Chicagosphere

Community News Archives

Chicago Weekly Aims to Cover Hyde Park

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

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As major Chicago media increasingly search for inroads into community news on the Internet, some existing sites are doing a good job of covering neighborhood-level news all on their own, especially on the South Side.  One of the them is the Southwest Observer, which I told you about back in October. Another such great, granular news site is the University of Chicago-based Chicago Weekly--an alternative weekly taking on the responsibility of keeping the Presidential first-neighborhood informed.

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"Dear Illinois Broadband Enthusiasts..."

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

wifi icon-thumb-150x139The State of Illinois is crowing about a broadband technology grant that will help few people in northern Illinois who really need affordable choices when it comes to Internet service. Who benefits? That depends on whether you can see Cabrini--or cornfields--out your kitchen window.

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The Point of Social Media Is the Social, Not the Media

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

lido's caffee wall of patronsA version of the following entry is cross-posted today on Chicago Carless.

Last month on Chicagosphere, I wrote a popular post about how social media helped save a financially struggling local business. Unfortunately, social media wasn't enough to save a popular Oak Park coffee shop. Lido's Caffé, the home of a longstanding coffee klatsch that germinated on Twitter--my coffee klatsch--succumbed to the ailing economy last week. Yet in the shop's failure is a lesson in online community--and how to translate it to real life.

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Track Your Bus over Coffee in Wicker Park/Bucktown

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

wpb kiosks 1WPB, the newly renamed easier to remember name of the Special Service Area tax district that works with the Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, is putting CTA bus tracker data to great use in its eponymous twin near-northwest neighborhoods. How about video screens in your favorite local shops and cafes telling you at a glance how long you can linger before heading out to the bus stop? Wicker Park/Bucktown now has a network of them.

Recently, WPB program manager Jamie R. Simone (AICP, LEED APWPB) and Chris Lackner, principal of the PR firm Lackner/Andrews, walked me through the finer points of the video kiosks at Red Hen Bread on Milwaukee Avenue, where one of the screens is located.

The screens grew out of WPB's master plan, completed 18 months ago, which sought to make real-time use of CTA's bus tracker info in the district's service area (find a PDF map of the district's boundaries boundaries here.) Around the same time, digital signage company Redpost approached the chamber to explore the potential to roll out a network of neighborhood video screens to promote local news and carry local advertising.

The two ideas merged in the creation of a pilot network of video kiosks installed in 11 locations along the major shopping and transportation corridors of Milwaukee, Damen, and North avenues. The screens, which went live in November, display a real-time scroll of arrival information for CTA bus routes adjacent or nearby to the establishments in which they're located.

Gallery sneak peek (8 images):

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Are Tribune Co. & NBC5 Chicago Censoring Local News?

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

beachwoodnodateToday, Beachwood Reporter editor & publisher Steve Rhodes announced he was walking away from his paid gig as an NBC5 Chicago news blogger. According to Rhodes, earlier this month NBC5 removed specific posts of his from its local news blog without his knowledge or consent, allegedly due to personal request from upper NBC5 management--and Tribune Company execs.

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Chicago Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Tonight!

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

uglytop2Chicagosphere and Chicago Carless are both happy to be co-sponsors of tonight's Chicago Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository! (See my original post here.) The event is organized by Brad Flora, editor & publisher of the Windy Citizen.

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Yes, Chris Brogan, Social Media Can Save a Local Business

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

evilsquirrelBack in January, new-media marketing maven Chris Brogan (@chrisBROGAN) asked whether social media could save a business. In the face of the TARPconomy, He was hoping to help keep a Peabody, Mass., sandwich shop open. He wasn't successful. Last month, however, a local Chicago comic shop in economic distress had much better luck when reaching out to a loyal online following.

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You're Invited to the Chicago Ugly Christmas Sweater Party!

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

uglytopThis week, Windy Citizen editor & publisher Brad Flora (@bradflora) had a great idea--ask a group of local bloggers to throw their names behind a community Christmas party for our readers. It's an all-inclusive community holiday meetup--and if you're reading this post, you're invited!

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The Oak Park Penis: Does the Village's New Logo Look Like a Phallus?

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

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What would you do if your municipal branding consultant suggested at a public board meeting that your town's new logo look like a penis? That happened this week in upscale Oak Park, Illinois. As local bloggers and Twitter users in the west-suburban village continue to voice shock over the new logo, I put it to you, Chicago. Does Oak Park's new logo look like what I think it does?


This afternoon, my Twitter pal, Oak Leaves town hall reporter John P. Huston (@oakpark), posted to his News Peg blog an entry about Oak Park's proposed new logo. The official logo, pictured below, was proposed on Monday to the Village Board by Ed Barlow, director of client services of "community branding experts" firm North Star Destination Strategies, for use by the Oak Park Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Proposed Oak Park Logo

The logo and, um, strap line (I swear, the correct term) are meant to convey Oak Parkers as risk takers. I'd love to know how many of you out there think "risk taker" when you think about residents of Chicago's closest west-suburban neighbor. Progressive? Absolutely. But status quo? Overwhelmingly. (I suppose that's what you get when you a give your local branding campaign to a company in another state--North Star's HQ is in Nashville, TN.)


However, I'd much rather ask in the spirit of the impending holiday season, ahem, do you see what I see?  Especially when you compare Oak Park's potential new logo to these--for want of a better term--other phallic logo fails:


Gallery sneak peek (12 images):

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Vivian Vahlberg Vs. The Usual Suspects: Why the "Community News Matters" Grantee List Is No Surprise

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

Yesterday, I asked why the Chicago Community Trust's recently announced "Community News Matters" grant awards seem to ignore the future sustainability of online local news. It turns out there may be a reason for that. In August, a key Trust staffer claimed in signed comments here on Chicagosphere that the foundation never considered the grant monies to be more than bridge funding--and that it had no idea who would receive that funding. So why did the foundation's own request for proposals (RFP) announce the future sustainability of Chicago's local news sector as a main goal of the grant program? And why are most of the winning grant recipients organizations and bloggers to whom the Trust reached out prior to releasing its RFP in the first place?

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Sustainability Optional in Chicago Community Trust Online News Grants?

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

[UPDATE: This post has a follow-up, Vivian Vahlberg Vs. The Usual Suspects: Why the "Community News Matters" Grantee List Is No Surprise.]

Today, the Chicago Community Trust announced the recipients of its Community News Matters grant awards, aimed at spurring innovation in Chicago's online local news sector. The recipients list reads like a who's who of the Chicago community news scene. But it takes a lot of reading between the lines to find any evidence of long-term sustainability for the winning projects.
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My Communicamp Experience: Why Open Conferences Are Danger Zones for ADHDers

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

comcampToday, I walked out of Community Media Workshop's Communicamp open conference. It wasn't for lack of wanting to stay in my seat and spend the day with the cognescenti of the Windy City's media and blogging worlds. But how do you remain at an event where the rules of the road seem almost aimed at making someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder--like me--feel as out of place as possible? Here's why open conference don't work for ADHDers...and how to change that.
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Son of Chitown Daily News to Debut in November

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

When the Chicago blogosphere's star local news site, Chitown Daily News, suddenly folded in early September due to dwindling finances, editor Geoff Dougherty promised to return "within eight weeks" with a new, more sustainable local news site. True to his word, this week in Crain's Chicago Business, Dougherty announced the upcoming debut of Chicago Current...a monthly print publication with a companion website. Huh?
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Media Versus the Machine: The Southwest Observer

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

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Every day on the Internet, the Southwest Observer faces off against Chicago's machine mentality. Can an independent community journalism website aimed at some of the most parochial neighborhoods in the Windy City find success? Editor Mike Fielding is on a mission to find the answer.
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An Interview with Journalist Blogger Laura Washington

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

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In Chicago, the idea of journalists blogging for free is a controversial one at best. Some journalists scoff at the suggestion that they give their words away for free. However, Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington does just that--and in the process shows why blogging is key to the future of journalism. Enter: The Washington Report.

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Chicago Online News: The Best of What's Left

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

chitowndailynewsLast week's sudden shut-down of Chitown Daily News means one fewer online source for independent community news about the Windy City. If you're hoping to find a local online news site, here's a look at the best of what's left.

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BREAKING: Chitown Daily News Shutting Down

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

chitowndailynews[UPDATED: 3:44PM] As initially reported on Gapers Block, the Windy City's leading independent local news website, Chitown Daily News, has laid off its reporting staff and is shutting down, to re-tool as a for-profit venture. The surprise news comes in the wake of the C-BOM bloggers meetup called last month to discuss ways to make financial ends meet on the local blogosphere.

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Navigating Oprah Winfrey's Michigan Avenue Closure on CTA

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

oprahctaWhether you're an Oprah Winfrey fan or not, if you're traveling through downtown Chicago and the Near North Side over Labor Day weekend and the first workday to follow, chances are you'll be significantly impacted by Winfrey's two-and-a-half-day closure of North Michigan Avenue--Chicago's most important transit bus corridor--to tape the season premiere of her talk show. If you're a CTA rider--and heaven knows you should be this weekend--here's what you should know about the detours.

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Analyzing Helen Shiller's Response to the Uptown Riot Controversy

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

uptownriot

Yesterday afternoon, Alderman Helen Shiller posted a lengthy response on the 46th Ward website regarding the widely viewed August 13th Uptown riot video and the firestorm of controversy surrounding it. Given the gravity of the situation for Uptown residents, it's a response worthy of a line-by-line analysis by a communications strategist. Being one, myself (how useful is that?), that's exactly what I've done. Read on to learn why I think Shiller's response doesn't fit the crime.
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Why the EveryBlock Sale Matters: Chicago Foundations Pass the Buck on Sustainability

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

everyblock&msnbcAs widely reported this week, Chicago-based hyperlocal newsfeed aggregator EveryBlock.com was bought out by MSNBC for an undisclosed sum likely in the millions. At a time when Windy City foundations are posturing to be the nonprofit saviors of online local news, the surprise sale may point to a different future for popular sites. Is there money to be made in the online local news sphere after all?

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Virtual Concentration Camp for Illinois Sex Offenders?

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

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Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law making it illegal for sex offenders to use social networking sites. Is this a necessary ban to protect the state's children? Or a misguided move guaranteed to keep criminals who've paid their debt living on the margins of society?

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Pilsen Portal Bilingual News Site, ¿No habla español?

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

pilsenportallogoBilingual neighborhood news in Chicago isn't just for readers of Extra anymore. Last month, the Pilsen Planning Committee launched Pilsen Portal, a self-described bilingual community blog discussing life and happenings in one of the Windy City's primary Latino neighborhoods. It's a site with great promise...if only they were actually translating their content into Spanish.

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Independence Eve Fireworks FOIA Update

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

fireworksbeforedark On July 6th, I reported on potential violence along the lakefront during Chicago's Independence Eve fireworks. The next day, in consultation with my Chicago Now editor, I filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on several city agencies. Now thirty days later, here's what I've heard back.

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The Beachwood Reporter: Conquering the 'Net One Niche at a Time

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

beachwoodlogoI seldom take seriously local bloggers intent on taking over the online world. That is, with one exception: Steve Rhodes, Publisher and Editor of The Beachwood Reporter.

Heading one of Chicago's top, homegrown news and content networks, every day Rhodes goes up against the best and brightest of the Windy City blogosphere (including Chitown Daily News, Chicagoist, Gapers Block, Huffington Post Chicago, and the folks right here at ChicagoNow) to tell the story of this town from a deliberately critical perspective. It's a curious kilter with major merit for those who believe the real commodity has never been the dryly objective news, but the subjective newspaper that has always surrounded it in opinionated juiciness.

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Chicagosphere's Mike Doyle Calls for Community Blogger Strategy Day on Outside the Loop Radio

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

OTLradioToday, WLUW 88.7-FM's indie audio magazine, Outside the Loop RADIO, interviews Yours Truly sending out a call to action to local bloggers. As I wrote in these virtual pages, last week I participated in a major local media conference and attended another. Both were aimed at finding ways to make online news sustainable in the Windy City.

Trouble is, future sustainability didn't turn out to be much of a topic at either. Worse, even with the release of a major report (also covered on Chicagosphere) touting the growing importance of community-oriented websites for disseminating local news, the blogosphere was given short shrift at both events, as well.

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Bloggers Respond to Chicago Media Future Conference

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

cmfc[Ed. note--6/18/09: This post will be occasionally updated to link back to additional perspectives from the coference.]

On Saturday, the Windy City's media community convened for the second time in less than a week to discuss its collective chance for survival, this time at the Chicago Media Future Conference. Whether the effort achieved its aim has been the subject of much blogosphere debate since the last attendee staggered away from the post-conference happy hour at Wabash Tap.

Organized by Mike Fourcher, founder of Purely Political Consulting, Barbara Iverson, Columbia College journalism professor and publisher of ChicagoTalks.org, and Scott Smith, Senior Editor at Playboy.com, in the immediate wake of Community Media Workshop's Making Media Connections 2009, Saturday's conference stood the chance of launching a substantive debate about future sustainability for the increasingly web-centric local- and niche-news community. Whether that actually came to pass is unclear.

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Meet the Blogosphere

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

cmw_tnn_cover2We'll be back to our regularly scheduled blogosphere love-fest next week, as your pitches of nifty, interesting local website continue to roll in (keep 'em coming, folks!) But as I continue to come down from the high (and sleeplessness) of participating in Chicago's largest annual independent media conference, Making Media Connections 2009, I realize one key theme kept coming up at the conference that's worth considering.

Not the fact that community- and niche-focused websites are moving to the forefront of local news in the Windy City, though as research showed this week, that is happening. What surprised me much more was the incomplete understanding of the basic nature of the Internet expressed by more than a few conference participants.

So ladies and gentlemen of Chicago's traditional, bricks-and-mortar news media and public relations infrastructure, let me introduce you to the fundamental criteria that govern the most important element of the future of American news media. Folks, it's time to meet the blogosphere.

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Local Blogs Among Chicago's Top Niche News Sites According to New Report

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

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Congratulations to local blogs Gapers Block, Chicagoist, CTA Tattler, District 299, Urbanophile, Chicago Carless, 600 Words, and Marathon Pundit, who feature among Chicago's top-20 community-based news sites according to a report released today by grassroots media-relations training organization Community Media Workshop and commissioned by the Chicago Community Trust.

The report, The New News: Journalism We Want and Need (PDF link), examines the state of online community news in Chicago, in the face of declining local coverage by the city's traditional daily newspapers.

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Community Beat: A New Model for Neighborhood News?

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

lisccommunitybeatIn answer to the question posed in the headline, not necessarily, but a great effort nonetheless. Community Beat is the group blog put together by the citywide community development teams from the MacArthur Foundation-financed Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) New Communities Program (NCP). (Did you get all that?)

Since 1998, NCP has rolled out resident-centric planning initiatives in 16 challenged neighborhoods on the Northwest, West, and South Sides of Chicago. Community Beat is a forum for LISC staffers to share news and updates about those NCP neighborhoods, and it works wonderfully in that regard. But, as its organizers claim, is it really a better model than plain old "citizen journalism"?

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Uptown Update: Why Mum's Not the Word on Wilson Yard

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

uptownupdateI get a kick out of Uptown Update, the popular community news blog for the North Side's Uptown neighborhood. It's always entertaining. But not always for the right reasons.

For the past couple of years, its claim to fame--along with Buena Park Neighbors and the Uptown Neighborhood Council--has been vituperative opposition to Holsten Corp.'s $150 million Wilson Yard redevelopment project on the site of a former CTA rail yard on Broadway between Montrose and Sunnyside. Potential development plans for the rail yard (whose story is well summarized on railfan site Chicago-L.org) were vetted with 46th Ward residents beginning in the late 1990s, leading up to the creation of a Wilson Yard Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district by city ordinance in 2001.

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Marina City Online: Life Inside the Corncobs

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Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

stevedahlman Steven Dahlman is a professional pain in the ass. It's a skill that serves him well as the scribe of Marina City Online, the de facto community news site of downtown Chicago's famous twin condo towers.

As a four-year resident of the 60-story corncobs, myself, I can vouch for the seemingly unending--yet highly entertaining--drama and silliness that often ensues here. It's a state of affairs the condo board would rather not publicize.

"That pesky board has repeatedly tried to silence my website," says Dahlman. "But that just inspired me to come out with both barrels blazing. Marina City is a fascinating place--and Chicago would be amazed at what goes on here."

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