General Interest

International Women’s Day conference brings community and knowledge to Chicago’s female founders

By Ruiqi Chen
Medill Reports

Startup incubator 1871’s International Women’s Day conference started with a call-to-action from CEO Betsy Zeigler.

“Fund, found and scale tech companies,” Zeigler said to the crowd of roughly 200 women, many of whom were female startup.

According to research company Startup Genome, over a quarter of Chicago’s startups are female founded, more than twice Silicon Valley’s rate of 11%. However, women entrepreneurs here face many of the same funding and company growth challenges that exist all over the world.

Under the International Women’s Day theme, “Each for Equal,” the conference promoted equality in tech and entrepreneurship through a series of workshops providing advice and information about women’s business and professional issues.

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Microbrew with a macro vision: New Haymarket honey ale highlights industry’s need for diversity

By Beth Stewart
Medill Reports

A love letter to Chicago from two of its native sons — the soon-to-be-released Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale from Haymarket Brewing hopes to spark an important conversation about a thriving industry severely lacking in diversity.

Two independent brewers, Jay Westbrook and Samuel Ross III, are the brains behind the brew which Ross characterizes as “unapologetically Chicago and unapologetically black.”

The name is a nod to the election of Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983 and a wink to another beloved Chicago institution.

“Our target audience eats Harold’s chicken at least twice a week,” Ross explained.

The well-rounded honey ale goes down easy with a subtle sweetness throughout and smooth finish. Continue reading

The fight for affordability: Woodlawn’s demands for the Mayor’s housing plan

By Sidnee King
Medill Reports

“I am writing to personally and directly share with you the City’s proposals to take advantage of this historic moment, reflect what we heard and partner with you to transform Woodlawn into an even stronger, safer, and more equitable place to call home.”

These are the words of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, penned in a Feb. 25 letter addressed to the entire Woodlawn community. 

Earlier this year, the Department of Housing released a draft ordinance addressing affordable housing protection in the neighborhood after months of stakeholder meetings and public outcry from Woodlawn residents. According to DOH Commissioner Marisa Novara, the aims of the ordinance are to “protect existing residents from displacement and to promote housing options to support equitable and inclusive income diversity in Woodlawn.” 

While it has been nearly a month since the draft was released, there are no announced next steps on the horizon. During a community meeting at Hyde Park High School, where DOH officials discussed the draft plan with residents, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Simpkins said that the plan will not move to a City Council vote until “it has the support of the community.” Continue reading

Women executives lead six Chicagoland breweries

By Sally Ehrmann
Medill Reports

Chicago might be known for harsh winters, hot dogs, sports teams and deep dish pizza. But the city is becoming a hot spot for craft breweries as well.

A 2018 study from the Brewers Association found that the Chicago area led the nation in the number of breweries with 167 and counting, an honor owing to the proliferation of craft breweries across the metro area.

As Chicago builds that beer city status, those working in the industry see the town’s booming new industry as becoming more “diverse” while  “exploding,” said Emily Kwansy at Temperance Beer Co. in Evanston. Continue reading

Immigrants using public benefits could jeopardize visas, green cards under new immigration policy

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

It’s been almost four weeks since the Trump administration enacted the immigration policy that penalizes immigrants who have used or are deemed likely to use public benefits such as Social Security, public housing and food stamps.

As the new Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds policy takes effect, immigrant communities are grappling with fear, frustration and confusion.

Immigrants applying for a green card, visa or legal admission into the U.S. could be denied entry for their past or potential use of public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, certain forms of Medicaid and certain housing programs. Any applicant who has received public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period would be considered a pubic charge. Continue reading

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

From China to the US: Tracking 14 days in exile

By Henry Ren
Medill Reports

Two days after Xu Wu retrieved his passport in Shanghai, the Silicon Valley software engineer boarded a plane to Cancún after a 21-hour overnight layover at Frankfurt Airport. It was Feb. 18, just over two weeks after the Trump administration barred the entry of foreign citizens who had visited mainland China in the 14 days prior to the travel ban.

On the same day, Mrs. Li, who asked we identify her by the last name only,  went to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados to renew her visa. The 30-year-old Chinese woman works in Miami. Yida Yao, a research assistant at the University of California, Berkeley, was anxiously waiting for his Thai visa to be issued. Steven Li, a visiting undergraduate student who now studies in Boston, asked multiple airline companies whether he could travel with a passport issued in Hubei, the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Thousands of Chinese nationals who planned to travel to the U.S. for work or school were stuck in China due to the travel restriction and these four were among them. To circumvent the restriction, they would have to travel and stay in a third country for 14 days to qualify for entering the U.S

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Tokyo can still reap benefits of hosting Olympics by modeling successes of London Games

By Sally Ehrmann
Medill Reports

With COVID-19 continuing to spread across the world, the legacy of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics could be the first canceled games due to a pandemic rather than war. If that happens, many wonder whether the estimated $29 billion price tag will have been worth it.

But looking at past successful games shows that economics may not be the only way to measure the success of hosting the Olympics. Eight years after London’s 2012 Summer Olympic Games, for example, the city still reaps benefits from a complete transformation of a formerly blighted neighborhood.

“You can look to a qualitative or quantitative legacy. Quantitative, you can capture all that. Job creation, money generated,” said Charles Runcie, a former sports journalist with the BBC. “Then, you must count the qualitative stuff, the feel-good factor. Are more events coming here? Has the city benefited overall?”

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Private sector hops on COVID-19 testing as the nation lags behind

By Yun Hao
Medill Reports

After President Trump declared a national emergency Friday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, representatives of Roche Diagnostics, Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and some other private sector companies stood together behind the president, and each addressed their decisions of confronting the coronavirus collaboratively.

Normally you view us as competitors, but today we’re focused on a common competitor, and that’s defeating the spread of coronavirus,” said Brian Cornell, CEO of Target Corp., during the press conference held by the President. “We look forward to work with the administration to do our fair share to alleviate this growing threat.”

FDA also sped up its approval process for tests developed by commercial labs. Roche Diagnostics, a Swiss-based multinational healthcare company, was the first beneficiary, as the test method they developed was approved within only “a few hours” after they submitted their application. Dr. Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, said that this expedited process sets a “record time.” Continue reading Private sector hops on COVID-19 testing as the nation lags behind

Parting with Alaska

By Mackenzie Evenson
Medill Reports

During my junior year at the University of Alaska Anchorage, I was walking into an Applebees when my dad called and said, “They found a tumor in my brain.” He said it so nonchalantly that the appropriate response evaded me. In a few days, he would undergo emergency brain surgery — but I shouldn’t worry, he said. “It’s not like I’m dying.”

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