The Columbia Chronicle

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E-cards take the burn out of STD notification

By Ashley Badgley

February 9, 2009

When a person finds out he or she has an STD and wants to inform past sexual partners they may have been infected, the conversation can be awkward. But the Chicago Department of Public Health has partnered with a website called InSpot to alleviate some of that discomfort with STD notification e-cards.InSpot was originally created in California in 2004 as a response to an increase in STDs among gay men, said Dr. William Wong ...

Major changes to come for local transit

By Bethany Reinhart

February 9, 2009

The Regional Transportation Authority hopes that the $500 million to $600 million expected from a federal economic stimulus plan will help fund a much needed capital infrastructure plan that will focus on renovating and modernizing the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace by replacing old rail cars, improving rail lines and purchasing new hybrid buses.Discussion about pending transit improvements was in full swing by 8:30 ...

Exploring Chicago’s black history

By Kelly Rix

February 9, 2009

Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Harold Washington are all well-known black Chicagoans. But what about John Baptiste Point DuSable, Ida B. Wells or Oscar Stanton De Priest? How many know their stories?The contributions of black Americans like these are part of what makes Chicago's black history so important. DuSable was the first non-Indian settler in Chicago, Wells was an early Civil Rights leader, journalist and anti-lynch...

Composting in the city

By Ashley Badgley

February 9, 2009

Composting in Chicago may not seem relevant in the winter months, but it’s happening everywhere, according to several composting groups. Many people living in tiny apartments only have house plants to raise oxygen levels, but they can reuse their organic waste the same way a suburban household would.Urban composting is a major focus for Chicago Home Composting, a University of Illinois extension program. The group consist...

Children’s Place goes beyond borders

By Sean Stillmaker

February 9, 2009

As the rate of diagnosis for HIV and AIDS has decreased in Chicago, the Children’s Place Association decided to focus their efforts overseas to be more effective.The Children’s Place Association is a nonprofit organization that, for the past 18 years, has been treating Chicago children and their families who are infected with HIV. When it began, it was the only residential care center for children in the region.Children...

 

AUTHENTICITY

February 9, 2009

Each of Chicago’s many neighborhoods represents a community of culture, history and individuality within the city, contributing distinct pieces to a larger metropolitan puzzle.This is one of those neighborhoods.Years ago, Chicago prevailed as the meatpacking district of the world. During the early 1900s, cattle could be seen in the alleyways of urban streets as they were herded up wooden ramps and into the brick interior of slaughterhouses. As slabs of meat dangled from suspended hooks, workers cluttered the blood-soaked floors with knives in hand. Out of these buildings emerged large packages wrapped in brown paper that were stacked, one on top of the other, as they were prepared to be shipped out to local butcher shops and wholesalers.Back then, Chicago was known as the “hog butcher for the world.”Today, forklifts can still be seen emerging from the plastic-stripped doorways that are tucked back in gloomy alleyways as they haul packaged meat and bulk cans of tomatoes and other produce. Large trucks congest the streets and uneven sidewalks as they load and unload carts stacked with frozen meat and cheeses to supply the city’s restaurants. Marked by a true urban grit and grime—a history of the meatpacking industryas told through Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle—still lingers, and a faint smell of grease and factory steam still permeates the air as a reminder.This is Chicago’s West Loop.A remarkable transformation over the past five to 10 years has served as a reinvention for this once-uninhabitable area. As the weekdays come to an end, 7 p.m. marks the commencement of Friday night, the trucks begin to trickle out of the streets as twentysomethings in dresses and button-down shirts take their place.The neighborhood once occupied by workers and ill-fated hogs has seen a renaissance of sorts, as contemporary art galleries and swanky restaurants have popped up alongside abandoned factories and warehouses, and sit nestled underneath rumbling train tracks. The area is now marked by an offbeat sophistication with its glamour-meets-grunge take to urban living that shares a resemblance to New York’s SoHo village.“There is a totally different atmosphere here in the West Loop, [more] than any other part of the city,” said Martha Goldstein, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization and resident of the neighborhood. “There is a certain energy that draws in artists and younger generations because of its edginess.”According to the West Loop Community Organization’s website, there are more than 30 galleries along the streets of West Fulton Market and West Washington Boulevard. Galleries like Thomas McCormick Gallery, 835 W. Washington Blvd.; Function + Art, 1046 W. Fulton Market; and WOMspace, 845 W. Fulton Market, have all paved the way for the art district of the West Loop with their soaring ceilings anchored in aged brick columns and white walls dotted with odd experimental art installations.The Function + Art Gallery, which specializes in contemporary studio furniture, has been a part of the West Loop art district for six years, founder Scott Patria said. Patria said much of the West Loop’s emerging art scene appeal comes from its affordability and unique energy.“The West Loop is a little funkier than other areas and comes off as being rough around the edges,” Patria said. “The artwork here is more interesting and more risk-taking.”Looking back at the six years since Function + Art first established itself on West Fulton Market, the West Loop and its art scene have conjointly come a long way.Although the abandoned buildings remain with the names of meatpacking companies still faintly painted over the red brick walls, there is a sense things have changed and will continue to progress.When Patria and other artists first set up shop in the neighborhood, the area was much rougher. But the large appeal that drew in both residents and gallery owners came from the cheap space, which allowed artists to own their spaces outright and have the freedom to take creative risks with their gallery displays.The abstract and bizarre sculptural styles of Darrin Hallowell at the Thomas McCormick Gallery, which appeared in a previous exhibit, becomes an example of the ambitious experimentation the art district in the West Loop has adopted. A pile of rusty red clay formed in the shapes of different human hands sits on the wooden floor of the gallery, and in the next room, life-sized figures of the human body are molded out of clay and eerily laid flat on the floor as the only objects in the room.Goldstein said the neighborhood is more residential at this point, being comprised mostly of condominiums and lofts, art galleries and restaurants. The convenient location to the heart of Chicago’s downtown has attracted a younger crowd to the West Loop as they settle into the renovated factory-turned-loft-style apartments. The accessibility that the neighborhood has to nearby expressways has also brought in families and couples from the suburbs as the area gives an urban feel without the stress of the hustle and bustle that comes with it.There is still a need for development within the West Loop in order for it to embrace the lacking retail side, Goldstein said.“Right now we are about 60 percent there in where we want the West Loop to ultimately be,” Goldstein said. “There is still a lot of growing to do, but that’s what makes it such an interesting place.”

City pushes light bulb recylcing

By Mandy Treccia

February 2, 2009

Chicago's lack of recycling facilities may become an issue as more people start using energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs.Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, became popular over the past few years as residents try making the switch to more energy efficient behaviors. The CFL bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 years longer, acc...

Parking meters start fee increase

By Mandy Treccia

February 2, 2009

Motorists parking in Chicago have reached the end of a small grace period—parking meter rates will start to rise this month.The increased rate is part of the city’s deal reached on Dec. 4 to privatize the parking meters. The Chicago City Council approved the 75-year, $1.2 billion private lease with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC in a 40-5 vote to fix a gap in the city’s budget.Under the new plan, metered parking spots in ...

Scientologists seek spot in South Loop

By Kelly Rix

February 2, 2009

The Church of Scientology is hoping to establish a new religious center in the South Loop but first must overcome zoning challenges and neighborhood concerns.The church has already purchased property at 650 S. Clark St., but has been unable to obtain a permit to develop the building, which is currently zoned as DX-12, a downtown mixed-use district.The church is asking to change the zoning classification to DX-10, which is a...

South Loop high school to get new facility

By Sean Stillmaker

February 2, 2009

As citizens rally against the closing of some Chicago Public Schools, community members of the South Loop gathered to discuss a new school building for Jones College Prep on Jan. 26.But plans for the new high school building are officially on hold from the Chicago Board of Education, said South Loop local school council chairman Tom Kubiak.When the hold is lifted, the new building is to be constructed on already acquired va...

 

Homeward Bound No Longer

January 26, 2009

The recent economic crisis is affecting more than just humans-many pets are falling victim to hard times because their owners can no longer afford to care for them.In the past three months, Chicago Anim...

Obama’s call to service has effect back home

By Kelly Rix

January 26, 2009

President Barack Obama, arguably the world's most famous former community organizer, has called on all Americans to give up a little of their time to help others in need.This recent call to action came into full force on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19, when Obama asked Americans to spend their day off of work or school serving their communities in honor of the revered civil rights leader."[For Martin Luther King Jr. Day] ...

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