Arts & Culture

Punching Back at the Crime in Chicago’s Southside

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Children on the south side of Chicago are subjected to an alarming rate of violence from a very young age. Without after school activities to keep these kids from joining gangs, many find themselves in a gang before high school.

Sally Hazelgrove took it upon herself to create Crushers Club in Englewood in order to get the kids off the streets.

Her goal is to open multiple clubs like this one in order to turn off the stream of the next generation of gang members.

Photo at top: The walls are decorated with photos of Crusher’s Club members. (Nicholas Mantas/MEDILL)

One priest’s journey from the Second City to the Eternal City

By Larry Flynn
Medill Reports

Fr. Tom McCarthy is in his element. He wears the Augustinian Black Robe. He fills the immediate space around him with gestures and a Chicago accent. He faces 32 students at All Saints School in Rossford, Ohio, and plants a seed.

“How many of you here have thought about being a priest or sister?”

The question matters to McCarthy because he once had to answer it. Sister Catherine Hanlin posed the same proposition to his sixth grade class at St. Adrian’s on the south side of Chicago – in room 205, he remembers. He recalls little else from Sister Hanlin’s speech other than the question itself.

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Self-aware: Virtual Cyberslug knows how to fight for survival

Erik Alcantar
Medill Reports

“Cyberslug,” a virtual ocean predator, sets itself apart from other artificial intelligence creations with one distinct quality – simple self-awareness.

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report  online in the journal eNeuro that this artificially intelligent virtual slug behaves very similarly to the living creature it is designed to mimic – the sea slug Pleurobranchaea californica.

For the sea slug, and thus the Cyberslug, being self-aware means  making decisions based on smell, memory and hunger.

“The actual sea slug, Pleurobranchaea, on which Cyberslug is modeled, is quite simple in its brain, body and behavior,” project lead scientist Rhanor Gillette said. “Its only social behaviors are cannibalism and copulation.”

Gillette, UI emeritus professor of molecular and integrative physiology, has headed the project in development for nearly two decades.

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Twitch gamers hope new community guidelines will combat online harassment

By Jourdan Kerl
Medill Reports

The live streaming video platform Twitch improved online security this March to protect professional and amateur streamers from harassment and hate speech that have plagued some users.

Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, updated the Community Guidelines to reflect how important community of streamers is to the platform to combat the issues surrounding hateful conduct. A statement released in February gave users a better idea of what would take effect in March.

“Conduct we deem to be hateful will result in an immediate indefinite suspension. Hate simply has no place in the Twitch community,” the statement stated. “Our goal is to ensure Twitch is a place where everyone feels welcome and we will continue to listen to you as we grow and adapt these policies as needed.”

Chicago streamers Tanya DePass, Brandon Stennis and Dennis White, Jr. share their thoughts on the new Community Guidelines in the video.

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In Evanston, a group creates quilts as a form of resistance — and therapy

By Vangmayi Parakala
Medill Reports

Over two days in February, about 20 people gathered to sew names of women, girls, and babies who died due to gun violence between 2016-2017.

Led by Melissa Blount, an Evanston-based clinical psychologist, the attendees sewed the victim’s name and age, accompanied by a motif on each of the sewing squares.

The event, held at 1100 Florence, an art gallery in Evanston, was to result in the squares making their way onto a remembrance quilt. This is the second quilt that Blount is leading, after her Black Lives Matter Witness Quilt last year, inspired by an exhibit at Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art.

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Harvest Christian Bookstore deflects internet with customer service

By Richard Foster-Shelton
Medill Reports

“In these times of online stores and books that can be delivered immediately to your favorite device, one independent bookstore on the South Side of Chicago has weathered the storm by turning to a very specific demographic: Christians.

Harvest Christian Bookstore, at 10600 S. Western Ave., specializes in Christian products. The business, which was founded in 1988 by Pastor Dorothy Jacobs of Consuming Fire Ministries, has gained a loyal following by prioritizing customer service over all.

“There were other bookstores when we opened and they didn’t have very good reputations,” Jacobs said. “The one thing that we were most concerned about was treating our customers well by serving them and ordering what they needed if we didn’t have it. We found our niche to serve the community the way they want to be served. Almost every Christian on the south side of Chicago knows about us.”

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Chinese festivals bring diverse students together at the Pretoria Chinese School

By Xiaozhang (Shaw) Wan
Medill Reports

The traditional Chinese drum team joins together students of diverse origins and is part of the celebration for Chinese festivals at the Pretoria Chinese School in South Africa.

As drumbeats rang in the Year of the Dog in February, the school came alive with a bang. Singing and dancing, students and staff dressed in colorful clothes to welcome the New Year.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year has been a tradition since the school was founded in 1934, when Chinese weren’t permitted into the regular schools in South Africa.

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Chinese students find love and community in the Werewolves Club

By Xiaozhang (Shaw) Wan
Medill Reports

Anqi Hu, a 27-year-old Chinese graduate student, didn’t expect to find the love of her life in the Chinese Werewolves Club at Northwestern University.

“If it were not for the club, we wouldn’t have met each other,” said Hu, in her 5th year as a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student.

Five couples have found their significant others in the club over the last year, according to Xin Xu, 26, president of the Werewolves Club and a 4th year PhD student in applied physics.

The club was officially established on the Valentine’s Day of 2017.
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A Place to Button It Up: Inside One Of Chicago’s Most Unique Museums

By Annanya Johari
Medill Reports

Maybe it’s a victory celebration button from  George Washington’s inauguration that you’re hoping to see.  We have the place to find it.

Nestled in a quiet corner of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, is one of its most unique museums. Founded and run by Christen Carter and her brother Joel Carter, the Busy Beaver Button Museum houses a collection of more than 25,000 pinback buttons.

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The House of Burritos that Feels Like Home

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Just west of Wrigley Field at the intersection of Lincoln and Addison sits one of Chicago’s little-known treasures of the city, the original Burrito House. 3545 N Lincoln Ave is the address of where “x marks the spot” for this family run institution.

Now expanded into three locations, Luis Salinas and his family have made fast-Mexican lunches and dinners for the Chicago community while helping those who also came from Mexico.

Every family has their story of how they made it in America. This restaurant is still giving opportunities to other families from Mexico to do the same.

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