Business

Local guitar pick vending machine business donates a share of profits to Planned Parenthood

By Lucia Whalen
Medill Reports

Chicago music venues Gallery Cabaret, The Empty Bottle and Cole’s Bar have new additions to their décor: adult vending machines that, for the price of four quarters, deliver a small plastic container that holds a one-of-a-kind guitar pick and a condom.

The business, Glitter Picks, is owned by local Chicago musician-turned entrepreneur Alen Khan, and 10% of all proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood. Rock and roll meets safe sex.

According to Khan, the idea for Glitter Picks came to him while in search of a guitar pick at the Gallery Cabaret music open mic in early 2019.

“I went up there to play and no one had a pick, and I’m notorious for never having a pick. So I said, ‘Hey, why don’t places like this have a machine that just has picks?’ And that’s kind of how it started,” Khan explained.

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Campus Kitchen back in action amid recent move

By Selah Holland
Medill Reports

Campus Kitchen, a Northwestern University student organization that redistributes unused food to nonprofit organizations and food insecure individuals in Evanston, recently moved into the Great Room kitchen in Great Hallon campus  a few weeks ago.

This relocation, into a 1920s dining hall that later morphed into a café and catering space, keeps volunteers busy revamping the space to match the scale lost with the move from Allison Dining Hall.
Campus Kitchen president Laine Kaehler said the group is gradually working to rebuild its food stock and work volume. Over the summer, the group operated for only two months before coming to a temporary halt early in September when the university chose to relocate them to Great Hall.

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Comer Conference scientists show global impacts of climate change

By Chris McConaghey
Medill Reports

The glaciers are melting faster, accelerating sea level rise. Ocean currents are changing, altering weather and rainfall that millions of people rely on. And wind patterns are shifting as the climate heats up. These are among the global climate challenges deliberated at the annual Comer Climate Conference in southwestern Wisconsin this fall.

Veteran researchers with some of the most decorated backgrounds in climate science as well as the next generation of researchers gathered to present their findings from Nepal, the North Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the glacial mountains of Uganda, Mongolia and Europe. They came to present findings that can help tackle the troublesome state of our planet with the urgent need to address climate change.

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Scott Travis: On call for farm, foundation and science

By Chris McConaghey
Medill Reports

Scott Travis didn’t know what to expect when he put in an application to work for Lands’ End clothing company in 1987. He was 32 years old then and got the position.

During that time, he had several opportunities to meet and talk with the late Gary Comer – founder and owner of Lands’ Ends – and was promoted from the sales and packaging department to eventually becoming a safety manager of the plant in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

Comer never forgot those conversations. Six years later, Travis got a call from the boss asking if he wanted to help build and manage a new corporate retreat to host meetings and conferences for business leaders across the globe in southwestern Wisconsin.

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Rat-eating monkeys hold promise for sustainable agriculture

By Elena Bruess
Medill Reports

A macaque sits patiently on the forest floor, waiting by an oil palm tree.

There’s a rustling and a thump as two more macaques gripping a nearby trunk remove some of the tree’s leafy base. A large rat falls from its hiding place. It attempts to run, but the macaque is faster. A scuffle, a jump, a chomp. The pest hangs limp from the macaque’s mouth, a tasty snack. The monkeys move on to the next tree.

On the oil palm plantations of Malaysia, the southern pig-tailed macaque – a primate primarily found in Southeast Asia – loves to feast on rats. In a recent study, researchers spent three years following two groups of these monkeys around forests and plantations, monitoring their daily activities. The findings showed that, not only do macaques go out of their way to eat an outstanding number of rats, but their eating preference also a proved to be a great benefit to the oil palm plantations by ridding the workers of their greatest pest. According to the research, the rat-eating monkeys are astonishing and make a pretty good case for wildlife preservation and reconnection.

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When science needs a little art

By Elena Bruess
Medill Reports

Imagine you broke a bone in your left toe while paragliding.

It was intense. And now you can’t walk, so you hobble to the doctor’s office and await an x-ray. When you finally learn what exactly is broken, the doctor pulls out a brightly illustrated and tightly labeled drawing of a left foot. She points. “It’s right here.”

The drawing is practically made for you. It’s not very complicated and it makes so much sense. You are really starting to understand your left toe.

And that’s because the drawing is made for you. Continue reading

Open House Chicago brings visitors inside Chicago’s skyline icons

By Nicole Stock
Medill Reports

Tourists and locals alike enjoy the vista of Chicago’s skyline,  often lauded as one of the most beautiful in the country.

But for one weekend in fall, Open House Chicago let’s people see the skyline from the inside out. This annual tradition benefits both visitors and the building owners, as it shows people the interiors  of the buildings in and around the city that they so often just bustle past.  

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American Ninja Warrior growth sparks Olympic bid effort

By Junie Burns
Medill Reports

Initially, American Ninja Warrior structured its TV presence so that the top Americans could compete in Japan. But as the show gained popularity and athletes became more skilled and aggressive, the show catapulted into a larger market, leaving NBCUniversal affiliate G4 for a new home on NBC ‘s prime time schedule.

Japan began airing a ninja-style sports entertainment special in 1997 where 100 athletes competed on a rigorous four-stage obstacle course called “Sauske.” G4 adapted this format in the United States to create American Ninja Warrior.

Now, the success of the television show carries over into local gyms and ninja gyms while competitive leagues continue to pop up across the country. Patrick Losch, co-owner of the Hanover Park ninja gym Muscleball Ninjas, is the co-founder of Athlete Warrior Games, one of the up-and-coming ninja warrior competitive leagues based in the Midwest.

Losch, a native of Illinois, trained at Muscleball Ninjas for six years before launching Athlete Warrior Games with gym co-owner and 5-time American Ninja Warrior veteran Tyler Yamamuchi.

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Homegrown Residency spotlights local Chicago musicians

By Chris McConaghey
Medill Reports

Every Tuesday night, Uncommon Ground’s Live Intimate Listening Rooms spotlight artists who might otherwise be plugging up to amplifiers in their garages and basements. Here, they get their chance to perform in front of a room filled with friends, family, and other Chicago local music fans.

Artists such as Danielle “Miss Jones” Jones – who has been singing since she was 10, but never really considered herself as a performer – are provided the opportunity to debut their material live and uncut. Jones, 21, is an Indiana native who moved to Chicago right after she graduated high school. She now deems herself as an amateur pianist and a practiced vocalist.

She will be performing Tuesday night, romancing the audience with soft ballads about her life. Continue reading

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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