Interviews | Politics

Meet the Challengers: Pete DeMay

The Weekly sits down with the union organizer and environmental justice activist running for alderman in the 12th Ward

Katherine Hill

Pete DeMay has spent the majority of his career as a labor organizer, having worked for a variety of unions including United Auto Workers, SEIU, and Actors’ Equity. He is also a founding member of both the 12th Ward Independent Political Organization and Neighbors for Environmental Justice.

Interviews | Politics

Meet the Challengers: José Rico

The Weekly sits down with the nonprofit executive and former principal running for alderman in the 12th Ward

Katherine Hill

I met with José Rico on the first floor of La Catedral Cafe & Restaurant in the heart of Little Village, where we discussed Rico’s long history as an educator and activist in Little Village, his vision for the 12th Ward, and the longtime incumbent, George Cardenas. Later, we heard that Cardenas himself was having a late breakfast just upstairs.

Interviews | Politics

Meet the Candidates: Maya Hodari

The Weekly sits down with the CHA development director and community organizer running for alderman in the 20th Ward

Katie Hill

About ten years ago, Maya Hodari says, she noticed an uptick in burglaries on her block, 65th Street and Drexel Avenue. In response, she and several other people living on her street formed a neighbors’ association, which began a series of projects—beautification, Clean and Green days, homeownership promotion—in an attempt to change the street for the better. One product of the group’s work with other Woodlawn residents was the Woodlawn Community Summit, an annual one-day neighborhood gathering entering its tenth year.

Interviews | Politics

Meet the Challengers: Rafael Yañez

The Weekly sits down with the nonprofit leader and former cop running for alderman in the 15th Ward

Katie Hill

I met Rafael Yañez last week at Tierra Caliente, a small, bright Brighton Park taquería owned by Yañez’s uncle. We sat at a booth next to a picture of a waterfall in Michoacan, where Yañez’s father is from, and we talked about his positions on ward issues from policing to affordable housing.

Interviews | Politics

Meet the Challengers: Tanya Patiño

The Weekly sits down with the civil engineer and soccer coach running for alderman in the 14th Ward

Katie Hill

At the intersection of 51st Street and Washtenaw Avenue in Gage Park rests the political fate of the 14th Ward. The northeast corner is home to the office of its alderman, Edward Burke, who holds a number of other important distinctions: longest-serving alderman in Chicago history (since 1969), largest stash of aldermanic campaign funds ($12 million), until recently chair of City Council’s Finance Committee (considered by many to be one of the most powerful positions in city government), and, as of a couple weeks ago, the latest Chicago alderman to be charged with corruption by the federal government. A towering, two-story sign reads “14th Ward Regular Democratic Organization,” lest you forget who still runs this place.

Interviews | Politics

Meet the Candidates: Nicole Johnson

The Weekly sits down with the educator running for alderman in the 20th Ward

Ellen Hao

Nicole Johnson is one of between five and twelve candidates (depending on how petition challenges shake out) running to replace outgoing Alderman Willie Cochran in the 20th Ward, who has been indicted on corruption charges. The ward is made up of parts of Woodlawn, Washington Park, Englewood, and Back of the Yards. Johnson lives a block west of Halsted in Englewood—in the same house she grew up in—and has worked across the city: as a third grade math teacher on the South and West Sides, a consultant at Magic Johnson’s education nonprofit the Academy Group, and at community development nonprofit Teamwork Englewood. She’s also a peer advisor at the Obama Foundation, and volunteers with Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Chicago YMCA.

Interviews | Politics

Meet the Candidates: Jeanette Taylor

The Weekly sits down with the community activist running for alderman in the 20th Ward

Ellen Hao

Jeanette Taylor first began thinking about a run for alderman after a September 2017 event with the Obama Foundation. Taylor, a local activist with the coalition calling for the Obama Foundation to accept a Community Benefits Agreement for its Presidential Center, asked the first question of Obama himself. (It came as a surprise: she didn’t know he’d be showing up to talk to the audience by video call.) The former president’s response to her request for a CBA was disappointing. If the center announced they might sign one, he said, “next thing I know I’ve got twenty organizations that are coming out of the woodwork.” “He got a lot of nerve saying that,” Taylor told Politico last year.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Knowing Herself

An interview with Tasha

Maggie O'Brien

In her debut album Alone at Last, Tasha—poet, activist, and singer-songwriter—digs into themes of music as healing and radical softness as a political act; the sweatshirts she crafted to sell along with the album are embroidered with “I love myself and hate police.” In an interview with the Weekly, Tasha describes her journey of creating Alone at Last, from self-releasing the Divine Love EP in 2016, to signing with Father/Daughter Records last year, to her debut release this October. Listen to a full version of this interview that aired on SSW Radio, the Weekly’s radio show and podcast:

Interviews | Music

New Voices, New Faces

An interview with Clyde Moreau, organizer of the inaugural Decibel Crawl Fest

Siena Fite

Artists from throughout Chicago will be participating in a new, multi-venue festival this weekend. Decibel Crawl Fest, organized by Beverly native Clyde Moreau, started with the goal of highlighting local artists of color and LGBTQ+- and women-identifying artists, and paying them fairly “in exchange for what they give to inspire us.” The new DIY festival has shows in venues across the city, including Bohemian Grove in McKinley Park. The Weekly spoke with Moreau in Hyde Park about their hopes for the festival and the challenges of pulling together a festival in seven venues with over thirty performers, including ONO and Sasha No Disco. This interview has been edited for length and clarity; listen to an SSW Radio segment that includes Moreau’s interview as well as interviews with Decibel Crawl Fest performers Audra Vidal and Eiigo Groove:

Health | Interviews

Caring for a Segregated City

An interview with longtime Chicago public health nurse Joan Lawson on the importance of caring, family, and education

Ellen Hao, based on a photograph by Paul Audia for Loyola Press

In the thirty-plus years that Joan Lawson, eighty, spent treating sick people in their homes throughout Chicago as a public health nurse, she gained unique insights into the human condition. It wasn’t until the Vatican selected her to be part of a collection of stories about elders from all over the world, however, that she realized her words could have an impact.