Everyone loves food. Free food is even better. Local, fresh, and free is best. That’s why I was excited when I stumbled on this fantastic website, Falling Fruit , with the goal of “mapping the urban harvest!” Using the map, you can find trees that offer bounties such as berries and other fruits.
The Falling Fruit website takes data from municipal tree inventories and other foraging maps and migrates the data to an open source map. Anyone is free to add foraging locations. Oak Park is sufficiently mapped. You can search by location, or filter results to what type of fruit or plant you’re looking for. You’ll even find some Hackberry right in front of the library.
The Falling Fruit organizers point to Urban Edibles for the ethics of picking fruit that might be on someone’s property. Basically, always ask before picking.
As it is important to not die from eating misidentified harvests, here are some good books for the novice forager:
If you’re interested in a little more information, NPR has a story about Falling Fruit.
There are plenty of great players in the Chicago lit scene, but Curbside Splendor Publishing continues to rise to the top of our “must watch” list. Not only are they putting out quality books by exciting authors (both up-and-coming and here-and-now), but they know how to have a good time. That is to say, they throw a lot of parties with a literary twist.
We first met the team at Chicago’s very styling Beauty Bar where they were hosting a soiree for library nerds just like us. Quite literally. The occasion was an after-party for June’s ginormous American Library Association conference. Two hours of free cocktails were on the table, as were $5 manicures. The soundtrack was provided by Curbside’s very own author/DJs, including Mr. Chris Terry – the man behind this month’s giveaway! [Keep reading for details. You'll get there]
When they’re not wining – or cocktailing – librarians from around the globe, Curbside are keeping Chicago’s literary community social. Their roster of regular events is mega impressive. First on our radar was Karaoke Idol, pitting non-profit orgs against each other for the door money…and glory…and of course fun. They’ve also hosted three editions of Salon Splendor at Madame ZuZu’s, better known as Billy Corgan’s northshore tea house, and WORDS + MUSIC, which welcomes four authors – Samantha Irby, Chris Terry (him again!), Joseph Bates, and Daniela Olszewska – to its fourth edition at Empty Bottle tonight. Insert amazing event poster here…
Clearly you’ve been swayed by now and want to follow the Curbside action on Facebook or Twitter. And if that’s not enough, then we’ve got a chance for you to get your hands on a very special, autographed copy of one of Curbside’s newest babies. Zero Fade, by the aforementioned Chris L. Terry, “chronicles eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with wack haircuts, bullies, last-year fly gear, his uncle Paul coming out as gay, and being grounded.” Illustrated by Ezra Clayton Daniels, and lovingly reviewed by Kirkus, among others, this pocket-sized piece of Chicago literature can be yours. Just comment with your favorite karaoke jam by Tuesday, Sept. 10 for a chance to win.
Thanks to Jacob at Curbside and Chris Terry for sharing with our readers.
Tomorrow, for the 6th year in a row, beer drinkers from across Chicagoland will crowd onto Marion Street for the Oak Park Micro Brew Review. Over 50 breweries will pouring over 100 craft beers, some of which will inevitably raise the question, “Could I do that?”
And some of you will try. According to the American Homebrewers Association, there are more than 1,000,000 homebrewers in the United States and over 300 homebrew competitions. With numbers like that, how can homebrewers stand out?
The Oak Park Public Library is offering an opportunity for homebrewers to get some personalized answers. On August 31st, we’ll be hosting our first ever homebrewers meetup. Slinging those answers will be experts from Ale Syndicate and DryHop, two rookie breweries growing in Chicago, Chicago Beer Society, nonprofit educational association dedicated to the appreciation of beer, and Drew Larson, owner of Leaders Beverage Consulting and Beverage Director for Hopleaf Bar. Our experts will talk about how they made the move from amateurs brewers to industry professionals and offer one-on-one critiques of your homebrewed beer. This homebrewers meetup is also an opportunity to network. Bring bottles of your brews to swap and taste with your neighbors. Join us at 7:30 PM on August 31 for Brew Your Own: A Homebrewers’ Meetup.
And in the meantime, don’t forget to get your tickets to the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers. Tickets go on sale August 21st for this November event. For a more intimate event, consider the newly developed Logan Square Beer Festival on September 21. This festival is being kept small deliberately, to give attendees and breweries a different experience than many of the larger events in the area offer.
Here we live now in this age of digitization and the ephemeral, where serendipitous discovery of books in the stacks of the library or bookstore has taken a backseat to convenience and algorithms.
Don’t get me wrong, I love ebooks, and probably read more ebooks than physical books. But there is something you won’t find in an ebook: physical traces of humanity. I like notes scrawled in the margins, messages written in books given as gifts, receipts left behind. I love finding these things. I was pretty upset when I never got my copy of Franny and Zooey with the note wishing Merry Christmas, 1964 back from a college friend. It made the book somehow more special. It gave it a history. Sure this is a bit sentimental, but I’m often more excited to find these sort of artifacts inside the books than I am of the books themselves.
I conducted a little archaeological dig into some of the books that will be available at the Book Fair I found some interesting things: