Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot launch Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

By Daniel Patton, April 2, 2020


The City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the broader philanthropic community are teaming up to provide financial assistance to artists, artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.

Launched April 1, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund (AIRF) is a statewide initiative that began accepting grant applications “for artists, artisans and cultural organizations” April 1,  according to a press release from the Mayor’s office. Funded by public and private sources, it has received $4 million in commitments to date.

“The arts and cultural community is deeply embedded in the fabric of Chicago. Our cultural institutions – from the one-room artist studio to the 1,500-seat theater – employ artists, back office staff, ushers, curators, ticket takers and others,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman. “Many artists supplement their work by providing arts education in our schools. All of these individuals contribute to the City’s vibrant arts and cultural sector, which has been temporarily halted.” 

Eligible disciplines include dance, film & media arts, interdisciplinary, literary arts, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts and design. To learn more about how individuals as well as organizations can receive funding, visit

AIRF financial contributors to date include the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCASE), Walder Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and more than a dozen additional funders. 

The effort’s ongoing fundraising activities will be co-chaired by First Lady MK Pritzker and First Lady Amy Eshleman, with support from other civic leaders, according to the release. Individuals, corporations and charitable foundations are encouraged to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund by visiting

Rick Bayless, Chicago chefs help feed laid-off restaurant workers

By Daniel Patton, April 1, 2020


Rick Bayless is converting an anonymous $250,000 donation into relief for restaurant workers enduring the hardships of the COVID-19 crisis. He announced the effort in a Facebook video posted yesterday.

“Weeks ago, when all the restaurants were shuttered, suddenly tens of thousands of restaurant workers were literally just put out,” he said. “They were all laid off.”

Bayless is the award-winning, Chicago-based chef, author and media personality who owns and operates some of the city’s most popular eateries, including Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Red O. After explaining how the people who make Chicago’s “favorite food” are among “the most vulnerable,” he described a unique initiative to support them during the stay-at-home order.



Twice a week the group builds 400 “beautiful boxes to distribute,” he said. “Very beautiful food: fresh vegetables, meat, bread, eggs. All the stuff that could make a really good meal, which is great because most restaurant workers know how to cook.”

After loading the containers with donations from the US Food service, Bayless and a consortium of Chicago chefs distribute them to the Windy City’s laid off restaurant workers.

The title of the post referenced an anonymous $250,000 donation that, so far, has remained anonymous. Text accompanying the video listed items that the monetary gift will be used for. Among them:

  • Buying US Foods by the truckload.
  • Hiring 15 aid-off restaurant workers to sort grocery boxes.
  • Distributing groceries to employees at Frontera Grill restaurants.
  • Partnering with chefs throughout Chicago to pick up grocery boxes for their staff.



Second City goes live online via Zoom

By Daniel Patton, April 1, 2020


Chicago’s Second City will soon deliver its award-winning humor to homes around the world, according to a news release. At 7 p.m. on April 2, the famed 60-year-old Chicago institution will begin live-streaming entertainment, education and business content directly to virtual audiences online via the video conferencing app, Zoom.

The program will kick off with “Improv House Party,” an interactive performance featuring “co-quarantined pairs (who) convene digitally to improvise their hearts out in this wild west of comedy streaming live from everyone’s bunker.” Second City cast members starring in the performance will connect, engage, and accept suggestions from the virtual audience during the show.

To register for the Zoom show, click here.


See how well our work translates
According to The Second City CEO and executive producer Andrew Alexander, the institution’s renowned methodology is a perfect fit for modern technology.  

“It’s incredible to see how well our work translates to this platform,” he said. “There are so many people who have yet to experience The Second City, and it’s so rewarding to our talent and staff to get back to work online and give the world a taste of what we do.”

Vice President of Production Jen Hoyt agreed.

“We don’t know when we’ll be able to welcome an audience back into our theaters, so we’ve had to improvise on a whole new scale,” she said. “We can actually offer audiences at home live, interactive performances featuring the world’s best improvisers.”

The events will be streamed for free, but donations will be accepted to The Second City Alumni Fund, a resource for performers and other members of The Second City community experiencing critical health and financial challenges, according to the release.

For more information about The Second City, including The Second City Training Center and Second City Works, click here. Follow The Second City on social media for information on future shows: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at


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Governor Pritzker extends stay-at-home order through April

March 31, 2020


Illinois’ current stay-at-home order will be extended through the month of April to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

The proclamation was made by Governor JB Pritzker during his daily #COVID19 briefing on March 31. It adds a month to the original order that he issued on March 20.

“I have let the science guide our decisions and I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers, from the greatest institutions in the world whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none,” he said. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation — but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limit. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”

The extension also applies to the temporary statewide closure of all K-12 schools that the governor ordered on March 13, two days before he announced a prohibition on in-person dining in restaurants throughout the state.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — whose efforts to combat the virus include closing the city’s lakefront and launching a plan to house the infected in hotel rooms — acknowledged the hardship of the order while expressing her support for the governor’s actions.

“This may not be the measure that we like, but it is the measure we all need to combat the deadly and growing COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.”The City of Chicago fully supports Governor Pritzker’s bold and necessary extension of the Stay at Home Order, and stands ready to partner with the State and our health officials as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead in safeguarding our residents. We will get through this crisis together and I want to thank all those who have been doing their part.”

Chicago launches bold plan to curb spread of COVID-19


Downtown Chicago’s lakefront and parks closed
When sunny spring weather caused crowds to gather on the lakefront, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered that the lakefront, beaches, parks and the 606 be closed March 27 for an unspecified time to curb the spread of coronavirus. Chicago police patrolled the area to clear crowds and some areas have been fenced off.


Window washing essential
Spring window washing is going ahead as planned in the neighborhood. Window washing crews have been observed by residents at several buildings in New Eastside including 155 N. Harbor Dr. and 201 Westshore Dr. in New Eastside, causing residents to hastily draw their blinds.


COVID-19 in New Eastside
In March, cases of COVID-19 rose in New Eastside. Cases COVID-19 have been reported in the Prudential, Aon Center, Aqua and Lancaster buildings. Building managers sent notification of reported cases to tenants and residents via emails.


Chicago Park District Programs go online
Chicago Park District is bringing the fun to you. Children’s storytimes, make a baby Yoda art project, and video tips on how to keep your house squeaky clean while burning calories are coming to you online via the Chicago Park District Programs website. Visit for a list of their offerings: from bingo boards for download to virtual meditation and ballet videos.


Chicagoans come together in sing-alongs
Throughout the stay-at-home order, Chicagoans have found a way to cheer themselves up. Sing-alongs organized via social media platforms have filled the air with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” which drew 8,200 virtual attendees and likely more at the actual event on their balconies and at their windows at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. The event caught the attention of Jon Bon Jovi himself, who dedicated an Instagram post to the city, “I am with you with all my heart and my soul, sending my love to everybody in Chicago and across America.”

The radio station 97.1 The Drive put together their own sing-along of the National Anthem and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” March 27. A singalong, especially for kids took place, Sunday March 29 at 5p.m. with a chorus of “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen.”

These events tend to pop up sporadically and at last minute notice. To take part in upcoming singalongs, please follow New Eastside News’ Facebook page, where we will be reposting the events as they are announced. 


2020 election wrap-up
Democrats claiming victory after the 2020 Illinois Primary elections include incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin, who will run against Republican challenger Mark Curran in the November general election. Incumbent State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will face Republican challenger Patrick O’Brien. Incumbent Rep. Danny K. Davis will run against Republican Craig Cameron for the Seventh District, which includes New Eastside, Streeterville and the West Loop.


New Eastside and Streeterville political races to watch
Unless a challenger emerges, incumbent State Sen. Robert Peters will run unopposed in the race for Senate District 13, which includes Streeterville and everything east of Columbus Dr. in New Eastside. The same holds true for incumbent Kambium Buckner, who won the primary for House District 26. Lamont Robinson ran unopposed and won the primary for State House District 5, which includes everything west of Columbus Dr. in New Eastside, all of River North, and the eastern half of the Loop.


City suspends late fees on parking tickets and more
On March 18, Mayor Lightfoot announced that the city has initiated several “hold-harmless policies” to ease the burden caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, Chicago will stop charging late fees on payment plans, utility bills, parking tickets, red-light citations, booting and other violations. “This is a common sense way that we can help mitigate the burdens and pressures many are feeling,” Lightfoot said. “We know that these practices disproportionately impact the residents that are most in need during this crisis.” The policies will remain in effect until April 30.


City rents hotel rooms for people with coronavirus
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said certain people who test positive for coronavirus or are awaiting test results would be housed in hotel rooms rented by the city beginning March 23. The measure will apply to those “who cannot safely return home (but) do not need hospital care.” At the time of the announcement, the city had already reached agreements with local hotels to provide more than 1,000 rooms for those “exposed to or mildly ill with COVID-19.” According to the Chicago Tribune, the program could expand to include up to 4,000 hotel rooms costing nearly $175 per night, and the expense will be covered by “federal funds and other potential sources.”


How to give back in the neighborhood
In a recent email newsletter, Alderman Reilly thanked the community for their enquiries into how to give back locally in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. There are many ways to help.

  • CPS teachers or childcare providers are welcome to sign up with Sittercity. Sittercity will match sitters to care for children of first responders and healthcare workers, as both are welcome to access the site for free. Visit for more information.
  • CPS nurses or healthcare providers, including retired healthcare workers and those with out-of-state medical licenses, can sign up for the Illinois Medical Reserve Program. The IMRS is in need of volunteers to help support the healthcare field at this time. For more information, visit
  • The country is also in a blood donation shortage and the Red Cross is asking for more donations. If you are eligible, visit
  • For those who are unable to leave their homes or food insecure, there are several Chicago organizations that could use help and donations. One of which is Greater Chicago Food Depository. They are looking for volunteers ages 18-60 at
  • Please keep in mind if you have exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus or come into contact with someone who has exhibited symptoms or been diagnosed in the last 14 days, you should stay at home and not locally volunteer. For more information visit


Deals on Divvy
It’s a good time to get a deal on Divvy. To help ease the burden of Illinois’ stay-at-home order, the City of Chicago has arranged a deal to reduce the cost of renting Divvy bikes. The cost of an annual Divvy membership has been reduced 50% — from $99 to $49.50 —The “steeply” discounted memberships are available through April 30, 2020.

Other two-wheeled measures include reducing the regular $3 cost of 30-minute Divvy bike rentals by 66%, which comes out to a dollar for a half hour.

“Chicago is committed to ensuring reliable and accessible transportation for every neighborhood and community,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a press release, “We are taking every measure possible to provide the pricing support needed to keep our residents mobile and our city moving forward.” Divvy is also launching a 30-day program to give critical healthcare workers free bikeshare rides.


Local grocery stores enact dedicated hours for senior citizens
Seniors, and those with underlying medical conditions, are at the most risk for serious coronavirus complications, according to the CDC. To make essential trips to the grocery store and pharmacy easier for those individuals that are most at-risk, local stores have enacted senior-specific hours.

  • Whole Foods, 255 E. Grand: Those 60 and up can begin shopping at 7a.m., before the store officially opens at 8a.m.
  • Whole Foods, 30 W. Huron: Those 60 and up can begin shopping at 8a.m, before the store officially opens at 9a.m.
  • Target, 401 E. Illinois St.: Each Wednesday, the first hour of shopping is dedicated to seniors and those with underlying health concerns. 7-8a.m.
  • Mariano’s, 333 E. Benton Pl.: 6-8a.m. is reserved for senior citizens and those with underlying health concerns.
  • Jewel-Osco, 550 N. State St., For seniors and those with underlying health concerns, priority will be given on Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-9a.m.
  • Walgreens: 8-9a.m. on Tuesdays is senior shopping hour.


CTA, Metra help to ease COVID-19 burden
Starting on March 24, The Chicago Transit Authority offered partial credit to customers who purchased fare cards but were unable to use them due to the coronavirus.

“A one-time credit,” according to a CTA press release, applies to “any remaining days left on an active 7- or 30-day pass.” In other words, a person who purchased a 7-day pass but only used it for one day would be credited with six days of “Transit Value” that would be “added to the cardholder’s Ventra account.”

The CTA also offered reassurance that it will continue operations during the stay-at-home order. Medical personnel also get free rides at this time.


McCormick Place transforms into makeshift hospital
Plans are underway to turn McCormick Place into a 3000 bed makeshift hospital to treat coronavirus patients by April 24. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing kits help transform several exhibition halls in the facility into a temporary medical site.


Northwestern Memorial Hospital restricts visitors
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 there is a new no-visitor restriction at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. According to the hospital’s website, visitors are not allowed in all in-patient and out-patient care sites with the following expectations:

  • Pediatric patients under the age of 18 (limited to one visitor/companion 18 or older)
  • Neonatal ICU patients (limited to two visitors 18 or older, one at a time)
  • Compassionate care, including pastoral care visits and end-of-life patients (limited to one visitor 18 or older)
  • Laboring mothers (limited to one visitor 18 or older)
  • Patients requiring transportation home after an ED visit or outpatient visit or procedure (limited to one visitor/companion 18 or older)
  • In these exceptional cases patients and visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 or flu before being admitted.

Neighborhood restaurants still cooking through the ban

By Stephanie Racine, Elisa Shoenberger, and Daniel Patton


The Chicago culinary community is not taking a backseat during the restaurant shutdown. With Illinois’ shelter-in-place order planned through April 7, local restaurants have had to alter their methods of feeding the community.


Volare Ristorante is a great friend to have

Benvenuto “Benny” Siddu, owner of popular Streeterville eatery Volare Ristorante Italiano, is responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis by helping others.

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Benvenuto “Benny” Siddu, owner of Volare Ristorante Italiano

“Twice a week, we donate food for 50 people at the Ronald McDonald House,” he said. “We are not allowed to go in, but we drop it off and we do whatever they need.”

Helping the Ronald McDonald House, which supports the families of children who are hospitalized, is just the beginning of Siddu’s generosity. He is also doing everything possible to retain the staff that has helped his restaurant thrive for 23 years.

“We’ve got 120 employees,” he continued. “Yesterday, everybody came to pick up their check, and we offered to feed them all.” When the restaurant order is lifted, he hopes to “have a general meeting with the entire staff and hopefully compensate them for the time that they have taken off.”

Located at the intersection of E. Grand Ave. and St. Clair St., Volare has become renowned for an extensive menu that includes traditional pasta, robust chops, gilled calamari, and spaghetti and meatballs. Siddu, who was born in Italy, says that his favorite dish is the linguine with zuppa di pesce — linguine with fish soup.

Besides serving its full menu every day, Volare has also increased the size of its pasta dishes for the duration of the in-person order. “We do 16-ounce portions,” he said. “That’s a one-and-a-half order.” The restaurant also plans to repeat a half-priced special on steaks that ran last week and sold out the entree.

And if Viddu is available when the food is ready, he’ll make the delivery in person.

“The neighborhood has been more than gracious to us,” he explains.  “They have made me who I am today, and I love what I do.”

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Entrees from Volare Ristorante Italiano

To place an order, call (312) 410-9900 or visit


Sweet Mandy B’s still baking away

Business at the Streeterville bakery has been “pretty solid with online delivery” during the in-person restaurant ban, according to, Assistant Manager Laura Amelang.

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“We have temporarily reduced staff, but we look forward to being fully staffed when things get back to normal,” she explained. “We had to figure out a lot of changes very quickly because we had just opened when the in-person prohibition was issued.”

Amelang says that the most popular items are the cupcakes, with red velvet, peanut butter chocolate, lemon among the favorites, but she likes the confetti best. There is also a big demand for birthday cakes.

To order, visit any time between 10 a.m. 5 p.m., when the last online order is taken. Customers have until 6 p.m. to pick up their goodies.


Miki’s Park open for takeout & delivery

Calling itself “a Korean bar with Seoul,” the new River North restaurant located at 109 W. Hubbard opened up just in time to greet the in-person dining ban, but that hasn’t stopped it from cooking away.

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“We are currently doing a carry out and we are available on caviar,” said Chris Johnson.

He remained in high spirits while speaking with New Eastside News on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. “We are all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that sooner than later we can be open again. I’m spending 13 hours a day at this takeout window on a street that’s usually really busy, and there’s not a soul on it right now.”

The takeout menu is available every day from 11a.m.-11p.m. To order, visit


Cupitol Coffee & Eatery working as a team

Owner Sellia Georges thanks her staff for being adaptable and rolling with the tide. “Everyone is working more as a team now,” said Georges, “My barista is helping run food, or my food runner is making a smoothie”

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Georges has retained employees who relied on Cupitol as their sole job, and is hoping to re-hire everyone back when this is over.

But customers are being generous with tips, and new people are ordering for delivery services and pickup at their 455 E. Illinois location. Coffee and all of the morning sandwiches seem to be the most popular orders, according to Georges.

Cupitol is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for delivery and pick-up. Visit, to place an order.

Commuters, residents, and visitors carry on in crisis mode

By Daniel Patton


Two weeks after President Trump declared a national health emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago appeared rather desolate on a foggy Friday afternoon. But some people were out and about, carrying on almost as if everything were normal. Almost.

New Eastside News hit the pavement to see how commuters, residents, and visitors are getting by during the crisis.


Lynn and Elizabeth (Lizzy) Brahin, New Eastside

New Eastside residents Lynn and her daughter Elizabeth (Lizzy) were enjoying an outdoor lunch in Streeterville when they graciously paused to explain how the pandemic has affected their lives.

Lynn, a Corcoran Urban Real Estate broker, is mostly showing houses through virtual tours to accommodate the stay-at-home order, a process that she believes may ultimately prove to be beneficial for the industry. “Buyers will become much more informed,” she explained. “Back in the day, it would take a long time to visit several properties.”

When the order is lifted, she looks forward to enjoying the intimacy of companionship once again. “That in-person, eye-to-eye, human contact is so much different than anything else,” she said. “It’s priceless.”

Lizzy is a junior high school student at Walter Payton College Prep who has been studying at home due to the statewide school closure. But the thing is, she really doesn’t have to study at all. “You can do the assigments to improve your grade,” she explained. “But not doing them will not make your grade worse.”

Walter Payton also cancelled a school trip to San Francisco, where Lizzy was scheduled to participate in the Knowledge at Wharton High School Investment Competition with the economics and investment team. “We submitted a 14-page report tailored to the needs of a particular client,” Lizzy said. “She’s a mother, a businesswoman, and the CEO of a multi-million dollar venture capital company who graduated from Wharton.” After graduation from Walter Payton, Lizzy plans to attend college and study economics, of course.


David and Jill Newton, Streeterville

The Newtons wore their optimism well as they prepared to make an unplanned exit from Chicago, where they have spent the past year residing in Streeterville. Since the native Englanders lived as Windy City residents during a previous two-year stint, they have found many things to love about the city.

David, who has been working at home since Kraft Heinz closed its offices in the AON Building three weeks ago, rearranged his retirement so that he and his wife could spend time with their children back near Liverpool. “I had a month of celebrations for me retiring all planned, but none of that’s happening now,” he said. “We want to get back and see our kids and be close to them at this time.” But he will miss “getting on the lakefront” as well as “Kingston Mines and the Green Mill and the jazz clubs and Andy’s and all the different things.”

Jill will miss the theatres, museums, opera, and symphony. “It’s just a great place to live and I hope that things will return to normal before too long and it will be the great city that it is,” she said.


Erin Matsumura, East Lakeview

Personal trainer and dog-walker Erin was strolling near the Columbus Avenue Bridge with a six-month old boxer named Mia when she explained how the stay-at-home era has helped her realize that, “simplicity is maybe the way to go.”

“Everything I thought I needed, I don’t,” she said. “I’m actually pretty much a minimalist anyways, but I mean, you know, buying day-to-day things you think you need or things you think you need to do, you really don’t.”

With so many businesses closed for the same reason, some of her clients have reached the same conclusion. “People are home, so a lot of them don’t need their dogs walked,” she continued. “It’s not like it used to be.” Since gyms are also closed, fitness has taken on a do-it-yourself necessity as well. But Erin offered suggestions for exercising at home. “Go easy and get dialed in with the basic movements,” she said. “Just move — walking, stretching, you know, your basics. If you want to dance, dance. Whatever. Anything to move.”


Susan (last name withheld), downtown

A retiree who is “very involved with the performing arts,” Susan was accustomed to going out “every night” until the health crisis came along. Now she spends her days with a new friend.

“I have this dog to take care of as long as we’re sheltering in place,” she explained. “His name is Oreo, which makes no sense because he’s not black and white at all.”

Susan decided to foster Oreo after Mayor Lightfoot closed all the bars and restaurants in Chicago. “I realized that if I was going to be home all the time, I could get a dog,” she recalled. When she’s not walking the dog, Susan checks out the free concerts that The Metropolitan Opera streams every day. It’s not the same as the live performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle that she intended to attend before it got cancelled, but she said, “it’s really generous of them.”

Oreo has been adopted by a Missouri family, but that’s on hold “because of what we’re dealing with right now.” Same goes for his favorite places to walk — the Riverwalk and the lakefront — but he and Susan still manage to get out about four times every day.


Thoa Le, Viet Nam

Vietnamese medical student Thoa Le came to Chicago for a cardiology conference but ended up sightseeing when it got cancelled. She was disappointed to learn that Millennium Park was closed, but understood the reason. “Every store and market in Viet Nam had to close at least 14 days,” she said. “The pandemic is dangerous and it can cross borders without a visa.”

What’s most important right now?

By Jon Cohn, April 1, 2020


I am a coach, so competition is always running through my mind even during these difficult times. I started to think of the items that are the most necessary while I am hunkered down at home. I started playing a game.

I thought of all the essentials. I started with hand sanitizers, books, paper towels and TV News updates.

Then kept at it: going for a walk, Netflix and Amazon Prime, alcoholic beverages, chicken breasts (man are they hard to find these days), sleep and rest, toilet paper, house cleaning, family discussions, the computer, board games and even mental toughness and resilience.

That was my “sweet sixteen.” But I wanted to know which is number one? What is most vital?

After some intense deliberations and difficult eliminations I cut the list in half. What survived were news updates, Netflix/Amazon Prime, books, toilet paper, hand sanitizers, going for a walk and mental toughness and resilience.

I still wanted to narrow it down to just one.

After an extremely painful back and forth, the final four: hand sanitizers, news updates, toilet paper and mental toughness remained. I felt bad about losing my books and especially “going for a walk,” but something had to give.

Still, to get down to one wasn’t easy. In the end, sorry news updates, I will miss you (maybe), and sorry hand sanitizer, you were so hard to find and now I have lost you again.

But I brought it down to the final two: mental toughness aka resilience or toilet paper. The logic, the sentiment, the morality play here would be for mental toughness. Good-ness knows in the coming weeks we will need this.

But I couldn’t stop the momentum of toilet paper. The sheer practicality of it all. It’s gaining popularity. It was a close and intense battle, but bottom line? Toilet paper wiped out the competition.

Some two months ago toilet paper was a mere afterthought. An easy to get resource that we all took for granted. How times have changed. The previously disregarded TP stood out as champion. The king of essential home items. Standing atop the world and looking down on all of us who may have looked down on it.

Lesson learned, TP, and no hard feelings. Won’t ever take you for granted again.

John Cohn is a New Eastside resident.


Doorperson of the month: Nicholas Watts, Marina City

By Mat Cohen, April 1, 2020


Nicholas Watts is a firm believer in human decency. He displays it everyday at Marina City, and that’s one of the reasons he’s the New Eastside Doorperson of the Month.

Nicholas Watts

Despite being new to Marina City, he’s been in the security industry for nearly 25 years and in the residential sector for 15.

“When I found out residential security was a thing, I knew I really enjoy being around people,” he said. “So I’ve been doing it for the last 15 years or so.”

Members of the community have made a strong impact on Watts during the year he has spent working at the towers. Among them is a woman named Barb who helped make the transition into the new role easier for him.

“I’m a firm believer that human decency still exists,” he said. “We walk around, and everyone is attached to their devices, and there’s an overall lack of common courtesy, a lack of human decency.

“So to meet someone that would rather have a human interaction, you don’t get that too often anymore. She was always very friendly, she made the adjustment very easy.”

Watts tries to spread the same kindness that Barb showed him into the building everyday. When Barb’s cat died, he helped make arrangements to give her one less thing to worry about, which may seem like a small task, but for Nick, it was easy to do.

“More people should do things like that,” he said. “If you’re able to get someone else through their day, you don’t know what they’re going through. It could mean nothing to you, but mean the world to someone else.

“It doesn’t cost anything to just be a decent person.”

Watts lives with his wife and two daughters, Kendall and Kylie, who are 17 and 11 years old. He commutes from Dunning each day, and loves the historic community he’s able to serve.

“As a Chicagoan, it’s a part of Chicago, who wouldn’t want to work here,” he said. “This is who I am and this is what I do. I believe in human decency and I believe more people should.”

New Eastside resident makes offer to help

By Daniel Patton


New Eastside resident Karin Long has added a unique voice to the ongoing dialogue about the current national health crisis: she’s offering to help. Whether it is fetching groceries, waiting in line at the pharmacy, or completing some other small task, the Loyola law student recently posted her commitment to “getting those essentials for people who can’t get them” on the neighborhood app NextDoor.

Karin Long

After reading her offer, people responded with “a massive outpouring of shock and gratitude for what seems to me to be a very normal response to the crisis.”

“I got like a hundred replies,” she exclaims. “But only one person took me up on my offer.”

So she picked up some groceries for a fellow resident.

The gesture helped solve a problem very similar to the one that inspired her to get involved in the first place. “My grandmother, who lives in Indiana, needed someone to go to like four different stores to find toilet paper,” she says.

It also reinforces her desire to change the conversation.   

“I saw a lot of people shouting online about being scared and telling others what to do,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘what kind of action could I take to help take care of our little corner of the earth and help out your neighbors?’”

Now Long is willing and ready to help with additional requests, and she’s got suggestions for those who are unsure about what to ask.

“I would love it if moms would say, ‘I’m homeschooling my kids could you just get us groceries,’” she says. “Because if you’re working from home and you have kids, you have to practically homeschool them now.”

Besides helping on an individual level, she hopes the effort will affect some change on a larger scale.

“You hear all these stories from World War II of people pulling together to get through the tragedy,” she explains. “I hope my generation can do something similar.”

But first and foremost, it’s all about the little things. For our readers who could use a hand, Karin can be reached via

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