In the Frunchroom: Madeline O’Malley

Our next reader for this month’s Frunchroom is Madeline O’Malley.

Madeline is a teacher, a mother, a storyteller and a comedian. She has spent the past 20 years in Chicago Public Schools entertaining the toughest of crowds: teenagers.

Madeline performs in standup showcases, Fringe festivals and storytelling events in the city and suburbs. Madeline’s wit and sense of humor will entertain audiences from all walks of life.

A resident of Beverly, Madeline will tell a story about dating gone wrong that she calls “Tethered.”

RSVP on Facebook here

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In the Frunchroom: Lisa Colleen

The next reader for this Thursday’s Frunchroom show is Lisa Colleen.

Lisa is a lover of stories. As a mom, grandma, teacher and coach, she has an endless supply of material and seldom makes it through one story without interrupting herself with another.

She produces Inspired Live Lit in Lockport on the first Tuesday of the month. Lisa is grateful to witness and experience the magical way each story connects, heals and inspires.

The head of the women’s cross country and track coach at Saint Xavier University, Lisa lives in the South Loop and will read a story about what it’s like for a coach to feel like the one who’s getting coached.

See Lisa and all our readers at The Frunchroom this Thursday, January 16th.

RSVP on Facebook here


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In the Frunchroom: Jessica Scheller

Next up for this month’s Frunchroom show is Jessica Scheller.

Jessica Scheller is the proud mother of 8-year-old twins Charlotte & Grayson, the dedicated wife of Adam Wiers, and the reluctant owner of a golden retriever named Dave. She and her family have been squatting in a house on South Seeley Avenue for the past 11 years that will forever be known by the name of its previous owners – the Mittendorfs.

Jessica is the newly elected Vice President of Action & Policy on the Executive Board of Illinois NOW. She focuses her volunteer time and energy on galvanizing citizens to action.

She was among the leadership of the ERA Coalition organized to pass the ERA in Illinois in 2018. Jessica also served as an advocate in the Reproductive Health Coalitions which were responsible for passing HB40 in 2018 and the Reproductive Health Act in 2019.

She recently formed and Co-Chairs a committee with advocates in the gun violence prevention community to organize around legislation restricting the possession of semi-automatic assault rifles, large-capacity magazines and the associated accessories in Illinois.

Jessica believes in the extraordinary power of the citizen who is engaged and is convinced that the identity of the spokesperson of any grassroots effort is far less important than that of the keeper of the spreadsheet.

She is the Co-Founder of Women’s March Chicago, NFP, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization and served as the President of the Board of Directors for two years while overseeing three demonstrations in Grant Park in Chicago and one in Springfield. Jessica also Co-Founded MarchOn, NFP, a National 501(c)(4) advocacy organization comprised of leaders of the various women’s marches held around the country in January of 2017 which focuses on coordinating mass-feminist demonstrations.

Jessica serves on the Board of Directors for Chicago NOW as its Vice President. Through CNOW, she focuses her advocacy efforts on promoting economic equity for women in the workplace, boosting women to positions of political power, increasing reproductive justice, ending domestic abuse and increasing public safety.

In her professional life, Jessica is the Chief of a major Civil Litigation Division in a public office. During her legal career in public service, she has successfully defended against challenges to Illinois’ Campaign Finance Reform Statute and the Cook County Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban.

For this month’s show, Jessica will talk about her work in activism. See her and the rest of our readers this Thursday, January 16th at Beverly Arts Center.

RSVP on Facebook here

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In the Frunchroom: Ada Cheng

It’s time to get to know the readers for our next show this Thursday at Beverly Arts Center. First up is Ada Cheng.

Ada is a professor-turned-storyteller, solo performer, and storytelling show producer. She has been featured at storytelling shows and done her two solo performances all over the country. She is the producer and the host of four storytelling shows, including Pour One Out, Am I Man Enough?, Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, and Speaking Truths Series. She creates platforms for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories as well as spaces for people and communities who may not have opportunities otherwise. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell.

A professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Ada lives in Avondale and will be reading a piece about immigration. See Ada and the rest of our readers this Thursday night.

RSVP on Facebook here

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The Frunchroom, Vol. XX: Twenty to start 2020 edition

Did the organizers of The Frunchroom intend to start 2020 with its 20th show? Nope. But as luck and the calendar would have it, that’s exactly what happened with five new storytellers to warm up your winter.

theFrunchroom-volXX-Jan2020The Beverly Area Arts Alliance presents:

The Frunchroom, Volume XX

Sponsored by: Beverly Arts Center

Thursday, January 16th
Beverly Arts Center,  2407 W. 111th St.

$5 donation requested

Our storytellers:

Ada Cheng
Recovering academic turned hopeful artist

Lisa Colleen
Lover of stories 

Tonika Johnson
Creator, Folded Map Project

Madeline O’Malley
Southside transplant, comedian, #BeverlyFamous mom 

Jessica Scheller
Mom, wife, neighbor, undercover revolutionary  

Hosted by: Scott Smith

Visit for more information on the Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

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Podcast: Vol. 9, The 2nd Anniversary Shows; Parts I and II (plus show notes)


Subscribe to The Frunchroom podcast in iTunes here

It’s the next two episodes of The Frunchroom podcast…18 months later. You can listen to the podcast for an explanation of why it’s been so long. Together they make up Volume 9 of The Frunchroom.

These are our 2nd anniversary shows from April 2017.

Our readers are (their descriptions reflect their lives at the time of their reading):


Ayana Contreras
Radio host/producer, DJ and writer

Rodney Walker
Author, educator, South Side native

Tom Cramer
Blogger, 70s kid, craft beer geek, native South Sider

Daniel Kay Hertz
Writer, reader, mapper, spreadsheeter

Sue Sadlowski Garza
Alderwoman 10th Ward, CPS Counselor, Progressive Activist, Grandma


Jahmal Cole
Founder of My Block, My Hood, My City

Kim Bellware
Huffington Post reporter, bike adventurer and full-city wanderer

Lendon Sadler
Activist & actor; performer, raconteur, unabashed lover

Bridget Gainer
Part-time pol, full-time Chicagoan, reader, mother & dual citizen 

Kevin Coval
Poet; community builder; artistic director, Young Chicago Authors

Our next Frunchroom live show is on Thursday, January 16th at Beverly Arts Center at 730pm. Details to follow, but click here to RSVP for the event on Facebook.

Night One:

Night Two:



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Everything you need to know about The Frunchroom, Vol. 19

Another Art Walk Week is upon us and with it comes a Tuesday Frunchroom – on September 17th.

We’re also welcoming Bookie’s back for some pre-and-post-show book sales. They’ll be selling copies of The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook and other books by Frunchroom readers, including Soulless, The Case Against R. Kelly, How To Speak Midwestern, A Few Red Drops, and more.

Here are our storytellers:

Veronica Arreola
Professional feminist, rookie rock climber

Lee Bey
Author, photographer, Sam Cooke fanatic

Karen Clanton
Owning my story, stepping into my voice

Don Hayner
Author, editor, South sider

Evelyn Venegas
Realistic, always keeping it real

What’s the time? And where?
730pm. But show up to the Beverly Arts Center (2407 W. 111th St.) by 7-715pm to guarantee yourself a seat, chat with friends, get a drink from the bar, check out the art, and settle in. We usually close the balcony at BAC to keep things a bit more intimate and cozy unless the crowd size demands it.

Wait, there’s art?
Yes! It’s Art Walk Week! Arrive early to preview two Beverly Art Walk exhibitions from St. Xavier University and the Beverly Arts Center’s Drawn to Humor: National Cartoonist Society.

Where do I park?
Beverly Arts Center has parking just west of the building and another lot on the south.

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?
Places nearby include Manzo’s Burgers and Waldo Cooney’s Pizza on 111th Street and AmericanosOpen Outcry Brewing and Horse Thief Hollow on Western Avenue.

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, Lizzy Benner, Chris Castaneda, Corinne Rose and Cicely Harris who’ve given this event material, financial and moral support. And a huge thanks to Beverly Arts Center for sponsoring the show.

See you there!

The Frunchroom is presented by The Beverly Area Arts Alliance and sponsored by Beverly Arts Center. 

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In the Frunchroom: Evelyn Venegas

Evelyn Venegas Cuzco, is the Family Support Network Coordinator at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). In her current role, Ms. Venegas oversees the family support network hotline and conducts training and presentations about current immigration issues and policy.

Evelyn was born in Quito, Ecuador. She grew up in the north side of Chicago in the neighborhood of Irving Park. Ms. Venegas earned a B.A in Political Science with a focus in urban studies and a minor in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before joining ICIRR, Ms. Venegas served as a youth leader at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, focusing on immigrant trauma in DACA youth. In her previous role, she also helped pass Online Voter Registration and Election Day Registration while a Democracy Corp fellow at Chicago Votes.

Evelyn enjoys helping her community on her free time, she volunteers to help Legal Permanent Residents fill out their citizenship application at Erie Neighborhood House.

Join Evelyn as we kick off Beverly Art Walk Week with the next Frunchroom this Tuesday at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center. A $5 donation is requested, which goes to fund more Beverly Area Arts Alliance events.

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In the Frunchroom: Lee Bey

Lee Bey is a photographer, writer, lecturer and consultant whose work deals in the documentation and interpretation of the built environment—and the often complex political, social and racial forces that shape spaces and places.

His architectural photography has appeared in magazines such as the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Chicago Architect, Architect, Old House Journal, CITE, and in international design publications such as Bauwelt, and Modulør, both published in Germany.

A former Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic, Bey’s writing and reporting on architecture and urban design have been featured in Architect, Chicago magazine, Architectural Record, the Houston Chronicle, Crain’s Chicago Business, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, Fox News Chicago, Guardian Cities, Monocle Radio, and CBS2 News Chicago.

A resident of Pullman, Bey is the author of Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side, a forthcoming book that showcases his writing and photography.

Bey, who served as deputy chief of staff for architecture and urban planning under former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, is also a sought-after expert on architecture, architectural history and the development of cities.

Join Lee as we kick off Beverly Art Walk Week with the next Frunchroom this Tuesday at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center. A $5 donation is requested, which goes to fund more Beverly Area Arts Alliance events.

RSVP on Facebook here

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In the Frunchroom: Don Hayner

Storytelling is often about documenting the world around us. One of the readers at this week’s Frunchroom knows all about that.

Don Hayner is the retired editor in chief of the Chicago Sun-Times where he managed and directed coverage of a broad range of urban issues. Hayner managed a staff of up to several hundred with responsibility for all departments as managing editor and editor in chief.

He earlier worked as a general assignment reporter, a feature writer and business reporter. During his tenure as editor and managing editor the Sun-Times won multiple general news and investigative reporting awards including the George Polk Award for local reporting (2004) and a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 2011.

He also co-hosted a Saturday morning talk show with Tom McNamee on WLS radio (890). He was co-author with McNamee of three books: Streetwise Chicago, A History of Chicago Street Names, The Metro Chicago Almanac: Fascinating Facts and Offbeat Offerings about the Windy City, and The Stadium: 1929-1994, The Official Commemorative History of the Chicago Stadium.

Hayner recently finished Binga: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black Banker, which will be published by Northwestern University Press this fall. He’ll read an excerpt from Binga at The Frunchroom.

Join Don as we kick off Beverly Art Walk Week with the next Frunchroom this Tuesday at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center. A $5 donation is requested, which goes to fund more Beverly Area Arts Alliance events.

RSVP on Facebook here

Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

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