Friday, December 19, 2008

We're All Nonprofits Now

The White House has just announced plans for a $17.4 billion bail out of the auto industry. According to the Institute for Policy Analysis, America and European governments have already chipped in an unbelievable $4.1 trillion in total financial bailouts. So what's another $17 or so billion added to that mountain of cash.

So, if you're a nonprofit advocate and you find yourself begging to a funder and trying to justify why your organization should get a thousand dollars to continue providing for the common good, you can now take some comfort in this new reality. We are all nonprofits now.

Nonprofits that provide educational, health-related, social service, policy and cultural type services typically define themselves as being owned by no body - they act on behalf of the community and no one owns stock and so there are no "profits" from income in excess of expenses. These organizations exist to meet a need unmet by government or business. Nonprofits provide services to people who NEVER pay the full cost of receiving those services. By definition. Some nonprofits do better than others in charging fees, generating revenue from good and services other than what is provided directly to their customers, and getting sponsorships. Bottom line - there is always a gap between the total amount of what is called "earned" income and what it costs to run the organization. Contributions and grants make up the difference. For most nonprofit organizations that provide the type of services I'm thinking about contributions from individuals can be deducted from their income tax obligations - hence the term "tax-deductible contribution."

Well, with the hundreds of billions of dollars the U.S. government has doled out to the financial services sector and now the auto industry, I think we have just obliterated the distinctions between "for profit" and "not for profit" operations in America. Unfortunately, the tax payers are not going to be able to deduct their "contributions" to the corporate sector.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"I Am Amazing", Anthony Overton Chicago Public School

Here is an interior mural project I painted this summer at Anthony Overton Public School, in Bronzeville. It is an image of President Elect Obama looking at the amazing accomplishments of Overton's students, and a tribute to Bronzeville 47th Street Arts and Cultural District. It is located in the main hallway where two corridors intersect. It is an installation, creating a space for the students to experience.

I started this project on June 15, 2008, completed it on August 24,2008. The Local School Council is in such an uproar about this project, they wanted it painted over. One parent asked me "What if he doesn't win?" My response was he has already won.

Even though the school lost its arts funding, couldn't finish paying for this project, it was important for me to finish it. I stood on my own integrity to not just walk off this project. I wanted the students to be amazed the first day of school. There was no dedication! The LSC didn't want Ms. Luster as their principal nor anything to do with her school beautification project, it seems she didn't have their final approval. This was lead by a "Community At Large" LSC member. Painful? Very!

Now that President Elect Obama has won this historic election, do you think that the school will acknowledge the gift that was given to them this summer? Oh I ranted about this misuse of arts funding, misuse of an arts professionals time, and talent, and the unprofessional, and abusive behavior of a small minded group of parents, staff, community members. For the most part all of us artists had to remember where we were, 47th & Indiana, and the mindset of folks that live around the school.

I even sponsored a "RANT-A-Thon", at Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, 1060 E. 47th street (four blocks from President Elect Obama's house), to give artists a place to exhibit politically charged art, and a platform to talk about "Issues That Matter". No, I didn't rant about this issue, I just hope the students felt prideful that they have one of the first murals in their school that depicts this historic moment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

North Lawndale Greening Committee

Velma Johnson, president of the North Lawndale Greening Committee, died on October 28, 2008. I wrote a piece on her last week for my Examiner page, if you want to know a bit more about her background:

Visitation and Funeral Services for Velma Johnson will be held at:
Greater Whitestone M.B. Church
3819 W. Ogden Ave.
Chicago, IL 60623


Thursday, November 6, 2008
4 pm to 8 pm

Wake and Funeral Services:

Friday, November 7, 2008
10am to 11 am Wake
11am to 12 pm Funeral

Jaime Zaplatosch
Education Coordinator
25 E Washington, Suite 1650
Chicago, IL 60602
ph 312-863-6270

Saturday, November 1, 2008

GOTNEXT Election Tour Closing Reception

Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, Host: Heidi Hickman

November 4, 2008 6pm 10pm

Closing Reception. Join us for an evening of election watching, and celebration as Barack Obama rocks the vote in Illinois.

Featured Artist: Ray Noland, "CRO" presents a "Traveling Art Exhibition" of Barack Obama inspired works from stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Atlanta, and Chicago.

Phantom Gallery Artist: Debra McLendon, Sherman Beck, Benyamin MacCabee, Tamasha Williamson, and Alpha Bruton.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whose Values Count

Election eve thought on the role of artists in public life...

There's a lot of talk in the press about "value" and "values." Value in the sense of "what is something worth" in economic terms and "whose values guides the politics and policies that decide what something is worth?" It seems that the financial and general press is learning something that we knew all along - that not everything with a big price tag is"worth" a lot of money and things that seemingly have no value on the stock market really do have tremendous value and meaning. What drives creative people to create and what is the "value" of what they create is worthy of study here. Lewis Hyde wrote "The Gift - Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World" in 1979 and he was on to something when quotes Joseph Conrad - "The artist appeals to that part of our being...which is a gift and not an acquisition - and, therefore, more permanently enduring." and then goes on to say "The art that matters to us - which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience - that work is received by us as a gift is received....The spirit of an artist's gifts can wake our own. The work appeals, as Joseph Conrad says, to a part of our being which is itself a gift and not an acquisition." This resonates with arts marketing studies by large foundations and hard-working consultants who endeavor to guide the arts industry in making a stronger case for itself with the public and politicians. These studies discount the economic impact of the arts and revive a conversation about the intrinsic value of the arts and creativity that, while hard to measure, is the real distinctive power of the creative process. But the market place says we only measure what matters and that Wall Street experts and Blackberry punching M.B.A.s RALLY know how to assign value in this society. How's that been working? But this conversation about who gets to value what is a prelude to my real concern around "values" - namely that people who live and practice the creation and exchange of intrinsic value, America's artists and cultural workers, have been absent from the political discourse and so have been unable to transfer their values into governance. So if we are cringing that taxpayers will spend $750 billion to bail out Wall Street firms, banks and potentially General Motors. If we are livid if taxpayers spend $123 billion to bail out AIG and then it spent $440,000 on a lavish executive retreat. And if we just shrug our shoulders when we see that the National Endowment for the Arts is budgeted for a pathetic $145 million for 2008. (Don't even mention the estimated $3 trillion cost of the Iraq War). If these facts - these expressions of what America "values" don't jive with yours, then,
The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves if we are underlings.”

Tom Tresser wants artists to run for local office all over the country as creativity champions and bring their values and skills into public life in new ways.

Monday, October 13, 2008

caryls Global Art Spot

Spoken Word at the Garfield Market Place

SpEak OuT

Examining the State of Our Environment

OpEn Mic EveNt

October 17, 18 & 19, 2008
Friday 6-8p, Sat 1-4pm, Sun 1-4pm

RaP -sPOkeN- Word
presented by Community Christian Alternative Academy Art Students, and Artist Nancy Zook

Garfield Park Conservatory
Market Place
300 North Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624

Wednesday, October 8, 2008




OCTOBER 10, 2008 6-8PM
6PM -




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

North Austin Library Branch Supports Westside Artists with Alternative Exhibition Space

5724 West North Avenue, 312-746-4233

Saturday Sepember 27th, 2008

Phantom Gallery Chicago Network kicks off Chicago
Artists Month, at the North Austin Library:
Guest Artist Talk
Carole Frances Lung

Cathy Sorich-Martinez
Lovietta Simpkins
Turtel Onli
Edna Purches
Tramaine King
Syretta Williams
Helen Myers Jones

Nancy Zooks Resident Artist at Community Christian Alternative Academy Student's Sculpture Installation


Garfield Park Conservatory Market Place, 300 N. Central Park Ave,
October 17 - 19, 2008 1:00pm - 5:00 pm
"Let Us Examine The State of Our Environment"
Communities throughout Chicago have engaged, inspired and empowered their residents through art. During October, explore South Chicago, Little Village and East Garfield Park and get to know the artists that are living and working there and the issues these communities care about.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This temporary exhibit of environmental art explores the relationship between people, art and landscape, and acts as a community-strengthening tool. Artists include: John Song, D. Nicole Miller, Laura Gilmore, Gabe Patti, HelenMyersJones, Jamin Judda, Vivian Vissar, Eleni Vryza, Kat Silverstein.
This event is sponsored by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Chicago Park District, underwritten by the Wallace Foundation.

The Third Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival


Call 312-543-7027, email for more information.

Mobile Exhibiton 3

Thursday October 16, 2008 12noon - 8pm
MOBILE EXHIBITION 3 is an art event in three rented trucks. Three art installations, each encompassing the entire inside of a 24 foot truck, invite you to enter and explore the transformation inside. Images, forms and light are carefully institutions, perceptions of space, and themes of viciv systems in the urban landscape

Examining the State of Our Environment

INSTALLATION ARTISTS EXPLORE BY BUILDING SITE SPECIFIC INSTALLATIONS: Fred Owens, Helen Jones Myers, Vivian Vissar, Jamin Jadda, Gabriel Patti, Kat Silverstein, Nancy Zook, Students from Chicago Christian Academy, Loveitta Simpkins, Dewitt Quayim


Monday, September 22, 2008

"America Needs You!" - Artists as Leaders...

Tom Tresser has written a book that calls you to lead in the public sector as a creativity champion! Check it out...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


On September 11, 2008, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and
Public Works (EPW) will hold a hearing on the tragic consequences of
disposing of toxic sewage sludge on agricultural land, public land,
and as bagged "compost."

Sludge News at is a dedicated website on the
hearing, including information about sewage sludge, how you can upload
your testimony, latest news, science, and how to take action.

The EPW hearing is a first step in a long overdue examination of the
policies that have led us to the appalling situation we are now in
with respect to contamination of our food supply and the degradation
of our health from the byproducts of wastewater treatment.



Laura Orlando

Community Garden Moderator

Friday, August 29, 2008


Getting it Done New Tools for Communities summary of proceedings online at


Upcoming Events: Saturday September 13, 2008 board the bus at 300 N. Central Park Ave.

The itinerary is as follows: Time 9am to 12 noon, RSVP the bus only seats 40, brown bag lunch to follow tour, at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
773-638-1766 x 14

420 s. Central Park Ave

3250 W. Adams

313 W. Maypole

3100 W. Carroll (Artist Garden)

3141 W. Walnut (Jacab's School Community Garden)

3251 W. Washington Blvd

3317 W. Walnut St

9/13 Pre-registration form due for Harvest Competition at the County Fair
9/20 COUNTY FAIR, GARFIELD MARKET PLACE, walk to a Heritage Garden
9/24 Open Space Meeting
10/16 Mobile Exhibition, 5-8pm

10/17 5-8pm Opening
Phantom Gallery Presents: "Let Us Examine the State of Our Environment",Chicago Artists Month Featured Community Artists Environmental Art Installations on display through 10/19 Closing


Mayor's Office Requesting a Meeting on Vacant Lot Spraying

Jaime Zaplatosch
Education Coordinator
25 E Washington, Suite 1650
Chicago, IL 60602
ph 312-863-6270
fax 312-863-6251

45 years. 55,000 acres protected. Join us October 31 at the Openlands 2008 Annual Luncheon. Visit for more information.

From: Steve Pincuspy []
Good Afternoon,
It has been several months since we wrote a letter to the Mayor's Office requesting a meeting on the issue of vacant lot spraying. Thanks to your support and persistence the Department of Streets and Sanitation finally agreed to meet with us. Representatives from the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and Safer Pest Control Project recently met with the Streets and Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Bobby Richardson as well as other staffers, including attendees from the Chicago Department of Environment. Our agenda was to present the concerns brought to us by numerous local neighborhood groups and citizens such as yourselves pertaining to the use of Roundup to maintain vacant lots. Part of our investigation uncovered that the City has been aggressively using Roundup in vacant lots. Merely three years ago the City used no Roundup whatsoever. Since then the number of applications has risen to somewhere between 10,000-15,000 a year.

While the city maintains it must protect public safety through vegetation management on abandoned lots, staffers failed to acknowledge the irony of using herbicides that can potentially affect public health and the environment when used in vast quantities - a safety issue in itself. Our position remains that health should not have to be compromised in the slightest to maintain these lots and improve neighborhood safety. As part of our meeting with the Department, we urged the Department to explore alternatives to spraying and to improve communication with residents in communities affected by the sprayings. The Deputy Commissioner was willing to explore these options and discuss alternatives to spraying.
They have agreed to establish a “No Spray List” for vacant parcels through the 311 system. Residents can now call 311 and request that a neighboring parcel be added to a do-not-spray list.

The Department also agreed to further publicize that free mulch and hand-gardening tools are available to the public and community groups to use in taking care of vacant lots in their neighborhoods. In addition to these measures, the Safer Pest Control Project will be working with them on a “best-practices manual” that will narrow the conditions under which Roundup can be used, as well as improve the protocol for applications. finally, we hope to spur the City to create a coalition of neighborhood groups and block clubs willing to take advantage of the resources available for beautifying vacant lots. They have agreed that this is a sound idea, in principle.

We were glad to see the City has finally agreed to take some action on this issue. However, vigilance will be required to ensure that these ideas are translated into reality. We ask for your continued input to ensure the health and safety of our communities. Please stay tuned as we moved forward on this and other healthy green space issues.
Steve Pincuspy
Senior Program Associate

Safer Pest Control Project
4611 N. Ravenswood , Suite 107
Chicago, IL 60640
p: 773-878-7378 x.203
f: 773-878-8250
Safer Pest Control Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the health risks and environmental impacts of pesticides and promoting safer alternatives in Illinois .

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Openlands & Greater Englewood Garden Association Plant Alert

Openlands & Greater Englewood Garden Association

FREE PERENNIAL PLANTS for ALL gardeners– First come first served! Wednesday August 27th from 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM or until the plants are gone.

DIRECTIONS:The plants will be given away at the site of the Rowan Trees Farmer’s Market one block north of 63rd Street on Normal Avenue (600 West) in Englewood starting at about 11:30 AM. There is not a lot of room to park at this site, so you may have to walk to the site and carry plants back to your car if you are driving. Most of the plants are in one gallon containers, and about ¼ of them are in 2 gallon containers. Bring a cart if you can and be sure to bring newspaper or other protection for your car.

Volunteers are needed to help unload the delivery truck and assist people in picking up the plants. Please let me know if you can be there to help at 9:30 am. Volunteers get first choice of plants and BUGs students get credit hours!
Julie – 312/863-6256 or

Please RSVP by Monday, August 25th ! Thanks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Join Creativity Champions Community @

Check out a new online community for creativity champions at This is a space for sharing, collaborating and advancing the idea of creativity as a global priority. Tom Tresser is the organizer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

War Garden: An Experiment in Patriotic Agriculture

There will be two performances near us (El Coqui) and African Heritage Garden . Should be fun!

Beginning June 13 in Grant Park, Captain Streeter and the Ladies' Auxiliary Clash Over Chicago 's Open Spaces in a Mix of
History, Theatrics, Music and Agriculture.

CHICAGO – NeighborSpace and Walkabout Theater Company announce the world premiere of War Garden: An Experiment in Patriotic Agriculture, a comic and historic theater production and event celebrating Chicago 's history of community gardening. Beginning June 13 in Grant Park, the production features larger-than-life historical figures, patriotic songs, vegetable warfare and audience participation and travels to five additional community gardens in Chicago before returning to Grant Park for its final performances July 25 – 27. The event includes a one-half hour "Garden Party" before each performance, in which hands-on gardening and art making activities are offered to audience members. Tickets are a suggested donation of $10 and are available at each garden the day of the event. Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs for their seating. For more information or to inquire about special needs seating call 773.527.0341 or go to

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Boycott Foxnews

( com/v/277gQDcBtM Y&hl=en) <--watch this and see why we need a world wide boycott of all sponsored products or services from Foxnews..see this montage of racist attacks against black America.....
must see...spread the word....together we can make them stop it....Sean and his uncle tom guests......

Monday, June 2, 2008

Illinois Facility Fund Multi-Use Facility On Mute for the West Side

CC: Alpha Bruton, Arts and Cultural Committee, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance/New Communities Program

Thank you for the updates regarding upcoming meeting dates and your continued interest in the community facility project.

I believe that in our last update to you, we informed you that it had come to IFFs attention that the Jesse White Tumblers (JWT) had expressed interest in building a home at the southeast corner of Western and Adams . Earlier this year, IFF met with representatives of JWT to attempt to formulate a plan to merge the community facility and JWT facility project plans to develop a single, multi-use facility on the site. After reviewing the community facility plans, JWT concluded that merging the plans would significantly slow the JWT facility development plan. Late in April, IFF was officially notified by CPD that JWT will be granted sole use and control of the parcels of land on that corner. Unfortunately, without those parcels, there will not be enough land area remaining on the site to build a separate multi-use facility in conjunction with the Grant Campus gym addition as originally planned. We are trying to revive the project, but our planning for the multi-use facility is on hold until further notice. We will let you know if there is any change in the project status.

Georgette Varner Project Associate

So that's it, plans just muted? How can we advocate for a Multi Use Art Facility to be built where it is needed the most?

Chicago Area Waterways

Join us at a public hearing on June 16, 2008 or write a letter to support stronger water quality standards for the . Please read the attached alert to find out more about what you can do.

Openlands is part of a task force that actively supports the proposed standards to encourage safe recreational use and better aquatic habitat in the Chicago River and Calumet River systems. Over the last decade, Openlands has contributed to the dramatic increase in people that enjoy and care for our waters by working with municipalities to install boat launch sites, teaching StreamLeaders about how to monitor water quality, and promoting the Northeastern Illinois Water Trails Plan we developed with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Pa ddling Council.

Please contact Stacy Meyers-Glen, Policy Coordinator at Openlands with any questions about the proposed standards, and how you can help. 312.863.6265

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jacob's School Kids Gardening Project

Jacob Beidler Elementary School Community garden just got a generous donations from Open Lands, so that the children in Pre K - 3rd grade could plant flowers in their container gardens. The teachers scheduled a work day with their class. Each class filled large containers with dirt that was delivered on Tuesday, and came out on Thursday morning to plant the flowers into the large Terra cotta planters.

The children were excited, and loved how beautiful they were able to make their school. The same children participated in a "Saturday Clean UP Day", were they picked up trash around the school, planted tulip bulbs that were donated by the Garfield Park Conservatory bulb giveaway.

The master gardener/consultants at City escape garden center & design studio helped make decisions on the arrangements.
Posted by Picasa

The Plans of Chicago -- Past, Present, & Future

Nearly 150 years ago, the Great Chicago Fire brought this city to its knees. Soon thereafter, a team of visionaries, led by Daniel Burnham, crafted The Plan of Chicago, which was part of The City Beautiful Movement. Some aspects of the Plan were realized, but others didn't make it. Among the many excellent aspects of the plan which were realized include completion of Chicago's Boulevard System (also called Chicago's "Emerald Necklace"), downtown Chicago's Museum Campus, and Lake Shore Drive. One idea in the Plan that didn't make it was the Civic Center, illustrated by Jules Guerin; the illustration looks like Plastic Man stretched the U.S. Capitol Building.

Artists, activists, and people of different walks of life have worked individually and collectively to help realize a vision of Chicago as as great city. Jane Addams is an amazing Chicagoan who helped to make this city great and more livable for its people. Many artists working in a range of media have lived in Chicago, and many art groups have been founded / developed in Chicago, including Sun Ra, the AACM, Gwendolyn Brooks, Saul Bellow, Nelson Algren, Lorraine Hansberry, the Chicago Surrealists, the Chicago Imagists, and others.

There are lots of plans for Chicago's future, including those being organized by Chicago Metropolis 2020, the Chicago Plan Commission, Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, and a campaign to raise money to build a weather-shielding dome over Chicago. What other plans are being envisioned and implemented? What can we do to ensure that the right visions direct what happens to our neighborhoods, rather than allowing wrongheaded political and real estate decisions to take our neighborhoods in bad directions? What roles do artists, educators, grass roots organizers, and other leaders in the community have -- to ensure that our city keeps getting better, more exciting, and more livable?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Farm Dreams

Farm Dreams, June 7, 11am-3pm
Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N Sacramento

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own farm? This interactive course is designed to help you explore whether a farming business is the right choice for you. We'll learn about real farm business examples and discuss market opportunities in the Chicago region. You'll get a chance to ask questions about the development of successful local farms with our presenters: Tim Wilson, manager of City Farm, and Sheri Doyel, farm forager for the City of Chicago and Green City Market. We're excited to offer this class in the Center for Green Technology's new Resource Center!


Light refreshments will be provided. All attendees should bring a lunch.

2008 Committee on Special Events and Cultural Affairs

The Committee on Special Events and Cultural Affairs shall have jurisdiction over all special events and related programs of the City, including parades, fests, tastes, community and neighborhood fairs. The Committee shall also have jurisdiction over those matters which affect the cultural growth of the City and its cultural institutions including matters generally affecting the Cultural Center of the Chicago Public Library.

Chairman: Walter Barnett
Vice-Chairmen: Thomas Tunney
Members: Flores, Fioretti, Hairston, Harris, Thomas, Lane, Brookins,Dixon, Waguespack, Colon, Daley, Levar

When's the last time you checked the voting record of this committee? Participate in a DGAP working group. This working group is empowered with creating the second edition of the DGAP Report Card and instituting a systematic planning process for each report to be released bi-annually. The group will explore best practice methods for ensuring substantive community input into the report's development, as well as seek to create new opportunities to utilize the report card as a community organizing


PHANTOM GALLERY CHICAGO NETWORK featured artists(John Song, DN Miller, Gabe Patti, Ferrari Sheppard, Laura Gilmore, Fred Owens)

Saturday October 17– 19, 2008 1-5pm Market Place

Environmental art can explore and strengthen the relationship between people, art and landscape, is emerging as an effective community-strengthening tool. Art creates a framework for interpreting this connection using the cultural or environmental history of a particular piece of land as the catalyst. By building broad public support for a project and the landscape on which it sits, art can also play an important role in promoting the benefits of community living.

The artists installations will give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership, which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

Installation artists will converge at the East Garfield Park Conservatory Market Place during the summer of 2008, completed sculptures will be on display during Chicago Artist Month. If interested in partnering with a featured artist, or building your own installation, forward a prospectus to

Monday, May 26, 2008

Special Events and Cultural Affairs

Committee: Special Events and Cultural Affairs
Activism has resulted in many victories over the decades, even, for a time, beating back the Chicago "machine" in the 1980s. But the death of Mayor Harold Washington was a debilitating blow to citywide coalition action, as the temporarily dormant machine rose to fill the power void by reinstituting the patronage system and by ceding ward control to individual aldermen, thus consolidating control over major city issues.

In 2006, the DGAP sent out a citywide survey to each of Chicago's 50 aldermen. The survey asked a series of questions, that focused on seven critical areas in Chicago (Housing, Education, Economic Development and Jobs, Transportation, Environment, Criminal Justice, and Ethics and Corruption) to better understand how aldermen incorporated community interests into their decision-making; how they makes themselves available to their constituents; and what programs, policies and sevices the aldermen provide in their wards. No questions were framed concerning issues that impact cultural affairs or special events, no voting records from this committee were made available, but are public record. I'm concerned of course how this impacts cultural arts and special event planning on the West Side of Chicago.

2007 Chair: Walter Burnnett: Ward 27
2006 City Council Committee appointed aldermen
Manny Flores: Ward 1
Madeline Haithcock: Ward 2
Leslie Hairston: Ward 5
Todd Stroger: Ward 8 Did not respond to request for public information
Anthony Beale: Ward 9
John Pope: Ward 10
Theodore Thomas: Ward 15
Latasha Thomas: Ward 17
Howard Brookins Jr: Ward 21
Issac S. Carothers: Ward 29
Vi Daley: Ward 43
Thomas M. Tunney: Ward 44
Patrik J. Levar: Ward 45

Although we are reporting on individual representatives, we encourage Chicagoans to ask questions of their aldermen and their challengers that address these issues.

Developing Government Accountability to the People (DGAP

I attended the Government Accountability Conference on November 16, 2007. I'm attending a "Report Card Working Group ", so that we can put all of our fabulous minds toward creating an amazing, effective, and accessible 2009 report card (aka mid-term report). Where does the arts fall into this survey? What pressing concerns do you have for the Chicago City Council Standing Committee Special Events and Cultural Arts? The working group meets again on May 28th, send me your issue.

Who We Are
Developing Government Accountability to the People is a dynamic network comprised of a diverse group of community organizations, academic institutions, policy institutions, unions, and private foundations and concerned individuals. DGAP is building a comprehensive, just agenda to create participatory democracy in Chicago. As a collaborative effort of organizations and individuals, we hold local government accountable and seek a voice in decision making for all who are affected by the issues and problems that face our city.

What We Do
The DGAP network is building a comprehensive people’s agenda to create and preserve a participatory democratic society. We are concerned about such issues as low income housing, police accountability, education, public transportation, economic development, environment, health care, ethics, and other such social justice topics.

Together as a network we have come together to highlight these issues and identify and combat the root causes — the problems of pay-to-play politics, and the extent that patronage, financial strength, and corruption can influence the decision-making in Chicago’s neighborhoods, regardless of the desire of the neighborhood residents. Further, we are working to utilize a government accountability analysis to help in local organizing campaigns.

I Sued the City (and Won)

Who says you can't fight city hall? Not a group of north side neighbors who sued the Chicago Park District, the city of Chicago and the Latin School of Chicago over a private artificial turf soccer field being built in the heart of Lincoln Park. This facility would've given four acres of lake front over to the exclusive use to one of the wealthiest private schools in the country. We formed a group, Protect Our Parks, and raised money and hired a lawyer and raised hell. The courts agreed and the secret sweetheart deal was canceled. "Amazing victory" said the Skyline paper.

Is the park District messing with your local park? Do you live near or use Washington Park? If so - the city has promised up that park - and others across the city - to the 2016 Olympics. Putting on the Olympics would cost us a fortune and only benefit hotel owners, downtown restaurants and the construction companies who will build venues to house the over-priced events (that most of us would never be able to afford, anyhow). Take a look at the website
Field of Schemes to see how subsidies for sports stadiums is a massive rip-off and check out
2010 Watch which has been fighting and monitoring the Vancouver games for years.
Stop the privatization of our public spaces. No more back room deals that rip off the tax payer and shower freebies on private businesses!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chicago Artists' Coalition's annual Paint-a-Thon



Contact: Olga Stefan, Chicago Artists’ Coalition Executive Director, 312-781-0040

David Schmitz, Chicago Artists’ Coalition Special Events Coordinator, 312-781-0040

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Artists’ Coalition (CAC), the Midwest’s premier visual arts service organization, will hold its second annual Paint-a-Thon and Live Auction at Peter Jones Gallery and the Chicago Mosaic School, 1806 W. Cuyler, on Sunday, June 1 from 1-6 pm.

The 2008 Paint-a-Thon will feature eight distinguished guest artists and ten emerging artists creating original works of art before the general public from 1-4 pm. A live auction, led by auctioneer Andrew Lick of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, follows from 4-6 pm. All artwork created during the event will be available for purchase in the live auction.

This year’s sponsored artists have raised a minimum of $250 each in pledges on behalf of the CAC, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts service organization. But, while some fundraisers ask artists to donate all the proceeds to the organization, or their work entirely, the CAC will give back 25% to the artists as a symbol of the organization’s gratitude for their support.

This year’s invited artists include:

Brian Bonebrake is a Chicago native and proprietor of Red Trike Art Company. Bonebrake’s colorful and meticulous still-life paintings were recently featured in
the Chicago Reader.

Terry Dixon is a native of Washington D.C. and a graduate of the Atlanta College of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dixon’s paintings reflect the influence of African art, abstract expressionism, and jazz music and were recently featured in BusinessWeek magazine. Most recently, Dixon was named a “Chicago Artist to Watch,” a program initiated by the Chicago Artists’ Coalition.

David Gista studied classical fine arts at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and is part of a new generation of avant-garde French painters. Gista’s oil and acrylic paintings on traditional and bright colored cloth canvas offer a running commentary on modernity and contemporary life. Gista is represented by Darthea Speyer Gallery, which also represents legendary Chicago artists Ed Pashke and Leon Goleb.

Robert Johnson was Director of the Bureau of Art for the Chicago Public Schools and taught art at the Chicago Public Schools for more than thirty years. He has also instructed at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Johnson has exhibited at Xavier University, Loyola University Crown Center Gallery, The Beverly Art Center, and the John Blank Center for the Arts, among other venues.

Karena A. Karras is a Chicago native and a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, The Naguib School of Sculpture, and the Vogue School of Design. Primarily a painter, Karena's work also incorporates box constructions, collage and sculpture.

Didier Nolet studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Paris and has earned a national reputation as a pastel and oil painter. Nolet’s landscape works have been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Elmhurst Art Museum, Perimeter Gallery, Ann Nathan Gallery, and Concordia University, among other venues. The artist’s workshop, Didier Nolet Studio, offers instruction in pastel and oil painting techniques.

Sandra Perlow earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her colorful abstractions have been presented in solo exhibitions at Elmhurst College, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago. The artist has recently shown in group exhibitions at the Museum of New Art, Detroit, and the Indianapolis Art Center and is represented by Alfedena Gallery, Chicago.

Eleanor Spiess-Ferris has exhibited extensively throughout the Midwest and the United States. Spiess-Ferris studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of New Mexico and has been the recipient of Illinois Arts Council grants and an Arts Midwest Fellowship.

Sponsored Paint-a-Thon artists include: Nancy Bechtol, Gabriel Garcia-Fraire, David Geary, Scott Johnson, Alex Lee, Kathleen Letts, Bert Leveille, Julia Katz, Nancie King Mertz, and Julio Villagomez.

One-of-a-kind CAC T-shirts, created onsite by participating artists, will be available for sale during the event for $35 each. The CAC will also offer gift certificates towards purchase of artwork just in time for graduation and the June weddings.

The Paint-a-Thon and Live Auction are free and open to the public. Donations to the CAC will be accepted.

Please visit for more information about the event and participating artists.

Olga Stefan
Executive Director
Chicago Artists' Coalition

Friday, May 23, 2008

farmers markets & healthy living

Chicago has lots of awesome farmers markets. The North Lawndale Youth Green Farm runs a farmer’s market, from 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. every Wednesday outside of the Community Bank of Lawndale (1111 S. Homan Ave. in Chicago). The Farm-City Market Basket, which is at the Garfield Market Place, is open on Saturdays & Sundays (11 am – 5 pm) from May 26 till October 28. On a related note, you can explore an interactive map to find out what's in season at your grocery store.

A number of publications about healthy living can be found in Chicago, and Conscious Choice is an excellent magazine which can be found in stores around Chicago.

The Dill Pickle Food Co-Op is a member-owned grocery store forming in Logan Square. Their website says, "We offer healthy food choices and the benefits of cooperative practice to build a vibrant local community and more sustainable world."

The Chicago Honey Co-Op is located in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Their website says, "Our purpose is simple, to provide job training opportunities for the under-employed while operating a small business model that is dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and aims for the highest product quality standards. Owned by our members, our Chicago bee farm is home to over 100 hives."

community gardens on the West Side

Chicago is home to many community gardens. You can download a map of West Community Gardens (which includes Austin, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side, Near West Side, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, West Garfield Park, and West Town). Every year GreenNet offers Green Chicago Mini-Grants, which assist "urban gardeners working in publicly accessible green spaces with grants that fund gardening materials, supplies, and activities."

The Garfield Park Conservatory offers lots of classes throughout the year, including composting demos. GPC's next composting demo happens on Saturday, June 21 (1-3 p.m.).

bike culture in Chicago

Chicago is a pretty bike-friendly city, overall. Chicago has a lot of bike lanes around the city. Active Transit Alliance is a great organization, and Chicago is one of many cities nationwide which hosts Critical Mass events. Chicago Critical Mass' next event happens next Friday, May 30.

With gas prices going through the roof, more awareness about the importance of green culture and environmental protection, and more people becoming aware of healthy lifestyles, it seems that more and more people are biking. Chicago's "Bike the Drive," when bicyclists take over Lake Shore Drive, is happening this Sunday, May 25. Several months ago, I went to an event called "Pedestrian Hell," which included a screening of a film called "Ciclovia." Bogota, Colombia has designated one day a week on which which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic. I've heard that some people are trying to bring Ciclovia to Chicago, but I don't know when/if that initiative will go through here.

Chicago has a lot of good bicycle shops, including several places where you can go to fix and make your own bike. The Chicago Community Bike Project, in collaboration with West Town Bikes, offers classes where you can fix or build your own bike. In Hyde Park, the Blackstone Bicycle Works offers classes. Their website says BBW is "a not-for-profit after school and summer program aimed at providing local youth with a safe space to learn practical skills about bikes and the basics of entrepreneurial success."

There are still dangers to bicycling. Ghost bikes are memorials for bikers who have been killed on the road. Yesterday The Chicago Tribune ran a story about ghost bikes. Ghost bikes are roadside memorials for bicyclists who have died in car accidents. Two years ago The City of Chicago started "Safe Streets Chicago," which is an excellent initiative.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Murphy Hill Gallery

2nd Annual Flower, Nature and Landscape
May 22 - June 28, 2008

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that Murphy Hill Gallery
is presenting its 2nd Annual Flower, Nature and Landscape Show.
This Expo Event will start May 22 thru June 28,2008 M-W by Appointment &
Th-Sa 10am -5pm. Our opening reception is Saturday, May 24, 2008 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

We are conveniently located on the 3rd floor of the Historic Sears and Roebuck's building, 3333 W. Arthington Ave (Homan Square) Chicago, IL 60624. Location is four blocks south of the Eisenhower (290 W) on Homan parallel to Garfield Park Conservatory. Gallery space is 10,000 square feet.

Monday, May 19, 2008

KO (Knock Off) Enterprises

Carol Frances Lung is currently the guest artist for the Phantom Gallery Chicago Network.

KO (knock off) Enterprises is a multi-national organization for the efforts to stop shopping, start sewing! The subsidiary companies of KO Enterprises are Sewing Rebellion, KO Manufacturing and the Synchronized Sewing Squad. Frau Fiber, CEO uses this Labor Formula: Labor (X) Geographical Location's Wage Scale (China, Mexico, Taiwan) (=) Cost of White-Collar Uniform.

KO Enterprises is supported by Gallery 400's At the Edge: innovative art in Chicago series, which commissions four new projects from Chicago area artists annually. Carol Lung's project is supported by At the Edge, which develops experimental projects that might not find support elsewhere. Gallery 400 is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, and a grant from the Illinois Arts council, a state agency; and Daryl Gerber Stokois and Jeff Stokois Voices Series. Carol Lung is also supported by an Emergency Grant from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Three Walls, Phantom Gallery, 1315 N. Western LLC, and Living Room Realty.

Sunday, May 18, 12-4 pm: KO Enterprises' White-collar shirt knock off instruction @ the Sewing Rebellion at Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Ave., Chicago.

KO Enterprise Productions Sites:
Monday, May 19, 9 am – 4:30 pm: Disassembly Manufacturing Location 3: Unite at Uniform Pants (333 South Ashland Ave., Chicago).

Tuesday, May 20 - Thursday, May 22, 8am-7pm: Disassembly Manufacturing Location 2: Suit Pants and Jacket (1513 N. Western @ North, #102, Chicago).

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNNITY TO TRY ON THE WHITE COLLAR UNIFORM AT THE MANUFACTURER'S SAMPLE SALE! The white-collar uniforms will be for sale priced on a geographical sliding scale.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Fast, March and Pray" events this summer

"Fast, March and Pray" events will be happening in North Lawndale on the second and fourth Saturdays, this summer. Participating organizations are Hope House Ministry, CeaseFire, CAPS, LCDC, Celestial Ministries, local churches and organizations, area block clubs, and the people of the Lawndale community. Fast, March and Pray is intended to let the community know that the aforementioned organizations and the people in the community are committed to praying and standing up against the violence in North Lawndale.

Fast, March and Pray will begin at these locations, beginning at 1 p.m. on the following dates:
May 24th - Lawndale Community Church
June 14th – Lawndale Christian Reform Church
June 28th - Greater Galilee M.B. Church
July 12th - St. Agatha’s
July 26th - Brotherly Love M.B. Church
August 9th – Greater Progressive M.B.
August 23rd - location TBA
September 13th - location TBA

For more info, please call Hope House Ministry (3827 W. Ogden Ave.) at 773.762.6387.

I Know What You Did

Anthony Irons is an actor/playwright who lives in East Garfield Park. Currently he is in a production called "I Know What You Did Last Election," which is running at Second City.

The show was conceived, directed, and 90% written by Anthony Irons, and the performers are Nichole Green, Crystal Hallendy, Scott Morehead and Anthony Irons. It pokes fun at the current presidential race, but also weaves in some very pointed and controversial topics, rarely (if ever) put onstage. Imagine Public Enemy doing SNL and you're pretty close to I Know What You Did Last Election.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Switching Station Artist Lofts

Switching Station Artist Lofts is where several dozen artists live. SSAL is at the southeast corner of Madison & Homan Avenues, in East Garfield Park. SSAL hosts several art gallery openings and other events throughout the year. SSAL even has its own myspace page.

Chicago has a lot of artist living & studio spaces, and the City of Chicago hosts an annual Creative Chicago Expo. Artspace USA created SSAL, and it continues to provide funding for SSAL. There are close to two dozen Artspace properties nationwide, and about a dozen more are under construction.

arts projects in gardens

Over the past several years a number of arts projects have appeared in gardens throughout Chicago. The Chicago Park District has a web page that highlights some art-themed shows that could be seen in gardens. That page was posted back in 2004, so some more recent installations can be found out in Chicagoland.

Here's a good article about the "Niki in the Garden" show that happened at the Garfield Park Conservatory show last year.

Further out in the Chicagoland burbs / north side, the Morton Arboretum and the Chicago Botanic Garden always have some kind of art mixed in with their foliage & flowers -- sculptures & installations. Last year the Morton Arboretum had a Patrick Dougherty installation called "Xanadu," which was pretty funky and quirky. Although it was called "Xanadu," it felt / looked more like a twigs & branches Hobbit mansion.

Suzanne Hanney's article entitled "Chicago West-Siders Work Toward Dream" provides a good overview of some history related to West Side property, and some projects that people are working on.

Back in Chicago proper, "100 Projects for Peace / Lot(s): Maypole Garden" is an interesting initiative which is one of many initiatives geared toward beautifying Chicago neighborhoods.

Alpha Bruton is a talented artist / educator / curator who lives in Chicago's West Side. Among her many creative projects are art installations in urban gardens. One trademark element of these projects are "Vibration Keys." She has directed projects that can be found in the Switching Station Artist Lofts backyard, at Jacob Beidler School/Community Garden, and other locations.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Last year the Garfield Park Conservatory had a number of excellent events, including jazz & blues concerts. It looks like they have lined up more great events for this summer.

Phantom Gallery Chicago Network

The Phantom Gallery Chicago are temporary art exhibits in vacant storefronts. They provide opportunities for artists to exhibit their artwork while fostering economic development. The Phantom Gallery Chicago Creative Alliances: A Continuum explores how artists work together, create community and develop partnerships and collaborations to accomplish their goals.