The Independent

NEIU Students had an Eye-Opening Experience in Guatemala

Kristen Conradi, Business Manager

April 11, 2013

The Student Leadership and Development (SLD) office offered four Alternative Spring Break service trips to students this semester. Trip options included driving to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, flying to Arizona near the Mexico border, a local trip to the Bronzeville Community of Chicago, and an unforgettable international...

Bomba Con Buya  - Photo by Desiree Dylong

Batey Urbano Celebrates 11th Anniversary

April 11, 2013

Most celebrate anniversaries with cake, but that’s not how they do it at Cafe Teatro Batey Urbano in Humboldt Park. Instead they celebrate with spoken word, comedy s...

The Vagina Monologue cast - Photo by Linda Monacelli

Vagina Power at NEIU

April 11, 2013

Rounding out Women’s History Month, the NEIU Feminist Collective hosted Eve Ensler's empowering play “The Vagina Monologues” on T...

Chocolate shop

Small North Park Chocolate Shop is Still a Big Hit

March 6, 2013

The name Beijo de Chocolat is part Portuguese and part French and means “Kiss of Chocolate.” And that is exactly what you’ll get when you...


ASPIRA Pride Shines Bright

January 25, 2013

      Culture and history was vibrant during ASPIRA’s initiation ceremo...

Oakton Woods

Dayani Pieri, Staff Editor

November 14, 2012

Workers and volunteers help clear out Oakton Woods of invasive species of weeds. Photo by Dayani Pieri      Beautiful Oakton woods surrounds the Des Plaines campus of Oakton Community College (Oakton). Oakton got its name from the majestic native oaks that dressed the forest and gave its inhabitants shade and sustenance. By the 1800’s, non-native species that were imported into this nation by European settlers had thrived and begun to encroach on the native trees’ environment. Today, one of the Midwest’s noxious weeds is the European buckthorn or Rhamnus cathartica. This is a woody shrub which was used mostly as an ornamental or for hedging; to keep wild animals out of the property. Its advantage is its berries that attract the birds who in turn carry the seeds and spread them. Originally classified as a shrub, buckthorn, today, has grown to become as tall as a small tree and has invaded many Midwestern forests including Oakton Woods. This invasive species coupled with several others have taken over Illinois forests and floodplains, and continue to defeat native species in their struggle for survival. If not for the efforts of the Oakton forest manager Ken Schaefer, and the dedicated students and faculty of its Ecology Club, Illinois residents would cease to enjoy the native oaks of Oakton Woods. The Annual Fall Workday marks Oakton’s efforts to restore these woodlands to its original state and to protect our native oaks. This year’s Fall Workday was conducted on Nov. 3. It began with breakfast and registration at 8:30 a.m. An introduction, safety instructions, and demonstrations on how to use loppers and hand saws were given by Ken Schaefer, assisted by Jacob Schmidt of Oakton. After wearing safety goggles and work gloves, the students got to work cutting down a large number of European buckthorn, a couple of European mulberry trees, and thinning sugar maples. Students and faculty joined forces to clear the forest of invaders. Helpers worked in groups to saw, cut, haul and burn. Groups of students were placed around the fires to control them. In about four hours, the whole area had been cleared of invasive species. Then began the prescribed burn process to clear ground cover, destroy invasive seeds and limit grow-back options in the area. The prescribed fire practitioners in their fireproof uniforms with their crew of students began the controlled burn process. Before long, the whole forest floor was ablaze, creating an imposing spectacle, according to students watching. Schmidt, the President of Oakton’s Ecology Club, explained that the opening up of the woods and the conducting of a prescribed burn “increases biodiversity.” The cutting down of the invasive species and thinning of the sugar maples also makes way for the native oaks to survive. The day following the prescribed burn, Schmidt wrote that he revisited the area and that he could already see the difference and “It looked amazing!” According to Schmidt, 70 people volunteered to make the restoration effort a success. Students and faculty from Oakton, Northeastern (NEIU), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Illinois Institute of Technology volunteered on this day. NEIU was represented by members of Tri Beta Biological Honor Society (Tri Beta) and the Green Cycle Group (GCG). GCG is an NEIU club that has become very active this semester. Its members have been actively participating in several community events including the Fall Workday. It eagerly looks forward to the upcoming Energy Sustainability Effort event that will be held on Nov. 29. Sana Sultana is the President of Tri Beta’s NEIU chapter. Sultana has recently taken over the leadership of Tri Beta and has done a marvelous job of resurrecting it from its dormancy. She has initiated and participated in many activities with the group. Fall Workday was one of those events where she was a very active participant. She has not been to a restoration prior to this day. “I went today, and man it was awesome,” wrote Sultana, “I am looking forward to going again.”...

Dimo’s, a pizza experience

Jon-Paul Kreatsoulas

November 14, 2012

After a rough week of school and work-related projects piling up, all students want to do is make it to the weekend and blow off some steam with pals.  One might decide to go bar hopping to the same places they’ve been a dozen times before, but  not everyone is bold  enough to admit the desire for a change of scenery without giving up the idea of alcohol consumption. Readers are probably getting hungry at this point too, and McDonald's dollar menu doesn't offer favorite beers, let alone any beer at all. If one happens to be stumbling through the heart of Wrigleyville, they should keep their eyes open for Dimo's. Formerly known as Ian's until recently, Dimo's (3463 N. Clark) specializes in the art of constructing bizarre pizza creations, either by the slice or by the pie.  An added bonus to Dimo’s that may suit some (if not all), is the accommodation of a BYOB setting. The pizza creators at Dimo's are not shy when it comes to versatility on their work table. After one enters and stands behind the glass in amazement, their eyes feast upon the feast at hand and they’ll have difficulty choosing between a slice of macaroni and cheese pizza or a s'mores slice, covered in melted marshmallows and lightly drizzled with chocolate syrup. If they don't have much of a sweet tooth and can do without noodles on their pizza crust, there is the Philly cheese steak slice, the B.B.Q. chicken, various vegetable arrangements and Dimo's even offers vegan friendly slices. Though these are only a few of the specialty slices offered in addition to the traditional plain cheese, pepperoni and sausage toppings, Dimo's is famous for their weekly extra-specialty themed slices. Just recently, their arsenal of edibles has consisted of an Oktoberfest themed slice, a Derrick Roast Beef slice and a Smashing Pumpkin Pie slice. The staff at Dimo's is fun and welcoming, and guessing by the choice of music coming out of their sound system, mix CD's and playlists are an important element to the atmosphere. Though tiny, Dimo's offers group seating to accommodate hoards of (casual) drunkards to sit and enjoy their steaming slices, but the possibility of waiting in line, outside of the restaurant even, is quite fathomable. Any slice of Dimo's pizza will cost you about $3.75, but be sure to snag a punch card that entitles customers to a free slice once they've purchased ten of them. Dimo's is a great place to hibernate for an hour or so once coming out of a buzzed state of mind, or just an awesome pick on any night of the week. It's the kind of place that houses the romantic pizza eaters who enjoy the company of a bottle of wine, the loud pack that huddles over a 24 pack, or the most dedicated elite of pizza aficionados....

Uncharted Books Putting Reading On The Map

Luis Badillo, Writer

October 31, 2012

Uncharted Books offers Logan Square a chance to venture into unknown waters for new reading material, literary functions and community events. Uncharted Books opened on January 13th, 2012.  Not even a year since opening their doors, the store's quirky yet warm atmosphere has generated a lot of buzz. So much buzz in fact, that in June the Chicago Reader named it the best new bookstore in Chicago. Before starting Uncharted Books, owner Tanner McSwain was no stranger to the business of books. Previously, he worked for Agate Publishing in Evanston, IL.  Directly before opening Uncharted, he worked an office job at McGraw-Hill, who may have published any number of text books Northeastern students could have owned at some point. "Corporate wage-slave wasn't really my cup of tea. I wasn't working directly with books as much as I wanted to" he said.  "Owning a bookstore was this pie in the sky idea. I always thought it would be a cool idea." With last year's closing of Border’s Bookstores across the country, a significant barrier of entry was broken down. "Logan Square needed a bookstore [and] It looked like there was going to be a hole in the market again," McSwain said. To facilitate this dream, McSwain needed some extra income to open up his shop.  A friend of McSwain’s, Nick Disabato, suggested that he use Kickstarter to help with acquiring funds. Disabato is no stranger to starting a huge project with little money on hand. Kickstarter is a site for aspiring entrepreneurs to call upon the masses to help fund their endeavors and Disabato had already successfully gathered enough supporters through Kickstarter to fund a self-published book. McSwain's Kickstarter amassed amazing support. "Man, we got backers from all over the place," McSwain said. His Kickstarter proposal got over 200 donators, not just from Chicago, but from across the country. The likes of author Neil Gaiman, actor Wil Wheaton, and rock group Superchunk all caught wind of the project and proceeded attract more supporters by promoting it on their Twitter pages. "It was a crazy huge success," McSwain said, continuing on to say that the Kickstarter became fully funded at $10,000 in just six days, coincidentally on McSwain’s birthday. And with an ending fund accumulation of over $12,500 it proved to be a very happy birthday indeed. So what makes Uncharted Books so unique? The store's atmosphere is noticeable when stepping foot into the shop. The store's mascot, an adorable one and a half year old white husky named Ramona has become a Logan Square icon with her own biography and pictures on the Uncharted website. Friendly and welcoming, Ramona has gained her own following. For many of the store's patrons, just showing up to say hi to this adorable pooch is enough to warrant a visit. The store has warm lighting and chairs strewn about that encourage customers to grab any book they like and read. The store is littered with all sorts of pop culture references. For Halloween, there is a creepy replica of a Weeping Angel statue from the Doctor Who TV series, and by the entrance is the decapitated effigy of a Game of Thrones character. But the real draw is the personality-driven service and selection that Uncharted has to offer. McSwain and the other employees of Uncharted personally screen the books they buy and sell, selecting only books they feel are good literature. McSwain has also made it a point to create what he calls an accessible and non-judgmental feel to the store, citing the tendency  of other independent bookstores to be "snobby" about their knowledge in books. "What we've set up here is for browsing and discovery." McSwain and his crew are versed enough to help even the most discerning book lover find something to read and love. The personality works in conjunction with the numerous events that the store holds, such as readings from local authors, comedy nights, and a weekly game night hosted by local game maker Max Tempkin. These events are sponsored by and all in service of creating a community that surrounds Uncharted books. "We wanted to build a community even before we launched" McSwain said. "[It's] critical to what this bookstore is." Uncharted books is located in Logan's Square at 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave. Visit them online at for a detailed schedule of events....

Scientology Explored

Michelle Kuehlhorn, Staff Writer

October 3, 2012

In 1952, Hubbard used the Dianetics framework and published a new set of teachings as Scientology, a religious philosophy. In 1953, Hubbard incorporated the Church of American Science, Church of Scientology, and Church of Spiritual Engineering in Camden, New Jersey. On February 18, 1954, Hubbard gave his blessing to his followers...

The Wormhole

Jon-Paul Kreatsoulas, Staff Writer

October 3, 2012

              When approaching the Wormhole on 1462 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, one need not worry about dirtying clothes or breaking any limbs once falling in. Upon entry, customers will literally become younger as their eyes gaze upon the numerous pop culture remnants of the 1970’s and 80’s. Countless artifacts draw the eye and embolden the mind from the Spielberg and Lucas era of filmmaking. Scantily clad Princess Leia action figures strewn about the establishment evoke every Star Wars fan’s secret crush, and Doc Brown’s DeLorean takes visitors “back to the future” while remaining comfortably parked inside. After the visual geekfeast wears off, then one remembers they came into the Wormhole because the word is they serve a good cup of coffee. Aside from a shop of nostalgia, the Wormhole is ultimately a cafe that offers everything from a standard cup of black coffee to the most intricately flavor-infused hot beverages that can be constructed from a latte or an espresso base. There is also a wonderful array of hot brewed teas available upon request from the Wormhole’s extensive list. If customers are looking for something more than drinks to sip on while grieving over homework, freshly baked delectable edibles are on the menu as well. Speaking of homework, the Wormhole is an ideal place to do some as it has free WiFi and an abundance of power outlets. The Wormhole is also the perfect place to finish a screenplay, curl up with a book on couches with cushions to literally sink into, play “Duck Hunt” and “Super Mario Brothers” on the original Nintendo while enjoying a steamy cup of goodness, or just sit and marvel at the vintage Ghostbusters and The Goonies posters. The collection of dated cartoon character-themed tin lunchboxes is impressive as well. Racking up a respectable bill of $5-$10 per person is well worth the wait in line at the Wormhole because you’re paying for an experience that is more than just being handed a cup of coffee over a counter in exchange for cash. The coffee chemists at the Wormhole exact precision and care with every cup that is created. A trip down the Wormhole is a true adventure....

It’s Time to Rice ‘N’ Roll

Linda Monacelli, Copy Editor

October 3, 2012

    Erick von Alroth, NEIU alum and owner of Frankenstone Art Center, right next door to Rice ‘N’ Roll initially recommended the restaurant.Located at 3312 W. Foster Avenue, Rice ‘N’ Roll is truly a gem of a hole-in-the-wall within a five-minute drive, or 20-minute walk, from Northeastern. Michael’s mom, Ruentip Tiemchaiyapum, a native of Thailand, prepares 98% of the meals. Michael’s sister Alisa came up with the name for the restaurant and her husbanddesigned the cute logo. Rice ‘N’ Roll serves Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. The prices are truly a sight for a poor college student’s sore eyes. Their “All-day Special” includes one Thai or Chinese entrée plus two vegetable egg rolls, all for $5.95. While this price excludes tax, it’s still one heck of a deal. Their most popular Thai dish, Pad Thai, earned GrubHub’s Golden Grub Award for Customers’ Favorite dish. Again, for $5.95, you get a generous serving of Pad Thai, generous as in occupying the majority of a 12-inch plate. Their Thai curry dishes are also popular. Customers ordering Chinese food usually get the Mongolian beef or chicken, orange chicken, or General Tso's chicken. Popular Japanese-influenced items include the Godzilla and dragon mega rolls and regular-sized California and Philly rolls. Having tried the chicken Pad Thai, it was the most flavorful Pad Thai I’d had in a hot minute. The thin flat noodles were al dente, perfectly cooked, and the peanut sauce was just strong enough to not be overwhelming and ruin the dish. Tender yet crisp chopped scallions balanced the sweetness of the sauce. The chicken pieces were small and thinly sliced, making them convenient to eat and proportionate to the other ingredients. Crunchy bean sprouts and scrambled egg pieces add further texture. Overall, the Pad Thai, as well as other dishes Rice ‘N’ Roll serves up, including the Pad Kiemow and Tom Kha soup, taste super fresh and flavorful. What makes this place even better is that it’s BYOB, has free Wi-Fi, and the customer service, a.k.a. Michael Tiemchaiyapum, the manager, is friendly. He even remembers his customers and what they’ve ordered in the past! Michael, named after Michael Jackson, whose music his sister loved back in the ‘80’s, asked his parents to give him a Thai nameso that he could feel closer to his cultural heritage. In response, his parents, Saroj and Ruentip Tiemchaiyapum traveled to a Thai temple in Chicago and acquired the name Montri, but their son still goes by Michael with most people, including customers at his family’s restaurant Rice ‘N’ Roll. Rice ‘N’ Roll can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. Also check them out on their website They’re open 6 days a week: Monday thru Saturday, 11:30am – 9:00pm. They are closed on Sunday. Plan your next study group, or social date at Rice ‘N’ Roll. It’ll be the best decision you made all week. Also, don’t forget to say hi to Erick and check his awesome space at Frankenstone Art Center next door!...

Orga Café and Tea

Lina D. and Christos Liardakis

September 19, 2012

  From the exterior, Orga Café is reminiscent of those street-side pizza joints that the quintessential teenager and all of her gum-popping friends hang out in. Though the ‘N Sync trading cards and girls that yell for ketchup were absent, it was an oddly pleasant environment. The food was not terribly priced and came to an average of about $9 per person and about $2 for iced tea. Besides offering Middle Eastern cuisine (falafel and shawarma abound) Orga’s menu also offered some fast food classics such as hot dogs, fries and burgers. To begin with, Orga Tea lived up to its name. The tea was actually quite good. There were a variety of flavors to choose from with the basic white, green, black teas and a few fruity things added into the mix, including a tea made from rose hips. The food, however, could not boast the same claim. The meat was over- spiced; the falafel was just okay and the hummus and eggplant dip were both disappointing. The salad was actually pretty decent. Most unsettling, was the small strand of hair found in the rice. While the rice was a pretty sunny yellow color, the hair raised hygiene questions. Still, if students want convenience, it is close to campus and is a decent alternative to Lean Cuisine. Orga is located on the corner of Bryn Mawr and Kimball....

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