Tom's been writing about religion – broadly defined – for years in the Journal. Tom's experience as a retired minister and his curiosity about matters of faith will make for an always insightful exploration of these topics. Tom's encouraging open discussion, so join in.

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration and I was a contributor to The Field Guide to Surreal Botany. Apart from my own blog I have also contributed to the online sites Gapers Block and A Prairie Journal. I often find myself hugging trees, squinting at stars, cutting buckthorn, or focusing too late on a bird that got away. I've been told I do a pretty fair imitation of a cicada song- but that all of my other animal calls sound alike.

Maria is no stranger when it comes to finding frugal ways to spend the weekend. She's a cofounder of LocalEventsInYourArea.com, a website dedicated to sniffing out local and inexpensive ways to improve upon your cultural prowess.

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David is a regular contributor of restaurant reviews and food-related articles for Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, TimeOut Chicago, Local Beet, and Chicago Reader, which published his seven-part guide to regional Mexican food in the city. He has also contributed food writing to blogs such as the Local Beet and Grubstreet Chicago. With his friend Michael Gebert (creator of Sky Full of Bacon video podcasts), he hosted a cable documentary on Hispanic chow at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market,and has just completed working on a video about Taste of Melrose Park. A returning guest on WLS and WGN AM radio, David produces the "Soundbites" series on the James Beard-nominated Eight Forty-Eight (Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ, 91.5FM); these radio pieces examine how Chicago chefs use sound in their kitchens; listen here: http://tiny.cc/QpCTA. David was featured on "Good Morning, America," "Chicago, Tonight," and Nippon TV when he developed recipes for preparing seasonal cicadas, which invaded Chicagoland during the spring of 2007. More information, including writing samples and bug-cooking videos, can be found at http://www.dchammond.com.

Helen Kossler loves reading aloud to her grandchildren and is not ashamed to admit that she almost always likes the book better than the movie. She has been buying, borrowing, begging and stealing (well—not stealing on purpose, more like forgetting to return in a timely manner) books to read her whole life. She currently teaches Special Education in a high school in Chicago and reads every chance she gets.

Chances are that if you don't know Lourdes, you don't really know Oak Park. This Oak Park mom of three can't walk a village block without running into someone she knows. She's about as effervescent as they come and usually has the skinny on anything Oak Park. Lourdes loves Oak Park and you'll see that in her blog... but here's your chance to finally find out what ticks her off!

Kate is quite the savvy shopper. Along with writing for Chicago Parent magazine, Kate has produced several shopping guides for Wednesday Journal. Kate's got the scoop when it comes to shopping in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park. New store opening on Harrison Street? Kate's there! Haven't seen the new bottle openers at Two Fish? Kate will hook you up!

Ben was Wednesday Journal's crime, parks, and River Forest reporter, until he kept bugging us enough to promote him. Now he's managing two of Wednesday Journal's sister papers in the city, Chicago Journal and Skyline.