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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

  • Help end world hunger
  • Friday, August 06, 2010

    ILLINOIS FOCUS: Blogs, Food Co-ops, Alternative Energy, Groups and Events

    Blogging Illinois:

    Prairie State Blue: Open Source Politics.

    LeftyBlogs Illinois is the place to find out what's happening in the progressive blogosphere across Illinois.

    The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center is a grassroots organization committed to using media production and distribution as tools for promoting social and economic justice in the Champaign County area. We foster the creation and distribution of media, art, and narratives emphasizing underrepresented voices and perspectives and promote empowerment and expression through media and arts education.

    Equality Illinois: The Mission of Equality Illinois is to secure, protect and defend equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Illinois.

    Illinois Democratic Network: Independent grassroots organization of progressives, liberals and moderates promoting an activist democratic agenda in the state of Illinois.

    Find upcoming Democratic events in Illinois from Illinois Dem Net


    The Illinois Democratic Network has many local Yahoo Groups for activists to use for local organizing. Check out their list and sign up for the one covering your area. It is a great way to learn what is going on and to connect with fellow activists in your area. Go to the IDN website and click on your local Yahoo group listed on the right hand side of the screen.

    Equality Illinois First Friday
    Monthly at 6pm on the first Friday
    Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted Street, Chicago
    (21 and over, with I.D.)
    For a $10 donation to Equality Illinois, you receive two drink tickets and a ticket for a door prize drawing. Contributions to this event support the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee.

    Reform Illinois:

    The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform is a non-partisan public interest group that conducts research and advocates reforms to promote public participation in government, address the role of money in politics and encourage integrity, accountability, and transparency in government.

    Here are a bunch of issues briefings they have written

    They have a Sunshine Database showing contribution and expenditure data for politicians.

    SOME PROGRESSIVE CANDIDATES IN ILLINOIS: these are some of the most important fights in Illinois and yet they aren't getting the attention they deserve. This means YOUR vote and YOUR efforts can make a real difference in these races.

    Mariyana Spyropoulos for Water Reclamation District

    From Democracy for America:

    Mariyana Spyropoulos has served on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for six months and has proven to be a smart, honest Commissioner during that time. She's also been one of the District's best progressive voices, working to improve the quality of rivers and groundwater, promote green roofs and educate the public on the benefits of conservation.

    Mariyana's activism, independence and thoughtfulness as Commissioner have been a breath of fresh air on the MWRD and she'll continue to be a progressive leader in the District for years to come.

    Here is Spyropoulos' statement to DFA:


    An attorney with an MBA, Mariyana has been very active in environmental groups. She has served the people of Cook County as a prosecutor at the Cook County State's Attorney Office and as a Hearing Officer for the State of Illinois.


    To help the Water Reclamation District take a leadership role with regards to the envrionment and water. My goals include outreach tot he community to work together on water conservation issues. Also to have the Water Reclamation District use its properties to set the example for sustainbale practices. Finally, with my business and legal background will make sure the citizens of the County are well served with fiscla responsibility and transparency on their side.


    As stated above, my issues are water conservation, the environment and fiscal responsibility.

    Spyropoulos has also been endorsed by the Hellenic American Police Association, Illinois League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Free Press, Ukrainian American Democratic Organization, United Hellenic Voters, and many others.

    This is an important race that you can really make a difference in. Please volunteer for Mariyanna Spyopoulos' campaign if you are in Cook County. If not, please contribute.

    Also in Cook County:

    Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board President

    Again, from Democracy for America:

    Chicago is a machine town, but one candidate for Cook County Board President stands out above the rest as a real reformer: Toni Preckwinkle.

    Toni is in this race to restore the basic principles of good government to the Cook County Board -- Provide the best services possible and do so effectively. These are principles in government all but forgotten by corrupt incumbent Todd Stroger.

    As president, Toni will not only restore these principles, but get to work on solving some of Cook County's biggest problems -- a regressive tax system and broken justice system.

    Here is Toni Preckinkle's statement to DFA:


    After graduating from the University of Chicago over 40 years ago, I made a lifelong commitment to public service. I taught history at local high schools for a decade, ran a non-profit aimed at neighborhood improvement, and took on the political machine which represented the status quo. My first attempts to beat machine-backed politicians failed, but I persevered against the odds until I won the 4th Ward Aldermanic seat 18 years ago.

    As the Committeeman and Alderman representing the 4th Ward, I've prided myself on independence, transparency and accountability - while always striving to improve the quality of life for my constituents. I've rejected the old patronage model of political organization, wherein precinct captains double as city and county employees until and unless they fail to deliver votes for the Machine. As Cook County Board President I will lead by example, with commitment and perseverance to ignite a critically needed change of culture in County government and politics.


    I believe government should uphold two basic principles: provide the best services and do so as effectively as possible. Right now, Cook County government is failing on both accounts. That's why I'm running for Cook County Board President.

    I believe the greatest failure of the current administration is not mismanagement, it's not endemic corruption and it's not the hordes of patronage employees - though these are all serious shortcomings. It is, rather, the current administration's cynical disregard of the wishes, concerns, and fears of the citizens. Over the past eleven months, I have traveled throughout the County, from Palatine to Dolton, from Winnetka to Cicero, and throughout Chicago, speaking with many citizens about our priorities, such as repealing the sales tax increase, making permanent the independent Health Board, and addressing reforms for the overcrowding throughout the County criminal justice system. So far, this race has been too consumed with the "politics" - who's in and who's out. What I have offered is a "compact for change". This isn't just a litany of reforms. This is a new compact between the people of Cook County and its government and it rests squarely on the demands of the citizens. We must address the issues facing the County: the need to fully repeal the sales tax increase and stimulate economic development, the responsibility to make our neighborhoods safe and the drive to improve our health care and criminal justice systems. The full Compact for Change can be found at http://www.tonipreckwinkle.org/page/compact-for-change.

    Eighteen years of service in the City Council has taught me to work well with others and make compromises when necessary to accomplish goals. I was a founding member and leader of the Progressive Caucus in the City Council - a disparate coalition of reform-minded alderman committed to accountability and fairness in Chicago public policy. My political independence has not blinded me to carefully examining public policy. If the Mayor proposed a good idea, I was willing to work with him and the administration. But I have never been deterred from standing up to the administration when I fundamentally disagreed. I opposed Mayor Daley's plan to privatize parking meters and I stood in a small minority when opposing the tax increases in the FY2008 budget. While I have always been honored to serve in a legislative capacity, I believe it's time to put my ideas, principles and political skills to work as an executive. I can't think of an office that is more desperately in need of new leadership than that of President of the Cook County Board.


    Tax Relief

    I'm running for Cook County Board President because I believe government should uphold two basic principles: provide the best services and do so as effectively as possible. Right now, Cook County government is failing on both accounts. First, as Cook County Board President, I will move to repeal the Stroger sales tax increase, and work hard to decrease the overall sales tax - while also bringing down expenses by cutting wasteful spending and eliminating inefficient programs. The County provides too many critical services and opportunities for our community to be stalled by the waste, fraud and abuse of the current Cook County government.

    Rebuilding the Health Care System

    In order to create a solid foundation for a fiscally-sound County health system, I will push for the independent Board of Directors to be made permanent. This is the first step in reducing the political influence that has been detrimental to the efficiency and morale of those health care professionals who work so hard to provide quality care. I will also work to ensure that County health services are as efficient and effective as possible by striving for three basic objectives:
    o Correct extensive waste and duplication in order to end the bureaucratic drain on health care services.
    o Divert mismanaged resources into high-quality preventive care.
    o Pursue cooperative ventures to create a network of specialists.

    Another key challenge we face is that each year, residents of surrounding counties use Stroger Hospital free of charge. It is simply not fair that our residents are paying for their services. I will collaborate with other counties to ensure that those counties using our health resources pay their fair share.

    Reforming Cook County's Chronically Overcrowded Jail

    As Cook County Board President, reforming the criminal justice system must be a priority. Cook County's jail is chronically overcrowded. This reality not only drains our budget, but compromises the safety of Cook County residents, as the Department of Corrections has fewer resources to devote to prosecuting and incarcerating violent criminals. I will expand programs that not only serve as alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, but also provide treatment for addiction, educational classes and life skills training, in order to reduce recidivism and make our county safer. The benefits of this approach are three-fold: 1) easing the overcrowding of our jail; 2) facilitating re-entry and job training; and 3) reducing repeat offenses. Specifically, I will expand the State's Attorney's Drug Abuse Program (SADAP), which provides treatment and drug education to first-time drug offenders. I will also look to expand the State's Attorney's RAP Drug School and Cook County Drug Court, which serve as pre-trial diversions of non-violent drug offenders from jail into drug treatment programs. As current demand for these services exceeds their capacity, their expansion will unclog the County's courts and free up resources that will enable the State's Attorney's office to focus on the prosecution of violent criminals.

    Here is her latest campaign video:

    If you live in Cook County, this is your chance to help clean up Chicago politics. Volunteer for Toni Preckwinkle. Or, if you can, donate.

    Here are some Democracy for America meetups:

    Hanover Township Democrats & Independents: Empower the grassroots by training and supporting citizens and leaders dedicated to electing fiscally and socially responsible candidates to all levels of office. We have been registered with the Illinois State Board of Elections since March 2006. Sign up here for more info.

    DFA-Evanston North Shore: This website serves our DFA-Evanston and North Shore community. Our meetings are usually on the first Monday of each month at the Celtic Knot, 626 Church St, Evanston 60201. Show up or sign up for more info.

    Northside DFA: Northside DFA is a diverse group of dedicated volunteers working to elect socially progressive, fiscally responsible, and ethically committed Democrats to office at all levels of government. We are active in many local races and focus our energies on working for progressive candidates.

    We meet the first Thursday of every month, and we organize weekly volunteer activities supporting our adopted candidates. Sign up for one of our events and get involved!

    49th Ward DFA: Voters, residents, and friends with an interest in 49th Ward politics. Sign up here for more info.

    Oak Park DFA Meeting: Sign up here for more info.

    Chicago South Side DFA: Sign up here for more info.

    Downstate Democrats for Change: Sign up here for more info.

    Greater Lincoln Park DFA: This chapter serves the Lincoln Park community of Chicago, IL. We're requesting a $20/year membership to cover the expenses of the organization and its activities. Sign up here for more info.

    Naperville/Aurora DFA: There are something like 400 DFA members just in Naperville and Aurora! This group hopes to bring those of us living in the Naperville/Aurora area together for some good old fashioned political activism! Sign up here for more info.

    Democracy for the 14th District: Sign up here for more info.

    LAUGHING LIBERALLY CHICAGO: Political Action through Comedy
    # When? First Wednesday of each month, 8:00 pm
    # Where? No Exit, 6970 N Glenwood Ave
    # Hosted by Matt Filipowicz

    Here are some Drinking Liberally groups in Illinois:

    Chicago, Illinois
    * Second and fourth Tuesday of each month, 7:00-9:00 pm
    * Sheffield's, 3258 N Sheffield Ave (In the back room)
    * Hosted by Greg Sasso and Jon Mclennand, chicago (at) drinkingliberally.org

    DeKalb, Illinois
    * Every other Tuesday, 8:30 pm onward
    * O'Leary's Irish Pub, 260 E Lincoln Hwy (On the Corner of 3rd and Lincoln Hwy)
    * Parking is available on 3rd St. in the public lot across the tracks.
    * Hosted by Kevin Malone, dekalb (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Evanston, Illinois
    * Every Wednesday, 7:00 pm onward
    * The Celtic Knot, 626 Church St (Half block east of Orrington)
    * For the upcoming holiday season we're not planning on meeting the week of Thanksgiving or during the month of December
    * Hosted by Mark Foisy, Rich Heath and Adelaide Rowe, evanston (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Moline, Illinois
    * First and third Friday of each month, 8:00pm onward
    * Jack's Place, 425 15th St
    * Stop on down and bring a friend!
    * Hosted by Amy Holcomb and Rachel Griffiths, moline (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Naperville, Illinois
    * 2nd Sunday and 4th Tuesday of every month
    * Quigley's Irish Pub, 43 E Jefferson Ave
    * Hosted by Rich Wawronowicz and Tom Mikesell, naperville (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Peoria, Illinois
    * Second and fourth Tuesday of each month, 6:30 pm onward
    * Kelleher's Irish Pub, 619 SW Water St
    * Hosted by Bill Poorman, peoria (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Springfield, Illinois
    * Every Thursday, 6:30 pm onward
    * Brewhaus, 617 E Washington St (Between 6th & 7th)
    * We also meet for Drinking Coffee Liberally the 1st & 3rd Saturday mornings of the month at Trout Lilly Cafe
    * Hosted by Vera Mount, springfieldil (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Alternative Energy in Illinois:

    Some statistics from Repower America:

    * Illinois ranks 8th in existing wind capactity at 744-megawatts, and has 5,500-megawatts of planned wind power in development.

    * In 2006, the state produced nearly 600,000-megawatt hours of electricity from biomass - that's enough to power almost 65,000 homes per year!

    * Illinois has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires all public utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2025, with at least 18.75% from wind by 2013.

    Alternative energy and YOUR energy bill: YOU can be part of the solution for America by signing up to purchase your energy through a Green Power Provider. My wife and I have been doing this in NYC for years. All our energy usage is provided through wind energy generation on American farms. So we use clean energy AND help American farmers. It costs us three cents per kilowatt-hour more per month, but we feel great about it. Although our actual energy may come from anywhere, we are paying to purchase wind energy for the energy grid. Each state has different programs available, usually through yuor existing energy provider right on your existing energy bill. To find such options in Illinois, go here and pick your energy provider from the list. If you need help, you can email me and tell me who you get your bill from (don't give me any other info!) and I can tell you who to contact to go green through that energy provider. Or you can do the same thing using Renewable Energy Certificates through an organization that works with utility companies, though in this case it is a separate bill. One off the cheapest (.4-1 cent per kilowatt-hour), but still e-Green certified, ways to do this is through Good Energy. Or, for about half a cent per kilowatt-hour you can purchase renewable energy certificates through Carbonfund.org. ANY of these ways you do it, you are helping the environment, helping America, and helping cut carbon emissions.

    BIODIESEL: Biodiesel is clean, AMERICAN fuel that could be fueling many of our trains, trucks and diesel cars, as well as being used for heating fuel. All that while supporting American farmers, not Saudi oil shieks.

    Here is a list of Biodiesel stations in Illinois. All diesel cars, trucks and furnaces can take at least up to B20 biodiesel. So almost all of these stations can be used to fuel ANY diesel vehicle.

    Illinois Solar Energy Association: The ISEA was founded in 1975 and incorporated in the State of Illinois in 1979. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supported by our members and volunteers. The ISEA is the Illinois chapter of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). Go here for their events calendar. Find out about upcoming workshops here.

    The Chicago Green Home Meetup Group

    Meet other local people who are interested in making their homes environmentally friendly. As developers, designers, and brokers of Green Homes, we are a great resource to learn more about what you can do today to become more sustainable and green! Sign up to find out more about meetings.

    Chicago Sustainable Development & New Urbanism Meetup Group
    Meet other local people who are interested in Sustainable Development and New Urbanism.

    Let's define what we mean by "sustainable," "energy-efficient," "green," etc. and then work toward making it happen here in Chicago! What are the building blocks of "sustainability?" What are the most important issues that need to be addressed? What issues are important to you when you look at your home, your neighborhood and your city? What actions can we take to effect true change that benefits everyone? We hope to answer these questions through conversations with local experts and other community members.

    Let's work toward having more energy-efficient, healthy and "sustainable" options when looking for a new home. Let's create neighborhoods that are of human scale, cohesive and prepared for the future. Let's restore our urban fabric and communities!

    Sign up to find out about meetings


    It took nearly 7 years living within a few blocks of one of the biggest food co-ops in America before Joy and I joined it. We were definitely reluctant. But, in the end the lack of good produce and the decline of our local supermarkets led to us joining. And the result is a slighly more inconvenient shopping trip each week, but much healthier, higher quality and cheaper food. I recommend joining a co-op if there is one nearby. You will save money and eat healthier. So I will list some local food co-ops in Illinois:

    Neighborhood Co-op Grocery
    1815 W. Main Street
    Carbondale, Illinois 62901
    Phone: (618) 529-3533
    FAX: (618) 529-0172

    The foundation of our co-op is rooted in this community. In 1980, we began as a network of neighborhood buying clubs. We used a 3/4-ton flatbed truck to drive to Madison, Wisconsin to pick up the groceries directly from the distributor. The trip was long and ended with delivering the orders to various people, who would then act as distributors for their neighbors.

    In 1985 we became an actual store front, taking the place of Mr. Naturals, which was the privately owned natural foods store in the area at the time, located at 102 East Jackson.

    ...in 2005, we were bursting at the seams yet again! We began making plans to move to a new 12,000 square foot space in Murdale Shopping Center. We spent the next several months raising money from our ownership ($345,000) and securing financing to help fund the 1.5 million dollar store. In this new dream store, we were able to become a full-service grocery and cafe, operate a teaching kitchen for cooking classes and events and we continue to specialize in products that are organic, locally produced or fairly traded.

    They also have a list of events, classes, and a calendar.

    Common Ground Food Co-op
    610 E. Springfield
    Champaign, Illinois 61820
    Phone: (217) 352-3347
    FAX: (217) 352-2214

    Common Ground Food Co-op is a cooperatively owned grocery store that promotes local and organic production, fosters conscious consumerism, and builds community.

    Though we are community-owned, membership is not required to shop in the store!

    Common Ground Food Co-op carries a wide variety of groceries, produce, and health and beauty products.

    Duck Soup Co-op
    129 E. Hillcrest Drive
    DeKalb, Illinois 60115
    Phone: (815) 756-7044

    Incorporated in 1974 as a not-for-profit entity, Duck Soup was originally a member only, pre-order buying club. As the Coop grew, we were able to operate as a storefront outlet where purchases could be made from stock inventory. In 1990, the membership voted to open the store to the public as well as members.

    In addition to making natural foods available to the DeKalb Community, Duck Soup is a democratically managed business, where all members have the opportunity to take an active role in selecting product lines, setting pricing structures, and contributing to operational decisions. Duck Soup was designed to operate in the interest of consumers. There is no stock or private financial interest in the business. All of our current inventory, equipment and assets have been provided by member work contributions, equity and fee contributions, and surplus income generated from sales.

    They also have a great calendar of events.

    West Central Illinois Food Cooperative
    P.O. Box 677
    Galesburg, Illinois 61402

    West Central Illinois Food Cooperative is a not for profit natural foods Co-op located in Galesburg, Illinois serving people in Knox and Warren County. We are affiliated with United Natural Foods. United Natural Foods has a warehouse in Iowa City.

    We are a small food coop with about 20 to 30 families at any one time. Our monthly orders average about
    $2,000 - $3, 000. We have been operating as a Co-op since 1982. We do not have any one that earns a salary. All of our work is performed by members who work the different jobs as part of their monthy obligation. Working Members pay a 1% mark up from the wholesale price in the Catalog. We have nonworking members. They pay a 10% mark up. Please explore the various links on our site for additional information about the Co-op and United Natural Foods. You can also get additional information at United Natural Foods Buying Clubs site at www.unitedbuyingclubs.com

    South Suburban Food Co-op
    21750 Main Street
    Matteson, Illinois 60433
    Phone: (708) 747-2256

    Everyone is welcome to visit the SSFC during normal business hours. Don't forget to visit our Resale shop. We have guest passes available in order for you to make a purchase, however only one per household per year will be accepted. Ownership/Membership is required for additional opportunities to buy products including local, organic, wheat free, vegan, gluten free, and other health-conscience merchandise. If you too like the atmosphere and want to live a "greener" lifestyle, stop by.

    Straddle Creek Food Co-op
    112 Market Street - West
    Mt. Carroll, Illinois 61053
    Phone: (815) 244-2667

    And here is a HOUSING CO-OP in Chicago:

    Stone Soup Ashland
    4637 N. Ashland
    Chicago, Illinois 60614

    Stone Soup is a housing cooperative, founded in 1997, with three houses in Chicago's Uptown and McKinley Park neighborhoods. We are a diverse community of 35 people, who are committed to living with joy and justice in everything we do. So take a look around the site. Come by for a potluck. We'd love to meet you!

    Here are some other Groups and Events in Illinois:

    Illinois Recycling Association is the only collective voice for recycling on critical waste management issues facing this state. We represent your interests at the state level. For a more complete idea of what the Illinois Recycling Association does, check out our Mission Statement and Goals on our Mission Page. Go here to see upcoming events.

    Stonewall Democrats Illinois: email for more info: StonewallDemsIL_at_gmail.com

    The Illinois Tenth Congressional District Democrats is a volunteer group that has formed to help elect Democrats at all levels of government within Illinois' Tenth Congressional District. The district includes portions of both Cook and Lake Counties stretching from Wilmette on the south through Waukegan and from Lake Michigan west through parts of Arlington Heights and Palatine. Check here for upcoming events. You can also email them for more info: info_at_tenthdems.org

    Chicago Center for Inquiry: Center For Inquiry/Chicago is a not-for-profit organization that nurtures and inter-connects Chicagoland's growing community of secular humanists and free inquirers. We are dedicated to inquiring into and striving to improve all aspects of the human condition. Go here to see their calendar of events.


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