Chicago’s South and West sides are richly diverse communities that have been acutely affected by the financial crisis and globalization which have taken numerous jobs out of these areas, dampened investment, and resulted in wide swaths of foreclosed and neglected properties.

Violence is unfortunately a regular occurrence, but gladly, so is the community organizing work necessary to help change these conditions. Local grassroots organizations are working each day to solve problems such as food deserts, job training, access to public education and health care, and giving the youth other avenues to address grievances besides the violent examples around.

The arts and music have always been a means of expression and mirroring the reality of life there. As such, the South Side is home to many unique musical and artistic styles that have been fostered there. Many youth currently turn to artistic expression as a means of relating their struggle and rallying support but the neighborhood is lacking in any infrastructure, public or private, to help nurture these young activists. Our Solidarity Studio in Englewood/Bronzeville will be one the first community managed arts space for the neighborhood not just to engage, but also to create.

Additionally, the Southside of Chicago is also home the nation’s largest Palestinian diaspora community.  By some estimates, as many as a quarter of all Palestinians living in the U.S. live the Chicago area.

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