Exit Zero Event at the Field Museum Invites Residents to Discuss Social and Environmental Issues of Southeast Chicago


By: Sarah Miller, Second-Year Student and Civic Journalist for Chicago Studies

The Field Museum and Chicago Working-Class Studies co-sponsored a rough-cut screening of the documentary Exit Zero on Saturday, April 13. The documentary, which narrates the history of deindustrialization in southeast Chicago, is based on a book with the same title written by MIT Professor, Christine Walley. Exit Zero was produced by her filmmaker husband, Chris Boebel.

"The [Field Museum] has been very interested in the region since its founding. As a museum of natural history, it is very interested in environmental issues as well," said Mark Bouman, the Chicago Region Program Director at the Field Museum.

In addition to the documentary screening, the all-day event included a tour of the Field Museum's "Restoring Earth" exhibition and two panel discussions titled "Preserving the Heritage" and "Conserving, Restoring, and Renewing: A Panel of Local Environmental, Community, and Labor Activists."

"This is a story that since I was a teenager I really felt I needed to write. There is not a lot of language about the things I want to talk about," Walley explained during her introduction to the film.

"The [Exit Zero Project] works against more conventional narratives and histories," said Boebel. "It's about the expansion of class inequality in the U.S., and it is meant to be a multi-generational project as a way of thinking about the past and the future."

For more information about the Exit Zero Project, the Field Museum, and Chicago Working- Class Studies, check out the links below:

Exit Zero Project
Chicago Studies Feature on Exit Zero Project
Restoring Earth Exhibition at the Field Museum
Journey Through Calumet: Communities in Motion in Southeast Chicago and Indiana, past exhibition at the Field Museum
Chicago Working-Class Studies

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