Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with Danielle Chynoweth, 39, Central Illinois Business Magazine's Forty Under 40 Woman of the Year. Getting Personal appears first in print on Sundays. On Nov. 20, we'll hear from Champaign Mayor Don Gerard.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
Mornings are quiet times with my baby, Ezra Shine. We wake at 7 a.m. and play in bed for a few hours, singing songs, reading stories and acting silly.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
Today I am taking vegan lunch to my sweetie on campus.
Best high school memory.
Skipping school and taking motorcycle rides to the beach with my first love.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
My 'Positive Gossip' shoes that I painted and often wear in airports, where people tend to walk around looking at the ground.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
A perfectly sunny fall day, at an event that is welcoming to the entire community, where people are playing instruments on the edges and there is structured conversation about making the city we want to live in.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
'The Monster at the End of this Book' by Sesame Street. I still credit that book for my rebelliousness.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
I want to go back to Venice, Italy, live for a month in one of those tiny town homes over the water and write the book about local democracies that is inside my head.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
I used to have backyard chickens in Urbana, and I was particularly fond of my white faverolle.
Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
I started out like my father — smart-mouthed, willful and interested in everything. I find that I am becoming more like my mother — drawn to caregiving, cultivating listening skills and interested in everything.
What would you order for your last meal?
Devil fish from Siam Terrace and Taro Bubble Tea from Evo Cafe.
What can you not live without?
My baby, Ezra Shine Chynoweth.
Who do you have on your iPod?
I go through seasonal interests in music — right now, I am listening to the Waliin' Jennys, Zap Mama, Mississippi John Hurt and Les Mystere des Voix Bulgares.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
The day I conceived Ezra Shine. I knew I was pregnant, and I spent the day alone wandering the summer streets of west Urbana, my heart singing about being a mother.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
Grace Lee Boggs (political organizer), Gerda Lerner (women studies founder) and Sharon Olds (poet).
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
When I was unhappily in a joint law/doctoral program, a lawyer I respected told me: 'Go do what you want to do in the world and then, if and when you need the degree, go to law school.' That sentence saved me much time, money and grief.
What's your best piece of advice?
Understand the problem, question assumptions, generate alternatives, be ready to change your mind.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
At age 15, I worked for Sponsored Research at the University of Florida making $3.25 that I used to travel to France the next year, where I hitchhiked around, mostly eating baguettes and peanut butter, and sketched in the museums in Paris.
What was a pivotal decision in your career, and how did you arrive at that decision?
When I was unhappily in a joint law/doctoral program, a lawyer I respected told me: 'Go do what you want to do in the world and then, if and when you need the degree, go to law school.' I left with my master's degree and ran for city council.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
Jumping to conclusions without asking enough questions (I can hear my friends laughing and nodding along as I write this).
How do you handle a stressful situation?
I take a long walk and talk (sometimes out loud) to myself, coaching myself until I feel that sharp, ringing confident sense that I get with solution.