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Did you know Common Ground sells ice cream sandwiches?

They're only four dollars, and they're huge. The ice cream is from Red Bicycle Ice Cream (now closed for the season). There are usually a few different varieties of sandwiches in the freezer case (located in the produce/deli area); I selected oatmeal raisin cookie and dark chocolate. 

Common Ground Food Coop
300 S Broadway
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Photos by Jessica Hammie


HERSTORY symposium taking place October 26th at NCSA

There's an upcoming symposium being held at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) featuring a bunch of amazing women talking about their work on October 26th. Check out the information below:

Herstory: Digital Innovation Symposium and Book Signing

Hear from Midwestern women who shaped early digital media and participate in breakouts focused on empowering women at “Herstory: Digital Innovation Symposium & Book Signing” on October 26 at NCSA in room 1030 from 9AM to 2PM.  

The event has 13 lightning talks followed by interactive luncheon breakout sessions and is based off a new book titled “New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts”. Thirteen book contributors who give talks include the woman who designed the first graphical web browser, the first female gaming company founder, and the woman who built the first room-size virtual reality room environment. Lunch provided for registrants. Event sponsored by NCSA, IPRH, and University of Illinois Press. Register here for lunch.


You can support Kickapoo Rail Trail at Sleepy Creek Vineyards next month

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District and Vermilion County Conservation District are hosting a fundraiser at Sleepy Creek Vineyards on November 16th from 7 to 10:30 p.m. All proceeds from the event will support the extension of the new Kickapoo Rail Trail, which officially opened aa 6.7 mile stretch last year. The CCFPD and VCCD have purchased the full 24.5 mile railroad corridor, and now they are trying to raise funding to continue it's development. 

Tickets are $50 per person, which includes one drink ticket, an appetizer bar, silent auction, and live music. You can also sponsor a table of 10 for $450. Tickets can be purchased through either organization by calling 217-586-3360 or 217-442-1691. 


C-U Adventures in Time and Space is on the move

This weekend, Champaign-Urbana Adventures in Time & Space is doing a soft launch of one of their brand new adventures, the Revenge of the Cabin, and I am super excited about it. Some of our Smile Politely crew escaped the original a while back, and while I have enjoyed the others I've tried, it remains my favorite. Here's what you need to know:

The new location, which is “soft launching” this weekend (October 19-20), is at 302 N. Broadway Ave, Suite 100 in Urbana — the former Gill Athletics building. CU Adventures will be taking over approximately 7500 square feet of office and warehouse space, allowing for escape rooms, a large workshop, and space for new, experimental projects.

“We’re so excited to be in the North Broadway area,” Anne said. “With the Station Theater and Broadway Food Hall as our neighbors, I think we’re really creating a new arts district here.”

Chris added, “The larger space is going to allow for new escape rooms that are going to be exponentially more impressive than our old ones. With the new space (and 3 years of experience in this business now), I’m really excited about what we’ll be able to do.”

A Grand Opening celebration is planned for early November. The Broadway Avenue location will soft launch with a sequel to their most popular game, The Cabin - aptly titled REVENGE OF THE CABIN. Inspired by films like The Evil Dead and Cabin in the Woods, the game will have an all-new set, all-new story, and all-new puzzles, so fans of the existing Cabin game will be able to return to challenge it once again. Coming soon: the long-awaited fantasy game THE WIZARD’S CURSE (an escape room inspired by works like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones), which will open in November.

While CU Adventures will keep its Race Street location open (so the games Artificial Intelligence and recent addition The Sword of the Dragon will remain available), they will be leaving their 123 W. Main St location in October. The Lost Temple, The Cabin, and Calling All Heroes are all in the process of closing.

You can book the new adventure or take advantage of your last opportunites at The "OG" Cabin, The Lost Temple, and Calling All Heroes here.

Photo from Facebook


Unit 4 is hosting a Community Info Night on October 30th

The evening will take place in the Central High School Library and will focus on the upcoming Central, Centennial, and McKinley Field projects. Here is the schedule:

5:30 – 6:15 P.M. PRESENTATION
An appoximately 45-minute presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. to share updates on timeline, design and phasing, including exterior finish options and landscaping.

6:15 – 7 P.M. OPEN HOUSE
• Central & Centennial - See options for exterior elements such as brick, windows, lighting and fencing.
• McKinley Field - See current design progress.

Our project management team will be there to answer questions. You may also complete a feedback form to tell us what you think.

If you can't get there, you can always find updates on the district's referendum projects website.


Lodgic Everyday Community Kids Camp is open

Lodgic Everyday Community officially opened it's doors on October 4th, and their Kids Camp, one of the key elements of their concept, is now open as well. It's a flexible, drop-in child care service, but it's not just baby-sitting. They've worked with an early childhood education on creating an enviroment where kids will be nurtured as well as have the opportunity for learning through play. You can find out more about the program and Kids Camp membership options here. Here is the full description from Lodgic:

After months of intense work developing a unique, enriching curriculum and an environment to host children in open-ended, play-based learning, Lodgic Kids Camp officially opened its doors Friday, October 12, offering flexible, drop-in child care for children 12-months to 12-years-old. Lodgic Everyday Community is the first-ever blend of productivity-boosting workspace; licensed, flexible drop-in childcare; and fun, good-for-you dining — all in one energizing everyday place. The Moose International initiative is a non-profit and hosted its official ribbon cutting and grand opening on October 4.

The entire Lodgic concept is designed to provide financial support to the children at Mooseheart Child City & School. Mooseheart is a residential childcare facility, located on a 1,000-acre campus 38 miles west of Chicago. The Child City is a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school. Dedicated in July 1913 by the Moose fraternal organization, Mooseheart cares for youth whose families are unable, for a wide variety of reasons, to care for them.

“The Lodgic Kids Camp team has poured hours upon hours of work into creating a curriculum that is multi-faceted, child-centered, and carefully blends proven methodologies with the expertise amassed over the last century through Mooseheart Child City & School,” said Jori Orsini, Lodgic Everyday Community, Executive Director, Hospitality Operations (EDHO). “Parents may bring their child for the flexibility, but they’ll keep coming back for the growth and development their child will experience after they’ve spent just a few hours with us at Kids Camp.”

Lodgic Kids Camp is carefully nurtured by Cherie Mondrella, a highly-credentialed and seasoned early childhood education expert. Mondrella also spent two years as a parent- teacher in a Mooseheart home with seven young boys, and two years at the Moose International office, where she served as the Assistant Director of Membership and oversaw a multitude of Moose programs throughout the world for approximately 1,500 Moose Lodges.

“A few years ago, we gathered around a board room table at Moose International to discuss how we might expand the way we serve communities and families, while simultaneously creating a revenue stream to support Mooseheart Child City & School,” said Mondrella. “Ideas flowed, experts were consulted and, eventually, Lodgic Directors were hired to build teams that would ultimately deliver on our vision to provide flexible drop-in childcare, energizing co-working space, and fantastic restaurants all under one roof. And now, here we are. It’s surreal and intensely inspiring.”

Mondrella’s areas of specialty include program and curriculum development, quality improvement of national daycare brand schools, and resolving operational issues at distressed schools. As a conference presenter for The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Mondrella has also trained thousands of child care directors and teachers to develop and manage quality programs, activities and events.

While the Kids Camp model is based on drop-in child care, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services still requires enrollment paperwork for each child in attendance. Parents who plan to use Kids Camp for their intermittent child care needs should complete the necessary forms and submit their annual $60 membership dues to Kids Camp Director, Cherie Mondrella, at Lodgic, located at 1807 S. Neil Street. Enrollment packets are available at Lodgic Kids Camp and online at

The unique model allows for ongoing, open registration throughout the year, and provides on-demand, play-and-learn, licensed child care from 6:30 AM – 9 PM, Monday through Thursday, and until 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. Parents may utilize Lodgic Workplace, enjoy a date night at Everyday Kitchen, entertain clients at the bar, attend an on-site workshop or networking event, or leave the facility entirely to work or play. Lodgic Kids Camp membership offers two affordable payment options: Pay-as-you-go and Flex-time. Pay-as-you-go rates start at $12/hour. Flex-time offers rates as low as $8/hour. 

Photo by Patrick Singer


40 North has announced their Ace Award winners

And here they are:

Advocate ACE Award – Kelly Hieronymus Whiting
Artist ACE Award – Peg Shaw
Volunteer ACE Award – Jim O'Brien
Business ACE Award – Exile on Main Street
Teacher ACE Award – Brandon T. Washington
Student ACE Award – Natalie Wakefield
Lifetime ACE Award – Dorothy Martirano

They will be honored at the 2018 Ace Awards Celebration on November 8th at 6 p.m. at the City Center. You can purchase tickets here.


City of Urbana is ready to go ahead with a Downtown residential development

The city has entered into a Letter of Intent with Green Street Reality to begin development on the 200 block of S. Vine Street. If you're interested in learning more, you can attend an open house at the City of Urbana building on October 23rd at 6:30 p.m. followed by a tour of Green Street Realty multi-family residences. From Mayor Diane Marlin:

“The new development at 200 S. Vine St. will add much-needed housing options in the heart of our city for families, empty-nesters, professionals, and students,” Marlin said. “Our downtown is well-suited to support more residential development, with grocery stores, restaurants, drug stores, fitness studios, schools, mass transit routes, and essential services within easy walking distance. It’s also very close to major employment centers such as the University of Illinois campus, Carle Foundation Hospital, and Champaign County government offices.” 

According to the press release, the proposed townhome-style development contains 42 two- and three-story units which would include a mix of two and three-bedroom floor plans, with some that could be adapted for handicapped accessibility. Some of the units will have private garages as well.

Comments on the proposed project may be emailed to:

For more information you can visit

Concept design from the City of Urbana Facebook page


Smile Politely seeking Food & Drink writers

Smile Politely is always welcoming new writers into the fold, and that, of course, includes our Food & Drink section. Being a town with a plethora of dining and drinking options, there is much to cover.

We want to add your voice to the Food & Drink section.

What's required? You should have a mild grasp on food culture, and be curious enough to explore C-U's local culture. Don't worry, you don't have to be a perfect writer — we'll help with that part. Prospective writers must be able to take at least 6 high quality photos to accompany their features. Smartphones take great photos these days, so you don't need to have a fancy DSLR. 

Perks of being a Food & Drink writer include, but are not limited to:

  • Going to restaurants and providing a take on your experience for our readers.
  • Eating foods and drinking drinks, which isn't out of the ordinary, we hope.
  • Earning (a little) extra spending money.
  • Pick up some valuable writing experience along the way.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, fire off an email to


Flying Machine Avionics limiting kitchen hours

Flying Machine Avionics will close up the kitchen at 2 p.m. during the week, but will remain open all day on the weekends. That means that you can eat breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and breakfast/brunch on Saturday and Sunday. To offset the lack of food a little, there will be a wider selection of baked goods available at the counter. 

Haven't had anything off the food menu at Avionics? You're missing out

202 S First St
M-F 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sa + Su 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Photo by Jessica Hammie

Enjoy half-priced wine and live piano playing at Crudo this Tuesday

Crudo Wine Bar is one of my favorite places to beginning or end an evening. It is an excellent pre-dinner or post-dinner destination, especially if they are offering a special tasting or wine special.

This week they will be hosting a French Tuesday event on October 16th at 6 p.m. They will be offering half price bottles of Rhone Valley red wine, as well as live piano music from local jazz musician Jim Pryor. A lovely little treat to break up your week a bit.

Photo from Facebook