Everything you need to know about tonight’s Frunchroom show

Epicurean Mandala by Mathias "Spider" Schergen

Epicurean Mandalla by Mathias “Spider” Schergen

Whether you’re a longtime fan or attending for the first time, we think there will be something for you at tonight’s Frunchroom show: 730pm at Beverly Woods Restaurant.

South Side Weekly named us one of the Best of the South Side and with each edition, we think you’ll see why.

Here’s everything you need to know. Even if you’ve been to The Frunchroom before, there’s new info here for you like the artist whose work you’ll see and details on our craft cocktails.

Who are the readers?

Amara Enyia
Policy wonk, Globetrotter, Athlete, Systems-thinker, Risk-taker

Cole Lavalais
Writer, Teacher, Director of Chicago Writers Studio

Kathleen Leahy
Educator, Writer, Intersectional Feminist, Occasional Bartender

Lyletta Robinson
Hoosier by birth, South Sider by choice

Nareman Taha
Co-director/founder, Arab-American Family Services

Ernest Wilkins
Cultural Anthropologist, Writer

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 and settle in. We always pack the room and standing room only is a possibility.

Where’s the place?
Beverly Woods Restaurant (11532 S. Western Ave.) in the Caravan Room.

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?

Mandalla Study by Mathias “Spider” Schergen

Our resident artist for this edition of The Frunchroom is Mathias “Spider” Schergen. You can see his work in the photos at left and above. Spider is a retired Golden Apple art teacher that taught at Jenner Academy of the Arts for 30 years. He makes assemblage and collage out of found objects and detritus. For more on him, read this article from Mary Schmich, who wrote about him when he retired a few years ago (and explains how het got the nickname Spider.

Where do I park?
Beverly Woods has parking. Park in the north lot and you’ll be closest to the entrance for the show. But again, earlier is better as if there is another event there that night the lots may fill up.

How do I get there via transit?
It’s a 15-20 walk from Metra’s 1115th St. stop on the Rock Island Line which departs from the LaSalle Street Station in the Loop. Or you can take the Western Avenue CTA bus (note to North Siders: this is a reaaaaally long ride) to the Pace 349. Or a ride-share option.

Where can I eat?
We will have some light apps for sale for $5. Get there early and you can eat in Beverly Woods’s restaurant area (try their famous rolls). Snapper’s is right next door for some fast-food fish and Lumes Pancake House is across the street. For more nearby restaurants, there’s this list from Yelp.

You mentioned drinks?
Beer, wine and liquor will be available at the cash bar. Also, Lizzy Benner of Horse Thief Hollow will mix up a surprise concoction. The post-Frunchroom festivities will continue in McGann’s Pub inside Beverly Woods.

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 the McGann family and Beverly Woods for hosting us. (You can thank them by purchasing beverages and tipping profusely.)

And, of course, huge thanks to all our readers and, in advance, to you for coming.

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In the Frunchroom: Nareman Taha

Many of you undoubtedly saw news coverage of Palos Township trustee Sharon Brannigan’s anti-Muslim statements and the subsequent protest and calls for her resignation. One of the women who helped lead this protest will join us at The Frunchroom this Thursday and talk about her life as a native South Sider who built a social service agency that serves Arab Americans in the surrounding area. We’re very honored to host Nareman Taha, co-director and co-founder of Arab American Family Services. (Her fellow director and founder Itedal Shalabi was originally scheduled to appear, but is now unable to make it.)

In 2001, Nareman Taha and Itedal Shalabi co-founded Arab American Family Services (AAFS). AAFS is among the first leading social service organizations in the Southwest suburbs established to serve and advocate for Arab Americans within the Chicago land area. Located strategically in Bridgeview, Illinois, AAFS’s mission to change and impact the quality of life by serving and building stronger and healthier generations of Arab Americans in our communities has created a profound impact on the lives of thousands of individuals and families.

Nareman and Itedal took the office from a non-existent budget to a budget close to $1,010,000 last year alone. Under their leadership and management, in 2016 AAFS saw 8,333 families, impacting over 29,192 individuals.

They have been recognized for their leadership and dedication to the agency and community. Under their leadership, AAFS has received several awards for outstanding community service, taking AAFS from a tw-staff agency to 28 staff, one Fellow, and six interns in past fifteen years.

Nareman Taha oversees and works within the various areas of administration, management, advocacy, community service, fund raising and development to improve and provide quality life to underserved and underrepresented Arab Americans and immigrant families and individuals. As a community catalyst, Nareman devotedly coordinates the agency’s efforts to identify and eradicate barriers to the participation of Arab/Muslim based/community groups in accessing services.

Nareman Taha is a highly accomplished, passionate and motivated public service leader. She has a broad background in community development and social service delivery at the local, state and federal levels, as well as extensive experience in community affairs. Nareman is a firm advocate in developing, educating, empowering smart and strategic giving within the community. By helping advance the cause of philanthropy in the Chicago land area; Nareman has driven the proliferation of non- profit philanthropic contributions within the community.

Nareman received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 1999. In 2006 she graduated with a Master’s of Science in Public Services Management from DePaul University. She serves on a number of boards both local and national.

Join Nareman and the rest of our readers at The Frunchroom at Beverly Woods at 730pm tonight.

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In the Frunchroom: Ernest Wilkins

As longtime Frunchroom attendees know, we like to bring a variety of experiences, neighborhoods and points of view into our conversations about the South Side. Luckily, we have a cultural anthropologist to help us with that this week.

Ernest Wilkins is a writer and cultural anthropologist. That means he equally studies the history of cities and what people in them eat and dance to. He’s written for national publications like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, GQ, Complex and Deadspin and locally worked as a music reporter for RedEye Chicago and the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Wilkins a resident of Humboldt Park, will read an essay on Chicago’s hidden gem, the sweet steak sandwich.

See him and our other readers this Thursday at 730pm at Beverly Woods.

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In the Frunchroom: Lyletta Robinson

A fixture of conversations about Woodlawn, we are so very excited to welcome Lyletta Robinson to The Frunchroom this Thursday.

Since 2005, Lyletta has authored the ChicagoNow blog “I Hate My Developer” which discusses a mixture of Woodlawn neighborhood issues, personal and unemployment stories along with South Side observations. She sees beauty and foolishness everyday – some of it just happens to gets written down. Most people are surprised to discover that she’s an opinionated woman with a gardening problem.

Keep up with her shenanigans on her blog’s Facebook page or on Twitter @WoodlawnWonder and join her this Thursday where she’ll be reading about the Obama Library and its effects on the surrounding neighborhood.

See you at Beverly Woods at 730pm.

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In the Frunchroom: Kathleen Leahy

We try to represent as much of the South Side as we can at The Frunchroom. Our next reader is someone has experience with various parts of that area.

Kathleen Leahy is a native South Sider, growing up off the Rock Island in Tinley Park, now stationed in Pilsen. She defected a few times – first to Loyola University in Rogers Park, then for a stint in Charleston, South Carolina where she taught for three years in Title I schools.

After obtaining a Master’s degree in Education from Francis Marion University, she gratefully returned to Chicago for a teaching position in Roseland. Her writing tends to focus on mental health, class mobility, and Midwestern family dynamics. Expect her to reference her Irish Catholic “tribe” at least once during her reading for the Frunchroom, which will be a personal, non-fiction essay on leaving and returning.

See Kathleen and the rest of our readers at the Frunchroom this Thursday at 730pm at Beverly Woods.

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In the Frunchroom: Amara Enyia

Our July show has snuck up on us a bit. It’s Thursday! So we’ve got only four days to get to know our readers, starting with Dr. Amara Enyia.

Dr. Amara Enyia is a Public Policy expert on city and state policy as well as international affairs/foreign policy with expertise in Central Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. She writes extensively on issues of education, economic development, fiscal policy and systems thinking.

Dr. Enyia is a public policy consultant. She received her M.Ed., JD and PhD from the University of Illinois-Urbana. In addition to her consulting work, Dr. Enyia serves as the President of Blue 1647, an entrepreneurship and technology innovation center. She is also the Executive Director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce and serves as Policy Director for the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

Dr. Enyia, a resident of Garfield Park, will read a piece of improvised non-fiction. See her and six other readers this Thursday at 730pm at Beverly Woods.

Click here to RSVP on Facebook for a reminder about the event.

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In the Frunchroom: Cole Lavalais

We feature many writers at The Frunchroom. But at our next show this Thursday, we have someone who’s not only a writer, but a woman who’s created a place to help other writers excel, too.

Cole Lavalais is a Chicago native who has called Beverly home for the last twenty years. Her short stories have appeared in a lot of different journals and anthologies you’ve probably never heard of, and her first novel, Summer of the Cicadas, debuted in May of last year.

She holds a M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in creative writing, and is the founder/director of the Beverly-based Chicago Writers Studio. And she’s accomplished all of this standing proudly on the shoulders of a south side Chicago Public School education.

Last week on Twitter, Cole said she was working on a “wildly inappropriate” reading. You don’t want to miss that. See you Thursday at Beverly Woods on 730pm.

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