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BAPA Board Member Profile: Craig Huffman

By Grace Kuikman

Craig Huffman, a BAPA Board member since 2016, moved to Beverly/Morgan Park from Hyde Park in 2008. Huffman and his wife, Rebeca, learned about the neighborhood when visiting friends. “I fell in love with the community,” Huffman said, citing the mix of small town feel and big city appeal that has drawn so many people to the Village in the City.

Soon after the Huffmans settled in their East Beverly home they joined BAPA. Supporting your neighborhood organization is, “the right thing to do,” Huffman said. Even though he didn’t know a lot about BAPA’s work when he first came to the community, he has since learned how much BAPA does to preserve and protect our community. When he got the call inviting him to consider serving on the BAPA Board, he said yes,

The expertise Huffman brings to BAPA includes wide experience in board governance and management including not-for-profits, financial analysis, and facilities maintenance – especially helpful as BAPA owns an old building.

A managing partner and co-founder of Ascendance Partners, a commercial real estate investment firm, Huffman brings exceptional insight and experience in this field to BAPA’s board. Ascendance Partners was established in 2006 with a focus on commercial real estate investments that target industrial, retail and office opportunities throughout metropolitan Chicago.

In addition to his commitment to BAPA, Huffman serves on a number of other boards including the Healthy Communities Foundation, a public policy organization that works for prison reform, and an organization that helps ensure that children from low families have access to higher education.

Huffman’s reputation for hard work and deep insights about Chicago communities were certainly factors to him being appointed to the diverse committee of Chicago business and community leaders invited by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help make the case for moving Amazon HQ2 to Chicago.

In that capacity, Huffman has participated in briefing sessions and opportunities to advocate for Chicago as the best place for Amazon to locate.

Huffman called Amazon a “major player in commerce” citing its enormous span of influence, from affluent communities to poor ones. “Amazon is redefining what many of us know as conventional retail,” he said. Finalists cities should be announced soon, and the selection may be made by the end of this year. Huffman said he’s “hopeful” that Chicago will be selected but adds “We’ve got some tough competition.”  “I think Chicago is the best city in the world, but people in other cities feel the same way,” he said.

Huffman’s experience and perspective gained in his career, in board work and as an active member of the community help shape the programs and goals of BAPA.

“Beverly/Morgan Park is a great community because of the level of the people who are here, and BAPA is a reflection of that,” he said. He encourages neighbors to actively support BAPA. “The more people getting involved in BAPA, the more we’re invested in making sure Beverly/Morgan Park remains a great community.”

The Huffmans have two children, Sofia, 11, a student at St. Barnabas School, and Solomon, 9, a student at Sutherland School.

For more information about supporting BAPA, call BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood, 773-233-3100, or visit www.bapa.org.

Village Viewpoint

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

When I joined BAPA’s team six months ago I was very vocal with my viewpoint that Beverly/Morgan Park is the city’s most well-kept secret.  As I drive to work down Longwood from 95th to 1111th every morning I am consistently struck by the very same emotion: These amazing places are in my own backyard!  Passing such a wealth of architectural gems on a daily basis makes me feel lucky to have discovered our neighborhood.   

Neighbor, our well-kept secret is out.  On Oc. 13 and 14, the Chicago Architecture Center will tap our community’s hospitality as eight iconic neighborhood sites open their doors for Open House Chicago.  Beverly/Morgan Park is new to this citywide festival, which one of the largest architect events in the world.   

I have always loved to travel, especially to other countries.  When I take in the experiences of those trips, I remember the people, the food, the arts.  But where most of my time is spent is touring the architecture.  It’s the architecture that really defines the people who live in and around it.  

Sure, most of the buildings were here long before the people who live among them now, but the preservation and pride the community puts into these spaces speaks volumes about the people, their way of life, their approach to their world, the respect they have for their surroundings, each other and visitors.  

When I visit small towns, I get the feeling that I really know the people who have so lovingly cared for their historic places. For the throngs of architecture and history buffs who will be visiting our Village in the City for Open House Chicago, we are those people. What a great reflection on our neighborhood and neighbors!  

Please, be a part of this amazing event! Perhaps you’ve admired the façade of Givins Irish Castle or wondered what’s behind the amazing decorative doors of the century old firehouse that is now home to the Optimo Hat Company.  During Open House Chicago you can discover the wealth of beauty and history that’s in your own backyard.  I’m certain, like me, you already know that you are truly lucky to be “at home” with people who care so very much about our past and our future.

Going Green: Ellie’s Takes Plastic Off the Table

By Abby Johnson

Cathy Stacey couldn’t get the image out of her head. It was of a baby sea turtle, struggling to breathe, the plastic straw descending further into the reptile’s nostril with every attempted intake of air.  

This disturbing story is becoming the norm for our ocean’s marine life, as a study performed by the Marine Wildlife Society shows that 70 percent of sea birds and 30 percent of sea turtles have some amount of plastic in their ecosystems. 

Doing what she can to turn around this ecological tragedy, Stacey, owner of Ellie’s Cafe, 10701 S. Hale, recently made the decision to eliminate the use of plastic straws at the restaurant. 

“I had been hearing from people for a while that plastic waste not only harms animals, but kills them,” Stacey said. “I like to think of myself as a strong candidate for animal rights, so I couldn’t just continue to listen to this stuff and then do nothing.” 

A little over one month ago, Ellie’s Cafe made the switch that so many in the conservation world have been encouraging: Her business now provides customers with paper straws, instead of plastic ones. It’s a necessary change, as the World Economic Forum predicts the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh all the fish in the oceans by 2050 if the accumulation rate isn’t curbed. 

“It wasn’t something I had to think about much,” she said. “The bottom line is that straws are a convenience for us. We don’t need them to survive. So why wouldn’t we use an alternative that doesn’t harm animals?” 

The reaction from customers to Stacey’s decision? Stacey said a lot of customers don’t even notice the change. But those who do, for the most part, have been positive. 

“People like the idea of bettering the environment,” she said.  “I’m happy that people understand why it’s important to make this change. It sounds cheesy, but I can always count on this neighborhood to guide me to do the right thing.”  

MPHS Teams Up with The Alliance for ‘Arts in the Dark’ Parade

By Kristin Boza 

Morgan Park High School (MPHS) juniors and seniors are taking part in an after-school arts program designed by a collaboration between the Beverly Area Arts Alliance (The Alliance), MPHS art teacher Wendie Bloxsom, and retired CPS art teacher and Golden Apple winner Mathias “Spider” Schergen. Funded through The Alliance and driven by creative and motivated artists, the program is providing students with the opportunity to create life-size moveable sculptures that they will parade in the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Arts in the Dark Parade on Sat., Oct. 20, 6 to 8 p.m. on Columbus Drive. 

Schergen has been involved with The Alliance for several years. As a visual artist specializing in creating sculptures from found objects and a former art teacher at Jenner Academy of the Arts, he was an obvious partner for Arts in the Dark project based on his talent and experience.  

“The program started from scratch with neighborhood people in a very organic way,” Schergen said. “I enjoy interacting with kids and young people and facilitating activities in a communal setting. As The Alliance sought ways to participate in city-wide events, we all came together to brainstorm and work with a local school to represent the 19th Ward in the ‘Arts in the Dark’ parade.”  

Schergen and Bloxsom are leading the students through the process of creating giant puppet-like figures. 

“The kids are learning how to move beyond 2D art in creating these figures,” Schergen said. “Each week, they’re getting more comfortable and imaginative and we hope to see them make the conceptual leap to something less literal to something more fantastical and beyond the human form.” 

“Spider is a rock star in the arts education community, and I have great regard for his work,” said Corinne Rose, Alliance member and coordinator of the project. “I really think that strong public schools depend on the involvement of the community. With this project, we’re hoping to do something more in-depth and have more of an impact. We think that culminating activities are really important, not only to make the art, but have a reason to display it. The kids have a sense of being a part of something larger, and for us, it’s important to have a visual show of support for the school and the kids.” 

For inspiration in his personal art, Schergen seeks ways to turn discarded items into imaginative pieces.  

“I’ve always enjoyed making stuff with stuff; I was fascinated with things in the world since I was little,” he said. “When I was teaching full time, it was extremely foundational for me to go home and work out the day for a few hours. Working on art helps to free up my mind so I can approach my job in a fresh light.” 

Schergen stresses the importance of students gaining knowledge of working in a studio to truly embrace their creative sides.  

“The arts are so often crammed into an academic format of assessments that it becomes more important than what the kid actually made,” he said. “Studio time allows students to control their own development. When combined with exhibit experience and interaction with the larger community, the students will have a chance to explore their gifts.” 

The Alliance is fully supporting the collaboration financially through their own fundraising efforts, so there is no cost to MPHS.  

“We view this as a beginning of a supportive relationship with the high school in our community,” Rose said.

New Book is a Chicago Style Good Read

By Grace Kuikman 

The experts say to write what you know. Lucky for readers, local author Dennis Foley knows what makes the City of Chicago tick.  

In his new novel, “The Blue Circus,” Foley calls on his experiences as a lawyer, electrician, bouncer, teacher and coach to create a memorable cast of characters and a compelling plot that connects Chicago neighborhoods, dive bars, shady political deals and even great spots to grab a bite to eat.  

The book tells the story of a disbarred attorney who gets a job as a City of Chicago electrician with the help of a union boss, then makes the mistake of befriending a mob-connected city worker. Action takes place from one end of the city to the other, but the book’s two main characters are locals.  

“One of the main characters lives at 102nd and Bell while another lives at 106th and Whipple,” Foley said. “Much of the action takes place in the Beverly and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods with places like the Beverly Park baseball fields, St. Barnabas Church, the Dubliner (may she rest in peace) and more turning up in its pages.”  

While the inspirations for many of the characters in “The Blue Circus” can be found right here at home, Foley’s idea for the book’s main character evolved from a Chicago literary icon. “I pay homage to James Farrell and his Studs Lonigan trilogy in the book,” Foley said. “I often wondered what Studs Lonigan’s family would be like in contemporary Chicago. Enter main characters Danny Lonigan, a Streets and San worker, and Tom Lonigan, his union boss big brother.”  

Among the people we may recognize in “The Blue Circus” are Mary Lonigan who is modeled after Foley’s mom; Tom Lonigan, who is based on Foley’s brother; and a character who runs a neighborhood boxing program who is based on the late Marty McGarry. Foley;s friend and neighbor, Dr. Jim Valek, makes an appearance with his real name and identity.  

“The Blue Circus” is Foley’s first novel but third book. His first book, “The Street and San Man’s Guide to Chicago Eats,” is one of Lake Claremont Press’s all-time best sellers (and an excellent resource if you’re looking for a place to stop for lunch.) “The Drunkard’s Son,” is a poignant memoir.  

In all of his work – including his award-winning film, “Not a Stranger,” which was largely shot in Beverly/Morgan Park and surrounding communities, Foley employs a perfectly pitched Chicago patois that adds spot-on authenticity to his characters and a lot of fun for readers. 

The first incarnation of “The Blue Circus” came in the form of a television pilot screenplay about Chicago politics and how the city works. Foley’s hook was telling the story from the perspective of a city worker, “the common Joe,” he said. The work won best original television pilot in the 2013 Beverly Hills Screenplay contest.  

“I wrote a couple more episodes then decided to go for the book format,” Foley said. He spent the next several years writing and editing. “The Blue Circus” was released Sept. 12.  

Almost like the plot of one of his stories, there’s a chance that Foley’s new book may be made into a movie by a London-based film company. He recently sent them finished book, but said movie deal would be a long shot, “Like winning the Queen of Hearts at McNally’s” he laughed. 

“The Blue Circus” is available at Bookies, 10324 S. Western.  

95th Street Fall Fest Offers Family Fun

Pumpkin Spice and everything nice! Celebrate the new season at the 95th Street Fall Fest, Sat. Oct. 6, 12 to 3 p.m., Barraco’s Beverly parking lot, 2105 W. 95th St. From face painting for the kids to TVs tuned to college football games for the dads, it’s a guaranteed good time for the whole family. 

The event provides a platform for 95th Street businesses to promote themselves to area shoppers. Many of the stores are participating in or sponsoring the fest. 

Erin Ross, Executive Director of the 95th Street Business Association, said the fest is the perfect opportunity for residents to discover all that the 95th Street businesses have to offer. “Our businesses are excited to showcase their goods and services,” Ross said. “Residents can travel down 95th Street and explore our many shops.” The business community looks forward to welcoming area residents for an afternoon of celebration, she added. 

Don’t miss enjoying the Fall Fest pictures colored by local third grade students that will be displayed in many of the store windows. Students from Kellogg, Christ the King, St. Barnabas, Sutherland and Vanderpoel elementary schools were invited to participate in a coloring contest sponsored by the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA). Check out the art while browsing at your favorite shops.  

The Fall Fest offers a wide itinerary of activities: Live music by Bridget Cavanaugh and Garrett Degnan, arts & crafts and cookie decorating for kids, and a live animal show. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Football fanatic? Televisions inside the bar area will be tuned to live college games. 

This event is sponsored by 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, Sen. Bill Cunningham, Rep. Fran Hurley, Barraco’s, Beverly Area Planning Association, 95th Street Business Association, Christ the King Parish, 22nd District Police, Beverly Improvement Association, Beverly Ridge Homeowners Association and Smith Village. 

See What’s Inside Our Iconic Buildings: Open House Chicago Architecture Tour Comes to Beverly/Morgan Park Oct. 13 & 14

On the second weekend of October, more than 250 of Chicago’s most intriguing buildings will open their doors for the Chicago Architecture Center’s (CAC) annual Open House Chicago (OHC) tour. For the first time, Beverly/Morgan Park sites are included in this free, behind-the-scenes event.  

One of the world’s largest architecture festivals, Open House Chicago is a free, two-day public event taking place Sat., Oct. 13 and Sun., Oct. 14, with most sites open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.   

“Open House Chicago gives Chicagoans the rare opportunity to discover hidden gems in architecturally significant buildings all across the city,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of the CAC. “But attendees are discovering not only what is near their homes, they are exploring new neighborhoods across town and in the process changing preconceived notions about their neighborhoods.” 

The Beverly Area Planning Association and 19th Ward office worked with OHC planners to identify Beverly/Morgan Park locations for this year’s event.  

“We are thrilled that people from all over Chicagoland will have a chance to get an inside look at the diverse architecture and historic buildings that make Beverly/Morgan Park so amazing,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “Being on Open House Chicago’s map has the potential to bring more than a thousand new visitors to our neighborhood. BAPA is proud to be a partner in this citywide event.”  

Persons interested in OHC can pick up a program that details all the citywide locations at any of the participating sites.  

Neighborhood sites and OHS touring hours: 

Givins Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago’s most famous castle, built 1887 by real estate Robert C. Givins as an extravagant private residence. Open Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun., 1 to 5 p.m.  

Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery, Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Dr., features an impressive collection of 19th and 20th century art including many pieces that depict Chicago scenes. An exhibit of works by the Chicago Society of Artists will be on display during OHC. Open Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Optimo, 1700 W. 95th St., the headquarters and production facility for Chicago’s only custom maker of men’s hats, located in a century-old firehouse renovated by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is a working museum of hatmaking. Open Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Driscoll-Graver House, 10621 S. Seeley, designed by John T. Hetherington in the Tudor Revival style and built in 1922, the house is home to Ridge Historical Society. Open Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery, 9030 S. Hermitage, a crafty adaptive reuse of an industrial building is home to Chicago’s first meadery and winery. Open Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sun., 1 to 5 p.m. 

Ingersoll Blackwelder House, 10910 S. Prospect, an elegant Victorian home built in two stages beginning in 1874, and home to several historic community leaders. Currently owned by physicists, the house will showcase three quark-inspired outdoor sculptures by Guy J. Ballaver during OHC. Open Sat. and Sun., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall, 2153 W. 111th St., a stately neo-Gothic building built in 1927 and showcasing dramatic spaces that include the historic library with a vaulted ceiling, grand fireplace and wrap-around mezzanine. Open Sat. and Sun., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Morgan Park United Methodist Church, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., designed by village architect H.H. Waterman and built in 1913, the Prairie Style church features Art Nouveau windows, curving pews and a stained glass dome. Open Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun., 1 to 5 p.m. 

Wintrust is the presenting sponsor of Open House Chicago.   

Cherished Angels Brings Solace to Grieving Parents

By Abby Johnson 

They are Angel Moms and Angel Dads. Once a month, they gather at Little Company of Mary Hospital’s (LCMH) Family Birth Center, 2800 W. 95th St., for the Cherished Angel monthly perinatal loss support group. This is a safe zone, a place where the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillborn or infant death can be felt- and grieved.  

Dr. Kathryn Gardner, a volunteer on the LCMH Perinatal Loss Committee, leads these sessions. She is a psychologist who helps women cope with fertility, pregnancy and perinatal loss. The grief and anger that follows a perinatal loss can be overwhelming, she said, adding that Cherished Angels provides a needed outlet. 

“People don’t know what to do when this kind of thing happens to them,” Gardner said. “They’re experiencing such turmoil that just taking the step to look for help can be too much.” 

Gardner believes every woman should receive specialized care. When LCMH contacted Gardner with their idea for the Cherished Angels program, she was thrilled and immediately hopped on board. It was the perfect opportunity to show parents that there is hope, and that peace can be found. 

This month is especially important for the Cherished Angels. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a good time for spreading the message that resources are available.  

“It’s common to feel lonely after experiencing something like this,” she said. “This group helps show the Angel Moms and Angel Dads that they’re not alone. Other people are going through the same thing. There are others who understand.” 

Even those who aren’t comfortable talking openly about their pain are welcome at the coping sessions, said Gardner.  

“If you’re someone who just wants to listen, that’s fine, too,” she said. “Everyone is welcome to speak as much or as little as they like.” 

This month’s Cherished Angels support group will take place on Thurs., Oct. 20, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the hospital’s West Pavilion. Guest speaker Rachael Sedor will discuss skills for coping with anxiety and anger, as well as her own experience with perinatal loss. 

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Cherished Angels. Gardner’s main goal remains the same: To provide emotional support for parents during this difficult time. 

“I just want everyone to know that tranquility is within reach.”  

For more information, email cherishedangelsupport@lcmh.org. 

Beverly Theatre Guild Presents ‘She Loves Me’

Beverly Theatre Guild (BTG), Chicago’s longest running community theater, will present the romantic musical comedy “She Loves Me,” Fri., Oct. 12 and Sat., Oct. 13, 8 p.m., and Sun., Oct. 14, 2 p.m., Morgan Park Academy Arts Center, 2153 W. 111th St.  

Set in a 1930s European perfumery the show revolves around shop clerks, Amalia and Georg, who, more often than not, don’t see eye to eye. Both of the clerks respond to a “lonely hearts” advertisement in the newspaper, then live for the love letters they exchange with their anonymous admirers. A series of endearing and witty twists and turns unfolds as Amalia and Georg move closer to discovering the identity of their true loves. 

Music for “She Loves Me” is by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, who also wrote the music for “Fiddler On the Roof,” and the book is by “Caberet” author Joe Masteroff.  

Glenn Hering of Beverly/Morgan Park directs the show which is considered by many to be the most charming musical ever written.  The cast features actors and vocalists from the community and throughout Chicago.  

Tickets are $24 and available online at www.beverlytheatreguild.org or by phone at 773-BTG-TIXS. 

CBS 2 Chicago’s Dana Kozlov to Emcee AND Benefit

A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park (AND), the community’s local domestic violence agency,  will hold its annual benefit and reception Sat., Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Ridge Country Club, 10522 S California.  CBS 2 Chicago’s Dana Kozlov will be the emcee and the 2018 ANDi award will be presented to Shelton Matsey and the staff at FitCode for their outstanding support of AND during the annual Work Out to Wipe Out Benefit Day.   

Kozlov is a general assignment reporter at CBS 2 Chicago. She joined their news team in 2003. after working at WGN as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor. Her live reports from DeKalb during CBS 2 Chicago’s coverage of the Northern Illinois University shootings in 2008 helped the team win an Emmy Award for spot news.
Before working at WGN-TV, Kozlov was at WEEK-TV in Peoria as the 5 p.m. news anchor and general assignment reporter. She began her career in journalism at CNN’s Chicago bureau as an intern in 1991, and served as a field producer for CNN, based in Chicago in 1995-96.
Kozlov’s work includes covering issues like domestic violence. In 2016, she reported on the state’s funding cuts for domestic violence programs. In 2017, her reporting examined how deportation was becoming a new fear for undocumented domestic violence victims.   

AND is in its 8th year as the domestic violence agency for Beverly, Morgan Park, Mt. Greenwood and the surrounding suburbs.  This is AND’s largest fundraiser of the year with proceeds supporting agency services, including the legal advocacy and children’s therapy services and its domestic violence community education initiative. 

AND provides confidential counseling and advocacy services at no charge to victims of domestic violence as they navigate their journey to safety.  Most of AND’s client are from Beverly/Morgan Park, Mt. Greenwood, and the surrounding suburbs.  AND’s vision is to have every home be safe and free of domestic violence and abuse.
The annual benefit is their largest fundraiser of the year and its success is critical to the agency being able to continue to provide services.  Highlights of this year’s event are musical entertainment the Megan Hurless Group followed by a late night DJ, open bar and hors d’oeuvres, along with a grand raffle and silent auctions.    

This year’s grand raffle first prize includes a 6 night/five day vacation at Playa Flamingo Costa Rica in a 2 bedroom 2 bath condo steps from the beach and an airline travel voucher worth $1000.    

Tickets to the AND benefit event are $75 per person and can be purchased in advance at www.anewdirectionbmp.org/2018Tickets or at the door.

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