Friday, July 18, 2014

CIW Consumables: This Week on the Internet

This week, the Internet compared Justin Bieber's mom to Leonardo DiCaprio, and we learn just what happened to the screwball in major league baseball.

The news from the US-Mexico border this week but scary (and we're thrilled our friend Jose Antonio Vargas has been released), but in reality, it wasn't new. Child migrants have been coming to America since the days of Ellis Island, and as this article proves, we didn't simply turn them away. 

There are 10.4 million residential swimming pools in the US, and every day two accidental drownings occur. Can teaching your five-month-old (yes, five-month-old) to self-rescue help prevent these tragedies? 

We didn't think the World Cup could get better, until
we saw William Kass's version. 
According to two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum, the screwball doesn't exist. Hector Santiago begs to disagree, and his career is depending on it. What in the world is happening to baseball's most mysterious pitch?

What do Justin Bieber's mom, Ludacris and Leonardo DiCaprio have in common? They top the list of smartest celebrity Twitter accounts, each operating around a 7th grade reading level. 

Artist William Kass has created a beautiful, edible world that provokes a profound sense of adventure and is good enough to eat. 

Former CIW Speaker Adam Grant talked to Inc. about his incredible research on Givers and Takers, and how to build a corporate culture that works. 


Check out this handy guide to Pitchfork, and other activities to keep you busy for the next few days. 

This list was compiled by Brooke Scheyer, the Director of Programming for CIW.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Psalm One Takes Chicago Rap Global

Psalm One AKA Hologram Kizzie is used to transitions.  The University of Illinois grad started out a chemist before abandoning the lab for the record label Hieroglyphics in the mid-2000s.  Now, Psalm One is prepping for another transition: As implied by the “AKA” dividing her name, Psalm One is now Hologram Kizzie—at least for her latest album, Hug Life.

Kizzie is for Kizzy Kinte, a character on the 1970s miniseries Roots, and a name Psalm One went by earlier in her career.  And hologram: Is that in reference to the Tupac hologram that famously took the Coachella stage?  Yes, in many ways: “I wanted to look backwards and also forwards.”
Psalm One is leading a Chicago Takeover of hip-hop music.

Since her 2006 album with Rhymesayers, The Death of Frequent Flyer, put Psalm One on the Chicago hip-hop map, the South Side native has been furthering the underground rap scene in the city.  Although, of course, her ambitions go far beyond being the stand-out talent on the underground scene; she’s taking her music global with an upcoming international tour she’s named the Chicago Takeover. 

Actually, Psalm One notes, she’s “no stranger to touring overseas,” but the goal of the Takeover is more forthright than many of her past tours.  “I hope to bring my own brand of art and culture,” she said.  “I like to be a conduit or catalyst for changing minds.”

Psalm is a catalyst for changing minds in facets of her work beyond her musical tours.  She’s worked with Rhymeschool for almost three years, founding the hip-hop arm of the after-school youth educational program.  The program introduces students to all aspects of music production—from video and photo shots to recording—with a heavy emphasis on writing.

“We focus on being very literate and talking about their realities—not fantasy rap,” an emphasis she stresses in her own writing, also.  Psalm One’s lyrics sometimes veer toward the humorous, but songs like “Woman at Work” (whose music video puts Psalm One back in a lab coat) and “Regular Black Girl” (also the name of her website) are rooted strongly in reality.

It is that focus on the here, now and—most importantly—real that she brings to Rhymeschool students.  The experience, she added, is “enriching for anybody, even if they don’t become a rapper.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CIW Co-op Member Nick Stocking's Design Cloud Fosters Chicago Creativity

As a real estate developer at Centrum Properties, CIW Co-op member Nick Stocking spent around 50 percent of his workday collaborating with the creative in the urban planning and real estate world, but he longed to put 100 percent of his efforts into creative endeavors.  So, when the economy tanked in 2008, Stocking knew his moment to quit real estate and think creatively had come.
Nick Stocking.
“Now is the time to start something where I could live a more creative life and be surrounded by and work with creative people every single day,” he said of his decision to found Design Cloud, a co-working and gallery space for Chicago’s “creative entrepreneurs.”  The business plan for Design Cloud was, in Stocking’s words, “reverse engineered” out of his desire for a creative network.  That community was one he had to build from the ground up: Stocking placed an ad on Craigslist just to “see if people would be interested in this kind of blue sky idea.”

Today, the initial founding group he culled from Craigslist and his connections has made that blue sky idea into a reality.  Perhaps most importantly, the founders have created, in his words, “a really great purpose-driven community of…creative entrepreneurs.” 

That phrase—creative entrepreneur—is one Stocking stresses.  Distinct from a creative freelancer, the creative entrepreneur hand-selects projects and products that fit into a broader vision and that may lead to the formation of a creative organization.  And the creative entrepreneur is the type of person behind the many offerings at Design Cloud.  In addition to its brick-and-mortar co-working facilities at the Near West Side, Design Cloud hosts events, displays local artists’ work and runs the MOUNT Residency, which allows an artist to curate Design Cloud’s gallery space for three months.   The latest MOUNT Residency exhibit, titled HERE|NOW, opens July 25.     

Ever the entrepreneur, Stocking has set yet another goal post for the organization: expand the community by 20 new members in 100 days.   His reasoning behind this ambition is simple. “[W]e have a great space catered exclusively to creatives,” he explained. 

CIW Speaker Buzz Aldrin Wants Everyone to Celebrate #Apollo45

Summer is the busy season for CIW 2013 speaker Buzz Aldrin—or the “global statesman for space,” as he calls himself.  The Apollo 11 astronaut is gearing up for the 45th anniversary of the moon landing this Sunday, July 20, leading a social media campaign asking individuals to upload their memories of the moon landing to YouTube.
Buzz Aldrin took the CIW stage in 2013.

So far, celebrities from Tom Hanks, Pharrell Williams and John Travolta to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Colbert and Bill Nye have participated.  But Aldrin wants this “tremendous list of people” to grow to include all Americans who vividly remember the moon landing.  The campaign is, after all, inspired by Aldrin’s everyday experiences as an American icon:  He’s stopped daily by people who want to share their experience on July 20, 1969.  Individuals can upload video memories to YouTube and written remembrances on Twitter or Facebook using #Apollo45.

Aldrin is thrilled that Americans still relish in their memories of that historic moment.  “We always need to keep remembering in some specific way,” Aldrin said.  For the month of July, his Twitter @TheRealBuzz and the hashtag #Apollo45 will serve as running logs of America’s memories.

Aldrin aims not just to push Americans to look back to the 1960s and 1970s when the U.S. held “the number one position in space,” but also stresses that it’s crucial that we consider the future.  He worries that many young Americans are plagued by information overload and “short-term thinking.”  Aldrin, on the other hand, focuses on longer-term goals.  He’s already looking ahead to the campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019 and even beyond that, urges the U.S. to spearhead “international permanence” on Mars—a goal he has stated that he thinks NASA can reach by 2040.  He believes that the space travel renaissance will involve collaboration across international borders, citing China–U.S. relations as key.

“Mankind…has always looked outward to explore what’s on the other side of the ocean,” he explained of the motivation behind space travel, adding, “I think people will be enthusiastic about recovering our space program from some decisions that haven’t been as good as they could have been.”

Aldrin certainly is enthusiastic about that mission, with his hands-on approach to the #Apollo45 social campaign and upcoming international trips in his role as a global statesman.

“It’s going to be quite active between now and the end of the month,” the 84-year-old astronaut admitted.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chicago Ideas Collaborates with Laundry Project to Bring Free Laundry to Englewood

Chicago Ideas collaborated with the Laundry Project to bring free laundry to Wash and Relax Laundry in Englewood this Saturday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The community outreach event resulted in 508 free loads of laundry for 42 families.

The Tampa-based Laundry Project helps low-income families meet the basic need of clean clothes through similar pop-up laundry events in Florida and Ohio.  The Englewood event marked the first in Chicago for the organization.

Laundry Project and Chicago Ideas volunteers helped
Wash and Relax customers with their laundry.
“Hopefully, these customers will walk away with a newfound sense of humanity,” Laundry Project Founder Jason Sowell, who oversaw the event, said. “Hopefully, when the leave, they can walk out and know there are some great people in the world who will help with no strings attached.”

The atmosphere at the laundromat was festive, as laudromat patrons called friends, families and neighbors to alert them to the opportunity to wash and dry their laundry for free.  The children in attendance colored, played games and blew bubbles with laundromat staff and Laundry Project volunteers.

“I see a lot of smiles, a lot of people with good attitudes.  It’s a beautiful thing,” Wash and Relax manager Andre Jones, Jr. 

Jones said, adding that Saturday’s event demonstrated the “heart” at the center of the Englewood community.

“Englewood is teaming up to get our community back for the sake of our kids,” laundry patron Shalonda Hickman—who hadn’t known her loads of laundry would be free when she walked into the Wash and Relax Saturday—reflected.

The event required help from a range of organizations in the Chicagoland area.  The River North–based Raise donated $500 worth of quarters and select laundry supplies.  CIW Co-op Member Andee Harris donated the bulk of the detergent used.  After posting a request for donations on her Facebook page, Harris reported that for two weeks she returned home to detergent—often anonymously donated—on her front steps.

“There are so many good people out there wanting to make a change,” Harris said of the experience.  “It was a nice message about our community, and we really do have a strong community in Chicago that wants to help each other.”

CIW Interview: Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni Britton Bauer’s “Splendid Ice Creams” live up to their name.  The unique flavor combinations range from the deceptively simple (Black Coffee, Bangkok Peanut) to practically avant garde for a dairy product (Saison with Sunflower Seeds and Golden Flax, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries) and can be found at her Chicago location on Southport.  We talked to the Midwestern ice cream artist in advance of our #IdeasChat Tuesday, July 15 at 11 a.m. central when we’ll be discussing “Midwest Flavor.”
Jeni Britton Bauer.
You were an Ohio State student studying art and art history when you first began to experiment with ice cream flavors. What first sparked your interested in ice cream—besides, of course, how delicious it is?
I was trying to figure out what I was going to do creatively…. And then I thought about perfuming, and I got really into that for a couple years.  One of the essential oils that I had collected was…cayenne, and it doesn’t have a scent; it just is hot.  So I mixed it into ice cream to make an edible perfume with it, and it was such a cool experience [that] from then on I started making perfumed ice cream. 

Butter fat melts at body temperature, unlike other fats.  So, ice cream is actually the perfect carrier for scent, and it’s edible obviously.  It was so much fun, and everyone knew me as the “ice cream girl.” 

Soon after, in 1996, you started Scream Ice Cream in Columbus.  What was the transition from Ohio State student to business owner like?
I wasn’t afraid; I had business all the time growing up, little ones.  I come from a very entrepreneurial family…people who believe if you don’t have a job, you can make one.  So, I was always trying to find ways to be useful in my community.  I was an industrious babysitter; I had other babysitters working for me I was so industrious.  I had a soap company at one point.  I constantly, all of my life was making these little businesses.

So, it felt very natural to me.  I was only 22, so it felt just like something I’d always done.  Only now I got do it and actually have real customers.

What does the R&D process for your ice creams look like?
I first always check classics; I always start with that.  If I find an ingredient I want to use—like beets, for instance—I would research them.  I think about how I’ve ever eaten them.  I know beets go really well with walnuts and cheese, so I might make a cheese ice cream and do shredded beets, almost like a carrot cake with walnuts. 

I also know that beets are hot pink and that they can turn an ice cream very pink or red.  So, you think color wise…red velvet cake.  You can make a beet and chocolate sorbet that’s like red velvet cake.  I always start with the classics, and then you can go from there.

You mentioned that your Absinthe + Meringues ice cream is one of your favorites.  Have you ever had an ice cream combination that just did not work out?
One of the simplest things that I was sure would work: Someone brought me a bunch of spearmint.  It was strawberry season…so I thought strawberries and spearmint must be good.  So I made it, and it truly tasted like Doublemint gum, but over-chewed.  It was remarkably bad, very weirdly not good.

The other one was smoked bananas.  I actually smoked them for a little too long, and they turned into turpentine.  They made ice cream that tasted like turpentine; it was very gross.

Tell us a little about your new book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.  What do you hope the home dessert and ice cream maker will take away from your recipes?
The book is unusual—it’s different than other books in that it’s meant to be mixed and matched, and a lot of the recipes live outside of the book.  It’s really flexible: Wherever you are, whatever you’ve got growing, whatever party it is or whatever your idea is, you can take a cake from this chapter, layer it with ice cream from another chapter…take a sauce from another chapter, and create your own ice cream cake.  There are infinite ideas.  This book is really foundational.

On our website we have this thing called “freestylin’” where I show you some of the ideas in these really quick videos.  [For instance], what if you put the white frosting with a whole bunch of coconut in between the lady cakes and layered that up?  You have this beautiful coconut cream cake.  What if you take the vanilla custard and put that in the lady cake and dump chocolate glaze on top?  And then you have a frozen Boston creme pie that’s really amazing.  That’s the whole idea, and we’re hoping people really latch on to it.

Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Startup Institute Emphasizes Company Culture over Coding

Startup Institute’s aim is to match potential employees to the correct startup—telling those employees not just to search for a job but for the “right job.”

“Finding someone who writes code is not hard [for a company],” Global Managing Director Jason Henrichs said.  But finding someone who thrives on the roller coaster schedule of the startup life?  That’s another story.

Jason Henrichs, shown here in a Harvard classroom,
often steps into the Startup Institute classroom himself.
The Startup Institute offers an “intensive experience” centered around an eight-week, full-time program that gives technical instruction—that coding experience that isn’t hard to find—alongside a core curriculum that teaches startup culture.  The city boasts a handful of similar programs—like The Starter League, co-founded by Chicago Ideas Co-op Member Mike McGee—that provide instruction to individuals interested in starting their own companies.  But not everyone wants to start their startup career as founder and CEO—something that The Startup Institute recognizes.  Its coursework is aimed at the startup employee, not employer, teaching people how to work on the ground at companies in their infancies.

In turn, Startup Institute grads help the startups themselves find good employee matches.  “The challenge [for startup companies],” Henrichs said, “is you’re adding lots of people really fast.”

In a city whose work and tech culture differs from that of Silicon Valley or the Research Triangle, Startup Institute Chicago teaches the Lean Startup Methodology tailored to River North and other Chicago hotbeds of innovation.  The method stresses the importance of treating the “evolution” of startup products as distinct from product development in a more established firm.

After going through the coursework, some people learn that the startup life is not actually what they’re after.  From his own experiences in Silicon Valley, Boston and Chicago, Henrichs knows the importance of finding the right team players.  He likens a startup to an orchestra: Since all musicians contribute to the melody the audience hears, it’s important that they all be in tune. 

You can learn more about the Startup Institute at an upcoming CIW Members' Lab Thursday, July 24.  Learn more and buy tickets here.