A typical Monday night at Concord House unfolds with a motley group of nearly twenty adults dishing up bowls of lentil stew in their Hyde Park home. A strong family dynamic is evident in the dining room, which is adorned with photos, calendars, and bulletin boards; a crowded bookshelf; and a central table, upon which rest six bunches of bananas, a carton of assorted hot sauces, and an oversized jar of some mystery vegetable, presumably pickled, labelled “DO NOT STIR.” Like many of the objects in the three-story home, these table items are communally shared among its residents, who are related not by blood but rather by chosen lifestyle: that of the housing cooperative.
When individuals with mental illness live in underserved communities, without adequate mental health care, they often seek antidotes elsewhere: Many try to self-medicate with alcohol or illegal substances. Some resort to retail theft or other petty crimes to get by. For others, a mental health crisis may escalate to a point where they become a threat to themselves or others.
“I think this does change the way that people think about racial segregation.”
On a dreary evening in February, as the sound of gunshots reverberates through a whitewashed room, a number of individuals approach its source. This is no crime scene. Rather, these bullet blasts issue from a video documenting the inception of two sculptures of esteemed interdisciplinary artist Sanford Biggers. Both the film, playing on a continuous loop, and the sculptures it features are elements of Biggers’s temporary exhibition at the Monique Meloche Gallery, entitled “the pasts they brought with them.”
“By the time Michaeli arrived at The Defender, it had endorsed reformative politicians such as ‘Big Bill’ Thompson, John F. Kennedy, Harold Washington, and Barack Obama; covered the triumphs of prominent black figures such as Jack Johnson and Bessie Coleman; and featured the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks, to name a few.”
“We said we needed to support each other. That’s all. It was not an overtly political act.” – Suzanne Cohan-Lange
“And our acceptance of the idea that schools might die while they have students in them, I think, is problematic.”
“I figured I would open the café just to have something here and hopefully spark other entrepeneurs to come out this way.”