Tag Archives: Chicago

The man in the skyscraper church

By Alyk Russell Kenlan
Medill Reports

“An unexpected raise! #blessed,” the Rev. Dr. Myron McCoy, 64, told his congregation during a recent service. “You don’t want one?” he teased.  From the tallest church in the world, he delivers messages of inclusivity and diversity every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

The pastor’s journey to the 23-story Chicago Temple started almost two centuries ago, when his ancestors founded a Methodist church in Maryland. He grew up in New Jersey and spent many of his boyhood summers around that church. “One part of my family, even in the 1800s, was free,” McCoy said. Influenced by his ancestral legacy, McCoy has wanted to be a preacher as long as he can remember.

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The giant of Michigan Avenue

By Alyk Russell Kenlan
Medill Reports

Imagine waking up on the 80th floor, going down to work on the 35th floor, grabbing lunch on the second floor, stopping by the grocery store or dry cleaner on the 44th floor and eating dinner on the 95th floor before going back home to the 80th floor. Residents of 875 N. Michigan Ave., formerly the John Hancock Center, don’t have to imagine. Their amenity-rich, mixed-use skyscraper epitomizes the idea of a city within a city.

On March 7, 1970, the dedication of the John Hancock Center marked the beginning of a new architectural movement and the renewal of Chicago’s urban life in the Gold Cost. Since then, lessons from the building’s construction have inspired other iconic structures like the Willis Tower and the Trump Tower.

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Make room at the table: How a local restaurateur is helping to transform the culture of professional kitchens

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

On “Restaurant Row,” also known as Randolph Street, diners spend their savings on an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Just two blocks away, on the quieter Madison Street, lies a stationery store owned by a mother and daughter, a small used bookstore that smells of dusty paper and glue, and a restaurant, MAD Social, that celebrated its fourth anniversary in February.

There, a sprightly hostess brings guests to their tables and, just like clockwork, a server appears and offers water. During meals, busboys “manicure” rustic brown tables and replace used plates with fresh ones. Food runners, servers and bartenders work separately toward a common goal: to provide a memorable meal and exceptional service. Amid the organized chaos, a woman stands dressed in black from head to toe with her black hair tightly pulled back. She strides across the dining room as she brings guests to a table. Then, she scurries into the kitchen and reappears with a perfectly mounted Brussels sprouts salad and a sizzling burger with oozing cheddar cheese melting down the sides. Later, she’s clearing tables. She does all this while checking in with guests, making sure their steaks are prepared medium rare and their pasta is cooked al dente. Meet 35-year-old Gina Stefani, owner and manager of the new American gastropub, MAD Social.

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The do’s and dont’s of moving: How to save your stuff and your sanity when relocating

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

Whether your move is around the corner or across the country, relocating can be difficult and many unforeseen hiccups can arise. Here are some tips and tricks to help prepare you for the undertaking and lighten your load.

Packing advice

    1. For all of your belongings, Expert Movers, a professional moving service company, suggests you label each box with a number. Then, create a spreadsheet that indicates the corresponding contents of the box.
    2. Cover breakable items, such as dishes in bubble wrap. Make sure items don’t touch by using packing peanuts or paper as a divider.
    3. Use special boxes for other breakable items, such as picture frames or television screens. Wrap items in bubble wrap and place in cartons specifically made for large frames and television screens. This will prevent them from moving around and potentially cracking.
    4. Make sure lids are tightly sealed on food containers. To prevent leaks, place each item in a plastic bag before putting them in a box.
    5. Put liquid items, such as cooking oils and wine, in wine boxes. Visit your local liquor store and ask for extra wine boxes. It’s an easy way to prevent breakage without wrapping items individually. 
    6. Disperse heavy  items, such as files or textbooks,  across several boxes. Place these items at the bottom of the box and put lighter items, like office supplies, on top. Then no one box will be too heavy to move.
    7. Buy wardrobe boxes for clothes and shoes. Clothes can be easily hung and shoes can be easily stored in shoeboxes at the bottom of the box.
    8. Pack valuable items, such as expensive shoes and purses,  in plastic containers that allow for locked closure. This will prevent potential for theft.

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We, Not Me: An introduction to democratic socialism

By Joshua Skinner
Medill Reports

Socialism might simultaneously be the most feared and loved ideology in the world. The mere mention of the word conjures up visions of utopia and the most horrific crimes of the 20th century.

When Americans hear the word “socialism,” it’s just as likely to convey images of famine and genocide as it is democracy and cooperation.

That’s beginning to change. An upstart political party, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is attempting to bring it’s brand of socialism to the United States, pitting itself as an alternative to both Democrats and Republicans.

A haven for American youth, the DSA has grown to over 60,000 members nationwide. But that number doesn’t reflect their political influence.

More importantly, nearly every account of the DSA isn’t through the eyes of its members, but from an outside perspective.

In We, not Me: An Introduction to Democratic Socialism, Medill Newsmakers breaks this trend, speaking with Chicago DSA members about their local and national vision, policies, and the best path forward for America.

Photo: Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks to nearly 10,000 supporters at Grant Park in Chicago. (Joshua Skinner/MEDILL)

J.B. Smoove: Actor, comedian, basketball fanatic

By Keith Giagnorio
Medill Reports

You can learn a lot about J.B. Smoove from watching him portray Leon Black on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the hit HBO comedy series he stars in alongside Larry David. Both Smoove and the fictional Leon share the same high energy, quick-witted, and simply hilarious personality. Both are incredibly engaging and command the attention of any room they enter. Both have unique (albeit in very different ways) fashion senses. But what you might not be able to glean from watching Smoove perform is his deep burning love for the game of basketball.

Smoove, whose real name is Jerry Angelo Brooks, started his relationship with basketball in the Levister Towers housing projects of New York suburb Mount Vernon when he was just 3 years old, shooting on flimsy hoops he and his brother fashioned out of wire hangers.

These days, Smoove’s personality and his passion for the game have made him a recurring character in the NBA universe, particularly during the league’s annual All-Star Weekend festivities. After making an impression for several years as one of the more vocal and animated of the many celebrity attendees of All-Star Weekend, Smoove got his chance to step onto the court during the 2019 Celebrity All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Smoove was even more prevalent during the 2020 All-Star Weekend in Chicago, talking basketball with Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” and cracking jokes at the same program’s first ever NBA All-Star Roast. Though not a participant, Smoove was courtside for this year’s Celebrity Game and attended several other All-Star events, always dressed to the nines in a fresh suit, overcoat, and of course his signature sunglasses and black fedora.

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Taxes make Chicago real estate hard to sell

By Jackson Elliott
Medill Reports

Chicago’s high real estate prices and the lack of buyers might indicate a housing market bubble, one real estate agent said.

Anthony Zammit, a 17-year industry veteran and the CEO of Lofty Real Estate, said that the slow market might be a sign of over-inflated real estate prices, especially given that half of Illinois residents want to leave the state, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. Continue reading

Joffrey ballerina Olivia Tang-Mifsud talks about ballet and the 2020 season

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

After over 30 performances of “The Nutcracker,” the Joffrey Ballet’s 46 dancers, including Olivia Tang-Mifsud, 23, of Palos Verdes, California, are learning new choreography. Following rehearsal, Tang-Mifsud traded her black leotard and tights for jeans and a white sweater. She sat with perfect posture in the lobby and talked about her four-year career with the company, the spring season – and a big change for the Joffrey Ballet and its audiences next year.

You started dancing in preschool and decided to do it professionally after high school. What drew you to ballet?

It’s a way of expressing myself, and I also see it as a stress reliever in a sense. When I’m dancing my mind isn’t anywhere else. I’m so focused on what I’m doing, and there’s a freedom in that. Then of course when I’m on stage, I love it. One of my favorite things is to see people’s faces. If they were able to personally relate or if they had their mind distracted from their everyday or if they just enjoyed themselves for an hour, then that’s all I can ask for.

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Chicago ranked most welcoming city to immigrants, despite hurdles

By Seb Peltekian
Medill Reports

Chicago is the most welcoming city for immigrants in the country, according to the latest Cities Index of the New American Economy,  an immigration advocacy and reform organization.

“Chicago has a very pro-immigrant posture, which no doubt is to the benefit of the people we serve. Our local and state government bodies have been supportive,” said Peter Zigterman, director of World Relief Chicago, agreeing with Cities Index rating released in November. World Relief Chicago is the local office of World Relief, an international non-profit which helps immigrants adjust to life in their new country.

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High Illinois taxes drive out business

By Jackson Elliott
Medill Reports

Scott Schnurr wanted to buy a fully equipped 30,100 square-foot building in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, but high property taxes convinced him to look for real estate elsewhere.

The building had stood empty for two years. If not for the taxes, it could have housed a hundred jobs for Schnurr’s water heater installation company, DRF Trusted Property Solutions.

The property taxes on the building were around fifty thousand dollars. “On a 10% profit, I’d have to do five hundred thousand dollars of business just to pay the taxes to be there,” the chief executive said. Continue reading