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Smile Politely now seeking Arts Editor

We're looking for a new Arts Editor here at Smile Politely. While being an Editor involves actual editing of content — this position requires much more of a producer mindset than straight-forward copy editing. 

Some components of being an Editor at Smile Politely include, but aren't limited to:

  • Curating the section each week and producing content of your own as well as writers
  • Interested and in-tune with theater, musicals, fine arts, literature, galleries, community arts organizations, and everything in between in C-U
  • Recruiting writers to contribute to the section, as well as the magazine on the whole
  • Contributing to the SPlog each week, posting about a variety of subjects relevant to Champaign-Urbana
  • Contributing to the Weekender each week
  • Participating in Editor's meetings each month

There's a little bit of money on the table as an Editor, but the best candidates are ones that are engaged with the local arts community, interested in perpetutating this component of C-U's culture within the magazine, recruiting writers, and one generally excited to be involved with the magazine as a community journalism project.

If you're interested, please email us at with the subject "Arts Editor Applicant", as well as any relevant information about yourself, a resume, and any writing samples you might have. If you don't have writing samples, that's totally OK too.

Thanks for taking the time!


Smile Politely seeking Opinion writers

The Opinion section has two new Editors at the helm, and we're looking to build the stable of writers contributing specifically to this section. We know you have thoughts about the Champaign-Urbana community, so why not voice them here as an engaged community member? Here's how to do it.

Please send us an email at telling us about yourself, why you're intersted in contributing, and all that good stuff. Since we're a hyper local magazine, applicants must have a grasp on local culture — and you don't have to be the best writer in the world. We're not either.

There's a little bit of money on the table when you write for the magazine, so there's that — but help us build this section, and it'll be fun and rewarding. We want to hear from you, reader.

If you're interested in getting involved, send us an email at the address above with the subject "Opinion Writer" and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. There are an unlimited amount of positions in this area up for grabs, so you can be one amongst several.


Here’s a cool event with local scientists telling personal stories

Local scientists with the University of Illinois will present personal stories showing the "human side of science" on October 19th from 7-9 p.m. at the Blackbird, and it's free! The event is hosted in part by an organization called The Story Collider:

The Story Collider has been bringing true, personal stories about science to life both through our many live shows as well as our weekly podcast, and we've used what we've learned about science and stories to teach scientists to use narrative in our university and corporate workshop program.

They've partnered with the campus group The 21st Century Scientist Working Group to bring the program to C-U. Here's the rest of the info:

Get swept up in a hurricane and laugh at some monkey business - join us for five true, personal stories about the deeply human side of science.

Hosted by Liz Neeley and Ari Daniel. Doors open at 6:30pm, come for a chat and a drink and to get the best seats before the show starts at 7:00pm.


Alyssa Kealohi Loving
Deanna Hence
Felipe Menanteau
Laura Shackelford
Michelle Rodrigues

For bios and more, see our full page at

This special show is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the University of Illinois Office of the Chancellor, 21st Century Scientists Working Group, the Beckman Institute, the Institute for Genomic Biology, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, the School of Earth, Society, and Environment, the Institute for Integrated Biology, and the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.


Here’s what you should know about Oktstonerfest this Saturday at Loose Cobra

The Loose Cobra (located at 113 E Main St, Tolono) is one of the best places in the area. I wrote about this Saturday's Oktsonerfest in the Weekender, but you can check out all the information about tomorrow's metal fest below from their press release:

The Loose Cobra in downtown Tolono, IL (just a quick 12 minute jaunt South down Route 45 from Champaign) will host its third annual Oktstonerfest this Saturday, October 7, which is pretty much tomorrow by most measuring staffs. The event features a full plate of heaviness, with several local bands supporting some additional guests from Chicago, St. Louis, and Atlanta. 7 bands in all will tee it up inside the Cobra, which is basically a double wide but with a bar where there would normally be a shower.

The bar opens at 1:00 for cold beer, vinyl records, pinball, and general grab-assery. Live music starts at 4:20 and continues until we just can’t take it anymore. Owner/promoter Matt will be buying pizzas for the entire crowd (no shit), which is estimated to be at quite a bit more than actually fit in the bar.  (Everyone is encouraged to throw in a few bucks for the pizza when it arrives so Matt doesn’t take a beating on this one [in contrast to the significant shirtless beating he took from members of Cloakroom and Sweet Cobra at the 2015 Oktstonerfest]). Drink specials will include such Bavarian staples as jello shots and scorpion pepper infused tequila. The evening culminates with a shopping cart full of scrap lumber set on fire.

Several outdoor bars, some scattered chairs, and the wreckage of a few wind-destroyed tents will provide a comfortable place to relax with your friends between bands, or at anytime you need a break.

Here’s the schedule, as we know it:

1:00 General grab-assery
4:20 Gonzo Diablo
5:20 redLeg
6:20 Earth Witch
7:20 Ashes and Iron (St. Louis)
8:00 (Pizza)
8:30 Dead Now (Atlanta)
9:15 shopping cart fire
9:30 Sweet Cobra (Chicago)
10:30 Electric Hawk (Chicago)

Attendees are encouraged to keep an eye on the Loose Cobra facebook page for the most current and detailed info. You could also visit, but you may find that less helpful, as it has not yet received its annual content update.

No cover. Donations happily accepted. Suggested donation is $10. $5 is great too. $10 is more. Look for the bucket on the speaker at the right hand side of the stage. That’s where your money goes. Please do not take money out of the bucket.

Matt would like to extend his sincere thanks to Analog Outfitters, Triptych Brewery, and the Upper Bout for their contributions in sponsoring this event. Please get to know these cool businesses and kind community members, and support them however/whenever you can!

Top photo from CobraFest last year, pictured is Sweet Cobra, photo by Marcella Hawley


Prairie Rivers Network honors volunteers, teachers at Anniversary Gala

From the press release:

Prairie Rivers Network (PRN) will honor three Champaign-Urbana area members as Volunteers of the Year and two Naperville teachers with River Steward Awards at its 50th anniversary gala. The event will take place on October 6th at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First Street, Champaign, Illinois.

Prn 50anniversarylogo4ed

PRN culminates its 50th year celebrations with a ceremony honoring this year’s Volunteer of the Year award winners. Champaign area’s Latrelle Bright, Amy Hassinger, and Kate McDowell all helped PRN tell the story of its 50 year history. Latrelle Bright and Amy Hassinger helped with the initial planning and preparation for the PRN Day at Allerton event which took place in May. Bright produced and performed The Water Project and helped interview PRN’s founders for a video highlighting their lifelong stewardship. Hassinger read from her novel After the Dam and has done voiceover work for PRN videos celebrating PRN’s 50 years of stewardship. Kate McDowell helped PRN tell its stories this year and into the future.

“Latrelle, Amy, and Kate have each helped us show the great works that our founders, members, and other river advocates have done in protecting the water, rivers, and wildlife of Illinois,” PRN Executive Director Carol Hays said.

PRN will also award River Steward Awards to Naperville high school teachers Seth Brady and Randy Smith. The two were instrumental in this year’s first annual Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week which took place September 11th through the 16th. They worked tirelessly to encourage students and communities across the state to work together to clean up community waterways. Scores of students took part in the activities. These teachers’ efforts led to an Illinois General Assembly resolution designating the Cleanup Week.

“Seth and Randy went above and beyond regular expectations for what teachers do,” Hays said. “They helped students all across Illinois get involved in the environmental movement with the first Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week and learn how to protect their local watersheds. Their tireless dedication is something to celebrate. Their work will impact students for years to come.”

The gala event will be emceed by Rob Kanter, PRN board member and “Environmental Almanac” columnist, who will share stories of conservation stewardship throughout PRN’s 50 year history.

Fifty years ago Patricia Hannon hiked through Allerton Park in Monticello and became outraged when she learned that the Army Corps of Engineers planned to build a dam that would have flooded this natural treasure. Together with her husband, Bruce, and many volunteers, they took up the battle to “stop the dam” and save Allerton. They collected over 20,000 petition signatures and fought a battle that lasted eight years. Ultimately, they won, saved Allerton Park, and began a movement.

“Protecting Illinois rivers, water, and wildlife depends on people who love a place taking a stand to protect it,” Hays said. “PRN was founded by activists who saw a threat to our environment and who were called to action. Allerton Park and the work of river stewards through the decades are at the core of the successes we have had. Without those founding activists, Illinois would be a very different place.”

Prairie Rivers Network (PRN) is Illinois' advocate for clean water and healthy rivers and is the Illinois affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. PRN advocates for cultural values, policies and practices that sustain the ecological health and biological diversity of Illinois’ water resources and aquatic ecosystems. It is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that champions clean, healthy rivers and lakes and safe drinking water to benefit the people and wildlife of Illinois.


Piato Cafe is moving from Lincoln Square Mall to new Urbana location

Some news about Piato Cafe, which currently exists in Lincoln Square Mall, and operates their own food truck (Piato To Go) — they're moving to a new location at 804 E. Main Street.

Here's the information from the City of Urbana's Economic Development newsletter update, sent the other day:

Piato Catering is expanding and has purchased a full building at 804 E Main. Piato plans to renovate the new building and move from their current retail location at Lincoln Square Mall. Piato will operate their catering, food truck, and meal subscription “Organic Food Nanny” services out of the new location.


CU Indivisible hosts town hall with congressional candidate Betsy Londrigan

CU Indivisible will host IL-13 Congressional candidate Betsy Londrigan for a public town hall on Sunday, October 8th from 4:30-5:30 pm at the Champaign Public Library.

Londrigan is running as a Democrat to unseat Republican Congressman Rodney Davis in the 2018 midterm elections.

This town hall is one in a series of events intended to help the community get to know a variety of candidates, ask questions, and become involved in the electoral process.

LOCATION: Champaign Public Library - Robeson Rooms A&B

SEATING: This event will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

FORMAT: Town hall style question and answer session. Please feel free to prepare your question in advance.

SPEAKER INFO: To learn more about Betsy Londrigan, please visit her website.

COST: This event is free and open to the public.

NOTE: This series of events is educational in nature and does not constitute an endorsement of any candidate. CU Indivisible does not endorse candidates for office.


Dublin O’Neil’s reopens tomorrow, October 5th

From the press release:

Dublin O’Neils, Downtown Champaign’s only Irish-themed pub, is reopening under new management Thursday, October 5. Dublin's has been closed since Sunday, October 1.

Amit Chopra, who has been operating Dublin’s and 301 Mongolia, has made the decision to pursue other career opportunities.  New management has extended an invitation for continued employment to Dublin’s and 301’s current staff.

The building ownership group of the Dublin’s and 301 Mongolia space has brought in Big Grove Tavern GM Scott McIntosh, Chef Du Cuisine Raul Parada and Beverage Manager Matt Musick to implement an atmosphere of “hospitality first."  All three remain in their positions at Big Grove Tavern, which is across the street from Dublin’s at 1 E Main Street.

Dublin’s will be an official Chicago Blackhawks bar for the upcoming season, which launches Thursday night.  Dublin’s aims to be a premier venue to watch local, national and international sports.

Raul Parada is bringing 12 years of local experience to the kitchen.  Expect to see daily specials at competitive price points.  Classic pub offerings define the core of Dublin’s menu, including fish and chips in both fried and grilled versions, burgers, and other options.  The kitchen will be open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily.

The bar will continue to offer premier whiskey from around the world, featuring Irish options as well as a variety of local and international beers.

New GM Scott McIntosh stated the management group’s expectations: “We want a place you can go day or night and feel appreciated.  We are placing a priority on simple excellence.  A good pub is a place you plan to visit briefly, but the combination of good service, atmosphere, people, and quality food and beverage make you want to stay longer and visit again.”


C-U celebrating International Walk to School Day October 4th

Tomorrow is International Walk to School Day, and there are a bunch of schools and organizations participating (Cities of Champaign and Urbana, MTD, Unit 4, etc). You can check out RPC's safe walking routes for schools, and check out the press release below.

From the press release:

Champaign-Urbana to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 4th, 2017



Dr. King, Thomas Paine, Yankee Ridge, Wiley, Leal, and Dr. Williams in Urbana and Bottenfield, Southside, and Carrie Busey in Champaign and Savoy will be joining schools from around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 4th, 2017.


Participating schools include: Dr. King, Thomas Paine, Yankee Ridge, Wiley, Leal, and Dr. Williams in Urbana. Bottenfield, Southside, and Carrie Busey in Champaign and Savoy. Urbana Mayor Marlin will be walking with students at Leal Elementary this year and issued a proclamation at last night’s Urbana Council meeting naming tomorrow Walk to School Day.


Participating schools in Urbana will be gathering between 7:45 and 8 a.m. at designated locations to walk to school together.


Students from the participating schools will walk to school along with parents, teachers, local officials, U of I Student Athletes and community leaders.

In the United States, International Walk to School Day is expected to include more than 5,000 events across all 50 states. Walkers from the U.S. will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world.

Walk to School Day events create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, concern for the environment, and building connections between families, schools and the broader community.

The event is being organized by Cynthia Hoyle of the C-U Safe Routes to School Project, the Cities of Champaign and Urbana, the Urbana and Champaign school districts, and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD). The event is part of a larger Safe Routes to School Program operated through C-U SRTS Project in cooperation with the school districts and cities.

Walk to School Day in the USA