This Interview Issue, the fourth of its kind, contains eight interviews with artists, activists, writers, and residents of Chicago.
The Englewood Arts Collective is a group of nine artists, working in diverse media, who came together earlier this year to influence public perceptions of Englewood and improve access to art within the neighborhood. I sat down with Collective members Tonika Johnson (a photographer), Janell Nelson (a graphic designer), and Joe Nelson (a muralist) to talk about the forming of the Collective and its plans for the future.
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.
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.
I was a dissenter. I retaliated against a lot of things, but more so I retaliated against the way people tried to color the world for me. I questioned, and I didn’t realize until I got older that I was always questioning why things have to be the way they are. I was deeply invested in my imagination, and cinema was that environment that sort of told me: you can create, these ideas can come out of you and unfold, and you can create the reality that you want through this particular medium.
Asylum seekers occupy the uncertain ground between outsiders and refugees. Unlike refugees, who are pre-screened by the government and can access public assistance upon arrival, asylum seekers find their own route to the U.S.—sometimes illegally, sometimes by visa—and are ineligible to receive any government assistance while awaiting a decision on their cases.
August was Black Philanthropy Month: a campaign started in 2011 to connect the often “silo-ed” world of Black giving, as Jackie Copeland-Carson, the campaign’s founder, described it. Last month, South Side Weekly Radio broadcast interviews between reporter Bridget Vaughn and members of the Black philanthropic community. Every week offered a different viewpoint on giving back, including how corporations give back to the communities where they operate, how individuals give, and how groups of people collectively join forces to make a greater impact. Below are excerpts from those conversations. Listen to the full interviews here.
From the day she got her first ghettoblaster while growing up in Chatham, Jana Rush—aka JARu—has always been connected to Chicago music. Her ascent into the scene reads like folklore: at ten years, she called Kennedy-King’s WKKC 89.3 FM to schedule an audition. “Once they were done laughing,” Rush tells me, the DJs showed her the ropes, and juke icon Gant-Man took her under his wing. By 1996, Jana had put out a single and a split 12” with DJ Deeon on the legendary house label Dance Mania, where she was billed as “The Youngest Female DJ.”
Bianca Betancourt, founder and editor-in-chief of CIRCUS Magazine, sits in the magazine’s 18th Street storefront. A neon CIRCUS logo casts her curls in electric blue light while Cherokee, her eight-year-old German Shepherd, greets passersby with howls.
I feel that one of the great miracles in recent journalism, if I may, is that that swagger and freedom that the Reader represented when it was flush with cash has somehow survived to one degree or another through all these difficult financial times. It’s easy to be on top of the world, cocky and cool, when you’re rolling in the dough, but when you’re struggling…if you still maintain that sense of mission, it is really impressive.