1. How Chicago Shaped Stephen Colbert

He turned down drama school for a year as an actor in the city—and transformed from an earnest Hamlet-wannabe into a gifted improviser. The Chicago Reader recounts his early years.

2. I Went Looking for the Uptick in Murders in U.S. Cities. Here’s What I Found.

Nationwide, things actually aren’t that different—but Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Baltimore are genuinely struggling with huge increases. The Washington Post runs the numbers.

3. A Church Without a Building? Congregation Builds a Garden Instead

The Kimball Avenue Church in Logan Square lost its building in 2011. They’ve done something very different with the empty lot. DNAInfo follows the congregation.

4. Why Talking More to Your Baby Is Important

Dana Suskind is out to prove how important it is—and to close the “word gap.” Chicago profiles the University of Chicago researcher.

5. Can Treating PTSD Solve America’s Employment Crisis?

The psychological effects of urban violence can make it harder to keep a job. One Summer Chicago Plus is trying to fix that. NextCity examines the program.

6. Kristiana Rae Colón: #LetUsBreathe Activist and ‘Defiant’ Poet and Playwright

The daughter of former alderman Rey Colón is breaking through as a playwright—and her play Octagon opens this month in a London theater. The Guardian gets a sneak preview.

7. Hunger Strikers Protest School Closing

Why are parents and students in Chicago still on a hunger strike? Almost three weeks in, two of them explain. MSNBC talks with Jitu Brown and Jeanette Taylor Ramann.

8. The 20 Most Powerful Political Insiders

It’s not just Axelrod—Chicago’s home to some of the best spin doctors in the country. Crain’s makes the selections.

9. What the State’s Heroin-Crisis Bill Does—and Why It Has Bipartisan Support

Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto was soundly defeated in the House by a near-unanimous vote. Here’s why. Chicago goes inside the bill.

10. Beyond Deep Dish—Exploring Chicago’s Other Native Foods

Gyros, flaming saganaki, and chicken vesuvio are among the city’s famous exports. WBEZ delves into its food history.