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Interview with an International Columnist

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The video above was filmed by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.vMa3tI1H.dpuf

Editor’s Note: The video above was filmed by a student in our advanced J-201 level of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation:

Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Avirama Golan, a columnist for the Haaretz, one of the most important Israeli newspapers. Ms. Golan talked about the time she saw then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama visit an Israeli town that was under attack from rockets. Even back then, she was very impressed with Obama and now he is our president. Click above to see more of our interview.

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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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A New Start for the Indiana Dunes

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:

Cornelius Jordan poses at the Indiana Dunes. Photo by Quintana Woodridge.

Birds, water, grass, rocks, squirrels, raccoons…it looks like a forest, but it is the Indiana Dunes State Park. There is a campground and lots of trees. And a parking lot under construction. That’s because the parking lot is being partly removed to return the space to its natural state.

Standing near the parking lot and a creek that runs into Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes State Park property manager Brandt Baughman said that in 2005 the flooded creek waters were as high as the people standing there. That was partly because where the creek is now used to be a huge parking lot.

As a way of restoring the natural surroundings, they took out the parking lot and restored the creek to its natural path. Before the creek had run under the parking lot. Now fewer people can park in the dunes but Baughman said it is worth it. He said it cost $7,000 to remove the parking lot, but “it turned out to be a good project.” Read more »

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Lead and Coal Plants in Pilsen

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:

A coal-fired power plant in the Pilsen neighborhood. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

On May 11, angry and disappointed residents gathered at Casa Aztlan in Pilsen to hear about the risks from the Fisk coal plant and the H. Kramer brass smelter in their neighborhood.

Forty deaths a year and 550 emergency room visits are caused by Fisk and the city’s other coal plant in Little Village, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The coal plants were “grandfathered” in under the Clean Air Act that was signed in 1970. Grandfathered means it’s been there for a long time so it doesn’t have to equal up to the same standards as coal plants built these days.

Now a law is proposed that 25 aldermen are supporting which could force the power plants to shut down. The group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) is trying to pass the ordinance.

At the meeting, residents said Ald. Danny Solis should stick to his promises since he won the run-off election in April after promising he would shut down the coal plants, or force them to clean up their emissions.

People at the meeting loudly questioned why Solis was not there personally and yelled at the representative he had sent, Steve Stults. They were treating him badly because they didn’t want him there, they wanted the alderman. Raker said Solis could not attend because of a scheduling conflict but is very committed to the issue.

Stacy Raker, a spokesperson for Solis, said the alderman will definitely keep his promise and that the ordinance will be reintroduced in City Council on July 28.

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On the Campaign Trail with Che “Rhymefest” Smith

by Cornelius Jordan 

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:

Driving around Englewood, pointing out empty lots on Feb. 18, Che “Rhymefest” Smith talked about how these used to be houses. He said he wants to transform the neighborhood and make it a clean and safe environment for kids to play in. He said the neighborhood has no love and care in it, but he wants to change that.

Che 'Rhymefest' Smith on the campaign trail. Photo courtesy of Smith's campaign web site.

Smith is running for alderman of the 20th ward in the April 5 run-off election, after he got 20 percent of the vote in the primary election in February. His opponent is incumbent Willie Cochran. Smith is a Grammy-award-winning rapper, who has met

famous people including Ciara, Bow Wow and Rick Ross. But now, he says he wants to focus his attention on serving his community.

As he went door to door campaigning, some of the gates were locked. He and his assistant put campaign fliers on the locked gates and his assistant rang every doorbell where the gates were unlocked, until she got an answer. For ones with no answer, they would come back the next day. Smith was determined to reach every voter. In his office, he had maps with circles around the homes he’d already been to. After covering an entire block, Smith and his supporters got back into the white van decorated with his name and drove to the next block. Read more »

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Nuf Said: Will Violence Finally Stop?

by Cornelius Jordan 

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:

The young journalists at an event for the youth media project Nuf Said on Oct. 27 talked about violence and how they could get shot any day. In a video screened at the event in Pilsen, a girl named Cookie told her story: how people get killed in our communities, and how they can’t build new houses without the windows getting blown out or busted. In the video, “Cookie’s Story,” produced by Community TV Network, she tells us how she saw someone die when she was only seven years old. At the end of the video, her friend started rapping about violence to teach people about violence and that they should stop the killing.

Youth from Community TV Network led the discussion after the video, and asked the participants if they have had similar experiences to Cookie’s story. Everyone agreed that they had, describing different problems in the communities, including violence, disrespect from police and politicians, poor schools and even litter.

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