Notes & Calendar 11/29/17

A week’s worth of developing stories, events, and signs of the times, culled from the desks, inboxes, and wandering eyes of the editors


Can the Feds Offer a New Channel for Bottom-Up Activism?

If a site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and there is a construction plan in the pipeline for this historic site, it is a routine procedure for the federal government to jump in and evaluate the construction plan to minimize adverse impacts on both historic preservation and local environment. Jackson Park, the selected site for the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) and of the proposed Tiger Woods golf course, is on the register, and the federal review just started last Friday. The federal review necessitates additional scrutiny on the city’s side, for which the city’s planning and development departments have already invited many experts to offer consultancy. The question here is whether this “routine” procedure can offer openings for non-routine inputs from grassroots activists, as a new force joins this long drawn-out battle between the OPC and community organizations. Margaret Schmid, co-founder of Jackson Park Watch, told the Sun-Times that the federal review offers much-needed “new eyes,” but will those eyes be looking in the same direction as the city, or its critics?

Spill Supervisors Spill Staff

Leaks are nothing new in Chicago’s southern waterways. This year, U.S. Steel twice spilled hexavalent chromium into a tributary of Lake Michigan. One month ago, a still-unidentified source spilled hundreds of gallons of oil into Bubbly Creek. Now, though, the institution responsible for preventing, investigating, and cleaning up these spills is facing a spill of its own. WTTW Chicago reports that the EPA’s Chicago offices have lost sixty-one employees this year as the region prepares for the heavy budget cuts promised by the Trump administration. Less than half of the sixty-one took buyouts or early retirements rather than work under the direction of Pruitt, who is intent on running the agency into the ground. But many employees left because they didn’t know whether the programs they were running—such as a small-business-oriented Pollution Prevention program—would exist come January, when the new, starved budget is to be implemented. Short on support staff, the office is straining under increased responsibilities, which include remediation at the lead-contaminated Superfund site in East Chicago and hurricane response efforts across the country. As corporations continue to release pollutants into the air, ground, and waterways, it’s likely that the EPA will have to investigate fewer claims, and more slowly. All leaks are worrisome. But the one at Chicago’s EPA offices especially so, because it only promises more down the road.

A Football Fantasy

In 2015, Wendell Phillips Academy in Bronzeville became the first Chicago public high school to win the state football 4A championship. Again undefeated this season, they’ve earned a second chance at the title—this time in division 5A, where they’ll face Dunlap High School this Saturday at 10am at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. It’s easy to worry about what Phillips doesn’t have compared to the more affluent schools they’ve faced all season, but the Phillips football team has been infallible, practicing every day—including Thanksgiving—and receiving well-wishes from Bronzeville residents everywhere they go. J’Bore Gibbs, the captain and quarterback of Phillips with a full-ride football scholarship to South Dakota State University, where he plans to study engineering, told WBEZ that his final game for Phillips will be emotional, and that he “almost cried the other day thinking it’s going to be our last night practice, and it’s just practice…I’m very connected to these guys and the coaches and everything we stand for.” To J’Bore and all on the Wendell Phillips Academy football team—we’re proud of your hard work, camaraderie, and unflinching courage. We’ll be cheering for you!



Building Home: Workshop and Open Mic

Build Coffee, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Wednesday, November 29, 6:30pm–8:30pm. Doors 6:15pm, workshop 6:30pm, open mic 7:25pm. Free.

Art is Movement (AIM) and Blacklight Magazine have joined together to host a Writing/Art Workshop. Perform an original piece, draft, or the song you’ve always wanted to sing. The first twenty people will receive a token for a free drink and food will be provided. Everyone is welcomed. (Maple Joy)

Racial Justice for South Loop Schools

National Teachers Academy, 55 W. Cermak Rd. Wednesday, November 29, 6pm–8pm. Free. Register at

Chicago United for Equity is hosting a three-part series to review Chicago Public School’s proposal to close the National Teachers Academy and open a neighborhood high school. Community members and experts will evaluate the impact of this proposal and create solutions to better serve students. (Samantha Smylie)

Hyde Park Holly-Day

Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Ct. Saturday, December 2, 8am–7pm. Free. (773) 702-0936.

Hyde Park will be hosting a street holiday festival that promises food, ice sculpture carving, cookie decorating, caroling with a local alderman, Santa, costumed characters, and real—or, as the organizers put it, “live”—reindeer. (Rachel Kim)

Englewood Quality of Life Quarterly Meeting

Volunteers of America Illinois, 6002 S. Halsted St. Saturday, December 2, 11am–12:30pm. Free.

Teamwork Englewood will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Englewood Quality of Life Plan II, which set goals and created community-based task forces to strengthen and improve Englewood’s standard of living. The meeting will discuss progress made and plans for the upcoming year. (Rachel Kim)

Organizing Strategies for Black Liberation

Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Room AUD 1015. Saturdays, December 2 and December 9, 1pm–5pm. $15–$35. Register Online by December 1.

During this two-part workshop, the Chicago Freedom School will discuss economics, art, and blackness. The discussion aims to explore the political and cultural factors that shaped the organizing strategies of social movements of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. (Samantha Smylie)

Home Energy Savings Workshop

The Plant, 1400 W. 46th St. Saturday, December 2, 1pm–2pm. Free. Pre-register on Eventbrite. (773) 847-5523.

In this free workshop, The Plant Chicago and the Citizens Utility Board will discuss ways to reduce your energy bills by using energy efficiency programs, including Illinois’s new community solar program which allows people to fund a community solar garden for a credit on their ComEd bill. (Adia Robinson)

Holiday Gift Making Classes

Englewood Enterprise Gallery, 7039 S. Wentworth Ave. Every Saturday and Sunday from December 2 to December 30, 2pm–4pm. $5. (773) 719-9848.

The Englewood Enterprise Gallery is hosting a series of classes to teach children and adults how to make bags, jewelry and jewelry stands, t-shirts, and more that you can give as a gift to your loved ones. The cost of materials is not included in the cost of the class. (Adia Robinson)


Conversation with the DuSable’s Exhibition Team

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Thursday, December 7, noon–1pm. Free. Tickets online.

Many people wonder how museum exhibits are designed and constructed from start to finish. Some of those questions can be answered by the DuSable Museum’s exhibition department, during their conversation on the growing museum, their inspirations, and the difficulties faced in their creations. (Maple Joy)

YCA On The Block: Pilsen

La Catrina Café, 1011 W. 18th St. Through December 1. Fridays, 6pm–8pm. Free.

In collaboration with Yollocalli Arts Reach and La Catrina Café, Young Chicago Authors will be hosting free open mics and workshops every Friday. Come through and learn how to write poems and hear others perform. (Roderick Sawyer)

2017-18 Artists in Residence Welcome Reception and Artist Talk

Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. Tuesday, November 28, 6:30pm–8pm. Free.

Arts and Public Life in Washington Park will be hosting an artist discussion panel with Victoria Martine, Arif Smith, and Brittney Leeanne Williams. Moderated by Tempestt Hazel, the discussion will cover the artists’ methods and how they intend to use their residency at the UofC and in Washington Park. (Rachel Kim)

Raices by Diske Uno

Pilsen Outpost, 1958 W. 21st St. Friday, December 1, 6pm–11pm. (773) 830-4800.

Diske Uno, an urban artist and muralist born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, will showcase his work at a feature show in Pilsen. Inspired by indigenous cultures, rituals, and ceremonies of Mexico and their relationships with nature, Diske Uno has worked on murals across Mexico and Chicago, most recently the Brown Wall Project in Little Village. (Rachel Kim)


Christmas Vibes with Thaddeus Tukes and Willie Pickens

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West. Friday, December 1, 7pm. Admission starts at $12–$25. (312) 801-2100.

Pianist Willie Pickens and vibist Thaddeus Tukes are joining forces for a Christmas-themed jam session this weekend. Over his long career, Pickens has collaborated with legends like James Moody and Roy Eldridge; Tukes, while newer to the scene, has played with musicians from Kendrick Lamar to The Roots. You’d be hard pressed to find a cooler duo to play your Christmas tunes. (Michael Wasney)

The Slackers

Reggies, 2105 S. State St., Friday–Sunday, December 1–3, 8pm. $20–$25. (312) 949-0120, 17+.

The Slackers will be bringing their unique blend of ska, jazz, and rock n’ roll to Reggies for a three day tour de force this weekend. Each night will be a completely different show: on Friday, they’ll be playing through their album Wasted Days in its entirety; on Saturday, through Peculiar; and on Sunday, through Redlight. So why not come to all three? (Michael Wasney)

Makaya McCraven with Irreversible Entanglements and Dos Santos

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. Saturday, December 2, 8:30pm. 17+. $15 (early bird), $20. (312) 536-3851.

At this show, Thalia Hall will be celebrating the album releases of two local artists (jazz musician Makaya McCraven and “liberation-oriented free jazz collective” Irreversible Entanglements) on Bridgeport-based recording company International Anthem. Dos Santos’s closing performance, meanwhile, is an album teaser—they’ll have their first full-length album out with International Anthem this summer. (Julia Aizuss)

Rai Presents: Luz y Sombra EP Release

The Dojo, message on Facebook for address. Saturday, December 9, 8:30pm. $5 donation.

Contrasting the “stellar melodies of hope” with the “dark sounds of reality,” Luz y Sombra is a dynamic and long awaited EP by Rai, Décima, Lester Rey, and Swooning. Come to the Dojo to be the first to hear it and also enjoy live art by Meli Alvarez Juarez and Ariana Romero. (Maddie Anderson)

Roy Ayers

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. W. Wednesday, December 20, 9pm. $25–$55. (312) 801-2100.

The Godfather of Neo-Soul, Roy Ayers, comes to the Promontory this December with his generation and genre bridging hits, such as “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”, “Searchin’,” and “Running Away.” (Adia Robinson)

Twin Peaks, Knox Fortune, and Sun Cop

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. Friday, December 29, doors 7pm, show 8pm. $25–$35. All ages. (312) 526-3851.

It’s a locals’ night at Thalia Hall, with three Chicago bands on display. Come to watch Sun Cop rise. Stay all night with Knox Fortune, of Chance the Rapper’s “All Night” fame. And in the end, come home with Twin Peaks of indie rock acclaim. (Lewis Page)


Wayne Koestenbaum

Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Wednesday, November 29, 7:30pm. Free. (773) 702-8670.

At this Renaissance Society event, performer, professor, and poet Wayne Koestenbaum will read from his work, which includes eighteen books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. He will move smoothly between prepared word and improvised music with his usual style and wit. (Adia Robinson)

Day Without Art: Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings

Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Friday, December 1, 9:30am–4:30pm. Free. (773) 324-5520.

The HPAC joins the twenty-eighth annual Day Without Art with a daylong screening of Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings, a video series commissioned for the project that “prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic.” In an era when we’re quicker to celebrate exciting medical advances against the disease than the people whom it continues to target, this Friday presents a welcome opportunity to stop by, watch, and learn. (Julia Aizuss)

Sydney R. Daniels Oratorical Festival GoFundMe

Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake St. (Room 115). Festival Tuesday, February 27. Email for more info.

Harold Washington’s long-running Black History Month Oratorical Festival—named after the late beloved professor Sydney R. Daniels—was suspended last year when funding distribution for scholarships changed. With the festival’s thirtieth anniversary approaching, speech professor Sunny Serres is heading a GoFundMe effort to bring back the festival and the scholarships; it’s already nearly halfway there. (Julia Aizuss)

Nguzo Saba films with Carol Lawrence

Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Saturday, December 2, 3pm. Free.

For the last two years, South Side Projections has screened Carol Munday Lawrence’s Nguzo Saba films. This December, Lawrence herself will present the animated short films on the seven principles of unity, most commonly associated with Kwanzaa, and discuss them after the screening. (Adia Robinson)

Were You There

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Saturday, December 2, 7pm. Free.

South Side Projections; the Logan Center; the UofC Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture; the DuSable Museum; and Black World Cinema will all present two episodes of Carol Munday Lawrence’s 1981 TV series Were You There on film pioneer Oscar Micheaux and bluesman Willie Dixon. The screening will be followed by a discussion on Black women in film between Lawrence and Afrofuturist writer and filmmaker Ytasha L. Womack. (Adia Robinson)

The Belle of Amherst

Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Through Sunday, December 3. $25–$68, discounts available for seniors, students, faculty, and groups. (773) 753-4472.

Emily Dickinson could not stop for death, but you should stop by the UofC’s Court Theatre to see William Luce’s play about the revered poet’s reclusive life in Massachusetts. Kate Fry stars as the prolific Dickinson who “dwells in possibility” and famously characterized hope as a “feathered thing that perches in the soul.” (Joseph S. Pete)

Meet Juan(ito) Doe

Free Street Storyfront, 4346 S. Ashland Ave. Through Friday, December 15. Mondays and Fridays, 7:30pm. Free or pay-what-you-can; advance tickets starting at $5. (773) 772-7248.

Free Street Theater’s latest play, created by multidisciplinary artist Ricardo Gamboa in collaboration with Ana Velasquez and “an ensemble of brown and down Chi-towners.” It was supposed to close two weeks ago, but now that its run has been extended for a month, you have no excuse for missing out on this play based on the true stories and input of Back of the Yards residents—you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in the city. (Julia Aizuss)


Healthy Eating Active Living/Vivendo Una Vida Saludable y Activa

Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton St. Saturday, December 9, 2pm–5pm. Free. (312) 243-5440,

Come by Dvorak Park for an afternoon of free education and information about health and wellness resources, health practices from the Ayurveda tradition (a holistic healing system originating in India), and marketplace insurance. There will be yoga, reiki, and refreshments available at the event, as well as free childcare. (Emeline Posner)

The Increasing Presence of Upscale Restaurants in Pilsen

La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Thursday, November 30, 6pm–8pm. Free. (312) 422-5580.

Illinois Humanities and the Pilsen Alliance host an Illinois Speaks discussion on how new upscale restaurants have been working with the community of Pilsen—and how they should be. Amid tensions after two higher-end eateries were tagged with “GET OUT,” a small group will talk about the prospect of community benefits agreements and special deals for residents. (Joseph S. Pete)

Take Root Program for Vets

Applications through December 1. Free to apply. Military veterans only. (815) 389-8455.

Military veterans who want to trade their swords for plowshares can learn the trade of sustainable farming at established farms across Chicagoland, including in Southeast Wisconsin. Those selected will receive training in organic production while working for an hourly wage, a yearlong membership to Upper Midwest CRAFT, and admission to the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in February. (Joseph S. Pete)

Get Sliced!

Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. Friday, December 1, 7pm–11pm. $30 in advance, $40 at door. Buy tickets online at (773) 837-0145.

It’s “frickin horribly hard” to make Lumpen Radio, Bridgeport’s beloved low-fi radio station. Fortunately, the folks at Lumpen have made it easier than ever to help you help them keep their “psychomagical” programs on the airwaves: with a local pizza–local media fundraiser. At the Get Sliced! benefit, a $30 ticket will get you a slice from every Bridgeport pizza joint and land you a spot on the pizza jury. (Emeline Posner)

The Chicago Community Climate Forum @ The Field Museum

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. Enter through East Entrance. Sunday, December 3. 6pm–9pm. Free. RSVP at (312) 922-9410.

Civic leaders and engaged residents will talk about ways to fight climate change in the Chicago area. Twenty-five different organizations from across Chicagoland are staging a public forum that will address the North American Climate Summit’s global goals, local solutions, and shared commitment to action and related issues, like clean air and water. (Joseph S. Pete)

Beginning Farmer of the Year Nomination

Submission due by January 12 to Advocates for Urban Agriculture, (773) 850-0428. Details:

New to sustainable farming, and want to share your accomplishments to date? The Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) wants to hear from you in the form of three-minute video submissions. All videos received will be posted on the AUA website and voted on by viewers. The winning submission will be nominated by AUA for a $1,000 prize. (Emeline Posner)

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