All posts by alexisshanes2019

10th District candidates debate gun control and climate change among contentious topics

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-10th) called for crossing the partisan divide on everything from health care to immigration reform during a debate Sunday with GOP opponent and computer consultant Douglas Bennett.

Schneider added that he is part of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to “fight for the values and priorities of our community” and identify common ground between parties for policy solutions moving forward.
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Brush strokes of support for the Chicago River

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

Chicago artist Barbara Kay Herring spiked her canvas with vaulting spires and their shimmering reflections emerge from a flurry of sweeping, feathery paint strokes.

The Chicago River has long been a source of creative inspiration and community debate, and a partnership this weekend between local painters and long-standing non-profit Friends of the Chicago River benefitted both artists and advocates.

For the nearly 30 artists who set up their easels at 8 a.m. Saturday along the Chicago River, the art form of plein air painting is a unique opportunity to give back. Plein air painting means working at the scene, in the open air.

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For one urban farmer, the future is fungi

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

Terry Noland’s 1958 rockabilly hit “There Was A Fungus Among Us” may not have been a direct reference to mushrooms when it was released. But the title merits momentum today, when there are many fungi among us in nature and in our kitchens. Researchers  have recruited them for soil remediation, water filtration and even oil spill cleanup.

“I call them the digestive system of the Earth,” said Belkacem El Metennani, owner and sole operator of a small Chicago mushroom farm. “When a tree falls down, mushrooms decompose it and turn it into a compost, into a fertilizer, for the rest of the trees.”

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As Chicago’s five-year housing plan expires, local organizers call for rent subsidies

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

Members of the Chicago Housing Justice League want increased access to safe, affordable housing and greater protection for people from the 30,000 evictions filed in Chicago every year. The league  calls for rent subsidies and local input to troubleshoot the problem.

The league and dozens of other housing organizations on Wednesday released recommendations for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, aiming to influence the city’s forthcoming five-year housing plan.

Recent Chicago housing developments are “glass boxes, looming down, of people that live self-contained lives trying to avoid interacting with anybody else, if they can help it,” said Frank Avellone, senior attorney and policy coordinator Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. That’s the opposite of an effort to strengthen renter rights and improve eviction protection, he said.​ Continue reading