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The West Bucktown WindowBox
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SPRING 2010
Volume I, Issue I

 



In This Issue
Click on a title to jump directly to the story, or simply scroll down to read the newsletter in its entirety.

Welcome to the WindowBox!
Spotlight On: MSA & Circus Arts
Meet Our New Alderman
Save the Date: 7/31 Yard Sale and Picnic
Just for Kicks

On the Scene at the Clean & Green
Movies in the Park: Madagascar 2


Welcome to the WindowBox!

It’s been a number of years since West Bucktowners had a neighborhood newsletter to call their very own. But with this launch of the WindowBox, that’s all about to change.
The WindowBox is your source for all the good dirt on everything that’s happening in and around our growing West Bucktown neighborhood. Our goal is to publish a minimum of 6 issues every year – perhaps even more frequently as community initiatives kick into high gear.
In keeping with our push for the “greening” of the neighborhood, our revolving masthead will feature a different seasonal West Bucktown windowbox in every issue. (Many thanks to our neighbors at 2418 W. Cortland for the beautiful geraniums that grace this first issue!) We’ll be scouring the neighborhood to photograph the best of the best, but please don’t be shy about nominating your own handiwork. If you’ve worked hard on a great windowbox, by all means, send us an email at windowbox@westbucktown.org so we can showcase it!
We’re hoping that the WindowBox will help promote a two-way flow of communication between the West Bucktown Neighborhood Association and the residents who make up this wonderful neighborhood of ours. We want to hear from you! Tell us what issues are important to you, and what you want to read more about in the WindowBox. And if you like what you see here, please stop by www.westbucktown.org to renew or pay your association dues. Your $25 donation will help fund future issues of the WindowBox, as well as many other exciting initiatives we have planned for the coming year! 
 
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Spotlight On: MSA & Circus Arts
West Bucktowners who have always dreamed about running away and joining the circus can now enjoy a little valuable training right in their own backyard. 
That’s because Nourbol Meirmanov, a world-renowned acrobat who trained with the Moscow State Circus School and toured with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has brought his art form to West Bucktown, opening MSA & Circus Arts a year ago at the corner of Campbell and Homer. It’s not exactly the Big Top, but the family-run business operates out of a converted warehouse with soaring ceilings, exposed beams and great natural lighting from a huge skylight.  Step inside their gym and you immediately know that something really cool is going on.

IMAGE: MSA & Circus Arts Gym
“We’re in the business of promoting self-confidence, courage and cooperation among children and adults alike,” says 25-year-old Vice President Almas Meirmanov, who runs much of the day-to-day operations of his father’s business and is an accomplished acrobat in his own right. Before opening MSA & Circus Arts, Almas and Nourbol spent several years performing their father-son hand balancing act with circuses across the United States and Canada. “Our primary focus is on developing amateur athletes for our nationally competitive Sports Acrobatics team. But we introduce and nurture the physical skills necessary to compete at this level through our Circus Arts classes.”
Sports Acrobatics (nicknamed “Acro”) combines the strength, flexibility and technical precision of gymnastics and cheerleading with the grace and musicality of dance. Many circus acrobats and Cirque du Soleil performers got their starts in Sports Acro. National and international Sports Acro competitions have been steadily gaining in popularity and are expected to be included in a future Olympic Games.   

IMAGE: MSA & Circus Arts Acrobats
A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) company, MSA & Circus Arts relies heavily on private donations and proceeds from its Circus Arts classes to help underwrite the costs associated with training its nationally recognized Sports Acro team. MSA Circus Arts classes include such classics as juggling, unicycling, stilt walking, aerial arts, plate spinning, clowning – and of course, Sports Acro.  They also offer a series of popular Summer Camps.
“We teach kids as young as age two the fundamentals of tumbling in a safe, structured environment,” says Almas. “As their skills progress, they often express interest in trying out other circus activities, such as the trapeze or juggling. And that’s what makes MSA & Circus Arts so unique – we have something to offer everyone.” 
But lest you think that MSA & Circus Arts is geared only toward the very young, Almas is quick to point out that they offer classes that appeal to the young at heart, as well. “Our adult Sports Acro classes are great for anyone who’s looking for a new physical challenge, or who wants to shake up their traditional workout routine,” he says, noting that they are also planning to add classes in yoga, dance and choreography. 
Almas and his father are always on the lookout for new talent, and they regularly hold Open Houses to encourage area youths to stop in and try their hand at tumbling. “You never know where the next great Sports Acro champion might come from,” he explains. “When we see real promise in a kid, we like to develop it.” To this end, MSA & Circus Arts has established a scholarship fund to help children with natural talent get the proper training they need to be competitive in Sports Acro. 
Almas sees a great future ahead for MSA & Circus Arts in its new West Bucktown digs. “We’ve been looking for a permanent home since we first opened our doors in 2003,” he explains, noting that their previous locations were in the Broadway Armory and the Actor’s Gymnasium in Evanston. “We’re really excited to be here and looking forward to becoming an active, contributing member of the community.”
If you’d like to learn more about the classes offered at MSA & Circus Arts, visit their website at www.msacircusarts.com or email info@circusarts.com.  

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Meet Our New Alderman

On March 26th, Proco "Joe" Moreno was inaugurated as Alderman of Chicago’s 1st Ward, which includes our own West Bucktown community. He replaces Manny Flores, who was appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to be chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission.
IMAGE: Joe Moreno and Daughter Ava
Joe is certainly no stranger to our neck of the woods – he was born and raised in Illinois and has been a Wicker Park/Bucktown resident for the last 14 years. The youngest Alderman in the Chicago City Council, he brings a unique mix of business experience and community activism to the job. 
 
Fresh out of college, Joe worked his way up through the ranks of a suburban union printing company, eventually becoming Vice President before being called to public service. Armed with an MBA from DePaul, he went on to serve as an elected member of the Local School Council for Jose De Diego Community Academy, and as a board member with Humboldt Park Social Services, an organization dedicated to helping the homeless and disadvantaged in that community. Joe has also been an active participant in the CAPS program, focusing on community involvement and public safety.  
 
As Alderman, Joe is concentrating first and foremost on public safety and building a vibrant business community throughout the 1st Ward. “I’m honored by the opportunity to serve as your representative, and I pledge to be a tireless advocate for your interests,” he emphasized. 
 
Joe is also looking forward to working with West Bucktown residents to build on the momentum created by recent WBNA events and initiatives, such as the Clean & Green and safety phone trees. “The work done by this group to organize the neighborhood should serve as an example to other areas of the Ward,” he noted.
 
Got a question for Joe? He holds regular “Ward Nights” every Tuesday from 5-8:00 pm in the 1st Ward office at 2056 N. Western. We’re also planning a WBNA Community Meeting later this summer to give everyone the opportunity to meet Joe in person…stay tuned for details.
 
In the meantime, keep an eye out for Joe in the neighborhood – you just might spot him at the playground with his 6-year-old daughter, Ava, or jogging through the streets of West Bucktown!

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Save the Date: 7/31 Yard Sale and Picnic

The WBNA and Maplewood Lucy Flower Parks Advisory Council (MLFPAC) are teaming up again this year to host the annual neighborhood Yard Sale and Picnic at Maplewood Park on Saturday, July 31st from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. This event promises to be equal parts business and pleasure – last year’s attendees netted upwards of $400 selling their stuff to the more than 100 people who came out for the fun! 

IMAGE: Yard SaleThe Yard Sale has grown steadily in attendance and popularity since MLFPAC started running it three years ago. It will be publicized throughout the city and is open to West Bucktown residents and non-residents alike. For a small $25 fee (which directly benefits MLFPAC and the many park programs it organizes) you get an assigned 10 ft. x 10 ft. area within the park to display your wares. This is a rain-or-shine event, and sellers are required to bring their own tables, chairs, supplies, etc. To reserve your spot today, send an email to westbucktownparks@yahoo.com. Cash payment is due the morning of the sale. 
 
Even if you don’t have any items to unload, we’re encouraging everyone to stop by the park for an afternoon of “shopping and socializing.” Details about the picnic are still being hammered out, but it’s shaping up to be a great family-friendly event with lots of fun entertainment on hand for the kids.
 
This is a wonderful opportunity to show our support for the neighborhood while enjoying a little mixing-and-mingling in the process. We hope to see everyone there!

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Just for Kicks!

 Mention “kickball” to someone in casual conversation, and you’ll immediately conjure up memories of elementary school playgrounds, big red rubber balls, and frantic whispers of “back up…back up – this guy’s really good!” 
 IMAGE: Kickball Cartoon
“Kickball is one of those universal childhood experiences that almost everyone can relate to, no matter when or where they went to school,” explained Sarah Maxwell, a member of the WBNA Environmental Committee who is leading the charge to launch the city’s first neighborhood kickball league here in West Bucktown this summer. “Kickball is a low-key sport we can all rally around. It’s a fun way to get people outside to meet their neighbors, and a great way to promote social camaraderie and friendly rivalries throughout West Bucktown.” 
 
Here’s how the league will work:

Beginning June 30th, kickball games pitting the streets of West Bucktown against each other will be held in Maplewood Park every Wednesday night at 6:30. This is non-competitive kickball, so no worries if you were always the last one picked for the team in grade school – in this league, everyone is a star!  The WBNA will provide the tunes, everyone brings their own beverages and grub, and the Chicago Parks District will hook us up with bases and a game ball (as well as waive its usual fees for league play). 
 
“The Environmental Committee is about more than just the greening of West Bucktown,” Sarah emphasized. “We’re also committed to bringing residents together to enjoy the terrific green space available to all of us at Maplewood and Lucy Flower Parks. Our hope is that these kickball games will give us a nostalgic, lighthearted way to bring a little fun and a sense of team spirit to the neighborhood.”
 
Everyone is welcome to participate in the kickball tournament – see below for the game roster. Even on the nights your street isn’t scheduled to play, we encourage you to stop by, hang out, and cheer on some new friends. No advance registration is required – just show up with your sneakers and game face on!

June 30               Rockwell vs. Cortland
July 7                   Artesian/Wabansia vs. Moffat/California
July 14                 Homer/Bloomingdale vs. Campbell/Washtenaw
July 21                 Fairfield/Maplewood vs. Talman/North/Western/Armitage
July 28                 Semi-finals
Aug 4                   Semi-finals
Aug 11                 Finals

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On the Scene at the Clean & Green
It was a cool spring morning, but the chilly temperatures did nothing to dampen the spirits of the nearly 100 West Bucktowners who participated in the WBNA Clean & Green on April 17th. Organized by the WBNA Environmental Committee, in partnership with the Maplewood & Lucy Flower Parks Advisory Council (MLFPAC), the Chicago Parks District and the 1st Ward Alderman’s Office, the event drew an unprecedented number of volunteers – one of the largest turnouts in the city.
 IMAGE: Clean & Green Volunteer
Sporting green T-shirts and armed with rakes, brooms and trash bags, volunteers fanned out across the streets of West Bucktown to give the neighborhood a thorough spring cleaning. As they picked up trash, shoveled dirt, and planted flowers in Maplewood and Lucy Flower parks, they also met their neighbors, made new friends and shared a few laughs along the way. 
 
“I joined the WBNA because I’m a firm believer that the future of our neighborhood is in our hands,” said Ryan van Wyk, an Environmental Committee member who worked with Whitney Kreutzer, Felicia Lyon, Kathi Pruett and Victor Quintanilla to organize the successful event. “The Clean & Green was a great way for us to mobilize like-minded neighbors to address the greening of our two parks, as well as cleaning up the streets we all walk every day. The difference was both immediate and striking, and plans are already underway to repeat the event in August.”
 
The Clean & Green is just one of many social initiatives being planned this year to promote the greening of West Bucktown. To find out how you can help our neighborhood go green, send us an email at environmental@westbucktown.org

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Movies in the Park: Madagascar 2 
 
All West Bucktowners are reminded to stop by Maplewood Park on Friday, June 18 at dusk for a special showing of Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa. This feature movie presentation is part of the Chicago Parks District's "Movies In the Park" series. So grab the kids and a few friends and head on over around 8:30...it promises to be a fun time for all!

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The next issue of the WindowBox is tentatively scheduled for distribution in early August. If you have a story idea or would like to contribute an article, please email us at windowbox@westbucktown.org.


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