Interviewing mayoral candidates, radio show hosts and farmers

December 5, 2010

Mayoral candidates roasting on an open fire…

As well they should be. It’s true that The Frozen Robins and I were just poking a little fun at Rahm Emanuel and other candidates like Carol Moseley Braun on the show last week when we sang our soon-to-be smash hit of the caroling season, “Oh Rahm, O Rahm Emanuel” (please link to it and help it go viral. Hmm. Do I sound needy?). However, the truth is that if you expect to be mayor of one of the greatest cities in the world, you should also expect to be asked more than a few tough questions.

That’s why a number of organizations are lining up to host mayoral forums in the next couple of months. By my own count, there are at least a half dozen–and probably more–on the way. One of the first, and the one that seems to have set the bar for participation by Chicago mayoral candidates, is being held this Monday, December 6 by Foresight Design Initiative. It’s technically a Foresight Design Green Drinks event, which the organization presents monthly. These gatherings focus on environmental issues, and this mayoral forum will be no exception.

Unfortunately for you (if you don’t have a reservation), it’s sold out. As of now, the candidates who are expected to show up include Gery Chico, Danny Davis, Miguel Del Valle, and Carol Moseley Braun. Will Mr. Emanuel grace the room with his presence? Who knows? However, even if you can’t be there, Foresight Design board member Scott Schecter knows that each candidate will have ten minutes to answer these three questions:

1. What role do sustainability issues play in the future of Chicago and how
should they be best balanced with other pressing concerns, particularly
given the city’s significantly constrained financial resources?

2. What are 2-3 of the most pressing sustainability-related issues in
Chicago and how would you direct your administration to address them?

3. Are there examples of sustainability-related programs from other cities
that you would like to see implemented here?

At that point, there will be more questions from the attendees. I intend to tackle the moderator and grab his microphone if I have to…though I don’t really want to spend the night in the slammer. So perhaps I’ll politely wave my question card and see what happens. By the way, if you haven’t been able to keep track of who’s doing well and who’s not, never fear. There is a website doing it for you. It’s called the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard, and it has the latest on each of the would-be mayors. Enjoy.

Interview with the Interviewer

(Note: Bryan Ogden’s piece for Metropolitan Gardening about his experience on my show is now posted here.)

In case you haven’t noticed, bloggers have taken over the world…at least for now. At some point, Facebook posters will take over the world, followed by Tweeters, followed by…well, whatever game-changing technology none of us really wants to learn. God. I’m exhausted already.

But since we’re still talking about blogging (which I do myself, though I barely understand why), let me introduce you to Bryan Ogden–no relation to Ogden Nash…I think. Bryan is a blogger whose site, Metropolitan Gardening, focuses on urban greening and horticulture, news, interviews, current events, book reviews, food, eco-fashion, humor and more!

Recently, he did a profile of my good friend, sometime co-host, and REAL host of next week’s show, Beth Botts. Shortly after that–and I have no idea what possessed him– he tweeted me (yes, tweeted me) to ask if we could do an interview. I asked, “Am I interviewing you or are you interviewing me?” To which he replied (or something to this effect), “Well, I thought I would interview you, but that’s very interesting.” To which I replied, “Why don’t you interview me while I’m interviewing you ON THE AIR!

So that’s what we’re doing. If you’re confused, imagine how I feel!

Good Growing: How farmers learn from other farmers

I’m pleased to have another member of Angelic Organics Learning Center on my show. Sheri Doyel is the Program Director for their Farmer Training Initiative. More than 400 million acres of farmland will change hands in the next twenty years, as older farmers turn their lands over to their successors. But will that land be farmed? And, more importantly, especially to the health of our national food system, where will the next generation of farmers come from?

AOLC’s Farmer Training Initiative is not only training the next generation of sustainable farmers, they are also helping urban and rural people learn directly from our region’s best farmers. Part of that effort is the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT), a farmer network that Doyel facilitates. The network is made up of about 80 “farm” members, about 65 “friend” members (most of whom live in Chicago or near burbs) and about 40 interns that work on “farm member” farms.

Another intitiative is the Stateline Farm Beginnings class that just started, with 28 students.  Farm Beginnings is a year-long program that focuses on business planning for 6 months and then field days and mentorship for 6 months. It is now in its sixth year, and there are only nine in the entire country.

Two other programs, which were mentioned a couple of weeks ago on this site, are the Farm Business Development Center at Prairie Crossing and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, which are both partners of AOLC and which provide training and resources for new farmers.