Creating the Inclusive City: We Are A Part of Them Event

Making change in our community

On May 29th, Creating the Inclusive City, brought together a few of Chicago's cultural and community leaders for dynamic presentations about creating change in communities despite the challenges of disinvestment in public programs. The talks moved from Cabrini-Green to the suburbs to the public and private spaces that we use to teach youth, to share art, and to express ourselves. Both Irina Zadov, a founder of the Chicago Home Theater Festival, and Miguel Aguilar, founder of Graffiti Institute, spoke about finding ways to make art and bring art to others, whether in someone's livingroom or on the streets of neighborhoods. Sam Spitz, one of the filmmakers of the documentary The Greens about Cabrini-Green, helped to make the event even more inclusive by video conferencing in from England. He and Teddy Williams discussed their film The Greens and reminded the audience how close we are to each other, when like Teddy and Sam people are often divided by only a few blocks, but how far we allow ourselves to be. The divisions that exist in Chicago and other cities can take many forms including white flight to the suburbs. Adrienne Brown, a professor at University of Chicago, read from a paper exploring that very idea through the lens of literature. Sandra Sosa explained her approach to her youth work, one that helps young people understand themselves through a single image.

The post-presentation discussion was engaging and wide-ranging. Both Miguel and Sandra talked about allowing young people to do what they do best without adults putting limits on what that means. All of the presenters spoke to the idea of removing the barriers and limits we place on creating community with others. The audience responded with thought-provoking questions and incisive breakthroughs about how they too could be creating a more inclusive city.