Category: Word

You can help serve the community with Operation Turkey Sandwich

On Thursday, November 22nd, members and friends of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will gather to assemble, package and deliver turkey sandwich lunches to people throughout Champaign-Urbana who are stuck working on Thanksgiving Day.

Operation Turkey Sandwich volunteers will assemble the lunches, including turkey sandwiches, stuffing muffins, cookies and an apple at Good Shepherd that morning. The lunches will be delivered to store clerks, bartenders, cops, bus drivers, etc., anyone who might be working on Thanksgiving Day. 

“We think it’s a great opportunity to reach out to people who are kind of overlooked on Thanksgiving Day,” says Good Shepherd Youth and Family Minister, Jason Fisher.  “Especially with so many businesses deciding to open on Thanksgiving. Operation Turkey Sandwich is a way to say thanks and we’re thinking about you.”

Good Shepherd is inviting anyone who would like to help by cooking or baking; assembling and delivering lunches or donating money. Lunch assembly and delivery will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. More information is available at Good Shepherd’s website, or by emailing


Urbana Landmark Hotel buyer declines to close on property

The saga continues with Urbana's Landmark Hotel.

After the recent sale of the hotel at $1.3M took place back in September, the initial winning bidder bowed out, and then, the second highest bidder entered into negotiations on the property. Now, the buyer has bowed out.

From the press release:


The second bidder in the Urbana Landmark Hotel auction has declined to close on the property. 

Rick George is the Chicago-based senior hospitality broker with Avison Young representing the property owner, Xiao Jin Yuan.

“The second bidder was an experienced developer who genuinely wanted to see if his company could make this project work.  We are moving on to consider our remaining options,” George said.

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin and staff met with the prospective buyer several times to encourage his investment in downtown Urbana. 

“We had several candid conversations about what the developer felt he could invest in this property and how much financial support he needed from the city to make the project work,” Marlin said. “The developer was unwilling to close on the property without a commitment from the City to rebate all tax revenue generated by the project for at least 20 years. This scenario was not acceptable to the City.”


For more information about the City of Urbana, please visit

Top photo by Justine Bursoni


Common Ground Food Co-op now selling fresh fish

Common Ground Food Co-op will now sell sustainable seafood. Get to the store early on Fridays to get some of the limited amount and selection.

From the email announcement:

Here's how it works.

Every Friday, we'll stock 24 (6-12 oz / 2-3 servings) packages of fresh fish. Quantities are limited so it's first come, first served.

Weekly shipments will contain 8 packages each of 3 different fish, rotating based on availability and pricing. Each week we'll have 3 of the following:

Wild striped bass
Wild lake perch
Fresh tilapia
Wild lake trout
Albacore tuna
Farmed rainbow/steelhead trout
Ora King salmon

Here's how we know this is the best fish for you and the planet.

These fish are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and purchased according to Seafood Watch's Consumer Guide, prepared yearly for every region of the U.S.

Why is this important? According to Seafood Watch, "Many of the fish we enjoy are in trouble due to destructive fishing and farming practices."

Fishing plays a bigger role in environmental damage than most are aware. Approximately HALF of the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is just fishing nets, and most of the rest is other fishing gear (Nat Geo).

Bycatch is also a big problem. Sea turtles, sea birds, sharks, and other fish are killed as a result of dangerous fishing practices (Seafood Watch).

So, eating fish that are sustainably caught or raised is reel-y important.

Common Ground Food Co-op
300 S Broadway
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Photos from Common Ground Food Co-op mailing list email


Nick Offerman is returning to C-U for two Japan House fundraisers

Man of many talents Nick Offerman will return to C-U the first week of December. Here's the official announcement from JH:

Humorist Nick Offerman returns to the site of his youthful matriculation with a collection of sawdusty musings on living with enthusiasm, crafting things in wood and most importantly, cultivating mirth.

Nick Offerman, University of Illinois Alum, generously is performing these two shows as fundraisers for the future Japan House Annex. Tickets for the Virginia Theatre show on December 3 will go on sale for the public on Friday, November 16 ( Very special VIP tickets for $250 will also be available to the public. This VIP ticket entitles you to prime seats in the house and an after-show “meet and greet” on stage cocktail gathering with Mr. Offerman – only 20 tickets will be available.

Mr. Offerman wanted to do a second show specifically for students of the University of Illinois at Foellinger Auditorium. This show will take place on December 4 and tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, November 14 (

Mr. Nick Offerman is best known for his role as Ron Swanson on the NBC hit comedy series "Parks and Recreation," and he was the U. of I.’s commencement speaker at Memorial Stadium last year. In addition to his acting career, Mr. Offerman is a well-known author of numerous best-selling books and woodworker who also founded, Offerman Woodshop, in Los Angeles. Offerman is a native of Minnoka, Illinois and graduate from the University of Illinois in theatre in 1993. As a theatre student, Offerman enrolled in classes taught by Professor Shozo Sato, founder of Japan House. The two have remained close and Offerman continues to honor his Sensei through his generous support of Japan House.

Japan House is overwhelmed by Nick’s generosity and continued longtime support of our mission and efforts to share traditional Japanese Arts and Culture in our community and our campus. Japan House shares their deepest gratitude to Nick for his friendship and kindness. Japan House also thanks this community and campus for embracing cultural diversity and for their eagerness to expand their understanding of the world in which we live.

All of the proceeds will go to Japan House, and will be used to help build their annex that will include a classroom, an accessible tea room, a commerical kitchen, storage space, and a café. You can find out more about plans for The Annex in our interview with Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, Director of Japan House. 

We've also interviewed Offerman a couple of times: when he brought his show American Ham to Foellinger Auditorum (a visit where he also hosted an East Meets West dinner with former JH Director Shozo Sato), and in anticipation of another Japan House benefit in 2017

We are a fortunate community indeed to have the continued support of Offerman, whose unique relationship with Japan House and the U of I keeps him coming back again and again.

An Evening with Nick Offerman
Virginia Theatre
203 W Park
December 3rd, doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets go on sale November 16th

Foellinger Auditorium
709 S. Mathews
December 4th, doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets (for students) go on sale November 14th


Itzhak Perlman and Rohan De Silva performing at Krannert on Saturday

For the more classically inclined, renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Rohan De Silva are set to perform at the Krannert Center on Saturday night. Perlman, a winner of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in recording arts, will be performing at Krannert for the seventh time of his career, dating back to 1974. The folks at Krannert are also having a dinner buffet beforehand, which you can munch on for about $15.

Perlman was also just on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week. Catch his segment below.


Common Ground really gets into Thanksgiving

Each year, Common Ground Co-op goes all out for the Thanksgiving holiday — it's a great place to procure all of your turkey day dinner needs. Here's what they have to offer: 

  • Fresh local turkeys from Triple S farms: pre-order through November 16th and know that you are eating a humanely raised bird. When you pre-order, you get 50 cents off per pound, get entered into a raffle to take your turkey home for free, co-op coupons, and tickets to a turkey pot pie class on the 16th.
  • Samples!! November 9th and 13th from 4:30-7 p.m., and the 18th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. you can sample some turkey and dishes that will be available during...
  • ...Thanksgiving in the Deli on November 21st. They will be turning their salad bar into a plethora of options for you to gather up at $9.99 a pound and take home for your own Thanksgiving feast. This is great if you need a little help rounding out your dinner, or if you just would really rather not do the cooking at all. All items are made from scratch, and there will be vegan and wheat-free options available. 

Photo from Facebook


Illini Student Musicals Presents Mamma Mia!

The Illini Student Musicals production of Mamma Mia! is the perfect antedote to midterm elections week. After all the Winner Takes It All, and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!, it's time for an SOS to your inner Dancing Queen.  So, go get your ABBA on with this live-music production.  

For tickets or more information 

Lincoln Hall Theatre
702 S. Wright Street, Champaign

November 9 & 10, 7:30 p.m.


Be sure to pay attention to the new traffic signals in Downtown Champaign

Don't get caught unawares as you are driving through Downtown Champaign. From the City of Champaign Facebook page:

"Drivers in and thru Downtown Champaign should be aware of the newly activated traffic signals located at the intersections of Neil St. and Clark St. and Walnut St. and Logan St. [shown in the map image above]. The new signals contain traffic lights for both vehicles and pedestrians. The City thanks our residents and visitors for their patience during this year's Downtown Intersection and Resurfacing Improvement Project."


40 North’s ACE Awards are tonight, and we’ll buy your ticket if you’d like to go*

Tonight at City Center, 40 North will present its 14th annual ACE Awards, which highlight amazing contributions from different people in the different sectors of our arts community. It takes place at City Center in Champaign

You should go, because it's a really important event, and because it is the sort of thing that helps to fund programming and initiatives for our cultural community, countywide. 

Kelly White, the executive director of 40 North, and its board, do so much for us month in and month out. They are underfunded in the most dire way. With more financial assistance, they could do more, which would translate to economic impact, the expansion of our cultural arena, and that leads to tourism and indirect amenities for all of us. Now, more than ever, organizations like this one demand our support. Spending the $10 on a ticket tonight directly impacts their budget. 

So, if you are up for going, and you'd like to attend and need a ticket, please email us at and we will pay for the first twenty people to ask us to get in*. 

The list of winners is really something to revere. The News-Gazette, which isn't all bad even though sometimes it seems like we say that they are, ran really great profiles on each of the winners, and you should read them. I have them all linked to the name of each winner below. 

From the 40 North site, with links to the articles: 

The winners of the 2018 ACE Awards are:

Advocate ACE Award – Kelly Hieronymus, for her tremendous passion, vision, and enthusiasm, for her inspiration and encouragement of youth, local artists, and art supporters, for her role in helping create a community of artists that support and promote each other, and for utilizing her outstanding talent and creativity to embrace and advocate for the entire arts community.

Artist ACE Award – Peg Shaw, for making work that is publicly accessible yet deeply personal, work that commands a large room while engaging the individual viewer in a quiet, intimate space, for the immersive power of her work through the courageous revealing of her personal story, for evolving and developing compelling new ways to contribute to the local arts community, inspire students, support colleagues, and the people around her.

Volunteer ACE Award – Jim O’Brien, for sharing his passion for poetry and spoken word in an engaging and supportive manner, for his dedication in creating a venue for writers of all levels to gather, discuss, interact and share their voice, for enthusiastically supporting this creative community and inspiring authors to read and display their craft and connect individuals from all walks of life.

Business ACE Award – Exile on Main Street, for their tireless support of local music and art including providing a stage for festival use as well as local and touring acts and commissioning a ceiling mural, for supplying local bands with a venue to sell new releases and related merchandise, for creating an accessible and accommodating space to showcase the amazing talent in our community.

Teacher ACE Award – Brandon T. Washington, for merging his dual passions for music and education into an unrivaled ability to ignite creativity in young people, for his infectious love of music and continuous support and encouragement of those around him,  for tirelessly supplying guidance, dedication, and empowerment in assisting local youth to discover their own voice.

Student ACE Award – Natalie Wakefield, for her outstanding artistic achievements at such a young age, for her impressive humility and desire to continue to develop new techniques and discover new media, for her successful and inspirational collaborations with fellow students and the community as a whole, for her grounded attitude and enthusiastic encouragement of those around her.

Lifetime ACE Award – Dorothy Martirano, for the quality of her musicianship which is rivaled only by her qualities as a human being who cares for her community and the world at large, for her astounding accomplishments including local and national contributions, for her immeasurable ingenuity, breadth of experience, and collaborative endeavors with local and regional partners, which combined have long established her as an absolute treasure of our musical community.


Champaign County Museums Network is expanding its membership

The Museums at the Crossroads Consortium is a local collaboration of museums that have been working together since 1996. From their press release: "Brought together originally for a Museums in the Classroom grant, the organization meets monthly and has collaborated on a wide variety of projects that benefit all its members, including advertising publications, classes for local Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members, and an annual informational and activity tent at the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival."

They are now changing their name to the Champaign County Museums Network and opening up membership opportunities for other area organizations as well as individuals. According to Pam Leiter, the network's vice president, 

“Museums don’t stand alone in the county. We are part of a larger network of volunteers, teachers, archivists, emerging museum professionals, schools, libraries, historical societies, convention and visitors bureaus, and media groups that work together to provide fun and educational opportunities to central Illinois communities. Our new updates, such as adding affiliates like the Illinois Distributed Museum, better represent who we are and how we work.”

Below are the current members. Seeing all of these organizations in one list is great reminder of some of the quality educational opportunities we have in C-U.

• Anita Purves Nature Center (Urbana Park District)
• Champaign County History Museum
• Homer Lake Interpretive Center (Champaign County Forest Preserve District)
• Krannert Art Museum (University of Illinois)
• Museum of the Grand Prairie (Champaign County Forest Preserve District)
• Orpheum Children’s Science Museum
• Pollinatarium (University of Illinois)
• Sousa Archives and Center for American Music (University of Illinois)
• Spurlock Museum (University of Illinois)
• William Staerkel Planetarium (Parkland College)

To find out more, you can visit their website.

Photo from Champaign County Museum Network Facebook page


The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 opens at Parkland tonight

This latest Parkland theater production, directed by Mathew Green, opens tonight at the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre. Here are the details from the press release:

When their latest Broadway musical closes after the murder of three chorus girls, the writers and stars escape to Westchester to work on their next hit. Unfortunately, the murderer has followed them upstate! A comedy about murders, secret identities, and the Golden Age of Broadway, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a modern classic in the vein of Clue and Murder by Death. 

Mathew Green directs a cast of campus, alumni, and community players including Karen Hughes, Chelsea Collier, Wesley Bennett, Jace Jamison, Monty Joyce, Mallory Sellers, Quinton Ohlsson, Jenny Gleason, Ed Pierce, Mindy Smith, and Parker Evans. Lighting Design by Stuart Wilson; Scenic Design, Molly Ilten-Fullan; Sound Design, Dominick Rosales, and Costume Design by Sheri Doyle.

Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
Harold and Jean Miner Theatre at Parkland College
2400 W. Bradley
Nov 8-10, 16-17, 7:30 p.m.
Nov 11th and 18th, 3 p.m

If you attend the November 8th performance, there will be a talk-back immediately following show with Green and cast and crew members. It's also half-price night!

Tickets:  Adult $15, Student/Senior $13, Youth $9, Group (20 or more) $11
To make reservations, visit or call the show hotline at 217/351-2528.