In a vacant lot in Roseland, 10 teenagers are hammering, drilling, and sawing two-by-fours. Their goal: to build a playground for their neighbors. As explained in an article in the Chicago Tribune, these young women are participants in Demoiselle 2 Femme’s STEM projects. As part of the program, they designed and built a playground squished between two storefronts to help provide a safe place for kids in the community to play, while putting the engineering principles they had learned through the program into action. These design projects are representative of Demoiselle 2 Femme’s larger goal for its participants, reflected in its French name–to turn “young ladies to women.”
Though Demoiselle 2 Femme’s founders started only with a few volunteer mentors in a local church, Sherida Morrison and Romanetha Looper envisioned a comprehensive program that would lead girls along the path from childhood to adulthood. Today, the founders and their group of coordinators work with numerous adolescent girls to help them think systematically and make productive life decisions. Their programs focus on the problems and challenges that girls can face in society, ranging from the prevalence of drugs and STDs to nutrition and family connectedness. An after school program provides weekly workshops on life skills and interpersonal relationships, project hopeful trains participants in financial literacy, and the Femme 2 STEM program empowers girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math through community transformation workshops.
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For more than 20 years, comedians of all levels of notoriety have peddled their laugh-inducing verbal wares on Riddles Comedy Clubs’ stages. An airbrushed city skyline sits behind the corner stage at the original Alsip location, where such comedians as Jeff Dunham, Louie Anderson, and Drew Carey slung jokes to side-split audiences. A full bar with overhanging LCD TVs dispenses alcoholic and nonalcoholic whistle-wetters in between sets at both the Alsip location and the new Berwyn spot. Additionally, Riddles' lots house free parking for those driving from far-off locales or patrons who can't find a limo service that takes knock-knock jokes as payment.
Now in its fifth year, the Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival has become a celebration of art both homegrown and on loan from the rest of country. As you stroll around the fest, handcrafted items from more than 80 area artists vie for attention, with many up for accolades later in a juried art competition. The festivities run from noon to 10 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, and each day the main stage features a diverse lineup of live music from Chicago and throughout the country. The schedule includes The Giving Tree, an Americana rock band that has opened for The Avett Brothers, and former Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page.
Rokwelz Bar Meets Grill piles plates with classic pub fare that is well met by pints of varied brews slung in a jovial neighborhood setting. A frosty domestic beer ($3), glass of wine ($5–$7), or spunky mixed drink ($4.50–$7) can cool palates scorched by the punchy, jalapeño-topped Light My Fire burger ($8.99). The brotherly-love-laced beef slices and soft mozzarella cheese of the philly steak Samich ($8.99) presents a sentimental counterpoint to the unblinking new york strip steak ($18.99), a seasoned city dweller that eschews taste-bud small talk in favor of forthright flavor. The chefs at Rokwelz use their uncanny origami skills to flip and spin disparate ingredients into delicious wraps and paninis, such as the ham, cheese, and pesto-strewn Lucky Lefty's panini ($8.99). To cover deafening sounds of satisfied chewing, Rokwelz occasionally hosts live music, and on nice days, guests may elect to be seated outdoors on the large patio.
Before opening Mid-Oak Distillery, Matt Altman studied ancient Russian methods of vodka production. These studies inspired Altman to christen his vodka "CD" after "Catherine's Dynasty," translated from the original Russian Catalina Dynastii, which refers to the reign of Catherine the Great. At Mid-Oak Distillery, Altman reprises the royal recipe with local ingredients: Illinois grains, Glenview bottles, and tags from Oak Forest. Distillers cork the bottles by hand, seal them with heat, and adorn their necks with tags that denote alcohol content and recent immunizations. Altman even chose to have local contractors build the tasting room. Within its recently expanded 3,000-square-foot space, Mid-Oak Distillery serves up vodka drinks made from a lineup of traditional, seasonal, and flavored varieties of meticulously crafted CD Vodka.
Island Sports Bar & Grill maintains the balance between good food and good fun, serving up hearty bar food to complement a full schedule of social events. The kitchen crew grills beef, turkey, and veggie burgers to order, and tops Vienna hot dogs with all the Chicago fixings. Meanwhile, customers strut their stuff during Monday-night line dancing and karaoke, learn stepping lessons on Tuesday, listen to a live band on Wednesday, cut loose at ladies night on Thursday, or slap their knees in jubilant joy or subtle spasm during the Friday-night comedy hour. The middle of the week brings a host of events.
Whisper Creek’s visionary architects, Greg Nash and Billy Casper, and Orchard Valley’s architect, Ken Kavanaugh, present two championship-style courses of verdant, undulating terrain, flecked with challenging features. Golfers traverse Whisper Creek's 240 acres of protected wildlife sanctuary in GPS-enabled golf carts that provide yardage measurements, record scores, and eliminate the need to ask tiger-head club covers for directions. During an 18-hole round (up to a $68 value with cart), clubs send dimpled orbs hurtling past imported white-sand bunkers, pristine waters, and more than 5,000 character hardwoods. Over on Orchard Valley’s 6,800-yard, par 72 grounds, manicured practice facilities conduct dress rehearsals for the course’s 18 holes (up to a $76 value with cart), which span sand traps and wetlands, including the expansive water hazard on the aptly named "All or Nothing at All" second hole.