AFriendThatICanDoFor-Cover-Publish500If you have an agenda here, you’ll go crazy. If you have an agenda that you’re going to transform lives or whatever the hell it is you’re going to do—No. I get to say hi to some people. I get to hug 10 people. They’re going to tell me some stories; they’re going to catch me up, they’re going to tell me crazy stuff, I’m going to tell them crazy stuff. And then we’ll clean it all up, put the chairs away, put the tables up. That is the powerful thing we can do, is just love people. I’m not here to teach people. I’m here to love them. And I think that loving people is what teaches them. Maybe that’s fudging it. But that’s my story. And I’m sticking to it.” —“Donna”

Six years ago, I began interviewing the participants and volunteers of Ravenswood Community Services’ weekly food pantry. With the help of ace photographer Charlie Simokaitis, I’ve turned those interviews into a book, A Friend That I Can Do For, which highlights the powerful and touching stories of 32 people for whom the food pantry serves as a lifeline of one kind of another. All proceeds from the $10 book go to RCS. To buy a copy, just message me.

I’ve spent more than 15 years hunting out (and basking in) the little-known pockets of peacefulness around Chicago–from Hyde Park to Humboldt Park, Uptown to Evanston. Enjoy them all in Peaceful Places Chicago, which gathers 119 gardens, vistas, sanctuaries, libraries, cafés, and other destinations for enjoying some downtime in the City That Works.

Want to make your travels to other cities peaceful, too? Check out the whole Peaceful Places series from Menasha Ridge: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Portland, and Washington, D.C.