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Saturday, 08 August 2009 00:14

By Christopher Pratt

A dose of property-owner-pooled money will allow two artists and 75

youth to leave a long-lasting imprint on the Glenwood Avenue Arts

For six weeks this summer, Dustin Harris and Lea Pinsky, teamed up
with youth from the Howard Area Community Center to paint a 330-foot
long mural.

The mural theme, connecting origins to destinations, flows north from

Estes, and then south to Greenleaf Avenue. The once-barren concrete wall along the CTA Red Line is now
emblazoned in color, and has become the latest chapter in Rogers Park public-arts history.

“These kids learned a lot, also about patience, and taking time, and the value of slow, steady work,” said
Pinsky, an East Rogers Park artist, who like her partner, and husband, has a background working with youth.

According to Carolyn Read, most kids involved with the mural project live in Rogers Park, and attend Gale
and Jordan Public Schools. Read, the Youth Program Director at Howard Area, said the lead artists conveyed
positive messages to youth that are too often dismissed by their communities.

“Let’s not joke around, people think a lot of kids in this community are just causing trouble,” said Read.

Pinsky said, the youth, ages eight to 13, would come running toward the mural on some days, because they
were so eager to paint. “It was a special day for them when they would come here,” she added.

The youth were normally stationed at Gale school. However, this project was different, because they could be
supervised in the community, pressing China Chip paintbrushes, molding mosaics and listening to Michael
Jackson on a boom box.

Kimberly Bares, Executive Director of the Rogers Park Business Alliance, formerly Dev-Corp North, says that
after seeking community input, the mural project was considered a worthwhile investment of property tax
dollars. The mural, and other community projects are funded through Special Service Areas, a taxing
mechanism that lets key organizations choose how some business district property taxes are disbursed.
Bares’ organization heads the local SSA.

Bares says the grant was $36,000. She says it is a good investment, despite the economic downturn. She
says the mural project fit within the community’s long-term plan to make a home for the arts on Glenwood

Pinsky and Harris conducted research for the mural at the Rogers
Park/West Ridge Historical Society. That background aided the artists
and the kids throughout the first week of design. The wall was primed
during the second week, and the last four weeks were devoted to

Images of Native Americans, immigrants, forests and Lake Michigan

were all painted in bright, warm colors. The project was a chance for the
kids to learn about history, painting and planning. Interspersed between
the characters are one word mosaics that read and emphasize the idea,
“reveal roots to respect.”

The artists are still putting the final strokes on the mural, and one of the last steps will be applying Nova
paint to the mural. Harris says that bad winters pose a challenge for preservation. He says the high quality,
acrylic paint, will hopefully maintain the mural for 10 to 15 years.

The duo plans to have the mural completed for the Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest that begins on Friday, August

Photo Information:

Top - Artist, Lea Pinsky and Howard Area Youth Program participants collaborate on a new public art mural
Bottom - Artist, Dustin Harris and Howard Area Youth Program participants designing the new mural
Credit: Dustin Harris/Lea Pinsky
More Volunteers Needed To Patch Social Safety
July 27, 2009
By Chicagotalks
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By Christopher Pratt of The Urban Coaster
July 27, 2009 – More than 800 people per month are being served by a Rogers Park food
bank, a number that has doubled since last summer, and an already busy crew of volunteers
and human-services workers will be asked to give more time to provide for those in need.

Photo by Amanda Schwengel

“Primarily, the food bank is a volunteer operation,” says Monica Dillon, a Registered Nurse who
works at the Howard Area Community Center and oversees operations there. Volunteers are the
backbone of the food bank and are responsible for bagging donated food, ensuring adequate storage,
filling out paperwork and greeting volunteers. If there is a shortage of volunteers, agency staff fills the

Dillon says, any time that staff spends doing work normally done by volunteers takes away from the
critical work they have been trained to do.

She has worked in public health for 20 years and the last few months have been a “zoo” at the food
bank. “It’s been hard to keep the shelves full,” says Dillon, as she multi-tasks throughout the morning,
making copies, thanking volunteers and processing future food orders.
“This time last year we were serving 350, at the most 400 people.”

This month, on Monday and Thursday mornings, more than 800 people were expected to get a bag of
groceries from the food bank located at 7648 North Paulina St. On a recent Monday morning, 32
people signed their names on a clipboard in order to get some canned green beans, hamburger patties,
pancake mix, Ramen noodles and maybe some fresh fruit.

More than 70 new people were expected to sign in four days later. Food-bank patrons are only
supposed to come once per month.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a household is considered food insecure if
one or more members was hungry at some time during the year because the household couldn’t afford
enough food. A government study released last week found that 12.4 million children, or 17 percent of
all children in the United States, live in food-insecure households.

The report, “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009” was released by the
Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. It measured a cross-section of government
data, but only through 2007, and does not shed light on how the food insecure are coping with the
most recent economic downturn.

Dillon says, “It used to be the cyclically poor, mentally ill and developmentally disabled” who sought
help from the food bank. With the state’s unemployment rate above 10 percent, she has begun to see
changes in those seeking assistance in recent months.

That change in the food bank demographic reveals itself in the shy smile of Kathryn Chlapcik, who
politely greets guests. She’s warm, friendly and courteous.

One could envision her doing something similar at a Starbucks or Wal-Mart. As the phone rings and
the different languages and tongues of Rogers Parkers fill the food bank with chatter, Chlapcik
politely offers Danishes to those waiting for a brown bag.

Chlapcik says she was an interior designer, but has fallen on hard times in the current economy. “I
started coming here for food, and just started volunteering.”

The agency, she says, “basically just needed a traffic cop and information person.”

Bob Dolgan, a spokesman for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which provides food to 600 area
food banks, soup kitchens and food shelters, says there is some anecdotal proof that more food-bank
patrons are looking to be volunteers.

Dolgan says that his group has seen a 35 percent increase in demand for food compared to last year,
and that they will distribute more than 58 million pounds of food this year.

Dillon says anyone interested in volunteering at the Howard Area food pantry is encouraged and

Those interested in volunteering should contact Monica Dillon by phone at 1-773-262-6622, or by

e-mail at mdillon@howardarea.org. Donations of fresh produce, deodorant, toothpaste and laundry
detergent are also requested.

Food pantries are set up to serve residents by zip code. Those in need of food, or wanting to find their
designated food bank, should call the Greater Chicago Food Depository at 773-247-FOOD (3663), or
they can visit them online at the Web site: www.chicagofoodbank.org.


Tags: Food bank, Food Stuff, Hunger Relief, North Side

This entry was posted on July 27, 2009 at 3:49 am and is filed under Community Concerns. You can follow any responses to
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Friday, 10 July 2009 20:12
By Christopher Pratt

Friends of the Park and other bike trail advocates believe a lake-front path
extension would help satisfy architect Daniel Burnham’s Plan for Chicago,
but the idea is meeting resistance from condo owners and others in Rogers
Park who see it as a threat to the way they access the beach.

This year marks the centennial celebration of the Burnham plan, which was
published by the Commercial Club of Chicago, and various civic and media
organizations are commemorating the occasion.

The proposal comes after a series of meetings last year where Rogers Park community groups discussed
issues of preservation and the neighborhood’s quiet beachfront character. The Four Mile Plan would construct
new parkland with landfill along the shoreline from Ardmore Avenue all the way north to Juneway Terrace.

Many cyclists are in favor of the path because for more than two miles they have to steer through the busy
streets of Edgewater and Rogers Park if they wish to remain on the city’s designated trail to Evanston.

Friends of the Park President Erma Tranter said that the plan released last month reflects what the
community wanted. “Our plan did recognize that they didn’t want much.” Tranter added that the lake-front
trail is, “very minimalist.”

Tranter says her organization conducted a survey that concluded Rogers Park had approximately 60,000
park-poor residents, which means that for every 1,000 residents there are less than two acres of park space.

A trail would be built by moving land along the shoreline. A similar construction effort was used when Lake
Shore Drive and a part of Northwestern’s Evanston campus was expanded. No property owners would be
forced to move under the current plan.

It’s debatable whether or not Burnham’s initial plan should allow for the city to alter the definitive character
of the quaint beaches of Rogers Park. Burnham scholar and architecture professor Dr. Kristen Schaffer says
that Friends of the Park’s use of language like “Burnham’s mandate” might be overstating the former resident
of Evanston’s call for a continuous lake-front park.

Schaffer, who wrote the foreword to the 1993 re-release of the Burnham Plan, says the initial Plan for
Chicago was Burnham’s vision for the city looking 50 years ahead. She said that the plan was filled with good
ideas and was something to aspire to. “The spirit of the plan,” observed Schaffer is one that says, “We know
we will have to change.”

Tranter says the plan was for a completely public lakefront, and that the 1973 Lake Michigan and Chicago
Lakefront Protection Ordinance is the reason for such a mandate.

Schaffer, the North Carolina state professor, says legislation surrounding use of seashore is complex in
interpreting questions about eminent domain. She says that Burnham himself once had issues with the city’s
idea to build a road to Evanston.

Although FOTP contends that the proposed lake-front bike path would increase public access to Lake
Michigan, Rogers Park condo owners don’t want to see their quiet beachfronts transformed into a public trail.
John Andrus, the president of Andrus Realty Group Inc. and manager of Jarvis on the Lake at 1206 W. Jarvis
says, “I’m a cyclist and I love bike paths, but I would think that would be a really big negative if it were to

Andrus manages a 92-unit condo building that backs up to Lake Michigan. On a typical summer afternoon its
private beach gives residents a chance to sunbathe and grill out without having to balance the claustrophobic
conditions and noise that might squelch the novelty of such an experience at public beaches to the south.

A couple of rock skips away from the wrought iron gates of Jarvis on the Lake people had mostly positive
opinions about a continuous bike trail.

James Coccitti, a casual bicyclist strolling through Loyola Park, said balancing the public and private interest
was difficult. He said he understood how condo owners might be upset by the proposed trail. “It’s a tough
one,” said Coccitti. He also said that a bike path would benefit everyone and it would be good for the

Also out at Loyola Park was Franklin Rubow, who sat on a playground with his adopted dog Waffles, a yellow
lab. “It’s like a toss-up,” he said.

The 35-year-old electrician said that he liked that in Rogers Park, unlike Lincoln Park, you didn’t have to cross
Lake Shore [Drive] to get to the beach.”

Erma Tranter says that Friends of the Park first wants to get 140 acres of property near Iroquois Landing on
the South Side into park district hands, a step that Tranter says would cost nothing.

She says that the Chicago Park District owns a majority of riparian rights along the lake. But at some point
people with riparian rights would have to be compensated for the Four Mile Plan to become reality.

John Andrus says Jarvis on the Lake doesn’t hold riparian rights. He says that his real estate experience leads
him to believe that a bike trail wouldn’t bring up the local property value.

He says a trail might increase trespassing by people looking for public restrooms, an issue that condo
residents have already been dealing with.

For Rogers Park, a community constantly being redefined by new immigrants, students and transplants the
debate about interpreting Burnham is likely to persist far past the centennial celebration.

Photo Information: Chicagoans James Coccitti and Maria Simmons with their bikes at Loyola Beach (Credit:
Christopher Pratt)

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