Thursday, October 3, 2013

Traveller's Spotlight: Ava Su

Throwing her head back for a full laugh, Ava Su begins to eat her pastry. "Desert first, most important," she says.

I found this little lady of Chinese decent heating up some food for dinner in the kitchen. She decided it would be ok to talk to me a little about her life and travels.

Whats Ava Su all about? Most recently, dancing. Her forte is in Contact Improvisation, a dance form in which points of physical contact provide a dance starting point. "U.S.A people have something against touching. There is nothing wrong with touching!" she said.

Currently, Ava Su is in Chicago just for the night. Tomorrow morning, she is off to Wisconsin where she will be attending the Contact Improvisation Enthusiasts Retreat for five days. Each year, the retreat welcomes a group of about 50 participants to sink into the joy of dancing together with other members of the far-flung Midwestern Contact Improvisation tribe. "When I dance I bring out various cultures and concepts when I dance...One time, I did a dance called "Reward of Living". It was about wrinkles. People revere aging as bad, but I believe wrinkles are beautiful! There are the reward of living," she said. Ava Su is bringing her favorite blueberry pies to treat everyone in Wisconsin with.

Chicago is not unfamiliar to Ava Su. After migrating from China, to Taiwan, and then to the U.S.A, Chicago was Ava Su's home for many years. "I love Chicago.  Transportation is great, its safe, clean...People don't even realize that Chicago has so much to offer." For anyone who's coming to Chicago for the first time, Ava Su recommends going on a boat tour early in the morning where the views are great and history is amazing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hyde Park Jazz Festival!

Festival lovers and jazz fiends alike come together for the 2013 Hyde Park Jazz Festival. This Saturday and Sunday (28-29) this FREE festival is going to be featuring some of the finest national and international jazz artists. Saturday, music will begin at 1 and artists will be performing at 13 different venues across Hyde Park.

 The festivals' roots began in late 2006, when Hyde Park cultural leaders got together with the Hyde Park Jazz Society to create this amazing annual event. This first Jazz festival in Hyde Park was held in 2007, where close to 5,000 jazz fans attended the 12-hour free festival. Hyde Park Jazz Festival has managed to establish itself as one of Chicago's premier annual music festival and has even been name Best Neighborhood Festival by Chicago Magazine.

 Each year, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival has seen its audience grow. This year, the anticipated attendance is over 20,000. The event is made possible by hundreds of dedicated volunteers, festival committee members, and support from donors, foundations, and sponsors. In addition to great jazz, the festival also features youth programming, outdoor dance floor, food and beverage vendors, and artisan vendors.

Saturday- 1-midnight
Sun Ra: “Reality Has Touched Against Myth” SATURDAY, 1:00-2:30PM | @ LOGAN CENTER SCREENING ROOM 
Frank Russell Group SATURDAY, 1:00-2:00PM | @ SMART MUSEUM OF ART 
Pharez Whitted Sextet SATURDAY, 1:30PM-2:30PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE 
Willie Pickens Trio SATURDAY, 2:00-3:00PM | @ DUSABLE MUSEUM 
University of Chicago Jazz X-Tet, Director Mwata Bowden SATURDAY, 2:00-3:00PM | @ LOGAN CENTER PENTHOUSE 
John Wojciechowski Quartet SATURDAY, 2:30-3:30PM | @ SMART MUSEUM OF ART 
Makaya McCraven Quartet SATURDAY, 2:30-3:30PM | @ LITTLE BLACK PEARL 
Miguel de la Cerna Trio SATURDAY, 3:00-4:00PM | @ LOGAN CENTER PERFORMANCE HALL 
Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things SATURDAY, 3:15-4:14PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE 
DJ Damon Locks SATURDAY, 3:30-4:30PM & 5:30-7:30PM & 8:00-9:30PM | @ WEST STAGE AT THE MIDWAY 
James Falzone SATURDAY, 3:30-4:00PM & 4:30-5:00PM | @ ORIENTAL INSTITUTE MUSEUM GALLERY 
Ari Brown Quintet SATURDAY, 3:30-4:30PM | @ DUSABLE MUSEUM 
Maggie Brown Quartet SATURDAY, 4:00-5:00PM | @ LITTLE BLACK PEARL 
Bernard Scavella Quartet SATURDAY, 4:00-5:00PM | @ HYDE PARK BANK 
DownBeat Blindfold Test: Jeff Parker with Peter Margasak SATURDAY, 4:15-5:00PM | @ LOGAN CENTER SCREENING ROOM 
John Burnett Orchestra featuring Frieda Lee SATURDAY, 4:30-5:30PM | @ WEST STAGE AT THE MIDWAY 
Frank Rosaly’s Green and Gold ** SATURDAY, 5:00-6:00PM | @ LOGAN CENTER PENTHOUSE 
Douglas R. Ewart & Tri-Quasar** SATURDAY, 5:00-5:30PM & 6:00-6:30PM | @ FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S ROBIE HOUSE 
Caroline Davis Quartet SATURDAY, 5:30-6:30PM | @ HYDE PARK BANK 
Denise Thimes Quintet SATURDAY, 5:45-6:45PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE 
Gerald Clayton Trio ** SATURDAY, 7:00-8:00PM | @ LOGAN CENTER PERFORMANCE HALL 
Angel d’Cuba SATURDAY, 7:00-8:00PM | @ WEST STAGE AT THE MIDWAY 
Dana Hall Quintet SATURDAY, 8:15-9:15PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE 
Ben Paterson Organ Quintet SATURDAY, 9:30-10:30PM | @ WEST STAGE AT THE MIDWAY 
Ken Vandermark Ensemble: Music of the Midwest School SATURDAY, 9:30-10:30PM | @ LOGAN CENTER PERFORMANCE HALL 
Anat Cohen and Douglas Lora Duo SATURDAY, 11:00PM-12MIDNIGHT | @ ROCKEFELLER CHAPEL

Sunday- 1-8pm
Corey Wilkes Quintet SUNDAY, 1:00-2:00PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE 
Alfonso Ponticelli & Swing Gitan SUNDAY, 2:30-3:30PM | @ WEST STAGE AT THE MIDWAY 
Chicago Yestet SUNDAY, 4:00-5:00PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE 
Chicago Jazz Orchestra with vocalist Tammy McCann; Jeff Lindberg, Artistic Director SUNDAY, 5:30-6:30PM | @ WEST STAGE AT THE MIDWAY 
Dee Alexander Quartet SUNDAY, 7:00-8:00PM | @ JAMES WAGNER STAGE

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chicago's 15th annual World Music Festival!

World Music Festival

The 15th Annual Chicago World Music Festival, presented by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Culural Affairs and Special events, is an 11 day, city-wide, multi-venue festival featuring traditional and contemporary music from diverse cultures and from musicians from around the world. Since it began in 1999, it has attracted over 600,000 concertgoers and more than 600 artists from over 80 countries. This particular year, the Festival has taking a year in the making, and as you read the features shows and artists, you will be able to see the effect of that hard work. A big difference from last years’ set up, which was only seven days.

Best part is, for the second year in a row all the concerts, are free.

WMF will showcase global artists in venues throughout Chicago starting September 12- 22, Listed below are dates from September 18-22:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang with Leni Stern African Trio
Mayne Stage
1328 W. Morse Ave.
5:30pm doors, 7pm show
All Ages

Pacific Curls with Arifa
Old Town School of Folk Music - Gary and Laura Maurer Hall
4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
All Ages

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baladino with Leni Stern African Trio
3111 N. Western Ave.
7:30 doors, 8pm show
*Constellation is 21+

Mono Blanco
Old Town School of Folk Music - Gary and Laura Maurer Hall
4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
All Ages

Noura Mint Seymali
Mayne Stage
1328 W. Morse Ave.
6:30pm doors, 8pm start
 All Ages

M.A.K.U. SoundSystem with Fatbook
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
*Martyrs' is 21+

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dr. L. Subramaniam | Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers | Pejman Hadadi & Imamyar Hasanov
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
All Ages

Fareed Haque & Flat Earth Ensemble performs "Hymn of the Ancients" 
Humboldt Park Boathouse
1359 N. Sacramento Ave.
All Ages
Co-Presented with the Latino Music Festival

Brock McGuire Band
Old Town School of Folk Music - The Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall
4545 N. Lincoln Ave.
All Ages

The Scientist Meets Ted Sirota’s Heavyweight Dub with special guests Shinehead & General Jah Mikey
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
*Martyrs' is 21+

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Brock McGuire Band (workshop)
Old Town School of Folk Music - The Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall
4545 N. Lincoln Ave.
All Ages

Bloco Maximo
Austin Town Hall Park
5610 W. Lake St.
12 Noon
All Ages

Magic Carpet
Navy Pier Beer Garden
600 E. Grand Ave.
 All Ages

Babá Ken Okulolo & The Nigerian Brothers
Columbia College Chicago Conaway Center
1104 S. Wabash St.
All Ages

Las BomPleneras
Navy Pier Beer Garden
600 E. Grand Ave.
All Ages

Pejman Hadadi & Imamyar Hasanov
Reva & David Logan Center of the Arts
915 E. 60th St.
All Ages

Nawal with Slowbots
Old Town School of Folk Music - Gary and Laura Maurer Hall
4544 W. Lincoln Ave.
All Ages

Brock McGuire Band
Beverly Arts Center
2407 W. 111th St.
All Ages

Mayne Stage
1328 W. Morse Ave.
7:30pm doors, 9pm show
*Mayne Stage is 18+

Sunday, September 22, 2013

“One World Under One Roof - WMF Closing Night at the Chicago Cultural Center”
78 E Washington St.
All Ages

Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers | Brock McGuire Band | Babá Ken Okulolo & The Nigerian Brothers
Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., 3rd Floor
•           7:15-8:45pm - Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers
•           5:15-6:30pm - Brock McGuire Band
•           2:30-3:45pm - Baba Ken Okulolo & The Nigerian Brothers

Christine Salem | DakhaBrakha | Lulacruza
Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., 2nd Floor
•           7:30-9pm - Christine Salem
•           5:30-7pm - DakhaBrakha
•           4-5pm - Lulacruza

Janusz Prusinowski Trio | Andreas Kapsalis & Goran Ivanovic | Paulinho Garcia
Randolph Square, Chicago Cultural Center
77 E. Randolph St., 1st Floor
•           4:30-5:4pm - Janusz Prusinowski Trio
•           3:15-4:15pm - Andreas Kapsalis & Goran Ivanovic
•           2-3pm - Paulinho Garcia

Closing Night Party
Debo Band
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
*Martyrs' is 21+

Monday, September 9, 2013

Traveller Spotlight: Thorsten

I met Thorsten on the 2nd floor and immediately learned that the 'h' in his name is silent. Thorsten is a 23 year old from Germany, on a road trip with his friend around Lake Michigan. Him and his friend have already successfully rented a car and gone around Lake Michigan, and loved it. However, this isn't Thorsten's first time in the U.S. In the past, he has been on an east coast road trip from Boston to Miami. Luckily for us Chicagoans, Thorsten has formed a good opinion of us inlanders. "The Midwest is a lot cooler than the East," he says. Thanks Thorsten!

In Germany, Thorsten is still in school studying information management, and is still treasuring his last weeks of freedom. He is not a novice to travel, though. He's been to Denmark, Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, France, and Tunisia. His favorite parts of Germany are in the north, where he has found people to be much more open and friendly than in the southern parts of the country.

So far on his stay in Chicago Thorsten has been all around the loop, been up the Hancock and enjoyed the view very much, and he has big upcoming plans of doing 'non-touristy' activities such as checking out local neighborhoods and shops.

His future travel plans include Vancouver, Canada and the west side of the U.S!

-Diana Zawojska

Friday, August 16, 2013

Traveller's Spotlight - Raquel

I caught Raquel fresh into the hostel, on her first day!

What brings Raquel to Chicago is simple- wanting a good vacation before the stresses of her life back home resume! Raquel is from Spain, finished law school and in September she will be doing an apprenticeship studying to be a judge.

Her time in Chicago she plans on taking advantage of the walking tours organized by the hostel, exploring the city, and practicing her English. So far she has gotten a chance to explore Millennium Park, but she has enjoyed every minute of it and she can't wait for more adventures to come. She has already signed up for the afternoon walking tour of Logan Square!

Raquel has been to France and Italy on her other travels, and compared to those places, Chicago is very open minded, however very busy and always doing something. "In Spain I feel like people are used to being with family, here, people are more independent and on their own," she said.

Raquel will be staying at the hostel for a month, if you see her say HI!

Traveller Spotlight- Jinil!

Jinil is pictured here on the blue line L heading towards a
walking tour of Logan Square provided by the Hostel!
Meet Jinil!

Jinil is from Seoul, Korea, and has one more semester left in his studies of becoming a doctor!
He has been four days so far in Chicago, and has taken advantage of the Hostel's walking tours, and, his own exploration of the city.

What brought Jinil to the U.S in the first place was his clinical rotation that he did in Minnesota. After a few moths of that, Jinil had an urge to travel around America before going back to Korea to finish up school. With no family in the U.S, Jinil packed his bags after his clinical rotation and decided to go. So far, Jinil has Been to New York, Minnesota, North Carolina, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Ottawa.

In Chicago, Jinil has enjoyed the view in the Hancock, the Jazz bars, and the easy bus and train transportation."The buses in Minnesota come, like, once an hour," he laughs. Jinil has also noted cultural differences in Chicago versus other areas in the U.S. "People here are very much like 'city people'. Busy, indifferent...people in North Carolina are more intimate, they say hi to strangers on the streets," he said.

Jinil has some time left in Chicago, hopefully he can spend it loosening up the busy city folk from their everyday routine :D

Traveller Spotlight- Michelle!

Spotted taking a break in the TV room, was Michelle, a darling UK native who is on an exciting journey across the U.S.

Michelle started her adventure in Virginia, from which she has been to New York, Washington D.C, and Pittsburgh, among other places. Chicago is her sixth stop in the U.S, but it is so far Michelle's favorite. "I didn't expect to see so much culture and arts," she said. What would Michelle recommend for a first time Chicago visitor? Checking out the free entertainment that Chicago offers. "Find the free stuff. There is so much of it, I spent almost nothing on entertainment here so far."

Michelle's experience in Chicago and in the U.S so far has been great. She describes Chicago as an intriguing place with many unique subcultures that are very different from one another. San Francisco, California is another place that has made a big impression on her. American landscapes in general are fascinating to Michelle. "It's an amazing place to vacation, the culture is very busy though, not a place I would love to live in." In Michelle's experience, the Middle East or Australia are among the top places she could see herself settling down in. "It's easy to have a social life in the Middle East or Australia," she laughs.

Back 'home', Michelle has a job that she describes as being like a college student, but getting paid. She is a travelling international teacher. "I grew up living in and then teaching in a middle class area with middle class students, every day was more or less the same. Then one day I thought, there's got to be something more." So, she got out the daily paper, found a teaching job in Malaysia, and hasn't looked back. Since then she's been to Malaysia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia; other parts of Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australia; and many other places she couldn't even list. "If I went through every letter of the alphabet I could probably tell you a place or country I've been to," she said. Her travelling is so extensive that it primarily only excludes the North and South poles, and South America.

Michelle is going to be spending around 11 weeks total travelling through the U.S, staying at hostels, of course. She has had a great experience so far with hostelling international, and she is planning on staying at the San Diego hostel when she finds herself there next week.

Safe travels Michelle!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Traveller Spotlight - John and Andrea

John (left) and Andrea (right) after enjoying breakfast at the
Hostel and a brief interview.
Meet John and Andrea!

On this cloudy Friday morning, I came across John and Andrea, who surprisingly enough are not travelling together, nor are they friends - they happened to meet each other that very morning and sat down to eat breakfast before I came up and started questioning them about their lives...

John, is a businessman in his home of Colombia, which he refers to as "the place you fall in love." Andrea, on the other hand, is from Italy where he works as a salesperson in a hardware and software company. There are, however, a few things these two have in common. For one, they are both in Chicago studying English. For both of them, it is their first time in Chicago, and in the U.S! They love it. All the way from the convenient and easy to use public transportation, to the friendliness and liveliness of Chicago. And lastly, they both are staying here at the hostel for 1 more month, after which they are going back to their lives and jobs in their hometowns.

For John, this U.S trip took him 3 years of planning. John is the owner of a small engineering company that handles, among other things, imports and exports, and it is crucial for him to communicate efficiently in English. John has been in the U.S since last September, staying at hostels. He first stayed 6 months in Boston, he has since then been to New York, Miami, and Texas. He has been in Chicago, and at the hostel, since March. Compared to the other places he visited in the U.S, he ranks Chicago the highest. "It has a small town feeling, even though it is such a big town, people are so friendly.Usually in big cities people don't talk to you. In Boston they don't even look at you." John's favorite thing about the hostel is the 2nd floor, and, that the hostel is so conveniently located in the loop. John is an outdoorsy guy and his favorite thing about Chicago so far is running along the lakefront, and biking. He has taken advantage of many of the bike routes, and has even bought a bike since he's been in Chicago.

Andrea has done much travelling around Europe and been to Spain, France, England, and Croatia. He arrived in Chicago just last week, but it has already made a special impression on him. "I love this town. It is incredible! Its friendly, easy...What surprised me the most is the buildings, I live in a small town [in Italy]. The tallest building there has 11 floors," he laughs. Andrea evidently loves the city, he's been up in the John Hancock observatory and seen a good view of the city and the lake, but, even after hours of nosing around the city, he's been having a hard time physically finding the lake, and has yet to find it, he says....

Monday, July 29, 2013

What America Really Runs On

Dunkin' Donuts claims that America runs on coffee; maybe, but what runs the 8 million commercial buildings and 250 million vehicles that support Americans day in and day out? The answer is 10,000 feet below you.

Together, petroleum and natural gas generate over 60% of the energy consumed in the United States; factor in coal and that percentage rises to 80%. Coal companies have created new, more efficient technologies to produce “clean coal” and natural gas companies have asserted that their fuel will power a greener, cleaner America. But don’t let these companies fool you; while their processes may have come a far way from just 15 years ago, “clean” and “green” are merely used as relative terms. 

Petroleum and coal consist of carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen, and other chemicals; natural gas is predominantly methane. These compounds produce energy when they are burned, but they also produce various pollutants. Petroleum and coal emit carbon monoxide (CO), which is typically transformed into the less potent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) with a catalytic converter; sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are also emitted, both of which are toxic to humans and the environment and are known to cause acid rain. Further, fine particulate matter, in the form of sulfates and nitrates, are released, which cause smog and can lead to a variety of respiratory illnesses. Pollution reduction technologies and more efficient processes can reduce the amount of these compounds that are emitted, but they cannot eliminate them.

Natural gas is sometimes called a “clean energy” because, relative to petroleum and coal, natural gas emits less than 1/2 of the carbon dioxide and less than a 1/3 of the nitrogen oxide than petroleum or coal. While this is a “cleaner” source, it is a far cry from pollution-free.

The answer is in the wind.

 Since 2000, energy generation from wind power has grown over 900% in the United States, from 6 billion kilowatt hours to 140 billion kw hours! The future growth of wind power is strong: it is projected to grow another 19% in 2013. Part of this growth has been fueled by Federal incentives, such as tax credits, low-interest loans, and grants; further, several state governments have set up markets in which citizens and organizations can buy and sell both renewable energy credits and certificates, as well as establish Renewable Energy Portfolio standards, requiring utility providers to supply a certain amount of electricity from renewable energy sources.

 Even with this tremendous growth, however, wind power only accounts for 3.3% of all electricity generated in the United States. Federal and state incentives can only go so far and last for so long; in order to continue this growth in wind power consumers need to demand it. Contact your utility company and ask for renewable pricing - it is becoming increasingly competitive with other sources of energy. Further, speak with a local solar consultant to see if solar panels are a viable option for your home.

Breathe Easy

Here at Hostelling International Chicago, we are a voluntary E.P.A. Green Power Partner and derive 100% of our electricity from wind power. By purchasing renewable energy, HI Chicago is not only reducing its impact on the environment, but it is supporting growth in the renewable energy industry. The supply of renewable energy is only half the solution, however; we must also look at demand. 

At HI-Chicago, have replaced all of our incandescent light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs, which can be up to 85% more energy efficient! In addition to this, we have installed light occupancy sensors in many of our common areas, so lights are only on when necessary. These energy efficiency initiatives have had a great impact on reducing our energy consumption, but we could still use your help! Be sure to switch off your light when leaving the room and try taking the stairs next time you're about to board the elevator!