Shakespeare's Sister isn't buying amateur anthropologist Robert Putnam's latest alleged finding -- that diverse communities are less trusting than homogeneous ones. Her experience in Chicago's northeasternmost neighborhood was quite different: "I lived in Chicago’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood, Rogers Park, for a decade, the last two years of which were spent as part of a condo association that looked like a mini-U.N. -- whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Jews, mixed-race individuals and couples, straight people, gay people. We were, collectively, desk jockeys, teachers, nurses, actors, writers, hairstylists. Parents and not, religious and not. And we used to regularly hang out on each other’s back decks with a couple of beers and a grill going, talking about everything under the sun. We had each other’s spare keys. We fed each other’s pets during out-of-town holidays. We accepted each other’s packages. And I would find it simply astounding if we were some sort of crazy aberration."
Unofficial word is out that George and Susan Sullivan's Eco Smart Building -- featured in the March 18, 2005 issue of the Reader -- will receive a 2006 Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from the Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness. Official word is to come at Chicago Wilderness, and later at the umbrella group's November 15 Congress at Northwestern University. As I wrote then, "Rather than cover the backyard with asphalt, the Sullivans decided to cover it with an attached garage. They installed a heavy-duty roof, on top of which they built their recycled plastic deck and lined it with containers growing vegetables, native flowers, water plants, prairie grasses, shrubs, and small trees, which attract birds, bees, butterflies, and moths. In effect, says Susan, 'we elevated our backyard.'"
24/7 North of Howard Watchers, a blog by Toni and Hugh, focuses on the ever-changing if not always pleasing kaleidoscope that is the northernmost part of Rogers Park. Part photo-intensive critique of irresponsible landlords and tenants, and part an ongoing disputation with Ald. Joe Moore, it's a must-read if you live there, and a welcome politically-incorrect city chronicle if you don't. (Hat tip to George Sullivan.) I've been reading about Placeblogger, supposedly soon to be "a directory and live aggregator of headlines from placeblogs across the U.S." -- these folks should be on it.