Rentable electric scooters come to city’s west side

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Angela Gagnon

Electric scooters arrived in Chicago June 15 as part of a pilot program that will run through Oct. 15. After the trial period, the city intends to assess feedback before making decisions regarding the program. 

The scooters are provided from 10 different companies including Lyft and Uber and number in the thousands. The shared scooters are limited to a 50-square mile-test area on the west side, which omits the downtown area including the Loop and Lakefront Path because there are already many transportation options there. 

“Scooters are an environmentally friendly alternative to car travel that can provide increased transportation access for residents throughout the city,” said Isaac Reichman, Policy Analyst for the City of Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). “Those wary of the plan should understand that this is a short-term, limited pilot designed to test scooters as a viable transportation option. We welcome feedback from all residents.”

Things to know about the new shared electric scooters:

  • Scooters are limited to 15 mph
  • They cannot  not be ridden on the sidewalks
  • They operate from 5 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • They must be removed from the public way by the vendors
  • The cost is typically $1 to unlock the scooters  and .15 cents per mile
  • Helmets may be provided by some vendors but are not required. Users are advised to bring their own helmets
  • Scooters will slow and shut down if riders attempt to ride outside the designated boundaries

Concerns include safety, congestion and scooters left haphazardly on the streets. 

“Users should ride scooters in the same manner as they would a bike. This means avoiding the sidewalk and sticking to the bike lanes,” Reichman said. “We will be monitoring utilization and sidewalk clutter closely to understand the impact of this mobility option.” 

“I think it’s fantastic.” said Chicago resident Mike Hayes, who recently checked out the electric scooters in the West Loop. “It’s a great way to move around the city if you aren’t going far.”

“I’ve been hearing a lot of good things and want to try it out,” added resident Jeremy Hayes. “It’s a fast ride, and you can just use the Uber app.” 

For New Eastside and downtown residents concerned about the possibility of electric scooters coming to the Lakefront, Reichman adds, “Any decision about the future of scooters in Chicago will wait until after the pilot is completed. We will be evaluating the performance of the companies and the impact of the scooters on residents and users before making any decisions on what will come next.”

Cookie DŌ pop up comes to Navy Pier

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Angela Gagnon – Staff Writer

New York’s popular edible cookie dough has come to Chicago. 

Cookie DŌ Confections set up a small stand at the base of the Navy Pier Ferris wheel so Chicagoans and visitors can enjoytry some of the most popular edible cookie dough treats this summer through Labor Day. 

Ryan Manley, a filmmaker from Atlanta, wanted to check out the trending treat in New York, and he was pleasantly surprised to find the pop up Cookie DŌ kiosk at Navy Pier while visiting Chicago to see “Hamilton.” 

“It’s really good,” exclaimed Manley said. “I thought it would be small, but it’s very filling. I’m glad I got to try it here.”

The abbreviated menu features the famed raw Cookie DŌ, cookie dough ice cream, cookie sandwiches and ice cream “SanDos.” 

“We use a pasteurized egg product and a heat-treated ready-to-eat flour which make all of our desserts safe to consume just as they are— – unbaked,” said founder Kristen Tomlan said. 

Cookie DŌ ships nationwide., To purchase so if anyone wants more flavors outside of what is served at the pop up, visit cookiedonyc.com. 

The Cookie DŌ pop up at Navy Pier is open Sundays- – Thursdays from 10 a.m.- – 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-midnight – 12 a.m., weather permitting. They accept cards only. 

Sticking with the queen of tape

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Anna Dominguez is the queen of tape. It’s a self-proclaimed monicker but it’s also something she can back up. 

Not video tape nor audio tape. Sticky tape. The sort of stuff people use to seal packages and paint walls. She is a tape artist; at once the inventor of a medium and a leader in the Chicago arts scene. 

Dominguez, a Gold Coast resident, has a piece displayed in the St. Jane Hotel in New Eastside. St. Jane owner Carrie Meghie said she’s glad to work with local talent. 

“We are thrilled to support an up and coming artist who is unique, innovative and extremely talented,” Meghie said. 

This is the second work Meghie’s bought from Dominguez. 

“I first saw Anna’s work when she created a piece for me and my husband for our charity (the Jackson Chance Foundation) a few years ago,” Meghie said. “I was impressed, not only by her talent and creativity, but also by her generosity to create such a special piece for us personally. When selecting the artists to work with at St. Jane, she immediately came to mind.”

Dominguez has been creating art since she was a girl. Following graduation from the arts program at Dominican University, she delved into the tape designs—a style she invented. 

“It’s really cool to see that this has become a form of art,” she said. “A lot of us that create with tape call it ‘tape art’ and I refer to my work as ‘tapings.’ When I started this nine years ago, no one was doing what I was doing as far as I know. In the last two years it’s really picked up as a form of art and more people are creating with tape now.”

Dominguez focuses on sports figures, most recently the tennis champion Serena Williams, with the kinetic energy illustrated with various shades and textures of different tape.

“I’m a huge sports fan and athlete myself,” she said. “To me sports and my art relate so much. It’s like you work towards this goal, it’s grueling sometimes, you laugh, cry, mentally push through some of your biggest obstacles. In a way, art is both physically and mentally enduring for me like sports. I could be up for 21 hours straight working on a piece I’m really into and it does take a toll on your body. But a lot of it is mental for me. At the end you find out all the hard work you’ve put into that one piece was worth every emotion and physical obstacle you’ve hit.”

To check out her work, visit www.queenoftape.com. 

Bridgehouse Museum continues to welcome visitors, despite Riverwalk construction

(Published June 19, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Though the main Riverwalk entrance to the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum is shuttered as city workers renovate that space, the museum is open and busy planning for an upcoming cruise fundraiser.

The cruise is June 26 and the boat ride offers a unique voyage on the Chicago River.

“It’s unlike any other tour,” Coles said. “We go places where other tours typically don’t go. We go all the way to Damon Avenue on the south branch.”

The Bridgehouse Museum celebrates the history of Chicago’s bridgehouses—the small offices once used to manually raise and lower the city’s drawbridges—as well as the history of the Chicago River. Aside from the museum, many of the bridgehouses are now closed and unused.

The museum, at the northern corner of Columbus Drive and upper Wacker, is only open during the spring, summer and early fall. Museum director Josh Coles said, despite the construction, he’s happy with attendance so far this year. He even praised the work on the Riverwalk, which he said will improve the exterior space.

“They are expanding the plaza space,” he said. “They’re going to add two large long planters full of native plants. It should be good.”

Inside the museum, Coles said the organization continues to welcome locals and tourists with a robust schedule of river-related events through the summer.

“In July and August we do a speaker series,” he said.

The free series will kick off July 8 and run from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. xperts will talk on a variety of topics, from the history of the area to the ecology of the river.

“We have all kinds of great people who know a lot about river-related issues,” Coles said. “Also, in late June, we have our annual fundraiser for the museum and it’s a summer cruise.”

Tickets are $85 for a single or $155 for two tickets, available online at bridgehousemuseum.org.

In September, the Bridgehouse Museum will offer a temporary exhibit, The Tender House project, which imagines the potential use of the other bridgehouses in Chicago.

The Bridgehouse Museum is open Fridays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. The museum is closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

‘Divercity,’ a storytelling event featuring people with disabilities, to be held June 21—23

(Published June 21, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

New Eastside resident Tekki Lomnicki, the founder of Tellin’ Tales Theatre, announced the annual “Divercity” performance will be held June 21 through 23 at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston.

The shows feature individuals with disabilities telling stories about their disabilities. There are seven performers—including Lomnicki—in this year’s lineup.

Lomnicki founded Tellin’ Tales in 1996 as a way to help people with disabilities communicate their stories with others.

“We give adults with physical and emotional disabilities such as bipolar disorder and depression a chance to tell their stories and be on stage,” she said. “There aren’t enough actors with disabilities on stage.”

The fundraiser for the Tellin’ Tales Theatre, which offers storytelling classes for people with disabilities,includes performers from New Eastside as well as from the whole of Chicagoland.

“Telling our stories is the best connection we have to people,” Lomnicki said. Lomnicki also stages the stories so actors with disabilities can perform the scenes while the storyteller performs on stage.

The stories are personal. Lomnicki  said one performer, Linda Bannon, has no arms, and her son, 12, was also born without arms.

“She told her son, ‘you just have to push through this,’” Lomnicki said.

Other stories are humorous. Lomnicki said one storyteller has cerebral palsy and has slurred speech as part of his disability.

“He has problems going to bars because bouncers think he’s drunk and so he’s like, ‘this is just the way I talk,’” she said.

She said her free storytelling classes are so popular among the community of disabled people, she has to limit students to two years in a row in order to make room for new students. Besides a chance to get on stage, the classes allow students to constructively criticize others in the class.

“What’s really neat is people in the classes give feedback to each other,” she said. This helps students develop their own stories, as well as helping others.

Tickets, available at tellintales.org, are $20 or $15 for students and people with disabilities. Anyone interested in signing up for a course next year can email Lomnicki at tellintalestheatre@gmail.com.

Lomnicki said the theater company accepts donations at their website, tellintales.org and after June 25 the group will have a crowdfunding fundraiser at 3Arts.org/projects.

Mt. Joy, Rayland Baxter open Millennium Park free concert series

(Published June 12)

By Bob Oswald

Kicking off the Millennium Park Summer Music Series, indie rockers Mt. Joy are looking forward to the June 13 show at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

“It feels like we have played in Chicago as much as anywhere else in the country,” singer Matt Quinn said. “It is truly one of our favorite places in the world.”

The California band, with origins in Philadelphia, built up an online following after the release of the song “Astrovan.”

“We had an EP written and just felt good about ‘Astrovan’ so decided to throw it on Spotify first,” Quinn said. “It got added to a couple of playlists and performed really well and the whole thing kind of snowballed. It was surreal. It put us in a position to build out the band, quit our day jobs, tour and write.”

And then they hit the road.

“We have toured pretty continuously for the past two years,” he said. 

“It has been an amazing experience. I think we have all grown so much as musicians, but I am probably most proud of how close we are as a group.”

Quinn said the constant travel takes a toll so it’s important to have a strong support system.

“It’s a crazy ride and it’s so much fun,” he said. “The highs are some of the best times of our lives, but there’s really no way to live like this without people taking care of each other.”

The group, made up of Quinn, his Philadelphia high school buddy Sam Cooper, Michael Byrnes, Sotiris Eliopoulos and Jackie Miclau, released their self-titled debut album last year.

“I’m proud of the first record,” Quinn said. “It was recorded extremely modestly and made a lot of beautiful things happen.”

But Quinn said there are parts of the album he would change.

“That’s where the live show becomes important,” he said. “A lot of the songs on the record are played pretty differently live, which keeps us sane.”

And Quinn is bringing that energy to the city.

“Every time we play [in Chicago] the shows are memorable,” he said. “It’s a city that cares deeply about music, and there’s obviously an amazing amount of history to support that.”

Also performing Thursday will be country singer and Nashville native Rayland Baxter.

The Millennium Park Summer Music Series lineup

All shows are free and begin at 6:30 p.m., according to City of Chicago.

Thursday, June 13

Mt. Joy

Rayland Baxter

Monday, June 17

Cory Henry and the Funk Aposties

Liniker e os Caramelows

Monday, June 24

Chucho Valdes & Jazz Bata

Fareed Haque + Casseus

Thursday, June 27

Flora Cash

Susto

Monday, July 1

Car Seat Headrest

Naked Giants

Monday, July 8

Brent Cobb

Lydia Loveless

Thursday, July 18

Orchestral Interpretations of J Dilla–Directed by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson

Kenny Keys

Thursday, July 25

Los Amigos Invisibles

City of the Sun

Monday, July 29

Rev. Sekou

Cha Wa

Monday, Aug. 5

Love Love Love – Chicago Celebrates the Music of Donny Hathaway

Thursday, Aug. 15

Jupiter & Okwess

Noura Mint Seymali

For information, visit chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park9.html

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois remind residents to plan now for extreme weather

(Published June 4, 2019)

For the News

From tornadoes to hurricanes to floods, Illinois is now in extreme weather season and to be safe, it pays to prepare now for weather emergencies

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) would like to offer a few tips to help residents prepare for the weather.

First, follow this top 10 list of things to put in any weather preparedness kit.

1. Nonperishable food (three days’ worth for each person)

2. Water (one gallon per person, for at least three days)

3. First aid kit (include bandages, pain relievers, prescription medications)

4. Flashlights and/or lanterns, and extra batteries

5. Portable battery charger for devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets)

6. Tarps, waterproof tape

7. Multi-tool with wrench to turn off utilities

8. Cash

9. Copies of critical information (e.g. insurance cards, identification, bank account)

10.Any special supplies for children (diapers, games, etc.) and pets

It seems extreme weather is the new normal for our planet. With very little warning, families must face the devastating effects of floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. People may lose their homes, jobs, possessions, and even family members’ lives during these disasters. The last thing they should have to worry about is if they have their prescription medications, eyeglasses or insurance cards.

Fortunately, when Blue Cross Blue Shield members need them, the Seasons of Life team members are there to help. Blue Cross Blue Shield customer advocates proactively call members in declared disaster areas to check in and help them do the things they cannot easily do in times of crisis – replacing insurance ID cards, refilling lost prescriptions or accessing in-network doctors if the member or their doctor is displaced. They also can arrange for members to participate in a virtual visit with a health professional.

In 2018, the Seasons of Life  program reached out to 18,663 members during disasters. To find out more about the program, visit their website, bcbsil.com.

Animals and beer mix during Lincoln Park Zoo’s ‘Craft Brews’

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Lincoln Park Zoo will host beer lovers after hours for its annual Craft Brews at the Zoo event.

The June 14-15 gathering is set to include more than 70 breweries, offering 150 different beers from across the state, amid 200 breeds of animals at the zoo. The event runs 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and go to $79, with premium tickets allowing access 30 minutes prior to the official opening.

According to the zoo’s director of events Josh Rupp, it’s also a great opportunity to see the animals after hours.

Most buildings and grounds will be accessible to guests as they try various beers,” Rupp said. “This is a limited capacity, after-hours event at the zoo so your experience will likely be much different than that of a normal summer afternoon during the day – with the 21 and over age restriction. Plus there is a wide assortment of beer!”

For the zoo, this is more than a beer festival—it’s a fundraiser. Rupp said the zoo is free and open to the public, so this event is important to maintain that.

“When you attend events at Lincoln Park Zoo, you support state-of-the-art animal care and worldwide conservation, and help keep the zoo free and open every day of the year,” he said.

And when it comes to beer festivals around Chicago, Rupp said this one is different.

“What is most unique about this beer festival is the venue,” he said. “Lincoln Park Zoo offers an incredible space to travel through the gorgeous gardens, explore animal buildings and even get the opportunity to interact with our Learning team through several different programmed chats.”

Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2200 N. Cannon Drive. Get tickets at lpzoo.org.

Urban Living – Urban Giving focuses on community, giving back, making a difference

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Urban Real Estate

New Eastside real estate brokerage Urban Real Estate has continued to grow and expand its areas of giving through its “Urban Living — Urban Giving” initiative. In May, the Urban team proudly spent the day cooking lunch for families staying at the Streeterville Ronald McDonald House (RMH).

“There is no greater gift than being able to bring even the smallest sense of joy to families away from their homes, their lives, and dealing with the heartbreak of a sick child,” said Matt Farrell, a managing partner with Urban Real Estate. “We all felt privileged to spend time with these incredible families, along with the staff and volunteers, who run an awe-inspiring operation.”

Organizations or groups can request to sign-up for an RMH near them, along with the meal they wish to prepare, hosting around 60 people for lunch, and more for dinner, depending on the weather and the schedules of patient’s families. The Urban team had the opportunity to take a tour of the facilities, bringing awareness of all that RMH has to offer to the many coming from across the map.

Michael Emery, senior partner, believes every local group should make the commitment and get involved. “Our team wanted to do something meaningful and impactful. As brokers who help people find homes, we also have a duty to make a difference in the communities we serve. The RMH in our own backyard is deserving of every resource that can be sent its way.”

“The Urban Living — Urban Giving initiative is a reminder that one of our core values is giving back where we live, work, and play. As a partner in our community, we have every intent to continue to make a difference in any way we can, and hope we inspire others to do the same. The New Eastside and surrounding downtown neighborhoods have been pinnacle to our success,” adds Farrell. “And we try every day to show our gratitude by paying it forward to our neighbors and friends who need us the most.”

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