Activism | Interview Issue 2017 | Photo Essay

Chicago Youth Work to Increase the Peace

Photos from the last Increase the Peace campout of the summer

Children from the Back of Yards neighborhood take turns trying to hit a piñata as it rises and falls, pulled by a string controlled by Increase the Peace youth leaders. (Sebastián Hidalgo)

Weekly photographer Sebastián Hidalgo attended the last Increase the Peace campout—youth-led anti-violence demonstrations across the South Side—of the summer. On August 4, dozens gathered outside of St. Michael’s Church in Back of the Yards for games, music, and food to celebrate the community center’s reopening after over ten years.

Activism | Interview Issue 2017 | Interviews

From Summer Nights to the Long Haul

Resurrection Project campouts build youth leaders and community ties

Increase the peace youth leaders hold a private meeting recalling an incident with two local gang factions at the recently re-opened St. Michaels Community Center, Friday, August 4, 2017 (Sebastián Hidalgo)

Every few weeks this summer, a block in a South Side neighborhood was taken over by peace marches, workshops, free food, and an all-night campout. This is the Resurrection Project’s Increase the Peace campaign, a youth-led program that grew out of the tragic drive-by shooting of high school senior Naome Zuber in the fall of 2016. Naome was riding in the back seat of a car when a stray bullet ended her life. Her death galvanized her community; since then, other neighborhoods from Little Village to Englewood have come together as well, on these warm summer nights, to think about structural ways to stop gun violence long after the campouts end.

Activism | Politics

Priority in Planning

South Side United seeks greater community involvement in Obama library development process

Courtesy of the Obama Library

Of the 150 individuals who attended the first Washington Park Summit on April 1, only fourteen actually lived in the neighborhood, according to the Hyde Park Herald. Cecilia Butler, longtime Washington Park resident and president of the Washington Park Resident’s Advisory Council, called the meeting “insulting” due to the lack of notice given to neighborhood residents. An event posted on the neighborhood bulletin website EveryBlock did not appear until less than a week before the event.

Activism | Features | Politics

More Say From the South Side

As the Obamas promise community benefits from the presidential center, South Siders push to #GetItInWriting

Courtesy of the Obama Foundation

In the airy hall of the South Shore Cultural Center (SSCC), the audience screamed with excitement when former president Barack Obama walked in with the first renderings of the planned Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park on May 3. The OPC is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for investment in the South Side—and the audience had reason to be excited, as the former president, with his usual charisma, introduced a “transformational” plan that’s supposed to revitalize the nearby neighborhoods with employment, training, and business opportunities.

Activism | Education | Politics

Students United in Power

High school activists in Brighton Park continue a familiar fight in the Trump era

In the summer and early fall of 2015, all eyes in Chicago’s education community were on the campaign and thirty-four-day hunger strike organized by community organizers, families, and educators, that successfully led to the reopening of Dyett High School in Washington Park as an arts school. Among the activists in the “Save Dyett” campaign were Dyett alumni and students, many of whom mobilized after feeling their communities and schools were being undervalued by city officials.

Activism | Development | Housing | Pilsen

Defend At All Costs

Pilsen Alliance takes up the fight against another round of gentrification in Pilsen

Courtesy of Pilsen Alliance

On January 10, as then-president Barack Obama prepared to deliver his farewell address at McCormick Place, Rosa Esquivel was setting up chairs and tables at a Chicago Public Library named after another prominent community organizer, Rudy Lozano. Esquivel, a Guatemalan immigrant who has lived in the area since 2003, volunteers as a community board member for Pilsen Alliance, a grassroots social justice organization headquartered two blocks west of the Rudy Lozano library. The day’s community meeting marked the latest chapter in the organization’s nearly two-decade history of working to protect its neighborhood.