Arts & Culture

“Dancing for community” at the 65th Annual Chicago Powwow

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Poised on their toes, the dancers pivot around the room to a thrumming drum beat. Jingling bells accompany their movements as feathers sway from fans, regalia and headdresses in a whirl of color and texture.

The celebration echoes far beyond the gymnasium of DePaul College Prep High School into the balmy October afternoon.
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Chicago’s CircEsteem uses circus arts to empower young people

By Alissa Anderegg

When Antoinette Mpawenayo, 17, first came to Chicago from Tanzania, she struggled with the language and the culture.  “English is not my first language,” she said. “I was bullied by students at school.”

Her  refugee caseworker saw something in the way she moved around and suggested she join a circus program that had helped other young people like her. Antoinette is now a key performer in CircEsteem, a non-profit that has taught circus arts to more than 10,000 youths in the Chicago area.

Founded in 2001, CircEsteem’s social impact mission aims to build confidence in young people like Antoinette, and create a sense of community among its diverse performers.

Photo at top: CircEsteem students perform in their showcase performance. (Alissa Anderegg/MEDILL)

For one urban farmer, the future is fungi

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

Terry Noland’s 1958 rockabilly hit “There Was A Fungus Among Us” may not have been a direct reference to mushrooms when it was released. But the title merits momentum today, when there are many fungi among us in nature and in our kitchens. Researchers  have recruited them for soil remediation, water filtration and even oil spill cleanup.

“I call them the digestive system of the Earth,” said Belkacem El Metennani, owner and sole operator of a small Chicago mushroom farm. “When a tree falls down, mushrooms decompose it and turn it into a compost, into a fertilizer, for the rest of the trees.”

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Chicago leads a national-level push towards mental well-being within poetry slam circuits

The 2018 National Poetry Slam, in Chicago this week, is addressing longtime wellness problems plaguing the slam world

by Vangmayi Parakala
Medill Reports 

CHICAGO – On Monday afternoon, the conference room at the Palmer House Hilton was abuzz. Under the ornate ceiling décor were busy-but-excited-seeming groups of volunteers streaming in for their official check-in. The National Poetry Slam 2018 is to begin in four hours.

Many of these people — they were loud, happy and welcoming each other with hugs — were meeting for the first time. Already, the group was making the Palmer House Hilton their home. The hotel in Chicago’s Loop district is playing host to the five-day poetry festival-and-competition which will end with the National Poetry Slam finals on Saturday August 18.

Over heaped plates of falafel and hummus, rice and pita, the group coordinators were getting to know their volunteers, distributing name tags, and briefing them about the duties that lay ahead. Sitting to one far corner of the conference room were the Wellness Team volunteers – three of the total 40 expected to join the team through the week. This is the first time that mental and physical health is being given dedicated attention of this scale at a national poetry event.

Since its early days in the late ’80s and early ’90s, slam poetry has been criticized for encouraging a certain type of poetry. The format rewards verse that is easily consumable and drawn from heart-wrenching personal stories of grief and trauma. Picked at random from the audience, judges tend to score highly poems that are powerful, moving and emotionally compelling. This, coupled with slam poetry’s being a genre heavy with stories of everyday and marginalized voices, can mean that violence, abuse, or oppression of some kind are dominant themes.

Add to that the very stress of competitive events, and the need for on-site mental and physical healthcare becomes obvious.

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Take a look inside Chicago’s 29Rooms

By Katelyn Sabater
Medill Reports

Refinery29 finally brought the Instagram worthy, interactive exhibit to Chicago at 1522 W Hubbard St. After popping up in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, residents got to experience this year’s theme: Turn It Into Art.

Refinery29 is a media and entertainment company focused on women with a global audience of 425 million across all platforms. Their mission is to be a catalyst for women to feel, see, and claim their power through their storytelling.

“29Rooms is where you can experience Refinery 29’s imaginative spirit in real life,” says Executive Creative Director Piera Gelardi.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2018 fashion looks

By Katelyn Sabater
Medill Reports

In an age of social media and high-quality iPhone photography, music festivals have become the perfect backdrop for any fashionista’s post. Festivalgoers at Pitchfork 2018 didn’t let a rainy forecast or cloudy skies damper any chance of showing off their unique looks.

The typical flower crown and boho dress were left at Coachella, as attendees of the three-day festival mixed bold patterns, textures and gender identifiers.

2018 marks the 13th year that Pitchfork has curated the performances at Union Park, with capacity for 20,000 attendees per day over three days this year. Crowds had the opportunity to hear the likes of Ms. Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan and Tame Impala, to name a few.

Photo at top: Shaheem Anderson and Max Goldstein walking throughout festival arm in arm. (Katelyn Sabater/Medill)

Big Ten Media Days kicks off with Fitzgerald, Harbuagh & more

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Big Ten conference head football coaches stepped up to the microphone to face the media and talk about their upcoming seasons. The Medill Reports sports team was at the 2018 Big Ten Media Days as well.


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Chicago woman living her passion for eight decades

Loumay Alesali
Medill Reports

Doris Humphries, 93, has been dancing since childhood. She used to nail bottles caps to the soles of her shoes, so she can hear herself when she tried to do tap routines she saw in movies.

“It is just something I love, and I get into it. I just feel the rhythm and I love to see a person getting the dances and loving the dances,” Humphries said.
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Local blogger on healthy food in Chicago and beyond

Loumay Alesali
Medill Reports

From Havana to Athens to Lima and many more destinations around the world, Sapna the Chicago vegetarian traveler, blogger and Instagrammer delivers international journeys to people’s fingertips with one click, or swipe.

She started her blog, vegetariantourist.com, six years ago to share her traveling experiences with people and help them find the best of food out there in the U.S. and anywhere abroad. Her 15,000 followers on Instagram turn to her when they want to find restaurants that accommodate their vegetarian and gluten free dietary needs. Sapna’s goal is to make it easier for people to experiment with food while traveling and escape the daunting fear of food restriction.
“It makes places less scary, so that you yourself can feel comfortable, like okay I’ve seen all these pictures on Instagram or I’ve read a couple of blogs and people said it’s okay not to worry,” Sapna said.
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Former Athlete Helping Others Find Their Identity

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

High school athletes who don’t play sports in college all go through a transitional period of what life is like without a practice schedule.

Chloe Barnes went through that same transition and her experience, like that of thousands other athletes, wasn’t a smooth one.

So she created Elle Grace Consulting in order to help her fellow athletes find who they truly are underneath their jerseys.

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