• Clean Energy Feature for University of Chicago

    This spring, I interviewed over a dozen clean-energy experts for the University of Chicago Booth School. Though "economics of climate change" as subject mattter might sound a bit dry, it was fascinating to learn about the repercussions of the Paris Climate deal on the economics of climate change. One professor compared clean energy to "going on a diet," and one young entrepreneur founded her company after seeing footage of the Haiti earthquake. You can give a read here. 

  • Time Out Chicago; Hilary Clinton Event, 2008

    Time Out Chicago / Issue 163 : Apr 10–16, 2008

    The scene

    Hillary Clinton at the Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana, March 28, 2:32pm By Gretchen Kalwinski

    Borderline state: Most of Indiana votes Republican, but Northwest Indiana (a rust-belt region that calls itself a Chicago ’burb) is populated with blue collars and union Democrats. Due to the state’s increasingly important May 6 primary, Hillary Clinton planned a Gary, Indiana, stop; but after Gary Mayor Rudy Clay endorsed Obama, she rerouted her Hoosier Economy Tour to Hammond, mere miles from Obama’s South Side base. Bobby Kennedy was the last presidential candidate to visit Hammond, so thousands turned out with signage: NWI IS CLINTON COUNTRY and 2 FOR 1: HILLARY AND BILL: KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE. Undeterred by Clinton’s posse being two hours late, the crowd ate concession-stand hot dogs and politely endured a high-school chorus’s Beatles/ Footloose medley during the wait. Clinton’s talk was crowd-appropriate: “It was from Northwest Indiana that so much of the steel came from that built this country;” “My campaign is about jobs, jobs, jobs.” She invoked Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, rumored to be her potential VP, and Bush-bashed—“Won’t you be happy to see him walking out of the White House?”—while the crowd cheered wildly. One sign-holding mom scolded her daughter when she slumped back in her chair, saying, “This is history: Stand up!”


  • Time Out Chicago: Blog Post: Obama in Grant Park

    In 2008, I attended the historic Obama rally in Grant Park last week and wrote a TOC blog post (now defunct) about it the next morning. It was the very first time I felt patriotic.

    Yesterday, feeling the Obamaramic excitement starting as soon as I woke up, I did something I haven't done before: I purposely wore the colors red, white, and blue together. In the past eight years, sad to say, I've actually gone out of my way to avoid those colors, lest anyone mistake my point of view with that of the Bush administration's policies and doctrine.

    Waiting with 20 friends at the Hilton for the results to start coming in, that energy grew as fast as the stash of empty beer and wine bottles discarded in the hotel bathtub. Many of us had canvassed and donated to the Obama campaign and we'd all supported it from the get-go. Some of us were native Chicagoans; some were born and bred in different states: Indiana, Ohio, Virginia. As those state's results came in, the feeling that had been building all day grew exponentially: the feeling that we actually DO have a voice in our nation's path and history and in our own destiny. 
    When we left the hotel room, Indiana, Ohio and Virigina well in hand, our crowd of thirtysomethings felt more than optimistic—we felt something new: Patriotic. This is an entirely new emotion for many in my generation, a generation who's mostly come of age under a Bush administration. Since 9-11, we've shuddered hearing the McCarthy-esque phrase "un-American" casually tossed around to describe those who opposed the administration's views. We've seen, to our great horror, our American flag used as a thinly-veiled threat against "outsiders," or anyone expressing dissent against the government–the ideals on which this country was founded. We've watched politicians be judged on whether or not they were wearing flag pins. We have only known what we've considered to be a political "dark age" in our adult lives.
    But last night, we reclaimed our patriotism. We grabbed American flags and waved them around while braving the throngs waiting to get in the Obama rally. We kept that flag up and waving all night, taking turns keeping it up in the air, (one saying, "every time my arm gets tired, I think of Studs Terkel and put the flag up higher.") After Florida's results were announced, we waved it harder and smiled big in anticipation as the Grant Park rally got louder and louder. And when Obama was officially declared President-elect, after the initial moment of shock, my group—and the rest of the crowd—hugged and sobbed and screamed happily, welcoming in what we believe to be a new era of not only "change," but inclusion, peace, and optimism.
    Before Obama came out to give his classy, somber speech about the direction of our country under his watch, the crowd of thousands said the Pledge of Allegiance together.
    For the first time in my adult life, I pressed my hand firmly to my chest and said the pledge with utter pride. Oddly, I remembered  Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married, where Kathleen Turner's 40-something Peggy Sue time-travels to the 1950s of her teenage years and sings "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in a classroom with teenage peers; in contrast to their bored, lackadaisical singing, she stands up straight and sings proudly, loudly. Watching it with my parents as a kid, I joked about how nerdy she looked and they rebuked: "That's because adults are actually proud of their country. Kids take it for granted."
    Now I get it. This is what it's like to be an adult who is proud of your country. This is what it feels like to be a patriot. This is what it's like to feel hopeful about the future. This is what democracy looks like.
    Now, where can I get one of those flag pins?  - Gretchen Kalwinski, associate Features editor