General Interest

Pan-Womanist organization FURIE supports collective resistance with self-defense classes

By Natalya Carrico
Medill Reports

FURIE (Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation) is a grassroots, Pan-Womanist organization from Chicago. In July 2017, FURIE began weekly women’s self-defense classes in Humboldt Park, which have now moved to a performing arts space, Voice of the City, in Logan Square.

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Back of the Yards Public Library: When a library can’t serve its community

By Kate Cimini
Medill Reports

While the re-introduction of a public library to the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago has been a boon to the community, its location has placed severe limitations on its ability to serve community members, and even, some allege, have detracted from other public services.

The sign for the Back of the Yards Public Library (photo at top of story) is nearly half a block from the entrance to the library, making it difficult to find. Although the community is relieved to once again have a local library after a multi-year gap, its location is proving problematic in a variety of ways.
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The case for Keurigs

By Emily Clemons
Medill Reports

I am a proud drinker of sh—y coffee. I am a longtime user of the ubiquitous and much-reviled Keurig coffee maker. Above only instant brews, K-Cup coffee occupies the lowest rung on the java ladder, eternally damned there by knowledgeable and high-brow coffee-drinkers who value their French presses and pour-over Cemex hardware. On top of my affinity for K-Cups, I also pollute my coffee with huge scoops of sugar and long pours of artificially flavored creamer.

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Immigration courts remain backlogged in big cities as judges are sent to the border

By Mariana Alfaro
Medill Reports

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent 25 immigration judges to detention centers near the border and promised to add 125 new judges to the bench in the next two years, all part of the Administration’s plan to “fight against criminal aliens.” This plan was criticized by immigrant communities and advocates as a way to expedite deportations without due process, delaying more than 20,000 cases in immigration courts across the country.

As judges headed to detention facilities on the border, immigration courts across the country continued to struggle with a backlog of cases that, though dating back to the Obama-era, has grown under President Donald Trump’s administration.

According to Politico, in January there were around 540,000 cases caught in the immigration court backlog. By August 2017, the number had grown to 632,261, with nearly 50 percent of these cases in California, New York and Texas — states that account for nearly half of the country’s immigrant population, according to the Pew Research Center. Judges sent to the border told Politico that their dockets were nearly empty in their newly assigned courts, with some likening the temporary uproot to a vacation.

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Without supervision, recycling goes rogue

By Kristine Sherred
Medill Reports

The city imposed a strict recycling ordinance last summer but forgot about enforcing it.

Chicago has struggled to be green since 1995, when new rules first required businesses and large apartment buildings to begin a modest recycling effort through private haulers. In 2017, the city expects these same buildings to recycle full-stop.

The problem: no one is checking.

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Ice Monster Number One

By Rebecca Fanning
Medill Reports

It’s noon on a sunny Thursday in October and “Diver Dave” Oliva is sprawled on a black inner tube wearing only a speedo; his mask and snorkel leave a wet mark on the concrete beside
him. He waves to passersby, some seem to know him, others just wave back, amused. Behind him, cars speed down Lake Shore Drive, rushing north from the bustling Loop.

“You’re late,” he says to me when I arrive. “And where’s your swimsuit? Water’s never been this warm in October before.”

Mike Tschantz-Hahn slides over a partially frozen Lake Michigan. (Steve Hernan)

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A female tattoo artist makes her mark, beating the boys at their own game

By Hannah Wiley
Medill Reports

Emily Fong started tattooing professionally when she was 19 years old. Now, at 21, she’s overcome gender stereotypes and doubts about her youth to become an accomplished artist.

Fong’s career started when she decided that her childhood love for drawing was something she wanted to pursue as a career, specifically in the tattoo industry.

“My mom wasn’t interested in me going into this industry at all, and so I kind of held back on it,” Fong said. “I started looking at colleges and going in that direction. But when it started getting close to that time for me to make that jump into college, I just didn’t want to do it.”

After tattooing professionally for two years, Fong has built a strong clientele in both her home city of Portland and Chicago.

Working at Metamorph Tattoo Studios in Wicker Park, Fong accepts clients on a walk-in and appointment basis. Her style ranges from geometrical lines to mosaic flower work.

PHOTO AT TOP: Emily Fong works on a custom-designed piece for a client (Hannah Wiley/Medill)

Growing Home produces a bountiful harvest for Englewood residents

By Eunice Wang and Natalya Carrico
Medill Reports

Growing Home came to the South Side of Chicago in 2006 under the Englewood Quality of Life Plan. The organization offers a paid, 14-week job training program for adults with varying employment barriers. Approximately 30 percent of the program participants come from the greater Englewood neighborhood.

The farm stand at 5814 S. Wood is open Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through October 26.

Photo at top: Water drop on a chard leaf in the Growing Home garden. (Eunice Wang/MEDILL)

Community efforts bring about theme of ‘Englewood Rising’ in the South Side neighborhood

By: Hannah Wiley and Joey Mendolia
Medill Reports

Tina Hammond has brought a splash of color and a message of hope to her Englewood neighborhood.

Buying a vacant lot next to her home for $1 through a city program, Hammond and her husband transformed the once bleak empty space into a garden of positivity.

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Chicago police to roll out body cameras ahead of schedule

By Em Steck
Medill Reports

The Chicago Police Department says it will roll out its body camera program across all districts before the end of the year as part of the city’s promise for greater police accountability.

A total of 8,157 “body worn cameras” will be deployed to patrol officers in Chicago by Dec. 4 across all 25 districts, one year ahead of the city’s plan to bring more transparency to the police force.

“This is a very aggressive rollout. When we’re done, by the end of this year, every patrol officer in every district that works in the field will be equipped with a body worn camera,” Chief Technology Officer Jonathan H. Lewin said in a press conference.

The body cameras are part of the department’s larger mission to build better community relations with civilians after a string of scandals and controversies, including the death of Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014.
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