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As 9th week approaches, it's time to take stock of a quarter filled with service.

The University Community Service Center wants you to send us what SERVICE looks like to YOU in the form of a photo. Include a short description of your image and we will include it in next week's issue as part of a photo essay about service! Send all submissions to with the subject line "Image of Service."

UCSC accepts story submissions from contributing writers that take a timely national issue and examine it in the local perspective. To join the pool, or learn more, visit

Chicago Studies highlights for the week

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Mark your calendars for some great events for students who want to explore Chicago, coming up this week and next:

TODAY Oct 1-31

Art Here, Art Now
Off Campus (see description)
HyPa and the University of Chicago invite you to celebrate Chicago Artists Month: Chicago's theme this year, "the city as studio," explores the impact of the urban environment on Chicago artists and their work, and the contributions that artists make to the vitality of our city. Art Here, Art Now is one of 12 Featured Programs for the 2010 Chicago Artists Month activities.

View local artists' installations 24/7 in the windows along 53rd Street and watch local artists at work during studio hours every Saturday in October from 1pm-5pm.


Tutoring Volunteer Info Session

5:00-6:00 PM
Reynolds Club, South Lounge
Learn about tutoring and mentoring opportunities in the local community from the University Community Service Center and representatives from local education organizations.

Oct 17

Reel Jazz Films

Where: HyPa Gallery, 5226 S. Harper Ave. in Hyde Park
When: 3:00pm, every Sunday in October

- "Jammin' the Blues" (1944), Oscar-nominated short featuring Lester Young, Red Callender, Illinois Jacquet, and Marie Bryant
- "The March of Time presents American Music" (1937) Jukebox films featuring Cootie Williams, Laurel Watson, and the Lindy Hoppers
- "Symphony in Black" (1935), featuring Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday
- "Ration Blues" (1945), featuring Louis Jordan, Una Mae Carlisle, and Hilda Rogers
- "Jumpin' at the Woodside" (from 1941 film Hellzapoppin'), featuring Slim Galliard, Slam Stewart, and the Lindy Hoppers

Each Sunday in October, the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival and the Hyde Park Alliance for Arts and Culture present an afternoon of rare jazz films from the 1930s through the somewhat recent past, shown on genuine 16mm film.

How much: $5 suggested donation

Oct 21

Great Conversations Lecture Series: An Evening with Earl Shorris

12:00 - 1:30 pm - SSA
5:30-7:30 PM - Gleacher Center
Earl Shorris is the founder of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, the award-winning global program that uses the humanities in antipoverty efforts. A contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, he has received the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Clinton, and the Condecoracion de la Orden del Aguila Azteca. His books include Riches for the Poor: the Clemente Course in the Humanities, The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times, New American Blues: A Journey Through Poverty to Democracy, and Under the Fifth Sun: A Novel of Pancho Villa.

Submitted by first-year SoonKyu Park

Ever since I was in high school, I have loved going to theater, often by myself. During the two hours of the show, I could always forget about my life and live someone else's. When I learned that the Steppenwolf Theatre was offering advance tickets to students for $15, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. The theater had three different plays that all had received equally good reviews, and I decided to see Samuel Beckett's Endgame. I had always been a fan of Beckett's, and this production starred William Peterson, who played Gill Grissom in the popular TV crime show C.S.I.

Getting to the Steppenwolf was easy. I took the 55 bus, transferred to a Red Line train, and got off at North/Clybourn. The theater was only five minutes on foot from the station. From door to door, the trip took only 45 minutes--less than I had expected--and so I got to take my seat early and observe the other theater-goers as they came in. Most of the audience was in its fifties or above, but I was also happy to see a few familiar faces from the University.

The production was first-rate, capturing Beckett's nihilistic vision of the world. Consisting of two windows, two trashcans, a sofa, and a door, the minimalist set stuck faithfully to the playwright's directions. The talented ensemble shone. The chemistry between Hamm, the crippled despot, and Clove, the only mobile inhabitant and Hamm's obedient servant, was especially notable. The actors created comedic moments from what could have been absurdly bleak moments, and it is those moments that gave the audience hope that the world we live in is different from that of the play. Lines like "Nothing is funnier than happiness" and "[If he's crying] then he's living" made me laugh because such pessimism was completely unrealistic to me. At some points, the dialogue may have sounded a bit unnatural when the actors sounded as if they were acting instead of talking to one another. But having seen no other productions of the play, I couldn't tell if this was particular to this production or something that Beckett had intended.

Overall, the experience at the Steppenwolf was satisfying and worthwhile. Even if Beckett is not your thing, the theater also offers two other shows. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran as a theater-goer, the Steppenwolf is a great option--and tickets are only $15. Check it out at

Celebrate Art in Action 2010!

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Fourth-year Hallie Trauger and graduate student in philosophy Mark Hopwood say you don't want to miss Art in Action 2010. Here's why:

What is it?

Art in Action is an annual event, now in its fifth year, that brings together a diverse group of students and local residents to plan a day-long celebration of art, music, and community. Last year the event was hosted by First Presbyterian Church in Woodlawn, and over 400 people attended. The founding ideal of AiA is that art itself can be a form of activism: one that breaks down barriers, forms relationships and raises consciousness. The event is completely free, and has in the past included a huge diversity of musical acts, art projects, political discussions and children's activities.

Who runs it?

AiA is planned and run by a team of volunteers drawn from the communities of Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Kenwood, and the broader southside. AiA was started as a collaboration between two organizations - the Southside Solidarity Network (SSN), a student group at the University of Chicago, and Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), a Woodlawn-based community-organizing group - but in recent years the planning committee has included a wide range of members from a variety of different backgrounds. AiA is based on the principle that diversity is something to be celebrated, so anyone and everyone is welcome to get involved.

What happens on the day?

Last year's AiA featured music from rapper HB Sol, local blues star Queen Portia, rock band Lifestyle Choices, and a variety of other musical styles including gospel, folk, jazz, and belly-dancing. The popular group discussions focused on the themes of policing, the Olympic Games, and urban development, and the arts and crafts tables gave both adults and children the chance to cut, stick, color, and have their faces painted. All around the outside of the field, a ring of tables offered religious and political materials, free BBQ, and the chance to browse the work of local artists and artisans. This year's event will feature a similar array of activities, but it's likely to be bigger and better than ever before.

When is it?

AiA is held every year on Memorial Day weekend. The date of this year's event will be Saturday May 29th.

Where can I find out more?

For more information on this year's event, visit our website at:

For general inquiries, email:

Divya Sundar (408) 406 1280

"Now in its third year, the event has blossomed into a full day of music, hands-on art, and community discussions ... at least for this day there were attempts to breach the wall that often separates the campus from the rest of the neighborhood."

--The Chicago Weekly (05/28/08)

Submitted by second-year Alison Howard and first-year Charna Albert

At the Woodlawn Collaborative Open Mic Night, they don't take no for an answer. At least not if you don't want to offend Travis, the 64-year old, white-braided and bearded life force behind this monthly event.
Travis himself is enough entertainment for one night. In fact, right after we got there, he announced free pizza and grape juice and then promptly took off his pants. Underneath, all he had on were a pair of white tights but any unseemly bits were soon covered by the red, sheer double-breasted cape he soon put on.

And then his noise band performed.

We'll back up. The Woodlawn Collaborative Open Mic night is the brainchild of a coalition of students and Woodlawn community members, and takes place in a Church on the corner of 64th and Kimbark once a month (the next one is March 19th.) Last Friday, we decided to check it out. This is a part of town that will provoke a "you be safe now" from the SafeRide driver, but don't be intimidated; just be smart. It'll be more fun in a group anyhow. It will also be more fun if you come in with an open mind and probably a song or two, or maybe some beat poetry. At the event itself, participation was low but spirited. Which leads us back to the noise band.

As the night began, Travis informed us that his noise band would be opening. This consisted of 15 minutes of... well, noise. It was kind of an acid trip, if you're into that sort of thing. Wearing latex gloves adorned with plastic flowers, Travis shook a gigantic piece of sheet metal and screamed unintelligible, yet most likely profound words into a microphone set on echo. Six minutes in, our hippie friend from San Francisco screamed, just to be heard over the music, "this is so cool!" If you are less of a hippie, this may not be for you, but never fear; there is more to Open Mic night.

One of the highlights included a group of UChicago students who Travis referred to as "the Phoebes." They, however, insisted that they had no name, and that their lead singer, who signed them up, was just named Phoebe. Basically all you need to know is that their version of "Like a Prayer" was played with a cello, a trash can, a violin, a guitar, a keyboard, and a combo fork knife and empty wine bottle. They were awesome.

If you're intrigued (as you should be) note that this event is free and open to the public. It's definitely worthwhile if you're looking for a venue to practice your creative talents... and your creative tolerance. We're for sure coming back with this beat poem: Don't judge us, and we won't judge you. Also, the first two lines can be attributed to my good friend Teddy.

This poem should be read aloud, with two people alternating each line.

Cheez Whiz
Gee Whiz
Stop it

Start over.

(Repeat as necessary. But probably not as long as Travis's noise band performance)

Ukranian Village: the New Country

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Submitted by Second-year Michael Carwile

The artist Andrij Kowalenko endured the chaos of the First World War, the oppression of Stalinism, and the uncertainty of a post-war displaced persons camp before making it Chicago's Ukrainian Village. In comparison, Anna and I had it easy: an hour on various CTA buses and trains to put up with and we landed at the intersection of Oakley and Chicago, where the thirteen copper domes of the St. Nicholas Cathedral met us on our right, and the one large gold dome of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha flanked us on our left. The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, holding a retrospective on Kowalenko's career, was just up the block, and all up and down the street the light posts were flying chamber of commerce banners in Ukrainian blue and gold.

Chicago's Ukrainian Village is like none you'll find in Ukraine. Its streets are as rectilinear as any in the city, and come with such names as Leavitt, Thomas, Walton or Iowa. Its housing stock is the same sturdy workers' cottages developers planted in immigrant neighborhoods throughout the city. And its main Orthodox church, St. Volodymyr, is a convert from Lutheranism and looks it. The Ukrainians were not the first group to populate this section of the city's West Side, and are no longer the largest, but somehow they've held on, and have been holding on for over a hundred years now.

If they didn't build the place, they've made it their own: in a two block stretch we passed by such establishments as the Ukrainian Self-Reliance Federal Credit Union, the Ukrainian American Club of Chicago, Ukrainian Delta Enterprise, and a few storefronts advertising only in Cyrillic. There were clusters of people on the street speaking their language among themselves, and the first thing anybody said to us in the neighborhood, at the check out counter of a convenience store where Anna and I were buying a Ukrainian chocolate bar, having passed up the Ukrainian soft drinks, Ukrainian dairy products, Ukrainian magazines and Ukrainian who knows what else, was, "Oh, you don't speak Ukrainian?"

And they did build it too--at least some of it. The thirteen domes of St. Nicholas, the neighborhood's oldest Ukrainian Catholic Church, gleam in homage to the eleventh century St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. But they could easily stand for the thirteen-day shift the church made to its calendar in 1969, a switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which so outraged a group of parishioners that they crossed the street and put up a church of their own. Thus two of the 74 American parish churches of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church stand 600 feet from each other.

If you went to the Christmas liturgy at St. Nicholas on the 25th and wanted to repeat the experience at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha on the 7th of January, you could walk no slower than two feet per hour. Maybe it would be a pleasant experience, to leisurely watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood, to see the schoolchildren rush in and out of the cathedral school, and maybe even see the bishop step outside for air. You might piss off the motorists, though.

As long as there is instability in Ukraine, Ukrainian Village will survive, so believes Marta, the woman working at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art when we paid our visit. The neighborhood is not a recent phenomenon - the onion dome over Holy Trinity Cathedral was raised in 1903 - but neither is it self-sustaining. Inevitably, as children grow up, the insatiable suburbs draw them out of the urban village. Our host recounted this well-known tale with a resigned wistfulness about her, but added on an up note, "There are always special occasions that bring them back."

Fortunately, there have always been new immigrants to fill the village on ordinary occasions; like clockwork, or Halley's Comet, they pour into Chicago in waves. Every 20 years, our host reckons. She herself is a member of the immediate post-war wave, the child of one of many families of professionals, artists, or other undesirables of a workers' republic who fled the Soviet Union in the confusion surrounding the Second World War and washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan.

A new wave, coming with the fall of the Soviet Union, has yet to ebb, and our host, in trying to downplay the tension between the two groups of immigrants, managed to exposed it. "They don't really speak a different language," she defended against no one in particular,

"Well, it's not that there aren't differences, differences of time, regional differences, it's an issue of dialect, really," and as she trailed off, I could hear entrenched middle-aged Ukrainians accusing the new riffraff of russophony.

Coming to Chicago turned the earliest Ukrainians into Russians, in the same way it turned Sicilians into Italians. The oldest orthodox church in the neighborhood, Holy Trinity Cathedral, a Louis Sullivan take on the orthodox vernacular, is Russian Orthodox, and was even financed in part by Nicholas II.

Yet while the Tsar put his weight behind Russian Orthodoxy, His Apostolic Majesty in Vienna was pushing Ukrainian Catholicism, and soon Chicago's Ukrainian Catholics demanded a church of their own. In 1913, the thirteen copper onion domes of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral rose from Chicago's grid, just five blocks away. A second wave of immigrants from the region arrived in the neighborhood after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Civil War, these unequivocally Ukrainian, having tasted, briefly, Ukrainian independence in the chaos of 1917. Against Moscow's directive, these Chicago Ukrainians contributed a pavilion to Chicago 1933 Century of Progress exhibition, the only national pavilion not the work of a nation-state.

The generation of Marta's parents solidified the Ukrainian hold on the neighborhood, creating such unifying institutions as the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union and the museum whose lobby we were standing in. Though there is also a Ukrainian National Museum, specializing in embroidery and Easter eggs and the like, this museum is full of strong lines, bold colors, and abstract expression--making it unabashedly modern. Human figures reduced themselves to arresting silhouettes, or else thick masses affected human form. A wire skeleton of a cylinder seethed with potential energy like the unbuilt Monument to the Third International. It was the kind of Ukraine not just a tradition to look back on, but a tradition to carry forward while the home territory was momentarily held back.

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, we saw, was not just showing a retrospective on Andrij Kowalenko but also the work of a younger generation. Accompanying the icons Kowalenko fashioned from scraps of newspaper and bottle caps were pieces from the children of the St. Nicholas Cathedral School made with an even wider array of materials. Floppy magnetic disks became flying saucers over a computer's silicon innards. An empty plastic jug wore a Yankees cap.

And we got to meet one of the artists! Andrij Kowalenko is twenty years gone, but Sophia was there with her mother to look at her class's work. The two were walking around the exhibition space, pointing, taking pictures, and discussing the artwork in Ukrainian. We approached them, but only the girl responded in English when we asked if she had made anything on display. She showed us what she had, a butterfly.

The Ukrainian restaurant Marta had recommended to us for dinner has recently been ceded to the Jamaicans. Mr. Brown's Lounge had its grand opening the Tuesday before our visit, replacing Sak's Ukrainian Village Restaurant in the position opposite Sts. Volodymyr and Olha. We had another place picked out, but to pass the time before dinner, and wait for Alex and Ricardo to join us, we headed to Cafe Ballou on Western Ave. I had been to the cafe before, my only previous foray into Ukrainian Village, and two years ago I sat there almost alone in a wooden chair I couldn't quite manage to get comfortable in, under maps and black and white photographs hanging from the cream-colored walls and lamps hanging like a pearl necklace from the ceiling. Yowling swing and subdued orchestral recordings completed the milieu. It felt like Vienna in the twenties, the refuge of a culture already defeated but not quite yet departed.

Perhaps that was a prescient intimation, for today the place is under new ownership, and while not everything has changed, its double as colorful, the radio plays contemporary fare, and there were actually customers. We sipped our Moroccan mint tea, lounging on floor pillows thrown around a knee-level table, where once doilies had covered a table twice as tall. Uncertain times had turned our Viennese cafe into an opium den, or maybe this was now the palace of some Tatar khan of the Crimea. Or the hip syncretism of a 21st century American metropolis.

Dinner was served at an establishment with fewer pretensions, Old Lviv Ukrainian Buffet. Here, soup comes in clay jars that narrow at the rim and the rest of the food in trays under heating lamps. The cafeteria-style presentation is not the most appealing, but I can assure you the food is without exception delicious. Thick, heavy, meaty, gruely and delicious.

We had the spread to ourselves, being the only patrons, but we were hardly alone. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a fairy princess, or a girl dressed up as one, and when Anna tried to tell her she was the cutest little girl in the world, her mother apologized that she probably couldn't understand. There was an abortive attempt to get the girl to sing the alphabet, the Latin one, but she preferred to stick with Ukrainian, which the family spoke among themselves.

Still, she seemed as content watching a Batman cartoon as the Ukrainian children's program that followed, a Rankin/Bass-like stop-motion production, with half the frame rate and realistic lighting for winter at the north pole.

Our server was the teenage son, who says they've been living in the United States for about ten years now, first in Ukrainian Village but now in the suburbs. He'd like to return to Ukraine, at least to visit, but so far it hasn't been possible. When asked whether he thought of Chicago or Ukraine as his home, he said he didn't really know, but whether he said so out of real ambivalence or adolescent diffidence I can't say. As we left the restaurant, the little pixie blew Anna a kiss, which only confirmed her status as absolutely the cutest little girl in the world.

Maybe one day she'll become a docent at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, or be exhibited there, and maybe she will one day worry about what the next wave of Ukrainians is doing to the neighborhood. Or maybe it will all remain a childhood memory, a realm that in the early 21st century lingered half way between her parents' world and her own.

Faculty: Upcoming Chicago Studies Courses

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The City as a Resource for Learning


Courses: Winter 2010 - A list of classes in which you can study Chicago

This Winter, many UChicago students will be advising local non-profits, driving along 100 miles of the Michigan-Illinois Canal, and studying the community organizing tactics of Saul Alinsky. These are just a few of the topics of Winter's Chicago Studies courses that will engage with our city through subjects like Urban Geography, and What is Civic Knowledge?


According to Bart Schultz, the director of the Civic Knowledge Project and the teacher of next quarter's What is Civic Knowledge? and The Chicago School of Philosophy, Chicago is a critical resource for students of political and social movements. Though UChicago is sometimes known for its cloistered campus and inward-focused lens, "part of the point of my courses is to suggest that the actual history of the University of Chicago ... really challenged the divide between theory and practice," Schultz says, citing the famous education theorist and Lab School founder John Dewey.


In fact, the hands-on activities that his and other Chicago Studies course emphasis are exactly how Dewey wanted UChicago students to learn, he adds.


"Both courses offer the opportunity to combine classroom and experiential learning... [the Chicago School of Philosophy] will take a field trip to Jane Addams' Hull House."


Schultz is team-teaching What is Civic Knowledge? a special "Big Problems" course for College third- and fourth-years, with Margot Browning, Associate Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities and Director of Big Problems.


"We really range across the history of Chicago and the history of the University of Chicago from the original settlements in the Pottawattamie to looking at future plans for 2020 and 2040," he says. "We read a lot of absolutely wonderful material, everything from [President Barack] Obama's Dreams of our Father, to classic Chicago authors with an emphasis on political mobilization."


"We're not interested in teaching 'here are the three branches of government.' [Civic Knowledge] is actually about the basis for community organizing, civic friendship, a healthier and more participatory democracy," he says.


The Business of Nonprofits

In Debra Schwartz's class, the Business of Non-Profits, students will be doing more than studying community activism; they'll be consulting with and advising local non-profits and then presenting their work to the rest of the class. Schwartz will also bring local non-profit leaders in to speak to the class.


"We cover the history of the non-profit sector and, much of it is rooted in work in Chicago, most specifically at this University," she says.


Like Schultz, Schwartz links the value of her course material to Chicago's rich history of public service work and University research.


"Some of the most influential leaders were Jane Addams and her colleagues, some of whom were on our faculty. One of the great insights they had at the time was that Chicago was tremendous urban laboratory. [This city] gives us the opportunity to really see upfront the kinds of problems we're trying to address through social policy."


She adds: "I don't think you can get quite the depth of experience without this hands-on piece, if you want to really understand the role that a nonprofit plays and how difficult it is to do nonprofit work well."


Non-Profits is an offshoot of the CS-RSO Campus Catalyst, and enrollment is limited to participating students. The non-profits range from the Hyde Park Art Center to tutoring and childcare organizations.


"It's a very diverse group of students," Schwartz said, ranging from Economics majors to Public Policy, Art History and Physics students. "I think it's great, because the kind of organizations we work with have diverse" services and goals.




Making Pictures

Judy Hoffman is bringing Chicago Studies to her Documentary Film Production class.


As part of this two-quarter-long sequence, students will work in groups to document either a portrait of a Chicagoan, a social issue or an historical narrative.


"This is a cinematic social inquiry, using the city as a laboratory for investigation," Hoffman says. "I try to encourage [my students] to get off campus and look at the city and its people, to figure out what really needs to be said."


Past projects have ranged from profiles of Chicago political figures to more experimental meditations on the city's landscape. Hoffman considers her students fortunate to have the entire city as inspiration and stomping-grounds for their documentary shooting.


"Chicago has I don't know how many ethnic groups, like 140, so its an opportunity to clearly to explore the landscape of the city and how a built environment informs how people live. Ranging from Mies Van der Rohe to the Chicago Housing Authority, there's a lot of different ways to look at the city," she says.


Urban Geographers

Love for Chicago's built environment and diverse landscape also informs Michael Conzen's upper-division class on Urban Geography.


The course, according to Conzen, will examine the role cities play in national and regional urban networks. He will lead students to the Regenstein library to view its collection of historical Chicago maps and documents, and on a hundred mile-long fieldtrip along the historical Illinois-Michigan Canal, stopping in the small towns "that make up the Chicago hinterlands" along the way.


Why make Chicago a focal point of the course?

Conzen says the benefits are clear: "Being a geographer, I believe very strongly that the visual landscape around us [help students] put their book learning on the line; they see what works terms of the consequential landscapes and environments that have been created as a result of the forces that they're reading about."

I interviewed co-director of the Renaissance Society Hamza Walker and photographer Allan Sekula about Sekula's current exhibit, Polonia and other Fables. My article is up on the University of Chicago's Arts Page.

We discussed the Renaissance Society's method of selecting contemporary artists for shows (it involves a platypus pelt, weighted coins, and rice, Walker insisted), and how the Polish-American experience relates to capitalism and globalization.

The exhibit even features a photograph of UChicago on May Day. Can you spot anyone you know?


"One photo in the Eastern corner of the gallery depicts what Sekula and Walker both call a peculiar campus ritual--University students and staff gather around to watch the high-noon shadow of Dialogo, the bronze sculpture by Virginio Ferrari in front of Pick Hall on May 1, which is rumored to form the shape of a hammer and sickle.

"That event with the shadow is just ready-made irony," Sekula said. "People come to see that rumored apparition of the hammer and sickle at noon on May Day. Some look to be more conservative, some to be more hip, young, politically liberal or left. I like to look at it as a physiognomy of the University community," he said; in that sense, the piece puts the University's conservative and liberal personas in tension, and suggests its role in global economic affairs.

The statue may not cast the exact shadow of a hammer and sickle, Walker adds, "But it's near enough to activate wishful thinking, which can't be discredited. Who would show up for this rumored event?" On the opposite wall is a photo of the 2009 May Day Parade in downtown Chicago. "You've got this working-class protest going on at exactly the same time--and you can see that the issues of immigration and labor rights are hopelessly intertwined.""

The exhibit is up through the end of Autumn Quarter (Dec. 13). The Renaissance Society is located at the fourth floor of Cobb Hall.

"Whatever you make...that's what the Heartland is"

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UChicago students and filmographers searched for the "Heartland" in the mural beneath the 56th St. Metra Stop, on nearby train tracks and with college friends for the Heartland in 60 Seconds video contest...and here's what they found.

M. Div. student Gene Fojtik won first place, third-year in the College Justin Staple took second, and second-year in the College Alexandra Perez took third.

Did you miss your chance to submit a video in the first round? All students, faculty and staff are invited to submit more videos b Jan. 7, 2010 to  compete in the Audience Favorite category.

Are you a creative writer with more to say about the Heartland? The "Heart of Chicago Writing Contest" co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Department, has extended its submission deadline to Nov. 30, 2009. Email to submit your stories.

Don't Be a Stranger: tBtW tours Bronzeville

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bronzeville.JPGBy Hillary Ross

Over the summer, my friends in Montana asked me, "What is the South Side of Chicago like?" While I started to answer their question, I realized I was only describing Hyde Park, which is, of course, not a fair description of the South Side.  The University of Chicago is located on the South Side, yet few students (including myself until recently) can answer this question with observations extending far beyond Hyde Park. The University of Chicago recognizes students rarely venture to the neighboring "Black Metropolis" of Bronzeville, and therefore recently sponsored a South Side Bike Tour and Historic Bronzeville Tour

Before going on the Bronzeville tour, I knew very little about Bronzeville.  Our tour guide, Timuel Black (a notable Bronzeville historian), said this is common. Unfortunately, the history and contributions of Bronzeville are relatively unknown. In a way, Bonzeville, like the rest of Chicago, is plagued with the "Second City" syndrome. New York's Harlem receives far more attention and is the best-known black metropolis, despite the fact that Bronzeville was once actually the largest and most populated Black neighborhood.       

 Bronzeville had equally significant parallel institutions that rivaled Harlem's. While now demolished and historically obscure, Bronzeville's Regal Theater was in its time just as prominent as the Apollo Theater. Louis Armstrong frequently played at the clubs of Chicago's "Black Belt," especially the Sunset Café, which is now an Ace Hardware store. In the churches of Bronzeville, gospel music was born. The best blues music in the nation was performed on 43rd Street. Civil Rights activists like W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King came to Bronzeville's Quinn Chapel to give rallying speeches of social change.  The Harlem Globe Trotters actually started at Wendell Phillip's High School in Bronzeville. Unfortunately, these claims to fame are no longer readily visible, and because little physical evidence remains, people are unaware of the Bronzeville's history. Nonetheless, Bronzeville's current identity is still infused with the energy to obtain racial equality, gospel music performances, and ubiquitous pick-up basketball games.
Even thought the neighborhood lacks physical evidence to showcase its historical stature, Bronzeville has a thriving, distinct neighborhood culture, making it a worthwhile trip. Moreover, most students on campus deem Bronzeville as unsafe or dangerous--a place to avoid. I completely disagree.  While I would not recommend a solo night trip, I would definitely feel safe visiting the neighborhood with a group of friends during the daytime. 

Here is a list of five feasible (and safe!) Bronzeville excursions I recommend:
1.    Attend a service at Quinn Chapel
2.    Visit the South Side Community Art Center
3.    Go to a Gospel, Blues, or Jazz Concert
4.    Tour the Bronzeville Historical Society Museum
5.    Eat a meal at the Ain't She Sweet Café.

It is a shame that Bronzeville sits in the shadow of Harlem as the "Second Black Metropolis" and goes unnoted and underappreciated in mainstream society. However, it is even more of a shame that many University of Chicago students fail to explore or learn about Bronzeville's rich past and current culture. As a leader of the Bronzeville Historical Society told me, "Tell your friends and classmates to come down and to stop being strangers with their South Side neighbors."   I encourage you to visit Bronzeville. After seeing this neighborhood, you will be able to give a better and more complete description of the South Side community-- one that is far richer and more interesting than just describing Hyde Park.

Hillary Ross is a second-year in the College, and a Contributing Blogger for the Blog that Works.