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Winners from the Resident Survey!

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generic cialis2 pic of Ethan Myra King and winners of survery-1″ src=”https://wethepeoplemedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Marys-8-8-12-pic-of-Ethan-Myra-King-and-winners-of-survery-12-768×1024.jpg” alt=”” width=”377″ height=”502″ /> Central Advisory Council President Myra King (center) congratulates Mable L. Carter (left) and Deborah Thigpen (right), winners of the random drawing for the 2012 Resident Survey. We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli stands in the background. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

The 2012 Resident Survey of Chicago public housing tenants conducted by We The People Media received an unprecedented response – more than 500 residents provided their opinions on a range of issues. Among other findings, residents strongly oppose term limits, a policy which is being tried by a small number of public housing agencies in other part of the country. Residents also showed strong opposition to expanded drug testing but were highly enthusiastic about initiatives that offer training and employment.

The Resident Survey was conducted both on-line and in print from May 7 through June 1. The Central Advisory Council commissioned the survey from We The People Media and Local Advisory Councils in Oakwood Shores, Cabrini-Green Row Houses, Dearborn Homes, Princeton Park, Altgeld Gardens, Lathrop Homes, Trumbull Park, Lowden Homes, Wentworth Gardens, ABLA Homes, West Haven Homes, Washington Park Homes, Scattered Sites and senior buildings throughout the South, West and North sides assisted with distribution and collection of the print version.

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Exploring After-School Programs

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Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with SGA Family Services and Luke O’Toole Elementary School, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

I’m a student at Luke O’Toole Elementary School and I participate in two after-school programs called ST Math and Achieve 3000. ST Math was developed in 1998 by the Mind Research Institute, a California-based non-profit education group, according to eschools news. ST Math is a program on the computer in which we work with a penguin character named “JiJi” who knows nothing. We can teach him everything we know. At the same time, we are playing a game and practicing our math.

The ST Math Program was started in 2009 in 14 Chicago Public Schools on the South Side. The schools where the program is active have an average of 89% African American, 11% Hispanic and 4% other students, while 98% of the students get a free or reduced lunch, according to a report written by Dr. Shawn Smith, chief area officer.

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Learning about the world on a youth retreat

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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.

Imagine being rich, on top of the world. Then you find yourself middle class, with enough to get by. But suddenly you are poor, at the bottom of the economic barrel. That was the situation I was recently in at a youth retreat.

The retreat, called Operation Snowball, which was sponsored by the Illinois Teen Institute, took high school students from Chicago and suburban high schools to a YMCA camp in Wisconsin to get to know other people who wouldn’t otherwise interact.

We participated in many activities during the retreat; I signed up for philosophy and media classes. Both were exciting, and I learned a lot, such as information about the philosopher Confucius.

But one of most interesting activities we did at the camp in my opinion was what you could call the rich-to-poor exercise.

What I learned from it is how quickly people can have their livelihoods cut out from under them. Here’s what happened.

On the second day of the retreat, we went to the mess hall, a big cafeteria inside of a wooden building, and were split into groups of three: rich, middle class and poor. During the activity, the rich had steak to eat, the middle class had beans, but the poor had nothing. I was in the middle class group.

But we didn’t stay in our groups. Our instructor told people in the rich group and the poor group to stand up. Then she said, “You are rich but your job is moving out of the country to a place where it’s cheaper to pay for work. You have lost your job – please move to the poor group.” Just like that, their economic situation had changed. They felt shocked at the news.

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Corporate Partnership Builds a Public School Playground

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Howe Elementary School of Excellence students on their new playground built through Coca Cola's "Sprite Spark Park Project" on September 9, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Keisha S. Campbell, principal of the Howe School of Excellence in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, pointed at her school’s new playground and recalled what was there before:

“When we took over Howe, there was not a green area on site. It was gravel,” Campbell said during a press conference on Friday, Sept. 9, at the school, 720 N. Lorel Ave. “In three years, due to the partnership of the Chicago Public Schools, and the alderman’s office, we now have a green area and grass for students to run and play safely.”

Actually, the new playground at Howe – a school that is run by a private non-profit organization under contract to the Chicago Public Schools – is the result of a grant from a major corporation, Coca Cola/Sprite, which donated $25,000 to build the brand new playground where none existed under their “Sprite Spark Parks Project for Schools,” a national campaign that is “focused on refurbishing active spaces for students, in order to create clean, safe and fun areas and to encourage physical fitness among students.”
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Residents’ Journal’s Newly Accessible Online Archives

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Click on the image to view the eighth episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 29, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s reporter Quintana Woodridge discussing We the People Media’s newly accessible online archives of the news publication for low-income people, with intern Hilary Sharp.

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Residents’ Journal Reporters talking about Current Youth Articles

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Click on the image to view the fourth episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 1, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s reporter Quintana Woodridge talking with UYIJP student Tyreshia Black talking about her reports on the environment and a trip she took to the Shedd Aquarium this summer.

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After The Dust

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Young people at the recent reunion for tenants of 5135 S. Federal St., one of the buildings in the now-demolished Robert Taylor Homes development. The reunion was held August 7 in the Dan Ryan Woods. Photo by Marsha Muhammad.

Five years after the last building in the Robert Taylor Homes was demolished, it’s a miracle to locate former residents not only from that development but from anywhere in the Chicago Housing Authority. After years of being displaced by gentrification, we were united on a social network site named Facebook. The best of my former neighbors at Robert Taylor are doing just fine. It may surprise many to see that we are functional people, since we were deemed dysfunctional and self-destructive. But we are alive and still standing! Still standing literally and figuratively.

In the summer of 1998, the first building in the Robert Taylor Homes located at 3901 S. Federal St. was torn down, followed by the cluster buildings on 53rd Street infamously known as the “Hole.” The name derived from the term, “If you come in, you can’t come out.”

Moving out of public housing became a challenge to the majority of former residents. Many families were disenfranchised by a welfare system that cut off their resources if they found employment that increased their income a penny over the poverty level. Residents learned how to survive by manipulating the system. Do just enough to not go homeless and live comfortable, but not enough to move out into the private sector and pay market rent. These residents outnumbered the working-class residents that paid market rent. This system bred generations of families who were taught the same cycle of survival. People rarely moved out. Perhaps the “Hole” should have been the nickname for the entire development.

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A New Start for the Indiana Dunes

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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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Former Youth Reporter, Now an Author!

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Residents’ Journal/We The People Media is proud to announce the publication of “My Story,” by Chantell Suggs, a graduate of our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. As a student in the program, Chantell wrote about life in Chicago’s neighborhood. She has come a long way and we hope you will join us in celebrating her accomplishments at a special author event at Thalia Hall, 1227 W. 18th Street, this Thursday, July 28, at 5:50 pm.

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Environmental Journalism Program Image Gallery

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For the past few weeks, Chicago youth involved in the Eco Youth Reporters program, funded by the McCormick Foundation, have explored global environmental issues on a local level. They interviewed local experts on topics ranging from coal plants to the dangers of invasive fish species. Under the guidance of award-winning reporter Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, these journalists are learning to effectively cover the larger environmental issues and spread awareness within the Chicago community through print stories, photography and video documentation.

Tyreshia Black snags invasive zebra mussels. (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

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