Notes & Calendar 2/28/18

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


The Plot Thickens Around School Closings

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has advanced its plan to close or phase out four Englewood high schools—Harper, Hope, Robeson, and TEAM Englewood—and replace them with an $85 million new school at the Robeson site. But while CPS cited declining enrollment and “community support” to justify the decision, attentive observers have cringed. Parents and students complained that the declining enrollment itself is a result of, not a reason for, disinvestment. Moreover, the “community support” cited by CPS only invites more controversies. As the Sun-Times reported, none of the closings’ major supporters are Englewood-based: the West Englewood Coalition, which had a standoff with parents at public meetings, is based in Homewood, IL; Leon Finney Jr. is a connected pastor whose Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church is in Bronzeville and has activist roots in Woodlawn; and Dori Collins, a longtime CPS contractor co-chairing Englewood’s CPS Community Action Council (CAC), doesn’t live or work in South Side communities. The presence of outsiders is made possible by CAC’s ability to set their own rules on residency, and Englewood’s CAC is open to everyone. With the board of education scheduled to vote Wednesday on closing these Englewood high schools and the South Loop’s National Teachers Academy (NTA), the calls for cancelling or postponing the decision have grown stronger. Another reason? Just forty-eight hours before the vote, CPS released the findings of a report on the proposal to close NTA, merge it with South Loop Elementary, and open a high school in the NTA building. As the Sun-Times’s Lauren Fitzpatrick said, the report seemed to skip over the question of whether NTA should close and jumped right to developing an equitable plan for the closing.

Something Stinks to High Heaven in the MWRD

If you think something smells in the sewers, it’s not just the human excrement you might find down there. Rather, the smell is the $722 million in contracts that Democrats elected to the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) have awarded to the donors who helped get them elected in the first place. This is according to data from and the MWRD portal, compiled by the Illinois Green Party and the candidates they’ve endorsed for the MWRD Board.  If anything, human excrement would be a good innuendo to describe the giant crap the MWRD Board has apparently taken on the democratic system that put them in office: indeed, sixty percent of the taxpayer money that they’ve divvied out in the form of contracts over the past five years—which, ostensibly, should be given to organizations most fit to improve aspects of the MWRD—were given to campaign donors. These contracts are the MWRD officials’ thanks for the $408,789 they’ve received from their donors—so, unlike your toilet, whose one-way valve generates a unidirectional flow, this cash stream is going two ways. And this quid pro quo isn’t the only thing that stinks: MWRD officials are contracting loathsome companies like Veolia Water, which pronounced Flint, Michigan’s water safe to drink shortly before the nation learned otherwise. It’s time to flush these politicians down the drain.

A Comeback at Comiskey

In November of last year, Nevest Coleman was released from prison after spending twenty-three years wrongfully incarcerated for charges of rape and murder. Prior to his 1994 arrest, Coleman was a well-respected member of the grounds crew team for Guaranteed Rate Field, back when it was called Comiskey Park. After Coleman’s childhood priest connected Coleman with an interview with the White Sox two weeks ago, Coleman received a call early last week with an offer for Coleman to rejoin the grounds team. Coleman is one of at least 146 people in Cook County who have recently been freed from prison after new DNA findings. The month after his release, Coleman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the detectives who had called him racial slurs and physically abused Coleman during his arrest. All detectives had extensive previous involvement in cases resulting in wrongful convictions due to false confessions. Despite everything Coleman has been through, “I can’t be mad no more,” Coleman told the Tribune. “Time to live. Time to live. Time to live.”



The Big Idea Show

BOP Biz Chatham Suites, 644 E. 79th St. Every Friday, March 2 through March 30, 9am–11am. Free. (773) 891-5939.

Every Friday, the Big Idea Show provides a platform for business owners, activists, and entrepreneurs alike to discuss their big ideas. Hosts Linda Perez and Toure Muhammad—business owners in their own right—will discuss the secret to succeeding in Chicago with their guests. Find out that secret for yourself by attending this Friday. (Michael Wasney)

9th Annual Woodlawn Community Summit

UofC School of Social Service Administration, 969 E. 60th St. Saturday, March 3, 8am–12:30pm. Registration opens at 7:45am. Free. (773) 324-6926.

Woodlawn residents, business owners, and elected officials will converge at the UofC’s School of Social Service Administration for the 9th Annual Woodlawn Summit. The summit will be an opportunity to network with other residents and organizations while discussing the future of Woodlawn. (Michael Wasney)

City Colleges of Chicago iOS Boot Camp

Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave and Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St. Apply by March 5; classes begin April 2. Two evenings a week, and Saturdays 8am–2:30pm. Free. (773) 265-5343.

City Colleges of Chicago collaborated with Apple to develop this five-month pilot course that will teach students to use the Swift programming language to build iOS apps. Students who complete the course will be able to code on their own and access programming internships and entry-level job opportunities through City Colleges of Chicago. (Tammy Xu)

Understanding Our Criminal Justice System

Microsoft Technology Center Chicago at Aon Center, 200 E. Randolph St. Wednesday, March 7, 6pm–7:30pm. Free. RSVP online.

The Chicago Data Collective combines efforts by newsrooms, academics, and nonprofits to understand Chicago’s criminal justice system. Learn more about the mission of their newly launched project by joining representatives from Injustice Watch, DataMade, City Tech, and more. (Abigail Bazin)


Muxeres En Rebeldia

La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Friday, March 2, 6pm–11pm. Two for $5, or one for $3.

ChiResists hosts the MUXERES EN REBELDIA/WOMXN in REBELLION exhibition and fundraiser to benefit Mariposas de la Diaspora, a group of nine local women healers of color headed to Mexico to take part in the Convocation to the First International Gathering of Politics, Art, Sport & Culture for Women in the Struggle. There will be art, music, poetry, and workshops. (Joseph S. Pete)

Towards a Politics of Healing: Ethics of Storytelling

Arts and Public Life Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. Sunday, March 4, 1pm–3pm. Free with RSVP.

Patricia Nguyen’s workshop explores  the ethics behind sharing and profiting from historical stories of people of color who have suffered violence and forced migration. How does one ethically enter a conversation about power dynamics, politics of representation, and capitalism? Participants will be invited to join the conversation.(Joseph S. Pete)

Artist Talk with Amanda Ross-Ho

Midway Studios, 915 E. 60th St. Monday, March 5, 6pm–7pm. Free.

The UofC’s Department of Visual Arts (DoVA) Open Practice Committee presents an artist talk with Amanda Ross-Ho. Her work deals with collapsing boundaries between private work and public display, as well as personal imagery and autobiographical artifacts. (Roderick Sawyer)

Artist Talk with Nelly Agassi

Midway Studios, 915 E. 60th St. Thursday, March 1, 12:30pm–1:30pm. Free.

Join the UofC’s Department of Visual Arts (DoVA) Open Practice Committee as they present an artist talk and exploration of works by Nelly Agassi. Agassi’s work utilizes mediums of performance, installation, video, textile, and paper, in order to explore the body and intimacy within public space and its relation to architecture. (Roderick Sawyer)

Holographic Body Closing Reception

baby blue gallery, 2201 S. Halsted St. 3–4s. Sunday, March 4, 3pm–5pm.

If the big snowfall earlier this month kept you from attending the opening reception of “Holographic Body,” this closing reception is for you: take a little time out of your Sunday afternoon to stop by this group exhibition of work that is process-based and “unabashedly formalist and abstract.” (Julia Aizuss)


Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: 365 Black

Phantom Gallery, 436 E. 47th St. Thursday, 7pm–9pm. $16 tickets at (708) 733-2936.

Celebrate and support Black talent in Chicago with an evening curated by the Butterfly Collective at Fuller Park’s Phantom Gallery. Performances will include spoken word by TK, a set by DJ Skoli, music by Curt Cohiba, and live painting by artist Dionne Victoria. (Christopher Good)

Kahil El’Zabar

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. Friday, March 2, doors 7pm, show 8pm. $10 standing room, $15 general seating, $18 tables. All ages. (312) 801-2100.

Jazz percussionist Kahil El’Zabar was born and raised on the South Side, but he’s a global citizen if there ever was one; a performer whose rich knowledge of African music was demonstrated through high-caliber collaborations (Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone). Don’t miss his homecoming. (Christopher Good)

Futura from LA in Chicago

ChiTown Futbol, 2343 S. Throop St. Friday, March 2, doors 7pm, show 8pm. $7. All ages. (312) 226-1988. (312) 226-1988.

When you come to ChiTown Futbol this Friday, leave your cleats at home. Mysterious LA hardcore group Futura is making a tour stop, with support (and blast beats) from local acts Primitive Teeth, Warrior Tribes, Social Quarantine, and Molcajete. (Christopher Good)


ALULU Brewpub, 2011 S. Laflin St. Saturday, March 3, 8pm–3am, show 11pm. $5 suggested donation. 21+. (312) 600-9865.

Artist Mark Banks has curated a spread of local artists and musicians to explore the intersection between emotional experiences, “pathos”, and technical practices, “praxis” at this craft brewery. Come early to meet and support the artists and stay for an energetic lineup featuring Impulsive Hearts, Cute Plus Awful, and Batteries Not Included. (Veronica Karlin)

Soul-Frica Sundays

Renaissance Bronzeville, 4641 S. King Dr. Sundays, 7pm. No cover. (773) 690-5416.

End your week right and dance the night away in Bronzeville. Resident DJs Terry Hunter and Greg Winfeld––each with a formidable history in Chicago’s house scene––will spin soul, R&B, and whatever else gets the people moving. (Christopher Good)


A Ballerina’s Tale

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, 1456 E. 70th St. Friday, March 2, 7pm–10pm. Free. (312) 857-5561.

Journalist and critic Nelson George directed this 2015 documentary on the rise of Misty Copeland, the first-ever Black principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater; join Black Cinema House for a screening and post-film discussion about the doc’s focus on race and body image in ballet. (Julia Aizuss)

South Side Irish Parade Film Festival

Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Saturday, March 3, 3pm–7pm. $9–$25. (773) 445-3838.

A week before the South Side Irish Parade marches through Beverly, the neighborhood will celebrate the Emerald Isle with the South Side Irish Film Festival. The BAC will screen the Irish films Life is Short, The Boxer, Uisce Beatha and The Secret Scripture, a Sebastian Barry adaptation with a stacked cast that includes Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, and Eric Bana. (Joseph S. Pete)

Collected Stories

Private Hyde Park residence, location emailed with ticket confirmation. March 2–4 and March 9–11. Friday–Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 3pm. $15, seniors and students $12.

The Hyde Park Community Players takes full advantage of small production size to stage this play in a real residential living room, mirroring the intimate story. It examines two women, one an established short story writer and the other her younger protégé, and their complicated relationship. The family donating their living room has a dog. (Tammy Xu)

Casting Call: “Do You Love Me Still?”

University Church, 5655 S. University Ave, 2nd floor. Monday, March 5, 7pm–10pm.,

Feed Your Spirit Media, in partnership with New Birth Productions, will audition actors and vocalists for an original stage play opening this June at The Revival in Hyde Park. The tragic love-triangle drama asks the question: now that you know everything about me, Do You Love Me …Still? Please bring a current headshot and resume and be prepared to read from the script. Character synopses are available for review online, and rehearsals are Monday and Friday evenings beginning March 9. (Nicole Bond)

Eye of the Storm: The Bayard Rustin Story

eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Friday, February 9–Sunday, March 11. Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm. $40, discounts available for seniors, students, and groups. (773) 752-3955.

Playwright McKinley Johnson tells the story of the behind-the-scenes Civil Rights Movement organizer Bayard Rustin, whose work garnered him the moniker The Architect of the March on Washington. Despite Rustin’s efforts and achievements, he was persecuted for being gay. In conjunction with the play, a Contemporary Conversation on Race, Sexuality and Politics was the topic of a joint panel scheduled with eta and the UofC Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture held Saturday, February 10 with the playwright as well as social justice leaders and scholars from Chicago. (Nicole Bond)

All of Me

La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Wednesday, February 28, 7pm. Free.

Llévate Mis Amores (All of Me) documents a multigenerational group of women who provide food, clothing, and sundries to migrants riding the rails to the United States. Film critic Marco Escalante will lead a post-screening discussion on the first film in South Side Projections’s long-in-the-works screening series about undocumented immigrants. (Joseph S. Pete)


Vegetable Gardening Basics

Orozco Community Academy, 1940 W. 18th St. Saturday, March 10, 3pm–6pm. Free.

This three-hour gardening workshop, offered both in Spanish and English, will get you up to speed on the 101s of outdoor gardening: what crops grow well in limited space, what vegetables are best transplanted, and which best seeded directly. Materials and refreshments will be provided. (Emeline Posner)

Chicago Community Gardeners Conference

Kennedy-King College, 740 W. 63rd St., Building U. Saturday, March 3, 8:30am–2:15pm. $25, $15 for students and children, $5 discount for CCGA volunteers.

Calling all community gardeners: the CCGA’s sixth annual “Garden to Garden” conference is quickly approaching. The six workshop sessions cover topics from heavy metal contamination of soil to planning a community garden from scratch. There will also be presentations from some of Chicago’s most-loved gardeners and “speed gardening” (we’re not entirely sure what that means—you’ll have to find out for yourself). You’ll be sure to leave well-prepared for the upcoming growing season. Spanish translation available. Meals included in registration. (Emeline Posner)

Midwest Urban Farmers Summit

The Plant, 1400 W. 46th St. Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11, 7am–7pm. Sliding scale for tickets. (779) 772-4142.

At the Midwest Urban Farmers Summit, urban farmers will gather to discuss best practices, ask questions, and learn about financial viability at the Plant, a closed-loop food production space housed in a former pork processing plant in Back of the Yards. There will be presentations on the state of urban agriculture, a talent show, roundtable talks, and networking. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. (Joseph S. Pete)

South Branch Parks Framework Plan

Park 571, 2828 S. Eleanor St. Wednesday, March 14, 5:30pm–7:30pm. Free. (312) 922-5616.

On Wednesday evening, the South Branch Park Advisory Council will host a “visioning meeting” for the South Branch of the Chicago River. For those who live along or spend time in any of the South Branch Parks (Canalport, Canal Origins, or Park 571), this meeting may be the place to learn about what changes are coming to these parks, and to offer input. (Emeline Posner)

Greenhouse Production Workshop

South Chicago Farm, 8900 S. Green Bay Ave. Saturday, March 17, 8:30am–5pm. $100, scholarships available. (773) 376-8882.

The Urban Growers Collective’s workshop “Greenhouse Production: Seeding, Transplanting & Marketing Crops” offers hands-on training for planting, harvesting, and packaging crops. Growers can also pick up valuable tips about marketing to sell at restaurants, farmers markets, and Community Supported Agriculture programs. In addition, the collective will host group discussions and Q&A sessions. (Joseph S. Pete)

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