Half a century of disurbanization in Hyde Park, in the words of twentysomething William Upski Wimsatt, in his new book, No More Prisons: “Fifty years ago in my neighborhood, before there was air conditioning, families used to sleep outside in the park on summer nights. Twenty-five years ago, my parents met while watching the African drummers at the park by the lake. Now it’s illegal to play instruments there because of complaints from residents living in high-rises more than a block away. If the people who make the rules in Hyde Park had had their way a few years earlier, my parents never would have met and I never would have been born.”

The other L word. “When [National Organization for Women president Patricia] Ireland says women are running from the women’s movement because they are afraid they will be called lesbians, I say we need a consciousness-raising campaign among those women,” writes Jennifer Vanasco in the Chicago Free Press (November 17). “We shouldn’t tell them how to get around the lesbian question. We should tell them that being lesbian or bisexual is terrific.”

“For community-built [public art] works, the use of materials is key,” according to the Chicago Public Art Group’s “Newsmagazine” (Fall). “Most modernist public sculpture requires the knowledge of specialized, expensive technologies such as cutting and welding steel, bronze casting, stone and granite carving. Community-built art usually involves the application of ‘soft technologies’–common building materials such as wood, concrete and cement, brick, clay, ceramic or glass mosaic. These low-tech, relatively low-cost materials, along with the labor-intensive methods used to shape them, can produce tangible and visually satisfying results in the hands of participants without prior training.”

Units of “scattered-site” public housing built in the past 12 years in neighborhoods that are more than 70 percent white: 131. Units built in areas that are more than 70 percent black: 274. In areas more than 60 percent Latino: 971 (Chicago Reporter, November).

Honeysuckle and buckthorn help kill birds, according to research by Christopher Whelan of the state Natural History Survey and Kenneth Schmidt of the University of Memphis (Conservation Biology, December). Nests built by American robins and wood thrushes on a 500-acre woodland preserve suffered from predators significantly more when they nested in the invasive nonnative shrubs honeysuckle (which has replaced the native arrowwood) and buckthorn (which has replaced the hawthorn).

Magnets not attractive? “In many ways the magnet school program has been a success for all involved,” reflects retiring Hyde Park High School teacher Chuck Wemstrom in Substance (November). “It’s brought together good teachers, highly motivated students and extra resources. Everybody can take pride in the accomplishments of the Whitney Young, Kenwood, Lincoln Park and Von Steuben students and their teachers….However, the magnet school critics have been right all along. The magnet schools have drained the best students and a disproportionate share of the resources from the rest of the system, leaving neighborhood schools worse off than they were before these programs were initiated.”

No libertarians invited. State comptroller Daniel Hynes is asking visitors to his Web site (www.ioc.state.il.us) whether the state should provide financial incentives to encourage outside businesses to move in and whether it should provide such incentives to encourage existing in-state businesses to expand. Last time I checked, visitors’ “votes” were running three to one in favor of doing both. No other choice was offered (such as “Do neither, and reduce taxes or improve public services proportionately”). Evidently the only question you can ask about corporate welfare in Springfield is “Which flavor?”