INTRODUCTION TO THE GROUP Once upon a time there lived a couple of Loyola University students named Emil, David, Ziggy, and Danielle. According to their professor—Dr. White—the neighboring communities of Rogers Park, Edgewater, and Andersonville—had much to offer them. Because their class was to embark on a project which involved the decommissioning of a landmark on Loyola’s campus—they needed a better perspective of their neighboring communities. Hopefully during this journey, they would feel more in touch with their community and what each community had to offer.
For the next week, Emil, David, Ziggy, and Danielle decided on taking that much needed journey through Rogers Park, Edgewater, and Andersonville to further explore Loyola’s neighbors. Throughout this week, they would follow a scavenger hunt provided by Dr. White. This scavenger hunt would help the team introduce themselves to the communities that they would potentially serve during their project this semester.
First, Emil, David, Ziggy, and Danielle wanted to get a feel for the neighborhood by taking a look at the surrounding housing areas. They began their hunt at the CTA’s Granville red line stop located at 1119 W. Granville Ave.
After that they walked two blocks east of the station and then one block south. Since neither of the students were from this area they did not know what to expect. They ended up on N. Kenmore St. What they ended up seeing from most of the area were apartment complexes. There was one residential house that stood out like a sore thumb—yet that was the only house on the block. The group concluded that these apartment complexes were kept in relatively good shape.
Even with the neighborhood being so close to the lakeshore—it seemed pretty quiet and calm overall.
In order to get more familiar with businesses around the housing area—Ziggy decided to speak to some of the workers around the area. First he went into Windy City Nails located on 6720 N. Sheridan Rd. The worker there told him the neighborhood was very diverse and that there lived many different races in proximity to each other. With it being a nail salon—she stated that 95% of her clientele was female. C’mon boys get your nails done The next stop was Starbucks Coffee on 6738 N. Sheridan Rd. The worker there stated that people that came into the café were diverse as well. Depending on time of day, genders seem to change. Mainly women yet during the daytime a bunch of men come in with no particular race.
Next stop, Sonny’s Convenient with Classy located on 7003 N. Sheridan Rd. The worker said the neighborhood was diverse yet the clientele was mainly African American and older Caucasian couples and various locals. Next, was Bank of America. Since the Bank of America located on 6742 N. Sheridan is only an automated system—Ziggy had no one to speak to. Yet the people that constantly walked in were all very different. Finally, Ziggy wanted to see if where locals would get their household goods. He went to two locations, Unan Imports on 6971 N. Sheridan Rd and Lakeshore Treasures Inc on 7110 N. Sheridan Rd. and both seemed closed to the public which was very strange.
The group decided to head up to the Rogers Park Historical Society on Morse Ave to get more history on the neighborhood itself. Upon approaching the historical society—the group noticed how small it was in size. For a building holding so much history—this amazed them. The motto of the society was, “preserving and sharing the story of our community.”
They most definitely did that. From speaking to the worker there, the team was given pamphlets on the history of Rogers Park. One was about the previous owner of all the land in Rogers Park. Philip McGregor Rogers owned Rogers Park from the boundaries of Lake Michigan, Ridge Blvd, and Devon Ave. The question that seemed to be on every member’s mind was where really is Rogers Park? They were told that since Rogers Park is so close to neighborhoods such as Edgewater and Andersonville—that many people have a hard time distinguishing each from each other.
The commercial zone that was to be investigated by Danielle and David was the North Andersonville area. This area is located at Clark St to Ridge Ave to Catalpa Ave. Danielle and David found two very unique resale/reuse shops in this area. The first—found by Danielle was Mr. and Mrs. Digz located on 5668 N. Clark St. While browsing the boutique, she noticed a very diverse crowd shopping inside. From young hipsters wearing vintage clothing to mature business woman looking at vintage blazers. The items sold within the store were just as diverse as well. There were new items of clothing, designer vintage clothing, slightly reused clothing, and local homemade clothing items. According to the cashier working at the time of Danielle’s visit—she found the store’s mission to be very unique. “Why must we always buy new?”, she asked. This is why she felt the store to be environmentally sustainable in that aspect. The fact that Mr. and Mrs. Digz sells local clothing items handmade by local designers in the community reinforces this “buy local” idea. At least half of the clothing within the store—is from within the community—which Danielle found to be awesome. The store clerk, ended their conversation about how the local designers, “let the community in on the “awesomeness” that their own community members have to offer.” Danielle gave the business a 4 on environmental awareness/sensitivity.
Three more businesses that Danielle found along the same stretch were The Basement Hookah located on 5700 N. Clark St, La Baguette Bakery at 5746 N. Clark St, and En-Thai-Ce Restaurant at 5701 N. Clark St. The Basement Hookah Lounge is a hookah bar for people to come relax in. As soon as you walk into the lounge—you are bombarded by hookah pipe smoke. This, Danielle knew could not be good for the environment’s atmosphere. While talking to the worker walking around—they could not give any real reason as to how natural their products are. Danielle rated this lounge at a 1. La Baguette Bakery is a small bakery containing all types of goodies. Speaking to the worker there, they explained that they try using ingredients that are always fresh and local. Danielle was not let into the back area to prove it to be true but she trusted the workers words. She gave the bakery a 3. Finally En-Thai-Ce Restaurant is a restaurant specializing in thai food. Danielle spoke to the one of the waiters on staff who stated that he did not know if the restaurants’ chefs bought local or not. Yet he felt they should. The manager was not at the restaurant nor could no one finalize this statement. Danielle rated the restaurant at a 2 for the waiters interest in buying local.
The next reuse/resale shop was discovered by David on 5137 N. Clark St. The store is called Patina. Patina is a reuse/resale shop dedicated to the reuse of various cottage style antiques. The feel of this shop is a very “homey” one. The shop made David feel as if he was back in a cabin on the northwest coast. The worker on the floor told David that the owner—Alan, searches across antique auctions across the country for items to sell within his shop. While taking a look at the inventory, David saw a variety of things. From wood cabinets and small wooden tables to huge deer head hangings. The clientele within the store seemed to vary as well. From young couples looking at furniture to old men and women who looked to be in their 60’s walking around. The fact that Patina yearns on selling antique is vital to sustainability aspects. To David, selling items that wouldn’t necessarily be found on a store floor and would be considered as “junk” is great. These antiques should not be thrown out—they have unique qualities to them that people should take notice of. On the scale of environmental awareness/sensitivity—David gave Patina a 3. This was only because of the what could be called “disturbing animal head fixtures.” Some might find this aspect of the shop not very environmentally friendly.
In order to build contacts within the community—Emil sought out a community group who would be interested in the project the class planed on becoming apart of. The community group he spoke to was Urban Habitat Chicago. Urban Habitat Chicago is a community group advocating the reuse and reconstruction of materials “thrown out” from a decommissioning project. Their mission is as follows, “The mission of Urban Habitat Chicago is to demonstrate the viability of sustainable concepts and practices in urban environments through research, education, and hands-on projects.We work at the intersections of urban agriculture, the built environment, materials recovery and reuse, and emerging local industries, focusing on creating seamless transitions in the cycles of resources at all scales.”
Past projects that this group has been involved in vary from the reuse of an 1890’s carriage house, the deconstruction of the 1954 home of a Japanese watercolor artist, and a do-it-yourself method of deconstructing a home. From speaking to the group, Emil felt that they were really thrilled about Loyola’s decommissioning process for the Alumni Gym and our class’s involvement. They support our Loyola’s initiative. Urban Habitat Chicago is actively involved in residential deconstruction and advocates for this process at the end of the building’s life. They advocate for building materials to be reused as much as possible—just like Dr. White’s class’s goal.
To get to know more about the actual decommissioning of Loyola’s Alumni Gym—Ziggy took it upon himself to plan on attending the Subcontractor Meeting of Loyola’s Alumni Gym on campus. Unfortunately the date was pushed back to a further date; therefore Dr. White assured Ziggy to wait for that meeting to occur. Hopefully much more information about Loyola’s future plans are discussed.
Upon ending their journey—Emil, David, Ziggy, and Danielle felt that they got a good view of the neighboring communities surrounding the Loyola campus. Hopefully these communities and businesses will lend their helping hands for the project to come.