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Fair Trade Clothing

by Jaquita Tanner 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Luke O’Toole Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side neighborhood.

Maureen Dunn went to India in 2004 and then started a clothes business.

She said the reason she made clothes in India was because the women and kids needed money for clothes themselves. So she made the business fair trade.
Fair trade is when someone gives somebody a deal: a fair wage, benefits such as health care and child care, and dignity and respect.

Dunn and two other friends, Michelle King and Jonit Bookheim, spent four months in India on the same trip. While Dunn was on the trip she fell in love with shopping in India. She then returned the next year to start her fashion company, Mata Traders. She named her company Mata Traders “because its name is ‘mom’ in Hindi.”

King and Bookheim supported Dunn when she started up Mata Traders, and they became official business partners.
Dunn really likes India. When I talked to her on the phone, I asked her what other things she makes beside clothes. “We make table mats, big earrings and some small,” she said.

To learn more about Dunn or her fashion, you can go to Mata Traders’ blog at: http://www.matatraders.com/blog/

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Group Carols to Save Mental Health Clinics

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Protesters who want to avert cuts to the city’s mental health clinics tried a unique tactic this week.

As the City Council convened their first session since voting to close half of the city’s clinics and privatize all of its neighborhood health centers, members of the Mental Health Movement wore Santa Claus hats and formed a circle in the hallway outside the elected officials’ offices at City Hall, then sung altered classic holiday songs.

In their rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” and the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” they accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials of catering to “corporate greed,” and giving “tax breaks” to the wealthy while closing clinics in poor African American and Hispanic communities “without shame.”
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A Weekend of Firsts

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Eco Youth Reporters visit the studio of “Off The Record,” a student-produced television news program, on the campus of Michigan State University as part of a group trip to that academic institution. Photo by Micah Maidenberg

The second weekend of November, I traveled to Michigan State University. It was a weekend of firsts for me. I had never been on an Amtrak train before. I also had never stayed over in a hotel. And I had never visited a college campus before.

Our group left on Saturday, Nov. 12, from Union Station in Chicago. The train was gray on the outside. Inside, it had comfortable seats, with a button on the side allowing you to lean back. There was a food court where I bought a breakfast sandwich and an orange juice
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Being emo

by Jamal T. Jackson 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

I stand out at Paul Robeson High School in Englewood, where I am a freshman. It’s not always easy.

One recent day, I walked in the lunchroom and everyone yelled out, “Freak!” and called me a Satanist. I ended up not even eating lunch that day. I had on the school uniform, but I was also wearing red contacts and fingerless gloves and my nails were painted black. I dress this way—and my peers yell at me—because I am emo. Let me explain what it means to me to be emo.

First of all, the word emo is shorthand for emotional. That means emo people are in touch with their emotions. People who are emo may dress differently, wearing dark clothing, and listening to different types of music than other teenagers.
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Occupiers, Officials Try to Help Homeowners

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

Urban Youth International Journalism Program reporter Tyreshia Black interviews Willie “JR” Fleming, an activist with Occupy the Hood Chicago. Photo by Micah Maidenberg

There were only a few people on the steps of Herman Hall on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Bronzeville on Oct. 2, and they stood waiting to talk to distressed homeowners. It was a small event but one that had a big message and connected to a bigger movement.

The scene was part of Chicago’s version of the worldwide events known as the Occupy Movement – protests that have spread from state to state affecting different cities and neighborhoods. The event the group “Occupy the Hood” held at Herman Hall focused on home foreclosures and forced evictions.
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New Report: Homeless Being Criminalized

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Officals at Chicago Defender Charities feed the homeless in 2010. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Across the country, homeless people are finding that their activities are being considered criminal acts, according to a new report from a Washington D.C.-based advocacy organization.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty discovered a “startling trend toward criminalizing basic acts necessary for homeless persons’ survival, including eating and sleeping in public.” An analysis in their report, “Criminalizing Crisis: The Criminalization of Homelessness in America,” shows that poverty is at “record levels,” with as many as 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness annually.

“Cities are continuing to penalize people forced to live on our streets and in public spaces,” the report’s authors concluded. The group surveyed local policies in 234 cities, and learned that 40 percent prohibit sleeping in public places; 33 percent prohibit sitting or lying in public places; 56 percent prohibit loitering in public places; and 53 percent prohibit begging in public places. In 188 cities surveyed for both this report and the Law Center’s 2009 report, there were major increases on prohibitions on homeless people begging or panhandling, sleeping and loitering.

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Parents Protest CPS Turn-Arounds

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Walter H Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St., which is slated to be closed under a new plan announced by the Chicago Public Schools. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

A South Side community group “fed up” with the Chicago Public Schools closing and turn-around process in low-income areas of color brought their protest to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office this week.

“CPS’ top-down school actions in North Kenwood and the Greater Bronzeville community have caused spikes in violence and destabilized schools, and not improved student outcomes,” reads a statement from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, also known as KOCO.

KOCO members, along with parents from North Kenwood, Oakland and Bronzeville neighborhoods, rallied outside Emanuel’s office on December 1, and called on him to partner with them to implement “The Bronzeville Global Achievers Village,” an alternative school transformation plan they’ve developed over the past 18 months.

KOCO member Shannon Bennett told Residents’ Journal shortly after the protest that members from his organization and several community parents, along with representatives from the Centers for New Horizons and the Grand Boulevard Federation, first met with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard at their office on November 21 regarding KOCO’s plan to counteract CPS policies concerning school closings, phase-outs and turnarounds. Brizard said he would get back to them but did not, according to Bennett. “So that’s why we have gone around him, and go to his boss,” Bennett explained.

Bennett said members from KOCO delivered a letter to Emanuel through one of his staff members, and added that members of his organization are particularly upset about the phasing out of Walter H. Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St., which KOCO noted in their press release is the only neighborhood high school in Kenwood-Oakland. Sending students to Wendell Phillips Academy High School, 244 E. Pershing Road in the Bronzeville community, will result in increased violence, he argued. In 2005, Bennett said he personally experienced a spike in crime in Kenwood-Oakland after the closing of two schools, the Jackie Robinson and Price elementary schools.

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