Tag Archives: photojournalism

Fulton Street Market

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For the past dozen years, Randolph Street just west of the Loop became the de facto Restaurant Row, fueled by Oprah’s Harpo Studio, the United Center, and a boom in residential development.  Now that expansion is exploding onto the nearby Fulton Street Market area making awkward neighbors of the upscale restaurants and the historic meat packing plants and produce markets.  With the advent of new restaurants and galleries, rents are rising and the meat and produce companies are feeling the pinch.  They provide so much of the character that brought the new tenants to the area in the first place, it would be a shame to have them chased from the neighborhood.  Adding to this mix is the soon-to-be-completed Google headquarters and the showplace Morgan Street transit station; growth is inevitable and change is in the air.

Chicago Urban Farms

Iron Street FarmDaily tours at Iron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmDaily tours at Iron Street Farm, ChicagoIron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmComposting at Iron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmFish production at Iron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmIron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmComposting area at Iron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmHoney production at Iron Street Farm, Chicago urban farmThe Plant, Chicago urban farm in Back of the Yards areaThe Plant, Chicago urban farmArea under construction at The Plant Hydroponic growing at The PlantTilapia production tanks at The Plant Vegetables at The Plant, Chicago urban farmVegetable production at The Plant, Chicago urban farm

Urban farm, it almost sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me, it isn’t. These farms are sprouting up (no pun intended) all over Chicago and other urban areas, and represent an efficient way to re-purpose under-utilized warehouse space in the city, often in economically distressed areas. Plus, they offer a tremendous opportunity for small-scale organic farmers to ply their trade in a supportive and mega-green environment.

I recently had the occasion to photograph two such urban farms: The Plant and Iron Street Farm. The former calls itself “a net-zero energy vertical farm and food business operation” whose purpose is to “promote closed-loop food production and sustainable economic development through education and research.” Now that’s a mouthful (no pun intended). And the later is a “seven-acre site on Chicago’s south side that produces local, healthy, and sustainable food year-round with a focus on serving, training, and engaging vulnerable populations.” Urban farms produce a wide range of products including cheese, vegetables, mushrooms, honey, beer, compost, and even fish. I suspect when we sang “Old McDonald had a farm” this wasn’t exactly the type of farm we were referring to.

 

Dancers Promote Non-Violence

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Alumni from the Kids Can Dance group in Evanston performed a series of dances yesterday at Evanston Township High School. The theme was non-violence, an appropriate message considering the rash of violence plaguing teens locally and around the country. The program is being done in conjunction with “Ten Thousand Ripples”, an art project featuring ten Buddha sculptures being installed around the city, much like the cow exhibit of several years ago.

Chicago Neighborhood Murals

Chicago_Lawn MuralChicago_Lawn_MuralDonnelley_Youth_Center MuralHumboldt Park MuralPilsen MuralPilsen MuralPilsen MuralRegal_Theater Mural in ChicagoMural in Rogers Parkunderpass mural in Hyde Park

Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, each with it’s own ethnic identity.  It’s no surprise  that public art appears on walls throughout the city representing the local culture.  Here is just a sampling of murals (or you may call it graffiti) in some of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Elkhart, Indiana: A Tale of Two Cities

Bucolic Elkhart RiverSlow pace of life in ElkhartThe popular River WalkLunch time at the Daily GrindHistoric buildings on Main StreetOwner of Dicor, an RV industry supplierTina and Tina, two unemployed womenMonica, an unemployed mother of fourElkhart mayor Dick Moore  Boarded up houses, a familiar sightA casualty on Main StreetVacancy on Main StreetA local food pantryStocking shelves at the food pantryKaren, a victim of foreclosureOwner of Pop Culture, a soda pop store on Main Street

During this seemingly endless recession, few cities have been hit as hard as Elkhart, Indiana. With a local economy dependent on the whims of the RV industry, the recent downturn saw unemployment hit a whopping 20 percent. Thankfully, things have improved over the past year, but people are still suffering.  In September, I was sent to Elkhart with a writer from the Paris-based newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur to document how people are coping with the devastating effects of the recession.  What we found were two very different Elkharts.  The first was the upbeat, optimistic, rose-colored version of life portrayed by the business leaders, politicians and Chamber of Commerce spokespersons.  The second Elkhart was a sad and painful depiction expressed by local residents in a food pantry, unemployment office, and on the quiet streets of this once-prosperous town.  The “real” Elkhart apparently resides in the eye of the beholder.

Traditional Flavors of Amish Country

Fresh-baked pies, Country Lane Bakery in MiddleburyHomemade Amish apple butter Fresh-baked pie and bread, Country Lane Bakery in MiddleburyTraditional Amish horse and buggyWashing clothes the old-fashioned wayPaying for food on the honor systemSucculent ripe tomatoes at the Dutch Country MarketBees making Amish honeyShopping for peaches at Shipshewana Farmers Market
Just two hours–and 200 years–from Chicago in NE Indiana is Amish Country. Anchored by the towns of Shipshewana, Goshen and Nappanee, this area is home to a religious sect that disavows modern conveniences and other trappings of life in the 21st century.  Lines of buggies dot the country roads, women in long dresses and colorful bonnets shop at local markets, and men sporting beards and black coats are commonplace.  Last month I was sent to this region to document some of the culinary traditions of the Amish for ADA Times, the publication of the American Dietetic Association.  Traveling to farmers markets, retail stores, farm stands, and small farms down isolated back roads, I discovered a vast assortment of tasty baked goods, succulent fruits and vegetables, cheese factories, and jars of homemade pickles, apple butter and cherry salsa.  The Amish may not have their MTV, but they are prepared when the munchies come-a-calling.