Subscribe to CNC Huffpo feed
Chicago news and blog articles from The Huffington Post
Updated: 1 hour 20 min ago

Illinois 18th Congressional Candidates Support Climate Action in Democratic Debate

Wed, 2015-06-24 08:36
The two Democrats running to replace Aaron Schock in Illinois' 18th Congressional district supported action on climate change in a recent debate sponsored by several news organizations.  Both candidates mentioned a letter from Pope Francis calling on Catholics to make combating climate change a top priority. Less than a week after being issued, the pope's encyclical is already having an impact in a Congressional district with a significant Catholic population.

In a question that sounded like it came from a coal industry lobbyist, the candidates were asked if they support boosting Illinois coal production.

Candidate Rob Mellon immediately moved the conversation to where it belongs. "We have to realize that climate change is real and there's no debate about that." He took on the latest dodge of climate deniers who claim it's happening due to natural cycles, not man-made pollutants. "The overwhelming majority of scientists are clear about that. That humans play a role."

Mellon, who teaches at Quincy High School, says he agrees with Pope Francis and pointed out that climate change disproportionately hurts the poor. "Individual politicians have to step up to the plate. We have to remove our focus on fossil fuels. These are finite resources, and if we continue to put our resources into drilling, fracking, and pipelines, we're doubling down on a failed policy." He believes energy policy can include coal but should focus on clean renewable energy.

Springfield school board member Adam Lopez responded by talking about the number of people who work in coal power plants and said, "clean coal is what we need to look at." He agrees that climate change is real and renewable energy will move the nation forward. Lopez also mentioned Pope Francis and says getting away from foreign oil will be a big focus for him in Congress.

Unions who represent workers at the coal power plants Lopez mentioned are often effective at pressuring Illinois politicians to oppose environmental safeguards that impact plant operators. Many central Illinois Democrats try to have it both ways by supporting action on climate change and promoting so-called clean coal.

Support for failed clean coal projects has been a policy disaster. Two versions of FutureGen, the Taylorville Tenaska plant, Power Holdings and other clean coal pork projects all failed after wasting millions in state, local, and federal tax dollars. That money could have been spent creating real clean energy jobs instead of the fool's errand of keeping a dying coal industry on life support.

It's significant that both candidates want strong action on climate change in one of the few areas where coal still has political influence. Democrats have two candidates with reality-based positions that recognize the scientific consensus.

Rob Mellon's bold pledge to move away from fossil fuels contrasts with Lopez's support for clean coal. Lopez's interest in moving away from foreign oil is the same promise made by candidates who want more domestic drilling. Mellon sounds enthusiastic about tackling climate change, while Lopez sounds like a candidate nervously attempting to appease interests on every side of the issue.

Based on this debate, Rob Mellon is the clear winner for climate change voters. Primary election day is Tuesday, July 7.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Jimmy Fallon Passes Us The Pros And Cons Of Denver's New 'Marijuana Camp'

Wed, 2015-06-24 08:26
Pro ... wait, what were we talking about?

On Monday's "Jimmy Fallon," Jimmy took his audience through the positive and negative aspects of a new Denver resort called "CannaCamp," a cannabis-themed getaway where you can participate in various outdoor activities while smoking marijuana all day. Pro: It's like summer camp, but with marijuana. Con: So, basically ... summer camp.

In related news, the Denver International Airport has officially become the busiest airport in the world.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Why This Mom Is Sharing Pictures Of Her Body After Breast Cancer Surgery

Tue, 2015-06-23 16:46
One courageous woman wants to spread awareness about breast cancer by sharing gorgeous images of her body after surgery.

(Some images below may be considered NSFW.)


Jennifer, a mother of two and breast cancer survivor, came across photographer Natalie McCain's The Honest Body Project, and wanted to participate. The project, which showcases intimate portraits of mothers' bodies alongside narratives about their lives, aims to empower mothers to feel good about their bodies and help instill body confidence in their children. Jennifer wanted to represent a specific group of moms -- those who are battling, or have survived, breast cancer.



"Cancer has been an amazing journey for me. My body and soul are forever changed. There are moments I wish I hadn’t had to endure, and yet, who would I be today without them? My boys, my husband, my friends, saw me through so much, were so strong, and held me up with so much love. I am well today. I live in THIS moment. With THIS amazing, resilient, gift of a body. I am no one without it, and I came so close to losing it. I respect this body for its abilities and I acknowledge its limitations. We’re good, this body and I. We’re good.”




Jennifer, who asked that her last night remain private, told The Huffington Post that the bravery of other women in the project encouraged her to share her own story and pictures.

"I started thinking about all of the different women being positively affected by the honesty of these perfect and real bodies," she said. "Every story, every photo felt like a step up for me, confidence and acceptance of myself exactly the way my life has rendered me."



“As I was processing the landscape of breast cancer treatment, researching, deciding, coming to realizations, the one thing that bound all of my decision making together? My boys. If one option was slightly more aggressive than another? I did it. I have to live to see them grow. It repeated itself over and over throughout my treatment. Mastectomy over lumpectomy. Radiation over no radiation. Total hysterectomy to starve the cancer of needed hormones? Done. All very personal decisions. Another woman might find complete peace with more moderate treatments. I utterly respect that. And the research supports her decisions. I just know myself. I couldn’t live with a single ounce of doubt. I did it all. And then some.”




Photographer McCain told HuffPost that Jennifer's photo shoot was an emotional, but ultimately rewarding process.

"I typically am not nervous during the sessions, but I had unfortunately just received the news that my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer a few days before Jennifer's session," she said. "I was worried I would become emotional and have a hard time, but instead I found comfort through Jennifer's strength and bravery. Her story helped me to be optimistic and have hope... The love and beauty between her and her sons is something so natural and beautiful to photograph."


“I am so sorry to tell you this over the phone, are you sure you want me to do this?” The nurse asked. “Yes. Please. I think I already know.” I replied. “Your biopsy results are positive. You have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma and Invasive Mammary Carcinoma.” There it was. I had breast cancer.”



Jennifer wants her photographs to raise awareness about metastatic breast cancer. She also hopes that other cancer patients and survivors will be inspired to share their own stories after reading hers.

"I hope that women who are going through cancer will feel their beauty, and hold on tightly to joy in their lives, be that children, or friends or whatever makes them whole," Jennifer told HuffPost. "I hope that they will not despair in a body that has permanently changed, but embrace it, love its resilience, find peace with it."

See Jennifer's full story here, and support The Honest Body Project here.













-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The 10 Best Bakeries in America

Tue, 2015-06-23 16:44
Visiting an actual bakery to buy bread is like going to a butcher to buy meat or a fishmonger to buy fish -- a dying habit. The convenience of grocery stores is that you can purchase all these items in once place, but there is something to be said for buying goods from dedicated businesses, often small, that have their specialty down to a science. Luckily, a few thousand small bakeries still exist in the United States -- enough for us to come up with our list of America's 75 Best Bakeries. Here are the bakeries that made it to the top 10.

Click Here to see The 10 Best Bakeries in America

According to a 2013 report by Sundale Research, the United States has nearly 6,700 independent bakeries that serve Americans daily. To compile our list of America's 75 Best Bakeries, we narrowed those 6,700 bakeries down to 200, based on a combination of factors -- considering bakeries that have made it to the top of our previous lists as well as those recognized by other publications -- and pitted them against each other in a survey that we sent out to our expert panel. Participants were asked to rank what they thought were the top bakeries by region and indicate which items they felt each bakery was best known for (pies, cakes, breads, etc.). We took the list and put it under The Daily Meal editorial team's scrutiny. Were they only specialists in a particular category of pastry? If so, were they so good in that category that they were still worth putting on the list? For the most part, these bakeries, especially the top 10, represent well-rounded talent, but there were a few specialists too talented to ignore.

A large portion of the bakeries on the total list -- especially ones in the top 10 -- are located in New York City, as many of our panelists knew the city well and were able to confidently rank those establishments. This certainly does not mean that New York is the only city with fabulous bakeries, though. Take a look at the rest of the list, which features bakeries in Delaware, Ohio, and Oklahoma, among other states, and tell us why a few non-New York bakeries need to be up-voted by tweeting @thedailymeal or leaving a comment below. Better yet, tell us about a bakery we need to have on our radar.

If you find yourself near any of these bakeries, don't hesitate to stop in, even if just to look at the beautiful displays and smell that most comforting scent of bread baking. After all, they are some of the very best in the country.

#10 Levain Bakery, New York City and Wainscott, N.Y.


Photo Credit: Flickr/somethingstartedcrazy

The cookies at Levain are divine.

Levain Bakery's moist and decadent cookies, which come in tried-and-true flavors like oatmeal raisin and dark peanut butter chip, are one of those foods you cannot leave New York (or the Hamptons!) without tasting. Other baked-in-house goods include chocolate chip brioche and rustic fruit tarts, and a selection of French-style breads, such as baguettes and country boules.

#9 Maison Kayser, New York City


Photo Credit: Facebook.maisonkayzer

Maison Kayser started in Paris in 1996.

French chef Eric Kayser opened Maison Kayser in Paris in 1996, and he now has more than 100 bakeries around the world in 13 countries, with all the U.S. locations currently located in New York City. Try their pain au chocolat, or even better, their plié au chocolat, which has a filling of pastry cream and many tiny chocolate chips that make the strip of chocolate in pains au chocolat seem stingy. And then there are the pistachio financiers, cake-like cookies, nutty multigrain baguettes, olive bread with shiny chunks of real green and Kalamata olives, and other delicacies that will transport you to Paris in a single bite.




Additional reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani.

Click Here to see the Original Story on The Daily Meal

Lauren Gordon,The Daily Meal

More Content from The Daily Meal:
101 Best Cupcakes in America
10 Most Expensive Cupcakes Ever
America's 50 Best Bakeries
America 20 Best Bakeries for Dogs
10 Must-Try Delicious Pies From Around the World

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Despite Fears About Trigger Warnings, Survey Suggests Few Faculty Are Forced To Use Them

Tue, 2015-06-23 13:46
Very few college professors are forced to use trigger warnings in class, according to an online survey of College Art Association and Modern Language Association members.

Out of 808 who responded, less than 1 percent said their college or university had adopted a trigger warning policy. Eighty-five percent said in the survey that students had never asked them to use trigger warnings, and 93 percent did not know of any student-initiated efforts at their school to require them in class.

Without a formal policy, 12 percent said they used trigger warnings regularly, while another 11 percent said they tried them out "several times" and 34 percent utilized warnings "once or twice." Another 42 percent said they've never used a trigger warning.

The non-scientific questionnaire was developed with help from the National Coalition Against Censorship, and distributed using SurveyMonkey. The results were first presented at the annual conference of the American Association of University Professors last week, and were subsequently provided to The Huffington Post.

The concept of trigger warnings has existed for a century, but became increasingly popular in blogs over the past decade. As more hyper-connected millennials have arrived on college campuses, some have asked for their use ahead of potentially disturbing and "re-traumatizing" content.

The issue attracted more attention last year as campuses like the University of California, Santa Barbara and Oberlin College in Ohio began considering policies for using trigger warnings.

Yet, the survey of faculty -- which the organizations say is the only bit of data on the use of trigger warnings in academe -- suggests a trigger warning policy for professors would actually be an anomaly.

Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, said they did the survey because so far, there were only anecdotal reports to rely on. She cautioned the survey is a "snapshot of people who chose to be in the picture."

What the survey showed, Bertin said, was that if faculty is using trigger warnings, it appears that "professors do it for reasons for self-protection." Of the 626 who said they did not provide trigger warnings, 11 percent responded that "once or twice" a student complained about the lack of warning to the professor's administrators.

"We are more concerned from an academic freedom point of view for untenured or adjunct faculty that if they don't do warnings and a student complains, that's the end of their professional career or their contract," Bertin told HuffPost.

Indeed, a majority -- ​63 percent -- said trigger warnings would have a negative effect on academic freedom, compared to 7 percent who said it'd be "positive." Forty-five percent similarly believed their use would have a negative impact on classroom dynamics, while 17 percent theorized a positive result and 28 percent said they didn't know.






Like Us On Facebook | Follow Us On Twitter | Contact The Author

Tyler Kingkade covers higher education at The Huffington Post. Contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

A look at Michael Madigan's "non-budget"

Tue, 2015-06-23 13:33
Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek has little use for House Speaker Michael Madigan's oft-repeated accusation that Gov. Bruce Rauner is being unreasonable and "extreme" by trying to use "non-budget issues" as bargaining chips in deadlocked budget talks:

House Speaker Michael Madigan, the wily one, says it's unfortunate and distracting because Gov. Bruce Rauner keeps bringing up "non-budget" issues.

The all-powerful, Oz-like Speaker is on a roll. He stands behind the podium and before the blue velvet curtain in Springfield with a regularity not seen in a decade or so. Mr. Speaker insists in his looong-and-draaaawn out Southwest Side calm that he is professional and cooperative and moderate, but the governor is extreme. The governor wants to send hard-working people and the elderly to the poor house, and continues to bring up "non-budget" items when the state is in crisis and desperately needs a budget.

Because the Speaker is the Speaker for life -having been in power longer than many reporters in the Capitol have been alive -- and because he speaks so rarely and so carefully, he doesn't have to spend many pennies yet to get his message across, unlike his current nemesis, Rauner.

Rauner is spending what are a just few pennies to him so far on an ad that tamely asserts that Madigan and his minions refuse to change. All the majority Democrats want to do, the ad says, is spend and raise taxes again.

And so it goes. But what of this notion from Mr. Speaker that Rauner keeps bringing up "non-budget" issues?

It's laughable.

Read the rest of Doubek's thoughts at Reboot Illinois.

As Illinoisans face the challenge of an uncertain budget, many also are facing the challenge of rising property tax prices. Adam Andrzejewski, chairman of For the Good of Illinois, looked at where Illinois ranks on property taxes nationally and how some people are moving to "shouses" (shed/houses) to avoid property taxes. Read his whole take on the situation at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Ouch! 9 of the Least Safe Hospitals in Illinois

Tue, 2015-06-23 12:32
If you want to make sure you get the best quality care from hospitals in your area, Consumer Reports' 2015 rankings of the safest hospitals in Illinois is a good place to start your research.

Consumer Reports used data from various state and federal sources to rate patient safety at 176 hospitals in Illinois, though not all of the facilities listed had enough public information to be ranked.

Hospitals were given safety scores on a 100-point scale for key measures of patient safety: hospital-acquired infections, unnecessary readmissions, mortality, communication about new medication and discharge instructions. Other factors considered in safety scores were patient outcomes such as the number of central-line bloodstream infections and surgical-site infections, as well as patient experiences like relationships with medical staff and pain control. The appropriate use of CT scans and complications from heart surgeries also were considered in the rankings (click here for Consumer Reports' methodology).

Below is a map of the 10 Illinois hospitals Consumer Reports deemed safest (green markers) and least safe (red markers). Click on the map to see each hospital.



Here are some of the least safe hospitals in Illinois:

T-10. Advocate BroMenn Medical Center | Normal

Safety score - 44

T-10. Ingalls Memorial Hospital | Harvey

Safety score - 44

T-10. Pekin Hospital | Pekin

Safety score - 44

T-10. Heartland Regional Medical Center | Marion

Safety score - 44

T-10. Galesburg Cottage Hospital | Galesburg

Safety score - 44

T-10. West Suburban Medical Center | Oak Park

Safety score - 44

T-10. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital | Melrose Park

Safety score - 44

T-10. Vista Medical Center East | Waukegan

Safety score - 44

T-10. Good Samaritan Regional Health Center | Mt. Vernon

Safety score - 44

Check out Reboot Illinois to see the hospitals in Illinois that scored worst on Consumer Reports' safety ratings and the hospitals which ranked the best.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: 10 Illinois laws every resident should know

RECOMMENDED:
Illinois' 10 top-paid public university officials are raking it in
How many people in your county have concealed carry licenses?
Top 7 Illinois General Assembly Democratic staffers and their salaries
Mark Kirk's "bro with no ho" and 8 other gaffes send his campaign reeling
Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Ouch! 9 Of The Least Safe Hospitals In Illinois

Tue, 2015-06-23 12:32
If you want to make sure you get the best quality care from hospitals in your area, Consumer Reports' 2015 rankings of the safest hospitals in Illinois is a good place to start your research.

Consumer Reports used data from various state and federal sources to rate patient safety at 176 hospitals in Illinois, though not all of the facilities listed had enough public information to be ranked.

Hospitals were given safety scores on a 100-point scale for key measures of patient safety: hospital-acquired infections, unnecessary readmissions, mortality, communication about new medication and discharge instructions. Other factors considered in safety scores were patient outcomes such as the number of central-line bloodstream infections and surgical-site infections, as well as patient experiences like relationships with medical staff and pain control. The appropriate use of CT scans and complications from heart surgeries also were considered in the rankings (click here for Consumer Reports' methodology).

Below is a map of the 10 Illinois hospitals Consumer Reports deemed safest (green markers) and least safe (red markers). Click on the map to see each hospital.



Here are some of the least safe hospitals in Illinois:

T-10. Advocate BroMenn Medical Center | Normal

Safety score - 44

T-10. Ingalls Memorial Hospital | Harvey

Safety score - 44

T-10. Pekin Hospital | Pekin

Safety score - 44

T-10. Heartland Regional Medical Center | Marion

Safety score - 44

T-10. Galesburg Cottage Hospital | Galesburg

Safety score - 44

T-10. West Suburban Medical Center | Oak Park

Safety score - 44

T-10. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital | Melrose Park

Safety score - 44

T-10. Vista Medical Center East | Waukegan

Safety score - 44

T-10. Good Samaritan Regional Health Center | Mt. Vernon

Safety score - 44

Check out Reboot Illinois to see the hospitals in Illinois that scored worst on Consumer Reports' safety ratings and the hospitals which ranked the best.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: 10 Illinois laws every resident should know

RECOMMENDED:
Illinois' 10 top-paid public university officials are raking it in
How many people in your county have concealed carry licenses?
Top 7 Illinois General Assembly Democratic staffers and their salaries
Mark Kirk's "bro with no ho" and 8 other gaffes send his campaign reeling
Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

2015 NBA Mock Draft

Tue, 2015-06-23 11:11


For at least one night, Brooklyn, New York, will become the epicenter of the basketball universe. This year's NBA Draft class is one of the most anticipated of the past decade. Perhaps not since the famed LeBron-Wade-Bosh draft have we seen such top-shelf talent and depth. Big men and point guards seems to be the theme this year, and while it's widely assumed that Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will be the first two picks, we can't forget about Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja, two highly decorated European players.

Drafting, like "mocking," is an imperfect science -- so without further ado, here is my 2015 NBA Mock Draft.



Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

As Kelo Turns 10, Meet the New Victims of Eminent Domain

Tue, 2015-06-23 09:17
Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could bulldoze residential property so a private business group could build an office park.

Today, a Chicago university is trying to bulldoze six properties so a private developer can build and operate dorms and retail stores.

The corrupting power of eminent domain, brought to national attention in Kelo v. City of New London, still rears its head today.

The Fifth Amendment allows the government to seize private property for "public use." Typically, the idea of public use refers to roads or government buildings. However, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Kelo case set a dangerous new precedent, as justices approved the use of eminent domain as a means of "economic development."

In 1997, the city's economic-development arm, the New London Development Corporation, or NDLC, launched a plan that called for the purchase of a nine-acre neighborhood to replace it with an "urban village." The linchpin of the proposal was a new, $300 million research facility for Pfizer, which promised the city mounds of new jobs in exchange for an 80 percent cut to its property-tax bill.

The city approved the plan in 2000, putting the weight of eminent domain behind the NDLC so it could seize the properties and raze homes.

Seven of those property owners, including Susette Kelo, took the case to the Supreme Court and lost.

Today, the land sits empty and unused - Pfizer left in 2009, taking 1,400 jobs with it. New London has spent $80 million in tax dollars on the undeveloped land, according to the Institute for Justice.

More than 40 states passed either constitutional amendments or statutes that have reformed eminent-domain law to better protect property rights in the wake of the Kelo decision, according to the Institute for Justice - but the practice has not completely died out. In the northwest corner of Chicago, a state university president has moved to seize and bulldoze six small, family-owned businesses. In their place, Northeastern Illinois University President Sharon Hahs plans to hand over the land to a private real-estate developer to build and operate student housing that will also include private, retail shops on the ground floor.

Hahs said this project is necessary because NEIU is the only state college without student housing. She claims the neighborhood is economically depressed, and this project would spur growth and revitalization. But the 3400 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue is home to many small businesses, such as Caren Real Estate, Hunan Wok and the new Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club.

The owners of these businesses have invested in the neighborhood for years.

Bill Tong grew up in the property that now houses Hunan Wok restaurant. His grandfather, who immigrated to the U.S. from China, built the property in 1954. It became the Tong family's home as well as its place of business, Tong's Tea Garden. Bill and his sisters, Dolly and Betty, inherited the property from their late father in 2010. Their elderly mother, who still lives in the top-floor apartment, may be forced to leave the building they've called home for nearly six decades if NEIU gets its way.

"Being a Chinese-American, I knew that the ideal is for a son to preserve the accomplishments of his father and hopefully improve on them. I don't stand a chance of that if the property is destroyed," Tong said.

He isn't alone.

Garrick Beil also grew up in the North Park neighborhood. His parents, Rosemary and Carl, were the children of German immigrants who came to Chicago from Germany in the 1920s. Rosemary worked as a school teacher and Carl was an architect and contractor, and to bolster their modest incomes they used their entire savings, plus loans from the bank and family members, to buy a dilapidated gas station at the corner of North Kimball Avenue and West Bryn Mawr Avenue. The Beils tore down that gas station and turned the property into two commercial spaces, both of which have been continuously occupied for nearly 40 years. Rosemary and her husband planned to rely on the income from these properties in their retirement. Instead, they are faced with a costly legal battle and an uncertain future.

As the story unfolding in Chicago's North Park neighborhood shows, eminent domain often plays out as a modern David v. Goliath tale.

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor prophesized as much in the Kelo decision:

"[T]he specter of condemnation hangs over all property," her warning continued, "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

"... the beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process."

Small-business owners like Bill Tong and Garrick Beil can't match the deep pockets of the state. Their only hope is that NEIU leaders have a change of heart, drop the eminent-domain lawsuit and build on their own undeveloped land - approximately half of the college's 67-acre campus is green space.

Tong and Beil's story is a stark reminder that the threat of eminent domain remains just as real today for many as it did 10 years ago when the Supreme Court issued its Kelo decision.

NEIU's President Hahs and other proponents of the government's "right" to seize private property say they are well within their legal ability to pursue eminent domain -- under the law, they're correct. But legality doesn't confer morality.

If the government can take land from Bill Tong, Garrick Beil and the homeowners in New London, Connecticut, the same thing can and will continue to happen to other property owners across the county.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Lessons on Building Company Culture from the Chicago Blackhawks

Tue, 2015-06-23 08:05

Winning a championship in any professional sport is a war of attrition. Getting to the top in the National Hockey League takes added resolve and finesse. An 80-game season alone takes its toll on teams. Then there is the regrouping for a grueling playoff run, in which each game compounds the drama and tests the mettle of players, coaches, and front offices. There are no hacks or shortcuts when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup.

What we Chicagoans have seen here in the last six years with the three Cup wins by the Blackhawks has been nothing short of phenomenal, especially when you consider where this organization was about a decade ago. The manner in which the team has transformed its culture has drawn the respect and admiration of rival teams, respected business analysts, and sports fans worldwide. From an operational, financial, and PR viewpoint, the Blackhawks have become one of the elite franchises in all of sports.

Much has been written about the revitalization of the Chicago Blackhawks. Prior to the existing regime, the front office was a hot mess. The product that they put on the ice was an insult to a fan base that was already alienated by not being able to watch the home games on television. The team's lackluster performance, coupled with the obvious complacency shown by management, got to be too much. Interest waned and attendance plummeted.

All that changed when the team's owner, Rocky Wirtz, hired John McDonough as president on November 20, 2007, a role in which he was then serving for the Chicago Cubs. McDonough assumed control of a Blackhawks team that was not only a marketing nightmare, but woefully devalued. He swept out the debris, and shone the laser on a single goal--namely, to bring a Stanley Cup to the City of Chicago.

Lesson #1: Leadership Sets the Tone.

From an organizational standpoint, the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks is a study in sustainable turnaround, what Forbes Magazine dubbed "The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever." Yes, Blackhawks brass realized the need for change. Yes, they felt the heat when they looked at the books. Yes, they brought in the right guy to communicate the vision and get everyone in alignment.

McDonough set the wheels in motion. He systematically instilled a winning mindset that permeated throughout the corner offices, across the cubicles, down into the locker room, and through the media. Fans, players, and sponsors immediately sensed that the culture of the organization was changing. Ticket sales surged, a new television contract was negotiated, and the bottom line improved. McDonough was making it look easy.

Prior to the start of the 2008-09 NHL Season, the then-20-year-old Jonathan Toews was named team captain. On October 16, 2008, the well-respected Joel Quenneville was hired as the team's 37th head coach. In his first season behind the bench, Quenneville guided the Blackhawks to an appearance against the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Redwings in the Western Conference Finals. One month later, Stan Bowman was installed as the ninth general manager in team history, and the infrastructure of a team that could compete every year had formed.

Lesson #2: Teamwork Drives the Outcomes

With new leadership in place, the Blackhawks were able to direct their focus to talent acquisition and player development. A system was implemented, and players who fit the mold were brought in via the draft or free agency. From operations to scouting to contract negotiations, the organization became a cohesive unit, moving in unison toward building a championship-caliber team.

On the ice, the Blackhawks became a well-oiled machine. The team entered the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the second-best record in the Western Conference, third-best overall. It was the first time in twelve years that the team boasted playoff appearances in back-to-back seasons. They were high-character players performing at a remarkably high level, blending polished skills with consummate teamwork, and genuinely enjoying each other's company.

When Patrick Kane scored the winning goal in the sixth and clinching game of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Blackhawks had completely climbed out of the muck. They had hoisted the trophy for the first time in 49 years. Their subsequent Cup wins in 2013 and 2015, more than merely restoring a once-proud tradition, have vaulted the Blackhawks into the dynasty conversation. One gets the feeling that this team is not done winning championships.

Lesson #3: Consistency Strengthens the Brand

Nothing improves the brand of a team more than winning. A few years prior to their first Stanley Cup run, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone on the streets of Chicago wearing a Blackhawks jersey. The players visibly basking in the glory of victory after victory became the organization's best marketing. Although they were celebrities as individuals, they created a team identity, and the merchandise flew off the shelves.

By 2013, on the brink of their second Cup, an unmistakable mystique surrounded the team. After taking down the Boston Bruins in another six-game series, the online community exploded and the level of social sharing went off the charts. Primarily through Facebook and Twitter, the fans weighed in on anything Blackhawks, aligning themselves with the team, pining for an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Cup, a celebrity in its own right.

At the time of this writing, the state of the Blackhawks brand is sound. Save for negotiating around the salary cap, the organization's greatest challenge going into the 2015-16 Season is managing the demand that they have generated. The likability and accessibility of the players, who take their roles as goodwill ambassadors seriously, give the franchise its cachet. The Hawks are a team that is easy to appreciate.

Lesson #4: People Create the Culture

In winning their latest Stanley Cup, which was accomplished in front of the hometown crowd, the Blackhawks showcased the power of its organizational culture. The experience of having been there before was certainly in the team's favor. As the playoffs advanced, the players sharpened their collective focus, elevated their game, and exerted their will over the scrappy Tampa Bay Lightning. In yet another Game Six, the Blackhawks shut out the Lightning, the performance a byproduct of their preparation, camaraderie, and accountability.

In business, attracting top talent is tough enough; retaining quality people is the true challenge. That the Blackhawks have been able to contend on a yearly basis, and assemble a team that goes deep into post-season, is a testament to the collaborative strength of the organization. Blackhawk culture has been achieved and bolstered through a commitment to proactive employee engagement, judicious human capital management, and good old-fashioned marketing savvy.

For the Blackhawks players, coaches, and officers, the true fruit of victory draws its taste from purely organic efforts. Everyone cooperated, did their homework, and achieved in their space. With each Cup win, they let the public know that they were not going to rest on their laurels. The ultimate success is the development of a company culture that is now the envy of professional sports. Hockey players want to play here. Scores of money-ready fans cannot get enough. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the Hawks.

Parting Thoughts

♦ We Chicagoans derive a great deal of civic pride through our sports teams. More than just a topic of conversation at the water cooler, we live and breathe the games every day. Irrespective of time of year, if you want to break the ice with someone in Chicago, just ask, "Did you see that game last night?"

♦ It is refreshing to see the Blackhawks get the kind of recognition that they are receiving outside the Chicago city limits. Sports aficionados around the world realize what this team has accomplished, how they have kept (and hopefully will keep) their core together, and the manner in which they endured to reclaim the support of their fans.

♦ Companies in all walks of business must understand the impact that wins have on the organization as a whole. Set a goal, mobilize toward it, and become a model of excellence in achieving it. As the vision crystallizes, and people's skills are matched with task, the culture will build.

♦ The Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed a branding renaissance the likes of which we have seldom seen in any area of commerce. What will be the next great turnaround in professional sports?

Keep your eye on the Chicago Cubs.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The Royal Ballet's "Don Quixote" and Celebration Gala (PHOTOS)

Tue, 2015-06-23 08:02
It was a royal week for Chicago when The Royal Ballet, Great Britain's most prestigious ballet company based at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, came into town (oh yeah, and that time the Blackhawks brought home the Stanley Cup) after a 37-year-absence bringing their critically-acclaimed performance of Carlos Acosta's "Don Quixote". Under the leadership of Kevin O'Hare, the company made its Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University debut last week as part of a three-city U.S. tour which also includes The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.) and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York City).

"Concluding our monumental 125th Anniversary International Dance Series, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome back The Royal Ballet to Chicago after a long absence. Seeing the company perform on our landmark stage [is] a memory of a lifetime for all of us," said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson. "The Royal Ballet [has brought] the finest dancers in the world to Chicago and we are honored to be one of three venues throughout the entire country presenting this esteemed company on their North-American tour."

Royal Ballet Principal Guest Artist Carlos Acosta's production of "Don Quixote" was created especially for The Royal Ballet in 2013 with arrangements and orchestrations by Royal Ballet Conductor Martin Yates. The epic story ballet follows the adventures of bumbling knight Don Quixote, accompanied by his ever-faithful squire Sancho Panza, as he embarks on a quest for his ideal woman. Along the way, Don Quixote stumbles upon lovers, Kitri and Basilio, who, despite their longing to marry one another, are unable due to Kitri's father, Lorenzo, who wants her to marry the wealthy Gamache. A journey ensues as the lovers try to escape their planned lives while Don Quixote tries to right the wrongs of the world.


What an exuberant production perfect for showcasing the sheer talent of everyone involved with The Royal Ballet. Acosta's electric choreography was beautifully supported by Tony award and Olivier award-winning designer Tim Hatley's vibrant set that had a life of its own. The Royal Ballet graciously gave me exclusive backstage access to view Hatley's intricate costume designs up close. The Spanish-influenced pieces were dominated by layers and layers of ruffles with beautiful lace detailing and floral patterns for the ladies' flamenco dresses and intricately embroidered bolero ensembles in vivid hues for the gentlemen. Classic ballerina tutus for the dream sequence were outfitted with delicate glittering embellishments in a range of charming pastel colors.

I was not able to attend Acosta's historic final performance as Basilio with Marianela Nuñez's Kitri, but Federico Bonelli's and Sarah Lamb's performances were brilliant in their own right. They tackled their roles with tenacity and possessed compelling chemistry with each lift and pas de deux they executed. Lamb was particularly enchanting with her delicate yet vivacious Kitri playing off Bonelli's charismatic and gravity-defying talent. Gary Avis was lovable and charming as the eccentric titular character and Johannes Stepanek shined with his comedic chops as the dandy Gamache providing many of the evening's biggest laughs.

New Yorkers still have a chance to catch The Royal Ballet's final stop through this weekend (Jun 23-28) at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets for their mixed programing can be found here.

Follow Johannes Stepanek backstage in the photo gallery below as he gets ready for his performance as Gamache as well as coverage of a special gala at the new Chicago Athletic Association Hotel hosted by the Auditorium Theatre to celebrate the return of The Royal Ballet which included a dinner with Royal Ballet dancers and members of the artistic staff. Jay Franke and David Herro acted as the gala co-chairs with British Consul General Stephen and Mrs. Kim Bridges as the evening's honorary chairs.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Gloria and Emilio Estefan's "On Your Feet" Renews Faith in the American Dream

Tue, 2015-06-23 07:59
On Your Feet!, the musical of the life and music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan now playing at the Oriental Theatre through July 5, reminds me of one of my favorite lessons: You are never going to be any better than yourself. And the moment you change who you are for someone else, you disempower yourself.

The musical tells that lesson and more in recounting the true love story that unfolded between Emilio Estefan, now a 19 Grammy-holding, powerhouse producer of many of the most successful Latin cross over artists of all time, but then a young, immigrant musician, and Gloria Fajardo, a young girl who loved to sing, but had no aspiration of being famous.

Through incredible dancing, costumes and music, the audience learns that it wasn't just the music that bound them, but a desire to show the world their authentic, Latin selves. As Gloria said during an interview on a very busy red carpet minutes before opening night last Wednesday, "I think if you stay honest and true to who you are and what you want to portray and offer to the world, [you remain grounded]. They kept telling us, 'If you are going to be successful, you need to change your sound,' and we thought, 'Then we don't want to succeed, because then it's not going to be us.' We wanted to bring who we are to the world... When we were able to put our music out into the world, that was a blessing."

Emilio reiterated this in his wonderful accent that hasn't changed much since he came to this country at 8 years-old, "Oh my God, the time that we started was so difficult, it was so hard to bring a new sound and not to change your last name, and we are proud tonight...It's about making America better and recognizing that we live in the best country in the whole world."



It isn't just Gloria and Emilio that make On Your Feet! a very special production. I counted 32 people on stage in exhilarating dance moves choreographed by Sergio Trujillo (Memphis, Jersey Boys) and fantastic costumes by Esosa. Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell directs and Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris wrote the book. He had this to say about collaborating with Gloria and Emilio: "I spoke with them for about two hours before I realized that it was going to be a good story to write. They are very real. They tell the truth. They are painfully honest. They are very open about things and I knew I liked them."

I highly recommend On Your Feet! for the inspirational story, as well as the invigorating music which will take you back in time and restore your faith in love and the American dream. As Gloria says in the podcast above, "We have lived the American dream and this is quite a culmination of that!"

Enjoy the podcast above and tickets are available here.


Ana Villafane as Gloria. Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago.

The madness of the red carpet. People hoping to get a glimpse of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Photo courtesy of Tara Alfano.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Severe Weather Hits Northern Illinois, Spawning At Least 1 Tornado

Tue, 2015-06-23 01:35
Authorities say at least seven people have been injured after severe storms that spawned at least one tornado tracked across northern Illinois.

High winds caused property damage and uprooted trees the Lee County community of Sublette on Monday night. Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Schultz says one person in Woodhaven Association, a private camping resort, was hospitalized with injuries that were serious but not life-threatening.

Schultz says four other "walking wounded" were either treated on scene or refused treatment.

Further east in Grundy County, Emergency Management Director Joe Schroeder told WGN-TV early Tuesday that there were at least two injuries in Coal City, where the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down.

Authorities were still in search-and-rescue mode there early Tuesday morning, and a shelter was opened at a local high school.

The storms were continuing east, with parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan under a tornado watch early Tuesday.

Scary situation in Sublet, IL at Woodhaven Lakes campground. emergency services responding to confirmed tornado hit pic.twitter.com/hW16QxnbV3

— Eric O'Brien (@EricOBrien23) June 23, 2015


Authorities say high winds have caused heavy damage in Coal City, a community of about 5,000 residents south of Chicago.

Lt. David Doerfler of the Coal City Fire Protection District said late Monday that in addition to structural damage, roads in the city have been blocked by fallen trees and power lines. He says there have been no confirmed reports of injuries.

The National Weather Service reports high winds have also caused damage near the Lee County community of Sublette.

Meteorologist Gino Izzi says he couldn't confirm that a tornado touched down in the community, located about 85 miles west of Chicago. However, downed trees and power lines and damage to vehicles at a recreation trailer park were reported.

No injuries were reported when the roof of a sporting goods store in nearby Sterling collapsed.

Coal City is one of the communities hit hardest by severe weather. @UnruhJulie on the scene http://t.co/XRuCltcxKR pic.twitter.com/F57L6Z3ocL

— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) June 23, 2015

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Northwestern Magazine May Close In 'Vetting Committee' Standoff

Mon, 2015-06-22 19:03
A Northwestern University professor who edits a bioethics magazine has shelved the publication over a dispute with administrators, who demand that public relations staff approve content.

Katie Watson, a professor in the university's Medical Humanities and Bioethics program who edits the journal Atrium, said the demand followed recent controversy over the school's censorship of an essay called "Head Nurses," recounting sexual experiences with nurses. Watson said medical school administrators told her she must allow a "vetting committee" to review her editorial choices "and veto them if they were perceived to conflict with other institutional interests."

"Approximately a week after this vetting committee told me what I would, and would not, be allowed to publish, I canceled the issue," Watson told HuffPost, explaining she is "not moving forward with the publication under that condition."

The standoff follows Northwestern's censorship of last year's Atrium issue containing an article written by Syracuse University professor William Peace about oral sex performed by nurses on hospital patients in the 1970s. Northwestern, a private university in Evanston, Illinois, removed the article from its website, but backed off when a faculty member threatened to expose the censorship.

Watson said she had been selecting proposals for the next issue of Atrium, which is published roughly once a year. She met with a hospital administrator, a medical school administrator on the faculty, a person from the medical school communication department -- the members of Atrium's new vetting committee.

Around the same time, Northwestern slashed Atrium's budget, according to a letter Watson wrote to Peace, which was posted on his blog.

Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage declined to comment on Monday. The university wouldn't answer questions from HuffPost last week about the Atrium censorship, and instead provided a statement saying, "The magazine now has an editorial board of faculty members and others, as is customary for academic journals."

Watson and other faculty members disputed the statement, saying the vetting committee is not an editorial board, evidenced by the presence of a university public relations person. The nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has suggested Northwestern's vetting committee threatens academic freedom.

"It's unusual for the PR department of a university to have any oversight of a peer-reviewed journal edited by a faculty member at that university," said Ivan Oransky, co-founder of the Retraction Watch blog and a professor in New York University's journalism and medical schools.

Watson told Peace she has staunchly guarded editorial content against administrative tinkering not because she necessarily is a fan of each article, but to preserve the free expression of "all the challenging, illuminating voices" in Atrium.

Watson is considering ways to make Atrium independent, to find another publisher, or to close the journal permanently.

"I work with good people in both the medical school and the hospital, and I remain hopeful," Watson wrote. "But if I become convinced Atrium can no longer move forward with integrity here, I will drop the publication's MH&B and NU affiliations and move it elsewhere, or I'll throw a party for the terrific run it enjoyed and end it."

Alice Dreger, a Northwestern medical professor who guest-edited the controversial Atrium issue, said if the administration "honestly believes" it's normal to allow "administrators and PR folks tasked with making sure we don't publish anything that might offend anyone ever again ... then our administration seems to be made up of people who have never worked with scholarly journals." She said the finds the administration monitoring of journal content "extremely disturbing."

"They said, 'We paid for it, so we get to say what’s in it,'" Dreger said. "I asked them whether, under the new 'Northwestern Medicine,' brand, I was expected to run all of my work past them -- my articles, my books, my tweets, my talks, my blogs, my op-eds -- given that Northwestern essentially funds all of my work. To this, they had no good answer, but to repeat that they could 'monitor' Atrium."

Like Us On Facebook | Follow Us On Twitter | Contact The Author

Tyler Kingkade covers higher education at The Huffington Post. Contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

White Girl Tries To Sell Drugs To Cops, Proves White Privilege Is A Thing

Mon, 2015-06-22 17:04
What does a white girl gotta do to get arrested around here??

Comedian Jessie Kahnweiler wanted to know if she would get preferential treatment from the police simply for being a white woman. The results are hilarious -- and frightening.

Kahnweiler pretty brilliantly shows how a funny, bubbly white girl can get away with a lot more things around police than, say, a black or hispanic person might be able to.

In one particularly crazy moment, Kahnweiler tries to sell two officers her leftover depression medication. They tell her she'd be committing a crime, and then let her go on her merry way when she apologizes and claims ignorance. So if you commit a crime, just say sorry and feign ignorance? Cool, got it.

That's the lesson here, non-white people. When police stop you for doing nothing at all, just apologize for being a law-abiding citizen.

SO SIMPLE!

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

New Nina Simone Documentary Recalls Past Struggles While Echoing Present

Mon, 2015-06-22 17:00
While watching "What Happened, Miss Simone?" -- a new documentary about the legendary singer-songwriter Nina Simone -- it's almost impossible not to think about two attacks on black churches that happened 52 years apart.

The first attack, in Birmingham, Alabama, inspired Simone to join the burgeoning civil rights movement of the 1960s. The latter, in Charleston, South Carolina, happened just last week.

In the wake of the latest attack, the Netflix documentary may help shed light on how art like Simone's can channel anger, fear and frustration about social ills like racism and oppression.

Houses of worship were crucial to Simone's development as an artist and an activist. As a child in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone played the piano at her local church. During one of her performances, her parents were told to move to the back of the church hall; she said she wouldn't play until her parents were allowed to move back to the front. But decades later, Simone would say she had "stopped believing in prayer" after racist acts kept being committed against those fighting for civil rights.

Simone's transformation as an artist came in the wake of the bombing in Birmingham that killed four black girls. "That did it," Simone says in the film, much of which is narrated in her own voice. While she had made a name for herself with renditions of tunes like "I Loves You, Porgy," her career changed profoundly after she started to sing about what was happening around her.

“How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?” Simone asked.

Following the Birmingham bombing and the assassination of black civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Mississippi, Simone wrote the song "Mississippi Goddam." In a recording of a concert she gave at New York City's Carnegie Hall, Simone calls the song a "show tune, but the show hasn't been written for it yet." What was subversive about her performance was that she lulled the the majority-white audience at the concert hall into thinking the song would be jaunty and non-political. But her audience went silent as she told them: "You're all gonna die and die like flies." She meant every word of it, she told them.

"Lord have mercy on this land of mine / We all gonna get it in due time / I don't belong here / I don't belong there / I've even stopped believing in prayer," she sang. "You keep on saying, 'Go slow!' / But that's just the trouble / 'Do it slow' / Desegregation / 'Do it slow' / Mass participation / 'Do it slow' / Reunification / 'Do it slow' / Do things gradually / 'Do it slow' / But bring more tragedy / 'Do it slow.'"



Fifty years ago, Simone performed "Mississippi Goddam" for the thousands of civil rights marchers who walked from Selma, Alabama, to the state capitol in Montgomery. That march was marked by violent state troopers blocking the participants' progress at the Edmund Pettus bridge, illustrating one of Simone's arguments in her song: Gradually trying to bring about equality only concedes to the demands of the oppressors.

And yet, as the film shows, there was a danger for Simone in being perceived as too controversial. She attributed a stall in her career to "Mississippi Goddam," which was boycotted by a number of Southern states.

Despite the backlash to her more confrontational music, Simone still "thought we should get our rights by any means possible," as she explains in the film. She was in favor of direct action and became affiliated with the black power movement, defiantly telling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when she met him at the Selma march that she wasn't non-violent.

Simone says she felt free on stage. But she also said that to her, freedom meant living without fear. ("I think every day's gonna be my last," she sang.) What's devastating about the documentary in light of the Charleston shooting is its reminder that African Americans have yet to realize that freedom from fear, decades after Simone voiced a desire for it.

"We can't afford any more losses," Simone says in the film. "They're killing us one by one."

At the Sundance film festival in January, the film's director, Liz Garbus, acknowledged the resonance of the documentary in comments referring to mass protests across the nation over police killings of unarmed African Americans.

"If we had voices like Nina Simone's today, speaking the pain and the passion of the movement that's been building, I think, on the streets in the past six months..." Garbus said, "I think we can all see the place of these songs today."

"What Happened, Miss Simone?" will be available on Netflix Friday. Watch a trailer for the documentary here.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

NeoCon 2015: The Year of the Work-Life Blur

Mon, 2015-06-22 16:37
NeoCon 2015 did not disappoint. While the residential influence has been slowly creeping into the contract furniture market, this year it hit a new decibel. The furniture industry is answering the call beyond seeking a work-life balance to manifesting a true work-life blur. Perhaps due to more women in the workplace, people seeking new levels of balance since "time is the new money", or technology invading the home [and thus vice-versa], the work life-blur has officially arrived.

Although we saw expected, yet exaggerated takes on the residential themes of years past such as comforting color palettes, home office settings, and residential-like sofas, two companies really stole the show. They illustrated how the work-life blur extends far beyond just product as they boldly blur the lines between the residential and contract segments of the furniture industry through innovations in distribution strategies and visualization technologies.

RESIDENTIAL BLURS TO CONTRACT




West Elm Workspace, a collaboration between the residential brand West Elm and contract furniture brand Inscape certainly was the most talked about launch of the show. Sparked at NeoCon last year when Jim Brett, president of West Elm, sent a few of his team to NeoCon in search of a contract furniture partner to fill a void he observed in the market. "We need to relocate our office and I was not about to buy someone else's furniture, so we identified four companies that we wanted to speak with. As soon as I met Jim Stelter, we knew right away Inscape was the right partner," said Brett.

At mind blowing speed, the two companies collaborated to create 75+ product lines including five desking lines of varying styles, 140+ fabric color options (in partnership with DesignTex), a lighting line, and even a proprietary software system that will facilitate ease of furniture selection. These products will be sold in their new West Elm Workspace dedicated showrooms, each of which will be crated in partnership with a local contract dealer. While an eight month development cycle is beyond mind-boggling for this quantity of product to the contract interiors industry, Brett says, "We design thousands of items per year. To us, this is nothing."

While some contract furniture veterans may scoff at the idea of bringing West Elm to the work space, it is important to note that all of the new product lines meet contract furniture quality standards. "We have had people put West Elm [residential] furniture into their corporate spaces, and they are not happy. It can be a negative experience for them and us." Says Brett. "These new platforms are built off a beautiful platform of West Elm aesthetics, but with contract quality. They have different foam, fire test criteria, and even fabric rub standards."

West Elm Workspace is focused on three core mantras; Choice, Community, and Consciousness.

1. Choice means let the client chose their style. The brand does not dictate what is beautiful, but rather provides aesthetic options so the client can select what makes sense for their space. The five desking collections, appropriately named after their aesthetic (Mid Century, Modern, Industrial, Scandi, Stria and Truss), give great visual flexibility to any space.

2. Community means that wherever they do business, they should be pillars of the community. Taking from the West Elm brand who partners with over 500 artisans in the US to feature local designers' collections in their retail stores, West Elm Workspace also has added elements from a local [to their Brooklyn Design Center] artist to enhance their collections.

3. Consciousness means awareness and empathy for those who make the product. While a majority of the product is produced in the US, the few items that are not are certified through Fair Trade USA, an organization typically associated with food items. Brett says, "Why can't we have the same level of consciousness and transparency around our furniture as well?"


CONTRACT BLURS TO RESIDENTIAL






DIRTT continues to push the industry. They echoed the blur happening between contract and residential by launching products clearly targeted at residential construction. They also featured truly industry revolutionizing software. In a brief conversation, Mogens Smed, CEO of DIRTT said confidently, "DIRTT is clearly in the construction business. We are not just walls. We are and always have been much, much more than that. The move to residential is a next logical step because residential is just another type of space ... and our solutions are not industry-specific." With a new post and beam system, DIRTT creates lego-like building blocks for just about any space imaginable. The new Timber Framing concept features curved timber frame honeycomb ceilings that can create limitless combinations for modular home construction as well as creative interiors concepts. With this new launch, floors and ceilings become modular construction tools complete with acoustic options and limitless embedded functions. The alluring thing about the DIRTT space is they don't show you what is, but inspire you with what can be.

Perhaps the most astounding piece of the DIRTT space was the evolution of their ICE software. This software is well known for challenging "what can't be done" with real time change capability allowing designers and non-visual thinkers alike to view the same concepts for interior spaces. This year, DIRTT unveiled a virtual reality version that left some motion sick, but everyone smiling with amazement and delight as they were able to walk through a space through VR goggles. DIRTT has a space in their Calgary office that equips visitors with backpacks and goggles which allow them to actually walk through a space in virtual reality before it's built. This groundbreaking technology will even allow them to program the space outside building windows with landscapes or cityscapes complete with sunrises and sunsets. The future has officially arrived to the world of office furniture for your workplace and home.

There were certainly other interesting product enhancements and themes unmentioned here. What were your favorites? I'd love to hear from you.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

People Are Sharing The Positive Impact Of Birth Control On Their Lives

Mon, 2015-06-22 14:59
Women and men on Twitter are sharing how birth control has made their lives better.

Planned Parenthood started the hashtag #BirthControlHelpedMe on June 18, raising awareness about the difference effective contraception can make in a person's life. The hashtag is part of a campaign, featuring erected billboards in Times Square.

Attacks on birth control are heating up, so it's time to shout our stories from the rooftops. Fill in the tweet: #BirthControlHelpedMe ____!

— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) June 18, 2015


Check out our billboards in Times Square today! Use #BirthControlHelpedMe to tell us your birth control story. pic.twitter.com/YLYN8v7cfL

— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) June 22, 2015


Women shared how using birth control allowed them to complete their life goals, advance in their careers and enjoy their sex lives at times without the fear of unintended pregnancy.

#BirthControlHelpedMe to be able to safely and effectively decide when having children was right for me.

— Mary Agudelo (@moaphers) June 18, 2015


My #LARC #BirthControlHelpedMe take control over my reproductive health. I'll have kids when I want them. Not today.

— Rose Niz (@Amandahb426) June 22, 2015


#BirthControlHelpedMe (and still does) take control of my body, my choices, and keep my attention focused on my education and future! @PPFA

— Rachel (@racheldyer100) June 22, 2015


An estimated 1.5 million women use hormonal birth control solely for non-contraceptive benefits. Many women shared how birth control helped with various health problems, for example by regulating their periods and clearing up acne.

#BirthControlHelpedMe manage crazy periods & have positive sexual experiences w/o becoming a parent when I don't want to be one. #teamiud

— Kate Bernyk (@kbernyk) June 22, 2015


#BirthControlHelpedMe get rid of acne, a 5-day amazonian attack on my body, unpredictable periods, and lessened migraines...I could go on

— Krissy Bryde (@BrydeK18) June 18, 2015


In my early 20s I suffered from debilitating cramps, mood swings, sickness. It helped me function in normal life. #BirthControlHelpedMe

— aprilhauck (@aprilhauck) June 19, 2015


My period was overwhelming as a teen — pain, exhaustion, etc. #BirthControlHelpedMe ease the pain so I didn't have to miss class.

— Ponta (@typicalfeminist) June 22, 2015


Men also weighed in to share how using contraception with their partners allowed them to choose if and when fatherhood was right for them.

#BirthControlHelpedMe save my wife's health - I got a vasectomy because pregnancy would've endangered it.

— Dave (@TooOldToBeCool) June 18, 2015


#BirthControlHelpedMe plan when to become a dad! I'm so grateful to @PPFA and @PPGreaterOH for helping me plan! https://t.co/vPuZYAXmo0

— Brant Silvers (@brantsilvers) June 22, 2015


The hashtag reminds us that birth control changes so many lives for the better -- and access is worth fighting for.

Read more #BirthControlHelpedMe tweets here.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Judge Grants Injunction Against Mark Diamond

Mon, 2015-06-22 14:59

Lillie Williams said she was the subject of a reverse mortage/home repair scam orchestrated by Mark Diamond. Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Life for Chicago businessman Mark Diamond got harder last week, even as questions remain for some about why he has not yet faced criminal prosecution.

On Wednesday Cook Count Judge David Atkins granted Attorney General Lisa Madigan's request for an injunction against Diamond while the 2009 cases her office filed on behalf of dozens of homeowners makes its way through the court system.

"The court finds that Plaintiff has carried its burden of proof to obtain a preliminary injunction against the Defendants," Atkins wrote in his 10-page decision.

In the 2009 suit Diamond was accused of bilking elderly black homeowners out of more than $1.3 million through a reverse mortgage/home repair scam.

Reverse mortgages are loans that allow homeowners 62 years or older to convert some of their home's equity into cash. Although the mortgage is not due until the homeowner dies or the house is no longer used as a primary residence, mortgage holders must pay insurance premiums.

Madigan told me in January for a story I wrote for The Chicago Reporter that she filed the injunction in October 2014 because her office had received an uptick last year in complaints about Diamond's activities.

"For too many years, Mark Diamond defrauded the most vulnerable people in our society," Madigan said in a statement. "He stole the financial security that these families struggled to build over a lifetime. It is deplorable that he got away with his scheme for so many years. The preliminary injunction provides a small victory for those who have already lost so much but will at least prevent additional people from losing their homes and savings to one of Diamond's reverse mortgage scams."

Diamond's lawyer Dennis Both declined requests for comment.

Diamond has been the subject of dozens of lawsuits in circuit and federal court in Illinois stretching back nearly 30 years. Many of the actions allege that he targeted elderly black homeowners on the city's South and West Sides. Madigan has sought to thwart Diamond's activities since she assumed office in 2002.

A number of these homeowners recounted their experiences in the injunction Madigan's office filed last year. Their testimony creates a consistent picture of Diamond's misrepresenting the nature and terms of the reverse mortgage, taking a substantial portion, if not all, of the money, and doing little, no or shoddy repairs.

The homeowners who testified included Clyde Ross, a member of the Contract Buyers League that fought for West Side residents' housing rights in the 1960s. Ross, who is in his 90s, said in his testimony that he wanted to make his home accessible for his son Tim, a disabled Marine who was injured in the war in Iraq. Diamond took more than $35,000 from Clyde Ross and left his home more dangerous than before he started, according to the testimony.

Legislation filed by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16) that would require a cooling off period for prospective reverse mortgage applicants and that would prohibit those involved in granting a reverse mortgage from getting access to the money has not moved since passing the House in late May.

Collins said she was relieved that Diamond will not be able conduct the business activities that have allowed him to prey for decades on senior citizens of color, but noted that he is "not the only scammer at work in our neighborhoods."

"I urge the governor to sign the reverse mortgage consumer protection legislation I sponsored so these individuals have fewer opportunities to defraud homeowners," Collins wrote in a statement.

Catherine Kelly, spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner, said the governor will take seriously any legislation that crosses his desk.

The Rev. Robin Hood, founder of the Illinois Anti-Foreclosure Coalition and the nephew of one of Diamond's alleged victims, also applauded the move by Atkins and said he will not stop advocating until Diamond faces criminal charges.

"We will not quit until Mark Diamond and others like him, are completely out of business and face the full extent of the law," said Hood, adding that he had spoken with an attorney in South Dakota who said Diamond had victimized hundreds of families across the country. "We will seek restitution for all the victims, and their heirs."

"Now is the time for federal, state and local law enforcement to stop Mark Diamond and his enablers, Bankers, mortgagers and all that prey on the elderly," Hood wrote later.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Pages