Because of the need to keep the Chicago Chowhound board, "laser focused", an e-mail forum has been established for chit-chat. The listserv serves two purposes. First, it allows for planning of social events; second, it allows for various amounts of off-board topics. The listserv is open to anyone, and can be joined by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Now, what I really wanted to say, in conjuction with the listserv, is that after you have joined--and it is a two step process to avoid spam--send an e-mail introducting yourselve to the listserv. For one thing, people join with names/e-mail addresses that are different than their "chowhound names", so it is nice to put a face with a name so to speak. For another thing, people have jumped into the middle of some conversations, producing snipy, and not otherwise appropriate comments from people on the listserv. With the initial e-mail, you are telling people that you are new to the listserv, and, I believe, asking for some restraint when responding to your e-mails. Also, as their is no archive of the listserv or other way of knowing what came before you, a little proaction helps.
I have no authority to make rules for the listserv (as if anyone does), and I realize that I am asking for a bit more traffic on the listserv, but I really do not think having people make initial e-mails will overwhelm our system. I am posting this on chowhound because the people on the listserv have no idea who has joined until they make their first post.