaps a gentle shot at Cox, who came to Chicago via Detroit, Johnson said in a statement, “As a native Chicagoan who knows the landscape of our city, her unique understanding of community economic development, commercial real estate, affordable housing, job creation and neighborhood engagement will ensure our city works equitably for all Chicagoans.”
UIC Opens Jane Addams’ Bedroom For Naps
“On the second floor of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on the University of Illinois Chicago campus sits the bedroom where the legendary social reformer slept for many years,” the university writes. “Addams shared the room with her life partner, Mary Rozet Smith, whose large oil portrait still looks over the room as it did when the couple was alive. The room contains Addams’ journal and other artifacts, including a replica of the first Nobel Prize won by an American woman and Addams’ childhood bed. Through the fall semester, UIC students, staff and faculty can absorb the tranquility felt in the honeysuckle-wallpapered room as part of the Jane Addams Bedroom Project. The initiative, designed to encourage resting and inspiration, offers anyone connected with UIC the opportunity to sign up and spend an hour alone in the room, either sleeping on the historic bed or just taking in the quiet. Spots are offered Tuesday-Friday, 3pm-4pm, but more times may be added. Anyone with a UIC email can sign up for free.” More here.
Park Advocates Oppose $800 Million Obama Center Even As It Bulks Up
“As the Obama Presidential Center’s main building rises higher above Jackson Park, the project’s main opponents [has] made what could be one of their last significant legal efforts to halt construction of the historic project,” writes the Trib. (Yahoo link).
Country Club Hills Also Thinks A Stadium Would Be Nice
“Yet another Chicago suburb has invited the Bears to build their new stadium within its borders,” reports CBS 2. “Cook County Commissioner Monica Gordon wrote a letter to the team asking them to consider Country Club Hills. Gordon argued the site is strategically located near three major highways and a Metra station and she said a new stadium would bring major economic impact to an area that is often ignored.”
Driverless Cruise Cars Banned In California
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended Cruise LLC’s deployment and driverless testing permits, says the California DMV in a release. “The department is suspending Cruise’s autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits, effective immediately… Based upon the performance of the vehicles, the Department determines the manufacturer’s vehicles are not safe for the public’s operation.”
DINING & DRINKING
Alliance Bakery Expands In West Town
Alliance, “the century-old bakery, is expanding to Grand Avenue to house production and a larger retail space. The Wicker Park location will be unchanged,” tallies Block Club. “The bakery joins a growing crop of commercial kitchens, breweries and other businesses along or near the Grand Avenue corridor in West Town. Last year, Publican Quality Bread opened a bakery and retail store about a block away. Alliance also is celebrating its hundredth anniversary on Division Street, where it [is] one of the few remnants of the area’s Polish past.”
The Commissary, Independent Gold Coast Pocket Grocery, Closing After Forty-Five Years
Lease negotiations; landlord, reports Block Club of the shuttering of a “hidden gem” at 1350 North Lake Shore. “Commissary Market has about four aisles of snacks, organic produce, a deli counter, pantry staples, wine and liquor—dubbing itself ‘the little store with a big store inside.'” The family owner “hit a major bump in the road when it came time to renew a ten-year lease with property owners Draper & Kramer, Incorporated.” The owner “isn’t planning on opening another space, saying he’s looked [but] could not find anything affordable… He’s urging customers and nearby residents to stop by the store Saturday for a closing party.”
West Town Bakery Adds Pot Brownie Mix
“West Town Bakery and sibling Okay Cannabis launch a line of cannabis-infused cake mixes,” reports Eater Chicago. “The dried mix contains fifty milligrams of THC and can be combined with eggs and butter to bake a tray of twelve sizable brownies. Rather than being infused in oil like most THC products, the cannabis is sprayed directly on the dried goods meaning it will quickly be activated when combined with the fats it’s baked with, kicking in about fifteen minutes after consumption. There are other mixes that produce cupcakes in flavors like devil’s food cake and rainbow sprinkles.”
Fifty-Dollar Fee For Family Fracas At Georgia Resto
“Toccoa Riverside Restaurant in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia, around a hundred miles north of Atlanta, states at the bottom of its menu that is… listed online that it has an ‘adult surcharge,’ which it describes as ‘for adults unable to parent,'” reports Insider. “No Respect, No Service.” “The menu doesn’t say how much the surcharge is, simply labeling it as ‘$$$,’ but two recent reviews on Google put it at $50.”
Blue Bayou On Southport Back After Decade Dark
“Alex Zupancic, owner and CEO of Last Call Tavern Group, said the revival of Blue Bayou is inspired by his time as a regular at the bar in the early 2000s,” reports Block Club. It reopens in spring of 2024.”Last Call Tavern Group owns the Butcher’s Tap, a couple blocks south [as well as] The Reveler in Roscoe Village, Rebel & Rye and Clover Sports & Leisure in the Fulton River District, Trace in Wrigleyville and Willie Lill’s in Lincoln Park. The Blue Bayou will undergo renovations to take on an updated look… but the bar and restaurant will keep much of its original feel.”
Grubhub Launches Full Plate Program
Grubhub is introducing a Full Plate Program, which will recommend up to $1 million in microgrants through the Grubhub Community Fund to Chicago nonprofits that provide food and meal services as a core part of their mission, the company advises. The program will be administered in partnership with Greater Chicago Food Depository and Nourishing Hope, and eligible nonprofits can apply to receive up to $10,000 each in grant support. Organizations approved for funding will be announced in December 2023. Eligible nonprofits can apply until 5pm, Monday, November 13. Apply here.
Scholastic Books Renounces “Segregation” Of Children’s Lit That Facilitated Book Bans
“I want to apologize on behalf of Scholastic,” writes Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing in a hearty one-page letter sent to authors and illustrators (X/Twitter link). “Even if the decision was made with good intention, we understand now that it was a mistake to segregate diverse books in an elective case. We sincerely apologize to every author, illustrator, licensor, educator, librarian, parent, and reader who was hurt by our action. We recognize and acknowledge the pain caused, and that we have broken the trust of some of our publishing community, customers, friends, trusted partners, and staff, and we also recognize that we will now need to regain that trust… We will find an alternate way to get a greater range of books into the hands of children. We remain committed to the books in this collection and support their sale throughout our distribution channels.”
“Our commitment to BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ authors and stories remains foundational for our company. Scholastic believes in the basic freedoms of all individuals. We oppose discrimination of any kind on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or national origin. We are committed to providing access and choice, and to helping young readers develop critical skills needed to exercise democracy and build a society free of prejudice and hate. Equally important, we pledge to stand with you as we redouble our efforts to combat the laws restricting children’s access to books… We look forward to working to create a better and more just future together.”
Pitchfork Fest Co-Founder Mike Reed On Highs And Lows
“Through his work as Pitchfork Music Festival’s co-founder, owner of Constellation and the Hungry Brain, and an esteemed free jazz bandleader, Mike Reed has helped shape Chicago’s music scene,” reports the Sun-Times. “‘You make things because those things that live outside of yourself can be even bigger than you,’ Reed [says], his elbows on an empty bar at the Hungry Brain… ‘It’s best when you get on stage and you play with people and you essentially have this experience that kind of comes out of you—then it’s gone.'”
Goodman Joins November 6 “ENOUGH!”; Nationwide Gun Violence Play Readings
Six new plays written by teenage playwrights in response to gun violence will be staged at Goodman Theatre and across multiple cities nationwide on Monday, November 6, one year before the 2024 presidential election, as part of “ENOUGH!: Plays to End Gun Violence.” The evening of readings includes the winning selection of six ten-minute plays chosen by nationally recognized dramatists Idris Goodwin, Lauren Gunderson, Zora Howard, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Octavio Solis and Lloyd Suh.
The teenage playwrights—selected from 244 submissions from thirty-six states—include Niarra C. Bell’s “The Smiles Behind,” Amanda Fagan’s “Lightning Strike,” Pepper Fox’s “A Call for Help,” Sam Lee Victor’s “A Disorderly House,” Justin Cameron Washington’s “No Prospering Weapons” and Valentine Wulf’s “The Matter at Hand.” At the Goodman, literary manager and dramaturg Neena Arndt, Michael Maggio directing fellow Jamal Howard and Northwestern University directing fellow Danielle Roos will direct the readings, each of which features a cast of professional actors. November 6, 7:30pm. Tickets and more here.
American Theatre Returns In Print Form
“As is always the case with our theater ecology, there is no single story that can capture the diversity of the whole. Some theaters and theater workers are thriving. We can build from those bright spots as we recover. And we must do more than just rebuild; we must also transform our models into a just and thriving theater ecology that works for all of us,” reports American Theatre. In that light, the print edition of the publication is returning, “a ‘reopening’ of sorts for the magazine, even as our theater ecology continues to rebalance and adjust in the midst of compounding crises.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Visiting Artist Visas In A Tangle
“Arts organizations and government agencies are meeting to discuss the process by which visas are awarded to international artists looking to come to the United States. Some are hopeful about the talks,” reports the Trib. “Ultimately, congressional action is required for changes to the visa process. If the process is streamlined, it will be easier for international artists to bring programming and performances to cities such as Chicago. ‘Access to international cultures is essential,’ said Matthew Covey, an attorney who [has] worked on visas for Elastic Arts. ‘If you’re going to develop a community or a nation that can communicate with the rest of the world and understand its role, one of the most important ways that happens is through the exchange of cultures.’ An inefficient visa process also creates long-term, adverse commercial impact.”
NHL Will Allow “Symbolic Tape” On Hockey Player’s Sticks
“Players will now have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season,” NHL public relations advises. (X/Twitter link.)
Contrast In Two Illinois Parishes In Light Of Vatican Synod On Synodality
“When the Rev. John Trout heard that Pope Francis wanted feedback from parishes before a major Vatican gathering this month on the church’s future, he decided that his suburban Chicago congregation would go all in,” reports the New York Times. “St. Joseph Catholic Church hung banners about the meeting, distributed surveys, and invited an expert from Loyola University Chicago to speak to parishioners… Less than an hour south of St. Joe’s, the Rev. Anthony Bus of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Chicago said he viewed the gathering in Rome not as an opportunity but as a potential threat, or at the very least an irrelevance. ‘Our voices are not going to be heard in the halls of the Vatican… It’s “dialogue,” but only if you toe the party line.'”
Billionaire Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s Latest Chicago Beneficiary: Cara Collective Gets $8 Million
A Chicago-based workforce development nonprofit is one of the latest beneficiaries of the MacKenzie Scott fortune, reports the Sun-Times. “Cara Collective said the one-time, unrestricted $8 million gift is the largest donation in the organization’s thirty-plus-year history… Last year, Scott also broke donation records for local organizations, with gifts at the Chicago Urban League for $6.6 million and Chicago disability services nonprofit Access Living for $8 million. She has also donated to education nonprofit Communities in Schools of Chicago and parent advocacy group Community Organizing and Family Issues.”
NU Alumni Petition School Prez For Condemnation Of Hamas
“A group of Northwestern University alumni, donors and community members sent a letter to university President Michael Schill, calling on him to issue a public statement condemning the Hamas attack on Israel as well as individuals or groups who have supported the attacks,” relays Crain’s. “A portion of the letter to Schill has appeared online at Change.org, garnering more than 1,000 signatures… ‘In the absence of moral leadership, Northwestern is being dragged into the morass that is swirling and growing around us,’ the letter reads. ‘We believe Northwestern must take a leadership role, unlike many other elite colleges and universities, to combat antisemitism at all institutions of higher learning…'”
The divisions “playing out on college campuses has put the spotlight on school presidents, who have to contend with protesting students and angry alumni. Influential donors and alumni at schools like Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania have threatened to stop donating and withhold money, something that has not yet taken shape at Northwestern.” (Letter on Scribd here.)
Email: Can’t Love It, Can’t Leave It
“Email is, and I hardly need to tell you this, a special kind of torture,” writes economic journalist Tim Harford at the FT. “Most office workers are utterly dependent on it. We also hate it. And we also find it enormously useful. Not sort-of handy-in-a-certain-light like Instagram or X, but essential, like a search engine or your computer mouse. Email is the cockroach of computing. BlackBerry instant messenger and ‘Friends Reunited’ may come and go, but email cannot be killed… Some people long ago gave up hope, ignoring their emails and switching to something like the instant messaging service WhatsApp to do the same job. Since WhatsApp has most of the downsides of email and many additional annoyances, that solves little… I have long favored the simplicity of a single inbox, for all its travails. One place to check, one place to clarify and decide, one place to clean out and leave empty.”
The “Magic” Of AI Training? Underpaid Workers In Other Countries
“Digital slavery,” reports WIRED. The magazine focuses on Appen, “an Australian data services company that [crowdsources] workers to tag training data for artificial intelligence algorithms. Most internet users will have done some form of data labeling: identifying images of traffic lights and buses for online captchas. But the algorithms powering new bots that can pass legal exams, create fantastical imagery in seconds, or remove harmful content on social media are trained on datasets—images, video and text—labeled by gig economy workers in some of the world’s cheapest labor markets. Appen’s clients have included Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, and the company’s one million contributors are just a part of a vast, hidden industry. The global data collection and labeling market was valued at $2.22 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $17.1 billion by 2030.”
For a worker they speak with, “Pay ranges from 2.2 cents to fifty cents per task… Typically, an hour and a half of work will bring in $1. When there are enough tasks to work a full week, she earns approximately $280 per month, almost meeting Colombia’s minimum wage of $285… Fuentes works on a laptop from her bed, glued to her computer for over eighteen hours a day to get the first pick of tasks that could arrive at any time. Given Appen’s international clients, days begin when the tasks come out, which can mean 2am starts.”
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