“All of our native plants have their own stories they’re trying to tell,” writes Robert Lonsdorf in Prairie Projections (January 1989), the newsletter of the North Branch Prairie Project. “Some take a few human generations to tell it. This unfinished work of allowing the earth to say ‘prairies’ and ‘savannas’ again is a contract of generations.”

“Traditional advertising frustrates audiences by interrupting the primary activity,” says Howard Busch of Bullseye Marketing on West Jackson. He believes he’s found a medium that doesn’t: bathroom walls, specifically those in 13 upscale Chicago restaurants. “These advertisements will enable people to pass the time while taking care of an otherwise boring, yet necessary, function,” says Busch. Seems like an especially good spot for political ads.

Another tie-up on the Ryan. “Chicagoan Lauricee Brown…says she had ten years of construction experience before applying to work on the Dan Ryan project,” writes Valerie Denney in Chicago Enterprise (January 1989). “Despite her track record, Brown, like most of the women hired, was assigned to ‘flag’ traffic past the work sites. ‘They just wanted you to stand there and look pretty for the big show,’ she says. ‘The women were told they weren’t smiling enough.’ Brown says she repeatedly asked for more highly skilled work but was told no other positions were available.” The construction companies, on the other hand, claim they can’t meet state and federal quotas because there aren’t enough qualified women.

Dept. of not overestimating your readers. From Real Estate Profile (January 13-26): “Simply owning a [health-club] membership will not give you a great body and first rate physical condition. You actually have to go to the place and work out.”

“Every commercial nuclear power reactor [is now] a potential bomb factory,” writes Dave Kraft in NEIS News (December-January 1988-89), published by the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service. On November 18 President Reagan signed Executive Order 12656, which allows “the commandeering of uranium, plutonium, and tritium from commercial nuclear power reactors by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in cases of ‘technological’ or ‘other’ emergencies. With one stroke of the pen, the President accomplished what safe-energy activists have been attempting to accomplish for years–demonstrating that the notion of ‘Atoms for Peace’ has been a convenient fiction, and that, in fact, there exists no real distinction between the peaceful and wartime atoms that the government is willing to commit to and respect.”

Fun in the office. Richard Hefter of New City (January 5) called up local cigarette distributors to see if they were complying with the new “Clean Indoor Air Ordinance,” and got this response from Zenith Tobacco Company salesman Jim Contis: “We sell cigarettes–why would I want to put portions of my company aside for non-smoking? I mean, if you were selling rubbers, would you want to stop people from screwing?”

“How do landlords and developers see us?” asks Noren Vann, a counselor for the Cambodian Association, quoted in the Chicago Reporter (January 1989). “They see us as a people who can be cheated. I’ve got people who are paying the manager’s bills and don’t know it. Or they know it but don’t say anything….They don’t know how to fight and resist yet and you must learn that if you want to live here.”

The nonwar on drugs. Percentage of Americans who seek drug treatment and rehabilitation who are turned away because of lack of space, resources, or personnel: 90 percent (Illinois Brief, December 1988).

Illinois lost about 37 farms a week between 1982 and 1987, according to the 1987 Census of Agriculture advance report issued in December. There were 98,483 farms in the state in 1982, and 88,786 five years later. Big farms were survivors–average farm size in 1987 was 321 acres, up from 292 in 1982.

“The Sox owners have a strong economic incentive to kill off Comiskey Park before its time,” writes John Pastier in Inland Architect (January/February 1989). “By doing so, they can sell their real estate, which has largely been depreciated for tax purposes, to the same tax-paying public that will build them a custom-tailored new park….Furthermore, they can triple the number of luxury suites to a total of 126, arranged in two full tiers at the new park. At a unit rent of $50,000 per season, this represents an added yearly income of more than $4 million.”

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