This commentary also appears on Tri States Public Radio
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will host a public hearing in the town of Industry Wednesday evening (January 28), on the renewal of a strip mining permit in the Great Chandler Timbers, one of the last remaining sections of old forests in the area. Continue reading
What would you consider the least hip musical instrument? The viola? The tuba? The panflute? How about the accordion?
When I hear the accordion, I flash to Lawrence Welk polka music. Being that we're so "cutting edge" here on The Savvy Traveler, I'm here to tell you that the accordion is making a comeback. Continue reading
Commentator Jeff Biggers remembers a forgotten literary star.
What started out as a simple Sunday outing in hills of Bologna, Italy, turned into an underworld of discovery for Jeff Biggers. He recently traveled to Bologna, the home of the famous Garisenda Tower and the medieval porticos that ring the city historic center. If you looked closely at the base of the leaning tower or the Santo Stefano complex, you'd find carvings in gypsum, quarried from the nearby hills. But Jeff didn't stay on the city streets. Continue reading
Commentator Jeff Biggers says an influx of Latino immigrants has improved Beardstown, the southern Illinoistowns of his youth.
Last year, in the Sierra Madre canyons in Mexico, I labored in the corn fields with a Tarahumara Indian, as part of a travel story. After weeding the fields, I returned to our cabin to read a letter from my Uncle Richard in Kentucky.
Our family homestead, down in southern Illinois, was gone. The old pond, the four plum trees, the corn fields, and the 200-year-old log cabin, were all buried in a crater, two hundred feet deep. A coal mining company had bought the hollow where my mother's family had lived for two centuries and blasted away our home. Continue reading
Traveling into the past can be a haunting experience. We never know what we'll find lurking behind the ruins and old monuments, or even the pages of an old book. For Jeff Biggers, traveling through the Spoon River Valley in rural Illinois, the ghosts of the past came alive, just as they did in the celebrated Spoon River Anthology. Continue reading
Beyond the glittering tourist resorts, golf courses, and gated communities in the famed Sea Islands, a dense forest hems the marshes and fields that wind around the islands like the back warrens into another world. This is the world of the Gullah/Geechee people, the descendants of the slaves from the west African "rice coast" who developed and worked the indigo, rice and cotton plantations in the American colonies. Jeff Biggers recently traveled to St. Helena, an island off the coast of South Carolina, in search of the greater Sea Island experience today... Read transcript →
Earlier this summer, I found myself planting corn by hand, following a gaggle of Tarahumara women in sweeping skirts. I couldn't help but get involved. The villagers nodded, nodded for me to find my own digging stick and follow their lead up furrows plowed by a carved oak branch. Continue reading