CARBONDALE — On Wednesday afternoon, visitors to the SIU Carbondale Design Department got a crash course in thinking like Buckminster Fuller.
“Bucky” was best known as an architect, who harnessed the structural integrity of triangles to create iconic frames and buildings, like his geodesic dome homes.
But the internationally-known SIUC professor went far beyond flouting the conventions of four-walled living rooms.
He was a philosopher and humanist, passionate about conserving the planet’s resources and doing more with less. He was a futuristic thinker, who wrote books and coined words like “tensegrity.” He built a three-wheeled “Dymaxion” car in the 1930s, that he imagined one day would fly, land and drive.
He developed an unorthodox sleeping schedule to support his manic work habits, taking just a 30-minute nap every 6 hours, for two years, according to a 1943 article in Time Magazine.
He was also a hard partier, at times in his life, and holds the rare distinction of having been kicked out of Harvard College...twice.
“I feel like I would’ve gotten along with him,” said Zak Eidson, as he and Henry Creamer, both Architecture students, assembled pyramids and polyhedrons with marshmallows and toothpicks, under the guidance of Kurt Przybilla, who lectured Wednesday on Fuller’s famous geometric shapes.
Bucky came to Carbondale from the East Coast in 1960, at the encouragement of a friend in the SIUC Design Department.
“His apartment caught on fire, and he lost all his models,” said Jon Davey, an SIUC architecture professor. “So he called up Harold Cohen [founder of the SIUC Design Department] and said, ‘Can I come over during the summer and get some graduate students to help rebuild my models?’”
The university hosted him that summer, and then offered him a research professor position. It was unlike most faculty appointments, Davey explained, more a celebrity role than a teaching job.
“He was a signature person,” Davey said. “They said, ‘you need to be on campus at least two months of every year. The rest of the time whatever you do, go do it.’ So Bucky traveled around the world. He wore three different watches, from different time zones.”
Though Bucky didn’t teach many classes, his time at SIUC was tremendously productive, Davey said.
“While he was here he wrote over 25 books, received over 25 honorary Ph.D.’s, received the Medal of Honor from Ronald Reagan, and earned many patents,” Davey said.
Clients for his domes included Ford Motor Company, and the U.S. military, which prized them for being lightweight and easily transportable, and used them “to cover radar stations at installations around the Arctic Circle,” according to the Buckminster Fuller Institute.
Bucky also left his mark on Carbondale.
He gave special lectures to students, and attracted other talented faculty to the university.
“He wanted to practice what he preached, so Bucky had students go over and put the dome up in one day,” Davey explained. It epitomized his vision: affordable, efficient housing that required little construction material. Rather than depending on support columns, it drew its strength from its unique structure.
The dome was home to Bucky and his wife for 10 years, Davey said, and is currently undergoing a costly and meticulous restoration that will leave it exactly as Bucky lived in it, to serve as a museum and meeting place for Carbondale.
Other domes are dotted around Southern Illinois, Davey said, some built by Bucky’s students, others by local fans.
Across the country, his triangular truss systems support iconic buildings, Przybilla said, places like airports and malls, where designers want large, open spaces, unobstructed by columns.
For Davey, president of the Fuller dome home restoration project, this week’s recognition of Bucky is long overdue.
“This is probably the first thing since I’ve been teaching, apart from Bucky himself lecturing here in 1976, that I’ve seen happen on campus to recognize him,” Davey said. “People are beginning to do more, now.”
The Fuller festivities continue February 7, with presentations at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tours of Fuller’s dome home in Carbondale are available with prior reservation.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Fuller's book, "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth," originally published by the SIU University Press, Davey said.
SPRINGFIELD – A coalition of environmental groups, backed by some Democratic state lawmakers, are making another attempt this year to pass legislation requiring more public disclosure about horizontal fracturing, or “fracking” wells in the state.
Those are a type of oil wells that involve drilling vertically into the ground, and then horizontally into the underlying rock and soil, using pressurized fluid to fracture the ground and release oil deposits that cannot be recovered through traditional vertical wells.
Fair Economy Illinois, a liberal-leaning coalition of grassroots community organizations, announced that measure Wednesday as part of its legislative agenda for 2019. Similar legislation was introduced in 2018 but failed to pass through the General Assembly.
Supporters of the measure are seeking full public disclosure of the location of all fracking permits issued by the state, including the full extent of all land involved in the fracking, as well as details of the chemicals used in the pressurized fluid.
Under a 2013 law, such disclosure is required only for “high volume” fracking permits. Supporters of the proposed new law want to extend the same requirements to smaller operations which, under a 1951 law, are allowed to have the information classified as confidential for up to two years. The different classifications are determined by the amount of pressurized fluid used in the operation.
“Right now, it is legal in Illinois to spend a few hundred dollars and get a fracking permit and request a confidentiality clause, and then to frack in secret for a period of two years. We think that is wrong,” said Dawn Dannenbring, of Illinois People’s Action, a group that is part of the Fair Economy Illinois coalition.
Environmental groups argue that fracking poses a potential health hazard to nearby residents because the chemicals used in the pressurized fluid include compounds that can contaminate nearby water wells.
William Rau, another member of Illinois People’s Action, said that’s common in southern and southwestern Illinois, where most of the oil production in the state takes place.
“You can be half a mile from a well and a horizontal well can go right under your property and you wouldn’t know about it,” Rau said. “So there are no defensive actions you can take, like getting a test on your water wells.”
Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and Anne Stava-Murray (D-Naperville) are cosponsors of a bill pending in the House Energy and Environment Committee. No hearing has yet been scheduled, but a number of groups have already lined up in opposition, including the Illinois Oil and Gas Association.
Dan Reitz, a lobbyist for IOGA, said in a separate interview that the industry generally has concerns about some portions of the bill, including provisions that might require drillers to disclose trade secrets in public documents.
“We’ve done our best as an industry to make sure (the wells) are run as safely as they can be,” he said. “I’m not aware of any big problems out there. We want to find out what the genesis of this legislation is and why they want to visit this on the smaller producers.”
CARTERVILLE — On Tuesday evening, members of the 2019 Southern Illinois Pursonality committee met at the home of Lindsey Fisher Hudson to turn in donations for this year’s Go Red For Women Pursonalities Auction, which will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 28 at Legends at Walker’s Bluff.
It will benefit the local American Heart Association.
The Go Red For Women Pursonalities Auction, sponsored by Southern Illinois Healthcare, is a fun and educational networking event designed to unite women in the community to spread the message about the importance of women’s heart health, as well as to celebrate and further the efforts of the Go Red For Women campaign.
Each purse is part of a basket that includes numerous prizes. Leah Bahr, corporate events director for the American Heart Association, said the event will feature more than 30 purses with bidding done in a silent auction.
Shoppers will find Saluki-themed baskets, baskets that highlight local goods and services, like gift certificates to local restaurants and Southern Illinois wine.
“Michael Kors is probably the most popular purse we will have,” Linda Holt said.
“And we have lots of them,” Terri Henry added.
What are in these purse-baskets? Baskets have a Las Vegas vacation, use of a 40-foot RV for tailgating at a Saluki football game, a weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, and so much more.
Each basket has a theme. A few examples include a Panama themed basket with coffee, typical treats and artwork from Panama; an Old Hollywood basket with martini glasses, a shaker and ingredients, a black purse with Versace scarf and more donated by The Flame Restaurant in Carbondale; a wine lovers basket; and a Michael Kors purse with a certificate for a family photography session from Karina Neill Photography in Herrin.
For Kassie Taylor, the event is not only purse-onal, it is personal. Her husband, Al, is the new administrator at SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, but he might not have lived long enough to take that job if he did not have a habit of volunteering to be the “patient” for new procedures.
Al Taylor, a runner and triathlete, knew doctors at his former hospital in North Carolina were doing a new procedure, so he volunteered to be the guinea pig. Kassie Taylor said a nurse was confused by the results of the procedure and told the doctor it was not working.
“The doctor said the test was working, but his heart was not,” Kassie Taylor said. “They discovered he had a congenital heart defect.”
He had surgery to correct his congenital heart defect and he recovered.
“That’s how I got involved in the American Heart Association. Terri Henry invited me to help with the auction,” Kassie Taylor said.
This event includes a Pursonalities auction, a short program, an Open Your Heart Appeal and delicious, heart-healthy appetizers, complete with a signature drink. A cash bar will be available.
Tickets to the auction are $50 and must be purchased online. You must purchase a ticket to bid.
SPRINGFIELD – Two committee rooms one floor apart in the Illinois State Capitol on Wednesday had concurrent discussions of a bill to hike the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.
The 13 Democrats on the Senate Executive Committee voted to advance the bill, Senate Bill 1, to floor for a full vote that could happen as early as Thursday. The senate committee’s six Republicans all voted against the bill, while it was only up for discussion – not a vote – in the House committee.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he would like the minimum wage bill, his first major policy push, approved by the time he gives his budget address on Feb. 20. But Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat and the bill’s lead sponsor, exhibited a more cautious tone after a near two-hour private caucus of Senate Democrats which preceded the Executive Committee hearing.
“If we move the needle (in negotiations) tonight and it’s something that we can take back to the caucus and have a conversation and caucus is comfortable with it, then possibly (it could be voted on Thursday),” Lightford said.
Opponents of the bill, including Rob Karr of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, have been advocating at the Capitol this week for a regional rollout of the minimum wage.
Karr said that no other part of Illinois sees anywhere near Chicago’s 55 million annual visitors, and recent local increases gave the city 10 years to hit the $15 minimum wage, while the rest of the state is expected to hit the number in six years.
He pointed to plans in New York and Oregon which have lower rates for areas with lower costs of living in their $15 minimum wage rollouts. While Karr said the regional rate idea was denied in negotiations, Lightford said specifics for a regional plan in Illinois were never brought to her attention, although she would be willing to discuss them.
Lightford said a more likely potential compromise was to provide for greater regional tax credits to employers in lower cost of living areas by using the state’s prevailing wage – which fluctuates between regions – as an example.
“What we would do is regionalize the cost of the business tax credit as opposed to lowering the wages of the worker,” she said.
The rest of the language of the bill is similar to a wage increase that was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner last session and is nearly identical to a policy memo detailed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office that circulated the Capitol this week.
It will include a phased-in increase over six years, starting with an increase from $8.25 to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020 before increasing to $10 on July 1, 2020 and $11 on Jan. 1 2021. After that, it would increase by $1 every year until it hits $15 in 2025.
Lightford said the 6-year phase-in was a compromise between unions, who wanted a four-year phase-in, and business groups, who would prefer an eight-year period.
Representatives of the Illinois Association of Park Districts told a House committee of their move to a neutral position on the bill which allows employers to pay a slightly lower rate for teens that ranges from $1.25 lower than the minimum rate in 2020 to $2 lower than the $15 rate in 2025.
The Illinois Restaurant Association, which represents 27,000 restaurants employing 577,000 people across the state according to its president Sam Toia, testified as a proponent of the bill while noting it’s a “tough pill to swallow.”
Toia said the inclusion of a tip credit, which requires employers to pay only 60 percent of the minimum wage to tipped workers, allowed the IRA to support the wage increase.
Republicans on the committee had concerns about the bill’s unforeseen costs to the state.
Gov. Pritzker’s office anticipated yearly increases to the state budget from $82 million to $270 million until the cost is about $1.1 billion each year by the time the wage hits $15 in 2025. This is because the bill accounts for increased appropriations by 3 to 5 percent to some human service programs and direct service providers as well as costs for state employee raises.
This increase does not account for increased demands for extra funding for nursing homes, hospitals, colleges, universities and some other state agencies and human services providers, Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, pointed out.
Lightford said there was increased income tax revenue projections to help cancel out the increases in expenditures. Between 2020 and 2026, income tax revenues are expected to increase by varying amounts between $20 million and $96 million each year even when accounting for increased income tax credits the bill would make available to businesses.
The income tax credit would be applicable only to employers with fewer than 50 employees, and would equal 25 percent of the difference between an employee’s wage at the end of the last fiscal quarter and the current minimum wage rate for the first year of the program. The 25 percent credit would decrease by 4 percent each year until it remained static at 5 percent until 2027, when it becomes unavailable to businesses with more than five employees.
Karr said the IRMA is hoping to further negotiate the income tax credit as well.
While opponents have complained about the fast-paced push for the bill’s implementation, Lightford said the process was not a quick one – she has filed four similar bills since the minimum wage was last increased in 2010, the most recent of which was vetoed by Rauner.
In fact, she said, by the time the wage hits $15 in 2025, workers will already be due for another
increase, as she cited a National Employment Law Project report that said a single Illinois worker currently requires $14.58 per hour full-time to meet the cost of living in Illinois.
“By 2025, we will be at, again, much lower than we oughta be on the minimum wage,” she said.
CARBONDALE — An event later this month will offer local residents the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of applying for jobs with three of the region’s biggest employers.
The City of Carbondale, Southern Illinois Healthcare and Southern Illinois University Carbondale have joined to offer two employment workshops to provide insight into the various types of positions available at each organization and how their hiring practices differ depending on the category of job.
The first workshop will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at SIU Student Center and the second from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Carbondale Civic Center.
Todd Bryson, SIU’s associate chancellor for diversity, is one of the driving forces behind the event and he said it was actually a reboot of a previous event SIUC had hosted.
“The idea for this event came from a suggestion from a member the Carbondale Chapter of the NAACP,” Bryson wrote in an email. “Previously SIU conducted employment workshops, with the last one in 2013 in partnership with the NAACP.”
Bryson explained that he decided to expand it to include the city and they then landed on having a third employer — so they reached out to SIH.
Sara Hilton works in human resources at SIH and said there are more than just medical jobs available at SIH.
“We have lots of positions that don’t have a clinical background needed,” she said. “We have everything from entry level positions … all the way up to executive level positions.”
Bryson wanted to make something clear though: Both of this month’s events are not job fairs.
“No one will be interviewed at this event,” Bryson wrote. “Human Resource representatives from each business will present the stages of the application and employment process for their respective business.”
This isn’t to say that a job couldn’t come of the event, but Bryson said it isn’t the primary goal.
Bryson said finding work can be intimidating, especially when different jobs require different ways of applying.
“If you are a person who is looking for employment, you can get scared by the process,” he said.
Bryson and Hilton said there isn’t one targeted demographic. Anyone who is looking for work is the target.