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.

Cars | Photo Essay

Family On Four Wheels

Pilsen’s Slow & Low: Community Lowrider Festival is back, and it’s bigger than ever

Sebastián Hidalgo

This year’s sixth annual Slow & Low: Community Lowrider Festival drew thousands to Pilsen on Sunday, August 6. Lowriders—customized classic vehicles that drive low to the ground—originated in Los Angeles, but here in Chicago they come with a lifestyle devoted to family and community.

Englewood | Photo Essay

Englewood Through My Lens

Photography by Tonika Johnson

Tonika Johnson’s photos document everyday life as it is lived in Englewood among families and friends, young folks and old; they take place in front of stores and on sidewalks, in parks and on trains—all the places we find ourselves every day, but sometimes forget to think of as beautiful. “My passion for Englewood and community work, plus my belief in the power of contemporary art [as] a conduit for social awareness, motivated me to use my art to challenge public perception of Englewood,” she said of her photos last year in a Weekly article about the first annual Englewood Art Fair in Hamilton Park. Some of these photos have been shown in galleries or published in other outlets before; others appear here for the first time. Her next exhibition, Everyday Rituals, will open at Rootwork Gallery in February, and will feature photography as well as an experimental film short.

Lead | Photo Essay

The Fight for East Chicago

Lead contamination in an Indiana city

Lorenzo "Bambam" Jenkins, 12, his two-year-old niece Laylay Striblin, and his friend Keanthony Brown, 14, spend time at a park near the West Calumet Housing Complex. Jenkins says he's upset that he has to move but that he'll keep up with his friends like Brown if they are able to stay at the same school.

The West Calumet Housing Complex is home to nearly 1,200 people, located on a seventy nine-acre site in East Chicago, Indiana, which the Environmental Protection Agency has declared hazardous to human health. Up until 1985 a lead refinery, a copper smelter, and a secondary lead smelter were also in the area, and as early as 1987, federal and state agencies investigated the site as a potential cleanup priority. But due to limited resources and an abundance of red tape, the site has remained contaminated for decades.