Rachel Cromidas: May 2010 Archives

Field of Dreams

| | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0)

Written by third-year Liz Kossner, for the College Webpage.

Just as the University of Chicago baseball season winds down, another one begins. The Canaryville Baseball League kicked off on May 2, with over 500 people coming out to watch and march in the parade. The connection between these two teams? Johnny Kozlar, a third-year University of Chicago varsity baseball player and the president of the Canaryville League.

"Ever since I was four years old, I have been playing the game of baseball and have learned a lot of information and knowledge from many of my coaches," Kozlar said. "I wanted to give the information that I have learned to these children, so they are better prepared for the game when they have opportunities to pursue their baseball careers and their life dreams."

Although he hails from a rival neighborhood, Bridgeport, Kozlar quickly became attached to the Little League program in Canaryville. Kozlar began coaching the 10-12 year olds' Astros team last season. Appalled at the rocky infields and shabby facilities for the kids ages 3-16, Kozlar decided to launch a fundraising project to renovate the fields.

For these new facilities, nothing was too good. The new infield was designed by Van's Enterprises, who also designed the local U.S. Cellular Field, and the netting by Protective Sports Concepts, who designed for Yankee Stadium. This upcoming season will also see new bases, Majestic brand high-quality uniforms, trophies, paid umpires and concession stands. Kozlar described these improvements as "the end of an old era and the start of a new one."

Despite these changes, the community is still a crucial part of the league. Canaryville resident Bob Popp completed the fencing. Members of Canaryville, McKinley Park, Englewood, Bridgeport, Hyde Park and other neighborhoods came together for 14 hours to lay down the new sod on the field. Kozlar keeps the community informed of progress and news related to the League through a listhost that "can keep everyone involved even after their kids leave," Kozlar said.

Even the fundraising began in the community. Last summer, kids rode their bikes through their neighborhood asking local businesses to donate money towards the restoration. During those three days, they succeeded raising $1,300 towards the total cost of $45,000. Other fundraisers Kozlar helped organize include the 7th Inning Stretch benefit concert that raised $2,000 that night and the opening day parade that also raised $2,000.

Kozlar has worked hard to encourage the University of Chicago to get involved. So far, he has raised $500 from the UChicago Medical Center and at least $200 from alumni for the Canaryville field renovations. A researcher at the University of Chicago Hospital even decided to donate the $200 necessary to sponsor a team.

Still looking for any donation, big or small, Kozlar uses publicity strategies and fundraising ideas he sees at the University of Chicago. He created Canaryville Little League Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube pages in addition to the league's main website.

Other University of Chicago students have also taken on leadership positions in the Canaryville League. Of the 16 members on the Canaryville League Board, four are from the University of Chicago; the others come from the community. Now, there is even an RSO dedicated to the cause: the Chicago Innercity Development Association was approved this year and is quickly expanding. Their aim is to go around the Chicago neighborhoods and renovate one rundown athletic venue each year. "The University of Chicago should be a part of Chicago, not just in Chicago," Kozlar said.

Celebrate Art in Action 2010!

| | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0)

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 divyasundar@uchicago.edu (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)

by Sydney Paul, contributing writer for the University Community Service Center Newsletter

Currently, the United States ranks fifth in the world for the most murders recorded. For total criminal activity, the country tops the list, according to Nationmaster.com. Statistics like these can be attributed to drug use, poverty or poor education and though they might not be covered extensively on a national scale, the reality hits home for many on a local level. Cityrating.com reports that the city of Chicago's homicide rate is more than two times the national average, while the city remains infamously nicknamed as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.

The South Side of Chicago is familiar with the presence of criminal activity, where most crimes in the city occur. Fortunately, the University of Chicago Police Department has done a good job at suppressing the presence of criminal activity in the area. In addition, some students have decided to contribute to the fight against crime through community collaboration and involvement.

Saturday, May 1st, members of the Woodlawn community raised their voices against crime in the neighborhood through a march hosted by many community leaders and organizations including Alderman Willie Cochran, the Apostolic Church of God, the University of Chicago Police Department, and UChicago's Alpha Phi Alpha chapter. The walk, dubbed the Community March Against Violence, began at 9:30 am as Woodlawn residents gathered wearing white t-shirts in solidarity. Starting from 63rd and Dorchester, the march traveled west to Evans Drive and circled back. The march sought to wake up the neighborhood, literally and figuratively, and call for a change against violence.

Before the march began, a short assembly was held as community leaders welcomed participants. Alderman Cochran, mentioned that he noticed a difference and much needed change in the composition of the marchers compared to other community walks this year. Though there were many older Woodlawn residents, overall the participants--many of whom were students from Chicago's surrounding universities--were younger than usual. "You are the ones that will generate change," said Alderman Cochran.

Led by the chapter's president Jared White, a 3rd year in the college, Alpha Phi Alpha began a Stop the Violence Tour by visiting schools within the community and conducting seminars that encouraged students to be stand up against crime in their neighborhoods. One of the fraternity's main goals is "to foster an attitude of intolerance towards violent crimes and the culture of fear that is overwhelming in many areas of Chicago's South Side," said White. To some of the fraternity brothers who are from the South Side, the issue of violence is particularly salient and they feel that it needs to be addressed. Their tour eventually led to hosting this march, which tied together the community, young and old, for a unified cause.

This sense of community showcased by the marchers hit a chord with the rest of the neighborhood. As the march progressed, the strong presence of the participants encouraged many residents to come out of their homes and join the walk, while others chanted from their balconies and front steps. The march informed the community that there are outlets where they can safely and proudly voice their opinion against the ongoing violence in Chicago. Organizations such as Alpha Phi Alpha, The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) and the New Communities Program (NCP), which also hosted the march, provide a safe and welcoming environment where the community can participate in the effort to generate change.

Fortunately, Jared White and the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha plan on making the March Against Violence an annual event. This way strong momentum will be built and the community's voice can become stronger. Without the younger generation's participation, the already uphill battle will become harder. UChicago students should follow the example of the fraternity and the numerous other community outreach RSOs on campus. "Search out the student organizations that are working to improve the University's surrounding community and give active support, whether that be through publicizing events, lending financial support, or physically attending some of these events," said White.