Thursday, July 24, 2014

Indelible Imprints: Remembering Soldiers of World War I

by Paul Herbert, Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny Park

In time for the observance of the 100th anniversary of World War I, Dr. Jeff Gusky launches a wonderful photo exhibit, The Hidden World of WWI. The exhibit reveals the folk art of World War I soldiers of all nations left in long-forgotten bunkers, fortifications and caves that Gusky has explored. Included are images from an abandoned root cellar at Cantigny, France, that once was occupied by doughboys of the US First Division. 


Former underground city beneath the trenches. Picardy, France.
© 2013, Jeffrey Gusky. All Rights Reserved. Jeffrey Gusky, c/o attorney at P.O. Box 2526, Addison, TX 75001-2526.


Gusky has discovered simple graffiti by soldiers who recorded their presence and their survival thus far, as well as elaborate evocative sculptures by soldiers who surely spent weeks or months underground. His work is two layers of art – the poignancy of the soldier art itself, and the excellence of his photographic images.


Carving reads 'Liberty leaving the world, September, 1917, a soldier of the 278, the disasters of the 20th Century, the sun of my youth'. Picardy, France.
© 2013, Jeffrey Gusky. All Rights Reserved. Jeffrey Gusky, c/o attorney at P.O. Box 2526, Addison, TX 75001-2526.

“[Soldiers] spent long hours recording indelible expressions of their humanity that are as fresh and powerful today as they were a century ago. The images are sometimes poignant and sometimes sad, but always deeply moving reminders that these men were not strange doughboys from old movies but modern people who were coping with the dehumanizing horrors of war in the same way that we would cope if faced these horrors today.” - Dr. Jeff Gusky

As the First Division Museum at Cantigny begins its observance of this momentous anniversary, this exhibit reminds us of the fundamental humanity of the millions who served on the Western Front. We encourage you to explore The Hidden World of WWI exhibit and remember them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chicago Sinfonietta: Daring, Defiant and Different

by Jeff Reiter, Senior Manager of Communications

The “orchestra like no other” will perform under the stars at Cantigny Park on August 9

Since its beginning in 1987, the mid-sized Chicago Sinfonietta has maintained a decidedly different vision of what an orchestra could and should be. Maestro Paul Freeman, an accomplished African American conductor, felt that orchestras should reflect the people and the values of the communities they serve. Maestro Mei-Ann Chen succeeded Freeman in 2011 and carries on this ideal with great passion. Today’s Chicago Woman this month named Chen among its “100 Women of Inspiration.”



The Sinfonietta is truly innovative, specializing in daring, one-of-a-kind performances. It promotes diversity, inclusion and innovative programming—values that we wholly embrace at Cantigny Park and throughout the McCormick Foundation.

Cantigny Park in Wheaton, the former estate of Robert R. McCormick, is pleased to welcome Chicago Sinfonietta on Saturday evening, August 9. The “Ravinia style” concert marks the Sinfonietta’s first visit to Cantigny and the orchestra’s first outdoor performance in the western suburbs.

The Cantigny concert, previewing of the Sinfonietta’s 2014-15 season, will include pioneering African American composer, Florence Price’s composition of, “Dances in the Canebreaks.” Patrons will also be treated to a selection of romantic suites from Ravel’s beloved “Carmen” and Ralph Vaughn Williams’ spirited “English Folk Song Suite.” The evening concludes with Antonín Dvořák’s lyrical and folk melody inspired “Symphony No. 8.”

Click here to learn more about this special performance and to purchase tickets.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Heart of Illinois Bounces Back After Devastation

by Terry Bibo, Tri-County Long Term Recovery Committee

More than 1,100 families lost their homes in Washington, IL alone when mammoth tornadoes struck Central Illinois on November 17.

The next morning, representatives of nearly 100 different groups – corporations, nonprofits and churches – gathered to react as one. 



This was by far the single largest natural disaster the area had ever seen but the communities were fortunate in that few people were home that morning. Only three lives were lost, though that is still too many. Everyone from carpenters to musicians (i.e. Styx and REO Speedwagon) to the Chicago Bears volunteered to help, laying the groundwork for a unified response.

The last nine months have been challenging for the communities impacted by the storms. While Washington sustained the most damage, two other neighboring communities were impacted as well – East Peoria and Pekin. Serving the specific needs of each community proved to be the greatest hurdle. 



Thanks to the Illinois Tornado Relief Effort that helped raise money for the affected communities, the Peoria Area Community Foundation was able to form the Tri-County Long Term Recovery (LTR) committee. The committee was created to ensure relief and recovery was a seamless operation for those impacted as well as for volunteers.

We are excited to announce that the Long Term Recovery Center will be opening its doors on July 18 to assist residents and provide information regarding recovery efforts. In addition, the facility is centrally located and can be easily accessed by surrounding areas. The 3,000-square-foot office has ample space for caseworkers and clients.

“The Long Term Recovery Center is a much needed asset to Central Illinois since we are just beginning to see some of those deeper needs of the communities,” said LTR chairman Jim Fassino.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Future of Redistricting Reform in Illinois

by David Hiller, President and CEO

As you may have heard, the Yes! For Independent Maps initiative will not be moving forward for the November 4 ballot. This is very disappointing to the thousands of citizens across the political spectrum in Illinois who were united in supporting redistricting reform. 

These citizens recognized the need to take the district maps out of the hands of the political insiders, and turn the job over to an independent commission.

The importance of this reform is demonstrated by the aggressive attacks on it made by the political forces entrenched by the current system. If citizens win, they lose.

Another lesson is that Illinois is ready for reform. Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans supported the reform effort, and polls indicated overwhelming voter support had the initiative been allowed on the ballot. The grounds Judge Mary Mikva cited in her legal decision for keeping the initiative off the ballot are technical, but give hope that a revised proposal could pass constitutional muster.

There is ample time to make redistricting reform a reality well before the next census in 2020. We should continue to build on the momentum of this year’s campaign, and ensure that this gets done in the next election cycle.

Meanwhile, stay engaged:
  • Register and vote in the upcoming November elections
  • Stay tuned in on the progress of reform efforts at the Change Illinois website
  • Follow these efforts with the McCormick Foundation on Facebook and Twitter