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Smile Politely seeking Music writers

We're always seeking new writers at Smile Politely, and the Music section is no exception.

Do you love reading about music on Smile Politely and want to be a part of it? Do you hate reading about music on Smile Politely and think you can make our section better? Either way, we could use your help. Whether you're interested in talking about a touring band coming through, review a local album or show, talk to local bands, and things of the like, let us know.

Not a writer, per se? Well, neither are we for the most part. We're just engaged community members populating a magazine the best way we know how to.

Shoot us an email at music@smilepolitely.com and we can discuss.


This new release from C-U rapper CJ Run is amazing

It's not too often that I get fired up for a music release — especially from a relatively new artist — but CJ Run has just done that for me.

Hailing from C-U, but originally from the UK and Germany, CJ mixes progressive production with important lyrical flow. We just caught wind of their Listen to the Kids project, which came out on Monday, and it's absolutely phenomenal. It's hard to imagine where the ceiling is for this 18 year-old rapsmith, but with such a strong debut as this, the future looks bright both for them and for Champaign's hip-hop scene as a whole.

You can stream Listen to the Kids in full below, and also stream an interview with CJ to get a little more familiar. Hopefully, you'll be able to see them out performing soon, as well.




Champaign County Garden Walk happening June 18th

Champaign County Garden Walk 2016: “Garden Destinations”

Saturday, June 18, 2016 – 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

The Champaign County Master Gardeners will host their 24th annual Garden Walk featuring homeowner and Master Gardener gardens.  This year’s theme is “Garden Destinations” as each garden will make you feel like you’re on vacation! Gardens in Champaign, Urbana and Philo will be featured.

Tickets:  $10 in Advance, $12 Day of Walk

Tickets sold at local garden centers:

  • Country Arbors
  • Danville Gardens Too
  • Illini FS Farmtown
  • Ropp’s Flower Factory – Mahomet

Tickets also available at:

  • Champaign County Extension office, 801 N. Country Fair Drive, Champaign
  • Vermilion County Extension office, 3164 North Vermilion, Danville
  • Ford-Iroquois County Extension office, 916 W. Seminary Ave., Onarga

Contact the Champaign County Extension office or Program Coordinator, Ava Heap, for more information.

Phone:  217-333-7672

Website: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/

Email: carmien2@illinois.edu


Do you know family drama? Audition this weekend

Do you think you would make a vitriolic mother? Perhaps you're more like the laconic alcoholic ex-poet patriarch. You could be the epitome of the awkward young man who is both ready for and terrified of independence. Or maybe, just maybe, you're the young woman who has watched all of this play out long enough. 

Whoever you may be, perhaps you should be auditioning for August: Osage County this weekend at the Fischer Theatre in Danville. All you need is a prepared one-minute monologue. There will also be cold readings from the script. 

Auditions will be held May 29th-30th at 6 p.m. and the performances are set for August 25-27. The Fischer Theatre is at 158 N. Vermillion St., Danville, IL 61832. This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play by Tracy Letts will be directed by Joel Shoemaker.

Character descriptions from the press release: 

Beverly Weston: The father of the Weston family, an alcoholic and washed-up poet.
Violet Weston: The mother of the Weston family. Undergoing treatment for oral cancer, she is addicted to several prescription drugs, mostly depressants and narcotics.
Barbara Fordham: The oldest daughter of the Weston Family. Mother of Jean and wife of Bill, though they are currently separated.
Ivy Weston: The middle daughter of the Weston family.
Karen Weston: The youngest daughter in the Weston family.
Bill Fordham: Barbara's estranged husband and Jean's father.
Jean Fordham: Bill and Barbara's smart-tongued teenage daughter.
Steve Heidebrecht: Karen's fiancé.
Mattie Fae Aiken: Violet's sister, Charlie's wife and Little Charles' mother.
Charlie Aiken: Husband of Mattie Fae and the presumed father of Little Charles.
"Little" Charles Aiken: Son of Mattie Fae and Beverly.
Johnna Monevata: A Cheyenne Indian woman, whom Beverly hires as a live-in housekeeper shortly before he disappears.
Sheriff Deon Gilbeau: A high-school classmate and former boyfriend of Barbara's

Please direct any questions to darkhorsetheatreco@gmail.com


Bernie Sanders endorses Carol Ammons

This is big. Presidential candidate and United States Senator Bernie Sanders has officially endorsed Illinois State Representative Carol Ammons in her upcoming election in an email blast sent out this afternoon, showing that once again, the national spotlight can touch Champaign-Urbana.

From the email: 

No president, not Bernie Sanders, not the greatest president you could possibly imagine, can take on the billionaire class alone. And that’s because change never happens from the top down, it always occurs from the bottom up.

That’s why today I am announcing my support for eight progressive state legislative candidates who embody the spirit of our political revolution.

Today, they are state representatives running for re-election or challenging to win their first race. Tomorrow, they’ll be progressives running for Congress and maybe even the presidency. And in 2020, they’ll help determine how congressional districts are drawn for the remainder of the next decade — a key to Democrats taking back and holding the House of Representatives for the decade to come.

Justin Bamberg is a state representative from South Carolina who was an early endorser of Hillary Clinton’s campaign but switched his endorsement before the primary because of Bernie’s work for "racial, social, and economic justice." Justin won his last election by ONLY 113 votes and needs our support in what’s sure to be another close race this November.

David Bowen is the son of Jamaican immigrants who is running for his second term in the Wisconsin State Legislature. He fought for and won a living wage for Milwaukee city employees and is a progressive champion Wisconsin needs.

Clara Hart is a refugee from Mozambique whose family fled from violence when she was just 8 years old. Now she's running for the South Dakota House, where she hopes to continue her work for immigrant families.

Terry Alexander is a representative in the South Carolina legislature who supports raising the minimum wage, expanding health care, and protecting the right to vote. He is a courageous legislator who I'm proud to support.

Carol Ammons became the first African-American woman to win election in her district of the Illinois State Legislature, scoring an upset election victory against a well-funded establishment opponent. She's fighting for progressive issues and candidates and deserves our support.

Chris Pearson is running for the Vermont State Senate after spending four terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. He is a champion on the issues of livable wages, strong labor union advocacy, climate change, and voting rights. This year he was able to pass a bill into law for automatic voter registration. Chris is a good friend of working people and of mine.

Jane Kim is the first Korean American to win election in San Francisco, and she's running to become a California state senator. The daughter of immigrants, Jane is a civil rights attorney who's fought for affordable housing and fair wages in her city.

Joe Salazar is a representative to Colorado's state house who is a tireless advocate for stopping fracking, protecting civil rights, and advancing criminal justice reform. He won his last election by just 221 votes, and your support will go a long way to helping him win this year.

Can you split a $27 contribution to our campaign and these candidates as a way of saying we are going to fight to transform our country, and the Democratic Party, from top to bottom?

We are going to keep fighting for every vote, every delegate, and every state, but this moment also requires helping progressives who are fighting for change at the local level. That is the political revolution, and that’s why splitting your contribution between our campaign and this great slate of local candidates is so important.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Find a screenshot from the email below, as well.

Top photo by Justine Bursoni


Kendrick Nunn dismissed from Illini basketball team

It's been a rough go for Illinois Men's Basketball of late - though the charges against Jaylon Tate were just dropped, Kendrick Nunn instead pleaded guilty three days ago to a misdemeanor battery charge. Today, according to WILL, both Head Coach John Groce and Athletic Director Josh Whitman issued a joint statement saying that Kendrick had been dismissed from the team.

From John Groce and Josh Whitman:

We have not reached this decision easily; we care deeply about Kendrick and want him to be successful, but after extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior for our student-athletes at the University of Illinois, and to part ways with Kendrick.

As it is on college campuses across the country, relationship violence is of significant concern at our University, and we expect Fighting Illini student-athletes to be leaders in promoting healthy, respectful, caring relationships. We wish Kendrick all the best as he prepares for the next chapter of his life.

I didn't know that things could get much worse for the floundering basketball squad, but losing Kendrick Nunn to something so preventable and impulsively dumb certainly does sting. Damn, this team just can't catch a break with the bad decisions, can they?

Photo by Michael Hickey


Market at the Square receives grant to make fresh food accessible

Often times, fresh and healthy food is more expensive than it's mass-produced counterparts, and as such, those with less money than others are sometimes forced to eat unhealthily. The City of Urbana hopes to curb this by reinstating a program that allows customers to use a LINK card to buy fresh food at Urbana's Market at the Square via a couple of big grants they have received recently. Good news all around for the people of C-U!

Find more info via the press release below:


Urbana’s Market at the Square has received a combined $13,000 in funding to directly support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program. A total of $8,000 of this funding, gifted by Farm Credit, will allow Urbana’s Market at the Square to match SNAP purchases at the farmers market up to $20 per Market day. To help facilitate the SNAP Program, Urbana’s Market at the Square has also received an administrative grant from LINKUp Illinois in the amount of $5,000 to be expended over the next two years.

In Illinois, SNAP benefits are loaded onto a card called LINK. Customers may then use their LINK card at the farmers market to purchase eligible items including produce, meat, dairy, honey, bread, and food-producing plants. While the Market has accepted LINK since 2010, there have only been four SNAP Double Value programs during that six-year period. This year marks one of the largest awards ever received by Urbana’s Market at the Square to support the SNAP Double Value program. The SNAP double value program will be in place beginning this Saturday, May 21st.

“Both of these organizations do incredible work for the people in our community and their support is so very much appreciated,” said Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez. “Farm Credit, along with LINKUp Illinois, have made a huge contribution to the farmers market’s efforts to expand access to healthy local food. Thanks to these very generous organizations, Urbana’s Market at the Square will be able to better connect the broader community to local farmers and local food and make a positive impact on our local economy.”

“Farm Credit is proud to partner with Urbana’s Market at the Square to provide double value on SNAP purchases,” said Beth Bolger, industry engagement manager Farm Credit Illinois. “This program enhances the value the market already provides to the farmers who sell their agriculture products there weekly and the entire community in support of our local foods system.”

For more information about using SNAP at Urbana’s Market at the Square, and about the SNAP Double Value program, please visit www.urbanaillinois.us/marketscratch, or contact Natalie Kenny Marquez at nmkennymarquez@urbanaillinois.us or 217-384-2319. For more information about Farm Credit, visit www.farmcreditil.com.


C-U aquatic centers opening this Saturday

Summer is finally here, which means that Champaign's Sholem Aquatic Center and Urbana's Crystal Lake Family Aquatic Center are set to open their doors once again for another season.

At Sholem, this Saturday is Opening Day, and will include a ton of special events throughout the day to help you cool off in style and welcome summer the right way. Find the full schedule below. Fear not, however, if you are an Urbana resident, CPFAC will be open regular hours starting on Saturday, as well.

From Sholem's Facebook Event:

All Ages
Regular daily admission fees apply ($6 Residents|$9 Non-Residents) with the exception of FREE admission for United States military personnel

Our fun-loving staff has great free activities planned for you and your little swimmers. Grab the kids, put on your sunscreen and get your summer started in style with the staff of the Sholem Aquatic Center! We’ll also be honoring our United States military personnel by offering them free admission all day long (must show valid military ID at time of entry).

Opening Day Celebration Schedule of Events
(All activities are included as part of daily admission)

11a-7p Public swim
11a-7p Concessions specials
Noon-1p Free pictures with Mr. Turtle (our Sholem mascot)
Noon-3p Free games & activities
1-2p Free children’s face painting
3p Kids Q&A with our lifeguard staff