Blog Archive

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Polish Tradition in Back of the Yards

I don't remember seeing this before today, but apparently it's a Polish tradition to process around the neighborhood on Corpus Christi Sunday (today). I went to Mass at Holy Cross, but walked home down Hermitage past St. Joseph's and found two women who are mainstays at daily Mass putting together a beautiful red-draped altar in front of the rectory. A house across the street had its front porch draped in red banners and posters of Pope John Paul II.

Then I continued down Hermitage to 49th and turned east just as the procession was turning west from Paulina. They led with the image of Our Lady of Czechostowa (also known as "the black Madonna," followed by a huge golden monstrance sheltered by a white silk canopy. They were singing a Polish hymn. Much of the crowd was dressed in traditional costume with bright colors and lots of embroidery. Fr. Ed was in the back of the crowd. The lady who always says hi to me whenever I make it to a weekday morning Mass at St. Joe (rarely of late) saw me and we flashed smiles at each other. She's the reason I learned to say dzien dobry (good day, pronounced jen dough-bray).

This site has pictures of the procession at St. Helen's in another part of Chicago from the late 1990s, plus some illustrations of a traditional procession in Poland and the classic Polish Corpus Christi hymn "Thine Is All Glory" in Polish and English. (I guess that's what they were singing when I met them, but I don't speak Polish so I don't know for sure).

Though surely such processions were much larger back in Upton Sinclair's day, even having one to two hundred people in the street today was a nice reminder of this neighborhood's heritage.

Boxing Fever Lingers

I haven't been able to drive the guys to boxing for quite some time. Jay-Z is the only one of the four who is still bugging me about it. I was walking home from church this morning and he saw me in the street. "When are we going boxing again?" he asked.

The short-term answer is I'll have to talk to Medicine Man. The longer-term answer is more complicated, since Medicine Man is moving out in July and with him goes the current Marshfield-mobile.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Meg Looks for a School

Meg stopped by tonight to talk about getting back in school, so this is a good opportunity to tell the story I glossed over in the Mother's Day Post.

Like Dawn, Meg is a bright young woman whose teen rebellion hit some pretty low lows. Unfortunately, Meg's gone two places Dawn hasn't (at least not yet, and I hope never): all the way out of school--she was dropped from Richards--and to Hartgrove Hospital. I still don't know what was up with that whole Hartgrove experience.

While we were making cake, Meg started talking openly, too openly for in front of the younger girls, about how she was supposed to go someplace that Monday morning but she didn't make it because she was too hung over.

"Let's talk more about this later, just you and me," I said.

Later, when the cake was in the oven and the younger girls were looking at Martha Stewart cake designs or playing outside, we talked for real.

"Meg, those girls look up to you," I said. "Think about what you are saying in front of them."

She got it. Her eyes widened and she hung her head.

Then we talked for real about what is going on with her and her family. She quit school to work more hours to help her mom support the family, but she hasn't gotten the extra hours she was expecting. Plus, she's feeling bad about not finishing high school. She has been thinking about doing Lincoln's Challenge, a five-month program in Rantoul sponsored by the National Guard. She was thinking that getting out of the neighborhood and strict discipline would be good for her. She also thought going into the Guard afterwards in exchange for money for college sounded good.

"Will you have to serve in Iraq if you do that?" I asked her. She didn't know. I urged her to find out. She said one of her former teachers at Chavez had expressed the same concern.

This afternoon I saw her on the street and she asked when we could talk. I had errands to run so I promised to call when I got home. About an hour ago we caught up. She has decided she wants to stay here because she wants to be there for her mom through some family problems going on now. She has said she doesn't want to go to Second Chance "because it's full of gangbangers, right?"

"So was Richards, wasn't it?" I asked.

"Well, yeah, that's true."

However, if she doesn't feel comfortable going to Second Chance because the gang situation is too close to home, I can understand that. So I suggested two alternative high schools in Little Village: Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy and Latino Youth. She took the numbers. She says she is going to Richards tomorrow to find out how long she has been dropped and how many credits she has. She thinks she has 16.5. As far as I know, it's still 24 credits to graduate, so if that's right, she's not too far behind.

We'll see what happens. I hope she goes back.

Brady Girl, Take Two

So, my Brady buddy came over this afternoon and filled out the application for Radio Arte's Salud program. This is the one that pays.

Here's my favorites from her answers:

Q. What would you say are some of the health issues facing immigrants today?

A. Immigrants are facing less chances in life. They don't have health insurance. This affects them because if they get sick or need to go the hospital real bad they will be the ones who have to pay the bill. They have less chances in other ways, too, because they will have to pay more than other students who go to college and have papers. If you were not born here then no good jobs are being put in your position, you must have papers to get paid like actual citizens. If immigrants want to go and visit their family they will not be able to get a visa for the simple reason that they were not born here. Just for being immigrants they have less chances in life. They get paid less, but have to pay more.

Q. You will be asked to be creative, write and even perform a script. Please use this section to tell us about any writing acting or theater experience you have had.

A. In my school my teacher gave every student a journal to write in, at least 5 entries and 10 sentences about anything we wanted. Every two weeks she collected it to read it and gave us a grade for it. We also had the opportunity to decorate it and add anything in it. I took at least 1 or 2 hours every night to add pictures or write about my day. I loved it so much (still do). But one day she collected it and it disappeared. Some one took it and I miss it so much, but it's gone. My teacher has told me several times that thanks to that journal I have improved my writing, that I have improved the most from all the 8th graders. I feel like I have improved. Now when I get an essay or any writing homework my imagination grows. I have so many things and ideas and details to add to my piece of writing. I have never acted before in my life but one thing I adore to do is watch novelas and see how awesome they act. I've tried to do how they do with more drama and it is better than the real actors on television. Actually one of my dreams in the future is being an actriz for a novela, it seems so nice to be on television.

Mother's Day Cake

Sorry I'm a little behind on this. Here's the cake we baked and frosted in my kitchen on Thursday May 8. The oldest Brady girl, a 7th-grader (of the family with no kids in high school yet--there are two Brady families) was the driving force behind this project. She is very interested in learning how to do decorative icing. We did this one the easy way, with Wilton frosting tubes with the plastic screw-on tips. We got them via a couple of trips to Freehling Pot & Pan in Hyde Park, with side detours to Nichols Park. They really liked the playground equipment there.

The day of cake baking, Brady Mom loaned us a big foil pan because I don't have cake pans--I may remedy that at Freehling one of these days. Unfortunately we ended up breaking one of the beaters on my stand mixer while making the last of the cake batter. Despite these challenges--and one minor injury--the dozen or so girls and one boy who got in on the fun had a good time practicing decorating with frosting, and produced a pretty tasty cake. They were coached by School Lady's oldest daughter--we'll call her Meg--who was in the culinary program at Richards for a while. (More on that another day.) Mom Brady stopped by to check out the proceedings. I had cake batter all over the floor, but it was worth it.

Next time the girls want to try working with frosting the professional way--with pastry bags, couplers and metal tips. We got that stuff at Freehling, too, and supposedly we're going to try that this weekend, but that means making icing and now that I'm down one beater, whipping egg whites into stiff peaks becomes more of a challenge. We'll see whether I have the energy for this and whether I can rustle up the equipment.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gardening & Gossip

I spent most of this afternoon digging the weeds out of the traffic circle at the end of the block. Three people actually came over and helped: Jay-Z, Junior's little brother, and a woman I didn't know before. "My parents grew up in the South, Arkansas," she told me. "They had the prettiest garden on the block."

"So you came by it honestly," I said. She picked up my shovel and went to work on the dandelions.

Earlier, a guy I know from a little west of here was out walking his dogs. Mr. Dog Fancier is my top source for political news. He went to Ald. Thompson's ward meeting at Kennedy-King College yesterday afternoon. He told me about 100 people showed up. She basically gave a State of the Ward speech. She's planning to build an SRO somewhere southeast of here, and she talked about the senior project down by 59th and Ashland. Apparently she did not take questions from the audience. Mr. Dog Fancier came away unimpressed and rather put off by her "arrogant" attitude.

Apparently Action Now has been meeting at the Sherman Park Library. Perhaps they will take some steps to hold her accountable to her constituents.

We also talked a bit about the aftermath of Jason Gill's death for the blocks around here. It does seem like there's some effort to redraw the local gang lines at the moment. Not fun.

My gardening buddy noticed this, too. A group of young men walked by and yelled something offensive our way. She said she'd been hassled by them yesterday, too.

Most disturbing of all, at a point when I was by myself in the circle, Yup-yup staggered over with a swollen face and a couple of bad cuts. He'd been beaten pretty badly. Apparently he owes people money. I asked if he wanted to go to a doctor and he said no. I think I should have called for an ambulance, but I didn't.

In significantly better news, late in the day Junior's brother told me his dad was out on the block trying to fix his wife's car radio. I went over and talked to him about the traffic circle and explained I would like to pay him to help me with this as if he were doing my lawn this summer. That seemed to pique his interest. He's going to look for some black plastic to put down to keep the weeds from growing back while I call the city and find out how soon we can get new plants and mulch.

P.S. After I was done and relaxing on my back porch, Dorothy showed up in the alley at my back gate. She told me she had called the Probation Department today, but whoever answered said she'll have to call back tomorrow and speak directly with her P.O.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tribute to Jason Gill

I still can't really bring myself to get organized to write about the funeral today, especially since Dorothy stopped by tonight and we spent some time talking about her circumstances. (She still needs to contact her PO.)

In the mean time I want to share this tribute to Jason written by Gabrielle Lyon, founder of Project Exploration, which brings science, especially paleontology, to girls and youth of color who might not otherwise get an opportunity to discover hands-on science.


If you read the Chicago Tribune last week you may have come across the following headline followed by a few paragraphs: Chicago man shot to death while standing on his front porch. Jason Gill was murdered. He was 26 years old.

I am writing to you tonight to honor Jason Gill, who was my godson and, more importantly, helped to inspire the creation of Project Exploration.

In a room of 6th graders at Fiske Elementary school, where I first began teaching, Jason was the one student whose spark of curiosity was so strong it carried him out of his seat to get a closer look, to try something himself, to get hands on with the subject matter, to ask questions fearlessly and sincerely…As his interest in art grew he found satisfaction in a passionate pursuit and found confidence and a new voice in drawing and art; as he grew older the voice went verbal and he began to rap…

Jason was one of four students I brought to Big Bend , Texas , in 1997, along with a college class from the University of Chicago . The wonder he and the other students experienced during that trip in no uncertain terms inspired the creation of Project Exploration – a science organization that reaches out specifically to students who aren’t academically successful but who are curious and open-minded…We created an entire organization dedicated to making room for kids like Jason, who get left out, or looked over because they don’t really excel at school, they don’t find success easily but when they do they embrace it and shine…

I brought Jason to Perspectives Charter School for high school because I believed he would thrive in a small environment that focused on knowing its students well. He found success there, though not easily, and he changed all of us in the process. Jason challenged us as caring educators to be our best selves as people; he helped everyone to grow, a little bit, and encouraged us to be curious, and open minded even when the struggles seemed overwhelming.

Jason was complicated, promising, artistic, frustrating, funny, challenging, curious – and shot dead standing on his porch, waiting for a family friend to bring back pizza. There were so many things about Jason’s life beyond his control but in spite of it all Jason inspired people to laugh and love and be their best selves.

I wish he wasn’t dead…

Thanks to Mike Klonsky at Small Talk for the original post.

Marshfield Clean & Green

Today's was the City's annual volunteer Clean and Green Day. On the 5000 block of South Marshfield, Officer Tony Mejia and former Chavez principal Sandy Traback teamed up to lead the effort. I believe they worked with State Rep. Esther Golar to get rakes and brooms for the work and hot dogs to grill afterwards as a thank-you to the volunteers.

Ironically, I had to go to a meeting this morning about litter in another part of the city and couldn't participate. Afterwards, I attended Jason Gill's funeral in Woodlawn--I'll post about it tomorrow.

When I got back, around 2 p.m., all was quiet on Marshfield, but the block was noticeably cleaner. A couple of little boys saw me and yelled, "We cleaned today!"

It sounds like this may become a monthly event. I hope so.

Friday, May 16, 2008

News Flash: Dorothy's Back

So, no, she's not dead. But she did pass out right here on the block and some kids went in the house and called 911. She's been in St. Bernard's Hospital in Englewood. She just got out.

I ran into Yup-yup earlier today. "You are a godsend!" he exclaimed at the sight of me.

"Maybe not," I said. "Don't get too excited."

He asked me for three dollars and I told him I was going to the store to get money and to look for me tomorrow. It's been so nice not having him around the last couple of weeks. I asked if he'd seen Dorothy and he said not for a week and a half.

"If you see her, tell her she's got to call her P.O." I said. "Somebody came by my house last night looking for her. If she doesn't call soon, they're going to put a warrant out on her."

He said he would tell her.

Just a few minutes ago, she showed up at my back gate. I was sitting on my back porch with a glass of wine, having just finished a phone conversation with a buddy who lives out of town.

"Hey!" she called.

"Hey!" I said. "How are you? Where you been?"

"I've been ringing your bell out front like five times," she said. Shoot. Poor Medicine Man just got back from some conference in Springfield and collapsed into bed. I know he's really tired of all these characters ringing my bell at weird hours--at least 9:15 wasn't so weird usually, but when you're trying to sleep it's a pain in the butt.

Anyway, she told me she'd been in the hospital. I told her that when the Probation Department showed up, I was afraid she was dead. "I'm glad you're not dead," I said, and reached my hand up over the fence between us. She took it and we squeezed hands for a minute.

(I don't have the key to open the back gate--I lost my old set of keys. I should get the spare from Medicine Man and make a new one.)

I told her she needs to call her P.O. right away. She said she'd call tomorrow and asked when he came by. "Last night, I think," I said. It was actually the night before.

"How much you need for a place to sleep tonight?" I asked. "Five bucks?" That's what Pamela used to pay somebody around here for space on the floor.

She did the classic shifty-eye, then said, "Ten."

"Let me see if I have it," I said, and went in the house for my wallet. The inevitable internal debate ensued--what if I gave her just five dollars? Would she get a bed and not drink or use? Does she have to pay off Yup-yup about something? Do I care what she spends the money on? In the end, I decided, what the hell, she's been in the hospital for almost two weeks, I'm not going to trouble my head about what the other five bucks is for.

Then we had a quick discussion of what happened with treatment. She says the staff told her they were going to give her outpatient, and she left. "They told me you were in residential but you left against staff advice," I told her.

Yes, she had been in residential, she said, but then said they weren't going to keep her. It sounds like she got mad and left before they could give her an outpatient plan. "I'm going to get it fixed," she said.

You do that, I thought. I sure hope she calls her P.O. If I thought she would get real services in jail, I would hope there is a warrant out on her already. But I'm afraid jail would just screw up her meds for HIV and not get her into a residential drug treatment program.

Next time I'll have to tell her the new University of Illinois Mile Square Health Center is open on 47th. She can get prescriptions very cheap there.

Fast Times Around Richards High

About 12:35 or so today, I was walking past Richards High School and saw three kids hanging out the first floor windows south of the main entrance. I believe it was two girls and a boy, looking down and talking to three or four young people (all male?) on the street below.

I clearly heard the name of the gang that controls that area mentioned in their conversation. No security was around, and if a teacher was in the room where kids were hanging out the windows, you certainly couldn't tell.

I called Oscar Contreras who said he would call his contacts at the school.

About an hour later, I passed by again. All was quiet out front. However, it's a nice spring Friday afternoon, which is the ideal time for stuff to break out after school. There were some older guys hanging in the alley across the street and a little south of the school when I went by. The other sight that just left me sad and mad was a boy who seemed barely in puberty driving by with his bass cranked up. You could barely see his head over the steering wheel. Unfortunately, I didn't get a license plate number or I would have called 911.

They dismiss in less than half an hour.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dorothy Alert

Dorothy has been missing for two weeks. Late last week (I think) Yup-yup asked if I had seen her. I said no. I was hoping this was good news--that she had gotten into residential treatment.

Well, she had. But she didn't stay there. Tonight the doorbell rang while Brady Girl was working on her Radio Arte application. I sent her to the door because I was proofreading her answers (believe it or not--I know I missed some things) and I assumed one of her sisters had come to fetch her.

Wrong. There was a big African-American guy from the Probation Department at the door, asking whether Dorothy lived at this address. I jumped up and went to explain. He told me that Dorothy had been in residential treatment, that she had chosen to leave against the advice of the program staff, and that she hasn't reported to her PO for nearly two weeks. If she doesn't report soon, a warrant will be issued for her arrest. He asked me to let her know if she turns up.

I said I would. "I'll pray for her," I added. I'm less concerned about the warrant and much more concerned that she might be dead.

Yup-yup has been gone for some time, too--I haven't heard him yelling. Joey even commented on this. He likes it now that it's quieter.

If Dorothy and Yup-yup are both gone, I don't know whether to be more or less worried for her safety. If she's alive and not in treatment I'm sure she'll be back on my doorstep eventually.

Brady Girl Goes for Summer Gig

So one of the Brady girls down the block asked me about 10 days ago if I knew anything about summer jobs. She said she filled out an application for the city summer jobs program in April but she hasn't heard anything yet.

I told her I thought she might still hear back from the city, but I'd look for other things she could apply to. Radio Arte has a summer training program and I think it comes with a stipend. So tonight--now that my computer is back--she filled out the application on line.

I copied some of her answers before she submitted because I thought what she had to say was worth bringing to the Tattler. Here goes.

Q. Please tell us why you are interested in being part of the Radio Arte training program, and what interests you about being a journalist or radio producer.

Brady Girl: Well, the reason why I am interested is because every summer of my life has ended up being bad and I don't do anything interesting. Since I asked my friend to help me find a job she found out this program was taking place and I thought, "THIS SUMMER CAN BE UNFORGETTABLE!" Also my dad works and it's hard on him to be paying all the bills without any help. So if I do something to help him out I know he would be real happy with me. In fact it too expensive because I always ask him for a lot of stuff, and I would like to know how hard it is to get money. Maybe I can learn how hard it is to make money, and how hard life is. I would like to be a journalist or a radio producer because that way I can learn more about other people's lives and about their communities. That way I will learn how to help other people in my community, and tell them about somebody else's life.

Q. Tell us some challenges that are being faced by people or groups of people that surround you--for example in your school, neighborhood or family.

Brady Girl: Well, I live on the South Side. As we all know it is a bad neighborhood. There are a lot of bad influences. There are a lot of shootings, a lot of people end up being real hurt and some pass away. A lot of my friends have lost brothers, cousins, friends, and it's not that easy knowing the one you love is gone forever. I in particular have not, and hopefully won't, lose any of my loved ones. There are a lot of people who think it is easy to steal from somebody. They just go for it and steal precious things that they have no clue how much they meant to those people. My mom has faced those times several times. One time they tried to steal her gold necklace that my father had bought her with his hard work, and with lots of love. The thief most likely saw it and liked it but never imagined how precious it was to my mother. He pulled it so hard that she fell on her knees and luckily my oldest sister was there. I cannot imagine what could have happened without her being there. She ran after this man and caught up with him. She said so many bad words that it was worth it, this man understood he was not going to get away with it. He just turned, said sorry and left. My sister saved the one gift that my dad worked so hard to get. Hopefully this neighborhood will get better in some years, Hopefully these people could learn that stealing is taking someone's life away. They can be taken to jail for a life time. We need somebody to create a program where people would join to help all people, good or bad.

Q. In your opinion, what role can community media play in advancing social justice?

Brady Girl: Community media will help the people who live in the hood to know what is going on around them. what they can do to improve, what they can do to prevent injustice. This can also inform the bad people that the good people are aware of what's going on around them.

Q. Please tell us anything else about you that may be relevant to the application process (experience with sound equipment, digital production or website design; if you're involved with school or community campaigns; other skills or hobbies).

Brady Girl: Well I have never had experience working with sound equipment or digital production, because I have never heard of a program that will help me learn these kinds of equipment until now. It seems pretty interesting to learn how to do it, to have experience and help people who some day might need your help. One thing that I really like to do is help younger kids with their homework or with anything they want to do, or just take care of them. I also think it is important to help out your community because its the place where you live and a place where younger kids will one day live in. I really like to help my school because it is somewhere where you go every day to learn something.

Of course, after we submitted her application I figured out that this training program offers service learning hours, not a stipend. Fortunately the one with the stipend has a later deadline: May 30. So we can do that one over the weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Violence Intervention

Catholic Charities, like CeaseFire, is facing budget cuts, and one program that may get the axe is their Street Intervention Program here in Back of the Yards.

I can say from personal experience that when I don't know who to talk with about problems of violence and safety here on Marshfield Aveune, Oscar Contreras is someone who could at least listen, and often provide real help. I don't think we can afford to lose him.

Joey's mom found his new knife in the house last week. At least he hadn't taken it to school. She took it away and he got mad and cried. I talked to him later and he told me he is still afraid. We even made a map of who controls which blocks around ours and he explained where he feels safe and where he doesn't. He continues to insist he does not want to join a gang and that he did not take the knife to school. He is willing to take a self-defense class with me; now I have to find a good one.

Also last week, CeaseFire received a positive evaluation at the same moment Springfield continues to wrangle about funding it. The House has proposed not only restoring but doubling state money to CeaseFire, but the measure is stalled and Blagojevich continues to tout his shiny new plan, despite its lack of a real funding source or a track record. You can here all about it on this clip from WBEZ's 848 show, broadcast May 9.

And of course, while all this hooh-hah goes on in Springfield, young men die on Marshfield Avenue and their families are left to grieve. Jason Gill's funeral will be held this coming Saturday in Woodlawn.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

One-Minute Political Rant

OK, can I just say that Rod Blagojevich has done it again? Two days ago he announced
a $150 million anti-violence initiative including summer jobs and after-school activities for young people. Sounds great, right?

As usual with the governor's bright ideas, everything about it is great except how we're going to pay for it. State Rep. Suzana Mendoza is quoted in this Sun-Times story calling the plan "a pipe dream." So far the $150 mil is supposed to come from selling the lottery and "a state capital deal." How capital money fits into this is way beyond me.

Apparently today Mayor Daley is asking the same question. I won't go into the bad blood between him and Rod, but the question is very legitimate.

And it drives me crazy the same man who cut money for street intervention workers thinks he can come out now with a half-baked plan and look like a hero. Dream on, Rod, but could someone else please wake up and solve this mess?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sorry about Google Ad

If you're seeing a Google Ad for "Your Pretty Mexican Bride," I apologize. That's not what this site is about. As soon as I can I'll get it pulled--this is extra hard with limited computer time.

Tattler Tech Trouble

Last Friday sparks started shooting out of the back of my laptop. The computer shop guys called last night to say the motherboard is toast.

This post is getting written on Medicine Man's machine (thanks again, Medicine Man), but posting may be sporadic until my computer situation is resolved. Thanks for your patience.

Despite a rumor I heard that revenge was being plotted in Jason Gill's death, as far as I know all has been quiet on this stretch of Marshfield Avenue. Please comment if you know something I don't.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Moms on the March

On Saturday morning, the Peace and Education Coalition of Back of the Yards held a peace march from 48th and Seeley, the block where Leticia Barrera was killed last Halloween, to Seward Elementary at 46th between Hermitage and Wood. About 125 people turned out. As usual, political representation was strong: Mayor Daley, Police Supt. Jody Weis, State Rep. Esther Golar, other state reps and senators, and Ald. George Cardenas.

Most importantly, Families for the Community came out to let those politicos know what it is like to be the parent of a child in our neighborhood. Many of these parents are single mothers working two jobs to support their families. They try hard to raise their kids right, but too often they are left alone to do the job by themselves. "We're not crackhead alcoholics," said Bridgeport mother Lisa Rivera, in a front-page Sun-Times story that ran last Friday.

Oscar Contreras of Catholic Charities Street Intervention wrote a reflection about these mothers' experience which Bridgeport mom Lisa Rivera read at the march. Here is an excerpt:

Yes we know what our sons and daughters have become but a mother will always love her child. Even when society says I've done a bad job and the time comes when, God forbid, they are taken from us whether by a judge or by their own bad choices, we will be the ones left to visit jail and graves. There isn't anything we wouldn't do to change what they have become but no matter what, we will never give up, just as God has never given up on us. His love and mercy are unconditional even though time after time we continue to disappoint him.

I have written before and will write again here about two-parent families who struggle to raise their children to be good people, only to see them slide down the slippery slope into gangs, drugs, jail and death. We talk a lot about how it takes a village to raise a child, but too often here I see the most successful families adopting a turtle-like strategy: keep your kids in the house, send them out of the neighborhood for school, keep your own nose clean and don't get involved. The problem is, that works.

Those who want to build a village have their work cut out for them. I wish

Death Comes to Marshfield Avenue

It is with great sorrow that I report the death of 26-year-old Jason Gill, who was shot on his front porch around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night. For the basics, here is a link to the Chicago Sun-Times story. Here's the Tribune story.

Here's what the articles won't tell you. Jason was the kind of young man who would wish you a blessed day. He was a short guy with a sparkly stud in each ear and the big smile he inherited from his mother. In a neighborhood where most kids don't make it through high school, he had graduated from Perspectives Charter Schools South Loop campus. The last I heard he was working for UPS.

Just last week I was bragging about him to somebody in a fancy downtown restaurant. His little sister was just admitted to the new Perspectives Math & Science Academy.

Yes, his family isn't perfect. I've seen some other young man on that porch with a can of malt liquor mighty early in the morning. I'm told one of his nephews got into a scrap last week with the young man who came back with a gun Saturday night.

Tio Hardiman from CeaseFire has it right: it's the small arguments that escalate and turn deadly, especially when young men have access to guns.

I'll post again to talk about a new effort in the neighborhood to promote peace.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Today's March

Just a quick vignette from today's march for immigrant and worker rights:

As we were all walking down Jackson Boulevard, somewhere between Wacker and LaSalle, an older, bearded white guy on the sidewalk began taunting the marchers, who were cheering "Si se puede" (yes, we can) by cheering "USA! USA!"

A man and two women in front of me, all of whom appeared to be Latina/o and were wearing United Food and Commercial Workers t-shirts, smiled brightly at him and chanted back cheerfully, "USA! USA!"

For a brief instant, they all chanted "USA!" together.

Then the man, realizing his taunt had been defeated, switched to "Go home now!"

The three union workers smiled and walked on, cheering a few more "USA!USA!" chants. After all, that's the point, right?

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