Finding the Write Place: Sip & Savor in Hyde Park

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

SIP & SAVOR

5301 S. Hyde Park
(Del Prado Building)
Chicago, IL 60615
Mon – Fri: 6am – 8pm
Saturday 7am – 8pm
Sunday: 7am – 6pm
Major Holidays 8am-3pm

(Hours subject to change. Please check the Sip & Savor website for up-to-date hours.)

Noise level: moderately quiet (some conversations but also lots of people working/studying)

Availability of space: moderately crowded (a steady stream of customers but I’ve never had trouble finding a seat)

Bathrooms: yes (with key from counter)

Food: yes (menu of light breakfast items, soups, smoothies, and baked goods)

Wifi: free with password

Outlets: some (especially at tables near the walls and at counters along the windows)

Sip & Savor is a neighborhood coffee shop that’s fast becoming an institution in Hyde Park. Adjacent to Harold Washington Park and just blocks from the Lake Michigan shorefront, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the University of Chicago, it’s a great place to grab a coffee and get some work done before exploring the nearby sites. In summer, outside tables allow you to feel like you’re practically in the park, and in winter, large glass windows with counter seats allow you to enjoy the view while staying warm and cozy inside.

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Trez V. Pugh, III (Photo via sipandsavorchicago.com)

According to President and CEO Trez V. Pugh, III, “Our goal at Sip and Savor is to capture the positive energy and excitement of Chicago neighborhoods. In recent years, Hyde Park and Bronzeville has welcomed burgeoning revitalization: restoration of historic buildings along with development of new businesses and an influx of professionals making the community home. I am proud to say that Sip and Savor is a part of this positive movement. We call ourselves ‘Globally Local’ – we offer the finest coffee and teas from around the globe, while complimenting them with pastries from local bakeries. We strive to become your neighborhood coffee shop of choice.”

The website also notes, “All of our coffees are certified fair trade, and in some cases, certified organic and shade grown.  This means that the products you buy maintain biodiversity, provide shelter for migratory birds and help reduce global warming.”

In addition to the Hyde Park location, there is a Sip & Savor at 528 E. 43rd Street in Bronzeville. According to a DNAinfo article from October, Pugh plans to open two additional locations at 2239 S. Michigan Ave and 4600 S. Michigan Ave (Rosenwald Court Apartments), with a possible fifth shop in the works.

Sip & Savor has a rewards program for frequent customers. If you enroll, you will also receive occasional text alerts about special deals. (I receive no more than one or two texts per month.) The Hyde Park location is conveniently located next to a stop for the Number 6 CTA bus, which runs express downtown.

I would recommend Sip & Savor as a place to sit and write for a few hours, grab coffee and chat quietly with a friend, or stop in for a snack on your way to a book reading at the University of Chicago or my favorite neighborhood bookstore, 57th Street Books.

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This post is brought to you by Lizzie Cooke at ChiYAwriters.com.

Chicago Reads: Coming of Age at the End of Nature

On November 3rd, I attended the reading for Coming of Age at the End of Nature at the wonderful 57th Street Books in Hyde Park. Our own Lizzie Cooke was a contributor to this anthology and a speaker at the event. She was joined by James Orbesen, another contributor, and Mark Magoon as moderator.

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About the book: “Coming of Age at the End of Nature” explores a new kind of environmental writing. This powerful anthology gathers the passionate voices of young writers who have grown up in an environmentally damaged and compromised world. Each contributor has come of age since Bill McKibben foretold the doom of humanity’s ancient relationship with a pristine earth in his prescient 1988 warning of climate change, The End of Nature.

What happens to individuals and societies when their most fundamental cultural, historical, and ecological bonds weaken—or snap? In “Coming of Age at the End of Nature,” insightful millennials express their anger and love, dreams and fears, and sources of resilience for living and thriving on our shifting planet.

Twenty-two essays explore wide-ranging themes that are paramount to young generations but that resonate with everyone, including redefining materialism and environmental justice, assessing the risk and promise of technology, and celebrating place anywhere from a wild Atlantic island to the Arizona desert, to Baltimore and Bangkok. The contributors speak with authority on problems facing us all, whether railing against the errors of past generations, reveling in their own adaptability, or insisting on a collective responsibility to do better.

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I love the moderated book events I’ve attended. I love that the writers have a dialogue, giving us a chance to get to know them and their books in a natural way.

Lizzie discussed her experiences volunteering in Haiti to plant trees—the backbreaking manual labor and finding a way to water without the right equipment. In Lizzie’s essay, we go with her to Haiti, endure a hurricane that overtakes the island, and experience her journey as she discovers her purpose. Her words take us into the eye of the storm, experiencing the pounding rains, overflowing rivers, and sheer panic with her.

We see through her eyes the kind of lives that some of the locals live: young people who feel their lives are already over because of the responsibility they carry to support their parents.

During the event, Lizzie shared with us that now, instead of paying for another plane ticket, she donates to established nonprofits, such as Partners in Health, and socially conscious businesses, such as Kuli Kuli, which she thinks have a bigger impact than she could.

The pictures she brought of a flooded Haiti were heartbreaking and eye-opening—a visual representation I wish could have been included in the book. She’s agreed to share them with the ChiYA readers:

James discussed his essay, the aptly named But I’ll Still Be Here, which highlights each generations’ responsibility to protect the environment for the future generations. He asks questions of himself and others about what they are and aren’t willing to do for the environment, and whether or not it’s too late. And the bottom line he keeps coming back to is that he’ll still be here, dealing with the consequences of the decisions made by the previous generation.

The event ended on a lighter note, with Lizzie speaking Creole and James singing for us. The discussion (and book) raised important questions about our impact on the environment and what we can do to play our part.

Congratulations on the anthology, Lizzie, and thank you for sharing your experience with us!

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This post is brought to you by Gloria Chao at ChiYAwriters.com.

From A to Z: Negotiating with Your Muse

From A to Z is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com that examines the nuts and bolts of the writing (and publishing) process.

teaThere are days when my vocabulary and creativity slip through pores in my skin, leaving me a thin, hollow husk of a writer. There are days like these and, sometimes, these days stretch into a week, two weeks, longer.

For me, worse than facing a blank page is facing a half-full one. An empty page leaves me alone with my thoughts—an unfinished one presents perfect rows of words I must’ve written in another life, all of them taunting.

Before I know it, my ideas are dusty and stale. Then the guilt settles and becomes, itself, suffocating. That’s when chores, errands, and freelancing start to feel like a balm. Anything to avoid the blinking cursor.

I’ve found a few tricks that moderate this slide into writer’s block, and I hope they might be helpful to you, too. For me, the hardest part is taking the first step:

Forgive yourself. Don’t let this turn into “I forgive myself for not writing today, and I’ll start tomorrow,” as I certainly have. Instead, make a quick-but-special treat (a fancy tea in a fancy cup is one of my favorites), sit down in front of your closed notebook or computer, and acknowledge that you’ve come further than the day before. Then forgive yourself for taking the time needed to get here, open to the waiting page, and get started.

If thirty minutes later the words still aren’t coming, I switch up my tools. Personally, I find writing longhand lets me be less critical of the words coming out, so sometimes I’ll power down the computer and give myself the freedom to write total crap and the pleasure of scratching it out and trying again.

For advanced stages of writer’s block, I get a change of scene. This is great to do on any given day, but can be especially helpful when you’re struggling to write. Take a brisk walk and think only about your story or character, or pack it all up and go to your favorite coffee shop. Exercise can also get creative juices flowing, and I’ve found hitting the gym for an hour helps relieve frustration and anxiety while sparking new ideas.

For truly advanced stages, I’ll bribe my muse. After 500 words I get to take a 15 minute break and read blogs, watch Netflix, or tidy the kitchen.

Finally, there’s one method that always works for me: Set up a brainstorming date with a friend whose opinion you trust—preferably someone who knows something about writing, editing, and/or work in your genre. Before you meet, take the time to summarize your project. Explain the things you hope to achieve and the questions you want to answer. Explain, also, the loose threads and worries that are swirling in your brain and keeping you from writing. You’ll untangle some things for yourself while doing this preparation, and will untangle many others thanks to your excellent friend.

Go into the conversation with an open mind and no ego: be willing to change anything in the project, to kill off a character or erase a plot twist—to start from scratch if you really have to. As you talk, jot down the specific points that get you excited about the project again. Collect your changes or next steps in one place and reiterate them at the end, treating them like a deliverables list that closes out a business meeting. Talking through your hopes and worries will help you see the project more clearly, give you new ideas you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, and lay out specific steps for moving forward.

I try to treat conversations with my muse like a negotiation, since I’ve personally never had luck with bashing through writer’s block by forcing myself to put down words. Everyone is different, though—if you have other tried-and-true tactics, please share in the comments!

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This post is brought to you by Anna Waggener at ChiYAwriters.com.

Finding the Write Place: The Allis at Soho House

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

The Allis

113 – 125 North Green Street
Chicago, IL 60607
Mon – Tues: 7am – 12am
Weds-Thurs: 7am – 1am
Fri – Sat: 7am – 2am
Sun: 8am – 11pm

(Hours subject to change. Please check Allis website for up-to-date hours.)

Noise level: moderate-conversations, sound of clatter from bar

Availability of space: dependent on day (I went on a Sunday, it was full with brunch crowd)

Bathrooms: yes

Food: yes (menu of breakfast and lunch items)

Wifi: free with password

Outlets: some by the wall tables

The Allis is in the downstairs lobby of Soho House which is known as a membership boutique hotel (with locations in places such as New York City and London). You need a membership to access places such as the gym, the rooftop, and other amenities upstairs. But the first floor is open for the public.

On the first floor sits the Allis, which boasts beautiful chandeliers, small intimate tables for two, and long tables for shared use. It has a great weekend brunch and a good variety of lunch foods. There’s a full bar and if you venture down stairs you’ll find the Cowshed Spa (also open to the public and one of my favorite spas in Chicago).

img_20161023_140431It’s a nice place for writing especially during the week when it’s quieter. It gets fairly crowded with brunchers on the weekends. And during certain seasons the afternoon is reserved for tea time (so you have to get tea service in order to sit). I “accidentally” went to tea one afternoon when my sister and I wanted to get a quick coffee, but it was actually very tastey and fun (we enjoyed the tiny sandwiches). In general, it’s a great place to set up a laptop and get some writing in. When the weather is nice there is a great outdoor space that faces Green Street and despite the scattered traffic it’s a great place to hang out and soak in some sun. (I’ve met my sister and her puppy there many times).

I would recommend it, but mostly for the weekdays.

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This post is brought to you by Kat Cho at ChiYAwriters.com.