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The Mascot: May 9, 2022

News stories from the past week.

By News 11

A wide-mouthed character tilts its head back and gobbles up a variety of news briefs and debris. Illustration by Jade Sheng.

Illustration by Jade Sheng.

Abortion Rights Rally

Hundreds (upwards of 1,000) of people gathered in Federal Plaza yesterday in protest of the Supreme Court’s pending decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The decision was discovered in a draft majority opinion leaked to Politico on Monday night. If the draft is published as opinion in this summer’s trial testing federal abortion protections, the effect would be an end to the guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights. Each state would decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. So far, 26 states have indicated the tightening of or complete ban on abortions should the Roe decision be overturned. Sixteen states have been working in the opposite direction, working to increase access to safe and affordable abortions.

Illinois is included in the latter. At the rally yesterday, Governor J.B. Pritzker spoke to the crowd: “Like you, I’m proud that Illinois is an island for reproductive freedom in the Midwest … But our shores remain open for any person who is left marooned by these extremist politicians.”

Should the decision go into effect, according to the Guttmacher Institute these shores (and, looking at the map, Illinois would indeed be an island) would be the nearest shores with legal abortion for 8.9 million women of childbearing age. That, compared with the roughly 100,000 women that rely on its access now, would constitute an 8,651% increase.

In the meantime: 

Midwest Access Coalition helps people travel around the region for safe abortions.

Chicago Abortion Fund offers support to those seeking an abortion.

Stay tuned for details on the upcoming May 14 rally. Chicago is set to be one of four “anchor cities” in nationwide protest, alongside New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

Little contour people. Drawn with black lines. Have human and animal characteristics but are unrecognizable as anything familiar.

Whole Foods in West Englewood announces closure

In October 2021, an Aldi grocery store in West Garfield Park closed, leaving the disinvested neighborhood without access to fresh food and exemplifying a situation that activists call “food apartheid.” Four months later, city council debated buying that lot in order to reserve it for a future grocer with a vested interest in the community. I spoke with Alderman Lopez of the 15th Ward after that meeting, and he told me that he opposed the purchase without an end user. “It took eight years to get the Whole Foods in Englewood,” he said. Eight years.

Last week, that West Englewood Whole Foods announced its plans to close in the next few months.

The Whole Foods opened in 2016 as an anchor of a new strip mall known as Englewood Square. According to WBEZ Chicago, the store’s anomalous location (in a majority Black neighborhood with high poverty rates) “was part of a nationwide corporate strategy to bring healthy food to under-served areas.” It’s also worth mentioning that the company bought the lot for one dollar, and received a $10 million incentive from the city to prepare the land.

The closure felt like “a punch in the stomach,” Michelle Rashad of the not-for-profit Imagine Englewood If… told WBEZ Chicago. She quickly added that “one institution isn’t going to change the community overnight” and “there’s opportunities for other grocers to come into the community.” Remaining hopeful while mourning the loss of another neighborhood institution is, unfortunately, on par for the community. 

The same week Whole Foods announced its closure in Englewood, it also announced the opening of a new Chicago location on the Gold Coast.

Eight small figures drawn with wiggly black lines. Stand horizontally next to each other. Not recognizable creatures, but do have characteristics of known animals and humans.

Happy International Compost Week

Buried at the bottom of this week’s Campus Life eNewsletter is a shout out to Food For Thought, the school’s food provider, for being an “Illinois Food Scrap Coalition Silver Level Partner.” According to the Coalition’s website, one earns this partnership by composting either kitchen trimmings during preparation or leftover plate scraps. And by paying a $500 subscription fee. But that annual fee is small potatoes compared to how much we save (the environment!) by not sending potato skins to rot in the landfill.

Tristyn von Berg of WasteNot Compost told City Cast Chicago that a year’s worth of Cook County’s compost would create a pile as high as the United Center. At the moment, the City of Chicago does not offer a public compost system, but private companies like WasteNot Compost and Block Bins, along with neighborhood drop offs like The Plant (Back of the Yards) and El Paseo Community Garden (Pilsen) are picking up the slack, and the slop.

Parker Yamasaki (MANAJ 2023) is the managing editor at F Newsmagazine. She is looking for a sunnier place to sit.

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