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Tech Firm Jellyvision To Clean Alleys In Its 'Hood In Honor Of Earth Day

By Ted Cox | April 21, 2017 5:14am
 Sara Colombo looks over an alley near the Jellyvision offices before Friday's cleanup.
Sara Colombo looks over an alley near the Jellyvision offices before Friday's cleanup.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

LINCOLN PARK — A growing Lincoln Park tech firm near Goose Island is taking it upon itself to clean neighborhood alleys the day before Earth Day.

About 40 employees of Jellyvision, with offices at 811 W. Evergreen Ave. and 848 W. Eastman Ave., will hit local alleys, parking lots and garages at 3 p.m. Friday to clean things up before Earth Day on Saturday, according to director of business development Sara Colombo, who organized the drive.

"I don't want to work in a neighborhood that makes me feel dirty," Colombo said.

The area is sort of a borderland between Old Town and Goose Island, and Colombo said it doesn't get much love in the form of city trash cans or planters provided by aldermen or chambers of commerce.

But it's home to a growing number of independent schools, such as the British International School and the upcoming Fusion Academy, as well as families shopping at the Whole Foods at 1550 N. Kingsbury St., so it could use a good sprucing up, if only for the kids.

Columbo said a "garage in our neighborhood has gotten out of control," and "there are broken bottles, dirty diapers, condom wrappers, glass, plastic, paper — everything— all throughout the alleys and grassy areas" surrounding it.

Colombo suggested the cleanup, and about an eighth of the company's 350 employees immediately signed on, with Colombo saying a common response was: "I've been wanting to do this for years."

The city's Department of Streets and Sanitation will drop off garbage bags, gloves, shovels, rakes and brooms this week, with plans to pick up what's collected on Saturday.

"It just seems to me it's not that big of a job," Colombo said, not with the many hands of 40 people making for light work.

Computer gamers of a certain age might remember Jellyvision as the people behind "You Don't Know Jack," spun off now as its own separate Jackbox Games company.

But Jellyvision has since expanded into the niche industry of providing major employers with ways to communicate their health and other benefits to employees in an orderly online fashion, with clients including Morningstar, Medtronic, Comcast and Adobe.

According to Colombo, it's been hiring 100 new employees a year the last couple of years, with plans to expand into a third office building at 1333 N. Kingsbury next year.

"We're slowly taking over the neighborhood," Colombo said.

Colombo said the firm had rejected the idea of moving into a central Loop location, and now the tech industry actually seems to be coming to Jellyvision instead as the city's new North Branch Industrial Corridor Modernization Plan intends to make Goose Island and the surrounding area a concentration of information and technology businesses.

Colombo said management endorsed her idea to organize a cleanup because the prevailing attitude is "if you get an idea, run with it," and a few hours at the end of the week for employees is a small price to pay. The firm's young employees embraced it as well.

Afterward, she said, they'll be heading to Weeds, 1555 N. Dayton St., the enduring Lincoln Park dive bar that has now been adopted as something of a staff watering hole.

So not everything old is being thrown over for the new in Lincoln Park.