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“The most significant environmental challenge today is not to build ‘consciousness,'” reports the Center for Neighborhood Technology on West North, in an Earth Day report by associate director Stephen Perkins. Over two-thirds of metro-area consumers say they would use reusable grocery bags, water-conserving shower heads, energy-conserving thermostats, and energy-efficient light bulbs. But in the case of the last three items, most of those who say they would don’t. Blacks, Latinos, and those earning under $20,000 a year are least likely to follow through on their good intentions. For instance, 67 percent of Chicagoans told pollsters that they would “pay $15 for a light bulb that lasts six years and saves $5 a year in electricity”–but only 7 percent of them actually do.

If you hear that Forrest Claypool has “health problems” and is confined to his vacation cottage in Michigan, start worrying. “More than one person interviewed for this story compared the old Park District to the former Soviet Union,” write Maureen Ryan and David Roeder in Chicago Enterprise (May/June), “among them Erma Tranter, executive director of Friends of the Parks. Like the old Soviet system, ‘there was no accountability, no sense of needing to work hard,’ she says.”

“Illinois now has some 35,000 persons incarcerated, up from about 8,000 in 1970,” writes Charles N. Wheeler III in Illinois Issues (May). “During that time, the state population increased by less than 3 percent. Yet does anyone seriously believe that our streets and neighborhoods are any safer now than they were a generation ago, even though we’re locking up more than four times as many offenders?”

“1993 was a turning point for new food products,” reports Lynn Dornblaser, publisher of the Chicago-based New Product News. “Indulgence and pleasure replaced health and nutrition….Manufacturers reacted to consumers’ lessening interest in healthier foods by introducing fewer foods with ‘health’ benefits.” Companies introduced a record number of new food products (12,877), but fewer in every category of foods with health claims. “All natural,” “low/no cholesterol,” and “added/high fiber” product introductions were down more than 50 percent.

“Most of the people I came in contact with [as an African American at the School of the Art Institute in the 1950s] were whites,” recalls Ramon Price in F Newsmagazine (February). “There weren’t a lot of blacks there and most of us there were busy integrating. You didn’t want to appear as if you were segregating yourself. Even when we would get together as a group, we would say, ‘This looks bad so why don’t you go over there.’ Looking back I think that it was most unfortunate….While we were busy trying to prove ourselves as a group of people who were open-minded, it had no effect on those who were fixed in their way of thinking.”

Our Father, who art in Washington, D.C.,…The Chicago-based U.S. Catholic (April) quotes Valparaiso University law dean Edward McGlynn Gaffney: “The Jehovah’s Witnesses are very much set against public-school prayer, and I was enlightened to this mind-set by my youngest daughter, Deirdre. After her first day at public school, Deirdre came home and said, ‘Daddy, I learned this new prayer at school today.’ And when I asked her to repeat it for me, she put her hand on her heart and proudly began, ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag…’ All of a sudden, it kicked in. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were right.”

“Hispanics view/listen to significantly more media (television and radio) than any other sub-segment of Americans,” according to Market Segment Research, Inc.–55.2 hours per week compared to the population-wide average of 31.8 hours.

“Women turn down interviews because they have been stalked. Even on low-profile feature stories, they ask my reporters not to quote them by name or print their photos,” writes Stephen Rynkiewicz in Chicago Journalist (April). “This happens often enough that it’s hard to dismiss anti-stalking measures out of hand, even when they threaten sweeping news media restrictions.”

Is it really wise to have a free-trade agreement with people with such a different level of knowledge than ours? In These Times (April 18) reports a recent poll finding that only 46 percent of U.S. respondents knew who Boris Yeltsin is, compared to 67 percent of Mexicans.

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