“We’re in front of the children, we know what they need.”
My family was the third African-American family that moved into the community. I did experience the change, I did experience some of the racism that I endured as I was brought up in Englewood. I graduated from Henderson School in 1979, and I went to Gage Park High School, and you’ve probably heard about the racism, the riots there. Then I had my kids, then I went to Chicago State, where I obtained my Bachelor’s. So I’ve been working in Englewood a long time.
“Sometimes when you’re your own worst critic, you’re never satisfied.”
This past Friday, South Side in Focus, a University of Chicago student organization that aims to share and amplify the voices of South Side residents through public art exhibits, held a gallery opening and performance at Currency Exchange Café in Washington Park. The event, titled “As We See It,” featured photos (below) taken on disposable cameras by students from Imagine Englewood If… and the Chicago Youth Programs in Washington Park. The photos allowed the students to document daily life in their households and neighborhoods. Interviews with the student photographers and a video made by students from Englewood accompanied the images. Students also performed in an open mic event (above), sharing poetry that reflected on life in their neighborhoods. Find some of the students’ work reproduced here.
Homelessness, says Angelica, a twenty-two-year-old regular at the Teen Living Programs homeless youth drop-in center, is almost universally misunderstood.
One of the country’s most influential publishers of rare and passed-over music is based out of an innocuous, unmarked house on 24th Street and Marshall Boulevard, toeing the line between Little Village and Lawndale.
On the west side of 73rd and Stony Island, there is a plaza containing a chop suey joint, an H&R Block, a Subway, an insurance office, and a Harold’s Chicken Shack. On the east side, across the street, is Mosque Maryam, the largest mosque in Chicago and the national headquarters of the Nation of Islam, the syncretic African-American Muslim group led by Louis Farrakhan. The mosque is separated from the street by a wrought-iron fence and a wide parking lot. A star-and-crescent symbol stands on a pole atop its golden dome, overlooking the neighborhood. Continue reading
I stepped off 18th Street and its panaderias and lavanderias into a first-floor apartment filled with dozens of leather-clad, septum-pierced artists milling about sipping Charles Shaw. Knowing full well the distinction between Pilsen’s two art scenes—the former founded on predominately Mexican-American cultural traditions, the latter chic, trendy, and usually strange—I entered the Honey Hole’s “If They Mated” expecting the obscure and prepared for the inane. Continue reading
It seems almost impossible that the geographical bulk of the South Shore neighborhood—running from Stony Island to Exchange and from 71st to 79th—encompasses only a few square miles of land. The neighborhood gives off the impression of being far more expansive. The commercial arteries are fat and long, stuffed to the brim with knickknack shops, convenience stores, and steam-filled restaurants. Stony Island is a massive six-lane thoroughfare cut along the middle by a huge median, while 71st Street and Exchange are both bisected by the Metra Electric tracks. Turn off any one of these boulevards, though, and you’ll find yourself on quiet, tree-lined side streets like 73rd or 76th, Paxton or Constance—streets filled with old houses where kids play in the street and men sit smoking on porches. Those same streets have seen the crime and gun violence that ranks South Shore just behind Englewood and West Englewood, the two South Side neighborhoods with the most incidents, according to Red Eye’s homicide tracker. Continue reading
Cindy Pardo’s attic—brimming with textile squares, sewing equipment, and pattern swatches—is the mark of an intimate, lifelong relationship with fabric. Pardo has worked as a studio artist, making and selling original quilt designs, for three decades now; with her patterned shirts and dexterous hands, she appears quite at home wading through her attic’s cluttered sea of fabrics. But she is also concerned about providing other artists, specifically those on the South Side, with a place to show the world their own handiwork. Continue reading