When “My Octopus Teacher” won an Oscar last month for best documentary, I was reminded of my own cross-species encounter with a rather large insect on the Paw Paw River in southwestern Michigan.
Stories by Jay Shefsky
Feb 24, 2021 | Jay Shefsky
There are many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has turned people’s lives upside down. This is the story of the emotional devastation — and recovery — experienced by beloved local musician Erwin Helfer.
Nov 18, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
Meet a high school student who’s on a quest to see more bird species in Cook County than anyone, ever.
Nov 14, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
A cobbler in his mid-80s inspires a shoe repair dynasty that spans three generations.
Sep 14, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
Matt Sparapani and Alison Newberry weren’t planning to be in Chicago this summer. But like many of us, they had to rethink their plans. What the local teachers have learned about the natural areas of Chicago.
Jul 13, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
Personal protective gear is often in short supply, but a group of people in the Chicago area have made a serious dent in that shortage. And, as we found out, they were inspired by “Chicago Tonight.”
Jun 22, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
More than 200 species of birds have been identified at this small forest preserve, along with hundreds of other living things. We meet up with Jeff Skrentny and several dozen volunteers for a morning of pre-pandemic restoration work.
Apr 14, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many of us with challenging decisions, from managing our groceries to caring for vulnerable family members. Linda Smith made a choice many of us would find hard to imagine.
Feb 27, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
The Chicago Fire Department has long been overwhelmingly white, but that’s changing, in part due to discrimination lawsuits and, more recently, with the help of group that mentors and trains young first responders.
Feb 12, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
You may have heard of Bessie Coleman, the pioneering African American pilot from Chicago. But there is much more to the history of black aviation in this town. And though that story has been largely forgotten, it’s now inspiring a new generation of aviators.
Feb 5, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
From clothing to digital art to painting, Chicago artist Edo sees color in all forms. “Color is my thing,” he says. “I want it to light up a room.”
Feb 4, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
QT Luong is renowned for his photos of the country’s national parks. In 2019, he photographed what was then the newest national park: the Indiana Dunes.
Feb 3, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
Elsa Harris has played in Chicago churches since she was 12 years old and has performed around the world. We visit this “legend of Chicago gospel.”
Jan 30, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
Ten years ago, less than 2 million records were purchased in the U.S. But last year, nearly 17 million were sold. And now there are records being made in Chicago for the first time in decades. We stop by to see how it’s done.
Jan 29, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
If you want to become a professional violin-maker, there are three places in the U.S. where you can learn how to do it: Boston, Salt Lake City and the Chicago suburb of Skokie.
Jan 28, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
A baby outfit made by a nun in the Philippines in 1945 has now been shared by three generations and 60 newborns. We meet the latest member of the family to wear it.
Jan 16, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
Dozens of old glass negatives found in the attic of a North Side home lead to a surprising discovery, just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down.
Jan 14, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
These days, we know that eating foods high in saturated fats, salt and cholesterol is unhealthy. But that wasn’t always the accepted wisdom. And the doctor whose research led to many of those discoveries just celebrated a milestone.
Jan 7, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
When he died in 2011, Chicago photographer Dorrell Creightney left behind half a million photos. His work is not well known, but his daughters are on a mission to change that.
Jan 6, 2020 | Jay Shefsky
The River North neighborhood offers a mix of restaurants, bars and galleries, but it wasn’t always so trendy. Chicago photographer and filmmaker Tom Palazzolo captured the area in the 1960s and now many of those photos are part of a new book.
Dec 30, 2019 | Jay Shefsky
Dorothy Olson Pauletti came to Chicago at age 17 and played piano professionally for nearly eight decades. At 102, she’s still living musically.
Nov 19, 2019 | Jay Shefsky
In college, Stephanie Baliga was the sixth-fastest freshman in the nation. Now 31, the local nun is still running, but her goal isn’t the Olympics. It’s raising money for the religious community she serves.
Nov 4, 2019 | Jay Shefsky
When Al Westerman’s grandparents bought a farm in Northern Illinois in 1911, it came with a house, a barn and an apple orchard. Now, he collects heirloom apple trees and grows more than 100 varieties.
Oct 31, 2019 | Jay Shefsky
Mickey Alice Kwapis knows that she doesn’t fit most people’s idea of what a taxidermist looks like. And she is trying to change that.
Oct 17, 2019 | Jay Shefsky
There are plenty of Beatles covers in the world. But when a talented local guitarist like Joel Paterson applies his artistry to the fab four, that gets our attention.