Volume 1, Issue 3
In This Issue
Click on a title to jump directly to the story, or simply scroll down to read the newsletter in its entirety.
Spotlight On: Solao Fitness and Dance
WBNA Membership Drive: Help Keep a Good Thing Going
La Junquenia: The Power of the People
Ask the Alderman: Blue Cart Recycling Update
Spotlight On: Solao Fitness and Dance
The WindowBox asked West Bucktown resident Amanda Walton to try out a Zumba class at Solão Fitness and Dance Studio. Here, she weighs in with her thoughts on this popular dance fitness craze.
As I stepped inside the Solão Fitness and Dance Studio for my first-ever Zumba class, I’ll admit to feeling a bit nervous. After all, group fitness classes can strike fear in the hearts of even the most confident athletes. Throw in a few Latin dance moves? I was convinced I would make an absolute fool of myself.
So naturally I positioned myself toward the back of the packed room, where I concentrated on looking all carefree and confident as I waited for the class to begin. At 7:00 on the dot, our instructor whirled into the room clad in what can only be described as a Jennifer Beals-esque outfit straight out of Flashdance. Totally inspiring! When she asked if there were any newcomers there that evening, I shyly raised my hand along with a few others – and then quickly realized that most of the people in the class were regulars. “Oh that’s just GREAT,” I thought to myself as I braced for what was now near-certain humiliation.
Cue the music, and…BAM! All of the nervous energy and feelings of self-consciousness vanished as I started to dance. The music pounded, the sweat flowed freely, and I found myself completely caught up in the non-stop energy and rocking choreography of instructor Mary Monica. The hour-long class was over before I knew it, and I can honestly say that it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had torching calories and trying to shed a few pounds.
My experience is exactly what owner Tonia Fisher had in mind when she opened the Solão Fitness and Dance Studio in September 2009. “I just want everyone to be able to let loose and be silly!” says the AFAA certified group exercise instructor. “This is all about feeling good and being yourself.” The former attorney also practices what she preaches – she put her intellectual property law career on the back burner to pursue her dream of creating this hip and fun fitness studio for women and men alike. Solão (which means “living a luminous life”) now offers more than 40 dance classes a week, not to mention an array of strength, sculpting, and mind/body classes.
An avid dancer herself since childhood, Tonia has artfully crafted her class line-up to include such unusual offerings as “Urban Dance Party,” “Total Tease” and “Mamacitas (Baby & Me).” Offered alongside more traditional cardio/fat-burning classes, these fun dance adventures are what have been really drawing in the crowds. In fact, after just one year in business, Solão has already outgrown its space. So the studio is moving to a new home a few blocks north at 1800 N. Western in January 2011 – just in time to help you make good on that New Year’s resolution to get fit! The new-and-improved Solão will offer two workout rooms, a juice/snack bar, and a full schedule of classes in a space that’s double the size of the original studio.
A West Bucktown resident herself, Tonia is quick to credit the neighborhood for contributing to the ongoing success of her business. “I honestly don’t think Solão would work somewhere else,” she insists. “The sense of community is what makes this studio so great. I just love it here!”
To thank West Bucktowners for their continued patronage and support, Tonia is offering a special $10 walk-in rate or 15% product purchase discount to anyone who mentions this article. Solão will be open Thanksgiving Day for a special pre-turkey Zumba class at 10:30 a.m., so why not take advantage of her generosity and get your workout in before you dig in?
Go ahead, take her up on it – I guarantee you’ll have a total blast!
Solão Fitness and Dance Studio
1616 N. Western Avenue
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Help Keep a Good Thing Going
With the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to officially launch the 2011 West Bucktown Neighborhood Association Membership Drive. We’re doing things a bit differently this year – instead of waiting until the anniversary of your original join date, we’re encouraging everyone to pay or renew their dues during the 3-month window between now and February 28, 2011. There are almost 300 families on our current membership roster, so having all of us on the same payment schedule will help streamline recordkeeping and give us a financial framework for planning next year’s activities.
Annual dues are a modest $25 per household, or $50 for businesses and organizations. Best of all, 100% of the money gets funneled back into West Bucktown. From subsidizing our Christmas, Easter and Halloween parties, to supporting neighborhood parks and recreational activities, to funding communications like this newsletter and our soon-to-be-launched website, membership dues are absolutely critical to keeping the association moving forward. Plus, membership has its perks, including voting rights in future Board elections, as well as ongoing access to our e-newsletters, email alerts, safety phone trees, and more. Perhaps most importantly, membership in the WBNA gives all of us a sense of community -- it's what unites us as a neighborhood and helps us reach our common goals.
As an added incentive, everyone who pays their 2011 dues before February 28 will be automatically entered into a random drawing to receive a gift certificate donated by an area restaurant, coupled with a great bottle of wine. Think of it as your chance to enjoy a night out on the town courtesy of the WBNA!
Our new website will be rolling out before year end, but in the meantime, you can still pay your dues online at the old site, www.westbucktown.org. Simply click on the “Pay Now” button at the bottom of the page. If you prefer to pay with cash or check, please mail your payment to the West Bucktown Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 477282, Chicago, IL 60647. (Businesses wishing to join should contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, as we’d love the opportunity to discuss potential mutually beneficial partnerships with you.)
Together we made great strides as a neighborhood association in 2010, and we’ve got some fun new ideas in the works for 2011, including regular “roving restaurant” social gatherings to help folks get to know each other even better. Your financial contribution helps make this and other initiatives possible, as does your continued support of time, talent and energy. Thank you for all you have done – and continue to do – to make West Bucktown a great place to live!
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The Power of the People
When we band together as a neighborhood to tackle an issue, we very often enjoy clear victories – but sometimes our successes are a little less obvious.
As you may recall, West Bucktown residents sent well over 100 letters to the Local Liquor Control Commission in September in an attempt to keep La Junquenia II, Inc. from selling packaged liquor at 2501 W. North Avenue. A similar effort was also coordinated by our neighbors to the immediate south. The liquor store that had previously operated out of this location, Boardwalk Liquors, was considered by many to be a blight on the community and a threat to public safety – so when it closed its doors, we all let out a hearty hooray. And when we learned that another liquor store might open in its place, we feared the worst and moved swiftly to block it.
If you've taken a walk on North Avenue lately, you may have noticed that the new liquor store is now open for business, leading many to believe our efforts had failed. As it turns out, that’s not actually the case. Our letter-writing campaign did succeed in getting the original application denied by the Liquor Commission due to its deleterious impact on the community. But things didn't stop there. When an application is denied, the applicant has an opportunity to work with the Commission to come up with an “operation plan” to address residents' concerns. And that's what happened here – after rejecting the application initially, the Commission ultimately negotiated an acceptable operation plan with La Junquenia.
What this means is that although the liquor store is open, La Junquenia cannot run its business in the same manner that the old Boardwalk Liquors did. Under the new operation plan, the store must adhere to limited hours of operation, restrictions on the sale of individual cans or bottles of beer and malt beverages, and prohibitions on the sale of pints of spirit liquors. They are also tasked with deterring theft and loitering and ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the surrounding area. The list of specific requirements is quite extensive, and we encourage everyone to read the full details here.
So while we may have fallen short in our efforts to keep the liquor store closed, we did play an important role in ensuring that La Junquenia will run a legitimate, respectful business – and we can hold them to it. Although we don't anticipate problems with the new owners, we are encouraging everyone to stay alert to potential problems in the area. If you see a violation of the operation plan, please email email@example.com, or call the 1st Ward or the police to report it.
We understand the temptation to view this outcome as a glass half empty, but it’s important to remember that we made a real difference here! Even more importantly, it demonstrates our collective ability to positively impact the neighborhood when we stand united in our efforts. This bodes well for the future of West Bucktown, and we applaud everyone for all of their past and future hard work.
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Ask the Alderman
1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno fields a regular question-and-answer column in the WindowBox to address issues and concerns from West Bucktown residents. If you have a question you would like to see covered in a future issue, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions will be kept strictly confidential.
Can you give us an update on blue cart recycling in West Bucktown?
My predecessor, Alderman Flores, did great work to get the 1st Ward included in the initial rollout of the Blue Cart Recycling Program. Back in 2007, the 1st Ward was just one of just seven wards that would determine the future of recycling in Chicago.
Everyone is well aware of the issues with the Blue Bag Program, so I’ll spare you the details here. But let’s just say the program was a decade-long flop.
Source separate recycling had worked in other cities, and it worked well in our ward during the pilot phase. Residents of the 1st Ward proved that recycling could work in Chicago and that our citizens would put effort into a recycling program that they felt was effective.
Unfortunately, after a declaration that the program was a success, budgetary constraints have so far delayed the expansion of the program to all parts of Chicago.
Recycling is collected on a permanent schedule in the 1st Ward – every other week, on the same day as garbage collection. We have had four trucks to do this work since the beginning of the program, and our Streets and Sanitation workers have often had to hustle to get all recycling collected by the end of week. Since I became Alderman in late March, I’ve been making efforts to resolve this issue, so I’m pleased to announce that the 1st Ward has now been allocated a fifth truck.
A fifth truck will improve our level of service and increase our raw recycling numbers. The 1st Ward has the best recycling numbers in the city, which is a trend I plan to continue as long as I’m Alderman.
Between January and September this year, the 1st Ward recycled 3004.59 tons of waste. We have blue carts at just under 15,000 homes, and the total recycling number for the 1st Ward is 17.5%. But of course there’s always room for improvement! If you’d like to help, please contact my office and volunteer to be a Recycling Block Captain.
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Kudos to our neighbors at 2420 W. Cortland for the beautiful windbox featured on this issue's masthead!
The next issue of the WindowBox is tentatively scheduled for distribution in January. If you have a story idea or would like to contribute an article, please email us at email@example.com.