All posts by jacobholland2020

Keeping the spirit: Religious groups adapt to COVID-19 but challenges persist

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Instead of preaching to a live crowd, replete with white-haired parishioners and toddlers wobbling up and down the nave, Pastor Ryan Kapple has found himself facing the empty pews, delivering sermons via livestream to no one in particular.

High-definition cameras track and record Kapple’s every move and turn of phrase, transmitting his services via Facebook Live to the 300 or so members who frequent Leawood Presbyterian Church in suburban Kansas City.

Like nearly every institution in American life, places of worship — churches, synagogues, mosques and the like — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus and subsequent social distancing measures.

No longer are Christians able to physically gather as one, to sway to sweet hymnals and nod their heads when a verse speaks to them. No longer are Jews able to join together at the synagogue for weekly Shabbat dinners, and no longer are Muslims able to lay side by side in the mosque to pray.

But amidst the uncertainty and lack of physical meetings, religious leaders have turned to online platforms to practice their faith with community members. These measures are hardly a substitute for in-person worship, but they allow people of faith to find support from their community and their religion at a time when so much else remains up in the air.

“Gathering is essential to institutions of faith, and gathering is part of the human experience,” Kapple said. “It’s been a challenge, definitely, adjusting to our new normal.”

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Brexit spells uncertain future for London’s financial services industry

By Carolina Gonzalez and Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Well before the word “Brexit” went from idea to reality, some of the world’s biggest banks began to loosen their ties with London, once one of the unquestioned leaders in finance. But now that Brexit is a reality, will the city of Shakespeare, Big Ben and, yes, global finance, also lose its coveted status in Europe?

Brexit, the messy divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union, has cast a shadow of uncertainty on pretty much every industry since the 2016 referendum. Financial services is no exception, and many banks operating in London moved sections of their business elsewhere to mitigate risk — even before the UK formally began its uncoupling from the EU in January 2020.

As of January 2019, these shifts accounted for at least 800 million pounds in assets, or about 10% of the United Kingdom’s total banking sector assets, according to a report by Ernst & Young. The firm said this was a “conservative estimate” based on already announced plans; some banks have not yet revealed what they are going to do.

The Global Financial Centres Index, a semi-annual report compiled by think tanks in China and the United Kingdom, lists New York as the most competitive global financial center. London came in second, with Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin each rising in the rankings because of Brexit, according to the September 2019 report.

New York extended its lead over London from the previous rankings cycle some six months earlier, and other European cities like Paris and Luxembourg made large gains. Analysts from the study warn that if Paris were to make similar gains and London were to make similar declines, the City of Light could eventually overtake the British capital.

For many years leading up to Brexit, large banks like Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase had set up offices in London to be able to conduct business in other EU countries relatively easily.

That’s because of something called passporting, which allows firms authorized in one EU country to operate freely in another EU country. Until Brexit, a bank with a passporting stamp in London was able to conduct business in, say, Athens or Lisbon without much additional work, said Phil Levy, chief economist for freight forwarder company Flexport.

“Financial services are huge for the UK, and the City of London, it’s what they do” Levy said. “This financial passporting idea meant [banks] could go set up offices in the City of London and serve all of the European Union very easily. You didn’t need to have headquarters also in Frankfurt, or in Paris, or in Dublin.”

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Knitting for a cause: Tempestry Project fuses art and science to illustrate climate change

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Dappled light streams through the wide windows of the Noyes Cultural Arts Center in Evanston. Streaks of sunshine stretch along light wood-paneled floors speckled with paint.

Four women sit around a low plastic picnic table, chatting about their families and the recent stretch of nice weather. They’re bent over needles and wool yarn, each creating a prismatic stretch of cloth. They chat without slowing their pace, fingers moving as if second nature.

Three are knitting — and one is crocheting — banners for the Tempestry project and exhibit, which aims to visualize climate change. At the nexus of art and science, each Tempestry blends fiber art with climate data to create a yearly snapshot of temperature in a given location. (The project’s name is a portmanteau: “temperature” plus “tapestry” equals “Tempestry”.) Continue reading

One person’s trash may hold another person’s treasure

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Eleanor Ray weaves through rows of picture frames, thread, yarn and oil paints as she walks through her shop, pointing to miles of fabric, a mountain of art supplies and decorations for all seasons.

Her store, the WasteShed, 2842 W. Chicago Ave., sells the fixings of any arts-and-crafts store, along with more eclectic items such as microfiche, sombreros, vintage scarves and old kimono fabric. There’s one key difference, however, between a Hobby Lobby and Ray’s venture — everything here is secondhand.

“The cool thing about art is that you can really make it out of anything,” Ray says, a soft smile on her face. “If you put your mind to it there’s no reason to buy new stuff.”

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Love me tendr: How Stephen Council brought fried chicken to NU campus culture

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Stephen Council is no stranger to fried chicken. The 19-year-old Medill sophomore grew up in southern Virginia, where his father would sometimes make it, juice and grease dripping right off the bone. It wasn’t until a cold December night last year, however, that Council toyed around with the idea of cooking up his own.

He was studying for finals with his friend and Communication sophomore Erin Zhang, and it was approaching midnight in Northwestern’s Main Library. They bemoaned the lack of late-night dining options — Fran’s and Lisa’s, sure, and Burger King off campus, but not much else.

Rather than study, Council and Zhang hopped on a Google Doc and hammered out a business plan. In a couple of hours, they had everything — the concept, the name, the sauces. Later that month, the two went home and experimented with sauces and chicken styles. By the time the New Year rolled around, everything was set. tendr was born.

“We bought that fryer for $30, and we’ve probably fried $1,300 worth of chicken in it,” Council says, smiling. “It was almost like we had to make it worth it. We thought, ‘Why not do this?’”

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New Grounds in Town: Newport Coffee brings taste of Stockholm to the North Shore

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Coffee has been big in Chicago since the ’90s, but the North Shore, says Mikael Bengtsson, can now hold its own. “It’s bubbling up here,” says the engineer-turned-barista, who this summer opened Newport Coffee with his wife, Lotta. The Evanston cafe, 622 Davis St., serves high-end coffee (a standard latte will run you about $5) and pastries with a Swedish flair. Bengtsson’s second location — the first is in Bannockburn — held its soft launch July 1, with plans for the official launch slated for later this fall. I sat down with Bengtsson to talk about caffeine, the shop’s aesthetic and his vision for the brand.

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