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Enter Survey, Win a Laptop Computer!

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Dear Friends :

We The People Media is asking people to fill out an on-line survey we developed with the Local Advisory Council resident leaders. Anyone that fills it out gets the chance to win a laptop computer or a gift card!

The survey is geared toward current CHA residents as well as former residents, but we’re looking for everybody’s opinion. Feel free to copy the link and send it out to others:

http://www.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?9BBFD3CA9ADCCBCE90

 

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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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Healthy Ways to Fight Lead Poisoning

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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.

Every year in October, Imagine Englewood If (IEI) participates in “Make a Difference Day.” On “Make a Difference Day,” people from all over the country do something to change others’ lives in a positive way. On Oct. 29 of last year, IEI put together an event for people living in the Englewood community to inform them of the dangers of lead poisoning. “Englewood has the highest percentage of people in the nation who are affected by lead poisoning,” said Jean Carter Hill, Executive Director of IEI.

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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 Coverage of the Recent Demolition of the Last CHA Ida B. Wells Homes Buildings

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Click on the image to view the seventh episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 22, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s senior reporter Jacqueline Thompson talking about the recent demolition of the last two Chicago Housing Authority Ida B. Wells public housing buildings.

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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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Altgeld Gardens Tries to Stay Cool

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A playground not equipped with sprinklers in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development stands empty during the recent heat wave. Altgeld has a shortage of cooling centers. Photo by Quintana Woodridge.

Editor’s Note: The following article was co-written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development, and Quintana Woodridge, our youth program coordinator.

Over the summer, Altgeld Gardens has been feeling the heat. The residents in the Chicago Housing Authority public housing development on the Far South Side have not had a public place where they can go to stay cool. Most of the rehabbed units in the development have central air systems in their housing units, but when they are not working, there are very few places to go. The nearest swimming pool is also closed and there are no sprinklers in the play lots throughout Altgeld.

A few residents recently expressed their concerns about the Phillis Wheately Center Library being closed on several hot days during the month of July; at the time there was a heat advisory across the Chicago area. The residents were under the impression that the library is a designated cooling center. Residents were shocked to find out that a central air conditioning system was not installed in the library when it was opened.

“When it’s hot out we open the windows and put fans throughout the library. If it gets too hot we don’t open the library for that day,” said Shante Jackson, the children’s library associate told Residents’ Journal youth reporter Alisha Jacobs. Jackson went on to say that for a few weeks in September, the library will be closed so that an air conditioning system can be installed. Read more »

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How to Deal with the Next Heat Wave

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Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development.

This July, Chicago battled extreme heat. But what exactly is a heat wave? A heat wave is caused when a large mass of hot air stays over an area. Chicago hasn’t had a heat wave advisory since 1996, when there were about 750 heat-related deaths over a period of 5 days. There are heat warnings in over 36 states, so we’re not alone. Most places have reached triple digits repeatedly, according to ABC news. The extreme heat left over 150 million people around the country trying to find relief in any place possible.

Most people don’t know that elevated temperatures are a public health threat that leads to a considerable number of deaths. Every year a lot of people are hospitalized or die due to exposure to high temperatures. An average of 400 deaths are annually counted as heat-related in people who are 65 years and older. Elderly people should make sure their temperature doesn’t rise above 102 degrees, because the condition can quickly lead to heat stroke, according to USA Today. We have to make sure we keep an eye on elderly family members and friends. Seniors are more vulnerable to the heat because their body does not contain as much water as young people.

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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 Toxic Tour of Little Village

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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:

On July 13, 2011 we went to Little Village for a “Toxic Tour.” There were five teenagers and one grown woman taking us on a tour to show us the Crawford coal plant, the plastics recycling company MRC Polymers, Meyer Steel Drum and a garden at a school, so they could tell us what environmental issues are going on around Little Village.

The organization is the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). Our tour guides were Brenda Becerra, 18, Maira Galvan, 17, Viviana Galvan, 19, Daniela Jurado, 19, Hannah Weinstein, 20, and Carolina Macias, 18.

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