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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes at Solo Salon

Halfstack had the great opportunity to highlight the re-branding of Chicago based salon - Solo Salon. Solo Salon is a staple hotspot for great styling, cuts and color in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. It's sleek yet cozy interiors, friendly staff and fabulous owner have made it popular among Chicago beauty mavens. Halfstacker Dwight takes us on a guided tour of the salon through his amazing images and video below. Salon owner, Kristen Singer also took the time to sit with us and give us some insight on her journey as a business owner based in Chicago.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? 
My name is Kristine Singer I have 20 years experience in the industry. I love fashion, music, people and challenge. What led me to open my salon was all these things, but mostly working as a team with like minded people. Being part of something greater than just a salon. 

What can clients expect when they visit Solo Salon? 
When you visit Solo you can expect great energy and a great look. What sets our brand apart is the attention to each individual being unique. When you walk into most businesses and salons you can capture a specific feeling that attracts a specific type of client. We make sure that we keep an open feeling inviting all types of people, creating a culture of diversity. This leaves the sense of openness to your mind which brings out the best creative flow.

What makes your brand stand out among the fierce competition in this city?
What makes us stand out against our competitors is our education. We have classes every Wednesday. In these classes we teach and learn straight edge razoring techniques. We also have wide ranges of services that leave Solo open to anyone.

What are some of the products and lines you carry in the salon?
We currently carry. Bumble and Bumble, Kerastase, Smashbox, Baxter of Claifornia, Nioxin, and Dermalogica.

Why did you decide to settle in the West Loop?
I always say the West Loop picked me. As the most important thing to me is the energy in the space, I have always believed that what you put out you get back. I lived in the West Loop while I had the idea to open a salon. One night I was walking my dog and I just saw this empty space. There was a big construction light on inside while the rest of the street was pitch back. I just had this vision and feeling and there was no escaping it. I heard the music in my head and everything. At the time the West Loop was pretty empty, as a hair dresser seeing a person without much of a look opens avenues of ideas and is exciting to me. This was a similar feeling when seeing this space on an empty street. I was determined to create this special place people would call a home away from home.

What are some hot trends for hair that you see for the upcoming season?
3 trends this fall would be…. 1. Lived in texture 2.festival creative braiding 3.long textured fringe. Bobs are also a huge trend right now, well I think they always are.

What are your go-to beauty products as a stylist?
My go to beauty products as a stylist are a great setting product for any style or blow dry depending on the texture of your hair. I love styling lotion by Bumble and Bumble or lift Vertige by Kerastase. My all time favorite finishing products are Brilliantine for that lived in look like you are roaming the streets of New York. I also love Bumble and Bumble’s Dryspun texture spray. It’s better than a hair powder, its magic.

So, what caused the rebrand, what is the story behind it?
Rebranding is something I felt was necessary for the longevity and true understanding of the culture of Solo. We wanted our new logo to reflect the growth of Solo. We have matured a lot as a brand over the years.

What kind of advice would you offer a budding stylist or someone wanting to open their own salon? 
My advice for stylist and makeup artist in the industry is find a culture you fit best with, working with like-minded creatives opens more avenues for you as an artist and is the one of the most important factors to an evolving business. Make sure to have someone that challenges you and mentors you. Being in the business of people, we all need it.

What has your biggest success as a business owner? 
My biggest triumph as an entrepreneur is finding balance. I preach about it all the time to my staff. Being a mother of two and employee of 30, I am constantly trying to catch up. Although I have committed myself to palates once a week and one great workout another day, working full-time around the clock is quite the challenge. This is something I think I will be aware of and working towards for the rest of my life. There are just so many exciting things to dabble in.

Where can our readers go to learn more about the salon?
Readers can learn more about Solo at www.solo-salon.com

Check out our behind the scenes tour of Solo Salon in our Beauty Bytes series on Halfstack's Youtube channel! Don't forget to subscribe here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September letter from the Editor

Wow, September has sneaked its way into our lives Halfstackers. While this summer has been an odd one with the crazy weather, I am honestly looking forward to the fall. It is by far one of my favorite seasons for fashion and for things going on in Chicago. It is also one of my favorite months as it is the release of Halfstack's Fall Issue - our annual music issue.

The end of the summer has so many music festivals going on, great events and is just the perfect time to enjoy all that Chicago has to offer. This upcoming issue will have some amazing music features, showcase some awesome indie talent and has such a fun fashion editorial featuring Starved Hustle (a Chicago based t-shirt line) and indie band Fue. Check out the sneak peek below!

Photography by Pickapose Photography

The blogger team is out and about this month highlighting some awesome venues, interesting cultural pieces, great restaurants and some fun concerts. So, be on the lookout! We are also excited to welcome some new writers to our family! Thom Olson is a local Chicago fashion and advertising professional and will be bringing his insight to our Chicago fashion, lifestyle and culture beats. Dana Rettig is a Chicago based freelance writer bringing her skills to our culture, arts and entertainment beats. Jason Shimberg is a freelancer writer bringing his thoughts on Chicago's music scene and finally, Brittany Lohmann is a fitness professional bringing her insight on health, fitness and nutrition.

We are so honored to be working with these talented individuals! If you are interested in joining our blogger team, please feel free to email us a resume and cover letter to: Jennifer@halfstackmag.com. We are also still looking to fill our Fall/Winter 14/15 Graphic Design, Advertising and Social Media Internships! Please send a resume and cover letter to: Jennifer@halfstackmag.com!

Beauty Test Kitchen - Ep 2. Nail Files

In this episode of Halfstack Fashion Highlights, Editor-in-chief: Jen Lezan introduces her quick 3 product at home mani using the Crabtree & Evelyn Nudest Collection nail polishes, the INNI nail wraps and the Sarah McNamara skin transforming Miracle Balm.

Crabtree & Evelyn have a great new line of neutrals that are perfect to lead you into fall. Dubbed the "nud-est collection" a range of universally flattering, barely there to buff shades apply beautifully, dry quickly and are formulated without camphor, dibutyl phthalates, formaldehyde or toluene. So, they are eco friendly and chic and at 6 bucks, you can't beat it! You can purchase the C&E polishes here.

Today the Crabtree & Evelyn product range comprises fragrances, bath and shower gels, soaps, home spa products, body lotions, hand creams and home fragrance. The ethos of the company is to seek out the most beneficial ingredients inspired by nature to create a range of products which make a world of difference. A blend of the very best of nature and science coupled with tradition and innovation.

The Nail wraps I utilized were by inni.com. INNI Nails is a new way to get amazing and unique nails. Their new technology allows customers to create their own nail stickers or select from thousands designs that other INNI users have created. High-fashion shapes, gradient colors, photo of your favorite band or picture of your pet - everything is possible with INNI.  You get 3 sets of wraps for 19.90 - which is less than 10 bucks per set! You can purchase INNI wraps here.

The moisturizer I used for this tutorial is the Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Balm. This is a bit on the pricier side, but you can use it for more than just your hands, you can use it all over your body, on your face and even in your hair! It is a true multi-purpose product and it has really been helping my incredibly prone to drying out hands! You can purchase Miracle Skin Balm here.

Throughout her career working in the cosmetics industry, Sarah McNamara heard from women all over that they felt that they didn’t have the time to use the multiple products recommended to them in order to feel beautiful and flawless.There had to be a better way… an easier way, to deliver short-cuts to beautiful, flawless skin. Noticing a gap in the market, Sarah spent years formulating Miracle Skin Transformer – a complete breakthrough, proprietary formulation that puts beauty and protection at your fingertips.

Remember, please make sure to subscribe to our youtube channel to keep up with upcoming videos! If you are interested in us reviewing something or just have comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below or on our youtube channel! Also, we have a great back to school feature coming up and a great fall fashion highlight with some giveaways!!! So, please stay tuned!

Women & Weightlifting: Strong is the New Skinny

The weight room is no longer just for men. Instead, more and more women are finding their way into the weight room and discovering amazing results. The perception of the female lifting weight is beginning to change as more and more women are learning that weight training 2-3 times per week can improve their outward appearance and their overall health – all without turning into a bodybuilder.  If you are still skeptical as to why you should ditch the hour long cardio session for a barbell, here are a few reasons that might convince you.

Get trim and toned. If you are looking for shapely legs, a flat stomach, toned arms, and a killer butt, look no further than the dumbbells in front of you.  Lifting weights on a regular basis will help burn more calories and fat than cardio alone. It will also create the definition and toned look that so many women desire.  Adding regular weight training, 2-3 times per week, will help your body burn calories more efficiently and, as result, help manage your weight.

Improve on the inside – not just on the outside. Aside from becoming more toned, there are benefits to weightlifting that go beyond one’s outward appearance. Lifting weights on a regular basis (i.e. 2-3 times per week) has proven to increase one’s bone density, improve one’s coordination and balance,  heighten focus during every day activities and help stave off chronic diseases, such as arthritis, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Give your mental health a boost. In addition to an improved outwardly and inwardly appearance, lifting weights is good for one’s mental health too.  Much like other types of exercise, weight training can help one sleep better through the night, improve one’s self-confidence, and relieve stress.

Weight training is a great way to strengthen and tone your body as well as improve your overall health. If you choose to begin a strength program, be sure to consult your doctor and then find a coach/trainer that can properly teach movements in a progressive manner as well as modify and adapt the program to your specific ability level.  Once you have learned the movements, be ready to reap the benefits and discover why strong is the new skinny.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sweaty, Messy, and Friendly at Logan Square's Boulevard Fest

“It sure is hot out,” my body tells me aquatically as I approach the entryway for Logan Square's Boulevard Fest. I do a double take as I get close enough to read.

“A $10 suggested donation?” I say incredulously in a way that only I can hear so as not to offend the young boy taking my money in exchange for my entrance. But, being the appreciator of the arts that I am, I fork over half of my allotted budget for the night.

Things don't look good for me, financially speaking. Even the Bud Light Lime costs $6. Citrus is the new upscale juice, people. Get on it.

I decide to go conservative and avoid the food options in favor of one nice beer.

“I'll eat when I get home,” I say, reasonably. Then I scan the menu options printed on the beer tent.

“Oh, I've never had that one, and it's a big can,” I say, being adventurous.

I acknowledge the nice lady at the tent and indicate that I'm ready to order my beer.

“I'll have the Halcyon Wheat, please,” I say.

“The what?” she asks, like I'm speaking gibberish.

“Halcyon?” I repeat, unsure this time. “You guys have that one here, right? I saw it on the other side.”

“I'm sorry, the what?”

We're getting nowhere. I point and grunt, say something about “the bigger cans.”

“Oh, the wheat? Hal-shon,” she says as my world caves in.

“Yes, please, thank you so much,” I say, red rising in my face. Some writer I am, not knowing how to pronounce big words. Existential angst floods my system. I worry. I call myself an idiot a few times in my head. I give her $8 and scurry away.

A Dictionary.com search a few minutes later reveals that I was indeed correct in my pronunciation, thank you very much. So ha!

Vindicated and cooled by my Halcyon [hal-see-uh n]Wheat beer, I am now prepared to take a gander of my surroundings.

The Boulevard Fest is an intimate thing. It feels like it's only a couple blocks long. It makes sense, given the density of the neighborhood. Where would you put a street festival in that booming neighborhood? They pack in a lot of stuff, though, from taco stands to obscene t-shirt shops to the obligatory street fest spinal health screening tent – there is at least one at every fest I've ever attended.

Given the space constraints, I half expect the bands on opposite stages to create a hideous drone in the middle, a problem I notice the festival tries to solve by staggering their start times. One goes on at 7 o'clock, the other 7:30, and so on. It helps that nobody playing the fest is a sonic boom of thrash or anything. Tonight, Friday, the first of the weekend-long event, features a steady stream of folksy, Mumford & Sons-meets-bluegrass bands doing ironic Eminem covers on the West Stage and Salsa- and other Latino-influenced music on the East.

After seeing a girl in moon boots and a hula hoop just standing there drinking – a poseur in the most literal sense (see part 2.2 here) – I gravitate toward the Latino side.

A nice college age girl walks around holding a chalkboard with “Vote!” written on it. She's cheerful in that desperate way of someone who would rather not be volunteering in 90-degree heat, a way of saying, “Please make this go by faster for me.” Not many people are being very helpful to her cause, whether because they don't want to vote, aren't citizens, or they're interlopers like me who are registered in a different ward. I smile and apologize with my eyes in that way you do to wait staff when your family member says something atrocious. My eye charity probably doesn't actually make any sense to her, despite all my perceived subtlety. But I feel better, which is all that matters, of course.

I sit on a curb to jot my notes, while a couple dances to the Salsa being played onstage. They're sweet. They look like that couple in their mid-thirties who still love each other. I like them, so I watch them with a smile on my face, probably creeping them and anyone else who sees me out.

While writing I get a tap on my shoulder.

“What are you doing?” asks a middle-aged Latino guy. “Forget to do your homework?” he says with a laugh.

I laugh with him. We talk for a little while. I tell him I'm here doing a story on the festival for a website and he tells me about his plans for the weekend, which are as follows: Drink a lot of beer and make friends at the festival while his wife's out of town for the weekend. I say I can cheers to that.

We clink beer cans as a toast.

“You're dry!” he says, dismayed.

“Here, take this,” he says as he grabs a fresh can of Oberon from his cooler – apparently the same security guard who was dismayed that I brought a water bottle did not feel the same way about him. I say I can't possibly, but of course I do. We cheers again, properly this time, and he introduces himself as Andreas.

My new friend Andreas starts telling me the deeper reasons why he's here. Turns out the band currently doing their tuning, Angel Melendez & The 911 Mambo Orchestra, have been around for three decades or more. Andreas says he remembers the days when he first moved to Chicago from Mexico when these guys, and others like them, would play clubs.

“It's really rare to see live Salsa music now,” he says, lamenting the club music of late.

He used to go out “Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and be up at 5 a.m. [for work].” But when asked if he'd be able to do that just once a week now, he whistles in the negative.

Once Angel and his Orchestra get going, Andreas gets up and starts dancing with everyone. He's having a blast. I really enjoy his cold Oberon. I stick around for a while with my notebook, but I pack up once I decide I have enough for my piece and get going to check out the other, more populated side of the fest.

Of course, on my way out is Moon Boots the Non-Hula Hooping Hula Hooper. Guess what, she's not hula hooping. She is surrounded by a cloud of pot smoke, though. Mr. Dubious of Water Bottles at the entrance doesn't seem to mind, as he keeps angling his head in such a way as to induce maybe, hopefully, just a tiny bit of contact high.

I smile and scoot through the crowd, full of a couple really nice beers and content in the fact that I made a new friend.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Halfstack Highlights: Artist Robert Mango Shares His Journey in "100 Paintings: An Artist's Life in New York"

Years ago, artist Robert Mango suffered a devastating event. He responded by “doing the unthinkable” he says: he cut up the paintings. This act of destruction became 30 pieces that flourish in his work today. From destruction comes creation. The event opens Robert Mango’s upcoming book, 100 Paintings: An Artist’s Life in New York.

While he’s called the “Renaissance Artist of Tribeca”, Mango is a Chicago native and attributes growing up in the Midwest to his success. “You cannot separate growing up from the strength of being a Midwesterner,” shares artist, sculptor, and gallery owner Robert Mango. “We don’t like that brand, but it is invaluable to sustaining art in New York.”

Listen to the full interview on the most recent episode of Halfstack Highlights below!

Listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Artist Robert Mango Another Midwestern trait that has helped his success is never putting himself or his work above the viewer. He likes to keep the audience involved in his work. Mango is also grateful to have called the Art Institute of Chicago his second home. He started classes at the recommendation of his father, going from high school art classes to the Art Institute, where the teachers were great artists themselves. He responded to the program’s discipline and high expectations. It was very demanding, exercises including drawing with the opposite hand, with one eye closed. The rules of drawing were enforced; if you didn’t learn or perform well, you didn’t proceed. Art started at a young age for Mango. He started by copying the French Impressionists. Picasso’s work “mentally exploded” for him. At 15 or 16, Mango discovered Duchamp, whose work was also a doorway to philosophy and the great thinkers. Reading Freud and Nietzsche, he was on a quest to understand man.

The Strong Jester Mango began as a sculptor and grew into a painter. He combines materials and paints to create 3D art. Mango wanted to put together a book on his paintings. He started writing it when his son, Joseph, suggested he write at least the bio section. Once he started he started writing 6-8 major works. One of the biggest challenges Mango faced was how to incorporate a manuscript with 200 images of his work, including sketches and photographs? Eventually, his editor created an outline involving great suspense and he adapted the story to the outline.

No Room for Doubt What emerged was a storybook and a picture book. Readers get to experience what his mind was thinking as he creates, privy to details only the artist knows. They will see New York evolve over 3 decades through the eyes of an artist who has fallen in love with the city and finds great inspiration from it. Mango’s work has been collected in the private and corporate spheres, but also has captured the eyes of some Hollywood heavyweights. Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and Bob Dylan own his work. 

While he has cultivated these and other VIP friendships by respecting their privacy, he does share some encounters. The book starts in Chicago and goes up to events of 9/11, which Mango was very involved in. For more information about Robert Mango, his work, and the upcoming book, visit http://robertmango.com

Trombone Shorty and StubHub's Next Stage Concert Series

A Jazz funk band with a hip hop/rock edge is a description that exemplifies Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave. If you are a jazz lover and truly enjoy eclectic music that fuse different genres, then take some time to check out this great group. The group's band leader - Trombone Shorty hails from New Orleans and that southern groove is definitely felt in the many of the tunes the group plays. It's almost as if Lenny Kravitz created a jam band. You can download and listen to their latest album here.

It just so happens that Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave will be visiting the Windy city for a concert supporting a great cause! They will be performing at Lincoln Hall for StubHubs Next Stage Concert Series benefiting music programs in Chicago's schools on Sept. 8, 2015 - show starts at 7pm and Trombone Shorty is set to hit the stage at 8:15pm. This is a great opportunity to enjoy great music and do some good in the process! Tickets are $59.50 and can be purchased online here.

100% of proceeds from this event will benefit The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and the Trombone Shorty Foundation in StubHub’s first self-produced, self-ticketed live concert series! StubHub is taking music to the next stage in its biggest music initiative yet to support emerging artists while giving access to the true music fan. Chicago schools benefiting from full ticket proceeds of the benefit concert as well as a portion of an initial $250,000 provided to MHOF by StubHub include Kelly High School (grades 9-12), George Westinghouse College Prep (grades 9-12) and Alexander Graham Elementary (grades K-8).

Halfstack is excited to share that we teamed up with StubHub! for a giveaway! We will be giving away a pair of tickets courtesy of StubHub! to one lucky winner to see Trombone Shorty live at the Next Stage Concert at Lincoln Hall on Sept. 8, 2014! To enter all you have to do is follow halfstack on twitter HERE and StubHub! HERE and tweet us the following @halfstackmag @StubHub I want to see @tromboneshorty at Lincoln Hall #HSMHubstubjazzgiveaway for your chance to win. 1 winner will be selected at random on Thursday Sept. 4th at 10AM. Sorry only open to Illinois/Chicago and surrounding suburban residents who can make it to the show on Sept. 8th in Chicago!! This prize retails at $119.00. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Experience the Annual Chicago Turkish Festival

Ah, fall is steadily drawing closer Chicagoans. Although it is sad to say goodbye to summer, I personally enjoy the cooler days of fall. It makes outdoor markets and events not as harsh. Chicago has so many opportunities to get out and enjoy the city coming up this September. One event in particular I am excited about is the Turkish Festival. Chicago is such a diverse city, I love all of our local neighborhoods and all the different people we can experience in each.

The Turkish Festival will be one way to celebrate the diversity in our city this fall. You can indulge in Turkish flavors for two days in the heart of the city. Chicago will, once again, go Turkish for two days on September 5-6 at Pioneer Court for the 12th Annual Chicago Turkish Festival. Following the gala dinner on the night of Thursday, September 4, the festivities will kick off at Pioneer Court (Michigan Ave. and Chicago River Bridge) with tents including, calligraphy, ceramics, gift tents, crystal, information, books, clothing, restaurants/caf├ęs and many more.

Courtesy of Turkish American Cultural Alliance

From the world-famous Kahramanmaras ice cream and fresh flavors from local Turkish restaurants to Turkish beer garden by Efes and Turkish wine, the festival promises a journey through Turkey without ever leaving downtown Chicago. It is going to be a great time for all that head out. The Gala tickets for Thursdays private event can be purchased HERE. The Festival is free and open to the public Sept. 5-6 at Pioneer park. To learn more about the event visit: www.chicagoturkishfestival.org.
Jen Lezan - Editor in Chief

It is Never Easy Being Superman

John Ondrasik had a late break in his music career. Before he got used to the idea of having his song play on the radio, he was being asked to sing at the New York City Benefit of 9/11 victims. Music mattered to him on that night. John stated in our interview, “Music rarely means anything.” He recalls watching his heroes from the side of stage and getting chills. These heroes or influences if you really break it down are Elton John, Billy Joel, and The Who.

Ondrasik is much more than music. He has a wonderful mind for sports. Naming his band, “Five for Fighting,” after a rule established in NHL. John has written several Sports Illustrated articles in fact. A great voice and a great writer, is there anything Superman can’t do?

Well here is the sorted human experience. We all start to age and look for other avenues that will bring us happiness.

This Superman will be playing post 9/11 once again on the last official day of the Ravinia Festival Summer Schedule. On 9-14-14 the gates open to the North Shore gem once last time on a Summer Eve. I think it was a brilliant scheduling maneuver to have John sing us all off to autumn.

Five for Fighting

With Ravinia Festival Orchestra


Sunday, September 14, 2014

4:00 PM

Gates Open

7:00 PM

Concert Start

Reserved seats - BUY NOW

Lawn Tickets - BUY NOW

Tickets: $80/65
Lawn: $33**

**Lawn ticket prices are increased by $5 on the day of the show

I saw Five for Fighting last year at Ravinia, it was a great show. This year they will be playing with the hometown Ravinia orchestra. “We have been touring with different orchestras this year around the country,” John explained.

I asked John if he had ‘100 years’ (referring to his hit song) to write, what would he want to write about: An accomplished writer and singer, he is looking towards the future of getting into the movie and dramatic play industry. He is seeing his kids move out of the house as teenagers.

We closed the interview by complementing each other’s Hockey teams. Who do you think this Los Angeles native roots for? I will give you a hint, it is not the Hawks.

John said, “We are hoping for good weather on the 14th.” I second that, and if you can’t get into Riot Fest, head north to Ravinia (Highland Park)!

It is never easy being superman because even security in front of the White House will give you the boot if you are John Ondrasik. Maybe he should have voted for Obama instead of Romney. Long story.

Jason Shimberg - Music & Entertainment Blogger
Visit my music site: sumlucid.blogspot.com

Fall Trends for Him

Hey Halfstackers! We have the hottest fall trends just for you! Check out these trendy looks all for the guys at an affordable price! Distressed jeans, button downs, and collared t-shirts, are great for that fall weather. They give a comfy yet classy look to any day outfits, whether its work or running errands.

Image Credit

Check out these items from brands like, Perry Ellis, All Saints, and more!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Where the Bunny Tail Leads: The Retired Rabbit Sanctuary

Many people in America look upon the rabbit as a fluffy, undemanding pet who makes for a great gift, but contrary to popular belief, rabbits are among the most high maintenance animals one can own. After the initial excitement of adopting a bunny dissipates, the animal quickly loses its appeal, and the owners tend to either neglect or give it away. This phenomenon has grown to be such a problem that in 1998, a rescue, just for rabbits, opened in Southern Texas called the Retired Rabbit Sanctuary.

The idea started when the Hendricks family adopted an abandoned rabbit. They thought it'd be nice to get a friend for the bunny; hence, they went to a breeder to buy another one. When they saw the squalor the animals lived in and inhumane treatment they endured, Kay and Kyle Hendricks knew they couldn't sit idly by knowing the animals were suffering. Thus, the Retired Rabbit Sanctuary, a place dedicated solely to the rescuing rabbits, was launched!

Starting a nonprofit organization was no easy task for the family. At first, they could only afford to build pens from recycled materials and feed the rabbits pellets bought at local pet shops. However, today they have thirteen acres, ten full length pens, ten hand made hutches, and a large chain link enclosure housing the animals. The food served to the rabbit is top of the line, fresh vegetables are distributed weekly, and they have bales of hay spread throughout the pens monthly.

The rabbits come from all types of backgrounds such as neglectful homes, 4H/FFA clubs, dog fights, snake farms, and abandonment. Many of the animals have had traumatic experiences leaving them wounded or ill. The Sanctuary has a local vet which works with them to treat the animals, and the Sanctuary conducts an in house clinic bi-weekly.

They have worked closely with the Humane Society since 2003, teaching seminars about the proper rabbit care. Their work became widely recognized when featured on Animal Planet, leading many other media outlets to headline the RRS for their outstanding humanitarian achievements. This publicity allowed several volunteers, including the Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts, to see what they could do to help the RRS. The organization operates on the income of Kay Hendricks, a nurse, and former Marine, Kyle Hendricks. Both are deeply grateful to every volunteer for their hard work and to anyone willing to donate money to the Sanctuary.

Hunter Merchant

For several years, the RRS has worked tirelessly to ensure that every rabbit in need has a forever home available to them. Each rabbit is given the best possible care and becomes a part of the Hendricks family. In sixteen years, the RRS has evolved from one pen rigged out of chicken wire to a thriving, family owned rescue spanning three states with seven affiliate branches, and a central location housing over 115 rabbits!

I am the youngest in the Hendricks family, and I am proud to work for such a worthy cause. It is my pleasure to work with these animals and help our community learn how to treat them. If you'd like to get involved, too, click HERE or visit their Facebook page! Every donation counts.

Photos by Cassandria Alvarado

Cheyenne Hendricks 
Cause & Lifestyle Blogger

Chicago Writers Association Helps Writers with Self-Promotion

I’m a weird writer in that I love marketing, or at least thinking up ideas on how to market my work. Some writers would rather clean the house, the garage, and mow the lawn instead of promote their work. A piece of advice I received years ago changed the way I feel about marketing: “Build it and they will come, but only if they know it exists.” You could have written a book that will change lives, be exactly what someone is looking for. Readers won’t be able to benefit from your work if they don’t know you exist. After you finish a project, the next step can be intimidating and confusing if you don’t know what to do or where to start. Luckily, there’s the Chicago Writers Association, who held a panel discussion at their 3rd Annual Writers’ Block Party at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin to answer writers’ burning questions about self-promotion. What are some ways to do it? How do you harness social media? Is there a thing as too much promotion?

Moderated by president Tori Collins, the five panelists included book publicist Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity, Chicago Writers Conference founder Mare Swallow, authors Dan Burns and Libby Fischer Hellman, and blogger and social media expert Marcie Hill. Each shared practical and easy to implement advice that worked for them and clients. Success as an author is in the author’s control if they are willing to consistently put themselves out there online and off line.

(r-l) Marice Hill, Libby Fischer Hellman, Dan Burns, Mare Swallow, and Dana Kaye at Writers' Block
Party. Writers will want to get involved with their audience. Go where they are and use the social media they use. Younger readers are on Twitter and Tumblr while older readers are on Facebook. Writers will want to have a website, an “online business card” as Dana Kaye put it, with basic information, but also to capture emails to create an email list. The panel stressed writers need to be professional when promoting. There is a healthy balance of supporting and promoting others writers as well as your own work. Don’t thrust your book cover under someone’s nose (or plaster it on their Facebook page). You don’t know if they’re interested. Never discount anyone you meet because you never know who they are or will become.

Most importantly, writers of all genres and levels saw they were not alone in pursuit of their goals. Writing can be a lonely profession. The Chicago Writers Association was created to nurture a community for writers while providing resources and feedback. While the discussion established an overview of self-promotion, the event also created a safe space for you to dream about the possibilities. For more information about The Chicago Writers Association and upcoming events, like the Chicago Writers Conference, visit www.chicagowrites.org.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Educational TV on Pay Cable: Years of Living Dangerously Screening at OFA

When someone can explain and show you how something works, you tend to believe them. The basics of climate change are thus: humans burn fossil fuels – coal, oil, etc. – and the carbon they emit stays in the atmosphere, acting as a shield, an added layer of insulation, so sunlight cannot properly bounce off the planet's surface and return to space naturally. This warms the planet. Ice caps melt. Sea levels rise. Storms worsen. Droughts go on for years. People get displaced from the homes of their ancestors. Wars for resources, like water, commence. On and on until, if season five of Fringe is to be believed, our bald, time traveling descendants come back to enslave us and take our resources. Do you want to be owned by this guy?!

That hysteria at the end of the preceding paragraph is fairly common in discussions of climate change. Many who believe in it, as the science indicates they should, go overboard in their rhetoric – with people like NASA's James Hansen calling the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline “game over for the climate,” calls for a radical return to a small agrarian society, etc. – that can backfire badly if proven to be anything less than the apocalypse, regardless of any real pain inflicted on the world. Those who are naturally skeptical, those who have skin in the fossil fuel game, people who believe a benevolent deity would never harm them the way the science indicates, they are then invited to say, “See? There's nothing wrong,” or, “It's not as bad as you said,” and point to the climate advocates as sanctimonious fear mongers rather than people who are unable to properly frame their arguments. An impasse happens. Each side calls the other idiots, partisanship reigns, and television news, with its penchant to highlight the loudest rather than wisest bits of discourse, takes advantage of both by turning possibly today's most serious global issue into a petty “he said, she said” disagreement not unlike an episode of Judge Judy.

Former 60 Minutes producer David Gelber saw these arguments and thought this subject deserved better. He felt, after working on a climate story for his former employer, that this is indeed a grave issue, but it does not need to mean the end times are upon us. Nor does he give much credence to those who deny the science for personal or political gain. He thinks there is a vast middle ground for communication, education, and decision making about what to actually do about the problem, rather than inane arguments about its existence.

So he co-created a documentary series on Showtime and called it Yearsof Living Dangerously. He's traveled the country and the world to showcase his work. This week he stopped by President Obama's former campaign headquarters, since rebranded Organizing for Action, located in Chicago's River North neighborhood, to screen an episode and have a robust discussion with gathered climate activists, members of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and advocates for various forms of renewable energy.

Originally published on GreenPeace.org

The episode Gelber screened, the series' third, features liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes following conservative congressman Michael Grimm as he struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in his home district, Staten Island, New York. Grimm begins the episode a climate change denier, saying familiar things like, “The science isn't settled yet.” But months of struggling to secure disaster relief from the federal government, a conversation with former Republican congressman and climate change believer, Bob Inglis, and the constant bevy of evidence before him change Grimm's mind about the existence of global warming.

But, in a frustrating moment of weak-willed self-preservation – the House of Representatives is filled with Republicans who don't publicly believe the science, but they do believe plenty of their constituents will punish them if they break with the “global warming is a hoax” orthodoxy – Grimm says that, while he believes the climate has changed and human beings are part of the cause, he does not believe his generation, Gen X, or mine, the Millennials, have the will to do anything about it. As may be expected, this boiled the blood of the activists and assorted members of those generations who surrounded me at the screening.

Gelber says these personal stories – characters, arcs, themes, open-ended resolutions – help an audience better swallow the pill of such a monumental problem.

I think we've figured out ways to tell stories about climate,” he says, suggesting that the classic shrill denier on the right, shrill activist on the left cable news interview dichotomy is thankfully ending.

It's terribly upsetting” we don't have better climate coverage in the media, Gelber says before paraphrasing a common climate change saying that if 98 doctors told you to do something (a reference to the 97 or 98 percent of climate scientists who say the environment is changing and at risk), then why would you unwaveringly believe the two who tell you the opposite?

"This is a transcendently important story," he says, because of the way it has been covered in the past and its real stakes.

Gelber says he thinks messaging on the side of science is a big reason for the boomerang effect on skeptics. He mentions the charts and graphs of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and Leonardo Di Caprio's awards show preaching by name.

Nobody wants to hear from a Hollywood 'expert' on climate change,” he says.

This gave Gelber and his collaborators, including filmmaker James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the idea to show famous non-experts to go on learning expeditions to discover the changing climate's economic impact on drying towns in Texas, how deforestation works as a way of “burning the candle at both ends,” and other things related to climate science. They act as the audience's guide. People like Don Cheadle, Jessica Alba, Harrison Ford, and more appeared in season one, with more planned for a second season that will air during the run-up to the 2016 election.

Gelber says the timing for season two is no accident. He points out that there was not a single question asked about climate change during any of the three 2012 presidential debates. He calls it a failure on the media's part. He says he sees it as the show's responsibility to elevate the conversation and make the climate change debate a momentous one as the United States determines its next leader in two years' time, because sea level rise and storms put entire American regions on the line.

“At this point, I don't think South Florida's salvageable,” he says.

But there are things Americans, and the rest of the world, can do to improve conditions after they educate themselves through things like this show.

“If we don't get down to business on this, we're going to be in terrible shape,” he says with an evenhandedness that belies calmness, without a hint of shrillness. That sober accounting of the stakes, after years of talking to people who have spent their entire adult lives researching the subject, should give people pause when they think about denying the results of their data.

The first episode of Years of Living Dangerously is available to watch for free on YouTube, courtesy of parent network Showtime.  The first season will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD next month.

Weekend Fun: The Boulevard Festival in Logan Square

Right on time for kids going back to school, real summer weather has finally arrived, and with it the Boulevard Festival in Logan Square this weekend.  

Food and music, including a show from members of the now defunct experimental rock band, Ween, form the backbone of the festival.  Saturday, those former Ween members, the Dean Ween Group -- easy to remember -- will take the stage.  

Otherwise, expect some world music, with a pinch of mariachi thrown in for danceability.

Sunday, take a stroll through the regular Logan Square Farmers' Market, which takes up the early hours of the West stage, to pick up some locally grown produce and, fingers crossed, jars of apple jam.  Your toast will never be the same again.

I'll be at the festival for a report, so expect specifics from Halfstack's sweaty man on the ground next week.