Saturday, December 15, 2012

Florence Flader's Spud Cookies


I dedicate this post to Monica Kass Rogers, Evanston's resident reviver of vintage recipes...and to Elita Lerner and any other "kids" who grew up in Evanston who had Florence Flader as their teacher.

While searching Mildred Swarthout's file box for Christmas cookie recipes, this one intrigued me.

Both their families in the plumbing business in Evanston, Florence and my grandmother Mildred were long-time friends.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mrs. Claus is coming to town...November 16!

Yes, Santa will be there too.

Today I went for a final fitting at Avail & Company for the Mrs. Santa gown I'll be wearing tomorrow in Downtown Evanston. Loving it! I'm honored to help Evanston kick off its holiday festivities. We're all going to have a great time. Hope to see a lot of my friends and neighbors there. I'll be at Bravo most the time, with a break to help Santa and Mayor Tisdahl light the tree at Fountain Square.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Selected scenes from Prairie Moon, November 6, 2012

Re-elected Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner Debra Shore and
Illinois' 9th legislative district newly-elected state senator Daniel Biss

Re-elected Illinois senator for the 18th legislative district Robyn Gabel.

Evanston Review's Bob Seidenberg (left) and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.
Bob's election night piece is online.

Ayinde Jean-Baptiste (left) and Jan Schkawsky's campaign manager Alex Armour.

Daniel Biss with constituent.

Evanston Now's Bill Smith and now former Illinois senator Jeff Schoenberg.
Bill's coverage of the election results and action at Prairie Moon is online.
National election results revealed.

Daniel Biss and Alex Armour (right).

Legislative aide Alison Leipsiger (left) and her boss Daniel Biss.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Let's discuss Oct 17: Can Hyper-local Save Journalism?

Heads up Medill students: This in from Association for Women Journalists-Chicago...

More and more media outlets are focusing on local journalism these days in hopes of competing in the increasingly crowded, 24/7 media market.

But with the high-profile fallout over Journatic and the lay-offs at TribLocal, is hyper-local really the answer? Who’s doing it wrong and who’s doing it right? And are there any jobs in this?

A panel of experts will help sort through the myths, the promise and the financial future of local reporting at:

Hyper-local: Money, truth and future-- Really?

The event is presented by the Association of Women Journalists-Chicago.

When: Oct. 17 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan, 1st floor, Room--ACC 101.

Exploring the many facets of hyper-local will be
Andrew Huff, Editor/Publisher Gapers Block;
Kyle Leonard, Editor, Chicago Tribune/Triblocal;
Sherry Skalko, Editorial Director, Central Zone at Patch;
Bill Smith, Publisher, Evanston Now
and AWJ member and moderator Elaine Coorens, Editor/Publisher, Our Urban Times.

Space is limited, so sign up today. Admission is FREE for AWJ members, as well as Columbia College students and staff. $10 for non-members.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jan Schakowsky at Poetry, Prose and Politics

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky reads Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman at
Congresswoman Gwen Moore's Poetry, Prose and Politics in downtown Chicago,
Monday, July 30, 2012. [Photo by Karen Kring]

Monday, July 30, 2012

Going to the Evanston Mini Maker Faire this weekend?

This in from the Faire's organizers...
On Saturday and Sunday, August 4th and 5th the Evanston Technology Innovation Center and Pump Station: One will present the Evanston Mini Maker Faire, a showcase of local inventors and entrepreneurs and a demonstration of applied science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills for young innovators. 

The event will run from 6pm to 10pm on Saturday, August 4th and from 10am to 6pm on Sunday, August 5, and will be located adjacent to the downtown Hilton in Evanston at the intersection of Oak St. and University St. 
The Faire will include interactive presentations, exhibitions, and hands-on demonstrations by organizations including the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Children’s Museum, live performances and workshops by experimental electronic music group Roth Mobot, beer brewing lessons by the Evanston Homebrew Club, and classes in soldering, laser cutting, and wood sculpture.
In addition, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun will serve as Race Marshal for the championship race of the Power Racing Series, where 30 different children’s electric riding cars, heavily modified for durability and speed, will compete in endurance and time trials.
Over 250 presenters and vendors from regional technology and creative businesses and organizations are set to exhibit at the Faire.

Kids younger than 18 get in for $4. Tickets can be bought online.

The Evanston Mini Maker Faire is presented with thanks to the City of Evanston, Northwestern University, and Downtown Evanston.

By the way, the Faire is sponsored by Make Magazine, a division of O'Reilly Media, Inc. Evanston Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from O’Reilly Media, Inc. 
Got questions? Contact the organizers at

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fourth of July parade fun Evanston-style

Keeping cool with a little help from a friend: Evanston native Joel Lerner helps his ol' friend,
parade official Hillary Bean, cool off a bit before the start of the 2012 Evanston 4th of July
parade. Temperatures were reported to be up to 99 degrees F in Evanston. Joel marched with
Rotary and covered the parade for the Evanston Review. (His take is online now.)
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl gets cool by the fire station on Central.
Grand Marshal Sakuji Tanaka, Rotary International's President 2012-2013 cooled off by the fire station too.
Carolyn Dellutri, Wally Bobkiewicz and other Rotarians cool off walking past the fire station.
Love them. One of the Jesse White Tumblers
sails over the See Jane Sparkle's car.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Next BizPics shoot: July 22 at Creative Coworking

Portrayed here: Cozeake Nelson (upper, left), Diane Brazen Gordon, Thomas Applegate,
plus Holly Rotman-Zaid (lower, left), Catherine Johns and David Lindgren.

As discussed in a post here from last year, there's at least three good reasons to get a good portrait of yourself made.

• To help maintain or enhance your reputation, having a strong, smart online presence is important. If you are using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, you're expected to include a picture of yourself. An up-to-date one is usually best so you'll be recognized when people meet you in person. You'll want to have a photo created of yourself that communicates the qualities you want the public to know about you now.

• As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but who's got time to even read more than 300 words? Reading a picture is faster. Portraits communicate in seconds qualities of a person words can't. They transcend language. Images are more show and less tell, which is what effective communication is about.

• You never know when the AP might want to feature you in an article, like the one social media strategist Alecia Dantico was featured in back when she was at Garrett Popcorn. Fast Company's piece on Domino's Ramon DeLeon was very useful to him, but more so because he had a picture of himself to provide the magazine (which I'm pleased to have made for him.)

You're doing yourself a favor, and the media outlet, by having a photo on hand. Because deadlines and budgets are tight, editors and producers don't always have the resources for getting an image made for their stories. And if by chance they are able to assign a photographer to make your picture, there's no guarantee you'll like the image.

Can't make it to the July 22 shoot? "Like" BizPics on Facebook to be informed
of upcoming shoots or contact me at karen (at)

Details and registration:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Next YWCA Community Conversations on Race series starts July 10

This in from the YWCA Evanston/North Shore...

Summer is here, many of your schedules are different, and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore wants to make it easier for you to be part of our ongoing anti-racism work.  We will hold our four-part conversation series over two weeks, to help you work around vacation times.

The next Community Conversations on Race series starts Tuesday, July 10.  The series will meet four times over two weeks, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30pm here at the YWCA, at Ridge and Church.

Sessions will be July 10, 12, 17, 19.   Pre-registration is required either online at (click on "What We Do" and you'll see the Community Conversations on Race listed there) or by calling Eileen Heineman at
847-864-8445 ext. 158.   Sign up today!

And of course, big thanks to those who participated in, or volunteered for the Race Against Hate. What an awesome event, and a great way to remind each other that it is communities standing together that effect change.  Hope you'll keep it going by engaging in dialogue that works to identify and dismantle racism in all forms.

Karen here: If the topic of race interests you, you might appreciate Teresa Puente's multimedia essay which is on her blog, Chicanisma, and on WBEZ.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Good summer to be in Evanston

Malik Turley, in blue, and dancers from the Hip Circle Studio entertain at Evanston's Custer Street Fair last Saturday. More from Joel Lerner's take that day is up on the Evanston Review website and his Facebook page.

Bill Smith's take is up on Evanston Now.

Stay tuned here for more pictures of Evanston summer fun.

Friday, June 22, 2012

BizPics applying for Mission: Small Business grant

Update: On June 29, we got the 250 votes we needed to be considered for the grant. Big thank-you to all who voted for us.

Like other Evanston-based business, such as New Leaf Urban Gardens (in need of votes), iBraincercise (closing in on 300 votes), The Titanic Players, I Want To Draw a Cat For You! (close to 350 votes as of this post), my company, Kring Lerner Group is going for it!

We've applied for a Chase and Living Social's Mission: Small Business grant for BizPics too.

Scheduled approximately every other month, often at Boocoo Cultural Center or Creative Coworking, a BizPics shoot is a fun and affordable way to have a good business portrait made.

The grant money, $250,000, will support a new program for Chicago-area unemployed job seekers needing headshots on LinkedIn, Facebook and beyond, as well as help make BizPics a more sustainable operation.

We'll need 250 votes by June 30 to be eligible for the grant.
Grant recipients will be announced in September.

Please search on "BizPics" after logging in at and cast a vote for us.

Thanks. We appreciate our community's support.

Side note: While most our shoots happen in Evanston, our mailing address is in Skokie, so on Mission: Small Business' website we show up when you search on Skokie, IL.

For more about Mission: Small Business' judges and sponsors, check out their press release on BusinessWire.

Portrayed here: Scott Green Sue and Tom Swigert and Julianne Dieterich.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Evanston Rotary's Annual PizzaFest to Benefit Youth May 29

This in from Rotary Club of Evanston...

Neighbors near and far are invited to our annual


When: 4:30 - 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 29

Where: Giordano's, 1527 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL 60201

Featuring: all the cheese, veggie, and cheese and sausage thin crust pizza you can eat, plus soft drinks and beer.

Ticket Price: $20/adult and $10/child at the door or find an Evanston Rotarian to buy tickets from in advance for a better deal.

This year proceeds benefit: First United Methodist Church Appalachian Service Project, McGaw YMCA, Northwestern University Rotaract, YWCA Evanston/North Shore and Y.O.U. of Evanston.

Organized by our club for more than 30 years, PizzaFest is just one of the ways the club and our charitable fund raises money to support youth-focused projects and non-profits in Evanston.

To learn more about who is expected, see the event's Facebook page.

About Evanston Rotary: Founded in 1920, the Rotary Club of Evanston provides service to the community via hands-on volunteer projects and fundraising to help worthy causes. It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for not-for-profit organizations, helping Evanston cope with pressing issues ranging from HIV/AIDS and literacy to homelessness and poverty.

The club also provides scholarships, supports international aid projects and maintains the Friendship Garden in Evanston’s Ladd Arboretum for public use.

Local Rotarians are part of a global network of more than 1 million Rotarians who work together in
providing local, national and international service projects. Since the 1980s, Rotary International has played a major role as a partner in worldwide polio eradication efforts. The organization’s global headquarters are in Evanston.

The club’s weekly luncheon meeting is held Thursdays from 12 to 1:15 p.m. at the North Shore Retirement Hotel. To learn more about becoming a member, visit


Pictures above from last year's PizzaFest were made by me. In the name of full disclosure, Joel and I are Rotarians.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Evanston's Saul Lieberman on Arts Education

Addressing Evanston School District 65 Finance Committee members at their April 25, 2012 meeting, parent Saul Lieberman made these comments:

My name is Saul Lieberman. I live in Evanston. I have two first graders at Dawes and a three year old. I would like to state my firm belief that cutting the art position at Dawes is the wrong direction in which to go. The following is an article from Edutopia:

"Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life -- according to the report, they "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing," creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. "Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,'' says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education."'s a situation where the dollars don't make "cents" for the children. Let's not prioritize the cents but rather let's focus on Creativity, Continuity, Community, Consistency. The cuts should not be on the backs of all the children, and the whole community of Dawes, which benefits deeply by having our arts teachers in our daily lives.
Saul Lieberman is the father of two first graders at Dawes and a three year old. He fell in love with photography at a very young age. He holds a BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He has worked for New York Times Magazine, Wired, Forbes, GQ, Paper, The New York Times and people across the street.

Saul is reachable via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why We Need School-based Art Teachers

by Stephanie Kulke

District 65 has eliminated the positions of five art and music teachers in our school system including Dawes current art teacher.  This means that instead of a school-based teacher, the class load will be taught by two or more visiting art teachers.  A fractured art teacher is not equal to a whole.  Can you imagine a fractured homeroom teacher?  A fractured principal?

Just as a substitute teacher does not have the relationship and knowledge of each student's abilities and needs, how can we reasonably expect continuity of curriculum, personalized/differentiated instruction and a strong parent-teacher relationship when multiple teachers are trying to fill the gap of a school-based teacher?

This decision to eliminate art teachers for each individual school, signals that our school board considers arts education a lower priority than other coursework. I don't share this view for several reasons.

My 3rd grade daughter practically skips to school Monday mornings at 8:00 a.m. because she is excited attend before school choir practice with her music teacher. For my child art is the magnet that attracts her to school each day.

There are many studies that cite the role of arts in brain development, and data on how arts education helps narrow the academic achievement gap.  There is also research that shows the arts are a future job growth sector and that innovation and creativity are a key to creating jobs in the new economy.  I agree with those points, but my pitch for prioritizing arts education in grades K through 8 is based on my personal observations as a parent in the school district these past four years.

What I have observed in my daughter and her peers, is that the enthusiasm from those ecstatic 45 minutes spent in art and music class, spills over into the rest of the school day.  Like most kids, she has her strengths and weaknesses academically. The positive experiences she has singing, creating, and performing alongside her classmates, offset my child's struggles to improve her spelling, penmanship and memory retention of addition and multiplication facts.  The positive and constructive time spent in art class also strengthens the experience of working with her peers on general education lessons in her homeroom.

One of the fantastic things about arts education is there is no judgment or grade for having the “correct” answer.  Yes, the students learn technique, art history and music theory, but there is no one prescribed way of expressing themselves artistically.  This freedom of expression is crucial to the emotional and intellectual development of our children during these elementary and middle school years.  Peer pressure to fit in with the popular group, and academic pressures to get good test scores and grades, can trigger low self-esteem, and dampen their enthusiasm for learning.

Art and music classes give my child time to practice her individual strengths and explore her ideas.  I believe this instills self-confidence and belief in herself which helps her weather the ups and downs of social and academic life at school.

The student art projects and performances created under the instruction of their talented art and music teachers are the heart and soul of our school.  The experience of walking down the halls and seeing the paintings of famous African Americans that inspire our students during black history month, and the magnificent variety art objects that adorn the building give warmth and life to what would otherwise be drab, institutional walls. The spring and winter concerts put together by our music teacher in collaboration with the art teacher and art club are outstanding.  Each child gets a chance to shine and be special, whether they are chosen to recite a poem, create a scenic element, play an instrument or ride a skateboard across the stage in character as part of a musical number.  One of my favorite moments is when the student performers, and art club students come out on stage to take a bow together.  The look of pride on their faces is unforgettable.

The art teacher is an important member of our school community.  All of our the children in our district deserve opportunity to have a school-based art teacher, not just Dawes, but here are some specific reasons why a full-time art teacher is important to Dawes:

·      Our Title One status means that more than ½ our students are from low-income households, and after school art programs may be inaccessible due to cost.
·      Our current art teacher is bilingual which is a great asset in our school with a large Spanish-speaking population.
·      Arts participation has shown to be key in closing the achievement gap between for high-risk children resulting in higher graduation rate, better grades and job opportunities and greater civic engagement.
·      Dawes has outstanding art and interdisciplinary programs such as Art Club, the winter and spring concert, and the enrichment units on weather, insects, Native American performances.  How can we maintain these before and after school arts activities when no one teacher feels they have a stake in the life of the school?

These specials teachers help reach and teach the whole child. The loss of a dedicated school-based art teacher will negatively impact the relationship of our art teacher to our students and school community, compromising the overall educational experience of our children. 

The school board needs to hear from more of us who value art instruction that cutting teachers is not the answer to providing a quality education and balancing the budget. 

Submitted April 21, 2012

Stephanie Kulke's daughter is a 3rd grader at Dawes Elementary. Known in Evanston for her work on Evanston150, Stephanie's marketing and communications work has included work for Rempy Bumppo Theatre Company, Royal George Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art, Printer's Row Book Fair, Chicago Park District's Theatre on the Lake, Art Chicago, The Chicago International Film Festival, Dance Chicago, and the long-running The Vagina Monologues at the Apollo Theater.

Stephanie is reachable on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and online.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Voters: Ask your questions about latest election at Boocoo March 13

Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote.
                                                     -- William Simon

Eldridge Shannon (ETHS '11) and I invite friends, neighbors and classmates to...

New Voters Get-Together at Boocoo
(Where there's no such thing as a dumb question.)

Tuesday, March 13, 5-7 p.m. 

Boocoo Cultural Center and Cafe
1823 Church Street (kitty corner from ETHS)
Evanston (map)

We will discuss the electoral process, the upcoming election specifically and the history of judges' elections.

New voters and veteran voters alike are invited to come with questions and get them answered by neighbors who've been involved in electoral process.

Featured participants include:
Evanston's 5th Ward Alderman Delores Holmes (ETHS '57)
Illinois State Representiave Daniel Biss
Candidate for Cook County judge Abbey Fishman Romanek (ETHS '78)

Others expected include:
Citizens to Elect Judge Jean-Baptiste staffer Ayinde Jean-Baptiste
Political organizer Haley Leibovitz
Past DPOE board member Samantha Reed
Waukegan First Lady Jo-An Takamoto Sabonjian
Former Evanston City Clerk and active League of Women Voters Evanston member Mary Morris

Light refreshments will be served.

Eldridge Shannon has organized this event to promote civic engagement in cooperation with Boocoo Cultural Center and Cafe, League of Women Voters Evanston, Youth Job Center of Evanston, Advocates for Abbey and Kring Lerner Group.

Learn more at on Facebook.


Kring Lerner Group is the sponsor of this blog and Live From Skokie. Advocates for Abbey is a client of Kring Lerner Group.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What do you know about McDonald's "Hot Coffee" case?

This in from Percolator Films, presenters of REELTIME...

Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald’s hot coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America’s legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts?

Susan Saladoff's HOT COFFEE (2011, 86 min.) reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. In HOT COFFEE, lawyer-turned-filmmaker Susan Saladoff closely looks at this and three other cases that illustrate the current threats to the legal rights of everyday citizens.

Cast includes Al Franken, John Grisham and others with insights on U.S. legal system.

The public is invited to a screening of HOT COFFEE.

When: Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 7 p.m.

Where:  Evanston Public Library
1703 Orrington Avenue  Evanston, IL

Cost: FREE to the public

Questions: Contact 847-371-2804 or

Post-screening discussion facilitated by attorney Abbey Fishman Romanek.

This event is presented in collaboration with North Shore LAW and Kring Lerner Group.

The free REELTIME series is a program of Percolator Films, Evanston's non-profit film arts organization that also organizes the annual Talking Pictures Festival
Karen here: I first heard about this movie in October 2011 when Susan Saladoff appeared on the Colbert Report...and held her own. You can see how that went here.

Note: Kring Lerner Group is the sponsor of this blog. Advocates for Abbey Fishman Romanek for Judge is a client of Kring Lerner Group.