Everything you need to know about The Frunchroom at Beverly Arts Center

With the show moving from Beverly Woods to the Beverly Arts Center, we’re in uncharted territory here, which is to say we’re going to be adjusting on the fly and improv’ing as we go in a new space. But there are a few things we know for sure:

Who are the readers?

Tina Jenkins Bell
Writer, President of FLOW, Educator, and MOB

Parneshia Jones  
Author, poet, editor, Chicagoan

Troy LaRaviere 
Kay’s son, Zahran’s father, Your brother

Francine McKenna  
Writer, reader, teacher, traveler

Marisa Novara 
Superpower is curiosity

What’s the time?
730pm. But show up by 7-715pm to guarantee yourself a seat, chat with friends, get a drink from the bar, check out the art (see below) and settle in. We’ll close the balcony at BAC to keep things a bit more intimate and cozy.

Where’s the place?
Beverly Arts Center at 2407 W 111th St. (the corner of 111th and Western).

What’s the cost?
We ask for a $5 donation at the door to support the work of the non-profit Beverly Area Arts Alliance, which co-produces the show, sets up the room and coordinates the beautiful art you’ll see in our space.

Wait, there’s art?
Hoo boy, there is.

This is Beverly Art Walk Week in the neighborhood so Beverly Arts Center will have all kinda of things going on in its galleries.

First, there’s the Elevation show in the Simmerling Gallery upstairs.

There will also be work by St. Xavier University students and work from twelve 19th Ward (K-8) schools – including most of the public schools in the ward – curated by their teachers. Morgan Park High and VanderPoel are new additions to the exhibit this year.

Where do I park?
Beverly Arts Center has parking just west of the building.

How do I get there via transit?
Take the Metra Rock Island Line which departs from the LaSalle Street Station in the Loop. Get off at 111th Street. Head west up the hill for about three blocks. The BAC is the big red building on the corner.

Where can I eat?
Waldo Cooney’s is across the street for pizza. Manzo’s is on the other side of Western for burgers. Up the street is Open Outcry Brewing for Neopolitan pizzas and craft beer.

You mentioned drinks?
Beer, wine and liquor will be available at the cash bar before and during the show. The post-Frunchroom festivities will continue at Open Outcry Brewing.

What are the stories like?
Some are sincere, some are tongue-in-cheek. One may be a call-to-action, another might make you think. One might be historical, one might make you remember a place you haven’t been since childhood. Basically, like having a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while. This review from South Side Weekly really captures what we’re about.

Who’s helping you with this?
I’m producing this in partnership with The Beverly Area Arts Alliance (or The Alliance, for short).

A big thanks to Monica Wilczak, Sal Campbell, David Barsotti, Jane Zia, Chris Wilczak and Lizzy Benner who’ve given this event material, financial and moral support. And a huge thanks to Beverly Arts Center for stepping in as a host when we had just a couple weeks to find a new space.

See you there!

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Podcast: Volume 4, plus show notes

It took two-and-a-half-years for the first episode of The Frunchroom podcast to be released. The next came a bit quicker.

Here is Volume 4 of the The Frunchroom from January 21st, 2016 at O’Rourke’s Office on 111th and Western Avenue.

Subscribe to us in iTunes here.

Why is there no Volume 2 or 3? Listen to find out.

The readers are, in order:
James Finn Garner
Humorist, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Rex Koko, Private Clown
Lolly Bowean
Writer
Grace Kuikman
Editor, The Villager; Facilitator, Longwood Writers Guild
Mario Parker
Writer, Bloomberg News
Andrew Huff 
Founder, GapersBlock.com

Some notes related to the show:

If you’re wondering why there’s so much background noise, it’s because there was a Blackhawks game on the TV in the other room at O’Rourke’s Office. (They lost 2-1 that night.)

This is the Google Street View of 111th and Hoyne, one of the places mentioned in James’s story.

Here’s a video of Lolly during her Harvard/Nieman fellowship. Her first article for the Tribune after returning was about “rebranding the South Side” around the Obama Presidential Center and featured Jahmal Cole, another Frunchroom reader.

Here’s the lineup of the live readings at Speakeasy – the demo version of The Frunchroom – including Grace Kuikman. You can see the exterior of The Irish American Center here though I haven’t been able to find a picture of those stairs.

Here’s an article from Mario in the Washington Post with a similar tone to his piece here.

The next Tuesday Funk, hosted by Andrew Huff, happens to coincide with the next Frunchroom, so be sure and attend the next 20X2 Chicago, his other series, on October 20th. The lineup is here. Also, I forgot to mention this in the episode but his references to “this past season” refer to 2015, not the Cubs’ successful World Series run.

Thanks, as always, to ace audio producer Tim Mata for making The Frunchroom podcast sound so good.

Our next episode will be out on November 1st.

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In the Frunchroom: Marisa Novara

As we’ve said, this month’s theme deals with race, identity and segregation. The Metropolitan Planning Council has been looking at these issues all year long with its Cost of Segregation project. So we’re thrilled to have MPC’s vice-president Marisa Novara joining us on Tuesday, October 3rd for our next show.

Marisa joined MPC in 2011. She directs MPC’s housing and community development work, and manages technical assistance and support to communities facing development challenges related to housing, transportation, transit-oriented development and economic development. She designed and manages the multi-year Cost of Segregation project.

Prior to MPC, Marisa spent a year in Milan, Italy, completing her master’s degree in urban planning with a focus on international community development. Her studies were informed by years of work on the ground in Chicago, most recently as the senior project manager for Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. There, she directed more than $30 million in affordable rental and for-sale housing development in the North Lawndale neighborhood. She also worked in community development at the Steans Family Foundation and Carole Robertson Center for Learning.

A Michigan native, Marisa has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in sociology, master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, certificate in affordable housing finance, development and management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and master’s in urban planning from the Istituto Politecnico di Milano, where her master’s thesis explored the role that an intermediary could play in advancing the community development field in northern Italy.

Marisa serves on the Community Development Committee of The Resurrection Project, the board of West Central Association, was a 2014 Marshall Memorial fellow and a 2016 Leadership Greater Chicago fellow. She lives in Little Italy with her husband and two sons.

Join Marisa and the rest of our readers for The Frunchroom this Tuesday at Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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In the Frunchroom: Tina Jenkins Bell

In 2017, Chicagoans of all backgrounds have celebrated the 100th anniversary of Gwendolyn Brooks, our city’s pre-eminent chronicler of African-American life. For our October show, we’re grateful to be joined by some artists who have been influenced by Miss Brooks’s work as they’ve created their own voices.

Tina Jenkins Bell is a fiction writer, playwright, freelance journalist, and literary activist. She lives in North Beverly with her husband, two sons, and neighborhood dog Bella. Recently, her collaborative hybrid fictitious account of Robert Sandifer’s (the young boy who was murdered by his own gang) last hours, entitled “Looking for the Good Boy” was accepted for publication in a Black Lawrence Press anthology.

In January 2017, her short story, “The Last Supper” appeared in Revise the Psalm, an anthology that honors the life and works of Gwendolyn Brooks and has been favorably reviewed by Chicago magazine, New City, and The New York Times.

Tina is currently completing edits on Mud Pies, which is her first novel; an excerpt from it was published in the award-winning Hairtrigger anthology.

Her other stories and prose have appeared in BAC Street Journal, Expressions, and Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review, and Guildworks anthologies. Tina supports the publishing efforts of Pithead Chapel Literary Journal as a reader.

As a freelancer, she has written for the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, and Upscale Magazine among others. As the president of FLOW (For Love of Writing), Ms. Bell creates and collaborates with other writers and organizations to offer literary programming on Chicago’s South Side. She’s also a two-time DCASE Individual Artist Project grant recipient, a two-time Ragdale resident, and a 2015 short story fellow with Colgate University and the Midwest Writer’s Conference.

Tina will read a humorous piece that address the evening’s topic of race and identity. See her and four other readers on Tuesday, October 3rd at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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In the Frunchroom: Parneshia Jones

We’re just a few days away from our next Frunchroom event at Beverly Arts Center. And this month, we are lucky enough to have the incomparable poet Parneshia Jones with us.

Parneshia Jones is the author of Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions), winner of the Midwest Book Award. After studying creative writing at Chicago State University, earning an MFA from Spalding University, and studying publishing at Yale University, Jones has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award.

Named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine, her work has been anthologized in She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney; and featured on PBS Newshour, the Academy of American Poets, and espnW.

A member of the Affrilachian Poets, she serves on the board of Cave Canem and Global Writes. She currently holds positions as Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press.

Parneshia claims Rogers Park and Evanston as home. She’ll be sharing some of her poetry with us on the evening’s topic of race. Join us at 730pm Tuesday, October 3rd at Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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In the Frunchroom: Francine McKenna

As regular Frunchroom fans (Frunchers?) know, we like to pull in readers from near and far to describe a wealth of South Side experiences. Though our next reader is a native South Sider, she’s definitely traveling the longest distance to be at our show this Tuesday at Beverly Arts Center.

Francine McKenna covers financial regulation and legislation as a reporter in Washington, DC, for MarketWatch, a leading online financial news outlet. McKenna’s work is featured frequently in The Wall Street Journal; her reporting and commentary have also been featured in the Financial Times, Accountancy Age, Reuters, Accountancy Magazine, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Booth Review magazine, and various other financial, media, and technology publications. She was named a finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in 2010 in the online commentary and blogging category and in 2013 in the magazine feature category.

Francine also teaches a course in international business as an adjunct professor for the MBA program at American University’s Kogod School of Business. She recently participated in the Journalists in Residence Program at the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, a joint enterprise of economists and legal scholars at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, department of economics, and law school.

Early in her professional life, Francine worked as an accounting manager, financial reporting manager, and controller in private industry. She’s a native of the south side of Chicago and started her career in internal audit at Chicago’s Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust. She has lived and worked in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, and is fluent in Spanish.

In 2006, Francine created the blog re: The Auditors to explore in an independent, objective, and often critical way the role, responsibility, and regulation of the audit and accounting industry in the global capital markets, and in particular, the business of the Big Four audit firms.

Francine says the title of her piece is “Western Avenue Black and Blues: A ballad of boundaries, buses and bars.” Don’t miss her at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center this Tuesday, October 3rd for our special Frunchroom show on race and identity.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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In the Frunchroom: Troy LaRaviere

It’s been a busy month behind-the-scenes of The Frunchroom. First, we launched our podcast. (Expect the next episode very soon.) And then Beverly Woods closed and we had to find another venue.

We’re very glad to say the Beverly Arts Center will host us this Tuesday, October 3rd at 730pm.

This edition – our 11th – will be a little different as we’ll have a unifying theme for all our readers: the topic of race, from segregation to identity to integration. We have five great speakers lined up, including Troy LaRaviere.

Troy LaRaviere has been a student, teacher, principal, and parent at both public and private schools in Chicago. He led the #1 ranked neighborhood school in Chicago (Blaine Elementary). In 2013, after two years of unprecedented student improvement at Blaine, Troy became the first Chicago principal to speak openly about the destructive school policies of Chicago’s mayor and unelected school board.

From 2013 to 2016 he continued to lead his school while launching a one-man assault against City Hall’s intimidation of principals, the failings and abuses of school privatizers, disinvestment in school custodial services, the manipulation of school test score data, the misuse and overuse of standardized testing, fiscal recklessness and incompetence on the part of school district officials, and corrupt school district contracts.

Troy was the first and only CPS employee to speak out publicly against the now infamous Barbara Byrd-Bennett SUPES contract long before it became a national scandal. He has had multiple works published in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Washington Post. In addition, he maintains an education blog that receives between 10,000 and 200,000 views per post.

In 2016 Troy was featured in two campaign ads for presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, one of which was the moving two-minute national TV ad called “America Beyond,” which used Troy’s life story to represent the hope and possibilities of the Sanders campaign.

In February of 2016 he was nominated for the presidency of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA). In an apparent attempt to influence the CPAA election, the mayor’s appointees at CPS abruptly removed Troy from his principal position. However, on May 19, 2016 he won with nearly 70% of the vote. Since assuming the presidency Troy has focused on building a member-driven association that unites principals’ voices to impact state and local policy.

Raised in Bronzeville and now a resident of Beverly, Troy will tell what he describes as “an entirely unbelievable story about my 1986 experience with the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Police Department. Despite its implausibility, it actually happened. Every bit of it.”

Don’t miss The Frunchroom at Tuesday, October 3rd at 730pm at the Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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