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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 ChicagoPride.com.

Entries by Joseph Erbentraut

These Apps Are Helping People Document Police Abuse

(37) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 3:20 PM

It's hard to imagine a more clear example of the power of recording on-duty police officers than the video that led to the arrest and charging of North Charleston, South Carolina, police Officer Michael Slager on Tuesday.

Were it not for the footage shot by witness Feidin Santana,...

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What The U.S. Can Learn From Prison Reform Efforts Throughout The World

(18) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 10:41 AM

It should come as no surprise that with the worst incarceration rate in the world, the United States has a massive problem on its hands.

With roughly 716 of every 100,000 U.S. residents behind bars, the U.S. locks up nearly one-quarter of the entire world’s prison...

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Bernie Sanders: Rahm Emanuel's Re-Election Is Proof Citizens United Decision Stinks

(208) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 6:29 PM

In an interview with HuffPost Live Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lamented the result of Chicago’s mayoral election following the tense, expensive runoff between Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Sanders said he supported Cook County Commissioner Garcia because “he had put together a strong coalition...

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Rahm Emanuel Survives Runoff Election And Wins Second Term As Chicago Mayor

(201) Comments | Posted April 7, 2015 | 9:17 PM

Incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won reelection Tuesday after defeating progressive rival Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in a historic runoff election.

Emanuel, who begins his next four-year term on May 18, won with 56 percent of the vote, according to WGN Chicago. Emanuel coasted to...

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Evocative Photo Project Counters Stereotypes Of What It Means To Be Black, Masculine And Stylish

(34) Comments | Posted April 7, 2015 | 6:14 PM

For black men, the world of fashion has often been one wrought with stereotypes, misconceptions and images of three-sizes-too-large T-shirts, baggy jeans and flashy chains.

But the ongoing photo series "The Dandy Lion Project" aims to change all that by speaking to the fact that black male fashion,...

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The Next Tech Boom Is Taking Place Behind Bars

(11) Comments | Posted April 7, 2015 | 9:14 AM

When San Francisco-based venture capitalists Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti walked into San Quentin State Prison in 2010 to speak with a group of inmates that a friend was mentoring, they didn’t know what exactly to expect.

But the men behind bars, whom Redlitz described as “the most engaged audience...

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This White House-Worthy Youth Mentoring Program Is A 'Beacon Of Hope' In Chicago

(33) Comments | Posted April 4, 2015 | 9:04 AM

For most of the students at Gary Comer College Prep, a charter school on Chicago’s South Side, a trip outside of city limits is rare -- let lone a trip out of the state.

So when a group from Gary Comer was one of 15 out of 1,500...

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Ex-Con Creates Tech Company To Help Inmates Stay In Touch With Families

(15) Comments | Posted April 2, 2015 | 9:54 AM

Frederick Hutson was just 24 and living in St. Petersburg, Florida, when he was convicted on a drug trafficking charge. The Air Force veteran spent four years behind bars, serving out his sentence in eight different correctional facilities.

Hutson found prison life was isolating, no surprise at a time...

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Chicago Debate Moderator Booed For Repeatedly Questioning Chuy Garcia About His Son

(63) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 4:08 PM

When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia faced off Tuesday in their final mayoral runoff debate, it was the event's moderator, rather than either candidate, who found himself in the middle of the story.

About midway through the televised debate, moderator Phil Ponce of local...

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

(21) 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

(4) 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

(100) 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?

(76) 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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