Chicago non-profit brightens new moms’ lives with candles

By Xiao Lyu The soy candles from Bright Endeavors are made with some special ingredients you can’t find in normal scented candles — the tenderness and determination of young moms. At the nonprofit organization’s pleasant-smelling manufacturing plant in West Garfield Park, new moms aged 16 to 24 learn hands-on skills of candle crafting as part … Continue reading Chicago non-profit brightens new moms’ lives with candles

Plastic bags — the stuff that dreams are made of

By Xiao Lyu & Qingwei Chen Mary Moy, vice president of New Life for Old Bags (NLOB), has crocheted 52 sleeping mats in the last 5 years ago. But the mats are not made of yarn, they’re made from discarded plastic shopping bags. The process not only recycles the bags, but gives them new life: as sleeping mats for the homeless. Every … Continue reading Plastic bags — the stuff that dreams are made of

Indian Museum rises out of neglected neighborhood of Johannesburg

By Vishakha Darbha Salma Patel walked through the two spacious rooms in her museum in Johannesburg, pointing to the black and white pictures lining the creamy walls. Each framed photo depicted moments from a bygone period, illuminating the story of a multi-racial community and its  Indian bazaar that fought against eviction on racial grounds. Patel … Continue reading Indian Museum rises out of neglected neighborhood of Johannesburg

The Albany Park Theater Project exposes the soul of separated families

Text by Jenny Lee Video by Xiao Lyu Clad in orange jumpsuits, a group of high school students carrying large suitcases trudged onto the center stage. Heads down with hands, feet and waists shackled, they took a seat on their suitcases while two girls dressed as nuns slithered through the “criminals” and settled in front … Continue reading The Albany Park Theater Project exposes the soul of separated families

Pilsen gallery workshop creates grassroots artwork with a political twist

By Xiao Lyu

Artist Ellen Gradman held a special workshop that combined art with activism in Uri-Eichen Gallery in the East Pilsen Sunday Afternoon.

Dubbed as “Paper Protest”, the workshop taught people the technique of collage to translate their political ideas into artwork with simple tools and materials such as newspapers, art clips and computer printouts.

A former art teacher, Ellen Gradman has long been involved in Chicago’s education justice movement. One of her most famous pieces is a painting of the words “Every Chicago Public School is My School” layered above the city’s outline.

Photo at top: A participant is making a collage using materials such as newspapers and art clips during the Sunday workshop at Uri-Eichen Gallery. (Xiao Lyu/ MEDILL)

A laugh ignites tensions between labor union and state representative

by Stephanie Golden Video by Xiao Lyu An Illinois state representative is denying claims of laughing off a sexual harassment incident reported to him as protesters accuse him of inappropriate conduct. More than 30 people gathered at Daley Plaza, across from CBS Chicago’s downtown headquarters, Tuesday to protest the local network’s refusal to air an … Continue reading A laugh ignites tensions between labor union and state representative

Chinatown forum airs issues in state representative race

By Xiao Lyu and Ya Zhou More than 100 people attended the 2nd district state representative candidate forum at Chinatown’s Pui Tak Center on Monday night. The forum, organized by the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), invited the two candidates running for the seat to openly discuss their proposals and respond to … Continue reading Chinatown forum airs issues in state representative race

Illinois college students hold rally for grants funding (video)

By Xiao Lyu Students from about 15 colleges and universities throughout Illinois rallied at the Thompson Center on Tuesday, asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to fund the Monetary Award Program, or MAP, that thousands of students rely on to help pay college tuition.

Liberation Library empowers youth in prison with books of their own (video)

By Xiao Lyu In a temporary place on the Near West Side, a small group of volunteers made bookmarks and wrote notes for a pack of books ready to be shipped to three juvenile detention centers in Illinois. Having struggled for a while about what to write, first-time volunteer Paul Dailing chose some simple personal … Continue reading Liberation Library empowers youth in prison with books of their own (video)

Students protest CPS teacher cuts, lack of school funding

By Morgan Gilbard Cynthia Sandoval dreams of being the kind of teacher she had in elementary school, the kind of teacher who helped her learn English when she began second grade. Sandoval, now a sophomore at Benito Juarez Community Academy, is concerned about her teachers facing possible lay-offs as Chicago Public Schools tries to solve … Continue reading Students protest CPS teacher cuts, lack of school funding