Save the Whales


Another great day! We started off by walking to downtown (can't wait to get those bikes!), where our first stop was Target. Brock--with his gorgeous, yet sensitive, baby blues--was in desperate need of a pair of sunglasses. He was so stoked to find a good-looking pair of polarized lenses for $15! Oh how we love Target :)

Then we hit up the Museum of Contemporary Photography (free admission = bonus!). They had an exhibit going on entitled "The Edge of Intent," where they examined the effects that city planning has had on city-dwellers around the globe. The reason for this exhibition is that 2009 marks the centennial of the Plan of Chicago, a massive plan outlined by the famed Daniel Burnham for the revamping of the city.

The photographs in the gallery were stunning and thought provoking. Three series in particular caught my eye. One was done by a man who travelled the world and took pictures that documented how city planning and development projects often forget one crucial thing: people. His series was comprised of about ten photographs of major metropolises around the world (Mumbai, Chicago, Paris, etc) that showcased the juxtaposition between urbanization and the people left behind: the homeless. He really had some incredible perspectives. For example, in one photograph there was Notre Dame standing tall in the background--a symbol of European enlightenment and Napoleonic grandeur--with a homeless man sleeping on the ground in the made my heart ache.

Another series focused on a set of dilapidated, elevated railroad tracks in New York City. They were once used to cart goods from across the river, but modern times have no use for them. Thus, they sit unused and abandoned between the buildings that they run through. Sometimes, city planning falls by the wayside as time progresses. The photographer took pictures of these railroad tracks during each of the four seasons, and in each photograph the poor tracks looked sad, lonely, and forgotten. I think it's probably a sign that you're a great photographer when people start feeling empathy for train tracks.

My favorite series of the entire collection was one of Detroit Central Station (think Grand Central Station, but in Michigan). Detroit Central Station was built in 1913, and is one of most historic and beautiful buildings. It's been abandoned, however, since 1988, and is destined for demolition in the near future. For Detroiters, it represents a time before the riots and before the decline of the auto industry, when Motor City was the fastest growing metropolis in the country. During its heyday, the depot was crowded with African Americans coming north from the rural South to find work, as well as an equally large influx of European immigrants who came to Detroit by train after leaving Ellis Island.

These days, Detroit Central Station tells a much different story. Its wide, gaping spaces sit eerily quiet; a whisper echoes. Voices from the past scream through the walls, but no one is there to hear them. The floors and walls are cracking, breaking. Gangbangers have come in and graffitied nearly every surface.

Though in that graffiti, there is eloquence. It is a symbol of modernity, of where the world is now. Contrasted against the Romanesque columns and architecture of the Station, one cannot help but think: has America, too, reached its heyday? Will it, like Detroit Central Station and the Roman Empire, decay into nothing but transient memories? As with all things, time will tell.

After the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Brock and I headed over to the Chicago Architecture Foundation, where there was a huge, 370-sq. foot 3D model of downtown Chicago. Once again, this was to commemorate the 1909 Plan of Chicago, which we learned all about as we moseyed through the exhibition. Who would have thought that city planning would be so interesting!

As we continued to walk down the street, we saw that SuperCuts was having a special ($10 cuts on Tuesday), so Brock got a desperately-needed clip. He looks awesome! He told the lady to give him a "business man" cut, and she did a great job! $15 to look like a million? I'll take it :) One thing I admire about Brock is that he always lifts people up and makes them laugh. Whether its the woman ringing up your sunglasses at Target, or the person giving you a cheap haircut, he always finds a way to strike conversation and brighten people's day by making them feel like a person, not a service. I love that about him. It will be a great asset to him throughout his life.

After SuperCuts we stopped by Millennium Park, where we took pictures at "the Bean" and walked around the grounds. Chicago truly does have an awesome parks system with lots of free things to do during the summer. Thanks Daniel Burnham!

From there, we grabbed brownies as the Corner Bakery (I'm sensing a theme....) and wandered down the Magnificent Mile for a bit until Brock had to go to work. The Magnificent Mile is a segment of Michigan Avenue where all the ritzy boutiques are (including La Perla, where I got rejected yesterday haha). When we came across the four-stories-high Nordstrom, we just had to call Brock's mom and let her know what we were standing in front of. I think she cried.

We then parted ways and I went to Trader Joe's to grab some fresh fruit. I inquired about a job there, but alas, they weren't hiring. Neither was Pizzeria Uno, where we'd eaten dinner the night before ( So I'm walking back to the bus station, somewhat disheartened, with my recyclable Trader Joe bags in hand, when who do I get stopped by? Greenpeace. You know, those crazy hippies who put their lives on the line to save whales and polar bears and rainforests and stuff? Anyway, I'd heard of them in my World Politics this past semester, and I remember my professor saying that out of all the environmental NGOs, Greenpeace is the most powerful.

I've kind of had a hankering to get involved with an NGO and be involved in a cause that's larger than myself, but I had no idea where to start. Then BAM here was an NGO literally standing right in front of me, so I decided to actually allow myself to be stopped by him. Anthony was his name. He was really nice and had a lot of good things to say, but about halfway through his spiel the wheels in my head started turning: I'm looking for a job, and I would prefer to have a job that's political in some way. Could Greenpeace be the answer?

As it turns out, Anthony runs Greenpeace's Chicago branch! I signed up to make a small monthly donation and then asked if he was which he said YES and that he'd absolutely love to have me work for them! Yay!!! So I'm going to call him tomorrow and basically get started right away! What will my job entail, you ask? I like to think of it as being an "environmental missionary": I'll stand on the corner, preach the virtues of environmentalism, ask people to get involved, and they'll reject me. Niiiice. :) But hey, at least it's a job! And even though I'll probably be the only Fox News-watching, Reagan conservative working for Greenpeace, I'm sure it'll be great. I'll definitely learn something new, I'll feel good knowing that I'm working for a good cause, and working for an NGO will look awesome on a resume. Who knows? I might even become a tree-hugger :)


  1. Haha well after that inspiring post I WILL recycle! Your new blog is really cute! Have fun in chicago and in your spare time you should add me to your stalking list. My blog is
    ...creative eh?


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