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Joseph Erbentraut
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HuffPost Chicago Editor Joseph Erbentraut has been writing ever since he had access to his mother's typewriter while growing up in rural Wisconsin. Enamored with the keys' clickity-click sound and the simple beauty of black, perfect words against a purely white background. The medium later became a computer and the young writer's life of reporting launched with the "publication" of the Sixth Grade Times, which offered in-depth coverage of school-wide assemblies, birthday parties and breaking playground gossip. Overseeing a staff of five with an angsty teenage fist, he sold issues for a dime apiece and caused quite a stir with one particular series of bag-lunch exposes.

A decade later, Erbentraut earned a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved shortly thereafter to Chicago, a city he has grown to adore. In addition to his work with The Huffington Post, his writing has been featured in the Village Voice, Windy City Times, Chicagoist, Gapers Block, EDGE Media Network and

Entries by Joseph Erbentraut

How One Artist Is Working To Build A 'Mini-Versailles' On Chicago's South Side

(1) Comments | Posted March 26, 2015 | 4:23 PM

For acclaimed Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, community revival all comes back to his training as a potter -- a practice in which “you very quickly learn to make great things out of nothing.”

That’s exactly what Gates has done with Dorchester Projects, part of an impressive cluster of...

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Lollapalooza 2015 Lineup Includes Paul McCartney, Metallica

(31) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 7:15 AM

One day after three-day festival passes -- priced at a whopping $275 apiece -- sold out in a matter of minutes, Lollapalooza announced the highly-anticipated lineup for its Chicago-based festival early Wednesday morning.

The July 31-Aug. 2 fest in Grant Park will feature headliners...

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Here's How A Group Of Activists Is Using Balloons To Keep Tabs On The Environment

(4) Comments | Posted March 24, 2015 | 12:45 PM

An idea sparked in the aftermath of the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history gave way to a community dedicated to democratizing environmental activism worldwide.

Shortly after BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010, environmental activists working on the Louisiana coastline were concerned that...

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Oakland Program Shows Low-Income Youth How To Dream Big By Pairing Them With Role Models

(2) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 1:46 PM

As is the case in many U.S. cities today, it often appears the deck is stacked against youth living in low-income areas of Oakland, California.

The city’s high school dropout rate is nearly 25 percent, while youth poverty has been rising, and youth employment decreasing, in...

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These Gorgeous Dolly Parton Prints Will Renew Your Faith In Fan Art

(6) Comments | Posted March 19, 2015 | 4:35 PM

It’s hard to imagine a public figure who's inspired more fan art than country music legend Dolly Parton. And while fan art isn't always the most eye-pleasing, that's not the case for “Tease it to Jesus," a portrait portfolio containing works from 35 printmakers.

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Artist Hand-Sews Her Own Hair To Create Lavish, Haunting Drawings

(1) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 6:50 PM

It was an off-hand comment from a friend that originally prompted Dallas-based artist Rosemary Meza-DesPlas to begin working in her unusual medium of choice — her own hair.

Back in 2000, Meza-DesPlas was working on a large-scale wall drawing when a friend remarked that her work was so...

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Why Vertical Farming Could Be On The Verge Of A Revolution -- And What's Keeping It Down

(80) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 3:25 PM

Could the future of modern agriculture be found completely indoors?

That’s the question on the mind of Caleb Harper, the research scientist behind the CityFARM project of MIT Media Lab’s City Science Initiative.

On any given day on the fifth floor of the glass-walled Media Lab building, a...

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Gorgeous Roller Derby Photos Redefine Beauty And Strength

(146) Comments | Posted March 10, 2015 | 11:42 AM

For some, physical fitness is associated with thinness and weight loss — but that isn’t and shouldn’t be the case for everyone.

Thus goes one of the messages behind Body by Derby, a photo series by Jasper, Indiana-based photographer Cory Layman.

(Story continues below.)

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Taste Test: Which Frozen Veggie Burger Brand Is The Best?

(75) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 6:32 AM

When it comes to meat-free burgers, there have never been more options to choose from.

While more and more people have expressed interest in reducing their meat intake, more companies have embraced the trend, joining trailblazing brands like Boca, Morningstar and Gardenburger in offering their own spin on...

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America Is About To Get Its First All-Vegan School Cafeteria For Kids

(55) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 9:09 AM

Move over, meatless Mondays and vegetable quesadillas! One private early childhood-12 school in southern California is going all the way, eliminating all meat and animal products from its cafeteria and offering an entirely plant-based menu.

The MUSE School in Calabasas, California, will complete a transition to an all-vegan...

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How One Community Is Kicking The Koch Brothers' Harmful Black Dust Out Of Their Neighborhood

(62) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 8:52 AM

It’s not easy to take on a wealthy, multi-national corporation and win. Especially for residents of Chicago’s struggling southeast side.

But that’s exactly what's happening on the banks of the Calumet River, where the steel plants that used to give residents of a mostly Hispanic neighborhood access to a middle-class...

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Meet The Man Who Might Make Chicago Mayoral History

(15) Comments | Posted February 26, 2015 | 4:43 PM

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was dealt a surprising result in his reelection bid: Despite a massive campaign war-chest and the backing of President Barack Obama, he fell short of the number of votes he needed to avoid a runoff election against his closest rival.

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Chicago Mayoral Race Isn't Over Yet, As Rahm Emanuel Falls Short Of Votes Needed To Avoid Runoff

(119) Comments | Posted February 24, 2015 | 9:10 PM

Former congressman and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel won the most votes in Tuesday’s Chicago mayoral election, but he failed to receive the degree of support needed from voters to avoid a runoff election in April.

In his quest for a second term as Chicago mayor,

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‘I Am Free': Former Inmates' Poetry Proves Our Hopes, Fears And Dreams Are Universal

(7) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 9:19 AM

It’s not every day that Chicago photographer Sandro Miller — whose John Malkovich photo series received widespread media acclaim — receives a handwritten letter in the mail.

But one day in early 2014, Miller opened his mailbox and found a message...

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JNCO Jeans Are About To Make A Comeback (Seriously)

(111) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 4:06 PM

Remember these?


Well, they’re back. Sort of.

JNCO, the clothing brand best known for its many varieties of extremely baggy jeans that looked like giant wearable tree trunks made of denim, is prepping for a relaunch.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, the Los Angeles-based...

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When They Lost State Funding, This Chicago-Based Youth Program Decided To Reach Even Higher

(2) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 9:12 AM

On a Tuesday late last month on Chicago’s South Side, the staff of Donda’s House, a unique artist development program for at-risk youth that was co-founded by Kanye West, gathered around a table to discuss an upcoming application period. They were ready to launch their young program’s fourth...

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The Simple Strategies That Could Fundamentally Change How Communities View Their Police

(62) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 6:35 AM

The president, police experts, activists and even some police officers have called for major changes to the American law enforcement system. Community policing -- used in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, where Captain Lenny Austin is seen here mentoring a student in 2013 -- might just be...
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In Chapel Hill And Across The Country, Thousands Honor Slain Muslim Students

(102) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 8:01 AM

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Thousands of people gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday to pay tribute to the three young Muslims who were killed by a neighbor a day earlier.

The gathering was held at a central meeting space on UNC's...

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Everything You Need To Know About Chicago's New National Park

(5) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 3:56 PM

Chicago is about to get a new national park -- its first ever.

The White House announced Tuesday that it will designate a section of Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood on the South Side as a national monument. President Barack Obama, whose community organizing work began in the neighborhood, is

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The Powerful History Of The Grammy Performance Everyone's Talking About

(79) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 12:16 PM

Though Beyoncé’s powerful performance at Sunday’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles has gotten everybody talking, few have mentioned the origins of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” the iconic gospel anthem the “Drunk in Love” performer sang.

The song dates back to the 1932. It was penned...

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