Oct 11, 2021

Axios Chicago

Happy Monday! Thanks to all who came out and braved the rain for our first- ever Axios Office Hours. Can't wait to do it again soon. Very soon.

⛈ Today's weather: Thunderstorms with a high of 80. Very non-October weather.

Situational awareness: The White Sox won a wild one last night to stave off elimination. They beat the Astros 12-6. They play Game 4 today at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Today's newsletter is 915 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The fight over Columbus statues

Crews remove the Columbus statue in Grant Park in July, 2020. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

It's been 15 months since Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered crews to take down the Columbus statues in Chicago after protesters tried to tear them down themselves.

Why it matters: The statues became the focal point of protest and vandalism over Columbus' genocidal past as the entire country had a reckoning over historically racist statues and symbols.

  • Now, the Italian American community is demanding

they are put back up.

What they're saying: Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA) tells Axios they are negotiating with the Chicago Park District over the future of the statues.

  • "This is definitely still a heated issue that we are working on daily," JCCIA's Ron Onesti tells Axios.

The intrigue: All of the focus has been on the statue in Grant Park, but it's the neighborhood statues of Columbus that Onesti wants back on display.

  • "The one in Arrigo Park has a very special connection to the families of the Italian Americans here in Chicago. The city didn't understand how important it was to the community," says Onesti.

The other side: "The city’s efforts throughout this process have not been about a single statue or mural, but about creating a formal process that will reflect our values and elevate our rich history and diversity," a spokesperson of Mayor Lightfoot tells us.

What's next: Even though President Biden federally recognized Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples' Day, the city of Chicago still celebrates Columbus Day. Today the annual parade is back, starting in the Loop at 1pm.

  • The JCCIA plans to hold a press conference afterwards to give updates on the negotiations. Check back here tomorrow for updates.
2. Chicago chefs cook up food videos

A tasty scene from a Food Thoughts video, debuting on PBS-WTTW today. Photo: Courtesy of Pilot Light

More than a decade ago, Chicago's top chefs joined forces to help change the way kids eat.

  • Called Pilot Light, the group does tastings in schools and offers teachers a food-based curriculum. But now — at a time when in-person lessons are harder to do — they've also launched a series of digital videos to help connect kids to their food.

Why it matters: Federal authorities say kids need more nutrition education, which can help contribute to healthier eating habits.

What they're like: Each one-minute animated video features Puprika the dog teaching kids about things like where their food comes from, how noodles connect many cultures and what crops need in order to grow.

  • Available online or on WTTW, the shorts are designed to teach and spark conversation.
  • One features a cute sheep saying "a lamb like me is raised to give you tasty meat." That sure sparked conversations with Monica's vegetarian daughter.

What they're saying: "Our work strives to connect children with each other through food, to engage and delight, to make learning not just fun but also part of their everyday lives," Lula Cafe's Jason Hammel tells Axios. "And as WTTW is a part of many children’s everyday lives, we felt it was a great platform for us to create these 'morsels' of food education."

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration: Brendany Lynch/Axios

Saturday special: Park District CEO Mike Kelly resigned over the ongoing lifeguard sex abuse scandal. The Park District knew about the allegations for 8 months. (WBEZ)

🏀 The Chicago Sky sent a message in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals in Phoenix. They stunned the Phoenix Mercury 91-77 (and it wasn't even that close). They are now two wins away from being champions! (NBC Chicago)

🏗 Bidding war: Two suitors emerge to buy the Thompson Center. (Chicago Tribune)

The improv community is in mourning after the passing of Niki (Lindgren) Moran. (Sun-Times)

🦨 Forget rats or potholes — the new city complaint is "garbage juice." (Block Club Chicago)

4. MMQB: Bears defense takes control in win

Khalil Mack during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears won for the first time on the road this year, defeating the Raiders 20-9 in Las Vegas.

Why it matters: The Bears held one of the best offenses in football to 259 total yards and nine points to go over .500 for the first time this season.

MVP: Khalil Mack. The former Raider wreaked havoc in the Vegas backfield, sacking Derek Carr and leading the entire team in tackles.

Play of the game (that you won't see in highlights): With seven minutes to go, Fields fired a first down strike to WR Darnell Mooney on a 3rd and 12. This extended the drive that ended in a field goal to give the Bears an 8-point lead.

Needs work: The Bears didn't get any production (once again) from their top tight ends. Backup Jesper Horsted did catch a touchdown pass, but Cole Kmet had just two catches for 22 yards.

  • And the Bears were flagged for three unnecessary roughness penalties, two by defensive end Mario Edwards Jr.

Negy or Nagy: The CBS crew went out of their way to pronounce coach Matt Nagy and Mack's names differently than we do in Chicago. The pronunciations may be correct, but it confused the locals.

Next week: The Bears play the Packers at Soldier Field next Sunday for 1st place in the NFC North.

5. Secret spot: Garden of the Phoenix

A Japanese moon bridge inside The Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Dozens of you smarties guessed correctly that last week's Secret Spot picture came from the Garden of the Phoenix — aka Osaka Garden, aka Japanese Garden.

  • Located southwest of the Museum of Science and Industry on Jackson Park's wooded island, it dates back to 1893, when the Japanese government "built the Ho-o-den [Phoenix Temple] as its pavilion for the World's Columbian Exposition," according to the Chicago Park District.

Visitors can walk the stone paths, linger in the shaded pavilion and, in the spring, marvel at the gorgeous cherry blossoms.

Our picks:

Monica is hoping to make it to this Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration in Potawatomi Park.

Justin recommends catching up on Season 2 of "Ted Lasso." Former Chicago improviser Sam Richardson guest stars. Great television.

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