NORTH CENTER — If croissants and crime seem like an odd mix, welcome to Lisa Thompson's world.
The founder of Blue Sky Bakery & Cafe has one foot in the foodie scene and the other in the arena of social justice, providing employment to troubled youth.
One minute she can be planning a farm dinner or bridal shower, the next she's receiving a call from a probation officer with a referral for Blue Sky's job program.
"So much of what we do is so separate," said Thompson.
For 2014, she made a conscious decision to host more events related to Blue Sky's mission of helping at-risk teens and young adults. Her first effort at bringing her two worlds together: Sunday's upcoming Crime Brunch.
Guests will be treated to a sampling of Blue Sky's pastries, quiche and coffee while also taking part in a presentation and Q&A by Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab, which works to develop approaches to reducing violence.
"I heard Dr. Ludwig speak last year and was really impressed with the way he was able to present compelling data," said Thompson.
What caught her ear in particular: "He mentioned employment as an effective intervention," which dovetails with Blue Sky's practice of taking youth from violent environments or with criminal records and offering them a job.
"Usually they have no other options," Thompson said of Blue Sky's trainees. "Work can be transformative. We're doing one of the things [Ludwig's] identified as effective."
With so much talk centered on Chicago's murder rate, Thompson wanted to turn the discussion toward prevention.
While she acknowledges that crime, violence and poverty aren't the sorts of topics typically broached at brunch that's exactly why Blue Sky is hosting Ludwig.
"We're providing a cozy, comfortable setting to be able to have that conversation," Thompson said.
Seats are still available for Blue Sky's Crime Brunch, 11 a.m., Sunday, 3720 N. Lincoln Ave. Cost is $20; tickets can be purchased here.