Friday, 6/1: Illinois Humanities Council CD Release Party

Illinois Humanities Council CD Release Party
Friday, June 1st from 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Martyrs’ Restaurant & Pub
3855 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

For more info, contact: Illinois Humanities Council

Please join us on Friday, June 1st from 6:00 – 8:00 pm for a CD release party at Martyrs’ Restaurant & Pub (3855 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago) for the first two volumes in the Council’s Folksongs of Illinois series. Performers at this concert will include Jon Langford, Janet Bean, Clark “Bucky” Halker, and more.

This concert is free and open to the publicReservations are required. Reservations can be made on-line, via email, or by phone at 312.422.5580. Free food and a cash bar. This is an all ages show; children must be accompanied by an adult. CDs will be on sale at the concert.

Folksongs of Illinois documents — for the first time — the folk, multi-ethnic, and vernacular music traditions of Illinois from 1800 to 1950. Culled from archives and field recordings in collections around the state, old commercial 78s and LPs, and new studio recordings from contemporary artists, this series reflects the fact that blues, gospel, country, jazz, polka, reels, spirituals, traditional ballads, tamburitza kolos, ethnic comedy skits, corridos, and bluegrass have all enjoyed a home in Illinois.  You may purchase the Folksongs of Illinois CDs on-line through the University of Illinois Press.

Wednesday, 5/30: Three Short Films at Mess Hall

Three Short Films and a Conversation with filmmaker Luis Valenzuela 

Wednesday, May 30 at 7 pm
Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago
(at the Morse stop of the red line, Rogers Park)

Meeting Face To Face imageMeeting Face to Face: The Iraq-U.S. Labor Solidarity Tour
directed by Jonathan Levin, produced by Michael Zweig

This 27-minute documentary breaks through the media walls that keep Iraqi and labor voices out of the debate about the war in the United States.  Meeting Face to Face brings the voices of Iraqi working people directly into the conversation as we consider the war and continuing occupation and what the next steps should be.

We also see American working people bringing new energy and commitment to the movement for peace, social justice, and a humane foreign policy.  Produced by the Center for the Study of Working Class Life at SUNY.

Two films by Luis Valenzuela: 

Pecado Menor
Follows the conflicted experience of a Latino U.S. soldier in an unnamed Latin American country. Violent and angry, the film does not mince words or images. 
English Subtitles

Bar Talk
Catalogs the conversations between a regular bar patron and the bartenders at the many Chicago bars he frequents.  Talk turns from personal to political, all over the patron’s favorite anesthetic.

Conversation with filmmaker Luis Valenzuela after the films
Luis Valenzuela has directed and produced four short films. Two of his films have been screened in the Chicago Latino Film Festival. Luis has worked on documentary films in Brazil on the struggles of land takeovers, and many projects on education in Chicago. In 1993 he presented a video “The Voice of the Dispossessed” for the Parliament of World Religions. He currently resides in the northwest neighborhood of Hermosa in Chicago with his wife Lourdes.

Tuesday, 5/29: “Learning Curves”

Learning Curves: the Neighborhood Writing Alliance on Formal and Informal Education

Whose education counts?  What does it mean to be educated?  Are schools the only places we learn?  What do we learn from our cultures, families, games, media, etc?  Through poetry and storytelling, writers from the Neighborhood Writing Alliance consider these and other questions about formal and informal education.

Tuesday, May 29th, 6:00-7:30pm
King Branch Library
3436 S King Drive, Chicago

For more information, please call 773 684 2742 or email

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA), publishers of the award-winning Journal of Ordinary Thought, provokes dialogue and promotes change by creating opportunities for adults to write, publish, and perform works about their lives. NWA provides ongoing opportunities for Chicago residents to engage in the literary arts through writing workshops in low-income neighborhoods, the publication of the Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT), and readings and events.  Participants in weekly writing workshops are encouraged to write about their personal experiences to create narratives and poems and connect these experiences to larger social issues. Selected writing from the workshops is published quarterly in JOT, which reflects and amplifies the strength, thoughts, and ideas of Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods to a broader audience. JOT is distributed for free to the writers and their neighborhoods and is sent to a subscriber list composed of supporters, the media, and policy makers. NWA strives to amplify voices that often go unheard. Please visit  the JOT website for more information. 

Sunday, 5/27: Memorial Day Massacre 70th Anniversary Commemoration

70th Anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre
Sunday, May 27,   2:00 p.m
11731 S. Avenue O, Chicago
Featured Speaker: Leo Gerard, President, USWA

For more information call Victor Storino, 773-646-0800

Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

Ten demonstrators were killed by police bullets during the “Little Steel Strike” of 1937. When several smaller steelmakers, including Republic Steel, refused to follow the lead of U.S. Steel (Big Steel) by signing a union contract, a strike was called by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

As a show of support, hundreds of SWOC sympathizers from all around Chicago gathered on Memorial Day at Sam’s Place, where the SWOC had its strike headquarters. After a round of speeches, the crowd began a march across the prairie and toward the Republic Steel mill. They were stopped midway by a formation of Chicago police. While demonstrators in front were arguing for their right to proceed, police fired into the crowd and pursued the people as they fled. Mollie West, a Typographical Union Local 16 member and a youthful demonstrator at the time, still recalls the command addressed to her: “Get off the field, or I’ll put a bullet in your back.”

The union hall of USWA Local 1033 now occupies the area where Sam’s Place once stood. A memorial to the ten who died can be found there at 11731 Ave. O, about a 10-minute drive from Pullman. From Pullman take I-94 northbound to the 103rd St exit. Go east to Torrence Ave, then south to 106th. Turn left past the rotting hulk of Wisconsin Steel. When you cross the Calumet River watch for Ave O. Turn south to 117th. Look for the flagpole. The phone is (773)646-0800.

May 22-25: Café Society Discussion on Labor

For more info, contact: The Public Square at the IHC

Workers of the World…Can They Unite?

As major corporations expand beyond national boundaries and locate branches and headquarters oversees, the United States’ economy has become increasingly globalized.  More and more production and service centers are positioned throughout Asia and Latin America where workers are paid less than a fraction of the wages U.S. citizens earn.

At the beginning of this trend segments of U.S. labor rallied behind a nationalistic campaign to “Buy American.”  However, as the world economy has matured and globalization continued, some have argued that the economic importance of the nation-state has declined.  How should changes in the economy affect the efforts of labor organizing?

Many believe that the very forces fueling globalization undercut the labor force.  They explain the emergence of a “corporate state” in which companies have no allegiance or accountability to a particular nation.  While raising standards abroad and exporting 21st-century business practices like product assembly and computer programming overseas, the United States is also exporting 19th-century labor conditions, wages and rights.  Does a global labor force make global organizing inevitable?

What are the barriers to transnational organization of workers?  How does labor organizing in the U.S. need to adjust to meet the needs of workers in other countries?  What criteria should be used to define labor standards?  What are the most realistic incentives for developing nations to organize if corporations can simply relocate? Will the U.S. worker suffer if union resources are diverted to organizing workers in other countries?  Has the shift to a global economy affected the immigration of undocumented workers to the U.S.?

Join us this week at Café Society to share your thoughts on this important issue.

Suggested Readings:

Organized Labor in Retreat

May Day Alert: Only Global Unions Can Stop the Race to the Bottom

Noble ideal of a global workers’ union may be too little, too late

Why a “Grand Deal” on Labor Could End Trade Talks

Labor Summary

Café Society Locations:

–7:30-8:30 p.m., Intelligentsia Coffee, 3123 N. Broadway St., Chicago

–10-11 a.m., Buzz Cafe, 905 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park
–12:30-1:30 p.m., Randolph Street Café-Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St., Chicago
–7-8 p.m., Pause, 1107 W. Berwyn Ave., Chicago

–7-8 p.m., Caffe De Luca, 1721 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
–7-8 p.m., Valois, 1518 E. 53rd St., Chicago
–7:30-8:30 p.m., Panera Bread, 1126 E. Walnut St., Carbondale, IL

–5-6 p.m., Ron’s Barber Shop, 6041 W. North Ave., Oak Park

Café Society, a project of the Public Square at the IHC, is a project designed to foster a more robust civil society, more cohesive and interactive communities, greater media literacy, and a more informed and engaged citizenry through weekly coffee shop conversations about contemporary social issues. Current media reports (along with ample doses of caffeine) serve as stimulants for the conversations.

Monday, 5/21 – Discussion of Chicago City Council Elections

Monday, May 21st,  5:30-7:00
Labor and the Chicago City Council Elections

The Rice Building  Suite #110
815 W. VanBuren  Chicago, IL 60607

Are you interested in what the recent Chicago City Council elections mean for labor and Chicago’s working-class communities?  Please join us for a conversation about politics and class in Chicago this month. We hope you can attend.

In solidarity,
Nancy MacLean and Liesl Orenic
Co-chairs, Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies

The Politics of the Working Class:
Labor and the Chicago City Council Elections

A Discussion Featuring:

Jorge Ramirez, Secretary Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor

Jerry Morrison, Executive Director Service Employees International Union, Illinois State Council

The Chicago Labor Education Program
The Rice Building
Suite #110
815 W. VanBuren
Chicago, IL 60607

Sponsored by
The Chicago Labor Education Program, Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Illinois
Chicago Center for Working Class Studies

Sunday, 5/20: “If This Neighborhood Could Talk” @ Lifeline Theatre

Sunday, May 20th at 2:00pm at Lifeline Theatre – 6912 N Glenwood Avenue.

From Dorothy Milne:

Check it out!  New play about affordable housing issues in Rogers Park and nearby Evanston.  One performance only!  And you know someone in it!

Are you free this Sunday at 2pm?  Interested in the issues of our neighborhood?  do you like plays that are only 40 minutes long?  And hey, do you like knowing someone (Gregory Altman) who’s IN the play?  Here’s the scoop, this is Way Cool —

Lifeline Theatre is hosting one performance only of:

If This Neighborhood Could Talk

Initiated by Next Theatre of Evanston, it is part of their Next Communities project, which brings community people together with professional artists to create new plays, focused on community issues.   Playwright Ebony Joy was commissioned to create this piece about affordable housing issues in Evanston and Rogers Park based out of workshops with members from these communities.

Admission is free (donations accepted).  Reservations are suggested by calling 847-475-1875 x2.

About the play:

Last fall, Next Communities Director Julie Ganey headed into the community to discover what issues were top of mind for citizens of Evanston and Rogers Park. Over coffee with aldermen, city workers, community leaders and lots of people who just like living in these neighborhoods, the answer came back: “Housing. Gentrification. Affordability. Development.” Community members join forces with Evanston playwright (and Fleetwood Jourdain Artistic Director) Ebony Joy to take a close look at some tough questions about how these communities are growing. How can Evanston and Rogers Park prosper without leaving neighbors out in the cold? Who should bear the cost of affordable housing? And what makes a healthy community?

About the participants:

Next Communities contributors and performers include developers, real estate professionals, affordable housing advocates, landlords, tenants, homeowners, and long term residents of every economic stratum. “It is an ambitious thing to bring a group of strong minded citizens with divergent views into a room together to form an ensemble and create art,” noted Ganey. “At the very first workshop, we agreed as a group that we were not there to change each others’ minds as much as understand why others might feel the way they do.”

Saturday, 5/19: NVVAM Photo & Art Exhibit

National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum
1801 S Indiana, Chicago

A Concrete of Images: Back from Iraq, photos and paintings by 3 Iraq  war veterans, Eric Edmundson, Steve Danyluk and Bill Smock

Also 5/18: Barbara Kingsolver at Swedish American Museum

Also happening Friday, May 18, 7:30 pm

Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 N. Clark St.

Note: This is a ticketed event. Admission is free with the purchase of a book ($26.95 plus tax).

Companion tickets are available for $5.00. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Angelic Organics, a community-supported agricultural farm located in Caledonia, IL.

Barbara Kingsolver & Steven L. Hopp
7:30 p.m.: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life

In her first book of narrative non-fiction, novelist and essayist Kingsolver (The Bean Trees, The Poisonwood Bible) details the year she and her family ate only locally produced food, much of which they grew or raised themselves. For Kingsolver, who trained as a biologist, the colorful events of the year provide a springboard for deeper exploration of the larger issue at stake: the effects of Agribusiness on the quality of our lives. Part memoir and part investigative journalism, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is vintage Kingsolver – wry, candid, levelheaded, wise, humble, intelligent, rueful, and undeniably entertaining. Kingsolver will be joined in tonight’s discussion and presentation by her husband and co-author, biologist Steven L. Hopp.

‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’
Reviewed by JANET MASLIN
“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is a wonderfully neighborly account of stunt eating.

Details on 5/18 Poetry Reading

Friday May 18,  7 pm  Coffee Chicago, 5256 N. Broadway Ave.

(Broadway and Berwyn)

There is no charge for this performance

John Starrs

performs work from Carl Sandburg

Jehan Whittaker

performs  works from Susan Lori-Parks, Sojourner Truth, and Adrienne Kennedy

John Starrs

John Starrs is an actor and poet who has done readings of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman for Schools and Libraries and at the Chicago Cultural Center and an earlier Labor Arts Festival. He  has written a book of poetry called The Suburban Poems published as an Art Book and as a paperback. As an actor, he recently played King Duncan in a production of Macbeth that he also directed for the 18th annual Rhino Fest.

John Starrs is a member of Depaul’s School for New Learning Visiting Faculty and teaches Theater and Poetry.

He hosts the weekly open mic venue at Coffee Chicago on Friday nights.

Jehan Whittaker

Jehan Whittaker  received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Point Park  University and studied theatre and women’s issues in 12 countries with the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea program. While living in Chicago and Pittsburgh she has worked as, among many things, an actor, teacher, dramaturg, and Artist-in-Residence.  She has also volunteered with Chicago Cares, Vets4Vets (an outreach to Iraq War Veterans) and Pittsburgh Playback Theatre.  She currently serves as the Director of Youth and Educational programming for the Estrojam Music and Culture Festival.

For the past five years Jehan has done youth programming with various organizations throughout Illinois and Pennsylvania teaching students how to use the arts to push for social, economic, and political change. She will soon be leaving Chicago to work as an Adolescent Support Specialist for Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania where she will use the Experiential Learning Theory to help the Springboard Academy students perform at their peak potential.