People & Places
In memoriam – Charles Daas

In memoriam – Charles Daas

Charlie was a dear friend, a rare friend, one who cared about his friends and everyone in a deep way. I think all his friends remember him like this. He was a friend who thinks mostly of you rather than himself. I felt he was actually grateful to know me. He was thankful for our friendship. He asked with open interest about my comings and goings. He cared deeply about me. As he cared for all his friends. So the loss of him leaves of deeper and more melancholy void. There are not many friends like Charlie. He can’t be replaced. His caring came...

Seiter family of Scranton and Conway

Seiter family of Scranton and Conway

This family history tells about three generations of Seiters on their farm in Arkansas. It comes from my mother, Mary Magdalen Mammoser née Seiter, who told me many of her memories from childhood.   Scranton years My grandparents William and Crescentia Seiter had eight children, three sons and five daughters. My mother Mary Magdalen was the second youngest. The eldest was Ann, followed by Elizabeth (Aunt Betty), Genevieve (Aunt Jenny), Andrew (Uncle Andy), Herman, Martin, my mother, and Mildred (Aunt Millie). My grandmother, Crescentia...

Calumet area vision

Calumet area vision

During 2005-08, I led a non-profit environmental organization in the industrial Lake Calumet area. The area was covered with the huge brown fields left by the disappearance of steel making two decades before. And interspersed with degraded natural lands. The landscape looks much the same today but it holds enormous potential for a new economy. I stitched together the city's plans and added a few ideas of my own, assembling a regional strategy on an illustrated map called Calumet Area Vision - Places and Connections. It shows eight key spots,...

Local and Sacred

Local and Sacred

In late 2004 I received a Journalism Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund. Due to work responsibilities, however, I couldn't leave until a couple years later. In autumn of 'o6 I traversed six European countries in search of local food, visiting farm markets, meeting farmers, looking at their cheese making, looking at their pigs, watching wine making in Switzerland, it was really wonderful. I went to a big 'slow food' expo in Turin, but what I really liked was meeting farmers and seeing the landscape. It is a sacred landscape, in the Old...

The Polish Patisserie

The Polish Patisserie

I met Dobra Bielinski in a history colloquium at UIC, and saw she was a person of many interests and talents. Later she opened a bakery, and became proprietress of my now favorite confectionery Delightful Pastries on W Lawrence Ave. We had lunch one day and as she told me about fresh Michigan cherries and fresh cream from some dairy in Indiana, I felt a need to write about it. And help her out with a little publicity if I could. A creative editor at the Chicago Reader came up with the title The Polish Patisserie. Before that I put a little...

A Planner’s work in the Garden City of the Emirates

A Planner’s work in the Garden City of the Emirates

This article appeared in the APA International Division's newsletter (2016 pre-conference issue), called A Planner's work... It contains a reference to Steve's white paper, Impending revolution in planning practice It’s always interesting to watch a real planner at work, and even more interesting when s/he is working 7,000 miles from home. I was in Dubai for a few days last year when Stephen Goldie, an Australian who I first met at a CNU conference some years ago, invited me to visit him in Al Ain. I jumped at the opportunity. Al Ain is in...

Rhythm in Motion

Rhythm in Motion

One night I went to a party in an artist's apartment in Pilsen. It was a little basement apartment crowded with people and the guy's paintings. A belly dancer came from behind curtains.  Stepping onto a little carpet, she went into a slow, strange gyrating dance. I liked it so much I wrote an article about the dancer.

What I Learned at Terra Madre

What I Learned at Terra Madre

I received a journalism fellowship in '04 to traverse Europe's farm markets, but I couldn't break away til the fall of '06. I saw cows, goats and pigs in five countries and talked to farmers who leave their wild boars to eat acorns in the forest. I learned about chestnuts in Italy. I produced little journalism from it but wrote this little essay.

Fazenda Fortaleza

Fazenda Fortaleza

I visited this estate several times while working in Sâo Paulo during the autumn of 2004, which was spring in Brazil. It's a big coffee estate that Marcos Croce wants to return to the old organic ways and even improve them with new knowledge. I found the place and the people fascinating and wrote this story.

Island Grove Afternoon

Island Grove Afternoon

A 'first person' essay published in Illinois Issues, November, 2001. Alvin later told me he thought the story needn't seem so sad. The article is Island Grove Afternoon. My original text, more complete, follows below. It is the church standing alone in the countryside that first intrigues a visitor to the parish of Island Grove. St. Joseph’s is a shapely little building of red bricks whose narrow sides rise to a steep sloping roof of black shingles. Its tall tower, compact, protruding slightly from the front, holds a brown wood door within a...

In memoriam – Bill Lavicka

In memoriam – Bill Lavicka

Bill Lavicka was one of those rare fearless people that every democracy needs. He was the indispensable ingredient, the spice that brightens up the dish. There was no dull moment with Bill around. The core of his passion was this: he loved old buildings. Bill was a builder, a man of his hands. He was medium height, stocky, with a sailor’s forearms and big broad hands, a tousle of reddish hair and a ruddy face. He spoke in a thick nasal Chicago-ese. He loved old buildings passionately and fought to save them. His greatest brawl may have been...

Requiem for Maxwell Street

Requiem for Maxwell Street

This article was published in New City, December 28, 2000. The article as edited and illustrated is here. The original submitted text follows below.

The Final Days of Maxwell Street

It’s hard to believe, but a little bit of Maxwell Street still stands in 2001.

Images of Calumet

In early spring 2007, Greg Lochow and I went out to make a couple short films in the Calumet area of southeast Chicago. One is about a missing link in a long regional bike path. The other tells of a 'lost lake' sealed off and hidden from the local community. In each we had to move through a complex geography, combining video with still shots to tell a story. We tried to draw out the key points of a complicated issue to convey a clear community goal. So we placed each story, each project, in the midst of its difficult setting, showing...