I Know Chicago


Purveyor of all things interesting, amazing, unique, unusual + badass in Chicago.

Help Save Humbolt Park Music Program for Kids!

The amazing non-profit, Reason to Give, (and I’m not just saying that because I’m on their Board) is joining Lafayette Elementary School for Striding for Strings on April 30th. Striding for Strings is a 5k walk in Humboldt Park to raise money for the Merit Music program. We need to reach our goal of $5000 by April 30! Reason to Give staff, participants, volunteers, and friends will all be walking. Please sponsor us in Striding for Strings by donating today! All pledges are appreciated!

The Story:

Troubled by continuous cuts in education funding for Chicago Public Schools, Trisha Shrode, principal of Lafayette Elementary School, asked Reason to Give to help save her school’s renowned music program. Lafayette serves Humboldt Park students in Pre-K through 8th grade. The school hosts two Head Start classrooms and is a cluster site for Autism. Unfortunately, every year is a struggle to keep their music program available to the students.

The Merit School of Music began ten years ago as an afterschool program at Lafayette Elementary.  Today it is one of the largest string orchestra programs in Chicago. As the students attest to in their interviews, performing is their favorite part of the music program. Students have the chance to perform concerts at Lafayette and several sites around Chicago. These experiences teach students not only public performance skills, but self confidence and responsibility.

The Merit Music program gives students opportunities that many from low-income neighborhoods such as Humboldt Park do not usually have. Lafayette students have gone on to attend numerous private and selective enrollment high schools in Chicago and around the country based on their involvement in the Merit Music program. 

Music teacher, Arturs Weible, sees the importance of the orchestra program everyday. He knows that its not just about learning an instrument; its about learning to work with and respect one another, building self-confidence, and growing into young leaders. The students told Reason to Give how grateful they were to be a part of the orchestra because it kept them from falling negative influences around them and gave them hope for the future. When Reason to Give was invited to attend one of the orchestra’s performances and sit in on a practice, we were amazed at the energy in the room and the level of commitment each student showed.

Reason To Give sources high quality, sustainable goods from reputable retailers who give back to society. We buy direct from local retailers, US-based businesses, Fair Trade companies and eco-friendly brands. So while they might not be the cheapest, they’re certainly the most considerate. Still skeptical? Learn more.

Donate Now! Save the Music Chicago!

City Provisions Deli - The spot for local yummy eats

If you have not yet been to City Provisions Deli in Ravenswood, I would highly suggest you get over there the next time you are hungry.

City Provisions Sustainable Food


The deli is a perfect manifestation of the fresh attitude and commitment to local and sustainable practices that we have come to expect from the catering company. As I waited in line for my locally sourced cheese, I rocked out to the Beastie Boys. Need I say more? 

The deli includes off the shelf items such as spices, pastas, sauces, and condiments; pints of tasty local ice creams, a grab-and-go case for your lunch on the run, a coffee bar, and homemade salad selections.

The two main, what I will call ‘focal points,’ of the deli include the raw meat case—with made to order cuts of meat (smoked on site)—which contains meat raised from within a 200 mile radius of Chicago, butchered on site, and the beautiful showcase of local spirits, beers and wines.

The space itself is a testament to green building practices. Designed by the delightful team at 2 Point Perspective, the deli features everything from reclaimed barn wood countertops to eco-paint and sustainable flooring. Heck the shopping bags are recycled burlap! The deli is clearly a sustainable enterprise from floor to ceiling.

Owner Cleetus FriedmanOwner, Cleetus Friedman, is a lifelong chef, entertainer and event planner who has been revolutionizing the local food movement in Chicago since City Provisions opened its doors in February of 2008. “I believe it is important to know where your food comes from and what goes into getting it to your plate. It is part of our mission and our business model that we focus on sustainability,” said Friedman. To that end, the deli plans to be a Certified Green Restaurant, per the guidelines of the Green Restaurant Association, by the end of the year.

What I am especially excited about is the carefully curated product selection. It’s so nice to find all of the local brands that I love in one spot. Nice Cream, Crop to Cup, Death’s Door Spirits, Half Acre Beer, Metropolitan Brewing, Katherina Anne Confections and my newest favorite, Local Folks Foods who make the best ketchup and mustard I’ve ever had.

Friedman commented, “We want to be a focal point for the community and be a source for education about the local food movement—but we also want to serve people something that they will enjoy.” Well my friend, done and done!

Their sidewalk dining is now open (although you might want to wait for this rain to stop before utilizing that option) sigh. 

City Provisions is located at 1818 West Wilson Avenue and is open Tuesday – Friday 6am to 9pm, Saturday 8am – 9pm, Sunday 8am – 7pm, closed Monday’s.

City Provisions is also a catering company and they run amazing supper clubs + farm dinners. 

Neil Dixon Smith is my favorite Chicago guitarist.  I have his demo reel on my ipod and I hire him any chance I get.  Speaking of, he’ll be performing with Alphonso Chacon tomorrow at the Growing Home Gala. (shameless plug for my event).

There are not enough good words to say about the man.  He not only does special event work but you will find him performing at Cafe 28 for the lucky Sunday Brunch crowd.  He is in two amazing, yes two amazing groups… Los Guitaristas + Mas Trueno and when you click the links you will see just how versatile an artist he is. 

Neil Dixon Smith makes me smile and I bet he’ll make you smile too. 

He’s on Twitter: @NeilDixonSmith

Ridiculous Amount of Art to See This Weekend…

Let’s take a second and look at the ridiculous amount of art events happening this weekend.  You could literally spend every second this weekend looking at art (I plan to).

Friday Night

Firecat Projects - Joe Amrhein: A Fallibility of Perception  7pm - 10pm

Co-Prosperity Sphere  8pm  Materiel Issue Two Magazine Release Party.  The second annual showcase of emerging talent in the fields of design, illustration, photography and our most recent expansion, industrial design.

Johalla Projects 7pm White Mystery Art Show

Art Chicago/NEXT  11am - 7pm  Want a FREE PASS?  You’re Welcome.

Saturday

Art Chicago/NEXT  11am - 7pm  Want a FREE PASS?  You’re Welcome.

And Don’t miss the FREE Trolley service that will bring you to all the gallery openings in the River North + West Loop Neighborhood from 6pm - 9pm Info Here

Sunday

Art Chicago/NEXT  11am - 7pm  Want a FREE PASS?  You’re Welcome.

Version Festival 11 - Bill Talsma - Things that are Longing to Appear Eastern Expansion (244 W 31st St.) 6-9pm

Mama’s putting on her comfy shoes! 

Sweet Miss Giving’s is a social enterprise bakery and jobs program that offers good looking and seriously yummy baked goods with 100% of their profits going to the Chicago House.
I have now had the chance to work with them as a dessert provider for two large-scale events and I have literally heard people moaning while eating their cupcakes. 
You can find them in the French Market, online or catch up with their food truck!
They are incredibly talented bakers with exceptional customer service.  Go eat cupcakes.
Facebook + Twitter

Sweet Miss Giving’s is a social enterprise bakery and jobs program that offers good looking and seriously yummy baked goods with 100% of their profits going to the Chicago House.

I have now had the chance to work with them as a dessert provider for two large-scale events and I have literally heard people moaning while eating their cupcakes. 

You can find them in the French Market, online or catch up with their food truck!

They are incredibly talented bakers with exceptional customer service.  Go eat cupcakes.

Facebook + Twitter

Who has a brilliant, sustainable idea that could benefit Chicago?

Well get your pencil sharpened because Green Festival and the Ford Motor Company are giving away a $5000 grant at this year’s Chicago Green Festival (May 14-15th) for the best idea!

The deets:

The Community Green Grant encourages local non-profit organizations and community leaders to submit their sustainable, forward-thinking ideas to improve the environment or quality of life in their local community.

Before each Green Festival opening, a panel from Green Festival and Ford Motor Company will select a group of Community Green Grant finalists. Each finalist’s project proposal will be presented in the Ford Pavilion at each respective Green Festival.

Festival attendees will vote for their favorite project proposal. Votes will be tallied on-site, and the project proposal with the most votes will be announced as the Community Green Grant winner on Sunday at Green Festival.

To apply, submit your idea to communitygreengrant@actionpartners.com or mail to:

Attn: Community Green Grant
3020 Carbon Place, Suite 300
Boulder, CO 80301

Entries must be received by 5/7/2011

The Fine Print

Good Luck!

Tonight!  Get your hip-hop on at Tiny Martini Lounge starting at 8:30pm at the iStandard Chicago Style Producers Showcase. 
I attended last year and it was a good time.  Basically, local music producers get 5 minutes each to share a compilation of their work with 3 judges. 
This year’s judges: Rockwilder (producer for Jay-Z), Jimi Kendrix (producer for G-Unit, Ja-Rule + Tupac), Nascent Beats (producer for 50 cent) and DJ Z. 
The judges give the producers feedback (which I must say was pretty depressing last year because most of the feedback was “it’s not commercial enough” …gag). Then, over the course of two nights and a few rounds, they choose a winner. 
It’s an amazing opportunity to hear what Chicago is cooking up for the music industry.  Serious Talent in the city.
THIS YEAR, I’m going for the beats of course, BUT more importantly I’m going for the album release by Chicago producer Rediculus!  He competed in the showcase last year and since then was signed by Def Jam and his album “Walking Down Broken Paths” drops TONIGHT. 

Tonight!  Get your hip-hop on at Tiny Martini Lounge starting at 8:30pm at the iStandard Chicago Style Producers Showcase. 

I attended last year and it was a good time.  Basically, local music producers get 5 minutes each to share a compilation of their work with 3 judges. 

This year’s judges: Rockwilder (producer for Jay-Z), Jimi Kendrix (producer for G-Unit, Ja-Rule + Tupac), Nascent Beats (producer for 50 cent) and DJ Z. 

The judges give the producers feedback (which I must say was pretty depressing last year because most of the feedback was “it’s not commercial enough” …gag). Then, over the course of two nights and a few rounds, they choose a winner. 

It’s an amazing opportunity to hear what Chicago is cooking up for the music industry.  Serious Talent in the city.

THIS YEAR, I’m going for the beats of course, BUT more importantly I’m going for the album release by Chicago producer Rediculus!  He competed in the showcase last year and since then was signed by Def Jam and his album “Walking Down Broken Paths” drops TONIGHT. 

My New Nightly Read

Let’s just put it out there…there are A LOT of daily newsletters and content aggregators/creators out there.  The problem is that I have not found one that I connect with.  Either they are too narrow in focus, too snarky in tone, too uninteresting or they arrive at the crack of dawn and by the time I get to them I’ve already been informed of all of their stories thanks to my twitter peeps.

So, it is with great excitement that I say I have FINALLY found THE daily news source worth reading.  They just launched in Chicago a few weeks ago.  They already have NY and LA editions that are highly followed. 

Time To Sign Off (Chicago) is really a unique one.  First of all, it comes at 8pm making it “The last email of the day” which is exactly when I want it to arrive.  The content is broken up global, national, local and it’s always information that came in well after I logged off twitter so it’s bridging the news gap for me. 

There are a few features that I love the most.  The 9 to Know which is an amazing curated list of 9 “somethings” you need to know in Chicago.  I might be a bit partial to that right now since this blog is listed as 1 of the 9 to Know blogs in Chicago but whatever. ;)

I also love the Who’s Next in Chi section which features an interview with some badass Chicagoan that is doing amazing things.  I mean who among us does not want to see real-life Chicagoans get a major shout out?

Lastly, Tonight’s Track hooks you up with a free tune from an up-and-coming awesome singer/band.  LOVE THAT.

I know I’m gushing but I have searched long and hard for a newsletter that gives me what I want and now that I found it I feel I must spread the joy!  Sign up People.  Sign Up.

They are on Facebook + Twitter …they will be launching a Chicago focused twitter account too this week - @TTSOchi

Your Sustainable Backyard

PART I - WORKSHOPS

This summer, the City of Chicago will be hosting a series of Sustainable Backyard Workshops to highlight the many ways residents can create more environmentally-friendly landscapes in their back, front, and side yards.

The first two will take place: 

Tuesday, June 14

6:00-8:00pm 

Friends of the Chicago River 

28 E. Jackson, Suite 1800 

 

Tuesday, July 26

6:00-8:00pm 

Chicago Center for Green Technology

445 N. Sacramento Blvd.

PART II - REBATES

The City of Chicago is now offering rebates to Chicago residents for up to 50% off their next local purchase of:

TREES (up to $100 back)

NATIVE PLANTS (up to $60 back)

COMPOST BIN (up to $50 back)

RAIN BARREL (up to $40 back)

Residents are not required to participate in a Sustainable Backyard Workshop to receive a rebate form, but are encouraged to attend a workshop to learn more about how to install, plant, and maintain these green management practices. To download rebate forms, please visit www.cityofchicago.org/rainbarrel.

How the Rebate Program Works

  1. Pick up a rebate form from a Sustainable Backyard Workshop or download one at www.cityofchicago.org/rainbarrel. (Rebate forms may be available at participating local garden centers or hardware stores.)
  2. Purchase a rain barrel, compost bin, tree(s), or native plant(s) from your local garden center or hardware store. A list of participating garden centers will be available soon. Last year’s list of local rain barrel and compost bin retailers is on the website too.
  3. Be sure your receipt clearly indicates your purchase. Ask the garden center staff to write in any necessary information that is not obvious or clear on your receipt, like what native plant species were purchased.
  4. Carefully read through and complete the rebate form and mail it with your itemized receipt 
  5. Check your mailbox for a check from the City for up to 50% off your purchase. This could take up to 3 months (90 days). Thank you for your patience.

 

Rules and Restrictions (See rebate forms for more details

 Limit one of each rebate (rain barrel, compost bin, tree, and native plant) per installation address, per year. Residents are encouraged to purchase more than one tree and native plant, however you should submit all of your 2011 native plant and tree receipts at once.

 Products must be purchased between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011.


 Original receipt (clearly indicating purchase) and completed Rebate Form must be post-marked by December 31, 2011. The City of Chicago reserves the right to deny rebate applications with unclear receipts.

 

Funding for rebates comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Pollution Prevention Program and a USDA Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant.

More Details Here on the types of Trees + Plants Eligible for Rebates