Our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

MPC's annual round-up of local, socially-conscious, community-minded gifts for the urbanists and everyone else on your list

'Tis the season again. When the chill in the air meets... the sweat of your brow... because you haven't checked everyone off your list. 

The good news? There's still time—even without resorting to a last-minute round of desperate Amazon Prime ordering. 

Like last year, we polled the office for stand-out, quality gift ideas. Here are our top picks this December:

HERitage cameos

"For the art, city, and history fanatic in your life, I recommend the Time After Time Chicago book. The artist superimposes historical and modern-day images of Chicago for a unique view of the changes the city has experienced over time! Or... love classic cameo jewelry, but struggle to find one representative of you? I discovered Papyrus & Charms, based in Milwaukee, WI, at Wakandacon Chicago back in August. Check out their line of HERitage cameo rings!" Chloe Gurin-Sands, Associate

"The Chicago Architecture Center published an amazing graphic novel based on the Burnham Plan, No Small Plans. The book got big buzz and, best of all, for every copy the CAC sells, they give a free copy to a teen. I’m also a member of the CAC's Auxiliary Board and Burnham Society." Janet Myers, Vice President of Philanthropy

"This year, when MPC's Communications Team trekked across the city filming video interviews for the Our Equitable Future release, I stumbled across my favorite food find of 2018: Flammin Restaurant & Co. Dr. Latasha Taylor, an assistant principal at a Chicago vocational school, opened Flammin with her mother, Marilyn Sturden, in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood in October 2017. From a creative French toast sandwich to killer shrimp and grits, don't sleep on Flammin. Treat your loved ones to a holiday meal that nobody will regret." Liz Granger, Content Strategist

M3's holiday hoodie

"I recommend M3’s Holiday Hoodie. This special edition hoodie is a way to support the great work of M3, from snow shoveling for seniors, to holiday lighting events and supporting monthly citywide exploration opportunities for youth. For a 5% discount on M3 merch, anyone can use discount code: LYNNETTEMCRAE. Also, on December 5 and 10, After School Matters will host their annual Shop, Jingle & Mingle, where you can enjoy complimentary beverages and appetizers while shopping for unique, teen-made gifts. Finally Vends & Vibes is a two-day winter marketplace of handmade products made primarily by South Side artists and creative entrepreneurs, taking place on December 8 and 9." —Lynnette McRae, Manager

"I'd be lying if I said I don't covet an item that combines my love of public transit with... jewelry. This CTA cuff bracelet is ideal for any transit geek on your list." Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation 

"Who could resist a gift back of brownies and blondies?  And these treats are all the sweeter because they come from the Greystone Bakery, the bakery that makes brownies for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Greystone uses an 'open hiring' system, which creates opportunities for people who normally face barriers to employment, such as refugees or the formerly incarcerated. And oh, by the way, the brownies are great!" —Bob Newport, Fellow

"I recommend Modern HERstory, a collection of stories (and beautiful illustrations!) curated by activist Blair Imani that features 70 women, girls, and gender nonbinary individuals who have shaped social justice movements throughout history. It’s an extremely intersectional collection, and features ‘undercelebrated’ individuals who identify as people of color, disabled, trans, of various religious backgrounds, etc. A friend of mine gifted it to me recently and it’s one of the best things I’ve read all year. Blair is the founder of an awesome organization called Equality for HER, and is someone I really admire." Shehara Waas, Research Associate

"One thing that continues to surprise me about the Chicago region is just how amazing some of its natural, open spaces are. This year, my recommendation is to treat yourself and some curious friends to a daytrip to Nachusa Grasslands, about 90 miles due west of downtown Chicago. There are amazing remnant prairies, some surprising geology, several miles of hiking and a herd of roughly 90 bison. It’s a great conservation story, courtesy of the Nature Conservancy and many volunteers…which you can become one of by chipping in at any of the weekly Saturday service days. Fill out your daytrip with a drive or bike ride along the Rock River to Castle Rock State Park. Take a picnic, take a walk, take some photos, and take a deep breath. As a bonus, if you’re there on a Sunday, you can take a riverboat ride too!" Josh Ellis, Vice President

"There’s a new card game called LOOP created by every public transit nerd’s favorite store, Transit Tees. Game play is similar to UNO, except the cards have ‘L’ lines and stations instead of colors and numbers. Another great gift that keeps on giving all year long is a subscription to a community news source like Block Club Chicago or City Bureau." —Jeremy Glover, Transportation Associate

"Speaking of transit geeks, I heard about this on the radio this morning. I'm sure it will be on Audrey Wennink and Jeremy Glover's Christmas lists: LOOP, The Elevated Card Game." Kendra Freeman, Manager

"I love Beelove. This North Lawndale enterprise hires talented men and women returning from prison for full-time jobs producing honey and honey-based beauty products. It's a sure-fire gift—good for the recipient, and good for the maker." MarySue Barrett, President

"For that one foodie on your list, I recommend the Gift Boxes from Local Foods, which you can pick-up in-store. The reusable wooden boxes include goodies from producers all over the Midwest with themes including: Sweet Tooth, Chicago Chef Favorites, Barbeque Lovers, and more. For another option, Packed with Purpose assembles nice gift boxes with a mix of socially and environmentally conscious products that provide young women job skills, reduce landfill waste, offer the formerly incarcerated new opportunities, and more." Skyler Larrimore, Operations Manager

Happy giving from the staff of MPC!


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