Street Smart Chicago

Checkerboard City: Hittin’ (Up) the Bong

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green No Comments »
Photo: John Greenfield

Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

I like to think of myself as a gonzo transportation journalist, the Hunter S. Thompson of pedestrian, transit and bike writing. After all, I’m the guy who wrote the book “Bars Across America: Drinking and Biking From Coast to Coast.” But I steer clear of drunk cycling, and I’ve had little experience with illegal mind-altering substances on my car-free road trips. One bicycle journey I took from Kansas City to St. Louis along the Katy Trail did end in a psychedelic mishap, but that’s a tale for another day.

However, I had a smokin’ good time in late August on a train-and-bike excursion to Richard Bong State Recreation Area in southeast Wisconsin. It was the latest of several fun excursions I’ve done this summer, taking advantage of Chicago’s status as the nation’s railroad hub, with great Amtrak access, plus convenient commuter rail service via Metra and the South Shore Line.

Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Dense Thinking

Checkerboard City, City Life, Green, Lakeview, Logan Square No Comments »
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The 1611 West Division building has 99 units but zero parking for residents./Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Believe it or not, back in the early nineties, ex-mayor Richard M. Daley was planning to tear out an entire branch of the El system. “The Lake Street branch of what’s now the Green Line had terrible slow zones and you could almost walk to Oak Park faster,” recalls Jacky Grimshaw, the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s vice president for policy. “The mayor and the CTA president wanted to take it down.”

Grimshaw says this moment of crisis was the birth of Chicago’s transit-oriented development (TOD) movement, a push to create dense, parking-light housing and retail near rapid-transit stations in order to reduce car dependency. CNT and the West Side community organization Bethel New Life teamed up to present the CTA with a plan for TOD near the Lake/Pulaski stop, but it fell on deaf ears. Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza’s Green Street: The Official Guide to the Festival’s Face of Social Responsibility 2015

Events, Green No Comments »

For Newcity’s coverage of the music of Lollapalooza, click here.

Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza

Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza

Excitement is in the air. Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park this year from July 31 to August 2 featuring a lineup highlighted by Metallica, Paul McCartney and more.

The festival hosts 142 musical acts on eight stages and 100,000 fans and promises to be a weekend for everyone to remember.

Smackdab in the heart of the festivities, Green Street holds true to all of the Festival’s core values of social responsibility and environmental stewardship. It is home to a curated art market, activations by non-profit organizations, farm-to-festival fare, and environmental efforts.

Mosey on by in-between sets to shop the Greet Street Art Market where you’ll find treasures ranging from music inspired paintings to upcycled accessories and ethically traded international artwork.  

Swing by the Lolla Farmers Market to enjoy small-batch, homegrown Chicago flavors and hob-knob with the locally sourced vendors while satisfying your conscious cravings! Read the rest of this entry »

Waste Not: How Lollapalooza Handles Its Trash

Events, Green No Comments »
Rock & Recycle/Photo: Lollapalooza

Rock & Recycle/Photo: Lollapalooza

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street

By Brian Hieggelke

Like every major event in Grant Park, Lollapalooza patrons generate tons of waste. We’ve always been impressed, though, by how earnestly Lollapalooza works to mitigate its impact on the park, and the environment in general, by on-site initiatives as well as the larger emphasis on social causes that the Lolla Cares section of Green Street promotes. We corresponded by email with Alysha N. Hernández, who oversees environmental initiatives for the festival, about this topic.

With so many festival goers spending three days in Grant Park, eating and drinking as well as listening to music, Lollapalooza must generate tons of garbage. 
The Festival has many diversion efforts in place to keep waste out of the landfill. Grant Park is cherished by Lollapalooza and its festival producers, C3 Presents. In 2014, for example, our waste diversion efforts at the festival resulted in 131 tons of recycled or composted material thanks to fans and staff. Lollapalooza works hard to keep Grant Park and the planet healthy and enjoyable for generations to come. We also work to engage the patrons to join in the act, so it’s a two-pronged waste diversion approach… .the festival producers and the patrons. The success of the recycling and composting programs requires participation from everyone! Read the rest of this entry »

What Makes Lollapalooza Green 2015

Events, Green No Comments »

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Waste Diversion
Waste diversion is aggressively practiced both backstage and front-of-house with an incentive program for fans called Rock & Recycle. Hundreds of recycling bins, composting stations in the picnic areas, and a team of hired professionals and dedicated Love Hope Strength Foundation Ambassadors support the effort to divert waste in a huge way. Please help divert waste from the landfill by selecting the correct bin before tossing your waste. You can also reduce your waste by refilling your water container at one of the five CamelBak Filling Stations. Over the past five years, Lollapalooza fans poured enough water to fill over 1.4 million water bottles!

Rock & Recycle Program
Rock out, recycle, and get rewarded with a free collectible Lollapalooza 2015 t-shirt! You can also earn a chance to win a new bike for some eco-friendly transportation around town or 2016 Festival tickets! Feel free to mail a card by Recycled Paper Greetings to a special someone you are missing at the show.

Visit one of the four Rock & Recycle centers throughout the park for more details! Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Green Street 2015: Art Market

Events, Green No Comments »
Photo: Lollapalooza

Photo: Lollapalooza

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street 

The Art Market vendors, located in Green Street North and South, sell repurposed or ethically sourced goods. Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Green Street 2015: Farmers Market

Events, Green No Comments »
Photo: Lollapalooza

Photo: Lollapalooza

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street

Lolla Farmers Market, located north of Green Street, features small-batch food businesses from the Chicago area. Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Green Street 2015: Lolla Cares

Events, Green No Comments »
Photo: Lollapalooza

Photo: Lollapalooza

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street

Lolla Cares organizations, located in Green Street North and South, support surrounding and international communities with causes ranging from health advocacy to sustainable living to fighting poverty at home and abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: The Case of the Missing People Spots

Andersonville, Architecture, Checkerboard City, Green No Comments »
Brian Bonanno, in baseball cap, and contractors reinstall the Farragut People Spot. Photo: John Greenfield

Brian Bonanno, in ballcap, and contractors reinstall the Farragut People Spot./Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

As the Tribune’s Blair Kamin recently pointed out, it’s embarrassing that San Francisco will soon have more than eighty “parklets”—parking-lane space repurposed as picturesque seating areas—while our much-larger city only has a handful of them. Dubbed “People Spots” by the Chicago Department of Transportation, which runs the program, eight of these have been put in on business districts in Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Lakeview and Andersonville.

The beauty of parklets is that they take asphalt that’s usually reserved for warehousing private automobiles and transform it into attractive, planter-enclosed public space where neighbors and shoppers can congregate. The People Spot nicknamed “The Wave” at Addison and Southport in Lakeview is practically public art—its undulating, freeform seating units are both comfy and reminiscent of whale skeletons.

A study by Metropolitan Planning Council found that, since People Spots encourage people to linger on Chicago’s retail strips, they’re a shot in the arm for local businesses. Eighty percent of merchants surveyed felt nearby parklets helped attract customers to their establishments. Seventy-three percent of parklet users said that, if they weren’t eating, chatting, texting or relaxing in the spaces, they’d probably be at home. Thirty-four percent of them said they made spontaneous food or beverage purchases as a result of the inviting hangout space. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: A Taxing Woman

Checkerboard City, Green, Politics, Transit 2 Comments »
Cook County president Toni Preckwinkle and CNT vice president Jacky Grimshaw. Photo: CNT

Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle and CNT vice president Jacky Grimshaw/Photo: CNT

Back in 2010, when Toni Preckwinkle was running against incumbent Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, she successfully used Stroger’s one-cent sales tax hike as a campaign issue, going as far as to make an ad with a Benjamin Franklin impersonator. “I used to teach my history students about Ben Franklin,” said Preckwinkle, a former high school teacher, in the spot. “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

After she was elected, Preckwinkle rolled back the sales tax to the current 9.25-percent rate. As president, she’s generally been credited with improving the efficiency of the county government and cutting costs, avoiding the allegations of patronage and incompetence that hounded Stroger.

However, to address pension obligations, Preckwinkle is now calling for a return to the higher county sales tax. In response, a Crain’s magazine cartoonist recently portrayed her as a mad scientist crying, “It’s alive!” as the 10.25-percent tax rises from the operating table like Frankenstein’s monster.

There’s a saying in politics, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Accordingly, The Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance are using this moment when the Cook County commissioners may vote for a tax hike to promote their Transit Future funding campaign. They’re asking the commissioners to simultaneously create a dedicated revenue stream for public transportation infrastructure in the county. CNT vice president of policy Jacky Grimshaw explained the reasoning behind this new push. Read the rest of this entry »