Street Smart Chicago

Breaking Dreams: How Connect Force pursues social justice with hip-hop

Edgewater, News etc. No Comments »

The gymnasium of Edgewater’s Alternatives, Inc. on a Tuesday night buzzes with happy activity. Off to the sides of the room, kids play ping-pong, get help with homework or work on their DJ skills at a live spin station. Meanwhile, on the floor, small clusters of young people in sweats and sneakers form a number of separate break-dance circles. They practice routines one at a time, giving each other feedback and teaching new moves.

The open gym is a production of Connect Force, a program which combines hip-hop culture with social justice, providing education and positive lifestyle alternatives to kids in this at-risk community where gangs like the Stones and Vice Lords actively recruit. Started by Justin Grey in 2003, Connect Force operates an afterschool program twice a week, offering mentoring and life-skills classes.

The cornerstone of Connect Force, however, is its hip-hop training, which encourages kids to participate in different aspects of the culture, such as break-dancing, music production, graff-art (graffiti and murals) and verse writing. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Uncommon Garden

City Life, Edgewater, Green, News etc. No Comments »

Mayor Daley will participate Saturday in the Farm Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of Uncommon Ground’s organic rooftop farm. The 2,500-square-foot farm, located above the Edgewater restaurant, is the first certified organic rooftop farm in the U.S. Uncommon Ground owners Helen and Michael Cameron use the farm to produce food for their Wrigleyville and Edgewater locations. “As a child we grew a vast array of fruits and vegetables. As a result, I’ve always enjoyed growing things,” Helen Cameron says. “The minute I saw this enormous, sunny space…I was like, ‘Oh my God, we could grow food up here.’” The farm was certified organic last October by the Midwest Organic Services Association. “To me, it’s perfectly natural to grow your own food in a small space,” Helen says. “We have a climate that works here in Chicago, and you can be very successful growing a great deal of food in the city.”

Common Sense: Forget the Flowers

City Life, Edgewater, Essays & Commentary, Green, Transit No Comments »

Chicago is being touted as a green city, but if you look at the facts it’s a bunch of crap. We’ve got the organic bars and cuisine, even some pricey eco-friendly dwellings, which is all just peachy, but what about those fucking potholes? I live in Edgewater, close to Devon, and every time I’m in a car there’s so much bopping up and down, I feel like I’m traveling in a horse and buggy. And the Red Line is a fucking nightmare. Read the rest of this entry »

Bohemian Rhapsody: University of Chicago profs study the migration of hipsters and other urban phenomena

Andersonville, Bridgeport, Bucktown, City Life, Edgewater, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Irving Park, Kenwood, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Little Village, Logan Square, News etc., North Center, Pilsen, Roscoe Village, South Shore, Ukrainian Village, Uptown, Washington Park, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville No Comments »

By Sean Redmond

Entering Wicker Park by the Blue Line, you emerge into the intersection of Damen, North and Milwaukee to a long-familiar sight. There’s the Double Door across the street, Flash Taco and, until just recently, the façade of Filter, Wicker Park’s former hipster coffeehouse extraordinaire. These staples, like many along these primary roadways, fade into the background with repeated visits; yes, you know you can find Reckless Records and American Apparel and the venues and art galleries in the surrounding area, but getting where you want to go requires little thought once you’re situated enough to put your eyes to the sidewalk and your feet into autopilot. But then one day, you get off the train and, surprise, the boarded-up shell of Filter is replaced with an expansive Bank of America, and your mind jolts back into motion. Suddenly, a wave of thoughts bursts forth: “Man, there are a lot of banks in the area,”or “Wicker Park really is getting commercialized,” or  “Maybe I need to start spending more time in Logan Square.”
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