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Salt and Light is opening a new location in Urbana

Salt and Light Ministries has been operating in North Champaign since 2004, providing food, clothing, work experience, financial experience, and more for community members in need. It's a marvelous place to donate your stuff in that they take most things AND they even reuse and recycle the bags and boxes that donations come in. 

They are now prepared to open a second location on Philo Road in Urbana, in the old County Market building. It's an enormous space, and will house a grocery store and thrift shop that is open to all, as well as a second donation center. See the press release below for info about their Grand Opening celebration this Thursday, December 14th.


Urbana, IL:  On Thursday, December 14th, 2017 at 8:30 am Salt & Light will celebrate the Grand Opening of their second location with a short program and ribbon cutting to include the Mayors from both Champaign and  Urbana, along with other guests. The store is located in the former County Market Building at 1819 S Philo Road in Urbana.

Salt & Light employs a unique and innovative approach for addressing chronic food insecurity and access to other basic needs, which builds on the strengths of families and individuals by providing opportunities for them to acquire the resources they need through their own skills, gifts and abilities.
In their credit system participants have the opportunity to volunteer at any non-profit in Champaign County, and for every hour they work, earn $8.25 (minimum wage) in store credit. Credit can be used to purchase everything from groceries and basic home and healthcare needs to clothing, household items or even furniture.

The new 57,000 square foot location in Urbana will allow Salt & Light to improve access to its opportunities for a population for whom they are currently inaccessible. This site will provide much needed space for current operations, future growth and the capacity to collaborate with other non-profit partners as part of a co-location model.

The new location will offer:
• Grocery & Thrift Store: both the grocery and thrift store are open to the general public with proceeds funding programming and the store credit participants earn.
• Computer Technology Center: offering 18 workstations initially, Salt & Light will provide access to a much-needed resource while creating opportunities for educational programming.
• Childcare: participants in the programming will have access to free, safe, and reliable childcare while working onsite or attending classes onsite, removing this obstacle from participation.
• Workplace Preparedness Training: participants will receive classroom instruction for both soft skills job training and financial education, combined with practical on the job training while working towards outside employment.
• Coffee Shop: by the spring of 2018 Salt & Light will open a full-service coffee shop bringing a resource to the area currently unavailable, while creating a training ground for participants in the programming.


Jon Seydl named as new Director of Krannert Art Museum

From the press release:

Jon Seydl Named as New Director of Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Jon Seydl, an art historian specializing in Italian Renaissance art, has been named the new director of Krannert Art Museum.

Jon Seydl is currently the senior director of collections and programs and curator of European art at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. His appointment at Krannert Art Museum will be effective in February, pending approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“I've known about KAM's work for a long time, and I'm very proud to join such a great institution,” Seydl said. “KAM's commitment to research, its outstanding curators and nationally recognized exhibition program, the museum’s wonderful team and fine collection are what drew me to this role. As a European specialist, I have long admired its works of international importance – paintings by Murillo and Lancret, for example, and its African collections are particularly renowned.”

“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Seydl began work in 2014 at the Worcester Art Museum, where he was the lead curator for several exhibitions. He was responsible for the acquisition of Otto Dix’s “Pregnant Woman” and Miguel Cabrera’s “The Virgin of Guadalupe.”

Seydl coordinated a revamped exhibition program at Worcester Art Museum; launched an initiative to present the museum’s entire collection online, adding more than 25,000 records in two years; and developed a systematic approach to curatorial collecting. He also served as liaison for academic programs to 12 colleges and universities.

“Seydl expressed an eagerness to continue developing a range of exhibition and educational programs that forge connections between the campus, the museum, and its diverse publics. He sees that the museum has a key civic role to play as a bridge between the university and the community at large,” said Allyson Purpura, the senior curator and curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum.

Prior to joining Worcester Art Museum, Seydl served as the curator of European painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2007-2013. He was lead curator of “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection,” for which he was awarded the Outstanding Catalogue Essay Prize in 2013 from the Association of Art Museum Curators.

Seydl held positions as associate curator and assistant curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. His experience also includes work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was also a 2014 fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

Seydl earned his Ph.D. in art history in 2003 from the University of Pennsylvania, with Italian art from 1585-1815 as his field of study. He holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University.

He has taught at Case Western Reserve University, the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania.

Seydl will be the ninth director of the museum. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who was the museum’s director from 2004 to 2017, as well as acting dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts from September 2015 until her retirement in August 2017.

Especially committed to issues of equity and inclusion, Harleman promoted the acquisition of works from underrepresented groups, including women artists and artists of color. Among her many achievements, Harleman led the museum on a redesign of its African Gallery, an award-winning installation that informed the aesthetic signature for subsequent gallery renovations. She also oversaw multi-year initiatives to develop educational outreach to area public schools, provide online access to the art collection, and create interdisciplinary collaborations across campus.

Top photo courtesy of Krannert Art Museum.


Urbana Landmark Hotel is going up for auction today

After being deemed not financially feasable, the much-discussed Urbana Landmark Hotel is going up for auction today on Ten-X at 11 am CST.

Starting bid, you ask? $1,200,000.

Click through and check out the photos, plus all other sorts of information about the place. Such a cool space.

The info about where it would be auctioned off came from Urbana's Business and Development report for November:

City of Urbana Business and Development Report for November

The Urbana Landmark Hotel will be offered at auction on the realty website Ten-X on December 11th-13th.

Check out Andrew's piece about this area here.

Top photo by Justine Bursoni.


Illini basketball preview: UNLV

Illinois vs. UNLV
Saturday, December 9th at 11 p.m. in Las Vegas

A Saturday in Vegas may not pay out for the Illini, because UNLV is sneakily one of the best teams in the country.

Led by 7’1” Brendan McCoy and 6’7” Shakur Juiston, the Runnin’ Rebels have guys with a size-talent combination most mid-major schools dream of. In their first six games, the Rebels ripped up opponents by an average margin of 29 points. They lost squeakers to Northern Iowa (also really good) and Arizona (underwhelming, but still a great team) but rebounded with a 26-point victory over Oral Roberts.

When Illinois has faced talented bigs like McCoy and Juiston, it hasn’t gone well. Wake’s 7’1” Doral Moore scored 12 and grabbed 6 rebounds and pushed Michael Finke and Leron Black around at will. Likewise, Maryland’s Justin Jackson (6’7”) and Bruno Fernando (6’10”) had a combined 30 points and 14 rebounds against the Illini. With McCoy universally regarded as a first-round NBA Draft pick, he is surely the best individual talent Illinois has faced and maybe the best (depending on how much you like Miles Bridges of Michigan State).

Illinois would be UNLV’s best win of the year, if it happens, but it’s gonna take some real doing for Illinois to stop it. Prayers up for Finke and Black.


“The Best Christmas Movies Ever” film series coming soon

The Virginia Theater will be beginning their “The Best Christmas Movies Ever” film series next week! Clear your schedule because you can enjoy a Christmas classic and a complimentary cup of hot chocolate for $6.  According to the Facebook event, the line up is as follows.

December 11, 7pm: Home Alone (1990) Rated PG (103 min)
December 12, 7pm: White Christmas (1954) Rated G (120 min)
December 15, 7pm: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) Rated PG (130 min)
December 16, 1 & 7pm: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) Rated PG (130 min)
December 19, 7pm: Elf (2003) Rated PG (97 min)*
December 21, 7pm: Miracle On 34th Street (1947) Rated PG (130 min)

For tickets and more info, click here.


Habitat for Humanity needs gift wrapping volunteers

Habitat for Humanity will help you out if you're in a bind before the holidays roll around too quickly. If you're like me, wrapping gifts isn't your favorite thing in the world — so why not have someone else do it for you, and chip in some money to help Habitat for Humanity in the process?

Sounds like a win-win to me. There's a suggested donation of what you feel like giving, but you should give at least a buck or two per present. That's only fair, and it goes to a good cause.

Perhaps you love wrapping gifts — they are in the market for volunteers.

The gift wrapping takes place from December 13th to December 24th, and you can sign up for a shift here. For more information, contact Kim Gollings at 217-819-5110, send her an email directly at

All of the money earned during the shifts will go directly to help Habitat build homes, and do all of the other great things they do for the community in which we live.

Top photo from Habitat's website.


Here are the holiday specials available at Courier Cafe

There's nothing quite like egg nog during this time of the year, and Courier Cafe is offering them up, alongside a bunch of other holiday specials.

Check out the holiday specials, and the peppermint and egg nog milk shakes below — the holiday season has arrived.

And a bonus: Coffee Cake Muffin:


Check out Pekara’s holiday menu

The holidays are upon us, and what better way to make the season a bit easier than get some things from Pekara's holiday menu.

Orders must be in by December 20th by 5 p.m., in order to be ready for pickup on the 23rd by 3 p.m. 48 hours notice is required for all special orders. Check out the menu below, and their phone number on the flyer to place your order.