Friday, November 30, 2007

Dorothy's Back

...and still trying to get a bed in inpatient treatment. If any of my social worker pals are reading this and can help bump her up in line somewhere, please email me privately with tips. Not Haymarket, though. She's been there, done that and says she won't go back. She's trying to get a spot at the Women's Treatment Center, so if anybody has an in there, that would be a plus.

Big Picture in the News

Yesterdy the Day of the Dead ofrenda created by Big Picture students served as the backdrop for a press conference where Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin promoted his ordinance to tighten gun control by closing gun shops within one mile of schools or parks and ban gun shows in the county. Two students were interviewed on Univision last night, but I can't seem to find a link on their site. WBBM carried a short item mentioning Big Picture.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Neighbors Have Their Say on Violence

Thanks to Francisco from the neighborhood and Dan Weissmann at Vocalo for recording and broadcasting some neighbors here and their thoughts on the recent violence here, gangs and the police. (There's even one person talking about pollution.)

You can check it out here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fighting Crummy Developers, Onion-Style

Someone tried to comment on my post from last Wednesday by offering an article from the Onion. I try to keep the rough language down here, so I'll skip the headline, but if you'd like to see what the Onion makes of efforts to fight developers, look here.

I won't spend too much time on this, either--it's probably bad for my blood pressure, but the Tribune editorial about fighting gangs made me more angry at the arrogance of the Trib than inspired to fight gang violence. The part that made me the most angry was after setting up the scene of the mayor talking to residents, the Trib had the nerve to say the mayor was "standing alone" in his comments. On a second read, I think they were trying to take a swipe at police brutality activists, but on my first read it came off as if the mayor was on the street by himself, which he was not, and the neighborhood was not taking a stand against violence, which was the whole point of the day.

And I'd like to see how the Trib editorialists would feel if they spent even a week living on a block. Then they, and the mayor, might be a little more thoughtful before making comments like, "Look in the mirror and say, 'I can do better.'" If you can do so much better, come on out here for more than a photo-op or a one-shot editorial.

On a happier note, I'm glad someone else, commenter Laura, found it inspiring enough to take the next step and start a block club. Laura, what neighborhood are you in, if you don't mind telling us?

Meanwhile, I heard at church yesterday that a guy on 49th Street is trying to get neighbors together to strategize about what to do there. That's where the shooting was a few weeks ago, and my neighbor tells me those guys don't even live on the block. I'm not surprised.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today's March Against Violence

Between 100 and 200 people came out tonight for the Peace and Education Coalition's peace march in the wake of Leticia Barrera's death on Halloween. This Tribune story lays out what happened and the neighborhood reaction pretty well.

Lots of politicians turned out tonight, including Mayor Daley, Aldermen Cardenas (I think), Cochran, Dowell and Thompson, State Representatives Esther Golar, Susana Mendoza, and Tony Munoz, and Sen. Mattie Hunter and maybe a second one--sorry if I forgot who. CPD Interim Superintendent Dana Starks and 9th District Commander Eugene Roy also came out. Our local leading lights included the pastors of St. Michael's, Holy Cross/IHM and St. Joseph, Paul Lopez from Park Federal Savings, Emilio Carrasquillo from Neighborhood Housing Services, Alfredo Nambo from Big Picture HS, the principal of San Miguel School, Oscar Contreras of Catholic Charities Street Intervention and many more.

I was happy to see Brother Jim from the prayer walk in the crowd. He told me he had been walking over on Seeley and in the neighborhood this morning. I hope I can go out with him again sometime.

Taking a guess as to where the regular folks who came were coming from: people from San Miguel School were there, parishioners from St. Michael's, at least a dozen folks from Su Casa Catholic Worker, at least a few I knew from Holy Cross. The Peace and Education Coalition gave themselves a week to organize the march, which was good. It showed in the politicians, press and equipment (signs, people to direct traffic), and in the end of the march being at the San Miguel gym with hot chocolate for everyone.

Before the group began walking, Mayor Daley spoke. I'm not sure I can quote him--I wasn't taking notes--but he was impassioned to the point of near anger in his insistence that the community not let the gangbangers get away with this one. "I don't care if they're Two-Sixers or Latin Kings or Black P Stones or Disciples, or who--you have to tell us what you know."

Comments like that and 'don't let yourselves be afraid of a 14-year-old' (I think that was pretty accurate) are fine as far as they go, but I don't think they really help when people are still reeling from a shooting in the street. I know I was scared when the shots went off over here a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still scared when some of the squatters have tried to stare me down once or twice as I'm coming out of the house.

Fr. Bruce seemed to get it. He translated Daley's comments in a very interesting way, at least as I understood what he was saying. Basically, his translation came down to, we are one family, we have to have courage, as a family we need to tell the truth about what happened. An excellent spin, I would say.

Anyway, lots of politicians talked, we went up the street and prayed in front of the Barrera's house, then we walked over to the San Miguel gym for some more speeches and hot chocolate. A lot of business seemed to be getting done on the walk--I know Ald. Thompson got an earful about the rate of foreclosures in the 16th ward and the number of adjustable-rate mortgages with rates poised to go up.

The Coalition is sponsoring a fund for the Barrera children. Donations can be made in Leticia Barrera's name and sent to Park Federal Savings Bank, 2740 W. 55th St. Chicago, IL 60632.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Peace March Wednesday

After the horrific Halloween murder of the pregnant woman out trick-or-treating with three children, (news link here), the Peace and Education Coalition is sponsoring a peace march on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The march will start at 48th and Seeley, where she was shot.

The Fox Special Report

Here's the link to the Fox 32 segment that aired a couple of weeks ago about the Dream Act. I just looked at it myself. Though I spoke to one of the students, who thought Fox did a pretty good job of conveying their point of view, at the end the host says the only comments his blog has received are from people saying "illegals go home."

I wonder what would happen if we started calling everybody who ever got a parking ticket an "illegal"? Or everybody who forgot to get their city sticker renewed? I'm trying to think of other paperwork hassles, since so often the fine line between illegal and legal is a matter of paperwork.

Tony's Bump

I got home around 6 tonight and Tony was waiting by the front gate. He was kind of hunched over. He's let his beard grow.

I asked how he was and he said, "Not good."

"That makes two of us. What's wrong?"

"I came to see if you had any pain pills or something," he said. He came inside the gate and pulled up his shirt. A little southwest of his navel there was a lump or a bump sticking out. The bump was not open or or oozing, just a lump under the skin, but it was pretty big, maybe an inch horizontal and almost as long vertical. It was somewhere between round and rectangular. "It just showed up yesterday," he said. "It hurts. I didn't get out of bed today until now."

"You need to go to County. Now," I said at once. "Here is two dollars, for bus fare to Cook County Hospital, only."

He made like he was going to take my bike up the front steps. "Nuh-uh! You can hold the door for me if you want, but you are not carrying anything with that going on."

So he held the door for me while I got my bike in the front foyer. I invited him in for a minute and asked if he'd eaten anything today. He said he had and it had stayed down.

I went looking to see if I had any Tylenol, but I don't. Dr. Maritza needs to beef up her first aid supplies: the Band-Aids are getting used up and we're out of painkillers. I did have a bottle of water and a two-pack of granola bars. "This is for your trip. I know it's a long wait at County. You're going, right?"

He said yes. I walked back out to the front gate with him and told him to come see me when he knows what it is.

Then I walked in the house and opened the newsletter from Partners In Health to read Paul Farmer saying, "All enduring good work is done by teams (no doctor can be effective alone)." Dr. Maritza is feeling like her bench, like her medicine cabinet, is not that deep.

On Hospitality

I found this paragraph about hospitality on the Lydia Home Association web site. Over the weekend people were asking me about why I chose to do what I do here and I didn't feel like I was able to answer them very well. This paragraph says it better than I could myself:

Biblical hospitality involves taking chances and serving others in ways in which we might feel uncomfortable. It is deliberate. Biblical hospitality goes against our nature. It is not something we are naturally drawn to do. We have to be deliberate in our actions to engage in this type of hospitality. It is demanding. If comfort and predictability are important to you, than biblical hospitality is not what you are looking for. Biblical hospitality forces us to get involved in the lives of others, forcing us to be more dependent on God in order to fulfill our commitment to others.

Last week was hard. I don't know whether one of the guys on the block here made it to his appointment with a lawyer. I don't know how Deborah is doing. On Thursday I drove her up to the North Side to a shelter-she wanted to get out of here. I haven't seen her yet, so I'm really hoping she's still up on the North Side.

This morning, Yup-yup already asked me if she's got mail at my house. She doesn't.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day of the Dead

I'd like to take a moment today to remember some of the young people of Back of the Yards who have died in the past year.

Chris Pineda, Whitney Young senior

Esmeralda, 15-year-old parishioner at Holy Cross, who died recently of a seizure. The other day I was on Paulina and saw "RIP Esme" graffiti-ed on a window. You can read about her and her family at the Holy Cross/IHM website, in back issues of the bulletin.

Dorothy's son, although I don't know his age.

The son of the woman who was walking up and down the street on North Marshfield late last winter soliciting donations for his funeral expenses.

Fabio Laic, 19, shot in the alley near 49th and Hoyne in late September.

IF you are reading this and know of others you'd like to remember, please comment and add their names. Rest in peace to them, and my prayers go out to all their families today.

Windy Citizen Share