Tree lovers beware: salt kills! According to Arbor Topics (Fall/Winter), published by the suburban Wheeling tree-care firm Hendricksen, salt from winter de-icing can draw water away from plants the same way salt draws moisture out of meat when it’s salt cured: “When salt spray or runoff gets on foliage or into the root zone…water is pulled out of the foliage or root and into the strong salt solution. Affected foliage will dry out and turn brown. Roots cannot absorb water from the surrounding soil even if adequate moisture is present.” Remedies: Shovel more, salt less, use sand or calcium salts rather than sodium, and don’t pile salt-laden snow or slush around plants. “We have received soil test reports stating that the salt concentration was so high in the tested soil that it would be impossible for any plant to survive.” As a last resort, plant relatively salt-tolerant species, such as ash, honey locust, and white oak.

Next–Supermax Prison Crisis! Failure to Balance Lockup Budget May Lead to Release of Felons! Film at Ten! Dwight Correctional Center warden Gwen Thornton, quoted by Kimberly Lenz in Chicago Parent (November): “If you can open a door to a prison, then tell me why these [political leaders] can’t get together and decide how to open the school doors, whatever the cost. I know for a fact that if [our budget were not approved] and it meant our prison doors wouldn’t open, it wouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen. We’re going to open. Why are we going to open? Because people feel it is a priority.”

Not eating dead animals is in. Number of entrants in the 1988 recipe contest sponsored by the Oak Park-based Vegetarian Times: 300. In this year’s: 1,400.

A majority of “minorities.” The count on UIC’s 1993 first-year students: out of 2,710, 655 are Asian American, 578 Latino, and 298 African American.

“The big environmental organizations are the Ten Big Pimps,” says Cheryl Johnson of People for Community Recovery, based in Altgeld Gardens on the far south side (The Neighborhood Works, October/November). She doesn’t want national environmental groups to get federal funds to run community-education programs under the U.S. EPA’s proposed Southeast Chicago Urban Environmental Initiative. “They want to continue to try and prostitute the grassroots organizations. But the grassroots organizations are saying, ‘No more! We define our own agenda and have our own leadership. We’re not accepting it anymore.'”

The eight best small businesses in Chicagoland as ranked in the Forbes (November 8) list of the top 200 nationwide: Zebra Technologies (number 21, Vernon Hills, bar coding), Mercury Finance (26, Northbrook, consumer used-car financing), Medicus Systems (31, Evanston, health-care software), U.S. Robotics (42, Skokie, modems), SPS Transaction Services (45, Riverwoods, electronic credit transactions), Vitalink Pharmacy Services (108, Naperville, hospital and nursing-home pharmacies), Tootsie Roll Industries (130, Chicago, no introduction required), and Health Care Compare (134, Downers Grove, cost management for health insurers). What does it take to make the list? Well, for starters, Zebra has earned an average 35.5 percent profit over the past five years.

The price is right. Number ten on the list of least expensive four-year private colleges in the U.S. for 1993-94, according to Peterson’s Guides, is the near-north Moody Bible Institute ($4,814 for one year’s tuition and fees). Everything cheaper is in southern states, including the far-and-away least expensive, College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri ($2,000). (Most expensive, if your tastes in education run that way, is Sarah Lawrence, at $25,900.)

The incorrect 80s. According to the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Transportation Facts (October), during the 1980s nearly half a million additional Chicago-area commuters took up driving to work alone. Even within the city itself, this group grew. Solo motoring now accounts for two-thirds of the area’s 3.5 million commuting trips. Down, both regionally and in Chicago, are walking to work and taking public transit. Increasing, but still quite small, are bicycling to work (less than one-quarter of 1 percent) and working at home (up to 2 percent of all “commutes”).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.