Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, July 14

Gapers Block

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The Grid

ABOUT "Droning in the Chicago Park District (360°)"

The Chicago Area Drone User Group meets regularly to fly drones and to share knowledge about technology and etiquette related to the hobby. Hear from the members as to why they are interested in drones, as well as their feelings about privacy and safety, and see their aerial footage captured at a recent meet up at Loyola Beach Park. Also hear from members of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, who are currently considering requiring permits to fly drones in any Chicago parks, and see the last meeting of the Park District Board in 360° video. Read more about the emerging issue of drones in parks from ABC7.

This 360° video was filmed with a six-camera GoPro rig and stitched together using Autopano software. Navigate the video using your mouse or keyboard as demonstrated in the video's loading screen, and select viewing mode by clicking on the circle in the lower-right corner.

Ben Kolak is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and principal at Scrappers Film Group. Graphic Designer Akemi Hong is principal of Studio Akemi.



The Grid is a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. It is funded in part by the Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation Digital Media Production Fund. Support The Grid by clicking here and contributing to the Tip Jar.
Read more about these lyrical documentaries below.

Circus School at Aloft Loft (360°)

The Grid, Episode 20

Since 2005, Aloft Loft Circus Arts has provided classes and training space for adult circus performers and enthusiasts.

Protest at Chicago Police Headquarters (360°)

The Grid, Episode 19

On April 28th, hundreds of Chicagoans demonstrated at Chicago Police Headquarters to protest the death of Freddie Gray.

Droning in the Chicago Park District (360°)

The Grid, Episode 18

The Chicago Area Drone User Group meets regularly to fly drones and to share knowledge about the hobby's technology and etiquette.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA Show (360°)

The Grid, Episode 17

Every year the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA graduates participate in an unusually large group show.

Arkansas Red and His Listeners

The Grid, Episode 16

Arkansas Red DJs "The Blues Excursion" every Saturday night on WHPK, Hyde Park's community and student radio station.

Open Gov Hack Night

The Grid, Episode 15

Open Gov Hack Night is a weekly meeting to facilitate collaboration on civic projects, and bounce ideas and get help from tech and government experts.

Stickney Water Reclamation Plant

The Grid, Episode 14

The Stickney Water Reclamation Plant is the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world.

Botanicas de la Villita

The Grid, Episode 13

Botanicas (literal translation: "botany stores") can be found in Hispanic and Caribbean communities in cities across the United States.

The Area

The Grid, Episode 12

Englewood residents are struggling to maintain friendships and traditions while a freight yard is expanding into their neighborhood.

Shine On

The Grid, Episode 11

The Rev. Henry Isaac has tested his faith as a journeyman window washer since 1974, and shared his faith as a preacher since 1994.

Envision Arts Studio

The Grid, Episode 10

Envision Arts Studio provides Chicagoans with intellectual and developmental disabilities a disciplined studio practice in a community setting.


The Grid, Episode 9

Since 1997, LAMPO has presented experimental music and intermedia events to adventurous Chicago audiences.

MUNUC at the Palmer House

The Grid, Episode 8

Since 1988, University of Chicago students have organized an annual four-day Model UN conference at the historic Palmer House hotel.

The Mediated Plant

The Grid, Episode 7

An examination of how The Plant -- Chicago's vertical farm and food business incubator -- has been represented in the media.


The Grid, Episode 6

Snagging fish is allowed seasonally in a few spots on Lake Michigan.


The Grid, Episode 5

Move-Tastic!, "Chicago's premiere athletic moving force," wows customers and employs over 40 Chicagoans on their way to careers in other fields.

Community Supported Art at Threewalls

The Grid, Episode 4

Nonprofit arts organization Threewalls is connecting artists and collectors by adapting a model better known for supporting local farmers.

Textile Discount Outlet

The Grid, Episode 3

Textile Discount Outlet, located at 2121 w. 21st Street, has helped sustain Chicago's creative classes with discounted fabrics and inspiration for over 30 years.

Congress Conducts El at Cal's

The Grid, Episode 2

The Congress Parkway congestion is meditated upon at nearby Cal's Liquors/Bar, where astromusicologists El is a Sound of Joy take cinematic cues from traffic conductors.

Market Fisheries

The Grid, Episode 1

Market Fisheries, located at 7129 S. State Street, has been owned and operated by the Brody Family since 1957.


The Grid is a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. These short, lyrical documentaries aspire to be art cinema, ethnographies and experiments in form. Ben Kolak and Brian Ashby's directorial debut, Scrappers, won Best Documentary at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival and made Roger Ebert's top 10 list of documentary films for that year. David Nagel is a freelance shooter, editor and sound recordist. Akemi Hong is Senior Designer at JB Chicago and an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


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