Life Made Simple not only supports simple living, but also well-being.  Active Trans follows our motto “Live simply, Live happily” quite accuratelly.  They not only strive to make transportation simple, promote health and an eco-friendly environment as well.

Mission Statement of the Active Transportation Alliance
The mission of Active Transportation Alliance is to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. We advocate for transportation that encourages and promotes safety, physical activity, health, recreation, social interaction, equity, environmental stewardship and resource conservation.

I found out about this organization last year when the former Director of Communications for Active Trans, Margo O’Hara, was a guest speaker for my Environmental Communications class.  She spoke about the work that Active Trans does and how beneficial it is to the community, especially to Chicago.

Margo spoke about her favorite part of the job, “My job was to communicate and in some ways “sell” our mission through the media. Selling this idea was easy: biking, walking and transit have so many benefits and it is kind of tough to argue against it. It was exciting to be part of the movement right as it reached a tipping point. The rate at which people are moving toward biking, walking and transit is on a sharp incline. That has been exciting to be part of.”

Commuting to work in Chicago can be a big hassle and this may add to the fact that it has become one of the most stressful cities in the United States.  By working on making transportation easier and safer, Active Trans is not only creating a better commute, but contributing to the well-being of those living in the city.

Johnathan Poblano, an intern for the organization, only rode his bike for transportation.  He also believes that riding your bike is much better than driving.  “Since we live in the city, it’s a lot faster and you can get through traffic quicker. I can take my bike and get somewhere quicker than my friend who drives. It’s better for the environment and for you.”

Active Trans holds many events that the community can participate in to support their work and meet others who value a healthy transportation: Bike the Drive, Bike to Work Week, Boulevard Lakefront Tour, and Chicagoland Car-free Day, just to name a few.

“My favorite event was Bike to Work Week. That week in June we get to know the everyday bicycle commuter. It can be surprisingly hard to meet those folks, so it was always fun to meet more people that “get it” and are out there doing the work we advocate for.” Says Margo.

Life Made Simple encourages you to try out a simpler way to travel.  Instead of going through the annoyance and stress of morning traffic, try biking. If your job is too far to bike to, try biking to the nearest train station.  Not only can you beat the traffic, but you can relax, enjoy your surroundings and use it as a means of exercise.

Active Transportation Alliance

9 W. Hubbard St. Ste. 402 Chicago, IL. 60642


Active Trans also offers jobs and internships.  If you would like to get involved or just find out more information, you can visit

Life Made Simple is about the simpler things in life and the wonderful feelings and well-being that simplicity can bring. This week we visited a soup kitchen where people come together, not only to eat free organic soup, but to have conversation about current social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues. This soup kitchen is held at the University of Illinois at Chicago every Tuesday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. Re-Thinking Soup is an organization that focuses on locally grown, simple ingredients for delicious soups, while educating their guests about important current issues.

The first time I visited this soup kitchen was two weeks ago. I walked in through a door posted with a white sign displaying the words “Re-Thinking Soup” in bold black letters.  I entered a room filled with four long tables where people were eating soup from white bowls. On the right, two volunteers stood behind two large metal pots placed on a table and were serving a line of waiting people.  On the opposite side of the room, there was a woman behind a podium who was explaining that the soup served at this kitchen is made with all organic, fresh, and locally grown produce.  The next speaker that day was a woman named Jeannette Beranger, a representative for the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, which is a clearing-house company for information on livestock and genetic diversity.  Mrs. Beranger was present at the soup kitchen via a Skype conference call and she spoke on a current environmental issue.

Tera Lee is one of the founders of Re-Thinking Soup.  That day, she was helping the volunteers serve soup.  I asked how she got involved with Re-Thinking Soup – assuming she was a volunteer.  She laughed and said, “I’m not a volunteer; I’m actually one of the founders.” This made me interested in finding out more about the organization. “Me and my friends began this about three and a half years ago,” explained Tera. “We came to look at the space and they said the director wanted to reinvigorate it because it used to be an old residence dining hall. All the officials came together here and ate every day, so we thought why can’t we have that same process?  We wanted to reference what they used to do, but also bring in modern day issues.”

After the first wonderful experience I had at Re-Thinking Soup, I knew I had to return and experience it again. I not only wanted to have the same experience, but I wanted to learn more about this organization and those involved. I returned on a Tuesday when curry spice pea soup was being served.  This soup was made from mashed peas, water, garlic, ginger, and curry.  Flavors of garlic and ginger gave the soup a delicious hot spice that warmed my body up instantly.  The curry gave the soup a beautiful deep orange that made me feel warm. To contrast this deep orange, the chef threw in what looked like kale green leaves.  Each bowl of soup is served with bread which is provided by Nicole Bergere, who owns a shop called Nicole’s Divine Crackers in Chicago. Bergere grinds the grains, uses all natural ingredients and no preservatives for her baked creations. During this visit to the soup kitchen, I was able to talk to some of those behind Re-Thinking Soup and those who simply enjoy coming on Tuesdays.

Jonathan is a man who has been going to this soup kitchen every Tuesday since 2008.  He says that he enjoys not only coming here because of the free soup, but also because it is an enlightening social gathering.  He later admitted that he also liked coloring with the crayons on the table.

When I re-visited the soup kitchen the following Tuesday, a documentary titled “Flow” was showcased. Every week there is focus on current issues. This film was based on a current environmental issue about water deprivation in other countries across the world.  Tera explained to me that those who run the soup kitchen follow the belief of “eating as an agricultural act.”  This means every bite you take; you are taking a stance on something.  At Re-Thinking Soup, people can come together and work towards being conscious of what they are taking a stance on and allowing into their bodies.  When people come to this soup kitchen, they don’t only come to eat the soup.  They come for the learning experience and desire to know where their food comes from.  Most importantly, they come to take a stance!

Jonathan then smiled and said, “I don’t know how they make this delicious soup with theses fresh vegetables for so many people, but it really makes my day every Tuesday.”

LMS encourages you to take time off your “busy” schedules and enjoy something simple like this soup kitchen that doesn’t cost you anything and the rewards are “enlightening,” as Jonathan said!

Re-Thinking Soup is open to the public every Tuesday at 12:00pm to 1:00pm.

It is located at 800 S. Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60607-7017

For information about volunteer opportunities for Re-Thinking Soup please contact Kelly Saulsberry at or 312.355.4683