Filed: June 13, 2009 at 12:15 am |
I don’t have a clearer sense of whether newspapers will survive, or how good journalism will be funded (I’ll still argue, as I did in one session, that reader-supported journalism such as spot.us is a promising idea but not viable on a large scale). But I do know nonprofits are doing all they can to make the best of this crazy new world — and to ensure that their stories don’t get lost in the shuffle.
The Making Media Connections 2009 conference, Chicago’s largest media conference, brought together a few hundred people engaged in various aspects of news making/promoting/reporting. The keynotes and a few of the larger sessions were blogged live, and a number of attendees, such as Marc van Bree, took excellent notes. Trainer Beth Kanter (who I turned into a geeky fan around when meeting in the elevator) posted a bunch of good information from her session on listening literacy.
In the midst of all this, the conference sponsor, Community Media Workshop, released a report on the state of local online news — “The NEW News: Journalism We Want and Need” that sparked much discussion outside and inside the conference.
I taught a workshop on how nonprofit organizations use blogs and other social media to advocate issues and connect with conversations in their communities. Nowadays participants all know what a blog is, and some are blogging for their organizations, so the focus is more on writing engaging entries, tracking and organizing information, and making your voice heard in a sea of voices (here are a few tips).
I also had the pleasure of taking part in a panel titled “Words on the Web” with three super smart panelists — Patrice Tuohy, founder of TrueQuest Communications; Brad Flora, creator of WindyCitizen.com; Annie Kinnaird Williams, business development director of Emma Email — and moderator extraordinaire, consultant Emily Culbertson, who has my full support in her war on jargon.
Flora mentioned driving traffic to your site by “plugging holes in the internet” — creating or highlighting resources that other sites will want to link to. It’s a neat turn of phrase for an essential but often overlooked step.
Building skills and sharing information are a big part of the conference, but so is networking. This year the connecting also took place on Twitter — see coverage at #mmc2009. I’m psyched to have met so many great folks, particularly as conversations continue about the future of Chicago’s old and new media.Permalink | Comments (3)
Filed: May 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
The June issue of GQ magazine, the one with the disturbing story about former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s need to pepper military intelligence briefs with Bible quotes, is drawing attention in Chicago for another reason: pizza.
Writer Alan Richman traveled across the United States in search of the 25 best pizzas (slideshow) and found his number one pick less than two miles from my home: Great Lake, a 14-seat restaurant tucked away on a side street in popular Andersonville.
There are many restaurants within two miles, but the fact that there is a pizza place that sells a “cheese pie prepared with fresh mozzarella made in-house, grated Wisconsin sheep’s-and-cow’s-milk cheese, and aromatic fresh marjoram instead of basil,” described as “slightly shy of unbelievable,” and I haven’t tried it yet, is pretty remarkable.
(For the record, I did try to try it once, but a family emergency note was taped on the door. We promised we’d be back. That was last summer.)
I’m a pizza snob, except when I’m in New York, when any slice that flops will satisfy. Living in the home of deep dish pizza can make a Bronx girl a bit homesick, and I’ll pull over for a sign that says “pizza by the slice” or “New York Style,” often to great disappointment. It’s puzzling why Chicago pizza restaurants think it’s acceptable to cut a round, thin crust pizza into squares, as though a hungry Little League team is waiting to devour it.
Still, Chicago has some excellent deep-dish alternatives: Crust, unique for its organic certification; and Apart Pizza, which offers slightly less flop and more arugula than a traditional New York slice but is still competition-worthy.
Last summer we visited a Vermont favorite, American Flatbread in Waitsfield. As is customary, we spent a few extra hours drinking outside with other dinner guests before a table was available. On another night, we watched the sun set over Stony Loam Farm, waiting for our curried squash pizza (the day’s special) to bake in a wood oven. Pizza on Earth is a tiny take-out hut at Stony Loam. A few picnic tables scattered outside provide seating on warm nights. The ingredients are locally sourced, and the farm provides the produce, including squash. We left with two pies and a fistful of garlic scapes, wishing we lived down the road.
Two miles in Chicago — 1.7 door-to-door, according to Google — is practically down the road.
*Great Lake doesn’t appear to have a website, but here’s a photo of the menu board.
Filed: March 6, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
Years ago, I wrote a cover story for Vermont Sunday Magazine on the state of the state’s craft brew industry. If you appreciate good beer, living in Vermont will spoil you. Even most backroad bars serve excellent beer on tap, and there’s a good chance at least one was brewed within walking distance.
In Chicago, the options are more limited; there’s no guarantee you’ll find even Goose Island (brewed here in the city). If the bar also happens to sell Bell’s (Michigan) and Three Floyds (Indiana), it’s a keeper.
Now there’s a new brewer in town in my neighborhood — Half Acre — and it’s reaching out to beer lovers in some creative ways. Today the brewery offered a free case of beer to the first person to find and return a hidden silver capsule. The treasure hunt clue was posted on Half Acre’s blog and social networks:
A warm day in a park close to home. Maybe a game with an equine twist. Think of the #5 and look for the green carpet.
The instructions were simple — no long set of rules or fine print, other than the winner had to be 21 or older. Easy enough. And the clue seemed obvious, though 1.) how many times have I thought, “Oooh! I know the answer!” only to be completely wrong; 2.) I never win contests (see #1).
Still, we’re talking free beer. I leashed up one of the dogs and made a beeline for Welles Park, the closest green space to Half Acre. We headed for the horseshoe playing area, ring #5. Score! For the first time ever, I had been correct and timely.
On the way out, I met a woman pushing a stroller whose husband had called from work, urging her to go search. Then a guy showed up, very excited about the possibility of taking home a case of Half Acre. (The brewery retail center hasn’t opened yet, making the hunt all the more rewarding.) He tweeted his defeat with grace.
I lucked out again at the brewery — Half Acre owner Gabriel Magliaro gave a full tour. There were no flowing rivers of beer, but all sorts of magic is happening (be on the lookout for chocolate rye stout), much of it due to this brewer (*excellent likeness). I even got to taste a bitter, foamy extract and pour in some hops. Thanks, guys!
And then there was the ultimate prize: a mixed case of Half Acre Lager and Over Ale. It’s like living in a small state, minus the dirt roads, all over again. Committing to shopping locally has never been easier.
P.S. Half Acre promoted the treasure hunt via email, Twitter and Facebook. They’re going to make this a weekly event, so go friend or follow them.Permalink | Comments
Filed: January 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
So far in 2009 I’ve started work on two new projects (a benefit website and BettyFussell.com, designed by Deanna of course), saw the amazing “Let the Right One In” (read more about the title), painted a room (for the third time; sigh) and learned Half Acre Beer Company, a craft brewer, is opening up within walking distance (woo-hoo!). This headline says it all. Cheers!Permalink | Comments