Friday, April 9, 2010

Horses and Camels

Committees take a lot of hits in our culture and on the internet. Consider the following edited search results:

For some strange reason, we seem to hate the very concept that somewhere out there, there might actually be committees that are not evil.

A committee is a cul-de-sac into which ideas are lured and then strangled.

and, of course..

A horse designed by a committee is a camel.

It is not hard to see why some committees try to disguise themselves as “task forces” or “working groups” or “task groups” of “project teams” or “commissions” or “functional groupings” or “ad-hoc planning teams.”

Sometimes, however, committees must be given credit for accomplishing the tasks they were created to perform. The UIC Campus Master Plan committees are great examples of such groups. The Executive Committee, the Steering Committee, the Advisory Committee and the Core Planning Team have met regularly over the past year and a half to keep the planning process (and the consultants) on track and on schedule. Officially, their work will come to a successful conclusion next month when the University’s Board of Trustees considers the proposed Campus Master Plan.

These (dare I use the word? Yes, I dare!) COMMITTEES and their members have helped the campus create a framework for the transformation of how the campus will look in the next forty or so years and they are deserving of our praise and adulation.

Members, you know who you are. Take a bow.

On behalf of the campus, THANK YOU.

Question of the Week: Will the Board of Trustees approve the UIC Campus Master Plan?

Until next Friday…Actually, this is the last blog. It’s been a hoot. Thanks for reading these ramblings. Take care of yourselves and your/our campus.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Three Second Rule

Everyone knows the five-second rule (which stretches to the fifteen second rule if you are really hungry). This is the rule that any piece of food that falls to the floor can be still be safely eaten if it is picked up within five seconds of hitting said floor. This is the corollary to the wisdom my Eagle Scout father imparted to me decades ago – “A little dirt never hurt anybody.”

There are several three-second rules that have nothing to do with safe food consumption.

The first is in honor of March Madness – the three-second rule in basketball. It essentially means you can’t just park yourself under the basket either offensively or defensively. If you violate the rule, the other team gets the ball.

There is also a three-second rule in defensive driving. This rule of thumb helps prevent tailgating by keeping a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you. In Chicago expressway reality, it means giving another driver (OR TWO) more than enough room to cut in front of you. If you violate the rule, you’ll get home in a timely manner.

My daughter gave me a third three-second rule she devised. She may have invented this rule as a result of the years she spent in suburban Minneapolis and being exposed there to what is known as “Minnesota Nice.” This three-second rule involves door swings and common courtesy. I run into this at train stations all the time, but it happens here on campus on occasion, as well.

I’m walking a couple of steps behind someone who pushes a door wide open and then just keeps on walking WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING BACK. I’m just far enough behind for the door to be at the fastest part of its arc back to being fully closed when I reach it. Now it takes a needless extra effort to counteract the force of the door slamming into me and to reverse its momentum so I can pass through.

This a happy camper does not in me make.

My daughter’s three-second rule is to look back (while still holding the door) and do a quick mental calculation of whether or not the next person will reach the door in three or less seconds. If she or he is estimated to get there within that EXTREMELY SHORT length of time, she’ll hold the door open and then pass it off in hopes that person will extend a similar courtesy to the next person. If it looks to be more than three seconds, she continues on her way allowing the door to shut completely before the arrival of the next person.

By quantifying the appropriate amount of time that one should hold a door open before the next person feels compelled to quicken their pace was conceptually very useful for me. Even when I am in a great hurry, I ALWAYS have THREE SECONDS of courtesy left in me.

This is not a random act of kindness. This is an intentional act of common courtesy. The more such acts we do around campus, the friendlier the UIC campus will become.

One of the goals of the Master Plan is to make this an even more welcoming campus. Let’s all start implementing that goal right here, right now.

Just remember these four little words - The Three-Second Rule.

PS Do I have the smartest daughter, or what?

Question of the Week: What other intentional acts of common courtesy should we be performing?

Until next Friday…

Friday, March 26, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Signage. Sorta sounds like “sewage”, doesn’t it? But I digress.

Signs are valuable and that’s what makes naming rights so pricey. You don’t think the United Center has something to do with Chicagoans being “united” behind the NBA and NHL franchises which play there, do you? (As opposed to the crosstown rivalry in the two MLB teams in town.) Oh no. It’s that red and blue United Airlines logo attached to the name, prominently displayed – TWICE – over every entrance, and emblazoned in full color atop the arena in plain sight of the television cameras in any Goodyear blimp that might happen by. Similarly, the new Comiskey Park was renamed U.S. Cellular Field just before the 2003 All-Star Game was played there. Coincidence? I think not.

Recently, DePaul University announced it will be moving its O’Hare campus to several floors of a 14-story structure prominently located alongside the Kennedy Expressway and that a large “DePaul University” sign will grace the top of the building. The Sears Tower is now officially the Willis Tower thanks to a new tenant who will occupy significant rentable square footage there. And then there’s the huge red “Toyota” logo that may be erected behind the Left Field Bleacher Bums at Wrigley Field starting this season. (Cub fans only wish their team’s fortunes could unexpectedly – and miraculously – accelerate one of these years like so many Toyotas of late.)

If companies will negotiate tangible assets to get their names on buildings, where should we display “UIC” and “University of Illinois at Chicago” on campus? Both are on buildings that face the Eisenhower and Dan Ryan Expressways. “UIC” is boldly shown atop the Turner Gate on Harrison, as well as a part of the “UIC Pavilion” and “UIC Forum”. Should we mimic DePaul and erect something atop University Hall to make sure that everyone is fully aware that this 28-story signature building belongs to “UIC”? Let’s hope not.

On the West Side, we have the schizophrenic sign at Wood and Polk which tries to announce that this little corner of the world is both the “University of Illinois at Chicago” AND the “University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago”. This is one of those “lovely” brown signs with the white peel-off...I mean...stick-on letters that “grace” both sides of campus.

Although not specifically part of the consultants’ scope of work, there may be nothing that would visually shout “the Campus Master Plan at work” more in the short term than a new exterior signage program of which we could all be suitably proud. Just a thought.

Question of the Week: What about some LCD digital signage?

Until next Friday…

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fortune Cookies

There’s a Chinese restaurant across the street from my office. Especially during the winter months (when trudging very far through the snow is not something I want to subject this aging body to very often), I find myself ordering something with rice to take back to my desk to eat. The last two times the fortunes hidden inside those ubiquitous cookies were more apropos than usual.

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.

A dream will always triumph over reality once it is given a chance.

The first one reminds us that one critical aspect of our mission as a university is Service. If we don’t do anything of value with the knowledge we gain, what have we really gained?

The second fortune speaks directly to the efforts of those involved in the development of the UIC Master Plan. The challenge throughout the process has been to pry our minds out of the day-to-day realities of budget cuts and furlough days and dream about a distant future filled with possibilities and opportunities. The Master Plan is a dream that creates a framework to use in the world of “What if?” Without such a plan, there is no reference point to start discussions that could eventually lead to campus transformation.

The reality of our position as a public university is that only a few, if any, of the new buildings shown on the Master Plan schematic drawings will be constructed in the foreseeable future. When the Master Plan is complete and approved by the Board of Trustees, the campus will know, if and when funds become available, where buildings should be built and where they shouldn’t and, maybe most importantly, why.

Don’t be surprised, however, if you see some of the “high impact, low capital” elements of the plan taking shape around campus in the relatively near future.

Question of the Week: To paraphrase Robert Kennedy, why ask “Why?” when you can ask “Why not?”

PS: The lucky numbers from the first fortune cookie were 55, 30, 41, 56, 10, and 9. Those for the second were 32, 33, 36, 5, 55, and 10. Feel free to split your winnings with me.

Until next Friday…

Friday, March 12, 2010

Architect / English Dictionary

Every profession has its own language. I guess it helps to add specificity to their work, but it certainly helps keep outsiders in the dark. Medicine is probably the worst example of this with its reliance on all those Latin root words. The reason I need a padded booth in a restaurant is coccydinia which translates to tailbone pain or a pain in my a__. I knew that going in, but now I can discuss my coccydinia in the aforementioned restaurant booth without being kicked out on my aforementioned painful tailbone.

Lawyers are no better and when you get paid by the hour, repetitious use of multi-syllabic words means you have more money in your pocket to tip your caddy at the country club, whether you actually do or not.

The hallowed halls of Academia are held together with the mortar of words and phrases that require the studious reader and listener to have a close relationship to long deceased people named Roget and Webster.

Architects, in turn, never want to be left out of the conversation, so they have their own take on this already difficult language we broadly categorize as English. Therefore, in an effort to make the upcoming final Campus Master Plan report more decipherable to us poor laypeople, I offer the following ever-so-incomplete translation guide:

When they say “Wayfinding” – we say “Getting around using maps, signs, and landmarks.”

When they say “Hardscape” – we say “Brick” or “Concrete” (as opposed to "landscape")

When they say “Something ‘wants to be’ something else” – we say “You’ve got to be kidding” (as if an inanimate object can really sense and feel and have opinions.)

When they say “Road diet” (and, yes, that is the way they talk, even in public) – we say “Narrowing the street”

When they say “Swale” – we say “That ditch that collects rainwater runoff”

When they say “Allée” – we say (after we have politely stifled our gag reflexes) “Passage or row between trees”

When they say “Streetscape” – we say “What the street and sidewalks look like” (as opposed to "hardscape" or "landscape")

When they say “Adaptive reuse” – we say “Remodel”

When they say “Vehicular conflicts” – we say “Car accidents”

When they say “Pedestrian conflicts” – we say “People getting hit by those cars”

When they (politely) say “Desire lines”, we say – “Cow paths people create in the grass when sidewalks are not the absolutely shortest path from Point A to Point B”.

and

When they (politely) say “Mid-block crossings” – we say “Jay-walking”.

Question of the Week: Any architect-speak that you want to add to our little lexicon?

Until next Friday…

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gateway to ...

The most visible part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is the 630-foot tall stainless steel Gateway Arch, completed in 1965. As stated on the memorial’s website, the Arch “reflects St. Louis’s role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century” – a Gateway to the West. Just as Cape Canaveral was the launch site for our exploration of space, St. Louis was where many pioneers in the 1800’s launched their trips to explore and settle the wide-open West; among those early explorers were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

There are other gateways, of course. Gateway to the Arts in Pittsburgh is a center for lifelong learning. Gateway to Care is a collaborative of organizations working together on behalf of the indigent in and around Houston, Texas. On the other hand, the reputed “Gateway to Hell” is located in a cemetery in Shull, Kansas.

Speaking of gateways, where is the Gateway to UIC? (Hopefully, it’s not in a cemetery in Kansas.) History buffs might say it’s Turner Gate, the tall, concrete pillar on Harrison Street on the East Side with “UIC” in white letters emblazoned on a blue square background. (Turner Gate was named after Jonathon Baldwin Turner who back in 1850 called for a “state university for the industrial classes.” This led to the Land Grant Act of 1862, which laid the basis for the University of Illinois, which eventually included a campus in Chicago.) A more eye-level Turner Gate welcomed students who arrived by the “L” and then used a ramp to cross Harrison to reach the second level walkways that criss-crossed the East Side of campus for decades.

The Master Plan types would tell us there are several gateway locations that dot the edges of each side of campus and that effort, creativity and dollars should be expended to make them more coherent, visually appealing, and welcoming entrances to our campus. Some locations are obvious, others not so much…yet.

East Side
UIC Halsted CTA Station
Harrison / Halsted Intersection
Halsted / Roosevelt Intersection
Roosevelt / Morgan Intersection
Morgan / Taylor Intersection
Vernon Park Cul-de-Sac

West Side
Damen / Taylor Intersection
Taylor / Ashland Intersection
Ashland / Roosevelt Intersection
Roosevelt / Wood Intersection
Proposed Roosevelt Pink Line “L” Station

The UIC campus has many points of entry and no single concrete pillar should try to stand alone and welcome the world to our doorstep…I mean, doorsteps, so the Master Plan proposes nearly a dozen Gateways.

(I wonder if they are also Cheaper by the Dozen? – 1950 movie starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy).

Question of the Week: Too many proposed gateways? Too few? Are they the logical choices? Where do you enter campus? Where is your Gateway to UIC?

Until next Friday…

Friday, February 26, 2010

...or Forever Hold Your Peace

With the notable exceptions of soap operas and romantic comedies and with the days of dowries dwindling rapidly (I never did get those 40 goats I was promised), the use of the phrase, “Speak now or forever hold your peace” is becoming increasingly rare in the enlightened arena of 21st century wedding ceremonies. It is even rarer for a person to actually stand up and boldly object to the marriage, thus throwing a massive wet blanket on the hugely expensive reception about to happen and ruining the day forever for the (up to that very minute) happy couple.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is one of the maxims attributed to Pubilius Syrus in the 1st century BC – “Let the fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.” Bob Cox used this phrase as the preface to an on-line article in which he reminded his readers to “never… speak until the time is right. And the time is right when the other person is ready to listen.”

As regular readers of this blog know for certain, this fool is not known for holding his tongue and hence the mantle of "sage" has never been bestowed upon his (read “my”) shoulders. I never need to be extended an invitation to add my two cents. Others are far more reticent.

However, be ye fool or sage, faculty or student, staffer or neighbor, or all of the above, PLEASE do not miss out on your FINAL chance to come out and participate in the LAST pair of Master Plan Town Hall Meetings. This is it. The consultants and committees are finalizing the Plan and their presentation to the University Board of Trustees and they want to know what you have to think about their ideas for the UIC campus of the future.

The time is right. And boy, are they ready to listen.

West Side
Thursday, March 4, 2010
1:30 – 3:30 PM
MBRB – First Floor Auditorium

East Side
Friday, March 5, 2010
10:00 AM – Noon
Student Center East – Room 605

“Speak now or forever hold your peace.” (No goats are required; goatees are optional.)

Question of the Week: What possible excuse could you have for passing up this opportunity to help create the Plan for the future of this campus?

Until next Friday…

Friday, February 19, 2010

Technologically Challenged

The picturesque coastal city of Vancouver and the majestic mountains nearby are now on full display during the XXI Olympic Winter Games. They are certainly on full display on the new 42” LCD 1080p 240Hz HDTV television I purchased on my furlough day. (The sales tax for that sucker should make a significant dent in the State’s budget deficit. You’re welcome, Governor. Had I bit the bullet completely and purchased the LED version, the state would now have the resources to completely pay off the millions of dollars it owes UIC. Sorry, Chancellor. However, as I mentioned, this was done on a furlough day, so I couldn’t let myself go completely overboard.)

Although my new television image clarity is amazing, I’m not sure whether being able to count individual beads of perspiration on the faces of some of the athletes and being confronted with the multitude of layers of clown make-up on the aging faces of Bob Costas, Al Michaels, et al. are adding to my amusement or subtracting from my enjoyment during the hours I am now spending sequestered in front of a countless number of liquid crystal diodes.

It’s amazing how technology touches us every minute of every day in both good and not so good ways. A problematic IPod app, a momentary delay in downloading a You Tube video, and stepping out of a Wi-Fi zone are all examples of modern day moments of technologically-induced terror and stress our parents never had to worry about.

Part of the challenge for the Master Plan process is to try to plan a campus of the future that is flexible enough to accommodate the technology of the future. For example, when will computer labs become passé’? Will commuters telecommute on a regular basis? Will there need to be physical libraries if most, if not all, information is available electronically? What will replace Wi-Fi? Should classrooms be larger, smaller, or will they ever be no longer needed? Will international students ever have to actually come to campus to receive credits and degrees? How often will students who live in residence halls really need to go to traditional classrooms?

I was staring at a stack of VHS tapes last night wondering how I was ever going to play them again, let alone that large box of vinyl records sitting in my basement. Sometimes I wonder if there is an evil genius out there releasing one replacement piece of technology after another, just so that eventually I have to break down and buy something new. Sometimes I wonder why I’m not driving that hovercraft those futurists of yore said I would be by now so the streets would never have to be plowed and traffic jams would be a thing of the past.

Then again, sometimes, I feel like the monster in “Young Frankenstein” – “ARRGGH! FIRE - BAD!”

Question of the Week: What should the Master Planner types be thinking about when it comes to trends in technology?

Until next Friday…

Monday, February 15, 2010

White Out

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” there were indispensible office products called “Wite Out” and its rival “Liquid Paper”. This was a time before there were any personal computers. This was some time between clay tablets and Apple’s iPad tablet PC. (“An apple a day” no longer just keeps the doctor away – it also keeps Steve Jobs well supplied with black mock turtleneck shirts, jeans, and a LOT of other stuff.)

BTW: Liquid Paper was invented by the Monkees’ Michael Nesmith’s mother and Michael, in turn, was instrumental in getting MTV off the ground.

Wite Out and Liquid Paper were used to cover mistakes on typewritten documents. (“Typewritten documents” are somewhat similar to what are now called “hard copies”.) Many senior professors today would not be professors at all had these handy little bottles of “correction fluid” not been around when they were grad students. Those products are still available, but demand has plummeted. No need to cover mistakes when you can just eliminate the pixilated image of a word on your monitor with the “Delete” or “Backspace” key.

I got to thinking about Wite Out this morning on my way to work as the first inches of the predicted foot of fluffy white stuff had already covered everything in sight. The winds are supposed to pick up, perhaps resulting in blizzard or “whiteout” conditions. The UIC campus has certainly been “whited out” covering parking lots, roads, sidewalks, ramps, stairways, etc. Facilities Management will spend most of the next couple of days doing its best to uncover these man-made pathways of Mother Nature’s generous outpouring of frozen white precipitation.

With the exception of the colors of the outerwear we wear as we walk between buildings, the wintertime campus palette is pretty much limited to concrete grey on the East Side, brick red on the West Side, and the aforementioned Mother Nature white on both sides and everywhere in between.

The Master Plan committees and consultants continue to challenge themselves as to the best options to expand the available array of colors and brighten the overall look of the campus. After all, this is Chicago. The school year for most of us is not the time when the trees and grass are all green and flowers are in full bloom. It’s now, when the campus canvas is blank.

Here are some of the ideas that have been discussed:
* Stringing mini-lights through the bare trees like those in the Quad
* Planting more evergreen-type trees and shrubbery that would retain their colors year round
* Replacing those concrete benches and trash containers with others which are more colorful.
* Repainting the campus shuttle buses making more use of the UIC colors
* Hanging big bright banners over some of the big blank exterior walls around campus
* Adding digital displays and signage at strategic locations
* Commissioning oversized ceramic tile murals

Things don’t have to be just black and white (and gray) all winter. Let’s get more colorful.

Question of the Week: Where would some color have the most impact?

Until next Friday…

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blazin' 24/7

A MassMail subject line caught my eye this week. It read “UIC Radio Wins Best College Music Station”. Did you know UIC had a radio station, let alone an award-winning radio station? With the tagline, “Blazin’ 24/7”, UIC Radio has been around for about ten years and just won the best college music radio moniker at the 2010 Chicago Music Awards.

It’s an on-line station that broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from studios on the third floor of Student Center East. Check out its website at www.uicradio.org. BTW They are always looking for more DJs and folks who want to get involved with the station.

There has been a lot of talk during this Master Plan process about moving the campus to develop a more 24/7 quality. “Blazin’ 24/7” is already there.

Graduate students from CUPPA (College of Urban Planning and Public Administration) presented some great concepts to the Master Planning groups in December. One of them was to relocate the UIC Radio studio to Lecture Center B or E with windows to the Quad. Heck, several of the local TV and radio stations downtown have moved their studios to the ground floor with windows where passersby can look in and talk show hosts and newscasters can look out.

Enlivening the Quad with a 24/7 radio station and maybe a café on the other side would activate the space so much more than those big blank concrete walls that dominate the north and south sides of the Quad now. Walls that now act as barriers could become a warm and welcoming presence throughout the day and into the evening hours.

The CUPPA students also recommended putting up a cinema marquee over the doors to one of the Lecture Center auditoria and regularly show movies at night. It’s another wonderful way to extend life on campus beyond those spent in the classroom.

Think about your first walk across the Quad during one of those tours. Think about what it would be like if there were a brightly lit radio station on one side, a lively café scene going on on the another, and a big-time movie marquee announcing that night’s feature film on a third.

Let’s do it.

Question of the Week: What do you think? A radio station fronting the Quad? Good idea?

The CUPPA students’ “UIC Evening Campus Plan” can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.uic.edu/master_plan/Documents/CUPPA/CUPPA_552_Final_Report.pdf.

Until next Friday…

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fraternal Twins

Despite my previous protestations to the contrary, a little over a year and a half ago, my son and his wife proved that I really was old enough to be a grandfather. AND that my much younger and much better looking wife was old enough to be a grandmother. AND, just to make sure we completely understood that our lives had changed forever, that we should start out our new identities with not one grandchild, but two grandtwins– a boy and a girl.

An aside: Twins composed of one boy and one girl are, by definition, fraternal twins. If you should happen to see parents (or grandparents) who are pushing a two-seater stroller along the sidewalk and who have just told you the boy and girl in the aforementioned stroller are twins, please, please do not ask them “Are they identical?” Think first before those words pop out of your mouth. Remember this aside and make your alma mater proud and, at the same time, keep those stroller-pushin’ people from having to simultaneously bite their lips, scratch their heads, and furrow their brows in disbelief.

This is very difficult to do. Believe me. I know from personal experience.


Before I go any further I need to state quite unequivocally that my grandtwins are, without a doubt, the cutest grandchildren in the world.

That said, they are two very different little people. To start with, as mentioned before, one is a boy and one is girl. One has a powder blue blanket with a crown and “Prince” on it and the other has, you guessed it, a pink blanket with a crown and “Princess” on it. (These items were not our idea, by the way. This set of grandparents would prefer more gender-neutral toys and apparel, but we are not in charge of those decisions.)

One has been walking for a while and the other is making good progress in that regard. One has the best giggle and smile in the world and the other is a scamp. But they are brother and sister and share a last name, as well as a birthday.

This made me think of UIC, with its two “fraternal twin” sides of campus. The West and East Sides of campus are as different as my two grandchildren, but they share the UIC name in good times and not so good times. They are separate, yet joined together by mutual bonds.

One of the goals of the Master Plan has been to find ways to better connect the two sides and to make it clearer that both are part of the same campus. Common banners, street lights, and (better) signage are a part of that thinking. Bike lanes, pedestrian pathways, and more logical, less circuitous bus routes (with buses with more distinctive and colorful exterior paint jobs, perhaps) would help unite the two sides.

As that great (?) 70’s Sister Sledge song told us – “We are Family. Get up Everybody and Dance!!”

Question of the Week: What would make us feel more like one big happy family?

Until next Friday…

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dream On

A Master Plan process provides the opportunity for those of us on campus to think big – to step back from our daily routine with all its budget hassles, papers to write and tests to grade – and dream about what the UIC Campus of the Future should look and feel like.

For a moment, though, let’s look back at some of the dreams that have already been fulfilled and continue to be fulfilled by the existence of this place we like to call the University of Illinois at Chicago.

* UIC is considered one of the top 50 research institutions in the country.

* With 25,000 students and 15 colleges, UIC is the largest university in Chicago.

* Over 14,000 students apply each year for 3,000 freshman slots.

* Students can join any of the more than 300 student organizations on campus.

* The first PhD program in Disability Studies in the US is located at UIC.

* US News and World Report ranks the UIC College of Pharmacy seventh in the nation.

* UIC College of Applied Health Sciences continues in the top five in federal funding.

* UIC College of Medicine is the country’s largest medical school.

* UIC is among just four US medical centers that have six health sciences colleges.

* UIC physicians are world leaders in robotic-assisted surgery.

* CeaseFire, a proven gang violence prevention program based at UIC, is being replicated in cities across the nation, as well as being used with tribal leaders in Iraq.

* The architect of the world’s tallest building, the recently opened UAE Burj Dubai is a UIC alum.

* Nearly half of Illinois dentists have received UIC College of Dentistry degrees.

* Etc.

* Etc.

An article on distinguished UIC alumni in the current edition of the Impact magazine starts:

They came from different walks of life, different cultures, each with a dream, each with a gift.

So, dream on UIC. Dream on.

Question of the Week: What is your dream?

Until next Friday…

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sounds Like...

Consider this a Public Service Announcement: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) considers those fun, little, seemingly harmless Party Poppers to be dangerous fireworks. I know this to be true, at least at the Charlottesville, Virginia airport where I am now on file as the person who tried to smuggle five of them aboard a US Airways flight on New Years Eve 2009.

Perhaps the TSA personnel (and the policeman they summoned) thought I planned to prematurely celebrate the onset of the new decade by pulling the little strings on these gadgets and, in the process, make loud popping noises and spray the seats in my immediate vicinity with cute little streamers. If so, I guess those popping sounds could have been misconstrued to be gunshots by already nervous and stressed-out holiday travelers…IF, that is, I had had any intention of taking them out of my carry-on suitcase while we were airborne.

This brings to mind the question of what sounds are good, what sounds are annoying, what sounds are comforting, etc. Annoying sounds are probably the easiest to identify – sounds like those from the Pink Line “L” trains that are constantly passing overhead while I sit at my desk; or the incessant cell phone chatter around us everywhere we go; or that high-pitched, eardrum-piercing screech that some idiot thought was a good idea for all fax machines.

You can buy little “white noise” machines designed to help you or your baby sleep. Speaking of babies, the sound of a toddler’s giggle will plant a smile on even the grouchiest of faces. The therapeutic purring of a cat might be just what the doctor ordered to help unwind after a day of work.

Much of what the Master Plan consultant team has developed deals with stuff you can see and touch. Most of it is solid like buildings and even landscaping. However, there is at least one thing they have suggested that would add not only a visual and perhaps tactile presence to the campus, but an audible one as well. They have suggested an all-season water feature that would add the soothing sound of cascading water to the urban noises that surround and infiltrate the campus.

I had never really thought about the sound of a fountain as being one of its distinguishing features, but it certainly is. Think Buckingham Fountain to use a world-famous local example. Gurgle. Gurgle.

Oh yeah. Happy New Year.

Question of the Week: Does a “water feature” make sense for the UIC campus? If so, should there be at least one on each side of campus?

Until next Friday…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

Growing up in the flat-as-a-pancake, street-gridness of Chicago, it was difficult to get lost, difficult to not know where you were or how to get to where you wanted to go. Everything started (and still starts) at State and Madison and goes out from there in all directions (mostly north, west and south, though, because there ain’t much dry ground to the east). State and Madison is 0 north, 0 south, 0 east, and 0 west. In high school, I lived at 1331 W. Granville Avenue. Granville is 6200 North. That’s all you needed to know to find my old house. (Of course, this was LOONNNGG before MapQuest and Google Maps and GPS systems.)

In less level terrain, it’s much more difficult. I lived in Pittsburgh near a street that went around hill in such a way that it ended up being parallel to itself on a map. When I lived in rural Vermont, I returned home one morning rather than proceeding on to work because a semi had tipped over blocking the two lane main road I used to get there. It’s not like you can just go around the block when you live in a bucolic little place like Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. Later that day I calculated it would have been about a 110-mile detour (literally over hill and dale) had I not waited until they had righted that toppled rig to continue that day’s journey to my place of employment.

That’s why “You can’t get there from here” is a New England expression and not one that would have had its roots in a place like Chicago. (To say it correctly, it needs to be said with that strange and wonderful New Englander desecration of the spoken English word where “there” and “here” each has two syllables, as in “ther-ah” and “her-ah”.)

If you’ve been reading the visions for the East and West Sides of this campus in the Phase 2 Report of the Campus Master Planning project, you would agree that even normally nasal, native-speaking Chicagoans might be saying “You can’t get ther-ah from her-ah.” Looking at all the buildings in our consultants’ preferred plans, it would seemingly require Bill and Melinda Gates both taking vows of poverty and bequeathing all of their jointly-held fortune plus all of their future earnings in perpetuity to UIC to implement those plans completely. We should only be so lucky.

The consultant team would rush to their own defense and tell us that there is really no expectation that all or even most of these buildings will ever be built. A Master Plan allows the campus to have a broad vision of the future to utilize when planning or discussing individual major capital projects in the years to come. Or to help put a developer’s proposal into a larger context. Or to show potential donors where their largesse would have the most beneficial long term effect.

Those consultant types would also point to the types of projects they are recommending in the short term which would not require significant capital investment, meaning they might actually be implementable in our lifetimes – projects that would not require Mr. and Mrs. Gates to move to a communal farm and live off the land. As I so eloquently ridiculed in my November 6th blog, these are being called "Immediate Impact Projects", a misnomer indeed in these economic times where even projects only needing relatively little capital can not get funded.

However, by having the “ther-ah” agreed upon now, we will be able to move more confidently from the “her-ah” by implementing, in the next three to five years, small projects that have a positive impact on the look and feel of the campus and begin our journey toward those visions of the future.

Question of the Week: Where could we best invest a few precious dollars in the next few years to improve the campus?

Happy Holidays!!

Until next year…

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking Cool vs. Keeping Warm

From a Chicago perspective, we’ve had it pretty good when it comes to weather the last couple of months. The temperatures have been above normal and what snow there was Mother Nature kept north of the state line. (Aside: Did you hear that Wisconsin may soon have an official State Microbe? The frozen Cheeseheads in the legislature up there must not have much to do these days – that is until the lakes freeze over and they can go ice fishing.) Our luck ran out in dramatic fashion last week when the temperature plummeted to zero degrees and the wind chill was twenty below.

Speaking of fashion, after decades of personal observation, I have concluded, without a doubt, that “frigid fashionistas” is an oxymoron. Folks who are overly concerned with how they look stay inside or head south when the mercury in the thermometer takes a tumble. It is, I dare say, impossible to look cool while attempting to keep warm when it’s cold outside. (The one exception may be certain ski outfits, but they’re appropriate for ski resorts in the mountains, not the flatlands of Chicago.) What the fashionistas don’t realize is that nobody cares what others look like when it’s freezing because everybody is freezing; everybody is in the same bitterly cold boat.

I raise this because the West Side of campus has been having a few issues dealing with the cold weather because of problems with the power plant’s ability to generate steam. It was a great example of how the only time we appreciate what we usually enjoy (without giving a second thought to what it takes to make that happen) is when something goes wrong and we have to go without.

BTW: The Master Plan consultants have included a site for a new, modern, energy-efficient power plant in the preferred alternative for the West Side in their Phase 2 Report. (http://www.uic.edu/master_plan/Documents/Phase2/Phase_2_Report.pdf)

So…maybe…eventually….

Other highlights of the vision for the West Side include:

Ø A “signature” building spanning Taylor at Ashland and Taylor to provide a distinctive academic “gateway” to the West Side of campus.

Ø A “greenway” extending from MBRB west to Damen.

Ø A new hospital fronting on Roosevelt and a new open, green “campus core” where the hospital sits now.

Ø Street closures and shortenings to make the West Side more “pedestrian-friendly” and to give it a more “campus feel”.

Question of the Week: Could I have used any more quotation marks?

Until next Wednesday…

Friday, December 11, 2009

East Side Story

Although Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” was much more of a box office hit, “East Side Story,” a 1997 documentary on music musicals about the joys of socialism in Communist bloc countries during the Cold War, certainly must have its share of fans… somewhere.

On the other hand, the UIC East Side Story continues to be written and the preferred alternative vision (and the runner-ups) of what it could be like in the future has now been posted to the Master Plan website. Check out the complete Phase 2 report at http://www.uic.edu/master_plan/Documents/Phase2/Phase_2_Report.pdf

There may be no happy comrades singing at the top of their lungs while driving tractors and sweeping factory floors in this East Side Story, but there’s some pretty interesting other stuff to be found in there, nonetheless.

For example,

Ø What would the East Side of campus look like if University Hall were taken down and replaced by a tower on the east side of Halsted?

Ø How about a communal water fountain in the new “Peoples' Plaza” in the campus core?

Ø Are you tired of all the hours you’ve spent in those windowless classrooms in Lecture Centers B and E? See how demolition of these two eyesores could yield an expanded area for the Peoples' Plaza!

Ø What would UIC be like without BSB?

Ø Who'd a thunk it – Student Housing next to SES?

Ø Quo Vadis, Ye Olde Student Services Building (and former retail mall)?

DAH!

Question of the Week: What do you think, comrade? Does the preferred East Side alternative work for you?

Until next Friday…

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

There’s been a lot of talk about turkeys lately thanks in large part to the recent holiday. Around my house, there has been a lot of post-Thanksgiving talk on the subject as well. Specifically, the talk has centered on what we’re going to do with all the leftover turkey now aging in our refrigerator. Since the great Thanksgiving Day feast which featured the grand old bird (with “all the fixin’s”), we have now had cold turkey sandwiches, hot open face turkey sandwiches (twice), turkey tetrazzini, turkey casserole, and turkey melts with cranberry sauce on Boboli pizza crusts. Help!

Don’t get me wrong. I like turkey and I love turkey sandwiches. But I think you can indeed have too much of a good thing. This may be the reason for another oft-used meaning of the word (lower case “t”) “turkey” – as in “a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser” (dictionary.com).

This meaning could certainly apply to the 2009 edition of the Chicago Bears. “Turkey” could also apply to a Broadway play that opens, is panned by the critics and closes down almost immediately. It could most definitely apply to the flying saucer / mother ship re-design of the home stadium of the aforementioned-already-well-into-hibernation Bears.

A few blogs ago, I mentioned seeing a wild fox on this campus. I dare say we see a lot more turkeys than foxes on campus. Not wild turkeys. (Not Wild Turkey, either.) Turkeys that were constructed for various and sundry purposes and which now find themselves somehow magically deemed appropriate to be incorporated into the UIC campus space inventory.

Perhaps, in their present usages, it would be more fitting to call each of them not a turkey, but a turducken, a multi-fowled concoction composed of a turkey stuffed with a duck which in turn is stuffed with a chicken – something that certainly isn’t now what it started out its life as.

We currently have on campus:
an (how can I say this delicately?) undergarment factory (CUPPA Hall)
a staff apartment building (Marshfield Avenue Building)
a tuberculosis sanitarium (Applied Health Sciences Building)
a bank (Roosevelt Road Building)
a shopping center (Student Services Building)
a nurses’ residence (Medical Center Administration Building) and
several former medical buildings of various types (Clinical Sciences Building, Disability, Health, and Social Policy Building, and the School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute, among others)

In its previous incarnations, what is now called the Human Resources Building was once the home of the College of Pharmacy, which was supplanted by the Illini Union, and then the Administrative Services Building.

Finally, until very recently, we even had the former St. Mary's Convent, shown on the list of campus buildings as the School of Public Health – East, but, thankfully, it was torn down several months ago.

I’m sure these re-purposed (isn’t that a great consultant-speak word?) structures are not the only turduckens or straight out turkeys sitting around campus, but far be it from me to comment further. It’s your turn.

Question of the Week: What turkeys / turduckens have you had to live / work / learn / teach in at UIC and what makes them qualify as full-fledged, fowl-ish facilities?

Until next Friday…

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Concrete Jungle or Concrete Oasis?

Mr. Wizard and I found ourselves in the Quad the other day surrounded by the Lecture Centers and human activity and interaction. A football was being thrown around; a basketball was being kicked soccer style; and other groups of students were sitting and chatting or standing and doing the same. There was an additional constancy of movement with individuals continually crossing this broad open expanse coming and going in literally all directions.

Watch Mr. Wizard was a half-hour, Saturday morning television show that, in its original iteration, aired an amazing total of 547 episodes from 1951 – 1965. Mr. Wizard was played by Don Herbert and featured science experiments explained in a manner that made them understandable to the show’s youthful audience. Every week, a neighborhood kid, usually a boy named Jimmy, would visit Mr. Wizard and learn something interesting about the fascinating world of science.

For some never explained reason, Mr. Wizard was always pretty excited by Jimmy’s arrival to his laboratory. In addition, there was never any mention of a Mrs. Wizard and Jimmy’s parents never accompanied their son on his regular visits with Mr. Wizard.

This was indeed a much more innocent and trusting era when all we had to worry about was the atomic bomb and Communism.

But I digress…

My esteemed colleague – we call him Mr. Wizard for no other reason than his amazing grasp of and patience with today’s technology – and I began to wonder aloud about the wisdom of the Master Plan consultants’ proposed plan to “green up” this space. Their idea is to make the Quad look more like those on traditional campuses like the Harvard Yard, the Dartmouth Green, or the Main Quad at UIUC – large areas of grass crisscrossed with paved pathways.

Our campus already has some of those, but they’re not where Mr. Wizard and I saw folks choosing to gather. They were congregating on what planners like to call “hardscape” – in this instance, those concrete squares that pave the Quad and allow folks to travel in “literally all directions” without creating those unsightly “cow paths” through planned-to-be-pretty, but quickly-worn-down grassy areas.

This is a tough, rough-and-tumble urban campus, not one of those typical rural “cow-pasture” Big Ten type campuses. Laying sod down where people (not cattle) want to walk is pretty self-defeating. Surround the Quad and the Lecture Center complex with grassy areas – yes that makes a lot of sense. Seed or sod over large portions of the concrete Quad? The Wizard and I say think again.

And Walter Netsch, the architect of the East Side of campus, might even look down from his heavenly (hopefully) perch and, probably for the first time, agree with me.

Question of the Week: What should the Quad look like in the future?

Until next Friday…

Friday, November 20, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night.

When Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton chose those words to open his 1830 novel Paul Clifford, little did he realize they would be used in comic strips over 250 years later by the aspiring author (and world famous beagle) Snoopy. Nor would he probably have appreciated his name being used, thanks to that infamous seven-word phrase, for the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for the worst opening sentence to an imaginary novel.

To his credit, however, although this sounds a bit strange, it takes a lot of skill and talent to write what is judged to be prize-winning-caliber terrible writing. The following sentence by David McKenzie of Federal Way, Washington is the 2009 grand prize winner of the contest.

Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the “Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.

The runner-up this year was Warren Blair of Ashburn, Virginia who submitted this one:

The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor – the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn't use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride.

I can only dream of being able to write so terribly so well…but dream I does.

Most of the leaves have fallen now and we are starting to have a lot of bare trees around campus. And, as Yogi Berra was once quoted as saying, “It gets late early out there.” With the loss of Daylight Savings Time, it’s now getting dark earlier and earlier which makes the campus a little scarier at night and some nights are both dark and stormy.

How about stringing thousands of those miniature lights in the aforementioned bare trees? It would light up the night and make places like the Quad winter wonderlands, replacing scarier with funner. (Maybe I should enter that contest…uh maybe not – my writing may be bad, but it’s probably not prize-winning-caliber bad.)

Question of the Week: Where should new lighting go?

Until, in honor of Thanksgiving, next Wednesday…

Friday, November 13, 2009

Morgan Fox

I was walking south along Morgan Street outside Daley Library the other day. Morgan is the western edge of part of the East Side of campus – the part that runs between that cul-de-sac / pedestrian thoroughfare outside the Newman Center to the north and Taylor to the south. (Until the mid-1980’s, Morgan was not interrupted by a cul-de-sac, it continued north, running right between BSB and UH, severing the peninsula of the East Side that runs west along Harrison to Racine where BSB and those huge Parking Lots 1A and 1B are situated.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I remember.

I was walking down the sidewalk minding my own business when a wild fox (!!) strutted out from between a couple of those townhouses that face Daley Library; crossed over the southbound lane of Morgan, the wide median strip, the northbound lane, and the sidewalk and then, much to the fright and chagrin of a couple of resident squirrels which raced up the nearest tree, sauntered under the chain fence and onto the grass by the Library.

I was not the only one who noticed this gorgeous, reddish brown creature, but, being more Fred Flintstone than George Jetson when it comes to technological gizmos, I was probably the only one not equipped with a cell phone / camera / PDA / whatever with which to snap its picture to capture the moment and instantly transmit to all my BFFs.

The fox was very patient and cooperative, assuming several photogenic poses for those of us lucky enough to be present at that place at that moment in time. There we were, on a large college campus at the edge of the downtown business districts of one of the biggest cities in the country, nay, the world, watching a full-grown wild fox do its thing. That was pretty cool.

Now comes the point (that always has to come in these ramblings of mine) where I have to relate my ramblings to the Campus Master Plan. This is the weekly “And now a word from our sponsor” moment.

Although I hope there is nothing in the implementation of the Master Plan that would prevent future generations of the genus Vulpes from entertaining members of the Class of 2040 and beyond, this is going to be about Morgan Street, its median strip, and its cul-de-sac, not Br’er Fox or any of its offspring.

According to the consultants, the cul-de-sac is not where it should be because it sits between where students and faculty are coming from (the aforementioned BSB and those monster parking lots) and where they want to go (the rest of the East Side) and vice versa. Its current location creates what the consultants like to call a “vehicular pedestrian conflict” – a nice euphemism for the threat of getting run over by a delivery truck.

According to the UIC College of Cycling (it’s really a club of two-wheeled enthusiasts, not a degree-granting campus organization, but don’t tell them I told you), that wide and tall median strip poses a major obstacle for connecting the two sides of campus via a potential Polk Street bicycle route. Coming from the west on Polk, a person on a bike cannot (legally) cross Morgan to get to the Library and beyond. There is no appropriate avenue inviting pedestrians to cross here either.

In the humble opinion of this rapidly aging blogger, the Morgan Street cul-de-sac needs to be pulled south to eliminate the student versus panel van confrontations and create a more appropriate walkway, while maintaining access into and egress out of the Newman Center parking lot. And, there needs to be a break in the median strip to facilitate the flow of bikes and pedestrians moving westward from the East Side of campus and, perhaps when the stars align, from the West Side eastward.

Question of the Week: Have you seen any foxes on campus lately?

Until next Friday…

Friday, November 6, 2009

Immediate Impact

“Deep Impact” was a 1998 sci-fi drama about the impending collision of a speeding comet and the Earth. The movie’s posters pretty much said it all:

Oceans Rise. Cities Fall. Hope Survives. Deep Impact

HEAVEN and EARTH are about to COLLIDE. Deep Impact

“Impact” also has another, less destructive, meaning. The word can connote something that makes a difference, something that influences the status quo, something that visibly shows a change has happened. As opposed to the impact of a comet on the surface of the Earth, which I think would be fairly universally described as a bad thing, the alternate meaning could certainly involve something that would be considered to be a good thing.

Both meanings involve some immediacy – the aforementioned comet, the results of an election, the birth of a child, a game-winning home run, a first kiss, etc. You won’t find the phrase “gradual impact” being used very often.

“Immediate Impact” would, therefore, be somewhat redundant. (BTW: The trope, “The Department of Redundancy Department” was first used on The Firesign Theatre’s 1970 Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers album.)

Redundant as it may be, our consultants have decided to use the term Immediate Impact Projects for “smaller scale, lower capital projects that will begin the transformation of the physical look, feel and functionality of the campus that work within the framework of the complete Master Plan.” (Having to write phrases like that is one of the reasons I’m not a consultant…any more.)

Some of these, uh, Immediate Impact Projects – most of which will take years to complete – are grouped as follows in their soon-to-be-issued, Phase 2 report: Buildings, Open Space, and Sustainability: (wait for it) Buildings & Open Space.

I’m so excited.

BTW: I Think We’re All Bozos on this Bus was The Firesign Theatre’s fourth album, released in 1971.

Question of the Week: There is no question of the week this week.

Until next Friday…

Friday, October 30, 2009

Changing Times

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Bob Dylan

Saturday night is Halloween, the night before All Hallows Day (now usually called All Saints Day). This year, however, the hand-off between the spooks and the saints will take a little longer. There will be an extra hour to go trick-or-treating or for those costume parties to last or, in my case, to sleep.

This is because this year Halloween happens to be the night we change (or we forget to change) our clocks back to Standard Time. We finally get to cash in on that hour we “saved” back in the Spring.

This time change officially happens at 2 AM on Sunday morning here in the United States. For me, it will probably happen some time around 9 PM on Saturday night.

As a new grandfather, I have also been reintroduced to another, more odiferous type of changing things, but I digress…

So this weekend brings Halloween, the onset of November, the return to Standard Time, and, for all intents and purposes, the start of the non-stop Holiday Buying (uh…I mean Shopping) Season. That’s a lot to absorb in less than 24 hours. Is it too much?

How much is too much?

The Master Plan committees and their consultants are trying to get their arms around the same question.

How much change can the campus absorb at one time? How radically or modestly different should the campus of the future be? How many potential buildings should be shown on the conceptual plans before those plans become unrealistic, even 20 – 30 years out? How much additional structured parking, if any, needs to be added before the first surface parking lot is torn up and becomes a new, Frisbee-filled open space?

For the times they are a-changin’.

Question of the week: Which parking lot should be the first one to go away?

Until next Friday…

Friday, October 23, 2009

Turning Over a New Leaf

In June 2008, I became a proud grandfather for the first time. Actually, I became a proud grandfather for the first time twice – I now have twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl. My daughter, the twins’ aunt, decided to give them a sugar maple tree this summer for their first birthday. It’s about 10 – 12 feet tall and pretty skinny with about a two-inch diameter trunk and is now planted in our back yard.

This, then, was the first autumn of this tree’s life that was shared with us and the twins, who are now about 16 months old. The leaves of the tree turned red and twice I collected those that had fallen to the ground and kept them in a bucket for the kids to enjoy on their weekly visit to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. The leaves that are left on their new maple tree are now countable and soon countable on the fingers of a couple of hands. Sooner than I would like, those skinny twig-like branches will be completely bare and will remain so for at least the next five or six months.

Most trees lose their leaves and remain leafless during winters here in Chicago. Only evergreen and other non-deciduous trees bring natural color to the snowscape that we will soon (oh too soon) be surrounded by. Palm trees just don’t have a chance around here.

Of course, students are on campus much more during the annual leaf shortage months than when our 5,000+ trees are in their full glory. Our consultants, even those from California, recognize that a landscape which is only black and white for most of the academic year does not breathe as much life into the campus as one that has at least some splotches of color here and there.

Not all of those color splotches, however, have to come from plantings. Some of it could come from non-concrete benches. Some could come from new banners that get hung. Some could come from colorful murals on the exterior walls of buildings. Some could come from new lighting – maybe spotlights that change colors on that new all-season water feature the consultants keep talking about.

Some color could also come from the coats and hoodies we wear.

More UIC indigo blue and flame red here and there – what a concept!! That’s a new leaf we all could turn over.

Enjoy the leaves while they last. Then it’s our turn to change colors.

Question of the week: What color(s) should those new benches be?

Until next Friday…

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Preferred Option

In another life, yours truly was a professional whitewater raft guide, primarily in California, but also in places like Oregon and New Zealand. One thing I learned in that job was that there are often several different routes to make it safely through a rapid. When approaching a particularly tricky rapid, guides would often pull ashore upstream in order to scout it out from a vantage point where they could get an all-encompassing view of the entire rapid. Only after they had analyzed the conditions which lay ahead would they decide which route would be the preferred option to take on that particular run of the river.

Taking an all-encompassing view of the campus was the job of the various UIC Master Plan committees and their consultant team during Phase I. Looking at the implications of numerous conditions and proposing several options for how the campus could look and feel in the future has taken the majority of time during Phase II. This effort will culminate in a report to be issued early next month which focuses on the preferred option.

As a result of study, committee discussions, and campus and community meetings, the following provisions should be assumed within the preferred option and as we move into Phase III:
  1. After their functions have been relocated to other appropriate spaces, alternative uses (including buildings and/or open spaces) can be envisioned for the land that currently lies beneath the following buildings:
    Applied Health Sciences Building
    Disability, Health and Social Policy Building
    Lecture Centers B and E
    Marshfield Avenue Building
  2. The Commonwealth Edison Sub-Station site will be cleared and available for other purposes.
  3. No further consideration should be given to the demolition of the following buildings:
    Behavioral Sciences Building
    School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute
    University Hall
  4. Surface parking should be phased out, structured parking should be expanded, and, in line with the Campus Climate Action Plan’s goal, a 30% reduction in drive-alone UIC commuting should be incorporated into parking and traffic assumptions and projections.
  5. The concept of a modest, partial decking over the Eisenhower to create a landscaped open space and/or “transit-oriented development” (T.O.D.) can be carried forth, but only with the caveat that it would not be built with UIC funds.
  6. The medical center and affiliated medical support facilities will eventually create major frontages on both sides of Roosevelt Road.
  7. Projects which would require minimal capital, yet have major visual impacts in the short term, should be given significant emphasis in both the Phase II report and beyond.

Okay, now that we’ve got a plan in mind, let’s all forward paddle. STROKE, STROKE...

Question of the week: Fill in the blank: What the campus needs most is ______.

Until next Friday…

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blame it on Rio!

This just in from a faithful blog reader…

The Chicago Marathon is this Sunday with 45,000 runners from all 50 states, 100 countries AND UIC. The race starts in Grant Park at 7:30 AM with a route that will take these amazing athletes right through the UIC campus – south on Halsted, west on Taylor and south on Ashland – between mile markers 16 and 19 of the 26 7/32 mile course. Come out, line the streets and cheer the runners on. At this point in the race, they’ll really need your applause.

Now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast…


*****

Twenty five years ago, the movie Blame it on Rio! opened with the following tagline:

You can blame the night, blame the wine, blame the moon in her eyes, but when all else fails . . . you'd better . . . Blame it on Rio!

The same four words were used as a blaring front page Chicago Sun-Times headline last weekend for a story about Chicago’s loss to Rio de Janeiro for the opportunity to host the 2016 Olympics. Rio had been considered a favorite so that was not a huge surprise. The shocker was that Chicago, also considered a front-runner, was knocked out in the first round of voting.

I was sitting in a meeting in University Hall last Friday morning at about 10:30 when there was a knock on the door. A man stuck his head in and announced the news about the Olympics voting to those gathered there for a regular meeting. The room went silent. Not only had Chicago lost its bid, UIC had lost its opportunity to be the site for the Games’ boxing events as well as other support activities.

The possibility of the Olympics coming to Chicago in general and to UIC in particular had both Campus Master Planning and campus operations implications. Parking, crowd control, coordination of media trucks and personnel from around the world, traffic congestion, and the probable delay of classes for the fall term, etc. were all part of package. On a more positive note, improvements at the Blue Line stations at the edge of campus, street and sidewalk repairs, pedestrian crossing upgrades, etc. would also have given higher priority on the City’s to-do list given the global microscope the Windy City would have been under.

For some here on campus, Rio’s selection was a great thing – they were the ones who felt confident, given our propensity for using major capital project budgets as minimum guidelines, that the resulting cost overruns would ultimately be borne by local taxpayers. They feared Guinness Book record-setting traffic snarls and were planning out-of-town vacations for those two weeks. They worried our Olympic legacy would be a black eye and a mountain of debt.

For others, this was a chance of a lifetime for Chicago to shed its “Second City” inferiority complex and show the world the beautiful city-by-the-lake that we get to enjoy on a daily basis. The city skyline, the lakefront beaches, our campus, etc. would all be on display for the world to see and for us to unabashedly boast about. The image of Al Capone would be buried forever. Maybe the Cubs would even win the World Series that year and, as has so often been predicted if such an unheard of event should actually occur, Hell would indeed freeze over.

Which ever side of the Olympic bid fence you resided, our campus can now proceed with its Master Plan with the knowledge that the UIC Pavilion will be about 5,300 miles as the crow flies from the 2016 Olympics boxing venue.

Now get out and cheer on those marathoners!

Question of the week: Was the loss of the Olympics a good thing or a bad thing for UIC and Chicago?

Until next Friday…

Friday, October 2, 2009

Meatballs and Master Plans

For the second week in a row, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs topped the country’s box office charts. It’s an animated flick about a guy (Flint Lockwood - honest) who invents a way to turn water into food which he hopes will solve the world’s hunger problem. Instead, of course, stuff happens and his plan goes awry in a big way and hence, the title of the movie.

The title reminded me of the 1979 Bill Murray film Meatballs which is set at a lakeside summer camp (Camp North Star) and has one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. Murray plays the cool, prank-prone, head counselor Tripper Harrison. He is called upon by the nerdy, clueless, camp director to give their less-than-athletic young campers a stirring pep talk after they have fallen way behind following the first day of the annual two-day Olympiad against the mean and much wealthier kids from the rival, and, of course, often cheating, Camp Mohawk.

Instead of pulling out all the stops with a “Win One for The Gipper” type speech (1940 film Knute Rockne – All American), Tripper tells the campers that it really doesn’t matter what happens the next day at the Olympiad because the Mohawk campers are still going to get all the good-looking girls and guys because they’re rich.

This, of course, is clever, scripted, reverse psychology which riles up the campers who begin to chant, slowly at first and then with greater and greater enthusiasm, “it just doesn’t matter; It Just Doesn’t Matter; IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER; IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER”.

But of course it mattered so the klutzy, but fired-up, kids from Camp North Star go out the next day and win the Olympiad with a come-from-behind victory in the final and deciding event.

Thirty years later, here at “Camp UIC”, we are working on a Camp(us) Master Plan which will lay out a vision of what this place will look and feel like 25-30 years into the future.

Some people might say it just doesn’t matter – it’ll be what it’ll be.

It just doesn’t matter – we’ll never have the money to do any of it.

It Just doesn’t matter – it’s fine the way it is – leave well enough alone.

It Just Doesn’t matter – I’ll be long gone.

It Just Doesn’t Matter – no one will ever read it.

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER.

But of course it matters.

Without a plan, there is no direction. Without a direction, we can’t look forward. If we can’t look forward, we can only stagnate. If we stagnate, we die. If we die, we will have created a self-fulfilling prophesy and then – only then – it just didn’t matter.

Question of the week: What would be the one thing that you would want the Master Plan types to address?

Until next Friday…

Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting From There to Here and Back Again

I’ve lived in a bunch of different places in my many years here on Planet Earth, but the majority of the time has been in and around the Windy City. Chicago is so flat and (thanks to the Chicago Fire – not the soccer team, the other one – and Daniel Burnham) laid out so logically. It would always take me a while in every other place to get my bearings and figure out what’s what.

When I relocated to Minneapolis/St. Paul, I went looking for a place to live and I had what I thought was the standard criteria in mind – price, number of bedrooms, neighborhood, distance from work, schools for the kids, etc. Never, ever did I consider the need to take into consideration which direction on the compass my house was from where my office was situated. When you grow up in Chicago, you don’t have the option of living EAST of the city – Lake Michigan kinda gets in the way.

In the Twin Cities, however, even in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, lakes don’t get in the way – there are interstate highways that actually CIRCLE these two adjacent cities. What a concept!! You can actually live east of where you work AND NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO DRIVE INTO THE BLAZING SUN EITHER GOING TO WORK OR GOING HOME!

No wonder the people up there are so nice.

On the other hand, their public transportation system pales by comparison to Chicago’s. They have some buses and a light rail line or two, but nothing like our CTA and Metra. Most people just drive everywhere. In addition, rush hour traffic seems to double on Friday afternoons because nearly every vehicle is pulling some kind of boat or (most of the year) a trailer with between one and four snowmobiles. But I digress…

With the price of gas, the price of parking, the cost of automotive maintenance, etc., why do people still drive when they work or go to school at UIC? There are bus routes that crisscross the campus. There are three CTA stations. There’s a shuttle bus that goes between two of the commuter train stations and campus during rush hours. There’s a Metra station just south of South Campus. There are also lots of bicycle racks and several places where folks can shower. AND then there’s that pre-tax transit benefit thingie. This is a real Win-Win situation.

The recently released draft UIC Climate Action Plan sets a goal of a 30% reduction in the use of cars for commuting to campus over the next 22 years. This goal is going to be used by the Master Plan consultants when they calculate future campus parking requirements.

But don’t wait for that. This is something we can all do to help now AND NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO DRIVE INTO THE BLAZING SUN EITHER GOING TO WORK/SCHOOL OR GOING HOME!

Please share your own commuting epiphanies and/or horror stories, or even why driving every day makes the most sense. Come on. This is supposed to be interactive and hip, using all this new-fangled technology and stuff.

For more information on our Climate Action Plan and other things you can do to extend the life of Planet Earth, go to www.sustainability.uic.edu.

Until next Friday…

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

In a prior life, I worked at a medical center in New Hampshire. The chief of the medical staff was an anesthesiologist by the name of Harry Bird. (Honest.) He was a great guy and, obviously, an important figure at the medical center. However, there was one day each year that you would not find him there. That was the second Tuesday of March and that was because in addition to his responsibilities at the hospital, the clinic, and the medical school, Dr. Bird was also the moderator of the local Town Hall Meeting.

New England has a great tradition of annual Town Hall Meetings. Once a year (and I believe that the second Tuesday in March was the fairly universal date), each town takes a break from its usual activities and gathers to discuss things of importance to the residents of that township. Usually, the most important things to be discussed and voted on are the town budget, taxes, and fees for the coming year, but the floor is open to anyone who wants to address his or her neighbors and elected officials on just about any topic. Those topics could range from parking problems to the cost of the Fourth of July fireworks to whatever war the nation was involved in at the time. It is the purest form of direct democracy in action.

Following in this hallowed tradition, there were two Town Hall Meetings held last week to present and discuss several alternative visions for the UIC Campus Master Plan. The complete presentation and summaries of the discussions that followed will be posted on the master planning process website at http://www.uic.edu/master_plan/community_forums.htm.

The Master Plan process had already included four such Town Hall Meetings back in the spring, during Phase 1, as well as a community forum in July. Last week’s Phase II meetings sought to combine campus and community inputs. Therefore, announcements were widely circulated across the campus and over 150 invitations were sent out to community leaders and organizations.

The first of last week’s two meetings was held at the Student Services Building at the westernmost part of the East Side at Racine and Harrison. The second was in the auditorium of the Molecular Biology Research Building on the West Side on Ashland between Taylor and Polk. The topics raised by the people who attended these sessions were almost as varied as those in the aforementioned New England Town Halls.

Questions that were raised included the following:

How can UIC become more of a 24/7 campus? Identification of “centers of activity” has already begun. This will help focus efforts toward mixed use development, places for additional lighting, etc.

Would the removal of walls and fences help make the campus more permeable with a better connection to the surrounding communities? Yes, that is certainly one of the desired outcomes of making the edges of campus more penetrable, especially on the East Side.

Will bicycle routes and amenities be an important part of the Master Plan? Yes.

Will the campus be expanding beyond its current boundaries? Not on the East Side – in fact, the plan is to bring those functions that lie east of the Dan Ryan and north of the Eisenhower back onto the main campus. On the West Side, the Medical Center’s Master Plan envisions expanding onto undeveloped Illinois Medical District real estate south of Roosevelt.

Will the Master Plan be recommending the use of planting that retain color (e.g. evergreen trees) through the winter months when the campus is most fully populated? Yes.

What are the plans for parking? All of the alternatives for both sides of campus assume that there will be no surface parking, that all of the on-campus parking will eventually occur in parking structures. There appears to be a deficit of parking on the West Side and a surplus on the East Side. Adding bike lanes and improving the amenities for bike riders and improving the connections to public transportation will hopefully curb the growth in the need for parking spaces overall.

Will the West Side tunnel system remain? The Master Plan assumes that, wherever possible and appropriate, as new buildings are built on the West Side, the tunnel system will be expanded to incorporate them.

How would the proposed narrowing of Halsted between Harrison and Roosevelt help the flow of pedestrians and vehicles? The thinking is that because Halsted is narrower both north and south of this stretch, vehicles have an almost innate tendency to speed up when suddenly there are more lanes. This makes it pretty treacherous for folks trying to walk across. The intersection of Roosevelt and Halsted will certainly require additional study due its proximity to a on-ramp to the southbound Dan Ryan, as well as the Forum with its large event populations.

Is University Hall an irreparable eyesore or an indispensible icon? Yes, depending on who you talk to. The consultants have recommended that the campus make an objective, in-depth study of the costs involved in various approaches to saving the structure versus those involved in providing new location(s) for the functions housed therein and demolishing it. The subjective nature of its iconic value will somehow also need to be evaluated as part of such a study.

Are there any other less controversial buildings being considered for demolition over the 30-40 year horizon of the Master Plan? Yes. On the East Side, the consultants have recommended the removal of Lecture Centers B and E to open up the Quad and the wall and remaining structures on the ComEd site west of the Art and Architecture Building. On the West Side, as other buildings are constructed to house their functions, the following would be targets for demolition: CMS (Laundry) Building on Hermitage, Marshfield Avenue Building, Paulina Street Building, Applied Health Sciences Building, Disability, Health and Social Policy Building, and School of Public Heath and Psychiatric Institute.

Have there been any discussions with the neighboring healthcare facilities on the West Side? Yes, meetings have been held with Cook County and Rush.

Wouldn’t it be more environmentally friendlier and greener if auto traffic was eliminated on the West Side through street closures as was done on the East Side? The presence of a major academic medical center with multitudes of patients and visitors makes the West Side very different in nature from the East Side. Parking needs to be reasonably adjacent and patients need to be able to be dropped off in front of the facilities to which they have come to receive diagnosis and treatment. However, closure of Marshfield Avenue between Taylor and Polk and partial or complete closure of Wood and Wolcott between those same two east-west streets are also being considered.

Why is the relocation of Student Services functions currently located at the westernmost part of the East Side to sites such as Morgan and Taylor being considered? Doesn’t that make it even further away from the students on the West Side? Not really. If there was a direct shuttle connecting the two sides of campus that ran down Taylor, the proposed new location for Student Services would be very accessible to both sides. In addition, its current location on Harrison places it north of any part of the West Side campus making it proposed location at Morgan and Taylor nearly equidistant to the center of the West Side of campus as its current location.

Much more was discussed, but if you are still reading this, I want to give you either a big “Atta Girl” or “Atta Boy” for your interest in the Master Plan process. Dr. Bird would be so proud of you.

Until next Friday…

Friday, September 11, 2009

When is Old, Too Old and When is it Untouchable?

I just had a birthday. It wasn’t one of those milestone birthdays, like 16, 21, or any of those that end in zero or suddenly qualify you for something like an AARP card or other Senior Citizen discounts. It was one of those that you have to make into something special, so I went out for a steak dinner the night before and then to a Cubs game on the day itself. (They won because I was there and it was my birthday.)

The Cubs play in a ball park that’s even older than me. Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and is the second oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, two years younger than Fenway Park in Boston. Fenway has sold out every game since May 15, 2003. Tickets to a game at Wrigley are often re-sold for far more than their face value due to the demand and their real market value. There are often far more empty seats at much newer parks around the two leagues.

Despite their ages, neither Wrigley nor Fenway is on anyone’s list for replacement. Each is on almost every baseball fan’s “bucket list” of places to visit before s/he dies.

Are there any Wrigleys or Fenways on the UIC campus – places that should never be torn down? Are there any buildings that are on alumni “bucket lists” to revisit before they find themselves on the wrong side of the sod?

Just as only a select few ball parks reach “untouchable” status, there may only be a few such campus buildings that should be preserved, no questions asked. To start the discussion, I would advocate for the following handful of buildings to proudly stand on this campus in perpetuity: on the East Side, Hull House and the adjacent Resident Dining Hall and on the West Side, the three conjoined College of Medicine buildings along Polk Street between Wood and Wolcott (College of Medicine East Tower, College of Medicine West, and College of Medicine West Tower). Investments should be continually made to maintain and improve them; that kind of loving touch is necessary and to be applauded.

I would not shed a tear over the intentional dismantling of any other building after its useful life has been reached.

“What?” you may say. No mention of University Hall, BSB, or any of the other Netsch buildings? No second thoughts about the Neuropsychiatric Institute or the Eye and Ear Infirmary?

Nope. New, more modern, more accessible, more energy efficient buildings would be more, I mean, much better over the long term.

As always, we urge your input. What are your untouchable buildings? Remember: this blog is just one aging author’s rambling thoughts on the occasion of his birthday.

Until next Friday…

Friday, September 4, 2009

Neighborhood of Make-Believe

Do King Friday, Queen Sara, and / or Prince Tuesday stir any memories? What about Daniel Tiger, Lady Elaine, Henrietta Pussycat, or X the Owl?

They all populated the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, an important part of Mister Roger’s neighborhood and the PBS series of the same name. Please don’t say you don’t know Fred Rogers. Please don’t tell me he wasn’t a part of your childhood. PBS only stopped airing re-runs last year, for goodness sake. Alas.

And PLEASE do not confuse Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with Eddie Murphy’s hilarious SNL send-up, Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood. But I digress.

The only way to get to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe was by a magical red trolley that started in Mister Roger’s living room and then went into a tunnel. When it emerged on the other side, it (and you!) had been transported into a very different world. This was an ingenious story-telling device that allowed the show to discuss sensitive subjects with its young audience members outside the “real world” as represented by the living room setting.

The other pretty amazing thing about that trolley ride was how fast and direct the route between one side of the “Neighborhood” and the other seemed to be. There didn’t seem to be any need to go every which way to get from Point A to Point B.

The memory of that magical, bright red trolley which connected Mister Rogers’ living room (let’s call that Point A) to King Friday’s castle wall (Point B) made me wonder about whether there was a faster, more fun, and more direct route between UIC Sides A and B, the East and West Sides of campus.

Looking at a map clearly shows that Taylor Street is the shortest distance between Side A and Side B. What if there was a Flame Red and Indigo Blue (the UIC colors) trolley that just went up and down or, if you prefer, back and forth, along Taylor? Maybe it could even stop once or twice along the way to allow faculty and students to get off and on to grab a bite to eat for lunch or dinner. Just a thought…

The only question it leaves is whether King Friday’s castle is on the East Side or the West Side. If we only had a trolley, we’d know for sure.

Until next Friday…

And please do not forget –

Phase II Town Hall Meetings

East Side – Wednesday, September 9, 1:30 – 3:30 PM
Student Services Building, Conference Rooms B & C

West Side – Thursday, September 10, 10 AM – Noon
Molecular Biology Research Building Auditorium

Friday, August 28, 2009

Once Every Twenty Years or So

Welcome or Welcome Back!!

The college experience for the members of the Class of 2013 began this week with a beautiful, near picture-postcard-perfect, bright, sunny day. Hopefully, everything is going well for them (or you) and that they (or you) have begun to successfully find their (or your) way around campus.

If you are new or even if you are not so new (welcome to my world), if you have found your way to this blog, you know (or have just discovered) that UIC is in the midst of a Campus Master Planning process.

The last time we had such a process, the members of this year’s freshman class (the newest future members of the Alumni Association) were not even a faint twinkle in their parents’ eyes. That’s because the last one was about twenty years ago. These things don’t happen all the time and hundreds of thousands of students come and go between Campus Master Plans. BUT, EVERYONE who is lucky enough to be on campus at this point in time has the opportunity to be a part of this historic Master Planning effort.

The consultant team has begun to delineate concepts of what they think would make sense for the UIC of the future, both in the long term and in the short term. What do you think about…

* A fountain in the Quad (that big space in the midst of the Lecture Centers)?
* A greener, less-concrete aforementioned Quad?
* Having more evergreens on campus to add color to the winter months?
* Replacing at least some of the concrete benches with ones that are less… well… concrete?
* Getting rid of all “surface parking” (read parking lots) and increasing the amount of "structured parking” (read parking garages)?
* Relocating the Student Services functions from the far corner of the East Side of campus to some place like Taylor and Morgan?
* Establishing a gateway to the West Side of campus of some sort at Taylor and Ashland?
* Creating “greenways” (read a pedestrian park which connects green spaces) to enhance the sense of place (e.g., from MBRB west to Damen – with minor breaks through NPI and COMRB)?
* Demolishing BSB and our University Hall? (Did that get your attention?)

You and you and you too have the enviable chance to influence what YOUR campus could evolve into over the next twenty years or so.

(Please note the dates and times of the upcoming Phase II Town Hall Meetings that are listed at the end of this posting)

Master Planning cannot be a spectator sport. Come and voice your opinion at the Town Halls that are coming right up. This is your chance to get involved and have your voice heard.

Until next Friday…

Phase II Town Hall Meetings

East Side – Wednesday, September 9, 1:30 – 3:30 PM
Student Services Building, Conference Rooms B & C

West Side – Thursday, September 10, 10 AM – Noon
Molecular Biology Research Building Auditorium


The objectives for these Town Hall Meetings are to:

1. Present alternative land use and development plan concepts being generated by our consultants.

2. Solicit comments and suggestions about how to plan for future development and site improvements.

Friday, August 21, 2009

One Tree is Nice

One Tree is Nice is a children’s book by Janice May Udry. In the HarperCollins webpage on the book, the author explains that trees are very nice, but even one tree is nice if it is the only one you happen to have.

The page goes on to say that Ms. Udry is also the author of Thump and Plunk.

“First Thump thumps Plunk. Then Plunk plunks Thump. So Thump thumps Plunk back. Will Thump and Plunk ever stop thumping and plunking each other?”

I kept wondering why the umpires didn’t throw them both out of the game…But I digress.

If, as this author asserts, one tree is nice, are two trees twice as nice and three trees thrice as nice? (Thay that five times fast.)

And while we’re on the subject, how many trees does it take to make a forest? Hundreds? A thousand? What about FIVE thousand?

Can it still be called a forest if there are buildings there? What about roads? Sure. Our National Forests have both things in them. The University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) was built in the midst of a redwood forest. It’s got both buildings and roads in it, too. (By the way, the team mascot for UCSC, is an inhabitant of said forest – the Banana Slug.)

UIC has a few trees on its campus too. A few hundred maybe? Actually, according to the most recent count, there are 5,021 (!) trees on campus (3,224 on the East Side and 1,797 on the West Side). More than 20% of them are Honeylocust, but over 80 different varieties are represented.

Others might find it surprising to discover there are six Tree of Heaven trees here at UIC. Not I. (Take that, you Banana Slugs!)

Five thousand trees on this campus!! This place is already greener than we often give it credit for. Perhaps we can’t see our forest for the trees.

Perhaps even with five thousand trees, we need more which retain their green year round. This is one of the ideas being considered by the Master Plan consultants.

See? Trees and Flames can coexist quite nicely, even at a big city campus like UIC.

Until next Friday…

Reminder:

Phase II Town Hall Meetings

East Side – Wednesday, September 9, 1:30 – 3:30 PM
Student Services Building, Conference Rooms B & C

West Side – Thursday, September 10, 10 AM – Noon
Molecular Biology Research Building Auditorium

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pick of the Litter

Phase II Town Hall Meetings

East Side – Wednesday, September 9, 1:30 – 3:30 PM
Student Services Building, Conference Rooms B & C

West Side – Thursday, September 10, 10 AM – Noon
Molecular Biology Research Building Auditorium

*****
I am one of four sons who were born over the span of three decades – the ‘40’s, ‘50’s and (just barely) ‘60’s. I hope my wife would agree with me that I am the “pick of the litter”. For my brothers’ sakes, I also hope she would have three other wives who would respectfully beg to disagree.

Search “pick of the litter” on the Internet and you get a wide spectrum of results. The first page on a “bing” search (Google is sooo 2008) gave me everything from the fifth album of the Scottish rock group Wolfstone to an animal welfare organization in Longview, Texas to a doggie obedience training school in South King County to a mobile, door-to-door pet care provider (“we specialize in providing beneficial exercise, socialization, and stimulating playtime for your canine” – those lucky dogs).

Perhaps the most on-the-nose use of the phrase goes to Pick of the Litter, a company offering “high quality…dog waste removal services.”

UIC has adopted “World Class Education. World Class City” as a tag-line for itself. The Campus Master Planning process is attempting to ensure that the campus itself is also world class.

However, no matter what is done to the landscape or to the buildings through the Master Plan, this will never be the campus environment it could be and that we all hope it will be if we don’t each do our part in keeping it clean and tidy. We need to take some individual responsibility to pick up the litter that blows around this Windy City university.

There are 890 (!) of those round, concrete trash bins around the grounds. (I must pass at least ten of them on my two-block walk to the L station.) There are even more of us – roughly 25,000 students and 12,000 faculty and staff. If we each picked up just one (but go for more if you want) page of a newspaper or runaway napkin or discarded Styrofoam cup or whatever each day as we traverse OUR walkways and parking lots, we could keep those trash barrels full and the campus litter-free.

I am also reminded that if the litter you pick up is a can or a bottle, the recycling bins inside all our buildings would be an even better temporary resting place than the trash bins.

So, be the Pick of the Litter and we will all enjoy the campus more today as well the future.
*****
As with all these blogs, these are the musings of the author. Please feel free to comment whether you agree with the above or have a different thought on the subject.

Until next Friday…