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"In 1979, CANDO [the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations] had no real model to follow," the group reflects in its 1998-'99 annual report. "There were no citywide neighborhood economic development coalitions from which to borrow organizational concepts. For the most part, CANDO had to invent itself from its original base of eight neighborhood-based nonprofit member organizations. In 1999, CANDO has become the model to follow. We regularly entertain visitors from other cities and other countries who wish to learn from our experience. Our original eight Voting Members have grown nearly tenfold [to 78]."

Twilight on the left? "Liberals, enthralled by Clinton's popularity, never criticized the president's appalling lack of a second-term agenda," writes Walter Shapiro in the New Republic (February 1), condemning what he calls the "self-centered values" of the American left. "As long as Clinton upholds affirmative action and defends abortion rights, then his personal excesses and timid policies are to be defended at all costs."

"On one hand, it's pleasing that so many are once again finding the city a desirable place to live and raise children," says Thomas Dubin, president of Manufacturers' News, in a January press release. "But as property values increase and industrial buildings are converted to residential and retail, it's considerably more difficult for the city to attract and retain manufacturing." The 1999 Illinois Manufacturers Directory shows that during 1998 Chicago gained 185 manufacturers--but lost 360.

Gross ignorance. A national survey commissioned last year by the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (www.neetf.org/reportcard) found that a majority of Americans believe that the government tests bottled water and household chemicals for safety (it does not), that U.S. electricity is produced in ways that do not pollute the air (most is generated by burning coal or oil), that factories are the leading cause of water pollution (nonpoint runoff now pollutes more than factories), and that famine is the leading cause of childhood death worldwide (bad drinking water kills more kids than starvation).

What do you think you're doing? Speaking at last year's graduation, University of Chicago philosopher Robert Pippin asked if the ceremony could be considered "an essentially empty ritual" and answered no. "Simply understanding what we are doing when we vote, marry, command, submit to authority, trust a doctor, pay taxes, or bury a loved one is quite a difficult task, not to be as easily taken for granted as we must do in the rush of daily life. All of these activities and many more once meant something very different to the people who participated in them and could just as well come to mean something very different again. Putting on one of these gowns and rushing to graduation carry with them almost one thousand years of aspiration and meaning, but also a meaning and bearing in the present that is hidden, hard to extract, easy to overlook, and that needs to be recovered by reflection and argument" ("University of Chicago Record," December 10).

A beautiful day in the neighborhood. A recent press release for an upcoming Graham Foundation exhibit, at 4 W. Burton Place, promises photographs from MIT's artist in residence that "capture dramatic views of familiar scenes, such as drops of water, silicon, molded plastic, DNA, or bacteria."

Give me your lunch money or I'll punch you, got it? Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago's Jane Addams College of Social Work "will strive to understand the complexities of bullying behavior through classroom observations and direct interviewing of students, teachers, and parents at four Chicago public elementary schools on the Near West Side: Orozco, Perez, Riis, and Smith," according to a recent university press release. They will distribute questionnaires to students and teachers at each school "with the objective of collecting detailed information on the basic mechanisms of bullying behavior."

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