Fighting To Belong

On a Friday evening in May, Bill Zhang joined 29 other U.S. soldiers for a solemn ceremony at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago. Zhang, a construction and electrical worker for the Navy, was joined by members of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines. Some had already seen combat in Iraq, while others, like Bill, were reservists, fitting boot camp and training into their otherwise 9-to-5 lives. But they all had one thing in common: This was their first night as American citizens. It was an emotional moment for Zhang, who had wanted to be a citizen since his arrival from China five years ago.

Organic Food Comes At A Cost

For the last 30 years, Theresa Marquez has worked in the organic food industry. Currently, she is the chief marketing executive at the Wisconsin-based CROPP Cooperative, home to the Organic Valley and Organic Prairie food brands. Over the years, she’s learned the pros and cons of the organic industry. And one prevailing element is that people who need organic food the most can’t afford it. Organic foods have always cost more than their conventional counterparts, and the forces driving up the cost of ordinary groceries are similarly affecting the organic industry.

Sustaining Life

In 1975, long before anyone had heard of the ozone hole or global warming, Ken Dunn founded the Resource Center of Chicago to introduce city dwellers to the simple values of conservation and respect for the earth he learned growing up in an Amish Mennonite farming community. Today, the center–”with the still-spry 65-year-old Dunn at its helm–”has expanded into a network of nine programs with a common goal: to fight environmental and social injustice. Dunn sees these issues as two sides of the same coin, twin symptoms of a culture of wastefulness. From a food recovery project that collects unwanted items from caterers and grocery stores and distributes them to soup kitchens, to a recycling initiative that employs Chicago Housing Authority residents, the center’s programs all reflect Dunn’s belief in maximizing the resources–”human and material–”that others disregard. Dunn began looking critically at industrial capitalism as a teen-ager, when he and his brothers were put in charge of managing the family farm.

Transportation Woes

Click here to learn out more about the Reporter’s new findings on the Chicago region’s commuters in “More on the Road.” The Metropolitan Planning Council released a new report on Chicago-area traffic congestion Tuesday morning at an event co-hosted by The Chicago Reporter and the Chicago Public Library. The report, called “Moving at the Speed of Congestion: The True Costs of Traffic in the Chicago Metropolitan Area,” shows that congestion costs the Chicago region $7.3 billion in wasted fuel, lost time and environmental damage each year. “We literally cannot afford to wait,” to address the issue, said MarySue Barrett, president of the council. The Reporter’s Jeff Kelly Lowenstein spoke at the event as part of a panel that also included Paul O’Connor, former executive director of World Business Chicago, and Bob Dean, principal regional planner of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Guarding Against Food-Borne Illness

With last year’s salmonella outbreak at the Taste of Chicago, some people may wonder what they can do to avoid getting sick at this year’s festival, which starts Friday. Experts suggest the following:

Observe food preparation: Festival-goers should eat food that is cooked to order, and should not buy from hawkers, who might be waving a plate of food that was prepared long ago. Get it hot: Be aware of food temperatures–”if it’s supposed to be hot, make sure it’s served hot. The same goes for products that should be served cold, like milk. Keep it clean: Keep an eye on the hygiene of the booth and the food handlers.

Fast Facts About Salmonella

Each year in the United States, around 40,000 people are diagnosed with salmonellosis, an intestinal disease caused by salmonella bacteria. Mode of transmission: People usually catch salmonella by eating foods contaminated with animal feces and the food has not been heated enough to kill the bacteria. Risk factors: Children under the age of 5 have a risk five times higher of infection than everyone else. Salmonella infections occur most frequently in the summer. Gestation period: Symptoms usually develop in 12 to 72 hours.

Tips For Renters Caught Up In Foreclosure

In the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, even the most responsible renters can fall victim to eviction because of the financial woes of building owners. “Once the landlord’s in foreclosure, the tenant really is going to have to move if that’s what the bank wants,” said John Bartlett, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. Experts said that ultimately renters may have to leave their apartment, but that a basic understanding of their rights can buy valuable time to hunt for a new apartment or home. Below are some tips they said can protect renters from premature eviction:

Before a lease is signed:

* TRUST IN INSTINCTS. A renter who senses that the owner is in financial trouble can contact the Chancery Division of the Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court of Cook County at (312) 603-5133 and ask if the landlord is a defendant in a foreclosure case.