Slightly behind in blogging as no WiFi at the place I'm staying at.
I'm now in Minneapolis and whilst there isn't any Purple Rain it's certainly very cold so I've taken refuge in a coffee shop to catch up on emails etc.
The final couple of days in Chicago were as good as the first two - I spent a great day with the team at the Walgreens Deerfield 'Community Support Centre' (Head Office) and also saw some excellent architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright.
I won't go on too much about the Walgreens visit as it'll be pretty irrelevant to most people outside of D90 but it was a really useful and insightful day. I met with John Gremmer who heads up their CSR programme and he was able to introduce me to lots of people around the office including a brief chat with a couple of the Board members which was unexpected and very interesting.
A few random notes, mainly on cultural differences / similarities between Walgreens and Boots (for those who don't know the two companies are merging at the moment - see some info here).
- The company used to be head-quartered in Chicago city-centre but moved to their current suburban location in the 1970s. This move caused some bad blood with the Daley family (who have run the city on-and-off for the last 30 or so years) which still lingers even now. An interesting angle for my Company Towns research.
- The company has an internal motto of "doing well by doing good" which fits really well with the Boots company ethos.
- This includes a 'Four Way Test' which I saw displayed is everyone's office and in most of the corridors too.
- The company is doing some really interesting things to combat Food Deserts (which I walk about here in Detroit) - certainly the range and selection of fresh food in some of the stores we visited was very comprehensive.
- Oh, there's an own-brand range of beer: Big Flats - something the team at Boots should definitely consider...
A fascinating day that I've only just skimmed some of the nuggets from.
Only last (half) day in Chicago (sob) I went over to Oak Park west of the city. It was here that Frank Lloyd Wright lived for a time and designed a number of very impressive family homes. You can tour his home and studio (which I didn't do for lack of time) or do a walking tour around the houses (which are all still in private ownership). Despite it being a proper MidWest autumn day (ie freezing cold) I opted for the latter.
I really impressive collection of homes, some photos below, and what looks like a great community of people.
I then had to get back downtown, pick up my bag and navigate O'Hare Airport to get to my flight on time. I like to blame the cold weather for slowing me down as I nearly missed my flight... Got to Minneapolis to find that it was even colder - starting to be glad for the huge amount of clothes I've dragged with me here!