Hello Blog Readers!  I’m back from my trip to the mid-west and I have some interesting things to report:

First off, Chicago is a lot of fun!  The nightlife is exciting and vibrant.  While hanging out at a local VFW hall, I was introduced to a super cool guy who had worked as Robert Deniro’s double on some films, and featured prominently in some awesome indie rock music videos from Chicago band Univore.  One particular video, seen at the end of this sentence, is a tribute to one of my favorite things:  Electric cars!

(From left to right: My buddy Nate, Univore, Marco Casale, and me, Mark)

Also, and unfortunately, I have discovered Chicago’s reputation as a green city may be a bit exaggerated—though it is making strides to live up to its billing.

Chicago has been a leader in implementing green energy since about 2006, plus they have a plethora of green rooftops.  At the same time, however, there is some major nastiness they are trying desperately to correct.  For starters, the Chicago River absorbs the untreated waste of millions of people every day (I told you it was nasty!).  Chicago, as of right now is the only city in the country that doesn’t treat their waste.  In 1900, the flow of the Chicago River was actually reversed so that the waste wouldn’t accumulate in Lake Michigan and turn it into a cesspool; they would just let all the folks downstream deal with the nasty water flow–the Chicago is a tributary of the Mississippi River!

Chicago River

Since his election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has put in place a $250M plan to revitalize the riverfront area  and clean that beast by treating the raw sewage before it enters the river, with hopes to eventually make it swimmable.

Another thing I noticed is Chicago is not very recycling friendly.  I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw going into the garbage.  For many residents of Chicago, recycling is an extraordinarily expensive chore, and in many places it is not even an option.  Chicago has had some seriously futile recycling ideas for the past decade.  But like the river, there is good news!  Basing a new plan on what other cities have done, Chicago is privatizing parts of the recycling program to make the cost more competitive, and to allow it to cover the entire city with costs comparable with what folks pay around the rest of the country.  It turns out that recycling can be good business in addition to being good for the environment.

Next week’s blog will be the second leg of my trip to rural NW Ohio, so stay tuned for that!  Have a safe and happy New Year and I’ll catch up with you in 2012!

-Mark

PS- Here’s another funny video from Univore to get you in the New Year’s type of mood, it’s called Champagne Taste:

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