A Night of Stories, A Night of Belonging

Telling Stories, Telling Belongings - Collecting Stories for the National Public Housing Museum

Last night we were fortunate to gather at the newly refurbished Jane Addams Resource Center in ABLA to celebrate the stories that make our community. With nearly 70 people in attendance, the second iteration of Telling Stories, Telling Belongings engaged ABLA public housing residents, Roosevelt Square and Little Italy community members, as well as Chicagoans from across the city. In a "show and tell" evening program, the room shared stories and belongings from the neighborhood. (Click large image below for larger images of the evening. - Photos by NPHM volunteer, Shelby Silvernell.)

Photos by NPHM volunteer, Shelby Silvernell

Moderated by Jennifer Scott, the Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the night featured ABLA residents who recalled the stories and memories of public housing in the adjacent public housing projects  the Jane Addams Homes, Robert Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts, and Grace Abbott Homes. Joined by members of the community, the event offered an opportunity for public housing residents and their neighbors to exchange stories in groups as well as on the community stage. 

Featuring cherished belongings from those in attendance, individuals used objects to open their minds to stories and memories nearly forgotten and seldom heard. Four break out groups allowed for more intimate storytelling, allowing storytellers to connect with their fellow neighbors to recall different perspectives of the past. Local refreshments provided by Marilyn Scott of Cobblestone Bakery, a Section 3 vendor, and Kelly Lynch of Scafuri Bakery, provided the needed social lubrication and elbow rubbing to inspire new conversations from old memories.

Recalling her life story, ABLA Local Advisory Council Vice President Louise Hill reminded the room, "If you don't have a story, you don't exist," opening up event goers to consider their seemingly ordinary stories and belongings as objects worthy of telling. Building off of our event-based oral history work the National Public Housing Museum started in December 2014, the Museum looks forward to collecting more stories to grow our future programming, collection, and exhibits.


This program is funded in part by Making the West Side, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant led by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.