Cook County Loses More than 10,000 People, Most in Nation

City SkylineAccording to the Census Bureau Cook County lost 10,488 people, more than any other county in the nation. Counties in Texas, Florida and the Carolinas grew the fastest.  Much of the population change likely took place between 2007 (when the last census took place) and 2010, since then estimates of the city’s population change have flattened out.

For a more in depth investigation of what these population changes mean for the country overall, I recommend Lyman Stone’s article How Migration Changed in 2015.

Where People Walk and Bike to Work

I was surprised by this table from an article in Fast Coexist, listing the top cities for walk and bike commuting. It would have been impossible for me to guess that Boston would top the list, and I’m surprised to see Baltimore above more trendy cities like the rapidly growing Austin TX.

Overall, it’s striking to see how little weather seems to effect the walk/bike commuting percentage. The statistics seem like further proof of the power of design and infrastructure to get people on their bikes. I’m glad Chicago made the list but it’s a little embarrassing to be so far behind frigid 400,000 person city of Minneapolis.


The Story of the 2011 – 2012 Bears Season

Last Sunday when the Lions won and the Bears lost, the book was shut on any Super Bowl hopes for the Bears.  Scenarios in which the Bears enter the playoffs are now so improbable, that Sam Hurd is more likely to get into the Hall of Fame than the Bears are to get into the playoffs.

The season came to its climax in a series of spectacular failures.  With the playoffs out of reach, the last few games left in the season are only footnotes. It’s time to write the story of the season. No, the patient is not in the coffin yet, but it’s time to prepare the eulogy.


Expectations (Prologue)

After such an abysmal game against the lackluster Seahawks team, it can be hard to remember that this season wasn’t always a disappointment.

In the pre-season, the Bears were nobody’s Cinderella pick.  Still, most of Las Vegas, Grantland and I, myself, all picked the Bears to finish somewhere around 8-8.  They had a murderous first quarter of the season, an unhappy running back, coming off of a season that, by his standards, was below average. People also worried about the rule changes limiting the Bears on special teams, what’s more, the division seemed to be getting better all around them.

After the Bears went 7-3, expectations rose considerably, thanks to the continued success of an aging defense and the excellent play of that, as yet un-contracted, running back.


The First Ten Games (Acts 1 and 2)

The Bears worked their way into the front position for the NFC Wild Card with a record of 7-3.  While their rivals in Green Bay won the initial tilt and maintained a stranglehold on the Division lead, the Bears were able to beat the teams they were supposed to beat and rack up a 4-1 record against teams under .500.


The Losing Streak (Act 3)

The Bears season took a turn during the November 27th game against the Oakland Raiders, when Jay Cutler succumbed to a shoulder injury.  This marked the first of a series of injuries to key offensive players including Matt Forte and Johnny Knox.

At first pundits argued that with a relatively weak upcoming schedule, the injuries were happening at the best possible time.  That did not prove to be the case and with the Sunday’s loss to Seattle, the Bears all but sealed their fate.


The Next two games (Epilogue)

Is it possible to have a good season after a series of crushing defeats that knock them out of the playoffs? No.  But, as Lovie Smith and other Bears players and personnel were eager to point out after the game, the Bears have the Packers next week.  And they always get up for their rivals, playoffs or no playoffs. Maybe, maybe not.

No one had to ask Lovie if he was disappointed after the game, the emotion showed on his face and in his voice.  Whatever joy the Bears might take in winning a largely meaningless game against Green Bay, will disappear the first time they have to watch the Packers play in the playoffs.


Cutler’s break-out season (Appendix)

Before the year began two sentiments were unavoidable:

1. If the Colts go 0-16, Peyton Manning should get the MVP by default

2. This was Cutler’s year to break out with the Bears.

After the Colts’ victory this Sunday, Peyton won’t be getting the MVP in absentia that he may deserve, but few players’ reputations can have benefited more from their injuries and the teams resulting incompetence than Jay Cutler’s.

Cutler played well this season (though not transcendently), his injury was the turning point in the narrative of the Bear’s season.  For better or worse, the story of the 2011 Bears season will split into “pre-injury” and “post-injury. “ Cutler’s ability will be remembered as the key component to the Bears success.  At least somebody gets a happy ending.

Art Galleries, Chicago’s Culture on the Cheap (Vámonos Vol. 4)

In a recent article in the New York Times Frugal Traveler blogger Seth Kugel offered the advice that “Galleries are frugal travelers’ museums: not only are they nearly always free and nearly never musty, but they also provide insight into the local arts scene that would otherwise require a lot of trendy-cafe eavesdropping.”   When I read this it was a thought to good not to steal.  Here in Chicago we may tend to overlook the treasure trove of galleries available to us free in our neighborhoods.  With this thought in mind I compiled a small list of galleries to check out in the city.

1. Mars Gallery
1139 W. Fulton Market
(312) 226-7808
Wed/Fri/Sat, 12 a.m. – 7 p.m.

2. Packer Schopf Gallery
942 W. Lake St.
(312) 226-8984
Tues – Sat, 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

3. Three Walls
119 N. Peoria St. #2D
(312) 432-3972
Tues – Sat, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

4. Prospectus Art Gallery
1210 W. 18th St.
(312) 733-6132
Wed – Sun, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

5. Antena Gallery
1765 S. Laflin St.
(773) 344-1940
By appointment
Opening Friday, Aug. 5, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

6. Tom Robinson Gallery
2416 W. North Ave.
(773) 227-3144
By appointment only

7. Stephen Daiter Gallery
230 W. Superior
(312) 787-3350
Wed to Sat, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

8. Lunar Burn
1252 N. Central Park
(773) 551-2859
By appointment only

9. Chicago Hot Glass
1250 N. Central Park
(773) 394-3252Mon – Fri, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

10. Casa de La Cultura, Carlos Cortez, Mestizarte
1440 W 18th St.
(312) 738-2606
Hours vary, generally afternoons

This article is available in Spanish here

Sophomore Sports to be Cut at all Chicago Public Schools

Josh Locks is the coach of the boys sophmore baseball team and a teacher at Whitney Young High school.  In the wake of Chicago Public Schools considering cutting all Sophmore sports for boys and girl across the city I caught up with Josh to get his take on the situation and ask what could be done to help.

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To contact the Public School system directly to let them know that you value Sports you can write them through this link.

Register for Primaries Today

If you live in Illinois, today is the deadline to register to vote in the primaries.

If you live in Illinois and want to vote but don’t want to go to some horrible bureaucratic hellhole simply print of the form you can get here and send it in today.

Voting in primaries is especially important in states like Illinois and Texas where one party dominates, so if you share my interest in complaining about local politics please register.

That goes for: liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, ninjas and pirates.

Also: socialists, libertarians, Unitarians, librarians and septuagenarians.

Generating Revenue for the CTA

Chicago needs the CTA. A big part of what is good about this city has to do with how much of the city is always within reach. Besides the grid and size of the streets there is nothing that has as much to do with that as the public transportation. The city’s economy depends heavily on how get around it and there is also the issue of air pollution and carbon output.

As I griped about here (link) the increase in fares out paces rises in transportation costs and inflation. While fares seem to be stable for the moment and rumors about the jump to three-dollar were overheated, I think that fare hikes are inevitable. The problem is if the CTA gets too expensive it will lose its utility as public transport. Hikes need to be avoided however possible. There are two ways for a company to slow down its thirst for cash flow it can address costs or revenue.  Because it is hard for me to speculate about the CTA’s costs I would like to focus on ways for the CTA generate new revenue without raising fares.

The CTA gets money from several sources the two principle ones are fares and government funding.  But, those are not the only sources of income the CTA also gets secondary income from advertisers retail tenants.  Any money coming from secondary sources is keeping the fares down or keeping money in tax payers pockets (if it can get through the bureaucracy in tact).

Examples of sources of ad revenue can be found in the advertisements on every bus and train most of them have ads both inside and outside of the vehicles.  In the stations themselves there are ads on walls.  Some stations such as the Davis stop on the Purple Line even have television screens showing ads.  There are also train stops that have businesses operating inside of train stations like the Dunkin Donuts in the Davis station.

Starting with the premise that any way of supporting the trains without increasing the tax or raising the fares is a good thing, I tried to think of ways the train system could improve and expand its secondary revenue generators. Tomorrow I am going to look at a few ways to do this by taking more coins, working more closely with smart phones, vending machines, and improving advertising.

Featured Musicians on North and Clark

In the coming month North and Clark is going to feature original music from James Farrell, Tom Fort, and Emily Claire Palmer. These musician’s are all singer songwriters and they are going to be participating in a performance for you, the gentle readers of North and Clark on the 3rd of December. I am excited about this performance but I can’t share all the details yet, because this is going to be a collaberation and we still need to iron out some of the details. In the meantime, here’s a little background on the artists:

James Farrell

What’s been said about James: “In his songs about love, loss, regret, sin and repentance, James expresses what we all think about in the shower but are too afraid to talk about once we’ve toweled off. He sings a simple message, in simple language, for a simple purpose: to get it off of his chest, and allow his listeners to do the same.”

His Site

Tom Fort

What’s been said about Tom (and his band Cobalt and Hired Guns):Picture 21

“…Incredibly charming, poppy, youthful music…” –Roctober Magazine

“They remind me of a band that would be playing at a party in a movie that is more fun than a party that would happen in real life” -Mike Raspatello of Kingtello Productions
“If you’re looking for a cool twist to Americana music, SouthSide recommends checking out Cobalt & the Hired Guns at their next show.” -SouthSide of the Town, Fearless Radio Blog

His Site

He’s also been here on North and Clark

Picture 22Emily Claire Palmer

What I am Saying about Emily Right Now: “Emily Palmer is a Chicago-based folky/indie singer/songwriter musician extraordinaire.” –Me, Right Now, Paraphrasing her website.

Her Site


Like I said at the top of the blog I am going to try and bring this to you in a different way than we I have been bringing you content here in the past.  I am still waiting on a couple of details, but if you are in Chicago and you are intrigued by any of these musician’s or like North and Clark you might want to consider leaving December the 3rd open.

I wish I could give you all the details right now but this is a collaboration with a bunch of different people and I need to make sure all the ducks are in a row before I make too many announcements.  If the suspense is killing you and you really want more details you can write me at  Otherwise keep checking this space for more info.

5 Questions For Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant Jackie Sloane

Are Leaders Born or Made?

An age-old question! Certainly, leadership comes more naturally to some people, but leadership is definitely something we can learn. Great leaders are often great learners, and cultivate an aptitude for learning around them. Life often presents us with unexpected opportunity to take on a leadership role, in an emergency, for example. Or, to stand up for what’s right. That soldier who turned in the Abu Ghraib images, for example, found himself in an ethical dilemma, and listened to what his heart told him was the right, yet difficult thing to do. That took leadership, and courage.

What are the common traits of good Leaders?

Leadership is a fairly new discipline, and our understanding of leadership is evolving, as our needs for leaders evolve. We used to think of leaders more as warriors or generals. People who would tell us what to do and when. Fearlessness continues to be an important leadership trait, but other critical traits include curiosity, superior listening and observation skills. The ability to recognize and surround yourself with excellent talent becomes more important all the time, as is the ability to bring out the best in people and to create a sense of community in which people work together to shape a desired future. The authors of Good to Great found that the companies they studied that had been significantly more successful than other firms in their industries all had leaders who shared a unique combination of strong will and humility.

Who needs to think about Leadership?

Everyone. Your career success will be shaped by the leaders you work with. Choosing the right people to work for is one of the single most important decisions you can make. You can learn a lot from both good and bad leaders, but good leaders can give you the support, mentoring and connections that will accelerate your career. When you are in an organization, the choices you make on a daily basis impact those you work with, your organization, your clients, and your opportunities, so the more you learn about leadership, the better. In recent years, we saw the downfall of the nation’s largest, most respected accounting firm, largely due to critical choices made by two individuals.

How can we help those who lead us (particularly our bosses) be better managers and leaders?

Think strategically, and holistically. What really matters to your boss? What is he or she working to achieve? What really matters to the leadership of your organization? If you aren’t sure, find out. Then position yourself as a driver of those initiatives. Think ahead. With whatever task you have been assigned, what might thwart success? What simple detail could blow implementation? What are the potential obstacles to achieving what really matters to your boss? How can you creatively address them? Share what you see and want to do with your boss for buy-in, always first positioning any conversation with your current understanding of what is important to what really matters to him or her. What relationships within or outside the firm are critical to driving the achievement of what matters to your boss and the leadership of the organization? Cultivate those relationships, and keep your boss apprised of how what you are doing is forwarding the agreed-upon agenda. Realize that most of our leaders or managers are not ideal bosses, and may not have had ideal bosses, so you will be more successful and satisfied if you learn the art of managing up, and take it on as part of your job.

What are the most common mistakes made by people in positions of leadership?

Surrounding themselves with people who agree with them and won’t challenge them. Not listening. Not encouraging others to challenge assumptions. Lack of curiosity. Arrogance. Profound change happens more frequently now than in the past, so effective leadership now and into the future requires flexibility and ongoing learning. As long as you are arrogant, you can’t learn.

About the Author – Jackie Sloane writes the Executive Coach column for Executive Travel, and on leadership and communication for Chicago Examiner She coaches leaders to achieve significant results and greater well-being through how they engage others, navigate challenges, communicate, and cultivate relationships, and leads programs on Generative Communication.


My buddy and all around design genius Mike Johnson, put this logo together for H for Hombre.

My band and my website have a logo. Now, I just need something to put on my cape.

The show’s next Friday at the Elbo Room, we go on at midnight.  Hopefully the cops will let us finish this one.

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