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Americans love to say cheese! Whether it's an artisanal cheese board, an old-fashioned grilled cheese, or a gooey, chewy slice of pizza. But when it comes to which part of the country has the best on offer, some cities are cheesier than others.
What are 2022’s Best Cities for Cheese Lovers?
To mark National Cheese Lover’s Day on Jan. 20, LawnStarter compared over 180 of the biggest U.S. cities based on cheese access, quality, and affordability, as well as local cheese-focused events. Is your city on these lists?
Say Cheese! It Doesn’t Get Any Cheddar Than Here
1 Chicago, IL
2 Modesto, CA
3 San Francisco, CA
4 Jersey City, NJ
5 New York, NY
6 Boston, MA
7 Madison, WI
8 Los Angeles, CA
9 Washington, DC
10 Milwaukee, WI
Cheese It! You’re Cheddar Off Elsewhere Than Here
172 Honolulu, HI
173 El Paso, TX
174 Vancouver, WA
175 Kansas City, KS
176 Jackson, MS
177 Lincoln, NE
178 Oxnard, CA
179 Amarillo, TX
180 Anchorage, AK
181 Salinas, CA
Highlights and Lowlights
- Chicago: The Windy Cheesy City: Sing the praises of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza all you want, but once you’ve sampled local Chi-Town cheese outside the pie, you’ll be chanting “Cheeses, Take the Wheel” instead. That’s because The Windy City has earned a new nickname as The Cheesiest City in America. Oozing with high-quality queso and melting locals’ hearts with an abundance of cheesy events, Chicago is a true cheese lover’s paradise.
- California Cheesin’ or Meltin’?: Three Golden State cities managed to find their way to our top 10: Modesto at No. 2, followed by San Francisco in third place and Los Angeles in eighth. Zoom out, and you’ll find four other California cities in our top 20. This "grate" performance is no surprise when considering California is the second biggest producer of cheese among the states. But not everything that glitters is gold in the Golden State. Salinas finished last in our ranking, with Oxnard not far behind at No. 178. While these two cities offer plenty of cheesy events to entertain locals, regular access to high-quality cheese is lacking.
- Gouda News for Wisconsin: No ranking of cheese heavens passes a “good taste” test without at least one city from America’s Dairyland in the top 10. And we’re happy to report that both Wisconsin cities in our ranking form part of that elite group: Madison finished seventh, while Milwaukee placed 10th, thanks to high marks across the (charcuterie) board. Green Bay didn’t make our cut because of its size, but if you’re a true Cheesehead, you know the city and state are packed with fans of the dairy products. Wisconsin is by far the largest manufacturer of cheese, producing more than a quarter of all of America’s cheese. It even beats out much larger states like California and Texas.
- Not-So-Modest Queso in Modesto: Wisconsin might produce the most cheese of any state, but one Central California city’s winning strategy is quality over quantity. Modesto, located 92 miles east of San Francisco, took the top spot in our Quality category, helping the city rise to second place overall. In fact, Modesto’s local cheese producers bagged more U.S. Championship Cheese Contest awards in 2019 — the most recent competition — than those of the other 180 cities in our ranking.
The full ranking and analysis can be found here.
Whether you enjoy working, playing, or getting married in your own backyard, a recent survey shows more Americans than ever say that precious outdoor space is vital of late.
More than three quarters of Americans who have a yard (76%) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home, according to a new poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll.
Nearly three quarters of Americans overall (72%) say a spacious yard would be at the top of their wish list if they were looking for a new home. That desire reflects a cultural shift in how Americans view their yards. Even more so, they’re willing to invest in their yards, and are using them more for everyday activities, including as work-from-home office space.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. “They’ve discovered that ‘backyarding’ is a better way to live and there’s no turning back. They are also willing to hire professionals and invest money into yard improvements.”
People are enjoying extra time outside, too. Nearly a quarter of Americans who have a yard (24%) are spending more time in their yards now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And they are really enjoying the extra time outside. Over 3 in 5 Americans who have a yard (63%) say they have enjoyed doing more activities in their yard since the pandemic began. Younger adults (68% age 18-54 vs. 52% age 65+) and parents of kids under 18 (73% vs. 58% who are not parents of kids under 18) are more apt to feel this way.
Who’s spending all that time outside?
• Older millennials - 32% of adults ages 35-44 who have a yard are the spending more time in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic.
• Parents - 30% of those with a yard who are parents of kids under 18 are spending more time out in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic and are more likely than those without kids under 18 to say they are doing so (21%).
How Americans use their yard has likely changed. For one, the outdoor office trend is here to stay with many Americans using their yards as makeshift offices for their jobs.
• Nearly 2 in 5 Americans who have a yard (58%) say they have spent time doing work for their job in their yard during the pandemic.
• Men are more likely to use their yards while doing work for their jobs, with 63% of men compared to 53% of women with yards saying they worked outdoors in their yard during the pandemic.
• Among those with a yard, parents of kids under 18 are also more likely (71%) than their counterparts without kids under 18 (52%) to have used the yard to get work done during the pandemic.
The yard has also become a place to de-stress, with more than two thirds of Americans who have a yard (69%) saying doing yard work, such as mowing, trimming or planting, is one of the ways they like to de-stress these days. This is especially true among parents of kids under 18 as they are more likely than their counterparts without kids under 18 to cite this (76% vs. 65%).
A vast majority of Americans who have a yard (84%) plan to invest in their yard in 2022, including:
• 67% say they’ll purchase plants/trees/flowers/vegetables to plant themselves
• 39% report they will purchase items to maintain or improve their grassy areas
• 23 % say they will install or update hardscaping themselves.
And the outlook looks bright for the landscaping industry. About a third (33%) of those with a yard plan to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping in 2022. Other yard improvements planned for 2022 include installing a fence (19%) or a shed (15%) and adding a swimming pool (10%). Among those with a yard:
• Adults ages 18-44 are more likely than those ages 45+ to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by hiring a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping, 43% compared to 26% of those age 45+.
• Nearly a third of those ages 18-44 (31%) will install or update hardscaping themselves, 27% will install a fence, 21% will install a shed and 18% plan to put in a swimming pool.
• Parents of kids under 18 (73%) are more likely than their counterparts (63%) to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by purchasing plants, trees, flowers, or vegetables to plant themselves. Parents of kids under 18 are also more likely than those without kids under 18 to purchase items to maintain or improve grassy areas on the lawn (44% vs. 36%), and more likely to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping (47% vs. 26%).
Given the unprecedented return to the outdoors, the available outdoor power equipment also has kept in step with products for every need and individual scenario, says the TurfMutt Foundation, and powered in a variety of ways including battery/electric, gasoline, propane, solar and hybrids.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat is featured in the 2017-2020Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information is available at www.TurfMutt.com.
I’ve been told on occasion I clean up well. That usually means a person is so surprised to see me wearing a dress shirt and/or tie they have no control over projectile vomiting that nonsense phrase in my direction. What does that even mean? Is it an implication that I go through life “unclean” most of the time? Does it assert that I forgo washing my shorts and t-shirts regularly, in favor of simply pulling them out of the pile and Febreze-ing them for re-wear? Does it I suggest that I don’t regularly shower in favor of having B.O.?
Wait — do I have B.O.? You guys would tell me, right?
I’ve decided to just file this with “Things White People Say” and move on. (Send your letters of complaint to Mary, P.O. Box Calm Down, Snowflake, AZ.)
Over the last decade, my policy has been to wear a tie to job interviews and funerals. And I haven’t been to any funerals. My hesitation to “clean up” is not because I don’t like looking sharp — a word my father used to use and I’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine descriptive word but I also have started using the word “slacks” so that may tell you something. Rather, I don’t like getting dressed up. Perhaps if Rosie from The Jetsons could drop-kick me into a suit every morning, I wouldn’t mind walking around looking like I am someone who lives to work rather than works to live.
So, bypassing the process would make a difference … temporarily. However, after two hours of being dressed up, I will undoubtedly be thinking about when I can get out of this clown suit. I mean, that’s plenty of time for enough people to see how nice I can look and maybe even capture a few pictures for posterity (or, perhaps a better word would be proof).
I’ve been lucky enough that for my entire professional career I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever I want to the office. (I understand this policy can be a slippery slope. For example; I once worked at a place that had to include “No Chaps” in the dress code section of its employee handbook. Now, why do you suppose they put that in there?) I’m not one to push that envelope too far, although the flip-flop of my flip-flops as I ascended the stairs at Echo when I worked here full-time was a signal to everyone that I was approaching.
Let’s just say, I like to be comfortable. A lot of folks advise you should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. That’s why I always dress like a lottery winner. And, honestly, I think all of us should.
It’s certainly not my place to tell people they shouldn’t wear a suit to work every day. But how many people stop to ask themselves why they are doing it? Does it make them more effective? Does it recharge Kevin’s brain so he can crunch those numbers better, or provide
Steve with the inspiration to draw sketches of houses?
The simplest answer is that it is “professional.” But what is dressing professionally, other than what society has deemed as such? People adhere to that notion of dressing like a Stepford employee because that’s what their father did, and his father and his father. Some of the most unprofessional people I’ve met were wearing Armani, and some of the most professional were wearing Adidas.
My work-attire choices may have cost me in the past, sure. There’s no question it is the main reason I never became a lawyer or a captain of industry.
Still, I think our country would be much more chill (a word I am using to counterbalance “sharp” and “slacks”) if we all just did business in casual attire.
I understand many of you won’t or can’t join me in this, but I’ll still be dressing like I’m always headed to a BBQ.
PrideArts has announced a four-week film festival of 32 short films from 13 countries that will begin on March 14.
The films will be shown over four separate programs of approximately ninety minutes per program, with each program streaming for one week. The first week of the festival will present 10 musical films from the US, Germany, Australia, Spain, and Botswana. They range from a music video of an original love song inspired by marriage activist Edie Windsor, through films that tell their stories through dance, others through song, a documentary about dancers, and some short but complete musicals. Themes of the second week’s films explore relationships at opposite ends of the age spectrum - from young love to a couple dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Some of the third week’s films explore prejudice and discrimination against people with queer identities. One film considers the challenges of sexual relations during the quarantine. Featured in the fourth and closing week of the festival are films concerned with identity and self-image as a queer person, challenges of romantic relationships, and a shocking film about a hate crime.
Access to each program of shorts in the PrideArts Fall Film Festival will be $10.00, which will grant viewing of the program or feature purchased for a full week – allowing audiences greater flexibility in viewing the films at their leisure.
Full festival passes for all four weeks are also available for $25.00. Tickets and more information are available here.
Eat the Rainbow
PrideArts Spring International Short Film Festival
March 14 – April 11, 2022 Streaming Online
Spring Shorts Week 1 – Streaming March 14-21
A CIRCLE OF DIAMONDS (USA, 4:24). Directed by Michael Biello, Dan Martin, and B. Proud. Written by Michael Biello and Dan Martin.
An original song inspired by and featuring marriage activist Edie Windsor. Edie witnesses a musical scene where two young women reenact Thea’s proposal to her in the 1960’s - when marriage between 2 women was not an option. A celebration of the enduring power of love!
AT WATER'S EDGE (USA, 3:31). Directed by Sean Dorsey.
Featuring mesmerizing queer dance in watery coves and ocean edges, AT WATER'S EDGE is a short dance film by award-winning transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey.
EAT THE RAINBOW (USA, 19:31). Directed by Brian Benson. Written by Brian Benson and H.P. Mendoza
A musical fable about an odd yet kind man named Bayani who moves into a conservative suburban neighborhood and disrupts the otherwise comfortable homogeneity. He doesn’t look or act like anyone else which causes fear and panic and eventually a demand for him to leave the neighborhood. Cousin Wonderlette befriends Bayani and together they take on the opposition led by manipulative and unscrupulous realtor Lobelia Gerber.
HOMO POL (Germany, 19:21) Directed by Amadeus Pawlica.
A short dance documentary film about nationality and identity with a focus on the situation of the LGBTQ+ community in Poland.
LOVE SONG (Australia, 16:00). Written and directed by Claire Marshall
A dance film that explores a story of a relationship in constant flux, where deception and emotional manipulation unfolds. Featuring contemporary dancers Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman as two men in the relationship, LOVE SONG is presented in a parallel, split-screen structure, highlighting two aspects of a relationship occurring concurrently.
SEBASTIENNE (Spain, 10:12). Written and directed by José Alberto Andrés Lacasta.
The arrival of a mysterious engraving about Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian at the Historic Palace of the Aljafería (Zaragoza) awakens the spirit of its old inquisitors, reviving the invincible designs of guilt and desire.
THE SIXTH BOROUGH (USA, 12:00). Directed by Morgan Marcell, Written by Reed Luplau.
Aiden is a young and introverted man who deals with the consequences of not facing his truth. When his relationship is in jeopardy, how far will Aiden go to risk his placid life to find a world that will welcome him for who he truly is?
THE SPACE BETWEEN US (USA, 6:00). Directed by Gabriel Diamond.
Sarah Crowell and Keith Hennessey are both dancers, teachers, and activists in the Bay Area. They have known each other for nearly 30 years. But they’ve never collaborated or connected deeply, until now. The Space Between Us is a radical experiment in the power of bearing witness, inviting vulnerability, and sharing movement, in a time of social distancing and racial reckoning.
UNDERCOVER (USA, 4:24). Directed by Razieme Iborra, Written by Ching Kai Wang.
Jake Frost gets personal on what it feels like to fall in love with his straight best friend. The pain of unrequited love exacerbates as Frost emanates the harsh reality of being in the closet.
UNSPOKEN (Botswana, 7:04). Directed by William Armstrong.
World-class contemporary choreographer Paul Lightfoot (Artistic Director of the Netherlands Dance Theatre) lost his father during the pandemic. Not permitted into the hospital to say goodbye, he began working with a Danish dancer remotely to create a performance that processes the emotions he and many have shared worldwide.
Spring Shorts Week 2 – Streaming March 21 -28, 2022
ALZHEIMER'S: A LOVE STORY (USA, 15:00). Directed by Gabe Schimmel, Monica Petruzzelli, Riani Singgih, Amanda Le.
Alzheimer's: A Love Story follows Greg and Michael as they struggle with a disease eradicating the memory of their relationship 40+ years in the making.
ON A PATH (Israel, 17:47). Written and directed by Lihi Lubetkin
Nitzan (16) is an introverted teenager that has always felt invisible to society. One day Neomi (20) the girlfriend of Nitzan’s brother Erez (20), invited her to join them for an overnight trip, an invitation that led Nitzan down a path of self-discovery.
PERFECT FIRST DATE (USA, 11:14). Written and directed by Kyle Hamlin.
20-year-old Kelsie is nervous to go on her first date with Dylan. Dylan is suave and seemingly knows all the right things to say. When secrets are admitted, will they ruin this perfect first date?
PUSSY CRUISING (Germany, 7:30). Written and Directed by Masa Zia Lenardic, Anja Wutej.
What would cruising among lesbians look like? Cruising seems to be a normal part of the gay culture and we all know scenes from famous gay films where men cruise in parks or other public spaces. At the same time, cruising is barely practised among lesbians. Why? Pussy Cruising tackles this topic in a humorous way and takes you on a flirtatious journey between vibrant fantasy and mundane reality.
RESTORE (USA, 6:18). Written and Directed by Vyky Saiz
A post-apocalyptic, sci-fi drama about the last man on earth. Jason employs holographic tech to recreate a special memory with his partner, Brian. But, to rebuild the old world, he must put back all of the pieces.
SCAR (Germany, 9:50). Written and directed by William Jackson Stewart.
Two strangers meet in a ride share and spend an evening together they'll both never forget.
SHOW YOUR HUE (Ecuador. 2:38). Directed by Mayra Doménica Montesdeoca Carvajal
Chloe, a woman focused on her work and with no space in her life for love, decides to put everything aside to reunite with her soul mate.
THE ELEVATOR (Canada, 12:13). Written and Directed by Victor Santos.
After moving to his new apartment, Gabriel meets Sam, this charming neighbor who is the opposite of him, in the building elevator. After they have crossed to each other in the elevator a few times, Gabriel has to overcome his shyness and insecurities to call his new neighbor out.
WORKWEAR (USA, 5:20). Written and directed by Emily Everhard. A corporate consultant by day and a drag queen by night, Jebreel’s worlds collide as he prepares for a show and must answer to his demanding boss. A Columbia University short film.
Spring Shorts Week 3 – March 28 – April 4, 2022
GETTING CLOSER (USA, 6:16). Written and directed by Ethan Roberts.
Two stoned boyfriends navigate unexpected vulnerability (as well as the giggles) while attempting to get off. A micro-budget chamber piece, GETTING CLOSER utilizes the immediacy of iPhone cinematography to explore modern intimacy and what it takes to get there.
IDENTIBYE (Islamic Republic of Iran, 15:00). Written and Directed by Sajjad Shahhatami.
The protagonist of the story faces a dilemma of choosing between sense and sensibility regarding one's innermost feelings. He has been judged from the very beginning by the ones closest to him. The fear of these never-ending judgments fills him with doubt and he has to work against the clock to achieve his goal as he knows that one's true identity is what matters most to them.
REFLECT (Finland, 15:44). Written and directed by Lotte Laitinen
Mirva and Salla, each other’s first loves, meet for the first time in twenty years. The feelings they tried to hide from each other as teenagers seem to still spark, so Mirva decides to confess her love to Salla hoping that the feeling is mutual. But has adulthood made things any easier than they were twenty years ago?
SEXUAL DISTANCING (Greece, 16:35). Written and directed by Dimitris Asproloupos.
Two guys, one deadly virus, a city in quarantine and a lot of sexual desperation.
TAREK (Spain, 9:16). Directed by Anatael Pérez. Written by Anatel Pérez, Cris Marín, Ágata Bentancort, Altair Jorge Leiros, Miguel Cruz, and Eduardo Zerolo.
Four teenagers of different sexual orientation tell their experience at a party where they met a boy named Tarek. The four testimonies reveal a very deep connection between the characters, who despite their differences have experienced similar situations. "Tarek" talks about how people belonging to the LGTBI collective suffer discrimination and rejection due to their sexual condition.
THE BODIES OF SIEGFRIED (Chile,12:00). Written and directed by Emilio Rodríguez.
Siegfried is an artist who is in the midst of a gender transition. The documentary ponders about the relationship between his sexuality and his work, through a visual exploration of it, questioning the limits between art and pornography.
TRASHED (Canada, 13:12). Directed by Kate Johnston, Written by Joanne Vannicola.
With nowhere to go after a vicious homophobic attack, Jay finds their way to an abandoned house they once lived in as a teenager.
Spring Shorts Week 4 – Streaming April 4-11, 2022
ELECTRICITY (USA, 17:44). Written and directed by Aaron Schoonover.
Two friends reunite after a year apart, only to be caught in the middle of a summer blackout. The power is out but the electricity between them is undeniable.
MIDNIGHT RHYTHMS (USA, 15:50). Written and directed by Quincy Woo.
In this conceptual, poetic narrative, a young gay man struggles with his sexual identity and spirals into the world of drunken facades and midnight afterthoughts, questioning who he is and if he's willing to take the risk to be his truest self where others can see.
PRIVATE LIFE (USA, 22:10). Written and directed by Aleksei Borovikov.
When Eric, a young reclusive photographer, secretly follows his boyfriend Chris into the mountains, he hopes to find answers about Chris’s fidelity. Instead, Eric finds a deeper connection to himself and to Chris just as they fall prey to a stranger who targets them, a tragedy that changes Eric forever. Private Life is inspired by an actual hate crime.
THE WASHING MACHINE (Spain, 6:30). Written and directed by Diane Malherbe.
To start a washing machine is not so easy for everyone. You still have to choose the right program...
TRUTHLESS (China, 27:14). Written and directed by Badou Zhao.
Transgender stand-up comedian Lady Lin has been using her identity as the punchline in performances to acquire attention, yet she is discontented with her approach. One day, her estranged older brother shows up, informing her of their mother’s recent death. His appearance brings back the pain she suffered when she was disowned by their parents seven years ago. Her loneliness pierces through her glamorous facade. Touched, she decides to visit her hometown, only to learn the truth - her parents lied to everyone that she had died years ago to conceal her identity. Disillusioned, she turns around and leaves resolutely. Lin’s only hope of reconciliation with her family is through the self-deceptive fantasies she performs onstage.
UNTIL TOMORROW (USA, 10:13). Written and directed by Ian Graham.
While stuck in a time loop at a party, a college student repeatedly falls in love with a boy that can never remember him.
PrideArts tells queer stories on a variety of platforms, including both live and virtual performances. Since its founding in 2010, PrideArts has had several chapters, including operating as an itinerant theater for their first six seasons, and as the developer and primary tenant in the Pride Arts Center from 2016-21.
The company produces a full season of plays and musicals, as well as events including cabaret, film, and more. PrideArts has earned 39 Jeff Awards and nominations, and six nominations in the most recent (2019) ALTA Awards from the Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists of Chicago. Programming has reflected the diversity of queer communities by including work made by and illuminating the experiences of women, gay men, transgender people, and BIPOC.
PrideArts is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago’s City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, The Pauls Foundation, The Heath Fund, The Service Club of Chicago, the AmazonSmile Foundation, Arts and Business Foundation, Tap Root Foundation, Arts and Business Council, and Alphawood Foundation.
PrideArts is a member of the Smart Growth Program of the Chicago Community Trust. PrideArts is a member of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, Northalsted Business Association, Lakeview East, Uptown United, and The League of Chicago Theatres.
For more information and to donate, visit www.pridearts.org