Online Journalism: Fall 2010


Just another site

New News | New Communities: step one

Today in class we introduced the New News | New Communities project.

You received a handout that outlined the expectations for your work for next week. Please use the comments of this post to paste your final reports in (bring contact info for your sources to class–DO NOT INCLUDE IN THE COMMENTS).


Filed under: Homework

14 Responses

  1. Isis Nicole says:

    Isis Marshall
    Online Journalism
    New News/ New Communities

    First off, I have to say how much I am enjoying this class. This is the first class throughout my college career at Columbia College Chicago where I’m actually generating ideas and working as a team that benefits what I want to do personally and academically so thank you for this opportunity.

    I wasn’t having a problem thinking up ideas for a website until I started to consider concepts, longevity, and relevance based on discussions. I’m not entirely sure what people need. Maybe it’s because the people I chose to interview were kind of clueless themselves, or perhaps it had something more to do with comfort in their own interest. But there was a breakthrough! After conversations about wanting to have a website that could direct people to the hottest parties in the city, and lurking and twerking on Facebook, I finally got to slide in my idea. Places to get nails done. Most people like to pamper themselves and look nice especially before going out. Why not have a site that can show anyone who’s interested where to get their nails done. It’s less expensive than hair and only takes 10-15 minutes to be done.

    So my concept is NailsDidChicago. I will find areas around South Loop/ Downtown Chicago (and even a few shops off redline Belmont stop) that cater to nails: minx, 3-D, gel, acrylic, and customs.
    I want to interview
    -the owners to give some history or “herstory” of the nail shop,
    – a willing customer who’s nails are done for a lookbook purpose
    – and the artist for a profile and more “real life” feel to the website

    I don’t know of any websites that act exclusively as a nails directory and this site would fulfill that need. I love interviewing and people love to be interviewed. This could potentially bring in more business and branch off into news concerning beauty/cosmetics/ hygiene/ and art.

  2. I propose to create a website about gluten free Chicago. Our city is filled with resources, events and food for people with Celiac Disease; the only problem is there is no convenient way to access this information. In the two years I’ve been gluten free and living in the Chicagoland area, I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours pouring over Google search pages trying to find a place to get gluten free pizza in the South Loop or the best gluten free cupcake on the North Side. The information is there, but it is unorganized, ungrouped and unhelpful. My website would compile this information into one place so people that are restricted to a gluten free diet in this city wouldn’t have to search a vast array of forums, blogs and news clippings to find what they want. It would list and link to events, restaurants, grocery stores, meetings, support groups, blogs and important gluten free resources like the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. We could also feature recipes, bloggers, new restaurants to join the gluten free team etc.
    I know this is a real need because I am a part of my target audience. I’ve wanted this website ever since I was diagnosed and I know others do to. This week I interviewed two students with Celiac Disease, Betsy Thompson who runs the most comprehensive gluten free blog in Chicago, Gluten Free Betsy, Jennifer Cafferty who is the founder of the Gluten Free Cooking Expo in Chicago and president of an excellent website called Gluten Free Life with Jen and Pam Rose at Swirlz Cupcakes. I interviewed the students because they are just normal people who struggle with eating gluten free in Chicago. I think they know best what kind of information they need because it’s what they’re not getting. Amanda, a student from DePaul, said she would love the website to break up gluten free restaurants into two groups. One group would be for restaurants that actually have a specific gluten free menu and the other is for restaurants that just alter their current menu items to be gluten free.
    Both Betsy and Jen, whom I consider experts on this topic, replied to my idea with great enthusiasm. Jen’s website is a great resource for recipes, expo events and links to news articles and videos about Celiac Disease, but it is not Chicago specific. In her interview she told me she has been thinking of creating a site exactly like the one I described to her, because so many of her followers have requested it. She said, many people say they will read about gluten free events after they happen, but they don’t know where to find out about them ahead of time. Betsy also said she had always wanted to do something similar. Her blog and others like hers offer great information but it still isn’t as Chicago specific or as enveloping as I would like mine to be. Pam, who’s bakery offers daily gluten free cupcakes, also loved the idea because she believes it would make more that never knew they could get a gluten free cupcake in Lakeview. She also suggest dividing the website up into neighborhoods and suburbs.
    A comprehensive gluten free site focused on Chicago would be a useful tool for people who don’t know where else to go and don’t have the time to sift through a bunch of searches. It would incorporate the information that is already available by putting it in one place and adding links and would divide the data into easy to use sections. A website like this is needed and I think many people would look to it as a gluten free guide to living in the city.

  3. Susanne says:

    Throughout the week, I came up with several different communities that are in need of a news based website. However, the idea that kept coming back to me was an idea from a previous class that was never fully developed. This is the community of student journalists.

    As students, we are always writing articles, interviewing sources and practicing for the “real world” of journalism. But how do we break into that world? Are we not already professional journalists? At this point in my senior year career as a student, I feel that the work I am producing for class now is at a publishable level.

    And it seems that my fellow journalism students agree. In most of my surveys, students say they are actively blogging on journalism topics and some consider this to be an online portfolio. Other students say that they would like to pitch articles they write for class, but most of the time they just end up forgetting about it or not following through. They keep up to date with the professional world by reading blogs, online publications and through department e-mails. All students said they would be interested in a website that would allow them to display their work and socially connect with other students and professionals.

    Based on these results, I propose to develop a website devoted to student journalists. Each student would have his or her own portfolio of stories as well as a professional profile – a tool that would be perfect to show prospective employers. This website would also allow students to communicate with each other. If two students are writing stories on similar topics, perhaps they can share information or suggest reputable sources.

    Unlike Chicago Talks, this website would be much more personalized with student profiles and social tools (like internship postings catered to each student’s interests, recommended stories by other students, etc.).
    This website would be accessible to the open public, and would be a great hunting ground for publications seeking free lance work or new employees.

  4. Susanne says:

    Survey insights:
    As mentioned above, most students say that they blog and read other blogs of major publications to stay in the loop of the journalism world. Out of the six students surveyed, only two have actually tried to pitch articles written for class – while almost all of those surveyed said that they would like to – but that they either don’t get around to it or don’t feel that their work is at a professional level. All students said they would use a website that functioned as an online portfolio and would be seen by professionals.

  5. Frank says:

    Alright, ever since this assignment was handed out, I had a clear audience I wanted to target. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts for those not familiar with the term) has been one of the fastest rising sports over the last few years. I myself have been watching it for about a decade. Now, one of the big problems is that on a local level it becomes much harder to learn about the fighters and events. I have seen only one website that focuses on this, and while is pretty damned comprehensive, I think it’s trying to do too much at once. I think the concept can be focused much more.

    One person I talked to, Ryan Franson of Tinley Park, loves the sport. He admits to not knowing much about events outside of UFC however (UFC being the biggest fight promoter so far). This to me showed the essential problem: fans of the sport who don’t know how much of it is going on in their own city.

    I talked with a few other people who generally gave the same statements.

    Now the real idea came about when I talked with Tim Sutarik. He said that what he liked most about MMA was actually a TV show called Ultimate Fighter, which is at the core a reality show following a group of fighters trying to make it to the pro leagues.

    This got me thinking about how hard it is to find information about local fighters. Yeah there’s big names like Brett Rogers and Stephan Bonnar that every fan of the sport knows, but what about the multitude of people fighting in the smaller leagues, or even the people still fighting as amateurs? is really hard to navigate for this information because it tries to follow anything MMA-related that even passes through Chicago. f

    So in a nutshell, my idea is to create a focused data base of the MMA fighters that live in Chicago. Their fight records, their personal thoughts, and their upcoming fights (and the outcomes if we can follow them). I’ll admit that I myself don’t know everything there is about the Chicago MMA scene, but I do know there are plenty of gyms in the heart of the city and in the surrounding suburbs. I think that would be a great place to start.

  6. For my website I will make a center for modeling, acting, and music information in Chicago. I will target Chicagoans interested in the entertainment industry. This website will be tailored at getting talents to auditions, and showing them how to do that. I found that there is no universal website to find auditions or what to do at an audition. People that I have talked to are frustrated going to hundreds of sites and coming up empty handed. The website titled talent help Chicago will tailor every need of the actor, singer, and model. For instance with actors the website will provide audition dates for shows whether it be for plays, TV, movie, voice over, or comedy it will have every audition in the Chicago land area. Also with that you can receive audition help with a directory to ask questions and a list of things you need to do. This will be provided with a video lesson on a good audition. For the actor there will also be theater dates and times with every show in Chicago so the talent can go see shows. There will be a spot to find monologues because that is a main focus of many auditions and people have a hard time finding monologues that fit their style or the desired style of the director. The same rules will apply for music and modeling. There will be a facebook page with limited profile page restrictions for the use of website users that want to build connections with others in the industry. The website will also provide addresses and talent companies around the city. Also there will be a spot to place a headshot and a resume for talent agencies to look at with numbers and addresses for good photographers. There is no main source for audition information and it takes hours upon hours to find what you want so this website will be a great source of information. The journalism aspect of the site will be getting information on auditions and dates, as well as collaborating with other companies for information. This website will take a lot of research and time but it is needed. People I interviewed all have ties with the entertainment industry from acting to modeling to music. This is a portal of information that will help all who search for a job in the industry and will give you a good start, and get your foot in the door.

  7. Nick Myers says:

    Nick Myers
    Online Journalism

    New News/New Communities Site Concept

    My idea for a new news community website is for a site that would be a database of all the honorary streets in Chicago. The site would include a history of each person or institution honored and would feature an interactive component wherein users could respond and post comments.

    As it stands, no website exists that compiles this data. In order to create the database, a lot of journalistic work would have to go into compiling the list and doing the research on each honorary name. The defined audience would be two-fold: It is mainly targeted at citizens of Chicago who have an interest in whom or what a street is named for; and it is also a database for local historians and urban sociologists to use. I believe I am not alone in wondering the background on the many honorary street names I see around Chicago, and I think this site would be a useful tool for anyone who has ever wondered the same thing. Since many of the signs honor people or institutions unique to each neighborhood, people in these neighborhoods could use the site to find information specific to where they live and with an interactive comment area, could join an ongoing conversation with others in relating the history behind these signs. For those in Chicago for whom history or social science is a profession, this site would work as a valuable tool in showing who was and/or is an important part of the social fabric of a unique community and the city at large.

    Since the city has not posted such a list and little has been done privately to create a database, this would fill a need for a rich history site that function as a link to one’s neighborhood, it’s past, and character. In my research I found a 2005 article on Gaper’s Block on the topic which included a list of about a dozen honorary street names. The article claimed that it was a big topic among its readers, and I have a feeling if a formal database existed, there would be quite a bit of activity on the site.

    In order to see if the site would be a worthwhile idea, I contacted numerous local people who are historians or work in some capacity within researching Chicago history. I also spoke to some regular folks to see if they would be interested in using such a site.

    I spoke with the Chicago History Museum’s Public Relations Manager Lauren Dolan, who said it was an interesting idea and worth pursuing. She recommended partnering with the city of Chicago or the Chicago History Museum so that there were reliable sources used for the site. That was her only concern.

    I then contacted Lyle Benedict, a librarian in the Municiple Reference department at the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library. He said the website was a good idea and said he believed the Chicago Department of Transportation had the complete list, but said one would likely have to use a FOIA form in order to obtain a copy. He said it would be a lot of information to compile but said the site would be a “useful thing to have.” Benedict said the library started to compile a list but was no longer doing so. He also stated that his department did not get a lot of requests for such information and was not sure how much public interest there would be. He said the honorary naming program was established on December 3rd, 1984 and that aldermen were the ones responsible for assigning the names.

    Tim Samuelson is a cultural historian for the city of Chicago, and thought the website would be an interesting resource since one has yet to be compiled and said a list of the streets would be good. He said many of the people honored were not necessarily famous or easy to find background on as many were simply well-known members of their community. Samuelson said that these honorary street names were a “real Chicago thing” and were unique. He asked to speak off the record on a few topics relating to the naming of the streets.

    I also spoke with two people I knew whom I thought might have an interest in such a site. One was Gabe McDonough who lives off a section of Western Ave. named in honor of the Liberty Bank on the corner of Milwaukee and Western. He said he would definitely look at such a site as he has often been curious about the many honorary signs. I also spoke with Ben Pirani, a bike messenger who said he would probably look at the site. He said he goes by such signs everyday and has always had a big interest in Chicago history. He liked the interactive idea of visitors being able to post comments for the list posts.

    After speaking with these people, I still felt like such a website would be a valuable source and should exist. However, I realized it would be a big project that would require a lot of background research. I was struck by what Dolan said about teaming up with the city or a local historical institution as a way to make the site a reliable, legitimate source. I was a bit worried by Benedict’s comments that information on the honorary streets was not often inquired about in his library department. Beyond the people I spoke with above, I mentioned the idea to other folks in passing and almost always got a positive response. One friend even wondered way such a list did not already exist.

    My final idea for the site remains the same, though I think it may have to move through a few stages. In the beginning, I think a straight list with the names and locations would be good. Then as research is done, descriptions and pictures would be added along with a comment section. I think it has the potential to bring members of various communities together and bring some needed background to the tangible history each sign displays.

  8. Ashley Murphy
    Online Journalism Fall 2010
    October 7, 2010

    Do you try to exercise and eat at least mildly healthy on a weekly basis?

    How do you stay healthy? Explain.

    Do you have a gym membership? Or would you rather workout in natural environments? Why?

    Have you found yourself online to find nutrition and fitness information?

    Do you find Chicago to be an easy area to stay healthy? Explain.

    Would you be interested in a site that caters to fitness and nutrition in areas of Chicago? Why or why not?

    1. I do most times, but with the busy lifestyle I lead it is difficult to do so sometimes.
    2. As far as staying healthy goes, three pretty balanced meals a day and I try to cut out refined sugars after 6 pm, which does and doesn’t work since I have a sweet tooth. I also try to work out a few days week depending on what my work schedule allows. I’ve also been drinking more water than pop lately since its better for you.
    3. I don’t currently have a gym membership. Right now, its mostly because of costs with only working a part time job. I do prefer to work in natural environments though. I like being outdoors when its warm outside. I also think being in a natural environment is just more comfortable than being in a gym where you are surrounded by lots of people.
    4. Definitely have been online. I try to find different things to do workout wise so that I don’t get bored with my routine. I also look for better foods to eat than some of the stuff I currently eat and new meal ideas.
    5. Yes and no. I think yes because of the different restaurant options that we have, but being in a big metropolitan area and being busy plenty has me picking up fast food from time to time, which isn’t really good for me. There’s so many different fast food options too.
    6. I’d be interested. Like I mentioned before, its nice to try different food options and different exercise routines as not to get bored and try something new. Seeing options in the area that I live would be even better.


    1) Yes
    2)By working out and running
    3)I did but rather workout outside and at home because I hate walking or driving to the gym. I save time
    4)Never did and don’t think I will
    5)Yes, because there are a lot of sport activities.
    6)Yes, because I live here and always looking for new hobbies.

    • MATT

    1. I try and xercise at least 3 times a week and eat as best as I can, which is not alway easy

    2. Through exercising regularaly and trying not to eat a lot of fried food

    3. Yes i do have a gym membership

    4. Yes I do look online for fitness information. I look for new workouts and exercises to keep things fresh

    5. yes and no. It is very easy to exercise in the city b/c iof the bike trails and running paths, but it is also hard b/c of al the great restaurants and food the city has to offer

    6. no b/c enough sites already exist for what i need/use
    * RACHEL
    Do you try to exercise and eat at least mildly healthy on a weekly basis?
    I usually try to eat healthy but exercising falls by the wayside. I would like to exercise but have little motivation after the work day.
    How do you stay healthy?
    I usually make a conscious effort to eat healthy at least 5 nights a week. Occasionally, I do palates (sp?) from my living room.
    Do you have a gym membership? Or would you rather workout in natural environments?
    I do not have a gym membership, but I would like one. Exercising from home is better than not working out at all, but I still think going to the gym has many advantages over a home workout. Paying for a gym membership alone gives you more incentive to exercise.
    Have you found yourself online to find nutrition and fitness information?
    Yes, often. I usually google healthy recipes and different “Work out from home” exercises.
    Do you find Chicago to be an easy area to stay healthy?
    I think so. There are a lot of different options when it comes to choosing your gym. In addition to that, there are a lot of dance companies, yoga classes and other physical activities that are fun and healthy. Grocery stores and restaurants have a lot of healthy food choices as well.
    Would you be interested in a site that caters to fitness and nutrition in areas of Chicago?
    Yes. I would be most interested in which healthy restaurants would be best to try or certain deals on yoga or gym places. It would be great to have weekly updates that give advice about easy and cheap ways to stay healthy. Another idea would be to host a meet-up for people who are interested in health and fitness in the Chicago area.

    In a research study performed in January of 2009, Centrum Multi-vitamins and Bert Sperling’s BestPlaces performed a comprehensive “health report card” which reports the 50 healthiest cities in America. When I first saw studies like these coming out, I assumed due to the volume of activity, the largest cities would be at the top. I soon found I was wrong when Chicago ranked as only the 29th healthiest city in America. On top of that, Chicago only ranked 29th due to mental and lifestyle health. As far as activity, exercise and nutritional health, we rank among the least healthy in America.

    During my research process, I chose the demographics of men and women ages 22 to 35, low to medium income with an education. They may or may not have kids, this is not very important because all natural habitats available for exercise can include kids or it can be an individual activity. I chose ages 22 to 35 because with these ages comes a higher understanding of the need for health and exercise. Also, with these demographics comes some sort of education, which may be required to surf around the site. Finally, I am surveying men and women with low to medium income because these are the demographics that can’t afford personal trainers and nutritionists to give them the information. Those are already available for a price online, there is a necessity for free information about health and wellness by a specific city that does not cost a person fifty dollars an hour.

    Through the insights of the people I interviewed I recognized that people with gym memberships tended to think that they already had the necessities available to them. However, the people that enjoyed natural habitats such as parks and hiking trails found it is hard to find unique places in Chicago that does not include heavy traffic to exercise and have physical fun. It seems that most people either already are doing everything they can to stay healthy on a weekly basis or they want to they just can’t find the resources of how to do it IN CHICAGO. For instance, Ally said ,”its nice to try different food options and different exercise routines as not to get bored and try something new. Seeing options in the area that I live would be even better.”

    Therefore, with all of this information, my final idea is to have a website that is directed solely to Chicagoans looking for physical exercise in Chicago natural, free surroundings. There are health and wellness blogs and websites containing some of this information, but none that are all in one place, which Dustin pointed out. The website will contain areas where exercise is fully capable, exercises that can be performed there (keeping it up to date with new ideas posted weekly), success programs FROM CHICAGOANS, recipes, etc. The key is that it will ALL come from Chicagoans and be solely about Chicago. Got to get our ranking up!

  9. Lisa Brown says:

    I proposed a website initially for Magazine students only. It was going to just be a site where they could come and post their clips on. For magazine students, it can prove to be very difficult to find useful options to further your career.

    Finding internships can be really tough. Also, finding good job opportunities can be tough as well.In the past, different classes and different teachers I’ve had, at times it seems they’re not really helpful when it comes to encouraging you.

    In fact, they terrify you with these images of “no jobs” when you graduate. It leaves you feeling helpless and confused. You’re thinking, “so I’m going to graduate and put in all this hard work and still be making the average person’s salary when I leave?” It really serves as a dream killer. One of the students I spoke with,Antoinette Jones, who’s also in magazines had the same complaint. She felt teachers put you down in a way because they don’t get where you’re coming from.

    A Broadcast major, Rishi Madhani felt at times finding decent internships was difficult, depending on what you’re looking for. His needs are knowing where to go to find good information about career options and who to talk to for advice. But he feels once you get some good networking buddies, it can make things easier.

    Leizl Basilio, also a Broadcast major felt students at time found it intimidating to get their work out there in the first place. They don’t know where to go, the Chronicle, Echo, where exactly? Leizl runs her own fashion blog and does webcasts for Metromix currently. I particularly liked doing this interview. She was very upfront and honest. And that really helped push me further towards my final concept.

    Kendra Katzman, another magazine student felt showcasing work and finding good internships was sort of difficult. She felt there were a lot of internship opportunities but they were specific to each student. She feels for magazines there aren’t a lot of internships available. Becoming apart of a blog is her suggestion.

    So each student I spoke with mainly needed the media and Internet to offer helpful information. They all needed an open door to launch their career.

    Thus, that brought me to my final concept. I decided to have a site for ALL journalism majors to post their work, create blogs, network with other students and search for internships. Also, employers at magazines, radio stations, etc can post an ad saying they need a specific person for a job and students can reply to the post. It’s like a “Craig’s List” for journalism students. I feel this will change the future for us. It gives us some hope.

  10. Chelsea says:

    When my roommate and I decided that we wanted to start eating more locally grown, made, and raised foods – we really struggled with where to start. Over time and much research we’ve found some resources, that being said, it’s just that, some resources. There is one website, the Local Beet (Chicago edition) that reaches out to this in some aspects, but it is still a web of a lot of links and some really, really, poor quality blogging. I propose a website to reach out to the actual consumer of local food – something that the everyday person can easily access and navigate. The basic concepts I want to include are a comprehensive list of: farmers markets, year round markets, grocery stores selling local produce, delivery services from local farms, and restaurants serving local food as well. These lists would also be searchable by neighborhood. Community members should be able to comment and post their own tips, deals, favorite spots, etc, to keep conversation relevant and active. This can be an aide to people who are already deep into local eating to reach out to those who are not – and also to newcomers who need to get a foot in the door. There are definitely a lot of people out there who are generally interested in being healthier and more conscious of their food choices. Many of them, however, simply don’t know where to start. This will reach out to the people who put together farmers markets, the people working in the stores who distribute local foods full time, and the farmers themselves who need to reach out to those of us in the city who want to create connections.

  11. Laura Nalin says:

    I want to create a web site geared towards where to find live music in Chicago on different nights of the week. Yes, these exist but the target community would be that of the “jam band” community, in which there is no concise web site that holds this information.

    This genre is kind of broad as far as music goes, but it is definitely a community. Each night of the week there is definitely at least one show, generally free, that a lot of people do know about but then again there are some people that I’ve talked to that are like “Oh I wish I had known that was going on.”

    I would also include different festivals taking place as well as touring shows because it can sometimes be a hassle to try to keep up with all the bands coming in because they’re literally always on tour. I would also include a forum to discuss ticket trades and rides to shows (people generally travel to different states to catch a few shows in a row) that go beyond Craigslist which can often be daunting and complicated to navigate to exactly what you want.

    I talked to a few people within this community that thought it was a great idea and said they would definitely utilize it. They thought a good idea would be to have a calendar that has a drop down list of locations of the venues and band’s music pages in case people didn’t know what they sounded like (although they generally do).

    I’d also like to collaborate with collectives such as The Culture Frequency and Funky Boosters that are a part of the community that promote events and such to reach a larger audience.

  12. The interviews I took were all the same. People get audition information from friends via facebook or twitter and word of mouth. All online websites are payer based and these websites still do not offer the same things that my website would. Entertainment based websites only give you a couple of options either just monologues or just theater times. There is no universal website for entertainment in Chicago.

  13. Kit Sesterhenn says:

    At first, I was sure what I wanted to concentrate on. Then, I was talking to my friend about weekend plans while walking my yorkie. I realized that I had seen bars where dogs are allowed, but did not have much information about them.

    I looked up different websites to try to find out information on Chicago Dog Bars. In researching, I discovered that there are no sites dedicated to this: there are reviews of bars where commenters mention that dogs are welcome and there are a couple dog lover sites in Chicago that just post lists of bars and restaurants. However, nothing with detailed information or ways for groups of people to get involved.

    I spoke briefly with a couple employees at a few different bars: Toya at Clark Street Ale House; Sarah at Cody’s Public House; and Tony at The Corner. I tried cold calling Four Treys Tavern, Lizard’s Liquid Lounge, and Ten Cat Tavern, as I didn’t have a chance to visit.

    There are a lot more bars that I’ve come across in my research. I also discovered a meet-up group on the web where they do a pub crawl with dogs, but there is nothing official: you just post if you want to come with .

    I spike with Christ at Chicago Dog Club, and I’m still waiting back from a rep from the Chicago chapter of the Kennel Club.

  14. Stephanie A. Caspelich says:

    My initial site concept was rooted in the practice of urban agriculture and the dissemination of information about existing urban gardens or farms in Chicago. Urban agriculture is the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities. My first thought was that this site could help introduce and link the different resources available for seasoned gardeners and potential food growers. It could be a place where people network and share techniques on urban gardening, share stories of their experiences in urban agriculture and how it has affected their lives, and maybe even have video demonstrations on the logistics of starting and maintaining an urban garden or farm. The site would be news-based, reporting and featuring the latest innovations in local urban agriculture.

    But then I got to think about food and how city dwellers relate to it. No one really knows where their food comes from and the sad thing is nobody cares. For some people in Chicago, the best food source they have is a supermarket. Most people, though, do not even have that. And that is when I started thinking of urban agriculture as a way to address the lack of nutritious food sources in the city. Food deserts are neighborhoods with no or distant grocery stores but an abundance of fast food restaurants and other retail outlets offering little or no nutritious food. According to a study conducted by Mari Gallagher, there are 23 neighborhoods on the West Side and South Side of Chicago considered to be food deserts.

    Based on information retrieved from existing urban gardens and farms, urban agriculture educators and residents, I decided to come up with an urban agriculture site that would target communities in Chicago’s “food deserts.” The site would still incorporate training and resources for everyone interested in urban agriculture (e.g. links to websites of existing gardens, blogs on urban agriculture, articles or sources of scientific information on farming, etc…), but I would also address the basic startup needs of underserved community members by putting up a message board or link for people to share gardening tools in order to start an urban garden or farm, connecting land owners with gardeners and farmers in the community and adding networking features where people in the community can connect and help each other out with ongoing garden or farming projects.

    The targeted audience in Chicago’s “food deserts” would be experienced urban farmers or gardeners, local advisory councils, community organizations, churches, local officials (e.g. alderman, neighborhood leaders, etc…), community activists and people who are generally interested in farming, gardening and learning about sustainable sources of nutritious food.

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