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Why recycling the stuff is not enough: Harper's "Index" (March 1990) reminds us that five of the six leading hazardous wastes are chemicals used to make plastics.

Challenge: can you find another one in the six-county area? Sullivan Foods in northwest suburban McHenry won the "Theta" environmental award from the McHenry County Defenders (Environmental News, March 1990), largely because it is "one of the few stores in the area that uses only paper grocery bags, and encourages reuse of the bags by offering customers a refund of two cents for each bag brought in for refilling." (The Hyde Park co-op on East 55th Street also offers two-cent refunds; but then they use both plastic and paper.)

When preschool is better than school. Gillian McNamee and Joan McLane of the Erikson Institute on West Chicago followed up on local inner-city children who had attended a preschool literacy program and found that two-thirds of them were still reading above grade level--amazingly enough, to judge from the description of their neighborhood public schools in the Spencer Foundation Newsletter (March 1990): "Few classrooms had books available for children's independent use. Some had collections of children's story books in good condition, but the books were not available to the children. Reading or writing materials (e.g., pencils, crayons, paper) were provided for children only when they related to a specific teacher assignment.... Teachers in these schools assigned or directed virtually all the writing and reading activities. The study of reading usually consisted of identifying words or letters on the blackboard or on worksheets, or reading words in sentences in reading books (primers). The study of writing ordinarily involved completing some form of worksheet, or copying words and sentences from a blackboard...5 or 10 times. In contrast with their prekindergarten literacy experiences, children were given very few opportunities to experiment with their reading or writing skills in an unstructured environment."

We gave at the office. Last year 6,240 Illinois income-tax filers reported more than $1 million in adjusted gross income; according to the state Department of Revenue, just seven of them donated to the charitable causes--the homeless, wildlife, child-abuse prevention, child care, Alzheimer's research, and community health--listed on the tax form.

"Within the last 10 years we have even raised a kind of vegetarian necropolis for the counterculture in McDonald's and Burger King: their new and highly successful salad bars stand like tombstones for the most concrete and irreversible achievements of another era's culinary activism," writes Daniel Harris in In These Times (April 4-10). In the book Appetite for Change, he writes, Warren Belasco "shows how the [1960s] counterculture's hostility to intellectual discourse led to a treacherous vagueness of rhetoric...[and] the health-food movement's easy cooptation by big business, which simply mimicked its slogans in meaningless phrases like 'country fresh' and 'whole-wheat goodness.'"

Affirmative action, small potatoes dept. The Cook County State's Attorney's office reports that 0.001 percent of its assistant state's attorneys are Native Americans.

Maybe later on we can get some resistant genes implanted in us? Genetic engineering is being used to increase rather than reduce American agriculture's addiction to toxic chemicals. It seems the chemical industry has come up with an herbicide--Haloxyfop-- that kills not only "weed" grasses but also many important food crops. The preferred solution is not to increase the crops' resistance to weeds, but to find the gene that makes some grasses resistant to the herbicide and transfer that gene into wheat and corn. For this project the Midwest Plant Biotechnology Consortium has given U. of C. molecular biologist Robert Haselkorn a $90,000 grant. (Chronicle, March 8).

Press releases we didn't need to finish, from the Cubby/Bear Entertainment Complex: "Nicholas Tremulis has been a bonified star on the local music scene for many years."

Making room for the mainstream. From the Earth Day plans of the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions: Ceremonies "will include chants from the Qur'an by an Islamic muezzin with translations in English...Hindu chants in the sacred language of India, Sanskrit.... African texts about the earth and its creation.... The Brahma Kumari Spriritual Organization of Mount Abu will present thoughts on the earth for reflection and meditation. Poet Michael Anania of the University of Illinois will recite poems on behalf of all the human race and all the religions. Members of the Unitarian-Universalist tradition will present special earth-centered rituals." Oh, yes: "Jewish and Christian participation is also planned."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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